Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Am I dying?" The honest answer.

Podcasts can be used to learn, grow, challenge, laugh and even process new ideas or concepts. I have found that theological discussions and Ted Talks are great to listen to while grading students' work. As I searched through my long list of downloaded podcast that have built up, I came across one that caught my attention. It was titled, "Am I dying?" The honest answer. Since I have found many interesting Ted Talks where speakers have claimed that we are floating in some semi-good world and that is all there is, I figured this one could be very interesting as well. Maybe it will help me understand what other people think about dying or the purpose of life.

The man who was speaking spent years as a first responder to terrible accidents. When asked the question, "Am I going to die?" he would always respond like the movies, "No, everything is going to be alright." He didn't want to create panic and tried to let them die in peace. While responding to a motorcycle accident one day, he was asked that very question, the question he had been asked many times before. However, this time he decided to tell the truth and told the man that he was going to die and there was nothing that he could do. What happened next shocked the medical responder, the man laid back and had a look of acceptance and inner peace on his face. From this day forward, he decided to always tell the truth and he soon began to observe three patterns in all these cases.

1. The need for forgiveness
2. The need for remembrance
3. The need to know their life had meaning

As I was listening to the speaker I couldn't help but to think about Jesus and his promises to us. It didn't seem like the speaker was a Christian, but his message was so closely tied to scripture!

The first need he has observed is the need for forgiveness. Whether we call it sin or regret, people want to feel forgiven for what they have done. Well the Bible clearly states that our sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus (Acts 13:38, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14). When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are forgiven and accepted as sons and daughters of God. It is only through this forgiveness that we receive eternal life and that is where the second need comes in.

The second need is the need for remembrance. They felt a need for immortality in their friends' thoughts and many patients would ask him, "will you remember me?" I immediately thought to the criminal that was on the cross next to Jesus. In Luke 23:42 the criminal said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He wanted Jesus to remember him just like many people want their family members to remember what they have done and who they were. Jesus responded to the criminal and said, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). We have the same opportunity as that criminal. If we believe in Jesus and trust him for your salvation, then you will be remembered for all of eternity.

The third is the need to know their life had meaning. I believe that it is only through God that we can have meaning. If evolution is true and God doesn't exist, then we are just here because of random chance and without purpose. It doesn't matter if I do good deeds or bad deeds because we are all going to the same place, the place of nothingness. However, I believe that God does exist and that he created all of us for a special purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans for each one of us, plans for hope and a future. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 gives each person a specific task and purpose for their life. It is only through God that we have purpose.

After listening to this 5 minute Ted Talk I could only come to one conclusion. Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and each one of these three needs will be fulfilled. God is the only one that can offer true forgiveness. He knows us by name and even knows the number hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30, Luke 12:7). He will remember us and we will spend eternity with him and our loved ones that accept Christ. And finally, it is only through Him that our life can have purpose and meaning.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


As a missionary working in the Dominican Republic, it seems like everyone I interact with is either a coworker or a student/teacher in a ministry. There are many other missionaries that I live by and hang out with. It sometimes feels that every time I am with them we are discussing ministry and work issues. Those times of discussion have been an incredible help for me since one couple has been here over 20 years and has helped me grow so much. I am very grateful for their friendship and mentorship in this way, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Our schedules are all so different that at times it feels like I'm either with people at work, or I'm home alone. This isn't true, but it can feel that way at times.

From time to time there is a group movie night or chili night were we can just come together and be friends; not coworkers. Yesterday was one of those days, it was Labor Day here in the DR. I woke up and began to make a big brunch for everyone. It was breakfast burritos, a family favorite. I had 8 people over to my house where we hung out, ate, and laughed together. In the evening we planned a BBQ with even more people. Each person brought food over to my house and we had a U.S. style BBQ. There were 13 people having a good time with shish cabobs, burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon, and even smores!

