I’m a Missionary, You’re a Missionary, Everyone is a Missionary

A radio station in Toledo, YES FM, has pastors, missionaries and representatives from missions organizations on every morning to do a devotional of some sort. I have been honored to be on the station multiple times over the years. This post is a combination and summary of those five devotionals where the theme was “Being a Missionary in Your Everyday.”

My job title may officially be a missionary, but really all of us are missionaries. I want to talk to you about what it means to be a missionary in the everyday. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t being called to do short-term mission’s trips or even full-time mission’s work, but in the mean time, how can you live the missionary life in your every day?

After all, we are called to this in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So what does that mean for the person who isn’t called to full-time overseas or local mission’s work? It means the exact same for the full-time missionaries.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board and author of Radical, recently exhorted new missionaries, but, in my opinion it can be applied to all Christians. He said:
1. May your only offense be obedience to God.
2. May your deepest joy be found & your greatest work done in daily prayer.
3. May your constant protection be the presence of God.
4. May your life cause nations to give glory to God.

Missionary in Your Home

Proverbs 22:6 – Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

It goes beyond parenting though. Whomever is in our home, whether they live with us or are guests, we need to be showing Christ to them.

How? Well:
– Model your relationship with Christ.
– Be real and honest, nothing works better than letting others see your struggles, but also your fight to overcome.
– Be a Safe place – allow people to share their struggles, judgment free. Let it be known you and your house is a place they can go when they need someone.

Missionary to Your Neighbors

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.

I love how it says Tabitha was always doing good. I mean think about it; always doing good. On her way to get water at the well, Tabitha was doing good. When she was cleaning house, she was doing good. When she was watching the kids, she was doing good. No matter what she was doing, or was on her way to do, she was doing good. Maybe the always is a bit of hyperbole, but if she was known as always doing good, she was probably caught doing good way more often than not. She saw needs, and she met them.

I don’t know where I heard it, but someone said your neighbor is anyone that you run across on a regular basis. This means the people who live near you, your postman, the cashiers at the stores you go to, and anyone else whom you give that slight head nod to because it’s a bit awkward if you don’t, they are your neighbors.

How do we practically become missionaries to our neighbors?

3 Simple things can kickstart us to serving our neighbors.
1. Ask questions and listen – I know this will sound crazy, but if you ask them the normal greeting of “How are you?” actually ask them how they are and then listen to their response. Help people feel loved by investing in them and getting to know the real them.
2. Observe – If you look around you can probably notice things where people need help. It could be the homeless person you see on your way to work, the neighbor whose lawn is never mowed because their lawnmower broke and they don’t have money to replace it, the single parent who works two jobs and is scrambling to help their child with their schoolwork. Look around and observe and then ask how you can help, don’t assume.
3. Acknowledge – Words of encouragement are huge for most people. Look for people who are doing something well and point it out to them, or thank them for a job well done.

Now let’s go a bit further into Tabitha’s story.

Acts 9:36‭-‬39 ESV
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.

It doesn’t say for sure, but seeing as these are widows wearing clothes Tabitha made, the thought is that that was part of her “always doing good.” Making clothes could have been her job or a hobby, but either way, she took what she was good at and served her neighbors with that very thing.

A lot of people think serving others has to be doing something you don’t enjoy, because it isn’t service otherwise. Some service needs to be uncomfortable, but not everything does. So, if you like to bake, bake a cake for a neighbor. If you enjoy gardening have extra vegetables in your garden, give them away. If you are skilled at a specific subject, offer to help students near you who are struggling. I don’t care what your passion is or where your skills lie, find someone and bless them with it. Whatever you are skilled at or enjoy doing, look and listen for the opportunities to serve those who need and are in your life.

That being said, I also want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and serve your neighbors in ways that stretch you. There are many organizations in the area that need people to come volunteer, be they homeless shelters, after-school programs, or what have you. If you can’t think of a place to volunteer, I’m sure someone at your church or your neighbors that you’ve been getting to know would have some suggestions.

