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Big Boulders Make Big Splashes, The Power of Collective Support

The youth at Calvary Chapel Chattanooga spend two weeks in the Dominican Republic each summer for a mission experience (they’re leaving in late July this year).  I’ve had the privilege to travel with them and they do so many wonderful things for the people in La Union and Congrejo, two neighboring villages on the north coast. Because of their continual commitment to this area, they were challenged by their pastor (Kenny Engels) to consider as a group to  “adopt” our family and support us. And yes, I said the youth at the church. Many times young people are overlooked when raising support, especially financial support. But as a collective group, they have the potential to be a very powerful giving force. Read More…

Big News – June Newsletter

If you don’t receive our email newsletters, well you missed the BIG NEWS we sent out in our June e-newsletter! (Be sure to sign up to receive our future newsletters by adding your email in our newsletter list – see box in the right column.)

Our Big News

We have been offered and have accepted a missions position with Makarios International to be the directors (principal) of The Makarios School, or Colegio Makarios, in Montellano, Dominican Republic.  (FYI – “makarios” is Greek for “blessed.”)

View the letter from Sharla Megilligan, the director of Makarios International, about us joining her organization.
The Makarios School in Montellano, D.R.
I(Pat) have submitted my resignation to The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and will end my commitment there at the end of June. Starting in July we will make our final preparations to leave for the D.R., including trying to sell our house (on the market right now), sell or donate our belongings we’re not taking with us, participate in some state-side pre-field training (which will take us to Austin, TX and possibly Colorado), raise the last bit of support we need, and spend our last few days with our close friends and family. That’s a lot to do in one month, but we’re praying the Lord will give us the energy to sustain us and open up all kinds of opportunities to help us make these things happen.

When We Leave for the D.R.

We will leave for the D.R. sometime in August, but the final dates won’t be determined until we find out if we will be attending the Mission Training Institute in Colorado. If we get into the MTI training, we’ll leave Chattanooga August 1, spend three weeks at the training and then leave directly from there for the D.R. If we do not get into the MTI training, then we’ll leave from Chattanooga (Atlanta really) directly to the D.R. around August 15. We know the Lord has it in His hands to help our family get best prepared and so we are okay with no matter what happens.

Important Support Changes

Because we will be working directly for Makarios our support will now be run through their organization and no longer through Shepherd’s Staff. For those of you who have been supporting us financially, first off – THANK YOU. We couldn’t be be taking this step without you. However, you will need to suspend your payments to Shepherd’s Staff and submit your new contribution schedule through the Makarios giving form. You can either do this online or by filling out our family’s pledge form and mailing it to Makarios.  If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Makarios directly at 512-589-9018. To cancel any of your automatic payments with Shepherd’s Staff, please call their office at 505-248-9849 or emailssmfi@shepsstaff.org.

If you haven’t been supporting us because you wanted to wait until our ministry was more defined or when we were closer to going, well now is when we need you more than ever to commit to partnering with us. Your personal support generates our salary so that we can pay for our daily living expenses (house rental, transportation, furlough expenses, food, etc.).

Support our family in the D.R.

Submit your contribution today!

Prayer Requests

As we make our final preparations to leave for the D.R. we ask you to please pray for our family and for the ministry God has called us to do. Here are some specific requests:

  • That the Lord would prepare us emotionally and mentally, especially leaving everything we know and understand as “normal.”
  • That He would also prepare our family members, especially both Jenni’s and my parents, and help them find peace and comfort in us leaving.
  • That our transition to our new life in the D.R. will be smooth (especially for Gabriel, Adalie and Asher) and that it will open the door for incredible ways for us all to experience the Lord’s magnificent and sovereign faithfulness.
  • That our kids will quickly meet and make friends with other children.
  • That we raise the support we need to “make a living’ while serving internationally.
  • That our last few weeks here in the States is a time of sweet blessing with family and friends.
  • That He prepares those with whom we will be serving alongside (the Menold family from Raleigh, N.C. and the teaching staff from both the U.S. and the Dominican) and those of whom we will be serving directly (especially the adorable children at the Makarios School).
  • Ultimately, that more and more people will come to know and desire to live out a greater faith in Jesus, especially through hearing and experiencing His Living Word and seeing our humble steps to respond to Him in faith.

