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Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action

1 John 3:18

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About thirty of us headed down to downtown Phoenix to be a part of Feed my Starving Children’s One Million Meals campaign. FMSC is expanding and they held this 24 hour event that was trying to pack one million meals and raise one million dollars for the expansion. I serve with FMSC every six months and love being a part of a team of people who bonds together to make a difference in the world. FMSC is a food packing ministry that uses volunteers to pack food that is shipped all over the world to poverty striken areas to feed children that suffer from malnourishment. This event was held at the Phoenix convention center and they had time slots that you could sign up for over the weekend. Our group took the call and did the 3am to 5am slot. We were tired, but in the end our group packed 72360 meals – enough to feed 198 kids for a year. Overall in the 24 hours, 2,966 volunteers packed 1,023,408 meals (enough to feed 2804 children for a full year)! They also raised over $500,000 for the expansion. It was a blessing to be a part of this and a blessing to serve alongside my amazing friends.

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I've become an accomplished photobomber

I’ve become an accomplished photobomber

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I enjoyed PhoenixONE tonight. I got to worship with all my friends under the stars. I also got to catch up with some dear friends that I have made over the years while on mission in other countries. I met Pastor Joseph “Jojo” while in Kenya at an orphanage. He was brought to the orphanage at a young age and is now the Pastor there. I got to hang with him a couple of times this week and we had some great talks. I also chatted with Suresh Kumar from Harvest India for a little while. He gave a special prayer over us and I’ve always appreciated the role he has played in my life. I have had many great God moments with Suresh over the years. Jeff Gokee interviewed some friends of mine that recently got married – Johnny and Criselda Sweet. They have a great testimony and it’s awesome to see a couple that is sticking it out and doing marriage right. My good friend Ryan Axtell led worship and Jeff gave a pretty awesome message on relationships. After years of working under him in 5th/6th grade student ministries, I have never heard him speak on dating and was pretty impressed with his talk. He was pretty hard on both the guys and the girls, but I felt he did it in love and it was a sermon many of us here needed to hear. Ryan and Sara Senters gave their testimony of having foster kids afterwards and I enjoyed them sharing their heart. It was a beautiful night and a blessing to spend with good friends!

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Pastor Jojo

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Suresh praying for us

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Ryan Axtell leads worship

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Jeff Gokee interviews the Sweets

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Ryan and Sara Senters

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Today is World Water Day. It’s a day set aside to raise awareness for the more than 700 million people who lack access to clean water. When I was in Kenya, I joined many at an orphanage in making the trek back and forth with big jugs to bring water to the home. In India, we dedicated water wells to a couple of villages and I saw great joy in the faces of these people who had gone so long without clean water. Here in the states, we take water for granted. We forget how important water is to people. 300 million in Africa alone lack access to clean water. Charity:Water and  Blood:Water Mission are two organizations near and dear to me that are making a difference in the world today with their water projects. Take some time to get yourself educated on what is going on in the world today and how you can help.

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Sometimes there are things you can be very passionate about and God will use you to stir others up to get them passionate about your cause. Well.. that is what my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry did to me. First of all, I’m a huge fan of FH. I have a long partnership with them through mission trips, fundraising events or just attending their annual summits. FH does a variety of things in the world by serving the poor with short-term emergency relief and long-term work to try to end world hunger. I’m enjoying getting reconnected with them and had a wonderful time at their luncheon at the Justice Conference in Philadelphia. I also spent time at a spring training game with some of the staff this week. Heidi just recently spent time in Bangladesh with an incredible team of people and she has used her passion of what she has experienced to help raise funds for the women there.

Earlier this week was International Women’s Day. I work with women from different countries at my job and enjoyed wishing them blessings on a day that honors them. I also enjoyed telling them about the walk I was doing. The Walk to Empower women took place at Steele Indian School Park today. The funds that are raised will benefit FH’s Women of Action program to help educate them so they don’t have to feel discriminated against and to give them an opportunity to have a choice. There were 126 in attendance and over $7,300 in donations given at the walk. That is enough to help nearly 50 women learn to read, write and acquire a business skill for additional income for her family. Praise God for this and special thanks to Heidi for all her hard work. I’m thankful to her for getting me passionate about her passion!