The one thing I want to leave you with, if nothing else, is to get up, get out and serve. Remember we serve because of the Gospel and God’s love for us. We need to share that love to others.

Missionary at Your Church

1 Corinthians 12:27-30
Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 28 First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. 29 Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. 30 Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean.

1 Peter 4:1-10-11
10 Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. 11 If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God

Let me tell you a story about one of the best examples of being a missionary to the church that I’ve been able to witness myself. My step-dad has been retired for a few years and almost as soon as he retired he dedicated more and more time to the church, serving on committees, helping with landscaping, setting up for events, etc. He gives more of himself to the church than I’ve seen anyone else do who wasn’t employed full-time by the church.

That’s not to say that we all need to retire and give a lot of our time to the church, but we were given specific skills to help the body of Christ grow closer to Him. I can’t speak for every church, but I’m sure if you contacted your church and asked if they needed help they could probably rattle off a good half dozen or so ways in which you can help. Most churches need nursery workers, Bible study leaders, landscaping, ushers, musicians, greeters, etc. Ask your church this week how you can serve the body of Christ.

Missionary to the World

How can you make international missions a part of your every day without living internationally?

  • Pray the Luke 10:2 prayer for more workers
  • Go on a short-term trip your church is organizing. Don’t know of one? Go to gemeuroteam.org and look at what my organization has coming up and sign up!
  • Send someone else to go on a missions trip. Partner with them financially or prayerfully to impact the world.
  • Go – gap year, internship, ten2 (10 weeks), or longer
  • Send – Most missionaries live on financial support from individuals and churches. Partner with them financially or prayerfully to impact the world.
  • I wrote a blog about how you can support missionaries in other ways and it will be posted next week, so come back and check it out!

And I would drive 2,205 miles…

First off, you are welcome for getting that song stuck in your head. If a song didn’t get stuck in your had, what if I say, “and I would walk 500 more?”

On a completely different note, yesterday (Sunday the 14th) I left Toledo to start my big trip of my HMA. As this is posted I am in Nashville visiting a guy who I had the privilege of leading in a small group during his time at Black Forest Academy in Germany. It was originally going to be two guys and they were going to be spending their Fall break hanging out together. For some reason they want their “old man” leader to come hang out with them. I have never been to Nashville, so that will be fun to explore a new city and get to hang out with him.

After Nashville I will be heading to Charleston, SC, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, Alexandria, VA and good old Waldorf, MD. At each of these locations I am going to be connecting with friends and ministry partners who live in the area.

If you live anywhere near those locations and want to connect please reach out to me.

I do have a couple times I know of in which I will be speaking at churches, so if you happen to be near California, MD on November 4th I’ll be at Bridgeway Church, or White Pains, MD on November 11th I’ll be at South Potomac Church. I hope you come because I’d love to see you!

Deeper into the Wardrobe

For months now I have been praying and seeking wisdom about what will happen next. When I originally came to Germany, the plan was to stay for four years, maybe more. I always said, “at least” four years, but I wasn’t sure what was beyond those four years. After three years in Germany I was asked to consider doing some leader development training, but it would mean I had to stay an extra year…so I did and I don’t regret that decision at all.

As my 4th year ended and my new agreed upon length of stay approached, I knew the decision loomed ahead. I needed to figure out what life was going to look like for me going forward. Where would I live? and what job would I have? were the most pertinent questions I needed to address. I’m an over-analyzer so you better believe I had plenty of “options” to choose from. I had seriously considered all of the following (though some were more plausible than others):

  • Return to Toledo and open a boardgame cafe
  • Move to Freiburg and open a boardgame cafe
  • Return to the US and get my doctorate in Instructional Design or User Experience
  • Return to the US and work as an instructional designer
  • Return to the US and work at GEM’s headquarters in one facet or another
  • Return to the US and work at MTI (where I had my pre-field training)
  • Stay in Kandern with eDOT
  • Stay in Kandern, but switch to EuroTeam and work with TEFL

I’m sure there were other options that came to mind at some point, but these were all of the ones I at least spent time researching. The problem I ran into was that all of these options were enticing for one reason or the other.

