Recent Posts by Chris

Please Pray for Our Dear Friends

By Tuesday, February 25, 2014 1 0

Our dear friends and Chris’s former youth pastor and his wife, Randy and Debbie, are enduring a real trial right now. Debbie is being treated for a rare and aggressive cancer and doctors have made it clear Debbie may not have much time left. We have been praying boldly for healing, for peace and comfort in this time, and God has come through. Debbie has shown joy in her spirit even as her energy fades, Randy says that he is at peace, that he can see how God is at work. He and Debbie both believe this is “win-win” for Debbie. If God heals her this side of Heaven, she wins big time. If He heals her for eternity by bringing her home, she wins even bigger! And yet, this is a devastating tragedy. Please pray with us for these dear friends and their family (4 children and a brand new son-in-law!). Chris has written a little tribute to them here. -Rose

Chris's youth groupHigh school. The four years that we spend as “teens” or “high school kids” is always considered to be some of the most defining periods in our lives. We start making the transition into adulthood and taking on adult responsibilities and thinking about what our lives might look like as we move on.

I was always involved in my church growing up. I was a part of the youth group and was blessed to be in it while Randy and Debbie Lawrence were leading. I didn’t really think about it then but I sometimes wonder if they ever really knew the impact they had on the lives and, more importantly, the spiritual decisions of 20 to 30 kids.

Here are some of the good things I saw in action through Randy and Debbie: I observed how a man is supposed to love his wife and children. I saw a man who spent time with God on a regular basis. I saw two people who were very willing to hold a believer accountable to scripture even though that person might be upset with them at first. I saw a couple who were so compassionate towards the kids in their youth group that a late night visit or even a prank wasn’t discouraged.

Randy showed me that my faith meant more than just stating that I was a Christian and acting like it. Randy and Debbie showed me that following Christ is depending on Him to be everything; letting God change me and know that everything was about glorifying our Lord.

As I read regular updates about Debbie’s condition and what is going on I also see that they are not finished teaching us. They may not know it and they may say that they aren’t doing anything special but the eyes of their former youth group, many of us with families of our own, careers and homes, are still watching them. And their lives are consistent with what they had taught us when we were teens.

I have been and am blessed by the Lawrence family. I hope that we too were and are a blessing to them. Debbie and Randy know that life isn’t easy but they also know who their hope comes from. They worship and love the God of miracles and many mercies, the God of promises made and kept, the God of healing and the one who has defeated death and sorrow.

I believe I can speak on behalf of the youth group that was Randy and Debbie’s youth group at Eastgate by saying that we all love you guys. We thank you for the investment and sacrifices you made so you could invest in our lives at the calling of Jesus Christ. Your mark has been made with me. I will be one of those who, in Heaven, lines up in front of you to say “thank you for giving to the Lord. Mine was a life that was changed.”

Thanks to Spain… Violin Edition – 50/50 fact 7

By Monday, February 3, 2014 0 0

Тысячелетнее драконово дерево // Thousand-year-old Dragon Tree

On Spain’s Canary Islands grows the dragon tree. This tree was once thought to be the source of dragon’s blood because its orange fruit contained a thick red liquid. While this isn’t the case, it is the very thing that Stradivarius used to stain his celebrated violins. How interesting that Spain’s resources play such an important part of a quintessentially Italian masterpiece!

There is a Stradivarius violin on display in the Palacio Real in Madrid that Rose and I were able to see when we visited. I wish I had known then that the stain came from such a unique source.

Stradivarius Violin

More Spain facts to come. Remember our 50 at 50 drive. Tell your friends!

Photo credits: Creative Commons alexyv and J R Parkes, both on Flickr

How to Encourage Missionaries – 50 for 50 fact 6

By Thursday, January 16, 2014 0 0

Most people have heard that in the United States, 50% of marriages end in divorce. This is true inside and outside the church, unfortunately. The New York Times reports that most births for women under 30 occur outside of marriage. Our colleagues in Spain tell us that Spanish culture is different. Only about 5% of children are born outside of wedlock in Spain, and the divorce rate is just 17%.

Maybe these facts surprise you. They sort of surprise us! We have mentioned before that in Spain less than 1% of the population is evangelical, Bible believing Christian. Certainly there is evidence of a lack of moral compass in Spanish culture, but, for whatever reasons, marriage and family are held in higher esteem. I think we can really learn something even more important from this though. Sin exists everywhere. I know that isn’t any ground breaking fact for most people to read, but let me continue. Every culture and nation has its own set of weaknesses that it deals with, the United States included (especially?). Again, I don’t think that is groundbreaking news for anyone.

I want to highlight this information mainly to show that spirituality, or lack thereof, can’t really be judged based on statistical figures and behavioral trends. It isn’t about whether sin is constantly highlighted in a culture, but about whether people have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The means we have to judge whether or not a person needs Jesus is based on their profession of faith to us, not what or how many “bad” things they do.

