Friday, July 25, 2014

Missions Team on the Way Home

When the rest of us are heading to bed tonight, our Romania missions team will be boarding an early morning flight back to the States.  They've put in several days of hard labor (in a good sense) to show and share the love of Jesus.

This was a shared effort with Reach Beyond staff and missionaries and over 40 people from Christian radio station Joy FM in St. Louis.  This is the third missions trip they've been on with our ministry.

The team did some work in the building that houses our radio partner in Arad, Romania.  As you can see, it does need some work.  This isn't the kind of radio station building you'd see in the U.S.

Don't judge a book by its cover.  Or a station by its building.  On the very top floor, a very nice station has been built out broadcasts the gospel to the community.

The work team of 47 people had a direct impact on the lives of the locals.  This puppet show was part of a VBS program that captured the hearts and minds of the kids.


The team put on a carnival for the community one night, another creative way to share the Gospel.

They shared their testimonies at a youth gathering.

They did repairs and ministered to the kids at the Friendship Youth Camp.  Face painting was a hit.

Well done work team!  Can't wait to hear the stories.

Now which way is home?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Missions Trip in Romania Under Way

It is a major task to coordinate 47 people heading to Romania for a missions work trip.  But that's exactly what I've been working on for the past several months with our team here, in partnership with radio station Joy FM from St. Louis, MO.

The team flew out on Saturday and they completed their first day of work today.  Romania is nine hours ahead of Colorado Springs, so they are finishing up their day when I am just sitting down at my desk in the morning.  I went on the trip with Joy FM two years ago, but this year I sent three other Reach Beyond staff to head it up.  They were joined by two of our missionaries based in Romania.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Grand(parent) Time

Last week, we wrapped up ten great days with our five grandchildren and their families.  They all converged on our home in Colorado and we packed 10 of us inside.  Thankfully, there was a lot of outside time, too.  We missed Travis, who is deployed, and Jayna, who is in California.

Rhett is one year old and I had fun the final night throwing him into a pile of pillows.  He had fun, too!

The kids pinned our son Tommy and tickled him.  I think he let them win.

Of course, we took a hike in the beautiful Colorado foothills.

If five grandchildren weren't enough, we added two more little ones when my nephew, Ryan and his wife, Caroline, came with their kids for a Saturday picnic.  And his parents joined the fun (my brother, Bob and wife, Jan).  We only needed two more kids to field a baseball team.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How Not to See California

Good friend and Reach Beyond Board member Dr. Rick Bravo
and I climbed this "mountain" dozens of times over the years in
San Luis Obispo.  He and I make a point to "scale" Bishop Peak
every time Noonie and I are in town, like this latest time as we
sport our SonSet radio shirts.

It was a 14-day whirlwind trip that included a wedding, driving through Mojave, too-short visits with radio colleagues, three days with ministry partners on the Central Coast, a hike up Bishop Peak for old timesake, a chance to see my stepmom and have time with a couple of our kids and family.  

I had a visit with Annelies (or as our kids call her, "Grammalies)
in Fullerton, but these times are so meaningful now that we cannot
get together as much as when we lived in California.  Meet Fibi.

No, this is not the way to see California, but at the same time, it was probably the best visit we've had since we moved to Colorado.  By the end, we weren't exhausted.  We were super-encouraged.  I think it was because it was filled with quality fellowship with friends, family and ministry partners.  And discussing with so many people what we and they are seeing God do.

Reconnecting with Teammates

Our time in California was cut short in February, so on this June trip we were able to squeeze in some time with people on our sending and support team that we didn't see last time so we could update them on the ministry.

These are my heroes.  Jim and Donna Jeffrey are our co-laws
(our kids married each other) and they are so missions-minded.
They have gone out of their comfort zone (even though they
look pretty comfortable here) several times to leave this
country and venture to areas that badly need the gospel, for weeks
at a time.  Missions is a way of life for them.  As always, we had
such an encouraging time connecting with them in SLO.

Now I know why missionaries get so much refreshment out of their furloughs.  It is energizing to spend time with those who pray for us and give to our work, and to hear what God is doing in their lives.  Noonie and I remarked how blessed we are to have a bunch of friends with whom we can pick up where we left off.

We still didn't see everyone on our team, and we regret that.  Time was so short again.  But, we shall return!  If you are one of those we didn't see, thanks for understanding.

Radio Partners

Backtracking... the trip started out when I spent a few days in Southern and Central California with Reach Beyond radio partners.  I also spent several hours with Ambassador, the agency that help carry out our radio ministry in the US, which includes the Reach Beyond radio feature heard in over 1,000 communities.  We talked about how we can better mobilize listeners and radio stations to join us to take the gospel to unreached people around the world.  Please pray for us as we develop this effort further.

The happy couple.  Donny and Tu-Anh's wedding and
reception were outdoors.  What a memory!  And I didn't
mess up the ceremony.  Whew.