Thank you for praying for us and encouraging us as we take this huge journey for our family. We are excited but definitely a little overwhelmed with the various changes we will soon experience. May we be used to always reflect all glory to Him.

God Bless!

 

Crank It – Mystery, Anthem of the Week

I felt it important that this week we pay tribute to Jesus. Help me celebrate it in song. Turn up your volume on your computer, iPad or phone and hit the play button…and sing along (lyrics below).  This week’s anthem – Mystery by Charlie Hall. (buy it on Amazon)

Sweet Jesus Christ my sanity
Sweet Jesus Christ my clarity
Bread of heaven, broken for me
Cup of salvation held up to drink
Jesus, Mystery

Christ has died and
Christ is risen,
and Christ will come again

Sweet Jesus Christ my sanity
Sweet Jesus Christ my clarity
Bread of heaven broken for me
Cup of salvation held up to drink
Jesus, Mystery

Christ has died and
Christ is risen,
and Christ will come again

Bridge:
Celebrate his death and risingLift your eyes, proclaim his comeCelebrate his death and risingLift you eyes, lift your eyes
Celebrate his death and risingLift your eyes, proclaim his comeCelebrate his death and risingLift you eyes, lift your eyes

Christ has died and
Christ is risen,
and Christ will come again

Sweet Jesus Christ my sanity

The Peter in All of Us

Today, I read the passion account as written in the Gospel of Mark (14-16). Mark was a student under Peter’s tutelage (and was around twelve years old when Jesus died), and so by most means, this is Peter’s account of the passion. So I felt it fitting today that we focus a bit on Peter’s denial of Christ, which really could be said about all of us.

“Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”  But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.”  But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it. ” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.”
Mark 14-66-72

While reading this, we should also remember Peter’s promise a few verses earlier (or hours earlier that same day):

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will notbe. ” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”  And they all said likewise.”
Mark 14:27-31

Oh Peter! Boy can I relate to him. Such passion. Such desire to follow the Master. Such drive. Yet, it’s an important lesson here on self-confidence and fear.  “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not  be.”  Even if all the others fail, I am stronger. I won’t do the same. I will remain strong. And then again. “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”  He does follow through with his commitment to defend Jesus, although in the wrong way, when he slices the ear off of one of the soldiers who arrested Jesus. He had the passionate desire to defend the Lord through force. But Jesus reminded Peter (and us all) that if we are to live by force (the sword) then we too shall die by force (the sword). When we use the world’s ways of defending truth, we will fall to the world’s ways.

While some Christians will argue with this point, I find it very hard for Christians to fight in in the military, even if it’s in the “defense” of our moral freedoms. Military force is the world’s ways of resolving tyranny. It’s not the Christian way as illustrated by Jesus. Time and time again, we see Jesus being spat upon, critiqued, criticized, downplayed, beaten, tortured, and ultimately put to death. He could have easily called upon His divine power and smite every last enemy in His way, as He did through the Father’s power in the Old Testament accounts. But with Jesus’s life and death we enter into a new covenant and a new Way. The Jesus Way.  Jesus teaches to love our enemies and to pray for them. He teaches to even feed our enemies. I think this was Jesus’s point to Peter. And He illustrated it further when we look at the other gospel accounts of Peter’s forceful slicing off of the soldier’s ear. Jesus, after correcting Peter in word (a teachable moment), turns and miraculously mends the soldier’s ear. A last miracle in front of each of His disciples (including Judas).  How often, Jesus has to come in behind us and fix our messes. We go out and do what we think is right, but in reality we’re creating more violence, more hatred and more force. This is what happens when we succumb to putting our allegiance to the state before our allegiance to the ways of the Lord. He reminds us that He alone is the answer. Through His power and love, our enemy will fall.

And on we read that Peter, once again, falls short, as we all do. Upon Jesus’s seizing, Peter follows from a distance (verse 54). Right away, we see Peter failing to follow the promise he made to Jesus, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you!” Then why, Peter, did you have to follow from a distance. Why not pacifically stay by Jesus’s side as an act of dedication to follow Him? Because Peter succumbed to fear. Fear of being put into the same condition as Jesus. Fear of being ridiculed by others around. Fear of death. Fear of the world. How crippling fear can be in our own faith.

