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Here is one of the most important updates we have ever sent!Read More
Parenting three children can sometimes present unique ministry opportunities. I say this with a smirk on my face and hope in my heart.
As a parent, one of our main goals is to raise children who become teenagers who become adults completely capable of interacting with others in the world. By "in the world", I truly mean that we hope our children grow into their love for the nations and become well accustomed to the ways and cultures of many cultures. That communication flows smoothly for them and adapting to community is not a challenge.
We have many young people come through our home. We have been given the sweet honor of hosting teams of 8-12 young adults typically ranging from 18-25 years old for two months at a time.
A little secret I want to share with you; WE LOVE IT!! We do! As much as it is a laying down of our own personal rights, it is as much an overflow of God's sweet grace and JoY upon our family. It is wonderful!
That said, there is a stigma about this age that I am hesitant to grasp hold of. I have heard it said that this generation is the most entitled generation of all time.
I do not want to say those words, and if I have...I want to publicly confess and repent.
Instead of cursing this group, I want to bless them. I also want to take a moment as a parent and talk about one of the ways we can disciple our own kiddos so that older generations cannot say this about them.
Having three kids of my own, I can tell you that we do the very best that we can to raise these loves to develop a genuine love for God and His people. We do not want these three entrusted to us to just be followers of man, but leaders of men. Thinking with the end in mind each day can be difficult and can take up some major time. But I do believe it is worth it, and I believe it can shape the way they think when they themselves are in the 18-25 age group encountering new things in life for the first time.
With three kids, it is quite often that two are engaged in some sort of activity that a third one is not. Moreover, it is common for the one not involved to come up with an activity of his/her own wanting all three to take part.
Now, this can go many ways. But for this blog purpose I am going with the not-so-pleasant route of "They won't play with me." Or, "They don't want to do what I want to do."
What may look like a hands off approach, we do not get heavily involved or pay super close attention to these situations and I want to explain the "why" behind that.
Exclusion is one thing and I am not speaking of that. When others say with their mouths, "You cannot play with us" or "Get away" or "You have to be 11 years old to play this game" or, you fill in your own blanks.... we don't play that game and will for sure get involved. Why? Because we feel like that is an opportunity to shepherd and lead into Kingdom communication. Kingdom conversations do not include those words, so they shouldn't be spoken in our home.
Here is a common scenario: Emma and Jacob are playing and Ben approaches them to go outside to ride bikes. Emma and Jacob are involved in a game of Checkers and do not want to stop to go ride bikes. They express this to Ben as an 11 and 13 year old would, and Ben gets his feelings hurt. I did not say that Emma and Jacob were unkind to him. I did say that they have expressed this in such a way that maybe an 11 and 13 year old can grow in, but their intent was never to hurt Ben.
Ben then runs to us crying, and out of hurt expresses that Emma and Jacob are "being mean".
We can go in different directions here and we have. Knowing the heart expressed at the beginning of this article, I will share with you what works for us and why we are discipling in this way.
If we go to Emma and Jacob and tell them to stop playing their game and turn their attention to Ben, this has increased potential to imply that Ben is the most important person in this home. He is not. Our home does not revolve around Ben or any other individual in it. This can also whisper something into Ben's soul that everyone should stop what they are doing and do what HE wants to do.
This is not what we want to teach our kids and this is not how we want them shaped leading into teenage and adult years.
We can go to our kids and have a pow wow to discuss what was really said or what the tone of the conversation looked like. Remember that I mentioned that Emma and Jacob express things like the 11 and 13 year olds that they are. We cannot expect that they will always communicate like we do, but we can expect that they will communicate as 11 and 13 year olds do. So, even in this, a gentle and non accusative approach is taken. OUR tone is not one that is accusing them of being unkind. Our communication to them in this situation is that they are loved and important. That what they said and what they meant may not always jive, come on parents...you know you can struggle here too! We must approach each of the kids in this situation without favoring one.
Let me tell you, with three kids we would be having this discussion A LOT in our home if this became our only approach each time!
In addition, we can shepherd the one that came to us. He came to us for a reason right? I mean, we usually come to God with a reason. He is safe. He is trustworthy. He leads us to the way of Life and He does so from a true heart of understanding and compassion.
We can use this moment as an opportunity to grow this child in such a direction that does not create a bent for entitlement.
We can say to this Leader in training, "I am sorry that things did no go the way you planned for them to go. So many times in my own life this happens. BUT, did you know that God is always with you and He desires to be with you even now? He is growing a leadership skill that He placed in you and He is giving you THIS chance to stretch and build that muscle up! Go ride your bike if you want to ride your bike! And ride knowing that these moments are times when God is preparing you for HUGE adventures and times of great JoY!!!"
We do not expect our kids to always do what others want them to do. We want our children to grow to be confident leaders and visionaries. We want their creative minds to soar with or withOUT others around them! We want their confidence in who they are in Christ to outweigh their fleshly desires. It is OKAY for our kids to feel that Ugh moment of " no one wants to do what I want to do..." Friends, in ministry this happens ALL THE TIME! If we just sat and sulked in the misery of it, then we would not be about our Father's business!!
In talking with the young people who come in our home, we learn from their parents who went before us. We learn what they think worked and what really didn't. And, we get an up close and personal view of the fruit of their parents' leading!
So, if you wonder about raising kids in a world that says they are the most entitled generation of all time, don't worry. Seriously, don't let it get to you. You have such a big part in shaping and building the character that God desires for them to have. And, when we fail....when, not if....God is there pouring out grace upon grace.
If you think your child might be heading in the direction of entitlement, pray and seek the LORD on how to shepherd him or her in His ways. He is faithful and has entrusted your children to YOU. The above approaches work for our crew, but may be disastrous for some other family.
Pray with your kids in the mornings and evenings and let them hear you crying out to God for direction in how to lead them well. Let them know that your desire is for them to succeed! Your desire is for them to know and feel the immeasurable love you have for them! God does not always remove us from each and every situation we are in, but He always delivers the perfect amount of grace to suffice and quite often in this encounter our faith in Him grows by leaps and bounds! Oh, sweet King, may we NOT get in the way of Your work in and through our kids!!
Be blessed as you raise your kids unto the King! Be full of JoY as you raise them in His presence! Be hopeful in the One that never leaves YOU and guides you daily even in parenting. Rest in the beautiful hope that our LORD gives us....yes, even in the raising of our dear children!!
You are so loved.
If you caught some of our latest newsletters you understand that we are making some fundamental shifts in the way that we do ministry. The reason for this is to make space for more discipleship as well as continued evangelism. Discipleship is why we were called to Berlin, not to make converts. This means that teaching and preparing our teams is of highest priority. We are now in the first weeks of this and we could not be more pleased with the progress! We are still seeing the miraculous things Jesus is doing among those we are called to reach, but now we are getting to sit and help these awesome people begin growing in their new faith! In addition it is allowing us to take more care and time in developing our long-term team. We believe that this shift will keep our Long-Term team from burning out and be much healthier in the long run. Thank you so much for your prayers! Please keep it up!!
As part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), we are part of a global family that is committed to working with each other and others in the Body of Christ - globally. We relate to one another through Circles of Accountability, Relationship, and Eldership and not merely in a hierarchical approach. As a mission, we believe this allows us to honor the biblical way of relating to one another (globally, regionally, locally) without destroying the pioneering spirit that has allowed us to be in so many countries and affecting so many spheres of society. That being said, it is rarely, if ever, going to be mandated that we raise a certain amount of money for certain projects and gatherings. Instead it is left to the individual circles and the accountability of supporters and sending churches. This allow us to stay in closer relationship to you!
