I recently returned from a board meeting of 3:18 Ministries in nice & warm Globe, AZ. 3:18 is a ministry to the Apache people of the San Carlos Reservation, showing the love of Jesus in a place where it’s all too rare. While I missed interacting with a couple members who couldn’t make it to the meeting, I really enjoyed the time with the rest of us, not to mention the escape from the gray NE winter to a couple days of green (which was a little surprising for me – I forgot that color existed) and AZ sun. More than that, it was great to spend a couple days dreaming and discussing and clarifying what God is doing through 3:18. The hope and vision in the lives of 3:18’s board are contagious! I have little claim to earn membership in such an awesome group of kingdom servants, but I’m humbled and thankful to get to spend some time and effort and prayer with them. Through God’s power working on the reservation, parents are learning how to lead and love their children, families are gaining more suitable housing, and children who think they’re not wanted are learning how precious they really are to their Maker. God’s love is being made known in the actions of His people and even bigger developments are on the horizon for 3:18. I can’t wait to see where God takes us all!
The trip got me thinking again about this post I’d started several months ago about some missions that matter to me and my family. We give to these ministries, in terms of finances, time, prayer, and effort. We see God at work in these ministries and want to be able to help in any way we can. Maybe you can help, too. In addition to 3:18, would you be praying for these Kingdom efforts? Take some time to look into what they do and see if God has some role for you to play in their work.
Sparrow’s Nest – A few years ago, our small group piled into Forest (as we dubbed our green church van) and drove to the West Coast for Catalyst. (It’s interesting to me that after all the miles I’ve driven those vans, it took a small group of adults to give one a name!) We were joined by my friend, Tory (of the previously mentioned 3:18), and a friend of one of our group’s couples, Carissa. While our initial contact was tainted by the lingering effects of the “Mile High Tamale” incident, it was a joy to meet Carissa and see how she’s responding to a dream planted in her by God. That dream has become The Sparrow’s Nest in St. Charles, MO. The mission of The Sparrow’s Nest is “to provide Christ centered shelter and to educate homeless, pregnant, and parenting young women.” They want to empower young mothers to make positive life decisions for themselves and their babies. It’s been amazing to see God work as Carissa has pulled together a team to build this much needed ‘nest’ in the St. Louis area. Visit their site to check out their story – maybe you’ll find a place in it, too.
Nebraska Christian College – Getting married right after high school was a no brainer for LuAnn and I. We were going off to college hundreds of miles from anyone we’d ever known and there was tremendous encouragement in doing that together. From July of 1994, when we landed at the empty campus (the only ones I remember being around were two other couples a few years ahead of us, and Humphrey, who couldn’t go home for the summer because home was Malawi and he needed to work to pay for the next semester) until May of 1998, when I graduated and a well placed dart landed in Loveland, CO – NCC was our first home. Some of our deepest relationships were forged there and some of our most formative growth was instigated there. We’ve supported NCC ever since as the college continues to train servant leaders who know Christ and are making Him known. Though the place where all that college magic happened for us has been left behind for another location, the college continues to be an exciting part of what God is doing and we continue to be excited by just what He is doing through NCC.
Compassion – Very early in our marriage, we wanted to establish that our lives, our jobs, & our income would never just be about us. Whatever God brought our way, we wanted to be willing to use it for His glory and someone else’s benefit. Compassion was one of our first outlets for doing exactly that. Through Compassion’s child sponsorship program we’ve been able to help kids in a couple Latin American countries, Haiti, and Kenya with names like Pilar, Imacuelease, & Wairegi find hope in the name of Jesus. I’ve also enjoyed getting our youth ministry students involved with Compassion, raising money for hunger and AIDS relief, or pulling a few friends together to sponsor a child of their own. We once had a talent show to raise money for mosquito nets, where our duct-tape-wearing friend Theresa joined a couple sisters and friends for a hilarious Burger King skit – before she traded the paper crown in for one with more diamonds at the Miss America pageant of 2011. Compassion is changing the story for thousands of kids living in poverty throughout the world. They have a special day of emphasis coming up called Compassion Sunday in April – check it out and find out how you and your church can rewrite some stories, too.
Youth Ministry – This may go without saying, but youth ministry is incredibly important to me and my family. After 4 years of college and 12 years of being a youth pastor, I still love seeing students living life as disciples and learning to be the church God is calling them to be. I still love it when they start to understand how deeply Jesus loves them and to allow Him to shape their lives. I hope I will never join the masses in losing that enthusiasm for teens. I hope you’ll join me in praying for the teens in and around your own life. They need you to care enough to invest your life in them. Get to know them and find out how you can reach into their lives. Do the work of a missionary, reaching across generations to understand and to build bridges. You probably won’t see huge dividends immediately, but do it anyway – bring God’s Kingdom to their tribe.
There are many other ministries that we care about and continue to pray for. I think of Marilyn and Connie and their family in South Africa (long time family friends back to my grandpa’s generation), and Hudson (a former student) and his family preparing to reach into places to which most of us are too afraid or ill-prepared to reach. I think of other former students who are carrying Christ with them in youth ministries and IT departments and construction sites and nuclear plants, as well as friends and family planting churches in exotic places like New Zealand and North Dakota as well as Wyoming and South Dakota. There are many others being the church in big cities and small towns closer to home. I think of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, where some of our WestWay family go a couple times each year to offer hope. When I stop to think about it, I’m humbled to be a part of such a diverse fellowship of people who’ve taken up Christ’s mission to reconcile, to seek what has been lost and restore people to the relationship with God that we are created for.
What are some of the ministries in which you and your family are involved? How do you help them? What’s God up to there?