  • The boardgame cafes were interesting because I love boardgames and have a lot of ideas on how to run a community impacting cafe.
  • I’ve always wanted to get my doctorate, because I’m weird and I like school.
  • I enjoy writing curricula and thought working for a large organization designing their training could be a tough challenge for me.
  • I like the idea of recruiting people to join GEM, or helping them get to the field or designing and leading orientation.
  • MTI is an amazing experience and helped me adjust to life as a missionary. Having a chance to help others would be incredible.
  • I like my team and we do good work, so why change?
  • I love camps and curricula development and believe I am skilled to do both.

I could justify any of those. It was like staring at a counter of cookies and being allowed to only choose one. But they all look so good!

I did have a few major concerns, though, including, “Where does God want me?” and “Where do my passions lie?” After a long while, God finally got me to recognize something I had said many years ago while working at COSI (hands-on Science center) where I wrote curricula and taught camps. I said, “If I could do this full-time and make a living doing so, I would work here in a heartbeat.” COSI barely paid a living wage and I wasn’t ready to do that kind of work full-time yet anyway, but God has been preparing me for this ministry choice for years. I will soon get to say that I am developing curricula and leading short-term teams to teach at English camps full-time.

This is what I get to do…and I’m ecstatic about it. Don’t get me wrong, it was not an easy decision. I didn’t come to this lightly, nor consider all of the things that I would be giving up by living here. I thought about silly things like not being able to get a good hamburger or not having stores open pretty much all day everyday. Then I thought about more difficult things like being far away from my mom and brother and how hard that is at times. I thought about not being there to watch my nieces and nephews grow up. There are many things that made this a difficult decision, but in the end, I am confident this is the right decision; this is where God wants me and so I have said “Here am I, send me.”

So What Does This Mean For Me?

Well, in the short term this means I will be still with GEM eDOT until around March of next year when I make the official switch to GEM EuroTeam. I will continue to develop the Narnia (Adventures in the Wardrobe) curricula and complete my leader development studies. At the end of April I will return to the US for a mandatory year out of Germany (laws are weird!). While in the US I will be talking to churches and individuals about partnering with me and filling in my faithful ministry partners on what things will look like after the year in the US. I am also going to be recruiting short-term teams to come and teach at one of our camps the year I get back (if you are at all interested, please let me know). Potentially I will also be going to colleges to help recruit future TEFL missionaries. I’m not sure if this will happen, but I hope it does! When I return to Germany in 2019, I will work with GEM EuroTeam in the running of TEFL camps and the development of English as a foreign language curricula.

But What Does It Mean For You?

If you are currently a ministry partner of mine, all it means is if you want to continue that partnership you don’t have to do anything. You can certainly alter the partnership with zero hard feelings on my end (contact me if you need more info), but if things are staying the same, then you are already done! If you aren’t a ministry partner of mine, but are curious of learning more, then please let me know and I would be happy to talk with you!

A Church that Sends

This weekend was jammed packed with great things. As I mentioned in my last post, I was taken to an Ohio State football game as an early Christmas present from my brother and parents. Even though Ohio State didn’t play that well, it was a great day. It was nice to get away, spend some quality time with my brother and my cousin (who goes to school at OSU). The whole day was great and something I will remember fondly for a long time to come.

On Sunday I was a part of a missions event at the church I attended from a really young age and until I left for Maryland. The event had 18 different missionaries representing local and international organizations. Each missionary had a chance to talk about their ministry and a common, but not exclusive, connection was that the missionaries came from Church of the Cross. It was something that I knew, but often times I forget. Church of the Cross is a sending church and I don’t just mean they give money to a bunch of missionaries and “send” them that way, which they do, but they also have a lot of missionaries that come out of the church. There was a couple and single who weren’t at the event, but are supported by CotC. Had they been there, there would have been a total of 21 missionaries and over half of them could have said, “I grew up in this church,” or “I attended CotC for years before going on the mission’s field. Can most churches say that? Maybe they can, but regardless, it is impressive.