********So we wanted to make you aware of some upcoming projects and the reasons behind them so that you can prayerfully consider helping us in these endeavors.******************
Leader Training School Europe
As this work has grown we have become aware of areas in which our leadership needs growth and mentoring. We never thought we had all the answers, but as this work grows we are seeing things on the horizon that we never knew were a possibility. It is very exciting, but we know we must steward these things well. YWAM has put together a Leader Training School that starts in November that will be lead by many of the elders and the leaders who have pioneered some amazing works in the world throughout many years. It is a 10-month program of which 5 separate weeks will be at various locations throughout Europe. The rest of the time will be on-assignment training and mentoring. The cost of the school is $2,400USD which will include housing, travel, meals, and learning materials for the 10 months - everything.
Would you prayerfully consider helping us with this project as this would be a great blessing for the ministry that God has called us to. If you have further questions, please let us know.
Apostello Gathering Thailand
As you may be aware, we have been working very closely with a group out of Kona, Hawaii. YWAM has partnered and caught the vision that the LORD gave us, and is faithfully committed to sending teams to work with us. We have become very close with one particular school and we are so thankful for the relationships that God has given us! Every two years the Global leaders of this group gather the people working across the globe for encouragement, relationship, mentoring, and vision casting. In January 2017, this group will gather in Thailand (a neutral location for the workers to gather). The cost is currently about $3500USD based on current prices of airfare for our family of 5. **It is important to have our whole family present because so much of what we do is in the context of family and not merely work.** It is important for those we serve alongside to know our entire family, and we love that they have invited all five of us to participate!
This is a very important gathering for us as our hearts long for the encouragement, relationship and mentoring that will occur during this time.
We would be honored if you could help us in any way possible!
We have loved seeing what God is doing here! We have loved being a part of it! It has been such an honor and blessing to our hearts.
However, after 3 years we need to come back to the States and give in person updates and reconnect with friends and family. We will only have about 1 month to do this next year because of school schedules, but we feel it is super important. Would you prayerfully consider helping us buy plane tickets and make arrangements to come home summer of 2017? Those dates are quite a ways out so we do not have firm airfare costs. We trust that if you ask the Lord for an amount, our costs will be covered!
We never want to be the missionaries out there only asking for money or delivering "how hard this is" blog posts! That is not what we see in the Scriptures and that is never our goal! We praise the LORD for His generous provision and we praise Him that He is a personal God! He delights in relationship and we see that so beautifully in the relationship we get to have with our supporters! You do not merely put a check in an envelope with the name of an organization on it...you get to KNOW us and see what is happening here! You text us and Facebook message us throughout the weeks and the ongoing communication means the world to us! We love the friendships that we didn't see coming in the way of our supporters, and we would love to build that base even more! We LOVE people and pray that those who give financially to God's work here feel that Love!!
Be blessed this day as you serve our King! Live from a heart that knows you are truly Loved! You ARE truly loved and truly of so much worth to the LORD!!
We thank you all for your love and support! It is such an honor to be in this with you all!
We Choose YOU for Our Team!Read More
THINGS CHANGING FOR US IN BERLIN
When I (David) began my sales career MANY, MANY, MANY years ago in the Telecom industry, the man who hired me gave me a very timely piece of advice. He said, "Campbell, go make a mess and we will clean it up and you will learn in the process." That advice has served me well for all of these years.
When God called us to Berlin, we understood that our job was to make disciples and form them into discipleship groups/house churches. We understood that we were to go according to how Jesus commanded - with the full conviction that the harvest was huge and the workers were not enough. It did not matter if we saw it or not, the Bible said it, so we must believe it. As a result our constant prayer was that God would send more people. Boy, did He send the people! We expected Him to send people, but what we did not expect was for Him to send them to US! Every day we get at least one email asking if someone can come and minister with us. Every. Single. Day. Many days we are left scratching our heads and asking, "Ok, what are you doing God? You are obviously sending these people to work with us."
At the time of this writing we have had 92 different people stay in our house since January. We have a team from our church coming this week and then a YWAM team from Kona at the end of September. When the Kona team arrives we will officially go over the 100th person to stay with us for the year! If you know us, then you know there will have to be some sort of celebration!!
It is extremely expensive and time consuming to have teams come and yet what was evident was that God was sending them to us. Every time we get a request, we pray and ask the Lord if we should take them. With few exceptions, God has said "Yes."
So, we trust Him. We trust Him with our money. We trust Him with our time. We trust Him with our Home. We trust Him with the relationships/friendships that He has developed with the precious refugees. We trust Him with each day.
There seemed to be more though. He was, He is calling us to something more.
This year we found ourselves in Berlin with tons of people coming to work and tons of people coming to Christ. This year has been incredible! It seems that everything that we tried, we saw people come to Christ. No matter how strange or ridiculous our effort, Jesus was calling people to Himself. Praise Him!
But what do you do with the new believers? What do you do with the teams? More evangelism? How were we going to get to true discipleship? There are so many new believers and not enough of "us". We began meeting with other churches and other ministries about enlisting their help to care for and shepherd the new believers. 100% of the leaders we met with were more than willing to help in any way possible! We were so excited about this unity!!
But it seems that the relationship founded on Jesus (evangelism) was not able to broken and farmed out. It's like God was giving them to US! YIKES!
So our time was dominated by trying to primarily guide teams and disciple new believers in our "spare time." This just did not feel right. It is not right. Many of you have asked about CrossFit. Crossfit is still a major tool for us and we are in the process of that growing as we follow the LORD's lead in it. We are excited about what will come of it! We are working with the German system on making it "official" in a way that protects our teams and the ones who come to Crossfit. But as it was, we were just completely out of time. Hard workouts most every day and some days TWICE a day...and people attending and then wanting to learn more about Jesus! Men and women attending our classes were learning about Jesus and asking to meet with us to learn more. Because of the schedule, a meeting for discipleship would have to wait for two to three weeks. This just can not be. It is wonderful and amazing, we just need to be wise with our time and our efforts. Jesus literally allowed us to come to our complete end so that we would look to Him. He would show us the answer, just as He always does. We had to go through this process of a bit of chaos or we would not understand the unique-to-Berlin needs of these new believers. This was a big learning experience for us. It is hard to learn in this way. It is exhausting and if care is not taken, depression and other issues can slide in. Praise God for our team and that we are completely united under Christ! Together, we were able to work through the schemes of the enemy to get us down and stop the movement of Kingdom expansion in Berlin. The enemy is tricky, y'all...and he hates us and he hates our team. He definitely hates the work that we are doing and he will stop at nothing, no thing, to get us down! We praise Jesus that we are firm in our friendships and commitment to our family/team members and community here. It truly has been such a gift!
Recognizing the efforts of the enemy, we pressed forward and asked the LORD for a plan. For His clear direction.
So after much work and much work to come, we are retooling the way that we do ministry here in Berlin. The teams that we receive will learn to evangelize AND disciple AND be able to do what we do.
Let us clarify, discipleship is absolutely a life long process. But discipleship initiation and "pouring a foundation" can be a quicker process. This we can do. We can totally build a foundation in Christ, rooted and grounded in the Word of God that sets new believers up for success. We can totally form them into new groups and connect the groups to our wider community. We can MODEL what the Christian life is SUPPOSED to look like in a short time. We can demonstrate how meeting together, praying for one another's need, studying the Bible, listening to the Lord, worship, outreach, and fellowship are done. We can model it, assist them with it, watch them do it, and then let the teams do the same. We can identify emerging leaders and provide them with more pastoral oversight and train them in deeper ways.
