Archive for the ‘News & Updates’ Category
As I type, Noah is across town teaching for a few hours at the local Christian university, Laidlaw College. Despite what the name sounds like, it has nothing to do with law. The curriculum focuses on theology, ministry, counseling and teaching. Our friend Jon is teaching a course there this year on Theology and Global Ministry and invited Noah to come speak about missional community for for a couple of hours today. We’re grateful for the opportunity for Noah to share on a topic close to our hearts.
Here’s Noah (writing to you after returning from teaching):
Hello friends! We could use your prayers if you have a few minutes to spare. We so appreciate your time!
—Residency! We have started the process of applying for residency here in NZ. This is not citizenship but we are pursuing the opportunity to stay longer past what our current visa allows (our official time here expires Feb 2014). If we gain residency status, we would not be limited to how long we can stay in the country. This is a selective and long process and we would love your prayers for favor with the government and that we do everything accurately that we need to do (paperwork).
—Kate’s health. It’s been poor since we arrived in 2010 and she’s been fighting off junk constantly. Though she’s learned through the trials and drawn closer to God, please continue to pray for a new season. A season of health and vitality!
—Ministry. We have two major ministry opportunities on the horizon that we are praying about and planning out. We would love your prayers about these. Pray for wisdom, timing, team mates and open doors. Thanks!!
—Financial Supporters. Not yet, but soon we will transition into fulltime reliance on donor support. (For now, keep those freelance art jobs coming to Noah). We currently have a handful of faithful supporters. Noah has been carrying the brunt of the financial responsibility for the last three years here, however we feel God opening us into season of more full-time, hands-on ministry opportunities that would not allow Noah much time for graphic arts jobs. More on this coming soon; for now please pray for an influx of supporters, and please pray about your personal support of our work here in the future! We know there are thousands of causes to give to, so we won’t be hurt if your heart is drawn elsewhere. We’d love to hear from you if you feel led to start partnering with us.
Keep an eye out for more details in the future.
Recently we received a great question on our blog post, “Do you pray… with your spouse?” The question was from a woman wondering how to initiate praying with her boyfriend, who she believes will become her husband at some point down the road. I thought this was a great question and wanted to post my response to her here in hopes it might encourage anyone else who may be wondering the same thing. I added more thoughts on it below and welcome all your comments if you want to offer your advice to her and any other readers who might need some insight on this topic.
“Over the last 8 years we slowly cultivated our prayer life together. Each person approaches God differently, so we’ve noticed that we don’t exactly pray the same way or at the same frequency. We’ve had to learn how to pray together… so I encourage you to remember it takes time, depending on your personalities. Some couples find it easy right away, others find it harder. I know of some couples who have had dynamic prayer times together right away… while others have been married 25 years and still struggle. It just depends on each other’s openness.
Obviously there are different ways to pray and approach God. Generally we both pray throughout our days alone in a sense (you know.. as things happen, as things come to mind)… but we try to intentionally pray together whenever we feel pressed to…about things like our relationship, about decisions, about health concerns, praying over our child, praying for friends, etc.
How To Initiate: If both are keen, just find a good time where you are both able to sit down and give a little concentrated time. I usually initiate and ask Noah if it’s a good time later that day to sit down together to pray. Sometimes he initiates and also asks if I am free to do so later. Whomever initiates usually starts the praying. Then the other jumps in after awhile. It just depends on your heart, mind space, personality, etc. Whatever works for you guys.
Vulnerability: Praying is a vulnerable thing and it might take time to feel comfortable doing it in front of one another. It can be easier to be authentic and vulnerable with God when you’re alone and it’s just you and Him… when you’re not concerned about being judged. But at some point you just gotta dive in and be vulnerable and pray together. For dating, engaged and married couples, it’s important for people to come to the father together. Don’t comment on how one another prays. Be loving and supportive.
Taking the Plunge: My best advice is to just try it out. Even just taking turns praying over one another. “Hey God.. wow, thanks that we can have a relationship with you and can come to you for every need. Thank you that you love us. I want to bless my husband and just lift him up to you right now… I pray you give him strength today and wisdom in everything he does. May He feel your peace and be at rest in your presence…..” etc. and take it from there on a more personal level. (Just an example of how to start). Then have him pray for you.
Once you start doing that for awhile, it will get easier and easier. Maybe spend some time before praying listening to worship music.. and picture God there with you. How would you talk to him?
