Archive for category: Ministry

The Manjui Bible Completed!

03 Sep
September 3, 2015

When I was a teenager my family spent a little over a year serving with the Manjui tribe in the Paraguayan desert during the time we were missionaries in South America. The Hunts are an incredible family who have spent the last forty years living with the Manjui, knowing them, learning the language, creating a written language and dictionary, teaching them the scriptures, planting and nurturing a church, and translating the entire Bible so that the Manjui can read God’s word in their own language. It took forty years to reach that last milestone – it’s so incredible to see the photos, the videos, to witness this precious tribe receiving something that will be a powerful tool for them.

It blows my mind to see that kind of commitment; very few have taken the kind of time that the Hunts have to see such a task come to completion. I’m not sure of the numbers now, but when we lived there just over twenty years ago, there were only a few hundred Manjui total – it was a small, isolated tribe with a language unique to only them. Many would say they’re not worth the effort, that resources could be better used elsewhere for a larger return. They would be wrong – God wants ALL of His children!

It’s also moving to see the physical differences in the tribe today compared to what I experienced in the 90’s. And what I experienced was a tremendous improvement over what the missionaries had originally found with this tribe. There is a greater sense of health, well being. Even things as simple as clothing have improved dramatically. It’s exciting to see how the tribe has changed spiritually and practically over the decades. What an exciting thought to know that some day the Manjui voice and language will be represented in the chorus of voices singing praises in heaven to God!

The Student Ministry Retreat!

31 Aug
August 31, 2015

fire

The 2015 Student Ministry Retreat is a wrap! What a weekend! We had a great turnout, amazing weather, and an exciting kick off to the new school year. Our theme for the weekend was #Hashtag; essentially, we took popular hashtags from social media and used them as launching points for our three talks and two small group times. Over the weekend we worked our way through the basics of who Jesus is, a call to commit/recommit to Him, and a challenge to be a light for Him throughout the week in school, our neighborhoods, homes, and sports teams.

Of course, there was a LOT of fun involved with the weekend. I made another rules video (you can see it on the student ministry Facebook page), we tried out Human Hungry Hippo, had our annual candle lighting ceremony, played lazer tag in the woods, went water tubing, bounced on a jumping pillow, used the water slide, played with the canoes, and sent kids airborne off the blob. My son Caleb, an incoming sixth grader, tried it for the first time and got some great air – you can see a picture below!

I came into this weekend feeling nervous; the last half year has been kind of wild at our church. Our senior pastor retired after having first came to the church in 1975. Along with the other pastors, I was pulled in a lot of directions during the transition time. Between mission trips, the senior pastor search, mission trips. and more the summer flew by faster than usual. Even so, I came away from the retreat feeling like in spite of all the chaos going into it, our theme saturated the weekend better than we’ve seen in years. It was amazing how many kids came to me Saturday night and told me the ways they were being impacted by the retreat. Our goal is to see this continue in our student small groups – we took big steps to make sure kids were connecting with their small group leaders so that those critical conversations can continue in the weeks to come!

All in all, it was a great weekend! Now to catch up on some sleep …

caleb blob

MK abuse, PK perfection, and BJU

31 Jul
July 31, 2015

revictimize

Victims of abuse in large religious institutions and organizations have really been on my heart in recent years, in part because of the stories of those close to me from my time in a boarding school for missionary kids, but even more so in reaction to the lengths of which organizations will go to hide the truth and protect themselves rather than the victims. Is this true of every religious organization and institution? No. Tragically, though, it is true of far more than many of us realize.

Similar stories have been coming out of Bob Jones University recently as the results from their abuse investigations have come to light. One victim wrote a powerful essay giving a glimpse into their experience, one that resonates strongly with so many of us and I think helps those outside better understand. The above cartoon, created by another victim, is what prompted the essay. You can read the full essay here; the quote below really jumped out at me – unfortunately, because it is so true of what I have witnessed in completely separate contexts than the author.

As for sexual offenders, I quickly learned that they were somehow seen with some strange sort of honor. It seemed that they were always very godly men, men that “God” wanted to use in his service. They had value, and their testimonies had to be protected. They had somehow passed that illusory threshold of being good enough for God.