While I may not fully agree with the methods of the “bullhorn” preachers who proclaim The Word on the street corners and those who pass out tracks during community festivals, I do appreciate their boldness. We look on, shake our heads in disgust, and even laugh at how odd and silly they can be. But in doing so, we give in to our own selfishness about the fear of being accepted by the world. I do understand the importance of “being in the world” as opposed to “of the world,” and that the ways of the bullhorn guys may not be the best method at bringing people close to us in relationship so to better further the conversation in a friendly and intimate way. I agree that friendlier, more intimate methods can produce a greater avenue for people to listen and engage, but again, I admire their boldness and stance against the fear of being a part of the social norm. We could all learn to be better at standing close to Jesus in the face of adversity, even if it means we’d be ridiculed and labeled.

And moving on, we see Peter’s three denials of Christ. It’s important to note Peter’s physical location when he denied his involvement and camaraderie with Jesus. Peter is warming himself withing enemy territory. He surrounded himself with those who hated Jesus. And not only did he surround himself in this environment, he chose to try to blend in and even use them to warm himself. Can you relate to that? I can.  As Chuck Smith, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, noted in his commentary of this passage,

“The moment you seek to find comfort or warmth at the fire of the enemy, you’re placing yourself in real jeopardy. There are certain places that you as a child of God have no business being, and one is trying to find excitement or warmth at the enemies fire. You can be sure that when you do that, you’re headed for defeat.”

How often I have found myself in the midst of the “warmth” (or tempting ways) of the enemy (the world). We need to be careful about where we place ourselves.  Some may call it “sheltering” but I like to think of it as “protecting” ourselves and those we love (especially our own children). One of the key areas we Christians often fail at this is in the environments of movie theaters or when watching popular sitcoms in our own living rooms. We often open the door of the enemy for the desire to be entertained. So we flip on the police dramas about girls being raped and people being murdered and others having affairs or committing adultery because they are “in love.”  Trust me, this is a weak area for me. I like these shows because they do entertain me. Why am I so entertained by them? Unfortunately, it’s because I’m sick. I’m sickly in love with being entertained by the gross desires of evil. That’s why I need to be closer to Jesus, to His Word, to His Church, to Him directly in prayer. Peter put himself in the enemy’s grasp, and was even changed his behavior to fit in (he began to curse and swear because his speech [or character] was beginning to betray his true following).

God sent us a warning in Peter’s early ways. While passion and desire to follow Christ is awesome, it takes humility, boldness and courage to deny ourselves and be obedient followers of Jesus. Followers. FOLLOW His Way.

Graciously we later find Peter turning a new leaf on his faith. We see Jesus’s promise to establish the Church through Peter, “the Rock,” being fulfilled.  We see Peter learning from his mistakes. We see him groveling for forgiveness, seeking Jesus first, and utilizing his passionate zeal to follow the Lord in righteousness and holiness. And my prayer is that we too will turn a new leaf, deny ourselves, deny the ways of the world, and follow the Lord.

Lifting the Veil – Oh, What a Gift

This week, I’ve decided that I’m going to read through the passion of Jesus each day, and with every day I’ll read it in a different gospel account. Today, it’s from Matthew (26-28). I utilize my commute time on the CARTA bus to read the Word and this morning while on my transfer bus (the #10 to UTC) as I was reading it a young man (his name is Ricardo) asked me about my Bible. He shared he had one with him as well (as he patted his backpack). We then proceeded to have a brief conversation about God’s will for his life, as he was feeling a little confused about his future. He is working part time right now but is interested in missions. Now I believe nothing is “by chance.” While I only had a few minutes, I shared that God isn’t the author of confusion, so if he is confused, then he needs to be still and patiently wait upon the Lord. God’s will for him will be known when He finds it most appropriate to show it to him and Ricardo would know this through confirmation by many around him. He had no idea that I am headed to the mission field, as we didn’t have time to go in to more depth on my side of things. But I told him I’d pray for him. So, please join me in lifting up our young brother Ricardo. My prayer is that today he will be sparked to have many conversations about the Lord, and these would fuel him in his study as he waits for direction.