Open Ears: Once you get comfortable.. it’s great to really also listen to God together, since prayer is a two way street, not just us talking at God. A beautiful thing about being married to another believer is that God is the center and He actually talks back. It is vital to keeping our marriage intact because we agree that God knows best and we follow Him… so when he gives us direction or insight into something, we then are on the same page and there is way less room for conflict. We both get convicted of things, or we both agree on important decisions… it’s amazing when Noah gets a vision for me, or a word… God wants to speak through people to encourage and guide.
Recommends: The Power of a Praying Wife, Red Moon Rising, Practicing God’s Presence…
I remember that when we were dating, we didn’t pray a ton together, but it really happened more often once we were engaged…then throughout our marriage it has grown and grown. xx”
Every YWAM school at the Oxford base does a weekly afternoon teaching session that is dedicated to preparing them for outreach. Throughout the 12 weeks of lectures, the students learn about various topics (hearing God’s voice, studying the bible, the father heart of God, etc.) but the outreach prep teaching sessions are soley dedicated to prepare them for going out into other nations.
Last week Noah and myself shared with the “Around the World in 80 Days” DTS. I enjoyed sharing with the students and staff about team dynamics (specifically helping the students identify if they are an introvert or extrovert… and helping them look at how introverts and extroverts can get along in a team setting). Noah shared on the topics of Luke 10 (Jesus “recipe” for outreach) and he talked about cultural sensitivity. Here are photos from the cultural sensitivity bit where students gathered into their outreach teams and had to eat foreign foods. Love some of those faces, but so proud of them for going for it!
“Sometimes people talk about the book of Acts as if it’s something that could never happen again. And in part, they are right. But I think Jesus was quite serious when he said we would do greater things than he did, which we see in Acts. But I also believe we will see greater things than we read about in the book of Acts. I believe it because I’ve seen it. And I believe that’s the story Jesus is inviting all of us into.” – Mike Breen
I just recently finished reading a very helpful book entitled “Building a Discipling Culture” by Mike Breen. The book itself is not novel, but I do believe it’s subject matter is essential. You see… I don’t know how to make disciples. In fact, I don’t think many Christians do. We’ve just never really been taught what it looks like to make disciples in our daily lives because – quite frankly – we’ve never been properly discipled ourselves.
Disciple-making, for the most part, has largely been relegated to what I would call “programs”. Once-per-week on a Thursday night. Often it’s a class, maybe a group of you sitting in rows or maybe even a circle. There’s usually a long talk and then a bit of discussion, followed by coffee and cookies. Then you go home.
In the dark.
Or maybe it’s more vibrant than that. Maybe there’s a retreat in the woods, with games and sleeping bags. Maybe an ‘encounter weekend’ where you’re introduced to the wonderful working of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe you get a free book to read. Maybe that book has little blank spaces where you have to fill in the precisely correct word. But no matter how wonderful it is, it’s probably still a program.
An example from my life right now:
We work with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and the heart of what YWAM does is to run Discipleship Training Schools (DTS).
Hundreds of them.
All over the planet.
This is an intensive 6-month school that is designed to train young believers how to live out the teachings of Christ in a global missions context. It’s amazingly effective in terms of rapid character transformation, inner healing, developing a culture of community, and stoking the fires of the heart.
And though I happen to LOVE the DTS model – when all is said and done it’s still a program.
You sign up.
You get accepted.
You scrape your money together, buy your flights, and travel to some distant location (wherever it may be). You get 3 months of intense teaching and another 3 on outreach and then, when it’s all over, you return home – a radically changed person. However, when the rubber of your new life hits the road of your old one, things don’t always go the way you would hope. There’s often deep cultural and personal conflict which no program can rightly address.
The Jesus model of discipleship was (and is) very different.
It took place within the context of your own culture, amongst your friends, in and out of your own community. The rubber was hitting the road everyday.
There was no room for compartmentalization because as you learned to follow the teachings of Christ you immediately applied them to the relationships and situations around you. You were being transformed in the (dis)comfort of your daily life.
All this being said, I suppose one could argue that Jesus actually DID employ His own type of ‘program’. If so, it was a classic rabbinical ‘disciple’ model—something which is about as far removed from our modern day ‘program’ as it is chronologically distant. This ‘model’ was 12 students that followed His every move, ate when He ate, slept when He slept, brushed their teeth with Him, washed their feet with Him, and basically mimicked every aspect of Jesus’ life. It was more like an ‘apprenticeship’ than a western ‘program’.