BUT first we must get our process into such a simple and easily explainable format that virtually anyone can do it.
We must be able to cast the vision well.
The team that comes at the end of September will help us go through this process and begin working out the kinks. Please pray for them and us in the process. It is a small team and we think it will be ideal for us to start field testing with them. We are already praising God for the work that He will do through this group. We feel a connection and know that the LORD has prepared them for such a time as this and we are beyond thankful to God for them.
So then, by the grace of God, we are going to pray for MORE teams!
Yes, you read that correctly.
We are going to work and we are going to see God literally change the whole landscape of society in Germany because God is pouring out His grace! We are going to train every single person who will let us. We want every single person coming to work with us in Berlin to be equipped to serve here, and in whatever place God plants them long term.
So what can you pray for?
More workers for the harvest.
Better communication skills for all of us.
More money/provision to sustain us. Both for our family and our ministry. Our ministry has grown a lot since we arrived here and our monthly support has remained the same. It would be beyond helpful for others to join in committing to monthly support.
We need someone who is able to lead the Functional Fitness (i.e. CrossFit) efforts here. Please ask the Lord to send us someone who will take that as their primary ministry.
We need more housing. We cannot take everyone in our home, and it breaks our hearts to turn teams and individuals away because of the lack of space.
We are asking the Lord to help us start an Emerging Leaders School at the end of next year. With others from the States coming to join our team, this goal and vision will come to fruition and we are excited to share more with you as time allows!
Ask the Lord for Business as Missions people who are willing to come and help people form businesses and take the skills that these people are bringing to Germany and put them to use being a blessing.
We are learning, and we do not think we must "have it all figured out" before we step out. We will make a mess and the Lord will help us clean it up and we will learn in the process. We know we can make a mess, we have several times! And we know His faithfulness to help us clean it up, He has countless times!! Praise His name!
We are so honored and grateful to be in this with you. Following the Lord is not a burden, it is a tremendous BLESSING and we are grateful to get to learn as we go!
Sometimes things happen so fast that sitting down to write an update means that the information is outdated by the time we actually sit down to write. Here is an update on what is happening and how you can be praying!
As we continue to build out our team, we are experimenting with how we can continue to encourage those who are associated with us but maybe geographically disbursed. It is not always feasible to take a train ride and meet up. This is mainly pointed for those who serve with us in the city but if this is encouragement to others, then praise God!
From the vantage point that we have it appears as though things in the USA are in turmoil. Likely that is not reality. However, through the media outlets that we have access to, it seems like this is the case. We want you to know that our hearts and prayers are with you all. Part of what God called us to do here was to inspire and encourage our brothers and sisters at home toward what is possible with God. We live in a post-Christian, first-world, country filled with people from every nation, ethnic group, and religion on the planet. What happens here can happen anywhere. What happens with our family can happen anywhere. We believe that one of the greatest gifts that God has given us is our normalcy. He sent us as regular people to be a testimony to other people who feel less than prepared for what God has called them to.
Our goal is to ask Jesus, each day, what we should do.
This past Sunday we were praying early in the morning, asking Jesus what He wanted us to do on this day. He showed us a picture of a small table set up at Mauerpark ministering to spiritually hungry people. So our job is child like simple obedience. We borrowed a small table, made a paper sign, grabbed a role of tape, filled our water bottles and headed out the door.
It turned out to be an absolutely amazing time. At least two people we witnessed gave their lives to Jesus. Several people were healed. Many people heard Jesus speak to them for the first time ever! We watched Jesus break into these people's live and meet them exactly where they were. Some needed healing, some needed a miracle, some needed to mend broken relationship, some needed encouragement, but all needed Jesus. We dropped our overtly religious language and just let Jesus use us to meet these people. It was an amazing and fun time.
The following day we headed to a different part of Berlin, got off the train and began winding our way, on foot, through Berlin. We had amazing encounters sharing Jesus, making new friends, and getting to speak to people from Germany, Poland, Cameroon, Senegal, and another West African country I have never heard of before :).
The next day we met up with some friends. It is hard to call them refugees because we do not see them as refugees. These guys are friends. They are fun to spend time with. And they are just funny! We went to the Turkish Market and hung out by the canal. I do not know the extent to which these men got to hang out with Jesus followers in Syria and Iraq. On this day Jesus directed us that the best thing we could do was to just be with these guys.
Wednesday, we needed to take care of some administrative items and then meet up in the evening with three men the middle east/central Asia area who wanted to know more about Jesus. These men gave their lives to Jesus and expressed a desire to be baptized. (In the event that you are bothered about how fast we baptize people here, please keep in mind that biblically the longest period between belief and baptism in the bible is 3 days. This was the apostle Paul and he fasted during those days. Every other account was immediate. Again our goal is simple child-like obedience to Jesus.)
Yesterday, we met with a friend who is pastoring a church here in Berlin while the rest of our team baptized the three men. They had a wonderful time of communion, foot-washing, worship, baptism, and ministering the Word. In the afternoon, we decided to go across Berlin to the Gelato festival. This is obviously where Jesus would go, right? As we got on the train we met an older lady whom we ministered to in prayer. What was more beautiful was that it seemed her smile and joy ministered more to us!. We rode on the train and noticed a young man with a T-shirt that said, "Jesus Revolution" so we struck up conversation. It turns out this group of young people had recently come to Christ and had been meeting in their homes for worship, bible study, and prayer. We are now connected to them and have the opportunity to bless what they are doing. At the next train stop, we met a young man from Pakistan and had a brief encounter and we were able to pray for his family in Pakistan. As we finish praying, we met a young man from Syria. Some people you meet, you instantly know you will be connected to them forever. We are so excited to continue this friendship with this man. We will be getting together for coffee in the next couple of days. Last night, Keri was able to express her mother's heart to a young 16 year old boy from Palestine. It was his birthday, and he was a long way from "home". He was sick and had never had a birthday party in his life. This young man is separated from his family and living in what many would refer to as an orphanage. Some times ministry is being a mother or father or brother or sister to those who are in need. Expressing love and prayers over SMS and asking the LORD what He would have you to say to someone.
So what is happening today? That remains to be seen. One of the Heims that we do fitness classes in, has invited us to a party. We know Jesus likes to go to parties! So this is where we believe Jesus will be. We expectantly look forward to seeing Jesus minister at this party! Would you join us in praying?
Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of "building a ministry" it is easy to momentarily loose sight of the fact that God has called us to live our lives out loud. Our goal is to hear Jesus and do what He says. Then we aim to help others hear Him as well and do what He says. The Lord is establishing something amazing here in Berlin, but we believe that the best way to reach that is for us to take simple child-like steps of obedient faith.
Today, ask Jesus what He wants you to do. Where does He want you to go? We are confident that what happens here can happen in Texas or any other place in this beautiful world! Surrender your life again to Jesus today. Sit and wait with open hands and few words from your lips as the LORD reveals what HE has for you today.... It would bless us and many others if you would comment here what happens....how the LORD shows up and what took place! It will be an encouragement to all who reads and faith will be made stronger!!!
Praise God that we are learning all the time. There are so many things to learn. Things that cannot be learned in a class room. Things that must be learned as we are going about doing what God has called us to.
We are being stretched in so many ways. Wonderful ways. Ways that we did not know was possible. Let me tell you about one.....