It seemed that those victimized were treated as forever blackened, forever worthless, rejected and despised. We were used, broken, and useless. The preacher boys and missionary boys were to be protected from people like us as we were considered potentially destructive to ministries. We were ruined.

For many of us, counseling felt like it was driving the nails into our coffins. We now had names – They named us Bitter, Destroyer, Unforgiving, Impure, etc. Through their teaching, it became obvious that there were other names on the list: Worthless, Despised, Hated. We all were assumed to have deserved the abuse and worse, because we were abused by such godly men, we were responsible before a holy God for making one of his precious vessels stumble. We had one and only one possibility of value – our silence. IF we were to never tell and never show any struggles from our abuses, then we could remain on the fringes of the fold.

Read the rest here.

Kindle as a Tool

29 Jul
July 29, 2015

kindleWhen ebooks were first being discussed, I swore I would never make the switch from real books to some digital platform. There is something undeniably real about holding an actual book, the weight of it, the smell of the paper, the feel of turning the pages.

Anyway, that’s what I thought. But now it’s 2015 and I love my Kindle. I also love my Kindle app for iPad, Kindle for PC, Kindle in the cloud, the Kindle app on my iPhone … you get the idea. It’s been an incredible resource for me as a pastor and as a seminary student.

  • Cost. The books are generally cheaper. And with the Kindle Matchbook option now, it’s possible to get Kindle versions of physical books bought from Amazon for three dollars or less.
  • Research. I love being able to do keyword searches. My ability to find applicable information for both sermons or research papers far quicker than when I was a college student 15+ years ago.
  • Highlights. Highlighting has turned into one of my critical tools. It’s possible to see all my highlights for a book grouped together – great for having critical information quickly accessible. Even more important? I’m able to log on to the Kindle website, copy and paste my highlights, and/or print them. This has been GREAT for sermons, papers, or even just collecting information that I want to pass on to other leaders or my team.
  • Convenience. Whatever device I read on syncs up with all my other devices, which means whichever one I pick up knows exactly how far into the book I am. If I’m waiting somewhere, I can read from my phone. Later I can use my iPad. If I’m in the sun? Switch to my actual Kindle. In addition, I am able to have my entire library with me at all times – great for travel.
  • The Beach. I love my basic Kindle when we go to the beach. The screen is great in the sun, it fits in my pocket for when we’re walking around, and the battery lasts the whole trip. Next week when we’re on vacation? I’m going to fly through several books while parked under an umbrella sitting in the sand, sipping a Diet Mt. Dew. It’s going to be awesome.

All that to say, my Kindle has become an indispensable tool. The guy who once swore he’d never give up paper does almost all his reading digitally now!

Group Games Apps

28 Jul
July 28, 2015

groupdo

This summer I told both of my interns to download the following three apps, and they have both been VERY excited with how useful they are! It is challenging to come up with different and interesting games for student ministry week after week, and while there are a ton of resources out there, both in book form and online, these are particularly convenient as they are apps! Each of the apps has a variety of games, from simple to complex. And at a couple bucks each, it’s around a penny or two per game idea. Definitely great youth ministry resources:

Group Games: The first games app I purchased, it includes over 120 games with filters and categories, as well as the ability to highlight favorites for quick access later.

GroupDo: 250 games with filters to help narrow them down by what type of game you want. Includes instructions, illustrations and more!

Awana YM Games: Awana is in the name, but this is app is incredibly useful if you work with teens, regardless of what curriculum you use. It includes 95 games.

Bonus app recommendation:

IceBreaker Questions: Not a games app, but another great resource from the creator of the Group Games app mentioned above. Tons of great questions, with filters for age groups, it’s a fun way to get a group talking!

It’s the little things …

09 Jul
July 9, 2015

IMG_2916

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel most appreciated.

This photo is from the VBS party/cookout our team through for the residents in Stockholm and New Sweden during our mission trip to Maine. There were a handful of kids who came with drawings thanking us for the VBS!

We Consistently Put Abusers Before Victims

08 Jul
July 8, 2015

child_abuse

Watching the Cosby abuse saga play out in the media and national conversation over recent months has triggered a lot of frustrated emotions for me. People ask why the women didn’t come forward sooner (many had and been silenced!), that they were doing it for personal gain (can anyone actually point to how this has benefited ANY of them?), that he’s innocent until proven guilty (convenient, since statutes of limitations have long expired), etc., etc., etc. Victims stepped forward, as we say they should, and received condemnation. Over and over. They were victimized a second time by our tendency to protect abusers, not victims. I have to wonder, which assault was worse?

