Take Courage!

Take Courage!

By Mike Kasdorf

Growing up, I was raised by Christian parents, and we were active church participants. I went to Christian schools from 7th grade all the way through college. My life and upbringing checked most of the boxes on the "good Christian" list. I'm grateful for my childhood. But there came a time for me – as it does for all of us, regardless of our rearing – that we must ask ourselves "NOW WHAT?"

Who Told You?

Who Told You?

By John Certalic, caringforothers.org

In Acts 22 the Apostle Paul recounts his conversion story, explaining how Jesus spoke to him in a dramatic moment on the road to Damascus. In this confrontation Jesus directed Paul to a man named Ananias, “a godly man, deeply devoted to the law and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus.”  He soon became the first person to tell Paul about the Lord and how to respond to him.

The Pastor’s Pastor

The Pastor’s Pastor

By Jen Akin

In a recent team building exercise, ministry staff members wrote a message in a bottle – a piece of advice or counsel – to the future church. Each week we pulled out one message and had the author expound on it.  It was thought-provoking to reflect on what our last words of encouragement and direction would be to the church. Moreover, it highlighted what was currently important to us.

The Pursuit

The Pursuit

By Ben Baumann

A while back I got to go see a couple of speakers I love because they always get me thinking deeply about spiritual matters. It fascinates me to think on the things of God. One of the speakers said something about pursuing things or idols—that caught my attention. He said that the pursuing of what you want (your idol) is depression and the attaining of it is melancholy. As this thought sank in I began to see my self-focused pursuit of my own idols, and I started to ask myself how I might give up that pursuit. I didn’t realize it in the moment, but looking back, I could see that the Gospel was confronting my idolatry.

Make Him Known

Make Him Known

By Trisha Goddard, Partners for Paraguay

www.mtgoddard.com

In 2006, Mike and I bought our home here in Paraguay. For years, we dreamed of having an office built, and this year it became reality. I could have easily become frustrated with the way construction is done here because it is nothing like how my professional contractor dad would do it. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to learn, watch, and value the construction workers by saying “thank you” in tangible ways  – providing ice, cold water, or a treat of hot cinnamon rolls, and offering the use of our ladders and extension cords to make their job easier. We made a bathroom and shower available so they could clean up before heading home from a long and dusty work day in 100-degree weather, and we  cleaned up the bathroom and job site daily.

The Benefit of Conflict

The Benefit of Conflict

By Kraig Sorvick

I spent seven years as a Customer Service Supervisor in a grocery store and it provided me with a plethora of memories – customer fits of rage, aisle 5 clean-ups, and awkward conflicts. As a supervisor I routinely interacted with unhappy customers. One conflict still bothers me. A customer had a disappointing visit to our store and irately confronted Stephanie, the cashier. The customer spent several minutes insulting her and yelling at her. Stephanie apologized for the poor shopping experience and asked how she could help. The angry customer refused to listen. I observed this but did not know how to react or respond. I stood there as if I was frozen. After the customer left, Stephanie turned to me with tears in her eyes and exclaimed, “Why didn’t you do anything? Why didn’t you help me? You’re supposed to have my back!” Stephanie was right, and it vexed me. My job was to handle unhappy customers, make their experience better, and protect my employees from tantrums. This conflict taught me a great lesson. It enabled me to see my responsibilities and my need to act rather than hesitate.

Be Grateful for the Present

Be Grateful for the Present

By Jen Akin

Last fall I had trouble getting to one of my son’s soccer games.  The field was hard to find and my mind was preoccupied with a conversation I had earlier in the day.   After finding the field I sat in the car and called my husband because I needed to process that interaction.  As I arrived thirty minutes late to the game, one of the coaches shared that my son had scored four goals in a five-minute period -- the time I was in the car. Even now I get a pit in my stomach thinking about it.  My concern about something from the past, and worry about how to handle it in the future, had fully taken over the joy available to me in the present.

Already Clean

Already Clean

by Christina Crumbliss

            From childhood, I grew up in the church and was raised on Sunday school answers. I did my best to keep good morals and stay out of trouble. In fact, I was pretty good at it. From the outside I was certainly the model young girl without any glaring issues. If I’m honest, looking back, this created in me a false pride and a terribly sinful sense of “being better”,  not to mention a completely distorted foundation for my understanding of my identity.

Being Obedient to God

Being Obedient to God

by Trisha Goddard, Partners for Paraguay

www.mtgoddard.com

Mike and I have the awesome opportunity to partner with 13 First Nations men (one Ava Guarani and twelve Ache) in Eastern Paraguay. A few years ago they realized that other people in their region needed to hear God's word, and they stepped out in faith to obey God's call on their hearts. They began reaching out to three communities, and that number has grown to 11 – one Paraguayan community and 10 First Nations communities of Ava Guarani and Mbya.

Home Grown

Home Grown

By Eric and Mollie

Just last month we sat down with our boys and listened intently to the story of Larry Gray, a front line, old-school missionary who lost his son to appendicitis in the bush of Chad, Africa. Just a few months later, he witnessed the destruction of his home and vehicle by an angry Muslim mob. It was this very same story which Teri Bittner heard some 20 years prior when Larry spoke at, what was then called, Meadowbrook’s World Fest. From that moment, Teri began to pray that the Father would send more workers into the harvest field of Chad. Much to her amazement and delight, the Father would honor that request with a family from her own church community.