There is a man that we met the first day we started doing the functional fitness classes. He gave his life to Jesus and met Jesus in a very radical and real way. When I say he met Jesus, I mean he met Jesus. As we prayed for him, he began seeing a vision of Jesus walking in to his room and tell him that he would now follow Him. This man gave up everything, immediately. This has nothing to do with ANYTHING we said or did, we only prayed for him.
Last week he went to for an official interview with those who are overseeing his asylum case. He told them he wants to change his religion and his name. Understandably, they asked him, "why do you want to change your religion? Why do you want to become Christian." Here was his answer, "Because I saw Jesus." End of sentence. End of discussion. Mic drop.....silence.
Before we ever gave this man a bible he was witnessing and leading his friends to Christ telling biblically accurate stories. Several times we would pull him aside and ask, "have you read the bible before?" His answer was always, "No, Jesus comes to me at night and teaches me." What do you do with this???? We have no category to put him in!! What do you do with a man who is being discipled personally by Jesus?!?!
As a man coming from his cultural he understands the concept of a Holy Book. Mostly those from his cultural do not read their Holy Book for content but rather for spiritual blessing. As in earning favor with God. I would have rejected this before but something interesting occurred to me yesterday.
I sent my friend a text asking him how he was doing. He responded that he has been spending his day sitting by the river reading his bible. This made my heart swell with joy! Yet something bigger was happening. Something I was learning. The bible is inspired by God in it's content. All that it says is true. But this man was seeing something that I had never seen before. This man has been tortured, beaten, thrown around, pushed out of his country, and forced to live in horrible conditions. Two months ago he was on intense medication for anxiety and depression. Today he is free, totally. Here is what he is seeing, when he reads the bible he feels the peace of God come into his heart. Literally he is learning to run to the word of God as his comfort in the time of storm.
I do not believe that reading the bible earns any favor with God. I believe Jesus earned our favor with God for us. Yet I am seeing that there is tremendous blessing - even apart from the content - from reading the bible. Just to sit and listen to the voice of your Father speaking over you, regardless of what He says, is a wonderful blessing from God.
The sound of our Father's voice is a tremendous comfort to us. Let us give Him all of our attention!
If you have been following our Facebook feeds you will know that the Lord has opened up some major doors to us recently at several refugee Heims here in Berlin. However, it is very difficult to know the back story simply by seeing the Facebook posts. In just a few weeks, so much has happened that this blog post is going to have to read more like bullet points. To catch you up quickly, the Lord has provided us with access to CrossFit Level 1 Certified trainers and allowed us to begin constantly varied, super-intense, functional fitness classes inside several of the Heims and camps.
This is actually not a new idea to us. This was something the Lord spoke to us YEARS ago; however, at the time we were unable to see the connection between discipleship and Functional Fitness/Discipleship. Because of this we viewed it as more of a distraction and not something that we would use in our work in Berlin. Yet recently, the Lord has been gently bringing it back up. Even so we were unable to see the connection between Functional Fitness and discipleship. Sure it would be fun, sure it would be healthy for refugees, but how did it connect with discipleship?
On the first day and the first class we announced on the microphone that this workout would be very intense. We announced, "if you have any pain or sickness in your body right now please come forward and we will pray for you so that you can do this class." What happened next blew us away! So many people were healed, at least 15 people that we could count! The managers, security guards, and refugees all encountered the risen Christ! As the class began several of the ladies from our team were pulled inside the camp to continue to pray for others who were in their rooms (our classes are usually done outside). By the end of a class, a man from Syria told Keri, "for five months I just eat and sleep and eat and sleep and eat and sleep. Thank you, thank you for coming today!" At this camp the Lord has continued to further His Kingdom with a very influential member of a security company. Several people have not only begun their journey to better health, but have begun a significant journey to the One who can heal their soul, Jesus Christ!
A few days later. we stumbled across a Heim not too far from our home. We met the management asking permission and quickly we were granted access. After the first class a man from Libya approached us telling us of intense torture he had experienced at the hands of ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. He told us he has "many evil spirits" and was wondering if we could help. We said, "we cannot help but Jesus can, we will pray for you." He took us to his room and he received SIGNIFICANT deliverance. After this prayer, he saw a vision of Jesus walking into his room carrying a cross with the words saying "Son of God" written in Hebrew. He told us that Jesus told him that he would be a follower of Jesus. There was no invitation to accept Jesus into his heart, no sinners prayer, simply Jesus told him he would be a follower of Jesus. This man tells us, "I have no choice I must obey Jesus." Keep in mind we are just sort of watching this all unfold! We had only prayed for him!
After one of the next classes, this man we prayed for led his friend to the Lord. We prayed a lot of deliverance for him as well. These men heard from the Lord that they should change their names, so they did! Their new names? Solomon and Mark. Solomon (the first guy we prayed for) has become such a powerful witness in his Heim. He is explaining to other refugees how Jesus is the Son of God! This man has never been taught this!! The Lord Himself is teaching him. Solomon is learning and growing in tremendous ways and we are just dumbfounded as to what is happening. He is telling us that Jesus is manifesting Himself to him each night!
Yesterday we started in a new Heim. The first class went really well so after the class we went to the manager to say, "Thank you." As we walked in to her office we asked if we could pray for her and her job. As we began to pray, you could tangibly feel the presence of the Lord fill that room! She began to weep uncontrollably joining us in crying out to God for herself and blessing for this facility! She was German and not a refugee!
What the Lord is currently doing is so amazing and wonderful that it blows our mind! Even writing about it seems so strange because it feels like we are simply being swept along. There is nothing to take credit for. There is nothing even that we can "teach" to others. The best we can say is, "listen to Jesus and do what He tells you." The Lord is showing us that He will be expanding this. There are so many needs. There are so many opportunities. We are so far out of our comfort zone, and yet we would not want to be anywhere else but here.
Our current prayer needs:
- We are asking the Lord to provide for us a facility so that we can expand our reach. Currently we are working in three heims and this is tapping out our whole time! We run two classes per week at each Heim, so we are busy 6 days per week. If we had a facility, then we could do outreach in the Heims and have them come to the facility for training and discipleship. We are asking for a location and funds for this.
- We are needing to become CrossFit Level 1 certified. We are enrolled in the June class that will be held in Berlin in June. We ask for prayer for these funds.
- Pray that Jesus will continue to manifest awakening and revival in these Heims.
- We will be launching a new website soon. Our current will stay active in terms of keeping people up to date with our family, but the new one will be more public facing and a way to communicate with the people we work with on a day to day basis.
- As most of our classes are done outdoors, weather is a MAJOR factor. Please pray for great weather! (another reason a facility is a prayer request)
- Community: one of the reason the Lord spoke this method of Functional Fitness to us is because of the way that it fosters so much community. Pray for deeper community to grow in these people! It has already begin and even our children are asking to ride their bikes to the Heim directly after school!
- For legal purposes we can say that we utilize CrossFit certified trainers, but until we are officially affiliated we will have to refer to what we do as "Functional Fitness" instead of "CrossFit." Please pray that we can proceed quickly with affiliation.
- There is also a lot of prayer needed and wisdom needed to know how best to structure what we do. The name will be "FIT3" but this could change our status in Germany. This is not a bad thing, we just want to set it up correctly. We are in talks with a lot of people who are a LOT wiser than we are. So please pray for wisdom!
"How may I serve you?"
When you hear these words, what comes to mind? I was laughing at the thought of it being an employee at a fast food restaurant! (Mostly because drive thru's are not really a thing here in Berlin and I may or may not be dreaming of Chikfila...I digress.)