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Steele Indian School Park

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Busted out my old FH shirt

Heidi talks about the women of Bangladesh

Heidi talks about the women of Bangladesh

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A cupcake with the FH logo

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Through dignified work, Basha provides a sustainable livelihood for women at risk and survivors of trafficking. Women gain job skills and the opportunity to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs in a healthy, healing environment.

BASHA’s house of hope is a small business based in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. The slums of this city are bursting talent: careful tailors, printers and embroiderers. These women have little status and live in extreme poverty. They are often forced into work they would not choose for themselves, and many are unemployed. To help them build better life, now BASHA is training a number of them to turn their talent to jewellery and beautiful Kantha throws and bedspreads. 

I received this blanket today from Lindsey Nobles as I’m packing for the Justice Conference. Lindsey is director of strategic partnerships for Food for the Hungry. This is pretty special to me for many reasons. I love FH and what they do. I have quite a collection of collectables from around the world that have a story behind them and this beautiful kantha blanket is no different. I have been following and promoting the FH bloggers trip to Bangladesh since they left earlier this month. Lindsey and several other amazing people (including my friend Heidi Hatch) were a part of this trip. I felt a connection to this team and this blanket will serve as a reminder of how God spoke to me and reconnected me to FH. God has been preparing my heart to re-engage with cross-cultural missions for the past 6 months. I’m thankful to realign my heart with His and a part of what He is doing in the world.

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Tonight was a pretty fun night for me at PhoenixONE. I had my own booth set up and was able to connect with lots of people from different churches. I ran into my old buddy Malachi and chatted with lots of friends that I have made over the years. I then looked across and saw that my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry had her booth set up across from me. She was fresh off her trip to Bangladesh with the FH bloggers. She was there to get people to sign up for the FH Empower Women 5k walk.

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Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell

It’s always a blessing to have my long time friends and worship leaders Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell lead worship for PhoenixONE. Brian always picks a song to get us moving around in our seats and tonight it was Hillsong’s “Break Free”. Tonight’s speaker was Brad Lomenick of Catalyst. I’m a huge fan of Catalyst and have been to a couple of their West Coast conferences in Orange county. Brad helps raise up leaders and Catalyst is a movement that helps equip them through amazing speakers and teachers.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad’s talk was about the four keys to being a change maker (the theme of the Catalyst conference this year). My notes:

1. Understanding your calling

– Our talents and passions should intersect

– Salvation and Vocation

Write down your three greatest strengths and then your three greatest passions

2. Create a legacy

– Your 20’s will establish your 70’s – start creating your legacy now.

– Be Kingdom entrepreneurs – both business and the Bible.

– Own a vision bigger than what is in front of you. Perseverance is important.

3. Excellence – be the best in the world.

– Set a standard of excellence.

– Be good at everything you do – father, co-worker, etc. Work hard and be a good finisher. The world will notice.

4. Be more like Jesus.

– Passionately pursue Him. There are too many average Christians.

– His grace leads to our passion of worship which leads to joy in our lives.

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“Break Free”

I sat with my friend Heidi during the service. She was up next to talk about Food for the Hungry‘s International Women’s Day. The Walk to Empower Women 5k walk at Indian Steele Park is in March. This is a walk to raise awareness of the women around the globe that face violence, discrimination, lack of basic rights, lack of education. Heidi has a huge heart for this and God has taught me a lot about partnerships. Heidi has put a lot of time and effort into this and I’m thankful be a voice to help raise awareness for her. Plus I have the utmost respect for Food for the Hungry and always blessed to be a part of what they are doing in to world.

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Heidi Hatch

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So… there is this amazing team from Food for the Hungry headed to Bangladesh next week. They are the FH Bloggers and they will be using their voices to tell the stories of what God is doing there and to mobilize others to make a difference in the world. I have worked alongside Food for the Hungry many times in the past and have so much respect for them and what they do. I can’t wait to share the God story of how I got connected with this. But right now you need to follow these guys and keep the team in prayer.