Then it was up the coast to Sacramento for the weekend, where Noonie and I had an amazing experience as I performed my first wedding ceremony.  It was for Donny Trone and Tu-Anh Nguyen, a couple we've known for almost a decade.  Donny was in my Bible Study for almost five years while he was a student at Cal Poly.  What an honor to lead this Christ-centered ceremony.  It was a great weekend and we will never forget it.


In the middle of the week, we were able to meet up with Jayna in Santa Barbara, since we were in San Luis Obispo for a few days. 

We spent the final weekend with our Monterey kids and grandkids (Tommy, Olivia and family).  They are preparing to head overseas for two years in December, so whatever time we can spend with them is precious.  And it was a blast!

Two wiggly grandchildren, Roman and Aria are squeezed for
a picture with grandma and grandpa.

This was no walk in the park.  But it was a walk on the beach
with Tommy, Olivia, Aria and Roman. 

Thank you for your prayers and gifts that truly empower us to do our part to take the gospel to the unreached.  After this trip, we really know how important you are in so many ways. 

Come visit us in Colorado!  That's what our five grandchildren and families will be doing next week.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Comfort, Courage and the Cause of Christ

The story starts like this:

The young boy was deposited at one of the free, one-day medical clinics we regularly host with one of our ministry partners in Africa. I say he was “deposited” because he had been wheeled in by an unidentified person who parked him in the sun and wandered off. He remained there for hours, unmoving and alone, until one of the nurses wheeled him over to see the doctor.

His name was Ananias, and he suffered from numerous maladies. A translator tried to tell our doctor what was wrong. It turned out that translator was Jacob, Ananias’ father. Jacob said his son had a case of “heaven.” 

Ananias was treated at a medical clinic like this one,
where Reach Beyond medical teams serve.

Obviously, something wasn’t translating correctly, but soon it became clear what the problem was as Jacob sounded it out, syllable by syllable: “ep-i-lep-sy.” Ananias was regularly convulsed by seizures, said Jacob, who explained that they called this “heaven because we believe that spirits from above bring diseases. The children with ‘heaven’ look up as the convulsion begins.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Today is World Water Day

Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-borne illness, often from something as simple as diarrhea.  We have the luxury of clean water coming out of the tap, but in many developing countries they do not.  Entire communities drink contaminated water and it destroys their health and lives.

Today is a day when organizations that provide solutions are coming together to create awareness of this solvable problem.  Yesterday, I did an interview on a group of stations in Alabama, as Reach Beyond is very active in clean water projects.

You can listen to the recording of the interview at this link.

Just a couple weeks ago, a staff team was in a small African country called Lesotho, training community leaders about how to implement safe sanitation in their villages.  Afterwards, one of the women came up to one of our missionaries and said that she had been taught by the chiefs that if water was moving, it was safe.  She said she had never realized that people bathing in the river, animals wading through, people washing clothes, etc., made the water unsafe.  Now she has the knowledge to change her village.  She was ecstatic to go back and teach her people. 

We use this platform to introduce people to the Living Water, Jesus.  In one Muslim village, at the dedication of a clean water well we had installed, our team told the story of Jesus as the Living Water.  They said the people would continue to thirst, even with this well, but they would never thirst spiritually with Jesus, the Living Water.  That day, four men came forward and received the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to the interview and then pray for efforts to bring clean water and the Living Water to those in physical and spiritual need.  Below are folks from a village we are helping in remote Ecuador, and we hope to finish the project in May, which will bring clean water to every home.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Celebrating 100th Station Plant

It feels good to settle down at home after quite a bit of travel, but now Noonie and I have that coughing cold flu.  I'm wrapping up my experience with it, but Noonie is just on the front end.  Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Our time in California was fast but sweet.  Some said that they were thankful we brought the rain.  The truth is that we would have brought snow, so we couldn't take credit for the rain.  Check out this picture from normally calm Avila Beach.  This day on March 1 marked the biggest waves there in 31 years, over 20 feet high.

Just before the California trip, I had the privilege of being part of the team that oversaw the grand opening of our new name, Reach Beyond.  We did this at the NRB Christian Media Conference in Nashville. 

But during that time, God was doing a major work thousands and thousands of miles away, much more notable than our grand opening.  The Lord used planted the 100th radio station in our Asia-Pacific Region.  This one was planted in Thailand, where .5% of the population is Christian.  Our team in that region works closely with quality partners there who own and run the stations once they are built.

"Our radio partners conservatively estimate that more than 10,000 people come to Christ each year through the radio station plants," said Ty Stakes, our director for the Asia-Pacific region. "This means more than 100,000 people have come to Christ in just the last decade. We have adopted aggressive plans to expedite the number of radio stations across the region, which will hopefully result in hundreds of thousands more coming to know Jesus."

Celebrate with us and please pray for thousands more to come to Christ this year.