Since the week of Christmas we have had an amazing team of ten beautiful people living with us. In addition to the team, our crazy awesome friend, David Watson, has returned to live with us for a while. This team is with YWAM and has completed their three months of lecture phase in Kona, Hawaii. They spent the past two months living in our home. Discipling and being discipled, ministering, praying with us and over us, cooking, loving our family like crazy, crying, laughing, being silent. These lovely people have become our family and I just would not have it any other way. I feel as though the Father has given me such a huge gift in these beautiful people.
Something happens in the dying of self phase that I love. When someone is consistently putting others ahead of himself or herself, the Holy Spirit is free to love and comfort and minister in really amazing ways! And when we allow the Spirit to do that, we get energized and spurred on in really amazing ways as well!
One of the most common phrases I have heard in our home in the last two months is "How may I serve you?" This has blessed our home and our hearts more than I can say. As someone who loves to serve, I feel my cup has been filled to overflowing and I cannot wait until the next team arrives in April!
May I challenge you today to ask the question? Maybe the challenge would be serving one person for you...maybe three. But as you get ready for your day, ask the LORD who He has in mind for you to serve. Then ask Him if you could be His hands, feet, and words to this person or people.
What a gift it is to serve. Remembering that our Savior did not come to this earth to be served, but to serve reminds us that His example in serving others is surely an important one to follow!
Be blessed this day as you think of others before yourself. Be blessed this day as you serve in unique and brilliant ways! The LORD knows our hearts and knows exactly what will speak to us. Ask Him how you can personally extend His love and kindness to someone in your life. God is such a creative King and He delights in watching you love and care for His people!
Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Hello, my name is Keri and I am full of JoY!
Have you ever considered those meetings where you go and proclaim that you are something that isn't true about you in eternity? Don't get me wrong, I know much healing takes place and I am ever grateful for that. BUT, I am a true believer in the tongue having the power of both life and death...and the word "power" means, power.
Right now I am in my kitchen. My kitchen is in Germany. When I was a kid, I highly doubt I would have believed you if you told me that I would grow up, get married, and raise my children on another continent.
We partner-lead and host House Church in our home. A few weeks ago, a visitor came up to me and asked me how I could possibly live with so much joy. She was sincere and told me she "really needed to know."
I began from the beginning. Can I be bold here and say that I believe that when the LORD placed His banner of Love over me, He also placed His banner of JoY over me as well?
I want to share with you that those beautiful and unseen parts of you that the LORD knit together are a huge threat to the enemy. Huge. This enemy is only out to steal, kill, and destroy.
What do you think he is trying to steal?
One of the things that he desires, is that special banner. Is it JoY? Is it Encouragement? Is it Teaching? Is it Evangelism? Is it Tenderness? Is it Hospitality? Is it Motherhood? Is it Fatherhood? Is it a Desire for the Nations?
Whatever IT is, the enemy wants to steal IT from you and he has been out to get IT since he saw the potential in you when you were born.
My special banners are JoY and Encouragement. In this post, we will talk about Joy.
I have not had the easiest life. I have not had the hardest, but I will say that often when I share my life story people are shocked and often taken aback.
Being cautious and gracious of those who may read this, I will not share all the details here on the WWW. I can share that I come from a broken home where I was not taught to love Jesus with my heart, soul, strength and mind. I do not remember learning of Jesus in my home as a child.
The LORD saved me at the age of 12. By HIS grace and all HIS doing. He chose me before He laid the foundations of the earth and He chose to adopt me into His family and awaken my eyes and ears to His truth the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years.
The life events that happened between that day and now remind me that I have an enemy. His desire is to steal from me and to kill and destroy me.
Shattered relationships, deaths, fear, anxiety, loss, instability,extremely poor body image, fear of man, loss of hope, uncertainty...these are just a few of the things that I experienced that are pretty much the opposite of JoY. Looking back, it is easy for me to see that the enemy was tugging at that banner and catching hold of much more than I ever realized.
But I could not and would not let him have it.
Sharing my story with professionals, they have wondered how I made it though those years without ever seeing a counselor. How did I get through? How did I manage without literally losing my mind and zeal?
Truly, I can sit here and say that the words written in Isaiah 9:6 describing Jesus as the "Wonderful Counselor" are absolute and unbreakable. He.Is.My.Counselor. He hears my cries. He answers and I mean HE ANSWERS. The LORD still speaks, despite those who say He doesn't. I never knew there were a group of Christ followers who believed that the LORD stopped speaking until very recently. My life did NOT reflect that as true because the LORD very clearly, lovingly, and tenderly spoke to me. Biblical Counselors are a sweet grace from the LORD and very much needed in certain situations. But for me and the plan God had for me, He would be the one to counsel and teach me of His ways. For me and my own faith to grow, He and He alone had to be the One to get me through.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself married to a dream. I mean really. David Campbell and his love for Jesus is just about the most attractive thing on this planet! :) Uncomfortable? Haha! Seriously, this man of God entered my life and I have never been the same. He has shown me what it means to be pursued, loved, fun, adventurous, humble, genuine, funny, outside-the-box, loved with a Father's heart (toward our children), and so much more. My life changed by the overflow of Jesus that I saw in David Campbell.
We married and had three children. There were heartaches and tribulations in that "had three children.". We easily got pregnant with the first two and actually had the nerve to say "We are done!". As if God's good gifts and blessings were just too much to bear? One day upon conviction of the Holy Spirit, on the very same day at the very same hour, David and I knew we were not "done". I was hesitant to share it with him and he was hesitant to share with me, but we both confessed that the LORD had told each one of us individually that we will have another child. Benjamin Thomas Campbell, right? Eventually, but before him were two others. Twins. We lost two little loves through a strange and uneventful miscarriage at around 11 1/2 weeks. It was heartbreaking. It was loss. It was not what I would have chosen, especially after hearing clearly from the LORD that we WOULD have another baby.
What was going on here?
I would love to say that I "choose" JoY in certain circumstances, but the truth is that most often it's just the outworking of the Holy Spirit in my life. I was having to go into the doctor every other day for bloodwork and sonograms and I was growing weary. I knew in my heart that these babies would not be held in my earthly arms, and I was just kinda ready to move on in a way. But God had a lady and a nurse and a doctor and several other individuals in this that would be ministered to if I would be willing. And, I was. I remember sitting on my floor in my bedroom journaling my thoughts for the day when the sonographer's words struck my heart again. "How can you have so much JoY in this? I know it must be so difficult for you to be here every other day knowing what the outcome will be." In that moment, I think I had the right to weep. I think I had earned the right to agree with her and say that it just wasn't fair. But the Spirit through me explained to her that although babies are AMAZING and true blessings from the LORD, my JoY is found in Christ alone...not a baby. That sounds a bit tender, I know. But it was the Spirit speaking though me when the true cry of my heart wanted to have a healthy pregnancy and hold two little (read BIG!) babies in my arms. The Spirit had a word for this lady and the lady at the desk when I checked in for my outpatient D&C and my doctor. I HAD to tug back hard at that JoY banner and I was NOT willing to let the enemy steal the good and perfect word that the LORD spoke to me about having another baby. His word is true. I HAD to count this trial as JoY. I had to because I believe the Bible to be the living and active Word of God and it told me to.
So, as the Bible tells us will happen when we count it all JoY when we experience trials of every kind, my faith grew. And because of increase in faith, I trusted God and we proceeded with JoYfully trying for another baby. Benjamin Thomas Campbell was born at 37 weeks, just over one year after my D&C, weighing in at 9 pounds and 4 ounces. He is a JoY!
