Recent Posts by Chris

Running Wind Sprints in Heaven

By Sunday, September 3, 2017 0 0

As a missionary, one of the biggest areas of sacrifice that I face is leaving family behind. Of course, I don’t mean the immediate family of my wife and kids, but the rest of my family – my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law and my nephew. This is an area that will probably always be difficult in my life as I live in another country and try to follow where God leads.

Not enough is often said, though, of the sacrifice of leaving church family. I grew up in Eastgate Bible Fellowship and spend a lot of time with the people that made it a church. I watched parents raise their children. I saw how various men treated their wives. I watched how people worshiped and struggled with their faith and was able to see how God used them in various ways. I also gained a number of role models.

This brings me to David McBee, our friend, ministry partner and financial adviser, who passed away this week. I knew that David lived with many physical struggles in his life. But I didn’t know because he shared it with me or because he complained about it. I often wonder how I was aware of these things because, truth be told, in his serving Jesus Christ, David didn’t really let on that he had those physical struggles. David taught a Sunday school class every Sunday morning without complaint and was always prepared. He led with humor and humility. He arrived on Sundays ready to hear how other people were and how he could pray for them. I could always expect a warm smile and usually a hug from David each time I saw him.

From David, I learned how to put my discomfort aside and look to other people first. I learned that a little levity can go a long way. I learned that being honest about your failings and limits allows you to praise God’s power all the more. I learned these things watching David simply live his life within our church family.

When we return from Texas in December I will certainly notice David’s absence just as I will notice pastor Brad’s. My spiritual family has lost another one of its brothers here are earth. A sister has lost her husband. I know that she is in good hands with our Father God and with her brothers and sisters in Christ at Eastgate. God has and will continue to work in and through Debbie’s life as he carries her through this loss.

I thank God for the time that I had with David here on earth and I look forward to when we are reunited in Heaven. It will be fun to spend time with the David I never knew here; the one who will probably challenge me to a wind sprint and beat me handily.

Employed by the Harvest Field

By Sunday, November 16, 2014 0 0

“And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Luke 10:2

In August of 2003 I started a 10 year career at SanMar. For those of you not familiar with the company, they sell blank clothing goods and accessories to screen printers and embroiderers for marketing purposes. You can visit their website at sanmar.com if you are really curious. I started out in sales working on the phones making sure my list of customers was well taken care of, and moved into the IT department after a while helping support the website and various other programs used by the company. It was a good place to work that supported my family and I and allowed me to be home with my wife and kids and be a part of their lives as a good husband and father.

During ten years of working at one company I got to know many people and some of them very well. I quit working at SanMar in November of 2013 but I’ve continued to maintain relationships with some people over the last year. I felt that if I was able to create relationships over ten years that I should at least try to maintain them and not simply “check out” because I was no longer with the company. These relationships are what prompt me to write this post.

The verse I placed above is one that is often seen during missions conferences or in the slides of missionaries to foreign fields presentations during the updates they provide to supporting churches. It is a great verse. It is a verse we should take seriously and think about with reference to whether or not God is calling us overseas. I think we need to look at this more fully though.

There is a ripe harvest here at home as well. There are workers that are needed here at home. Those workers don’t fit into one category of those with seminary degrees and Bible College backgrounds. The workers in this harvest field can be any one of us. In fact, most of us are currently employed by the very harvest we are trying to reap. I spent ten years trying to lay foundation with people I worked with so I could share Christ with them. I tried to lay those foundations to a fault. I wanted everything to be perfect, set up just right so that when I shared Christ we would have an open and comfortable conversation about Jesus and their need for him. For a great many people I worked with that time never came. For some it did and I shared.

Over the last week I have been contacted on two separate occasions and informed that people I used to work with died suddenly and unexpectedly. Leann Coker and Sam Gardener. Sam sat no more than 3 feet away from me for 2 ½ years. We talked many times about many things. We laughed, we cheered the US team during the World Cup in 2010 and we talked about God.

Leann worked on the same team as I did for about a year. I didn’t talk with her as often as I did with Sam because we didn’t sit near each other but we spoke at least once a week. We never had a conversation about Christ except maybe at a very high level.