The goal of Jesus was for His students to absorb and reflect His very life, character, and behavior.
His DNA down to the last seemingly insignificant detail.
In our modern culture of quick results, emotional isolation, personal vanity, and quantity-measured-outcomes this seems absurd. An impossibility. It’s no surprise then, that we’ve resorted to the program-based classroom models we now timidly refer to as ‘discipleship’.
And so I find myself pondering the question: How do we live out our discipleship more like Jesus, in a culture that is NOTHING like His?
Personally I have been inspired by some of Mike’s thoughts and experiences surrounding that exact question. I thought I’d share an introductory talk he gave a few years back in hopes that you might find it inspiring too! I particularly appreciated the ‘earthquake’ metaphor as it specifically speaks to us here in post-quake / pre-rebuilt Christchurch. I hope you find it as interesting as I did! (Turn up your speakers; it’s a bit quiet.)
In less than a month we will be visiting Kate’s parents.. in Hawaii! Her dad has a conference there so they generously offered to fly us out for a visit. We are looking forward to seeing them and for Sparrow to see her Nana and Poppa Goodell! After our time with them, we will be heading over to the YWAM Kona base for a week-long conference and networking. We have been establishing a connection with some schools and contacts there and we are looking forward to getting together to brainstorm ideas. We’ll share more on this topic soon. For now, we’d appreciate your prayers!!
- –For our travels with Sparrow. We have an 8-hour day flight and an 8-hour night flight with her.
- –We also could use your prayers in regards to wisdom we are seeking lately related to some ministry ideas here in the city. We’ve had a few ideas brewing for some years now and are sensing it’s time to launch into some of them.
As always, thanks for reading and thanks for supporting!
After 5 and a half months of intense training and international outreach, every DTS (Discipleship Training School) goes through a “Debrief Week” where the students are encouraged to process everything that has happened, reflect on the growth they’ve experienced, and to prepare for the next stages in their lives. During the second week in March, I (Noah) had the honor of guiding the 24 Justice DTS students from YWAM Oxford through 4 days of reflection, discussion, prayer and planning for the future.
The week included, but was not limited to, comparing Jane Poynter’s reflections on the Biosphere 2 project to the DTS experience, thinking about how Nissan’s new ‘Easy-Fill Tire Alert’ is similar to the Holy Spirit, and going through Mike Breen’s Learning Circle not once but four times.
The primary focus of this debrief week was to prepare the student’s hearts, minds, and spirits for the unknown future that lies just ahead – not merely to think about it – but to formulate an ‘action plan’ in the hope of overcoming the various pitfalls that tend to await a returning DTS student. Often times our best intentions fail to achieve for us the change we want to see because they aren’t accompanied by a plan… so the goal was to take things one step beyond ‘intention’ and into full-blown ‘action’.
Despite this being my frist time speaking for this amount of time (12 hours) and being incredibly nervous (terrified), I felt like it went really well and I received some very encouraging feedback from both staff and students… which means I just *might* consider doing it again if the opportunity arises.
Here’s to overcoming our fears, turning intentions into plans, and walking through the doors God opens!
We’d love to hear from you, friends!
How have you stepped out in rebellion against your fear lately?
I wanted to tell you about a new ministry initiative we are heading up!
Name: We Are Chch (Christchurch)
Basics: Essentially it’s a photojournalistic project that creates the opportunity to meet and reach locals through conversation and pray for them if God leads.
How: Currently the main focus is to interview locals, take their photo, and put a brief story about them on the instagram feed… and Noah is working on building the website that will feature that photo feed and more (see below.)
Who: Kate has been spearheading this effort and guiding a team of YWAM students on Friday nights who are participating in this project. (We help the YWAM schools outreach to Christchurch and Oxford each Friday night. This project is one we specifically lead while other teams are sent to various other opportunities around the city with other ministries.) We meet on Friday afternoons in various locations around town.
Purpose: 1.To spread hope, positivity and love through hearing people’s stories and affirming them in who they are. We aim to love them, ask engaging questions, and encourage them with prayer if God leads us/students to do so. 2. We try to jot down whatever stands out to us about them so that we can encourage them with that when we post their photo (contagious laugh, calm spirit, positive outlook, kind-hearted, etc.). We hope that when they go online to look at their story they feel loved and valued. 3. We also see the website/instagram feed as a connection point for other locals to “meet” one another through the stories, feel a sense of unity with fellow “Christchurchians” and feel HOPEFUL during this new season in Christchurch. 4. The other main purpose is to give YWAM students an opportunity to build confidence in talking with strangers, engaging in conversations and praying for others.