In parenting, there are many days when JoY is the last word on your lips. Can I get an Amen? I mean, with all of these little people following you around all day, pooping in their clothes, spitting up, writing on things that are NOT paper, shoving non dissolvable stuff in the toilet, bickering, climbing on household appliances, changing clothes 15 billion times, destroying $30 dollar lipsticks, tipping their "spill proof" cup of milk over in the car, it is HARD to speak of JoY sometimes! But, it was there. It's my Banner, remember? The funny thing about a banner is that sometimes you can't see it when you are standing right under it. Like, your friends can. They can look over and see you drowning in the mess of spit up and baby cereal that dries on countertops like cement and say, "Yep, she has definitely got the JoY!" But standing under that banner, we often need to be reminded! Sidenote: Remind your sister today that she is _______. Whatever that banner is that YOU see waving valiantly in the wind above her weary head, call it out! Remind her that she is Tender, Encouraging, JoYful, Gracious, Hospitable, etc. I promise you it will go a looooooong way!
Sometime around 2011 or 2012 we felt a call to move internationally. Like, to another continent. It wasn't because we had Wander Lust or that we wanted to be European. We are a family of five and not extremely wealthy. It was the Spirit whispering to our spirits that He wanted us to come along and join Him in the work He was doing across the globe.
This sounds scary. It was scary. I did not always want to go. I must confess that I grew up in the HEB area and never moved out of it. Never lived in another state besides the country of Texas, USA. ;) The thought of moving across the WORLD did not bring my heart much JoY.
After some years, prayer, classes, books, pushing...we came to Berlin, Germany on a "vision trip". Y'all, it was 2013 and Berlin was experiencing the longest and coldest winter in a long, long time. I was not happy. I was not sweet. I was not JoyFilled. I was wanting to go back to Texas and sit in the sun on my back porch while my kids jumped on their trampoline and sip the gloriousness of Dr. Pepper from my large Sonic cup.
So we returned from this trip of vision and we knew the LORD was calling us to Germany. One beautiful sunny Texas day, while sitting on my back porch, watching my kids jump on their trampoline and while sipping the gloriousness of Dr. Pepper from my large Sonic cup, the LORD promised me that I didn't miss it when I thought He placed His banner of JoY over me. He sweetly told me that He would fill me with JoY... if I would trust Him and focus on Him alone.
See, when we start to look around at the created instead of the Creator, our trust in Him begins to weaken.
When our trust in the LORD begins to weaken, our JoY can start to fade and the opposite can rise up within our hearts.
Fear, insecurity, anxiety, depression, anger, loss of hope...all of these things can creep in like little sports fan pennants. Waving in the wind that you are NOT enough, NOT qualified, NOT loved, NOT faithful, NOT equipped...
But, His gifts and His callings are IRREVOCABLE. Do you know this word? It means "not able to be changed. Not able to be reversed. Final." And His banner of JoY over me is a gift AND calling.
It is irrevocable.
Thus, our family went through a Discipleship Training School with YWAM and learned even more how to hear the voice of God, His Father heart for us, our identity as sons and daughters of the Most High and so, so much more. Specifically, I learned to lay down some rights that I had picked up that were not heavenly rights at all. It's crazy how you can pick up a worldly "right" and claim it so boldly and proudly when in fact it is actually eating away at your true character and identity in Christ without ever even knowing it. I needed someone to point some things out in me, and I was ready to hear the bad, and the ugly. Guess what? I didn't hear the bad or ugly...because those words don't describe the King of the Universe and I was learning about HIM. Praise His name that this was not a place for me to learn about me and me and me and me and me and me... :) I was healed of some life wounds during this time. I was healed of some heartaches during this time. I severed some ungodly soul ties during this time. I rid my life of fear and severe poor body image during this time.
Letting go of weighty chains and busting them up with the LOVE, JOY and the PROMISES of God allowed me to lift my no longer weary head and revel in the Glory Banner of JoY that was brilliant and vast and waving strongly over me.
I didn't want to come to Berlin. I had many reasons why we shouldn't. None of them paralleled God's word or plan for me. When I let go of my little fan pennants of my own rights, my own plans, my own desires, my own knowledge, my own feelings...the distraction I was to myself waving those silly little imitation flags allowed the banner of the KING to be seen by my own eyes as well as by the eyes of those around me.
I have JoY. Not on my own, it is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a sweet gift the LORD has chosen to give to me and I believe He has it for you as well. I can walk into any situation and claim the truths of the LORD my God. I can silence the enemy and speak out the callings and promises of God. I can walk in truth, in any country and in any circumstance believing in the One Who has truly set me free. Where the Spirit of the LORD is, there surely is FREEDOM!
When you see the posts that I create about JoY, I pray you see a God-given Banner waving boldly. I pray that, knowing a bit of my story, you too can claim that which the enemy is trying to steal from you. Maybe you will sit in a moment with the LORD and ask Him what it is that the enemy might be trying to steal from you, and how you can capture it back once more. That you will grab it back completely and speak out the promises of God TO the enemy...'cause there are those promises to remember and proclaim too!
My first prayer is that you know the Banner that is over you. If you don't, ask the LORD. My second prayer is that you would drop all the tiny, imitation flags that you are waving on your own and rejoice in your true identity given to you by the One Who created you and loves you best and most.
His banner is always Love. Walk in His love and discover all of the Banners above you that He has declared! You are wonderfully, fearfully made! God delights in YOU and sings over YOU!! Rejoice! The King of the Universe is FOR you and not against YOU!!
Peace and Love and Blessings of JoY be ever upon you!
We are so amazingly thankful for you guys and we are so excited about all that is happening here in Berlin. This is going to be quite the packed update so perhaps you should hold on with both hands for this one!
Refugee (Opportunity) Crisis in Germany
While the world calls this a crisis we see this as an amazing Gospel opportunity. How so? When Jesus is revealed in these camps and we begin to see whole camps transformed by the power of Jesus this will be a testimony to the camps, to Germany, to Europe, and the world.
This week the Lord has opened the door to a camp close to our house. This camp is part of a network of 6 other homes and represents over 1000 people Refugees living in Berlin. This is a tremendous opportunity - provided it is handled correctly. As we have gotten our feet wet in the refugee situation, we have learned many things to not do. For those providing help on the Refugee Highway or when people arrive on the boat, the needs and ways to help are pretty straight forward. However, here in Berlin it is not so easy to insert yourself into the situation and begin to help. You can make a mess really quickly if you are not careful.
So what is the plan? Quite simply - total community transformation. Including playgrounds, external facade of the building, programs for the kids and families, and even loving service to the staff that work there day and night.
But we need more to do that. Right now we can address, in a major way, this one camp for about $5,000 USD. Can you help us get the word out and begin praying with us? We want to begin with (hopefully) weekly visual updates as to what is happening in the camp so that you can see what is being done (both physically and spiritually). This project is being done as a partnership with our house church and our YWAM Berlin team. Here is the link if you would like to help us get the word out.
Discipleship Training School Berlin
This week David will begin 1.5 weeks of teaching the students at the YWAM DTS here in Berlin. The students have been in lecture for nearly 3 months and this is the last push before they are launched into the two months of outreach in South Africa. These are amazing students who are reaching for more and more of Jesus. Pray that David will be clear in his teaching and that the Lord would give him the words to speak and power behind the words that He gives him. The Holy Spirit does amazing things in these times and we enjoy getting to see what He is doing.
We will be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for quite a few American workers in the city. We are looking forward to providing a time of refreshment and restoration and a time of community thankfulness for all that God has done in and through this group of people.