We certainly should be seeing a difference between those who proclaim the name of Jesus and those who don’t and perhaps this highlights a misstep in discipleship within the church more than anything else. If these facts bother you, praise God! He has shown you a need! Seek out and begin to disciple someone young in their relationship with the Lord. If you are a parent, make sure you have regular disciple time with your kids.

Currently in the Pacific Northwest only 3% of the population proclaims Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Reaching people for Christ and taking the time to disciple them is the only way to keep the US from being fewer than 1% as Spain is today. Let’s all take our missionary calling seriously and begin sharing boldly with those around us. That is one of the best ways to encourage your overseas missionaries as well!

Segovian Aqueduct – 50 for 50 Fact 5

By Tuesday, January 14, 2014 0 0

Chris continues our 50 for 50 campaign with our 5th fact, about an ancient aqueduct. We want to express our thanks to those of you who have responded with partnership, emails, Facebook messages, etc during this campaign. Our team is growing. Would you be part of the 50 people at $50 (or any amount!) to help get to Field Prep Seminar this spring?

The ancient Roman Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain was built in the 1st century A.D. and still supplies water to the city.

This was a fact that I thought was pretty cool. Those of you who know me well are aware that I am not the handiest guy in the world. On the rare occasion that I end up taking care of a “do it yourself” project, it never seems to turn out the way I want it to. Something is usually crooked, too short, off center, flimsy or other such undesirable finished state. Nothing I have constructed will be around in 10 years, let along centuries from now. And certainly not in working order.

While the Segovian aqueduct is an impressive feat of engineering which shows that ancient peoples were certainly not stupid or less developed than we are today, it makes me think about something else as well. It was (and still is) very important to get water into a city. It shouldn’t be any wonder that cities and countries and governments go to such great expense and time to build things that provide reliable water access. I don’t know if the Romans expected their aqueduct to still be in use centuries later, but I’m sure that they expected it would be around for a good long time.

What this makes me think about is whether we are building (discipling) others in the same way. Barna Group research reveals 59% of Millennials (18-29 year olds) with a church background no longer attend church. We have heard from other sources that 85% of students stop attending church when they graduate from high school 85%! Certainly there is something we are not doing correctly as God’s church.

It is time we start coming to the throne of God and seeking answers from the author of Wisdom himself. And when he answers us, following his instruction to the letter. Being able to see a still working aqueduct is kind of cool. Seeing our children grow up to be adults who love, witness, teach, serve, and make disciples is beyond words. It is something that I’m sure we can only fully appreciate when we are finally in God’s presence.

In Spain, we hope to allow God to work through us to begin building aqueducts of His own. The best part is that God’s handiwork is eternal.

Olive Oil – 50 for 50 fact 4

By Tuesday, January 7, 2014 0 0

Thanks for joining us on our journey to share 50 facts about Spain and add 50 partners to our team. We hope you are enjoying the facts and the spiritual lessons Chris is applying as well. Today’s fact relates to one of our favorite things: food.

Producing approximately 45% of the world’s olive oil, Spain is the largest olive oil producer in the world.

Spanish-OilsIt’s funny how things like this work. Until I was called to be a missionary in Spain, I always assumed most olive oil came from Italy. Italian food is far more popular in the States than Spanish or Greek food. But olive oil is also advertised as a mainly Italian ingredient and people like Mario Batali and Giada de Laurentiis practically drink the stuff because they are Italian.

This happens in life too. We are surprised by true facts because we have accepted the way information has been presented to us as fact, or at least normal. Many times we approach the way we operate our churches and our family roles and the way we do ministry; not on Biblical example but purely on what we are comfortable with or on the basis of “this is what we have always done.”

Learning that Spain supplies most of the world’s olive oil isn’t exactly life changing or important. I mean, other than realizing that my oil and vinegar dressing is probably more Spanish than Italian isn’t really going to cause me to rethink the way I order salads or make pasta dishes.

Learning that there are things in my family life or in the way we operate our churches that are either not effective or, even worse, not Biblical, is an area that can be incredibly life changing. We are supposed to look different from the rest of the world which will sometimes mean that we look crazy or just plain nuts. I think we have become so concerned with looking normal to the rest of the world that we have done just that: become normal. Ordinary. The same as anybody else with the exception that we have somewhere to be on a Sunday.

The Bible describes people in the early church looking and behaving so much like Jesus that they started calling them Christians or “little Christs.” Are we that easy to spot today? Don’t we usually have to tell someone we are a Christian before they have any idea that is the case? Even then we need to specify more directly what that means since that title has been watered down a bit.

Perhaps it is time for us to take a serious look at how we do things in our personal family lives and in our churches. We might be surprised at what facts we just assume are true turn out to be terrible mistakes.

In Spain, cultural Catholicism has become “normal.” Spaniards might say a rosary, pray for the outcome of a soccer game, or sincerely believe that loved ones are in Heaven because of their Catholic background. But they do not know what the Bible says about Heaven and Hell. They are not aware of how deeply God loves them and that He has a plan for them to grow and be like Jesus for their own families, friends and neighbors. Please consider helping us share this life-changing news with the Spanish people. 50 people at $50 a month will help us reach our goal.

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