The deaths of these two people have struck me how we must be bold in our sharing of our faith in Christ with others. We think we have all of the time in the world but we do not. Sam was joking with my former boss on Monday about the Seahawks and Giants game (my former boss is originally from New York) and did not come in to work on Tuesday morning because he had passed away. It was that quick. No long hospital stays, no disease that slowly ate away at him causing us all to expect his passing to happen soon. He was happy and laughing on Monday afternoon and gone Monday evening. I shared the gospel with Sam four times when I worked with him. He never made a statement of faith but his beliefs are between he and God. I hope he reconciled himself to God before Monday evening.

Most of us are blessed to be employed into and by the very harvest we are trying to reap. Don’t let’s fail to be bold in our sharing of Christ to that harvest. We spend eight hours a day with them and grow to know and care about these people and we have an opportunity to love them as Christ did. If we just let Christ shine through us we can see a change in our businesses and work places that can grow and carry into our country.

In memory of Leann Coker and Sam Gardener.

Maybe We’ve Got it All Wrong – Book 2 {Day 17}

By Friday, October 17, 2014 0 0

Have you heard of Steve Saint? I sure hope so. He’s the son of martyred missionary Nate Saint, who was one of four aviation missionaries killed by Auca natives in Ecuador. Steve lived among the Auca with his aunt Rachel and Elisabeth Elliot, one of my heroes of the faith, from the age of 10. He was baptized by two of the men who had killed his father shortly after they trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.

Today, he builds amazing things, including flying cars, at his company, I-TEC.

Chris read The Great Omission recently. This is what he had to say about it.

Maybe We’ve Got it All Wrong.

Many of us have been involved in missions in some way or another. Whether we have supported missionaries for many years or even had the opportunity to be a part of a short term mission trip. The country you went to is sometimes dictated as to where in the US you grew up. For me, I went to Mexico. I’ve been down to Mexico on mission related trips 3 times if I remember correctly, maybe even 4. We would fly down to San Diego and then drive across the border into Mexicali or Tijuana. Once in Mexico we would set up tents at a camp site and then go each day to a village where we would lead a VBS, build something and do a sports ministry. From people I’ve met from around the country this is pretty much what everybody else’s experience is as well.

Steve Saint looks into these actions and shows that we really aren’t hitting the point. We have created not so much a mission of sharing the gospel with people and then discipling them into maturity in Christ so they can then go and do likewise, but rather something of a welfare system. Many of the villages that we went to in those Mexico border towns simply withheld doing projects because every year for a few months thousands of teens would come down into their country and perform tasks for them and take up all of the costs as well. And because each group only stayed for a week there was sometimes overlap as to what was going on. The last time we went down to Mexicali we heard from a Mexican pastor that the exterior of their church had been painted three times in two months by three different groups that came to work with them.

We know that this isn’t how it is supposed to work but we really don’t know how to involve ourselves in such a way so as to know what to do about it. This is where The Great Omission comes in. Steve does a great job of using past experience and scriptural wisdom to discuss what things should be happening or at least what things need to be changed in some cases. I’ve now looked at missions very differently than I used to and ask myself certain questions before I get involved in missions in any way. I want you to read the book so I’m not going to specify what those questions are right now.

The truth of the matter is that many of us neglect the fact that we are all missionaries in our own towns and so end up caricaturing it into something else so that we will “know what it looks like.” We find it hard to believe that the 15 years we’ve spent employed at some company talking to coworkers and seeing one of them come to Christ is actually mission work. Of course some are called to do roughly the same thing in another country but that doesn’t make their work any more or less important than ours. We tend to think it is though and then we start creating it into something which can start to forgo its original intent and turn it into providing services which people become dependent on and never have the chance to operate on their own.

Most of the book looks at missions in the third world, but it still applies everywhere to some degree or another. This is all information I will try to bring with me so I can be sure that my influence is pointing people to Christ and not reliance on Americans with money and technology.

31 Stories of Preparing for the Mission Field at Seasoned with Salt // theduryees.com

Honest Humor {Part 1}

By Thursday, September 25, 2014 2 0

A note: this is just meant to be funny. We really love meeting people at churches. We always meet kind, engaged people who confirm our calling and encourage us in this strange process we call prefield. Hope you enjoy Chris’s humorous take on it all.