Fire and Fragrance Team
On December 22 we will receive a wild-eyed team of revivalists from Kona, Hawaii doing a Fire and Fragrance DTS. This team of 11 people will live with us for 2.5 months and will be serving with us in our work in the city and house church ministry.This will be an amazing time for us, for them, and for all those whom they minister to. You all have been a part of getting our home ready to receive them. You are part of what God is doing with this amazing group!!
There is so much that is going on that it has been difficult to sit and write about it. It seems that by the time a post/update is written and edited it is then obsolete and more needs to be written.
Last week we met with leaders from across Germany to discuss how the different leaders are working with refugees and gain encouragement about what comes next for this work. We believe that God is calling us to take much bolder steps than ever before but we want to make sure that we do not take any steps that He is not directing.
Yesterday we went to a place where thousands of refugees come into Berlin seeking Asylum. One of our co-laborers and partners in the gospel, Tim Ashworth, brought items to make balloon animals. (click on the link and like their Facebook Page - they are awesome) There was nothing complex about what was happening, our goal was just help people to smile and restore human dignity to people.
A man suddenly approaches me speaking remarkable English. He is an Architect from Iraq and he said, "I want to tell you guys thank you for just bringing smiles to these people. You are doing a good thing." I went on to tell him that the reason we do this is because of what Jesus has done in my life. As I share my story he is saying, "Yes yes it sounds like you were given a new heart!" This man began to understand the transformative power of the Gospel! He gave us his contact information and wants us to come and visit him in the camp that he lives in......and now God has given us an opening in a new camp.
Then a man from New Hampshire interrupts and says, "I have been listening to what you were saying to this man. I believe this! This is great what you are doing. I came down here just to see what was going on here but I am glad I got to hear."
Then two other men approach asking about what we are doing. One of the men says, "this is amazing can we interview you for TV?" Uhhhhhhh, sure......I guess. So they pull out their camera equipment and begin to interview Tim (if you know Tim, and you should, he has an awesome radio voice).
Daily we come away from these times amazed that we get to be a part of this. We follow God and He does amazing things and we get to be along for the ride.
Truly He is a good good Father!!
I remember reading "The Heavenly Man" by Brother Yun and thinking to myself - "Wow! This sounds like the book of Acts!"
About 7 years ago, I started a bible reading plan that had me reading through the bible roughly 3.5 times in a year. In this bible reading plan it required that I read one chapter of the books of Acts each day. So every 28 days I was restarted the book of Acts. During this time, there grew hunger in me to have my experience match what I read in the bible. Not that I make the bible fit my experience, but instead taking my experience and if it did not match what I read in the bible... then I would keep seeking the Lord until my experience matched the bible. The Lord is giving us tiny little tastes of that now! Not the full meal, but tiny little appetizers that teach us that there is so much more of God than we have ever imagined (or heard)!
This week started normal enough. We met with a small group of people on Tuesday in our home for prayer. Something happened in that prayer meeting in which a deep conviction of urgency and excitement just seemed to fill the room and our hearts.
Wednesday we began seeing refugees coming to us expressing a desire to give their lives to Jesus. Men coming and desiring whatever it takes to associate somehow with Jesus. Men coming to us saying "We think Jesus is right and we want to follow Him, how do we do that?" At the same time we began seeing significant resistance to our work (we will just leave that where it is - but needless to say we need prayer for open doors and wisdom for how to handle things boldly and safely but not foolishly.).
Thursday we saw yet more people baptized and making bold declarations of a desire for a clean conscience and new life in Christ.
Friday we saw eyes opened, physically, causing eyes to be opened spiritually. One man said, "I saw the miracle! I have had doubts about my religion while living in Iraq and I had no one to ask. What I have seen today will change the world. We do not need food, or clothing, or housing, Jesus is what we need!"
Saturday is the day we come together as a house church fellowship. We are so blessed to be pushing one another towards greater effectiveness and holiness in Christ. We may be a small group, but I can promise you if you are going to storm the gates of hell, then this is the crew that you want with you!
Today Jacob and I went to a Döner/Kebap place. He ate french fries and I read the Gospel of Matthew out loud to him. We noticed three men listening to us so we invited them to talk. One was from Iran, one from Pakistan, and one from Turkey. The older man from Turkey had been stabbed in the shoulder three years ago and had significant pain. He was healed by Jesus instantly after we prayed! One of the other man tried to argue that this did not happen and that Jesus did not do it, but he was largely unsuccessful convincing his friend that it had not happened! So good!
Every day we are coming to see that we are living in a different time than we used to. It seems things are happening much faster than they used to. There is a growing hunger for (and a virulent opposition to) Jesus. We are seeing, each day, that the day of preparation is long past. It is no longer time to prepare the harvest but that the harvest is here and we are to be about our Father's business. We cannot spend our time preparing for a day that God has never promised us. He has given us today, we must be faithful with today.
Do not loose sight that you are in this with us. The love, encouragement, support, and just being cheerleaders for us and for Jesus is such a blessing! Words cannot express how thankful we are for each one of you.
If you are wondering how you can be involved we would love to talk to you more. We believe that what is happening here can happen anywhere. It's just a matter of being willing to take a step of faith. John Wimber used to say that the "correct way to spell faith is R-I-S-K". Take a risk, you will see that Jesus is super capable of holding you up!
Bless you all! Bis dann, Tschüs!
What a gloriously amazing and interesting week this has been! This week a wonderful family from Norway came to visit us and two of the daughters will remain living with us ministering among the refugees. We are so excited for them and their ministry. (Please remember Hannah and Linn in your prayers. Tomorrow Hannah will be meeting again with a person originally from Turkey. She has been sharing Jesus with him this week and will be continuing the discipleship and Jesus conversation tomorrow.)
This week Keri had an amazing time of coffee, tea, and friendship with a young lady from Afghanistan. This is a wonderful family we have gotten to know and we would ask for you to be praying for the whole family but especially this young mother of three.
Also, this week we met with a couple from Serbia with whom we had been sharing Jesus. We had originally met the man when we prayed for his friend with the tumor (see earlier Facebook post). In previous discussions he had spent much time justifying himself to us, and talking about how good of a person he was. We listened and prayed for him. This time he comes and says he has a problem. He says he is ready to follow Jesus and wants to be baptized, but that the women with whom he lives is not his wife. He asks what he should do. The best answer I had was, "I am certain that the Holy Spirit will tell us."
His girl friend was extremely eager to be baptized and follow Jesus. She spoke absolutely no English at all! Through translation we explained baptism and she eagerly jumps up and grabs a bowl of water and brings it to the room. This, obviously, was not big enough to baptize so we brought them to our house.
Upon confessing Jesus as Lord they also confessed that they wanted their addictions to smoking to die with their old selves. They were baptized and after baptism they said, "we would like to make a commitment before God to be husband and wife, will you marry us today?" So we had a wedding ceremony in our house right away! Then we shared communion and prayed and just reveled in the goodness of our God to do such amazing things! The following day, the couple whom we will call John and Nina (not their real names), were in line at the immigration office. They had taken the only bible they had (working on getting a copy of the bible in Serbian). Nina - who speaks no English - picked up the bible I had given them and began to read and understand it! In English!! Praise be to Jesus that no language will ever be a barrier for Him!
The following day we noticed something change virtually immediately. Every refugee camp we came into we began to get shut out of. Even ones that we had relationships established. We were told that we were not allowed to be there and that we must leave the property immediately. So we moved just off the property and allowed people to come out to us. We do not believe for a second that this will hinder the work of the Lord at all. Jesus is far to great to let something like this slow Him down! Please continue to pray for open doors. In fact, we ask that you would pray that we could move freely about with no obstruction from any officials.