FH Bloggers

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I was chatting with my friends Mat and Lisa Weddle from my Missional Community and we were reminiscing on how exactly six years ago today (New Years Eve) we were boarding a plane with thirty other young adults to be a part of Passion in Atlanta. For them, it was where they first met and they are now married today. My friends Brian Wurzell and Promise and Steve Adame and Liz met on that trip and they too are married and doing amazing stuff for the Lord. For people like myself, Shauna and Amaris, it was the trip that God called us into cross-cultural missions. They both ended up serving on the field for some time. It was a pivotal trip for many of us from that amazing community that were led by Pastor Ron Merrell. I heard God speak through Francis Chan for the first time that year. Chris Tomlin’s version of “Fire Fall Down” reminded me of my broken life and how God was putting me back to together to do years of ministry following that trip. Ben Stuart’s message on singleness was the best message I have ever heard on how God can use us as single people. I used that message to start a group for newly divorced people and how God can use them at this time to do amazing things for Him. But the impactful part of that trip was Louie Giglio’s message on how heaven will be a party for the nations. That message blew me away and opened the door for me to engage with God’s heartbeat for the world.

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Passion ’07

I had an amazing conversation today with my friend Amber at 8th Day Coffee and Culture. We were talking about our creative gifts and how God uses them for His purposes. She has been getting a lot of pressure to sign with a major record label. Her heart is just to share her music with the world and how God healed her from a difficult time. For me, I hope never to have to make money off of anything creative I do. I am blessed to have a job that provides more than enough for me to do life. I personally want to use my creative talents for the Kingdom and to share with others. We were talking about how easy it is to make our gifts about ourselves and not about the Lord.

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It’s New Years Eve and I am so thankful for where I am at in life. It’s been an incredible year for me and I feel focused for the first time in a few years. My friend and mentor described my year like this: He said I’m like a plant and God put me into a pot to grow and heal me for a little while because there were some things He needed to work on. The soil represents the healing power of God working in my life. But now he sees God taking me out of that pot and putting me back into world to allow me to continue to serve Him. I do feel that. I feel God is ready for me to begin to go back to work and be a light for Him. And honestly, I don’t know what that is and I love that. This is where my faith and trust in God comes in and allows me to stay on His path.

IMG_1462I do know that God is about to reveal some of His plan for me. Through teaching from amazing influential people and reading His word, God is syncing my heart to His heart for injustice and mercy. I’ve gone about this all wrong for some time. I saw trafficking firsthand in Cambodia for the first time in 2008 and God opened the door for me to learn more about it. Failed opportunities to go to Fiji and other chances to engage were due to me following my own wants and desires and making life about me. I’m done needing approval from other people for my sense of self-worth and being a one-man show trying to save the world so I can feel better about myself. Now God has put me back into a position to be a part of His plan for justice and I want to be attentive to just following His will. It’s about the gospel and the message of God redeeming a fallen world. God is aligning me to Him and I look forward to learning more about topics like slavery so I can be an effective tool for Him.

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Cambodia ’08 – my first exposure to human trafficking

I also was convicted by a passage in Luke 5 this week in which Simon Peter falls to knees in worship when Christ invites him to drop what he is doing and follow Him. When was the last time I dropped to my knees in worship to the Lord? I honestly don’t have an answer to that. I want to be in worship everyday with my Lord and Savior. I want Him to be my first priority in all I do. God has done so much for and hasn’t given up on me. I want my life to reflect on His grace and for others to see Jesus when they meet me.

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1 million meals / 24 hours/ 5,000 volunteers

April 12-13, 2013

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I love nights like tonight at PhoenixONE. They had inspirational speakers come and talk about their organizations and how God is working around the world. I have always felt the college/ young adult age can make a huge difference in our world. David Wright from Youth for Christ International spoke about what God is doing with the youth. They work all around the world mobilizing these young people to be leaders and share the love of Christ. Below is a video of what they are doing in Rwanda and in the high schools in the U.S.

Youth for Christ reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.

 

I’ve always been a fan of Venture Expeditions. I have friends that have served in Czechoslovakia through Venture. Paul Hurckman spoke about Venture and how they mobilize people through cycling and other humanitarian projects. They have partnered with all types of organizations like International Justice Missions and music artists to make Jesus’ name famous. This was an encouraging night and I hope to see more young adults make radical decisions to spread the love Jesus.

The Venture Expeditions community empowers people to benefit the world and discover their souls through adventure-driven humanitarian efforts.

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