Most people have never had the opportunity to go into long term or career missions, which means they have never had the opportunity to ask for support. Depending on who you are, this is either unfortunate or spectacular. Usually those views align with whether or not you’ve been a long term or career missionary.

Each visit with an individual, family or church is called a “ministry visit.” We are ministering to others with the encouragement that it is our calling and desire to serve God. A big part of each visit is sharing our need for financial support, so we call them “asks.” But that sounds like we are only doing it because we need money and we would never have invited ourselves over for dinner to begin with.

Church visits are very busy days for the entire family. Generally speaking, we need to get up at 4 am so we can shower, get dressed, wake the children, eat, feed the kids (yes, that is a different step) and drive to said church. It seems crazy to get up this early in the morning but there are many factors to this:

1. I will need to wear a tie. This seems minor, but I’m from the Pacific NW and we don’t typically wear a tie to church. But I want to make a good impression. This means that I have to tie my tie at least 10 times because while I know how to tie it, getting the length right is tough. At first the back of the tie is longer than the front which is completely ridiculous (although I’d love to try it sometime to get the sympathy support). Then the front is longer than the back, which is good except when it hangs down to your knees.

2. We need to make sure our kids are going to behave. With an infant and a toddler, this essentially means an extended period of time spent in prayer. “Oh Lord, I pray that our kids will sit still and be quite while we are presenting. We pray that they will use their pleases and thank you’s. Even the infant. We pray that they would not lie on the floor or lift up their dresses and other such activities. Essentially Lord we ask that you lavish miracles upon us today. Lord, if you help us out today we will become missionar–Oops. Oh yeah. OH LORD, PLEASE HELP US! WE’RE MISSIONARIES!”

3. We need to arrive on time. Any and all GPS units give an estimated drive time of 45 minutes regardless of where we’re going. Seattle to San Jose? No problem. Only 45 minutes driving time according to Garmin. Of course we know that is wrong, so when we plan a ministry visit in Tacoma, we question the drive time and leave on Thursday.

4. We need to gather our presentation material. It doesn’t matter if we used our presentation stuff last week. It still isn’t all in the same place and something is always missing. “Honey? Where is the presentation material?”
“What part?”
“All of it.”

Like anyone in an unfamiliar environment, we make snap judgments when we arrive at the church. Pulling into the parking lot, my brain plays a little game with me.

“Wow, this place is big. CHA CHING!!!
“What strange layout.”
“Where’s the front door?”
“Can I park in the pastor’s spot today? After all I am giving the sermon…”

Once inside (we always park an appropriate distance away from the church, even though we have two small children, a laptop, a trifold display board and a box of display contents), we begin to set up our display and meet the pastor and others.

I’m a short guy so most pastors are taller than me, which sometimes adds to my nerves for some reason. Like if he doesn’t like something about my presentation, he’ll squash me like a bug. I know it’s weird but this is the kind of thing that goes through my head in these occasions.

Thankfully, we get to leave our small children with strangers in a strange building so that’s not stressful at all.

Usually during Sunday school we present our ministry to the adult Sunday school class. Sometimes we show pictures and talk about the country we serve in and answer questions afterwards. The question part is the toughest because we can’t control what people ask or how they respond.

Church member: How come your Bible isn’t in Spanish?
Missionaries to Spain: Because we are here with your church and you all speak English.
Member: But in Spain they speak Spanish so you might want to think about that.

Member: Do you speak Spanish?
Missionary: Not yet. We’re working on it and we have to go to a language school before we begin our ministry.
Member: In Spain they speak Spanish so you might want to think about that.

Member: My cousin lived in France for two years and really liked it. She says it’s right next door to Spain. They speak Spanish in Spain and not French so you might want to think about that.
Missionary: Yes. Thanks.

After Sunday school comes the big time! If you are the man of the house, you give the sermon. Not all of us missionaries come from backgrounds in ministry. In fact most of us had regular secular jobs before going into missions.

So, my first church experience went something like this:

OK, they just introduced me so here I go. Look confident. No! Don’t pee. That doesn’t show confidence. Look at all those people!!!

Actual church size: 45 people.