Missions is a beautiful venture. I love how in the end of Matthew’s gospel account (and the passion) is Jesus’s call to his followers to go out and make disciples of others. To me, the fact that the Lord places missions in this place is an important reminder about our role in His passion. It’s not a passive role either. God calls us to act on His sacrifice and on His resurrection. As I told Ricardo, we’re all “missionaries,” but our missions field is just in different places. We are asked to share the “good news.”

So, what is the GOOD NEWS?

One important part of the good news is the lifting of the veil, as was emphasized on my heart when reading today’s verse when I read of the death of Jesus.

“Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split…”
Matthew 27:52

It was a brief mention in this account, but let’s not under appreciate the aspect of the significance of the “veil of the temple” being torn. While this was most assuredly a visual representation of God’s power that definitely caused people during that moment to fear God’s wrath, it also illustrated the immense love that God had for us. Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, through the spilling of innocent blood for our sake, we were at that distinct moment given direct access to God Himself.  The temple being torn in two was a significant point God wanted to show to us.

As you may remember, the temple was the most significant place for the Jewish people during that time. It was the one place where people could visit with the Jewish priests who would intercede on their behalf. Through animal sacrifice, prayer and ritual, people were able to have access to God, but it was only during certain days when the priests would allow it. In other words, it was difficult for sinful men to have access to God. One had to enter through the veil of the temple and through other men to do so.

Through the sacrificial shedding of Jesus’s blood and His death on the cross, He sealed a new covenant to us. God tore apart the veil of the temple to give us direct access to God. At that moment, sin lost its power to control us, for Jesus had overcome sin. No more would we have to make animal sacrifices and go through the temple to seek God’s face. Jesus entered through the veil for our sake. Our Father’s presence in our lives was instantly accessible when the temple was torn apart. What an incredible gift. What GOOD NEWS!

The veil has been lifted as we now have access to our Father through the “Temple” of Jesus Christ. It makes my prayers and my worship to the Lord so much sweeter. What a present. Oh, what a joy to have communion with my God in such a way. Thank you Lord! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

How can I now just sit around and selfishly appreciate this gift on my own. No,I have to share this gift. I must heed God’s call to make disciples, to share the Good News, to share this precious gift with others. May you do likewise.

Singing at the Hands and Feet Children’s Home in Haiti

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This video is of Brisso, one of the Haitian staff members of the Calvary Chapel Haiti Initiative, leading songs with the children at the Hands and Feet Project children’s home – the ministry of the Christian band Audio Adrenaline – in Jacmel, Haiti. Brisso has worked as a translator for CCHI since the initiative started. At 21 years old, he is an example of the great hope of a generation of young Haitian men devoted to living as a true disciple of Jesus. His heart is tender-minded and his gifts are tremendous with children’s ministry but also with leading worship and sharing the Gospel in message.  In fact, during a visit to the Sisters of Charity orphanage, who care for the poorest of the poor children, Brisso was brought to tears seeing the condition of some of the children. But through his commitment to follow the Lord, there is hope that others like him will rise to lead Haiti – at least in the Jacmel area – in the way of Christian love and service.

Please pray for Brisso. Pray that he continues to follow the Lord with discipline and passion. Pray that other Christian men continue to invest in edifying him. Pray that the Lord continues to provide him with opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that those with whom he interacts will see Christ in him.

If you feed them, they will come…

From James…

Since our arrival, we’ve all known that today was mountain village day.  Though unsure of the plans, we’ve learned by now that blessed are the flexible, which was no truer than today.  Our typical mode of transportation has been the back of pick-up trucks.  Today, however, we loaded into the back of a flat-bed truck and bumped our way through busy streets, trash heaps, and flowing creeks.  The first two we have been accustomed to but the creeks were new.  So new, that we got stuck!  20 people in the back of a flat-bed truck sitting in the middle of a creek with water nearly covering the tires was a real test of our flexibility.  So we prayed…and prayed…and prayed.  We had a German brother who specializes in automotive repair who was able to get the engine cranking and the tires moving.  You would have thought the Lord was returning by the way we rejoiced.