As I stood there at the BBQ cooking everything, I thought about friendship. There are some people that we only hangout with at church, others that we only see at work, and some that we get together with to have fun.  There are friends we call when we are bored and others we call when we are in trouble. There may be some people that are in more than one category, but it is so important to have people in each of these places. Life can feel so lonely if we don't have the friends who are just friends. It is good to have people to talk to at work, church, and wherever else you go. These friendships are great, but often end when you switch jobs or move to another town. Who are your friends that will be by your side no matter what changes in your life. Who are the friends that you want to be with just to laugh and have a good time. Cherish these friendships and when times are tough, have a BBQ!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lesson Learned

I think that one of the main ways that God teaches us is through life experiences. Romans talks about how trials produce perseverance and perseverance produces character. We grow and learn through each experience in our lives. The frustrating part is that I feel like I never fully learn the lesson. I go through an experience and God comes through in an incredible way, but a few months down the road I have forgotten and He has to teach me again. This is exactly what happened to me today.

Almost two weeks ago my laptop crashed. I realized that I had not backed up some of the information in about six months, the more important information was backed up about a month ago. I was going to loose pictures and important ministry information that I had spent hours working on. I immediately took this problem into my hands to fix it. I tried everything I could to get the computer to turn on again, even taking out the hard drive and putting it into another laptop. The second laptop could not boot anything off of the hard drive; it was completely dead. Every day for almost two weeks I would open up the computer and push the power button hoping that it would turn on, but it didn't. It was done.

Family members and friends said that they were praying for my laptop and I was very thankful for that. I knew that God could fix it, but for some reason I never prayed for Him to fix it. After I exhausted every option that I knew of and concluded that there was no hope, I realized that I should pray for my computer. So after two weeks of doing everything I could do, I started to pray. I would turn it on and nothing would happen. I prayed again and turned it on. Again, nothing. I did this for maybe an hour until finally the laptop turned on. Everything opened correctly and I was able to pull everything off of the hard drive. I called my parents to share what God had done. My mom asked when it had finally turned on and I said about 5 minutes before. She said that 5 minutes before I called, she was praying for me with my dad and a friend of theirs. I was completely blown away! God heard our prayers about a laptop and answered in an incredible way!

It seems like many times God waits untill the absolute last moment when we give up all hope before he decides to act. It is almost his way of showing us that we didn't do it, but it was all Him. This has happened so many times in my life. Every time I have a problem I always try to fix it first, and when my way doesn't work I start to pray. I hope that I do not need to be taught this lesson again in the future, but that I will turn to God in prayer as my first solution and not my last. He not only cares about me, but he also cares about the little things like my laptop. How cool is that?!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


It has now been two weeks since I left the United States for another stretch of time in the Dominican Republic. The ministry here has continued in many of the same areas, but it has also changed so much as well. Instead of being a full time teacher at La Vega Christian School where I worked 40-50 hours a week the last two years, I am now helping out part time with the SWAT program, chapels and a substitute for English classes. The SWAT and chapels are only on Fridays which has cleared up so much of the week to work in other areas. On Monday, I was able to substitute for an afternoon English class and this coming Friday I will help teach the freshman Bible class. The biggest change I have seen is my work with my new missionary interns.

Much of the first two weeks was spent introducing them to as many different areas of work as possible. Instead of giving them a schedule, I hoped that they would find areas that they are passionate about and get plugged in. After two weeks of learning and adjusting, that is finally starting to happen. They spend two mornings a week teaching English with another missionary at a Haitian school and three mornings a week at La Vega Christian School helping with P.E., English, Chapels and SWAT. Friday afternoons are spent doing a chapel and English classes at the Rose of Sharon. It has been exciting to see them find other areas of work that they are passionate about that I wasn't doing before. Jon is helping the P.E. teacher coach the school basketball team a few days a week and Jayne is doing so much with photography.