I am a part of those that grew up in Church of the Cross, and I am honored to stand side by side with that church and all of their missionaries.

 

I will be around Toledo until next Wednesday so if you would like to grab some coffee, lunch, dinner or just catch up one way or another, let me know, because I would love to catch up with as many people as possible.

A day of family

After a solid 8 hours of sleep, I woke up at 4:30…yeah, still too early, but I’m adjusting. The plan for the day was to go get some shopping done (I remembered all about tax this time) and then head back over to Jupmode to do some more work for them. Then I would return home to meet my niece, Sabrina, for the first time. I was a wee bit excited, to say the least.

When they arrived, Sabrina had the gall to be sleeping, so I had to wait patiently to hold her. In the mean time we exchanged some Christmas gifts since my brother and parent’s gift to me was a bit time sensitive. My brother had told me to keep Saturday the 29th open, but wouldn’t tell me why. I found out why, I was going to go to an Ohio State football game with my brother including going to a “Skull session” and having brunch with my cousin who attends OSU before hand. Again…I was stinking excited!

Holding Sabrina for the first time felt good, even though she was a wee bit fussy. I enjoyed every second of holding her and even got her to smile at me for a while. These are the things that can be tough when you live so far away. You miss a lot. Sabrina is 3 months old and it was the first time I got to hold her. You better believe I will be soaking up as much Sabrina time as possible whenever I can!

To end the night Ray, Ben and I all went to my cousin’s high school football game where I got to see my aunt, two cousins and my goddaughter. Family time is very important for me, so yesterday was a good day.

As you are reading this I am on my way to Columbus for the Buckeye game…O-H!

On Sunday I will be at Church if the Cross in Toledo for their Missions Sunday and I’d love to see some of you there! 

You will do better in Toledo

Waking up at 3:30 in the morning really allows you to get some stuff done before the rest of the world wakes up. . .but it also means you are up at 3:30 in the morning!

So the day didn’t start out the best, but the rest of the day ended up being pretty great until I crashed at the early hour of 8:30 PM. 

After the rest of the house woke up my mom and I went to the gym for a good workout. The rest of the morning was full of some errands including getting a Sim card for my phone and my jet-lagged brain had a hard time with paying. I totally forgot about tax so when I handed the cashier “enough” money to pay for the item, she looked at me and said, “The card cost that much, but either tax it’s. . .” Oh yeah, tax, I kind of forgot about that. 

In the afternoon I got to work for my friend who has his own screen-printing business. I asked him if he needed some extra help so I can earn some money in order to get back and he gladly accepted my help. I had a great time working for Jupmode and am very appreciative of the opportunity. 

After getting back to my mom’s house I had another good surprise in the form of another sizable donation from a friend and neighbor. Day one was a full day and another great one.

God has blessed this trip so far and i can’t wait to see what He has planned for the rest of my time here. 

4 Countries, 3 Airports, 2 States and 1 HMA begins

Yesterday morning I left Germany, via France and the Netherlands on my way to Perrysburg via Detroit. Traveling back to the US always results in a long day, especially when you start your day 6 hours ahead of the people with whom you end your day, but overall it was a pleasant trip. I even got an empty seat next to me, which is always a bonus! 

Walking out of the airport and seeing family is great. As I was approaching the van, my mom was headed into the airport and she didn’t see me. I know, it’s tough to imagine, but there was a giant SUV that was blocking her view of me, so it’s justified. I yelled for her, she turned and rushed I’ve to give me a hug, the kind that only moms know how to give. 

After an easy and uneventful drive we arrived at my mom and Ray’s place. It was dinner time, though my belly and brain didn’t quite comprehend that. It was 12 AM according to my body’s clock,  after all. 

After relaxing a bit and fighting sleep, my aunt came over and provided one of the first major praises for this trip. She told me they were going to make a sizable donation and also provide a rental car for me when I go to North Carolina and Maryland. I was flabbergasted (I love that word and wish people would use it more often). Both of those are huge answers to prayer and ended a pretty eventful first night back in the US.