When we arrived in the mountain village we immediately knew it was different than the other towns we’ve been to.  The houses were spaced further apart and there seemed to be fewer people.  Man were we wrong.  Once they saw the truckload of people unload at the church with food and soccer balls, they started to gather….and gather….and gather.  Even while we taught children’s lessons, face painted, and played games, kids and adults continued to gather.  By the time food was served, nearly 300 people had crammed into the tiny church.  300 people!  At one point I asked the approximate value of the meals and based on my 6th grade Math teacher calculations, we were able to feed the hottest meal of the week (for some of them) for $300.  In essence the Lord provided the children of the mountain village a meal for $1 per person.  We were all humbled by the simple power of the Lord manifesting himself among the people.

So, what did I glean from today?  Blessed are the flexible for they shall find patience with the Lord.  The people we encountered today were hungry and we gave them something to eat–even the ungrateful ones who complained for more or simply took more than their share–because God sent us to do so.  The situation with the truck was just a literal “bump” in our road.  Not necessarily a test but not necessarily something to overlook.  If nothing else it was an opportunity for God to be magnified.  Why was the man born blind?  So that the Son of Man could be exalted.  And Christ was exalted today.

Lessons on Marriage from the Mission Field

From Pat…

It’s hard to believe but our last full day being in Haiti is almost here. In so many ways, I personally, have such mixed emotions about it. On one end, I long to remain here as this island, as most of you know, has such a significant impact on my life. Like I’ve said in a previous post on this blog, the D.R. and Haiti are like a second home to me. But nothing compares to what really is my true “home” – my family. So while I look forward to getting out tomorrow and visiting the orphans tomorrow, a huge part of me is also excited that I’m one day closer to seeing Jenni (and my kids of course). But I miss my bride.  She’s been on my mind a lot today actually (olive juice). Two of the team members who are on our trip this year are engaged and throughout the trip I (and a couple of the other married guys) have had a sweet time just investing some great conversations about being in Godly relationships…especially in an engagement.

I wasn’t sure how this trip was going to be with an engaged couple on it (they got engaged two weeks before we left for Haiti), but I think in many ways it has proven to be a tremendous blessing for them. In Haiti, we get dirty, smelly, sweaty and really see the “real” aspects of one another. That especially occurs in the trucks on our way to and from our various ministry sites, when we’re all riding in the back of the pickups traveling on extremely bumpy, dirt roads. We end up having to grasp each other to keep our balance.  And usually by the end of our hot days, we end up not smelling very pleasant on the return trip back to the mission house. And then at the end of the night, when we’re all exhausted from serving all day, we typically have some pretty intense and emotional devotions, which can lead to wonderful, in-depth conversations, Needless to say, we have gotten to know each other really well. So, in many, many ways, the trip has probably served as a great blessing for Christian and Heather to prepare them for their future marriage. We are all definitely praying for them throughout their engagement and are excited to see the Lord prepare the way for His presence to be upon their future family together.

But with all the conversation on marriage, like I said earlier, it made me think of Jenni, my wife. And not to get too mushy, but (okay…shoot…didn’t want to cry)…I’m so blessed. While we have had our fair share of struggles in our marriage, there is nothing I’d want more for a life partner. I hate not being with her. I hate not experiencing all the moments of serving alongside of her, especially here in Haiti…a place that has such significance also to her. I want her to share in my memories and be a part of them. That’s why I can’t wait to get back to her…my forever home. It’s going to be hard because I know that she will struggle with really being able to share in my joy of my experiences here. And at the same time I too will struggle with understanding exactly her week being back in Chattanooga with the kids.

When thinking of this spiritually, it even makes it more significant.  If I feel this way about Jenni, my earthly bride, it’s such an amazing joy to know that our Lord loves us so much more deeply, for we are his bridegroom. Just as Paul explained to the Roman church…

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.

I’m sure the Lord is sad when He sees his Bride separated from Him, because of our sins. But it’s in such joy that we also get to fully know that our failings, transgressions and complacency can’t get in the way of His love for us. It is just a great reminder of how we too should feel about our own wives (or husbands for you wives reading this).  He longs for us to be in His presence always.

I can’t wait to see her. It’s going to be a sweet coming home to be in her presence…because in all honestly, I’m just a better man when I’m with her. Thank the Lord He placed her in my life. I’m not sure I’d be sitting here writing a blog while on a mission trip in Haiti or pursuing the full time mission field if it weren’t for her Godly example, her encouragement and the ways our time together helps me to grow spiritually.

Can’t wait to see you soon Jenni. I love you.