Details: The purpose of the website is to feature in-depth stories (articles highlighting various ministries, outreaches, creative initiaties, and people around Christchurch who are making a change in the city), short stories (the instagram mini-stories), and links to events and opportunities around town. The whole point is to be a positive voice in Christchurch. We are hoping to have the website up and running soon!
Inspiration: A few years ago I stumbled across a blog in Denver called “I Heart Strangers”. The blogger’s goal was to meet and interview someone he came across each day and then blog about this person. When we moved here I really felt pulled in the same direction—to do something like that here in Christchurch. Especially after the quakes, we felt it was an open opportunity to talk to people while they are more open to chat aout more meaningful things with strangers!
Ps. We started this initiative a year ago with one of the YWAM schools. This year we evaluated how the last attempt went and have streamlined the project and given it more direction and purpose. We are hopeful that it’s going to gain momentum now.
So as you know if you’ve been reading here recently, Noah has been involved with a coding club in a nearby low-income area at an outreach center. He’s been assisting his tech-savvy friend launch and teach the course to interested youth.
The first session of free classes are finished and we are entering upon another session of classes starting up soon. The coding club made the news on several occasions because our friend heading it up asked his company to partner with the initiative. Here is another recent news article featuring The Code Club: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Will.I.Am and other tech giants join forces to make coding cool.
Noah is also hoping to pioneer a session of classes targeted at youth interested in graphic design in the near future.
This weekend Noah and I sat down together to pray. Quite honestly we found it much easier before baby to pray together spontaneously for whatever length of time that God might lead. We now seem so busy with life around work, ministry, and fitting in time for fun and friends, that we’re noticing we need to be more consciously active in carving out concentrated prayerful time together. It’s basically been since last month that we made time for a few hours praying and worshiping together.
But that’s not what this post is about. I can tend to get off topic… What this is about is something that God laid on my heart during our prayer time together over the weekend—that often life is about the journeys and not the destinations.
As we sat in the living room, we were reflecting and praying about our last three years here as well as the next however many*. We reminded ourselves of the words God gave us before arrival and throughout the last several years here. Some of the words we have seen come to pass, some of the words we are still waiting on. We have found it can be tempting to be downcast when you don’t see something fufilled right away. We try to remember that the best approach is trusting God and faithfully waiting to see Him do whatever it is He said He would do.
In the midst of that is the temptation to “count” the fruit, usually the “end results”… and if your personally-constructed or God-breathed “end result” hasn’t been fulfilled it’s easy to get negative, discouraged, and apathetic. Whenever God gives vision, it’s so important to hold on to that vision and remain true to His calling or end goal until one sees it fulfilled But what we should NOT do is measure our success in whether or not it’s happened yet. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that success is measured in faithfulness, not numbers. It’s not about us anyway, it’s about God’s glory and our obedience to His direction.
In evaluating our time here thus far, I felt that God reminded me that we must also count the things we’ve learned along the way as important things to include in “successful outcomes” of our time here. God often grows and teaches us immensely through the journey.
We’ve both grown a lot.
We’ve grown through the process of moving here and being the only person for one another to rely on. From being forgeign in a foreign land and learning to really observe and take in the ways of others. We’ve learned what it means to really trust God and trust each other, and rely on a new community of friends. We’ve each gone through distinct seasons of trials and tests that have grown us. We’re learning a lifestyle of hospitality and serving. We’ve gained new ways to approach life that are different from the American dream. We’ve been stretched and refined in our character and personality. We’ve gone without and also have had seasons of abundance. We’ve seen relationships with relatives and friends strengthen despite the distance, while also watching other relationships fall by the wayside. I could go on, but the point is that this journey has so much fruit indeed and we are grateful for God bringing us all the way over here to walk us through life-changing experiences.
As we continue to embrace the culture, love our neighbors, strengthen friendships and partner with various ministry efforts, we are blessed by each new day and each new opportunity to practice faithfulness and be reshaped by the grand Potter.
*We are often asked by both friends here or friends from the States how long we will be here. We still don’t have a conclusive answer for you! Sorry!! We too wish we knew but we don’t. God has been silent on the issue, only letting us know it will be awhile and to go at a marathon pace not a sprint. Our plan is to obtain residency (please pray!) and continue along the path God has carved for us here until He says our work is done. (He did say that when our work is done we shall return home. That’s all we have to go on!)