What I have learned and tried to apply is that we all have different spiritual gifts that can be used in very different ways. That is something that everyone knows and isn't a new concept. The hard part is actually applying it to my ministry and finding the best way to use the gifts God has given us. They things that I love to do won't necessarily be what my interns love to do. They can provide a huge benefit for the ministry if I allow them to use what God has given them to reach a different group of people, or the same group in a different way instead of hindering them and putting them in a "box" of what I was doing before. My job is to encourage them and help put them in places where they will be most effective. The worst thing would be for them to go back to the U.S. in 6 months still completely "full" and feeling like they weren't able to be used in the way that they could be most effective. Pouring out into the next generation and teaching them is the key, and I am working to find the best way to do that. The last few weeks have been quite the journey as I have seen so much change in my ministry, but if the change means reaching more people for Jesus and affecting more kids, then I will do what it takes to make those changes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Love

Every Wednesday morning I attend a Bible study for men. This morning we covered 1 Corinthians 13 which talks about love. It gives a description of what love is and what it isn't. The man who led the study shared a Christmas version of 1 Corinthians 13, and I wanted to share it with you. As you read this I want you to think about how you will act this Christmas and how you will show love to those around you.

Christmas Love
1 Corinthians 13

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautiful adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the Child.

Love sets aside the decorating the kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

-Author Unknown

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What are you thankful for?

Reflecting over my 25 years of Thanksgivings, it is so interesting to see how it has changed and all the things for which I can be thankful. While growing up, Thanksgiving was always spent with my family. My first two years of college I was away from home but was still able to travel back home and spend time with my family.  I was so thankful to spend the time with then, but I never knew what it would be like away from them. Then came my time in California. I was not able to fly home to be with my family, but I realized how thankful I was for close friends who invited me to spend the holiday with their family. After college it was on to the Dominican Republic. I had an amazing missionary family during my first two years that got together and celebrated. I could have been sad or disappointed that it wasn't with my family, but we got together like a family would and celebrated.

I am now spending my first thanksgiving in Colorado with my family since 2007, and I am more thankful than ever. Over the years I have seen that there are many things for which to be thankful. I am not only blessed by an incredible family, but I have also had incredible friends and my missionary family. There is always something that we can be thankful for. It may look different every year and even sometimes it may not seem like much, but it is important to find that thing.

Every year at Thanksgiving we go around the table and share the best part of the last year and what we are looking forward to in the next year. I always had a plan on what the next year would be like, but I never knew that God would use me in this way. As I look over the last year I am blown away by what God has done in the Dominican Republic. He has made himself present many times and answered so many prayers. I am now I looking forward to the next year. I don't know what God has planned, but that is so exciting. I know that it will be spent in the DR serving Him with an incredible group of people and I couldn't be more excited!

I am thankful for my family, friends, and fellow missionaries. I am thankful for all of my supporters, churches, and ministry partners. I am healthy and living out the call God has for me. God has put me exactly where he wants me and I could ask for anything else. There are hard times and difficult things, but I am thankful that God is next to me, helping me through everything. I trust in Him to get me through the hard times and praise Him for the good times. That is something to be thankful for. What can you thank God for in your life?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Volunteer Missionaries

There is so much that I could write about after a few months without any update on here, but something special happened this evening. 

When I felt the call to ministry, I really felt called to work with young adults. My life was shaped by older adults, and I knew that God was calling me to do the same in other young adult's lives. After studying youth leadership at Vanguard University, I felt called to missions and work with the youth in the Dominican Republic. In February of 2012, I knew that I wasn't only supposed to work with youth in the Dominican Republic but also youth from the United States. I started to dream of an internship program where students could come to the DR for an extended period of time and gain ministry/missions experience. This dream started to take shape as I worked with one student who came to the DR for 7 weeks in the summer of 2013. This student didn't go through Transition Ministry, but it helped to create a framework for the program. I returned to the United States in July to share about what was happening in the DR and to share about this new program.

Students began to be interested in this opportunity and two young adults applied for the position. After meeting with them and receiving all of their materials, I am so excited to say that Transition Ministry has its first missionary volunteers!! They will be traveling back to the Dominican Republic with me in January and will assist in the ministry for 6 months. It is so exciting to see two young adults accept God's call in their lives to serve Him overseas. I pray that this program can continue to grow and send new missionaries around the world. There is still so much to learn, but it is so cool to see young adults serving God. What started as a dream over a year ago has now became reality. I am blown away! 

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