And then it hit the news this week that Bill Cosby admitted under oath to obtaining drugs to use in sexually assaulting women. Exactly how dozens of women have publicly claimed he assaulted them. And people are still wondering if he will admit to the accusations now that these 2005 admissions have come to light.

Why does he need to admit to anything? How is there still any uncertainty? How many victims have to claim assault before they will be believed?

Yet, this is the scenario that plays out over and over, from institutions to churches to missions organizations to families and more. I have friends who have the literal, physical scars on their bodies from missionaries who abused them when they were children, and the response from the organization was that their word was not enough, there needed to be others claiming similar abuse before they could take action against actively serving abusers in their organization. I have seen families refuse to believe their children when they cry out for help against the abuse received from a sibling, parent, relative, or close friend. This pattern is too much the norm.

Can you imagine the horror of not only being physically abused, sexually assaulted, raped – and then when you reach out for help to the adults and authorities in your life not being believed? Can you imagine the powerlessness in that moment? The complete terror that the abuser not only will get away with it, but could return and do so again since no one believes you?

So why in the world are we still mystified at victim’s reluctance to reach out for help? Why do we question the amount of time it takes for the few of them who actually do speak out to work up the courage to step out? When this is the way they see other victims treated in their towns, their churches, their organizations, their nation?

Maine Mission Trip lip dub!

04 Jul
July 4, 2015

Taking 22 middle school students on a mission trip to Northern Maine means about 16 hours of driving in each direction … and we don’t allow them to bring ANY devices on the trip! So we spend the time talking, playing games, getting to know each other, and making lip sync videos! The funny thing is, as much as all the kids fear the drive ahead of time, they’re shocked at how fun it is to travel with a bunch of friends and no electronics!

Anyway, here’s the music video/lip dub my van came up with!

New Tribes Mission Settles Missionary Kid Sex Abuse Case

01 Jul
July 1, 2015

ntm1It recently hit the news that New Tribes Mission, the organization my parents served with in the early 90’s, settled one of the many cases they are facing with former missionary children who suffered unspeakable physical, sexual, verbal, and/or spiritual abuse while under their care in their boarding schools.

Many of these abuses occurred in the past, but have been kept silent through intimidation and the incorrect belief that they were isolated incidents. Social media has changed all of that. Over the last decade, hundreds of us who were victims in boarding schools have found each other and begun to join our voices together. In response, NTM did finally begin investigating the claims, but over the years the hope has turned to frustration again as victims feel increasingly that the investigation is being silenced rather than brought to light and fully dealt with. Part of me understands it; I don’t think any of us realized just how widespread the abuse was, or how many were actually harmed. I wonder sometimes if New Tribes is horrified at the level of what has been exposed, far beyond what anyone anticipated, and what does that do to the current leadership – many of whom had nothing to do with the abuse, and who struggle with the fears of what this information could do to their ongoing efforts to reach the lost – a valuable goal of living out the great commission?

At the same time, when their lawyers are quoted in articles saying, “I’ve been very impressed with how they’ve tried to take care of these people,” I find myself shaking my head in frustration at the realization that they just don’t understand it. Victims who have been shamed, silence and intimidated for decades and who finally begin to get some of the help they need to fund the counseling and steps needed to somewhat recover do not feel like it has been an impressive effort. Being called “these people” is shockingly offensive. I have not met a victim yet who actually wants to sue New Tribes; we just want the tragedies of the past to be dealt with instead of covered up – a practice that puts the organization and the abuser ahead of the victim and ultimately victimizes them once again.

2015 Student Missions Report

29 Jun
June 29, 2015

All three of our student missions trips are back home! Yesterday in church we took over both of the worship services to allow the students and leaders to share what God had done through them, and showed them through the trips to Maine, Boston, and Guatemala.

It’s the first time we’ve done the reports during the worship services; in the past, it was always a separate event – it was exciting to see our students be the sermon with their stories and lessons from the scriptures they shared, with the congregation as a whole being blessed by them!

In the next few days, the audio and video from the reports will go live – stay tuned for more!