Sunday, November 25, 2007

Life Updates Pt. 1 & 2

If you are on my update email list, you've already received these.

Life Update (pt. 1 of 2)

This is my first update in a long while, but I will begin sending these out more frequently. I just want everyone to know of all the big changes that have been occurring in my life recently.
This last semester has been a big transition for me. I quit my full time job as an Assistant Hall Director at Kerr Hall, moved out of the dorms at UNT and into a lower-income neighborhood consisting of a lot of apartments and very little grass (thus dubbed “Cement City”). I began my first semester of the Missionary Training Institute (MTI) at Denton Bible Church (DBC), and made my decision of where I will serve after the training is over: Mombasa, Kenya. This first part of the “Life Update” will consist of the missions side of things, while part 2, coming soon, will be on the ministry side of things.
The training I have received at MTI has been phenomenal. It was a difficult transition at first, but God has given me grace in learning new ways to manage my time and devote myself to my studies. The missions staff of DBC are incredibly gifted and educated men with great devotion to Jesus Christ and His church. I have learned so much about the life of Christ, details of Christian Doctrine, and the intricacies of how to deliver a sermon effectively. I have also been meeting with Dennis Omondi, the field director of Serve Kenya every Tuesday morning to talk about life and ministry in Mombasa, Kenya. When I started meeting with Dennis I was fairly certain I wanted to serve in Kenya, not so much because I feel a specific calling to Kenya or even East Africa, but simply because I feel like I have a place there. I fit in with the team and the ministry work of pastor training, college ministry, leadership development, and possibilities for Muslim evangelism. I can see no better place for me to build a foundation of mission work for my life. After a few weeks of meeting with Dennis, I saw we had very similar hearts, visions, and ministry desires. We are both fairly convinced that Kenya is the place that God would have me commit to for at least one term (four years). This summer I plan on spending two months in Kenya along with my friend Josh Smith; during those two months we will be able to work under Dennis and experience life, ministry, and culture in Kenya in a deeper way as well as lead/host the College Life summer mission team coming to Kenya in July. I will be meeting with this team as their leader starting in February or March.
I thank you for all your prayers, encouragement, guidance, advice, love, support, and friendships. I am very blessed by the Lord to be surrounded by such great groups of people so devoted to God and His purposes. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.

Life Update: Ministry (pt. 2 of 2) – 11/26/07

We are not very balanced people; we like to see-saw between extremes rather than stand in the middle, balanced & steady. I have found it difficult to balance ministry with my studies. I could easily spend all my time just working (20 hrs a week for UNT Housing), but I know that God desires faithfulness in ministry during my time of training. This semester, most of my ministry has taken place in the context of my neighborhood, “Cement City”, a mostly Hispanic, lower income neighborhood right next to the UNT campus. I joined a group of friends from College Life who intentionally moved into a lower-income neighborhood in order to build relationships, meet physical needs, and meet spiritual needs by sharing the gospel and serving the community. It has been slow and at times frustrating, but there are moments where I am affirmed why God has raised up this team of people to pray and serve this community. Just this month, Carlos, one of the kids across the street accepted Christ as his Savior and his siblings, Roberto & Stephanie, are being prepared day by day for the same! We’ve also been able to incorporate a system of telling stories of Jesus’ life every time our neighborhood kids ask to borrow our bike pump! Most of our time is invested in the kids and we pray that our love for the kids will earn respect and an ear open to the gospel from both the kids and their parents. We need lots of prayer because we are constantly evaluating what should be changed about our focus and our actions in this community.

Starting at the turn of the year, I plan on working for Lifeline Bible Fellowship, a church plant of DBC focused on reaching out to the urban & hip/hop cultures. In this, I hope to learn some areas of church ministry and administration that will help me as I prepare for the mission field; I also have a great respect for this church, their vision, and their strong emphasis upon discipleship. After 3 ½ years, I will be quitting my job with the Department of Housing. This semester I have only worked enough to pay my bills and plan on raising monthly support in order to meet those needs since Lifeline is a volunteer position. I am looking for monthly commitments from people who are interested in partnering with me both now as I prepare and train for the mission field and in the future work God is calling me towards in Kenya. If you are interested in setting up a meeting in regards to this, please send me an email so I can share more with you about the ministry. Otherwise, I will begin by contacting certain people that have already expressed interest in my support raising endeavors.

I thank you all for the joy of being partners in the work of Christ and for your support and prayers while God continues to take me on this journey towards Kenya.

Your fellow servant in the Lord,