What is happening is that there is a tremendous effort underway to segregate the refugees according to religion and country and keep them isolated from too much interaction with volunteers that are serving for normal physical needs. The goal is a noble one in that it is intended to keep wars started in another country from coming to Germany. The effort is to allow interaction with refugees to be only at the social worker level. But we believe we can help foster peace and integration through being friends. We believe that our efforts can significantly increase the chance for peace both in Germany and around the world. If you are isolated from anyone different than you, then you will learn to distrust and fear all those who are different.
This week we intend, by the grace of God, to go about work as usual trusting that Jesus will allow us to move about freely. The men at the refugee camp seem to be encouraged that we intend to come back and we are not going to let the events of this week discourage or stop us.
Thank you for your prayers! It is a joy to be in this with you.
The Gospel of John repeatedly refers to a particular disciple as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Reading all the way through the Gospel we learn that this specific disciple is also the writer of the book. It used to bother me that Jesus would pick one particular person to shower more attention and love on than the others (yeah that says a lot about my heart). But then one day I was reading and it suddenly struck me.....John was writing from His perspective while inspired by the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? It means that John lived his life with the constant awareness of how much God loved him. Personally, specifically, acutely loving him with all of his flaws and short comings.
Sharing Jesus with Muslims is a joy. These are some of the most wonderful, gentle, kind, and loving people you can hope to meet. Yet there seems to be a common road block. Most Muslims I speak with readily agree that God loves everyone. But the challenge comes in the fact that God loves them, specifically and personally. You may be used to speaking only with Americans and driving home the point that "it is not all about you" becomes necessary. Yet when you begin to share with people from other cultures, what seems so easy for one to grasp is difficult for others.
I must say that we are in a season in which we feel especially loved by God. We have felt that we are following God's plans throughout this whole journey, yet recently we have been overwhelmed by the wisdom and grace He has shown us. He knew what was coming to this land and He dropped us here just ahead of it. He knew we (and others) would need a place to launch out of and He provided this house.
This past week we saw God do amazing things in drawing people to Himself. Tuesday of this past week I got a message from the man I had met on Friday of the previous week. He told me to please pray for his daughter as she was being transported to the hospital. Several hours later he let me know the diagnosis. Staph Infection.
We felt utterly helpless because we were not able to physically get to where she was to actually pray with her and for her. Yet we prayed where we were and she was discharged the next day. Yesterday we got the privilege of going to this family's home and bringing some fun items for the kids and sharing tea with the parents. We hope it was a blessing to the family because it was a HUGE blessing for us. We continue to pray for this family as we continue to share Jesus both in word and deed.
On Wednesday, in our bible study at the refugee center, we saw God doing really awesome things among a Syrian man (posted some of the details earlier on Facebook) but we have continued to pray and seek the Lord that these men will catch the vision that THEY can be the agents of peace in this world. One of the men brought up questions that he had from the book of Daniel. The Lord used this story to allow us to share with him how Daniel -- a man who ended up in a foreign country because of war -- could be a major source of blessing for the country because of an "excellent spirit" the Lord had placed in him.
This is the vision we feel that the Lord has given, that these refugees will be able to be a MAJOR source of blessing for Germany and the World, fueled by the Holy Spirit and driven by the love of Christ.
Many of you have expressed a desire to help the beautiful souls here. Thank you! Thank you for your prayers, they mean the world to us! Thank you for your beautiful messages of encouragement!
We have big dreams that the Father has recently given us. Dreams of reconciliation with the LORD God and with the people from all the nations here. If you would like to make a one time financial donation directly to these efforts, please click the "Support Us". We cannot wait to see these dreams become reality!
Be blessed, dear friends!
This week has been an amazing whirlwind of a week. Here are just the highlights.....
Most of our encounters at the Refugee Homes seems to somehow get to the point of someone asking us for a bible. So in our last update I just asked for prayer on us getting arabic bibles. Even as I was writing the thought occurred to me, "It is time to get serious about prayer for these bibles." Then, one of our friends and supporters launches a Go Fund Me campaign and in a few short days we have the money to FILL OUR GARAGE with bibles for distribution! What an amazing group of people you are! What an amazing God we serve!
We have talked with several groups who are mobilizing teams to send our way to help with bible distribution and other needs, such as discipleship. Please be in prayer as most of the teams will stay with us in our home. Logistically, this can be a challenge, but we know that the Lord will bring us through. Now we are seeing the reason that God provided a home big enough to host teams! He is not a random God, but when He says to do something you better do it, even if you do not quite see how it all fits together. In essence our home has become and is becoming a place to launch from.
This week we spent our time at one of the homes further discipling men and getting to know them. These are some precious people and we are amazed that we get to be with them. Keri made cookies and we distributed cookies, shared Jesus, and did a bible study. The nature of these homes is that they are normally not visible to the uninformed eye. So one of the best ways to find them is to talk to the people and get to know them. They told me about other homes that are very close. Walking distance or a short bike ride from our house.
Friday, I went to see two other homes I had heard about. I arrived at the first one and the first man I met was an Afghan man who was an English Translator for the US/Allied Special Forces in Afghanistan. Needless to say, his English was amazing. I became quickly aware of the fact that he was definitely a person a peace as described in Luke 10. As we sat and talked he showed me how so often people bring all manner of food or clothing, but rarely take time to interact with the people in the home. I told him we are here to change that as God has sent us here to share the good news of peace with God and man through Jesus Christ and to demonstrate that through praying for the sick and hurting. He says, "Oh we have many people who need prayer here. Thank you for coming."
As I left that home, just so overwhelmed by the goodness of God to open up a work, I arrive by bicycle to the next home. I see a group of people standing around smoking. Normally I never go to the main management office, because normally they will tell me that unless I have relationships with the people I cannot come in. So I went up to this group staring at me suspiciously and told them why I was there. One man stands up and pulls up his shirt to show me something obviously distorted with his belly. He tells me he has a tumor and asks if I will pray. I prayed and whatever this was began to move all around! He and his wife were overjoyed and the man who was doing the bulk of the translating says, "is there a church we can go to?" I responded with, "why don't you let me show you how to meet together here in this home and I can show you how to get to know Jesus and you can pray for one another?" The man says, "This is a great idea! We can meet in my apartment and I will invite my friends. They will come!"
As with most of this path God has put us on, He has challenged us to see this whole refugee crisis in a different way. He is challenging us to not look at the people as a crisis or problem, but to see them through His eyes. To see them with the value and dignity that comes from Him. To see that this is the greatest missionary force the world has ever known and yet they do not know it yet. These people can be BOTH a huge blessing to this country AND the answer to peace in their own countries. We are working to see the power of God so transform these homes that the neighbors will want them there because of the tremendous blessing that comes from their presence!
There are literally hundreds of state churches and organizations doing their best to meet the physical needs of the refugees. THIS has blessed us as we are free to minister to them spiritually! What a gift!
language has not been a problem as many of these individuals never knew they would end up in Germany. English has been the bridge language, and ANY time language could have been a barrier, the LORD has been faithful to provide a person of peace; someone in the group who speaks English and translates to his family/friends. He is faithful!
Terror groups and criminal activity function well in these environments because they tend to be the groups who are giving the people purpose and reasons to belong. We have to be able to extend to them the dignity and value that is given them by God and cast vision for who they were created to be. This is not an easy task as hope has not been a concept in many of them for a long time.
We came to Berlin, Germany to make disciples of many nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that He has commanded us.
Behold, He has been with us always.
Thank you for your prayers. We are grateful for every one of you!