What is my sermon about again? The Bible, I’m pretty sure. My notes don’t make sense anymore. Here goes!

“I’m glad to be here with all of you. God is really great and good and so is His word. I have a copy of it right here on this pulpit. He’s sending us to Spain and we’re nervous but He is God so… Let’s pray. Lord, I pray for stuff that is needed today and some stuff for later and this church and all of the people I met. Amen.”

I sit back down and my wife leans over and says, “Good job. Maybe work on a few things for next time. I’m proud of you.”

Huh. I wonder she could possibly think needs work. That sermon was awesome.

At the end of this mighty successful visit, the pastor comes up and shakes my hand and gives me the love offering. This is the money people have given so we don’t run out of gas on the way and have to hitchhike home. He then says, “the missions team and I will discuss possibly supporting you guys. We know you want to get to the field as soon as possible so we will be having our next meeting in 2026. We’ll let you know how it goes.”

We leave, the tie comes off, and we drive home hoping to sleep for days because after all of that, we are exhausted. Of course we have kids so we can’t sleep for three days. We nap for a few minutes and get ready for the next visit. Some kind folks whose names we don’t remember from the church we just visited want to meet with us individually.

The Long Haul

By Friday, September 12, 2014 0 0

My favorite! Another guest post from Chris. I hope you enjoy a bit of his perspective on our waiting for the walk sign. -Rose

When Rose and I were first married she had one more year left to finish at the University of Oregon and I had a job up in the Seattle area. That means that we had to live 300 miles away from each other for the first year of our marriage. Not a fun way to spend your first year of married life.

During that time we would see each other every other weekend, as we had done while dating and engaged. Either I would go to Eugene, or Rose would come up to Seattle. If I was driving to Eugene, I would pack a bag for the weekend early in the morning and head off to work. I would work a full day and then leave right after work for my trip down south. With traffic and everything else, I knew I would be in my car for about six hours. I usually left work at 4 pm so I would get to Eugene at around 10 pm.

During that drive the part that felt the longest was once I passed a sign that read “Eugene 27 miles.” That would always sound great when I saw it. I would do the math in my head and estimate how much time I had left in the car before I got to see my wife again. I then would creep past and I would think to myself “certainly I am almost there!” Then, after what seemed like 45 minutes of more driving, another sign would go by.

Eugene 24 miles

WHAT!!!

How can that be? It took so long to go three miles? I should be there by now.

I would perhaps speed up a little and settle in for what I understood to be 20 short minutes left of driving. Then, as the road noise thrummed in the car and boredom settled in again time would seem to slowly creep by. On and on it would go until another sign.

Eugene 17 miles

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! The city is running away from me!

Obviously that wasn’t happening and I always made it safe and sound and happy to be with my wife again. I tell this story because any journey can feel VERY long at times. Sometimes it can be a journey of only 10 miles that can feel like it drags on and on.

Rose and I are at the point where it has started to feel like serving in Spain is running away from us; like I felt like the city of Eugene was running away from me near the end of the long drive. The exception is that we are only just over halfway to what we need in support to leave for Spain. We have been trying to reach churches and individuals for three years now and are currently at 57% support. This is actually pretty average according to ABWE. It just feels so slow. As I call churches and get few responses or I’m told that there isn’t any budget left to take on anyone else, I sometimes wonder if I’m just really bad at my new job. Am I saying the wrong thing? Do I not ask correctly? Is the information I send goofy looking or not professional enough? Do individuals not think we are capable of doing missions work so they don’t want to invest their money in us?

Those are some of the many things that go through our minds these days. For all of those thoughts, I try to focus on the fact that God will provide what we need when He knows it should happen. And he’ll do it despite the things we aren’t doing well. Success or lack thereof is not always an indication of God’s blessing, after all!

It just seems that we passed a sign that says 43% to go and we have been driving for a very long time and have yet to see the next sign. Please pray for Rose and I as we work through this. It is a challenge that we want to grow in and respond well in. It is tempting to want to go back to something with a consistent and bigger paycheck. We know that would be disobedience so we continue, knowing that God is guiding us and that one day we will be writing these posts from the field. Thank you to all who support us and thank you all for praying for us. It is needed and appreciated.

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