The Dreams inside are there for a reason, and nothing besides fulfilling those desires will cause them to disappear…
When I was younger it seemed like it would be so simple to live out my dreams, but as I grow older there are parts of my dreams which seem nearly unattainable. However I have hope that one day I will be able to accomplish each dream which I have had since I was a young boy.
Short term missions has been a central part of my life for over twenty years now. I will say that I had a very early start in short term missions. But I can say with almost certainty that every trip a person goes on changes and affects that persons life and the lives of those they go to serve. I cannot tell you how many people I have prayed for, and I cannot quantify the effectiveness in terms of global poverty alleviation, or number of water wells or churches established. But I can guaranty that my life is different, and the lives of people like, Ramon, Nicole, Jon, Eve, Benson, Jess Hope, Peggy, Christian, Jubia, and Dulce are different. Those names mean something to me because I know them, I have spent time with them, and I have seen God’s love poured out to them.
The last two years, March 2018 and March 2019, I have been able to walk five spring break missions teams through an element in team building known as the trust fall, and I have seen the unity and love of team members overcome the fear and anxiety that individuals had of heights and falling into the loving arms of their peers. I have seen American College students pray and intercede for each other and for the nations. I know that short term missions makes a difference when I hear messages from Leaders like Bobby Parks, and Tammy Schneider. It works because people step outside of themselves long enough to allow God to work through their lives to affect people around the world.
March 2018 I had the opportunity to help train five missions teams who were preparing to travel on a week long trip for their spring break, I got to facilitate an element called the trust fall, what I loved was being able to stand beside each member on the five teams and encourage them as they were preparing to fall backwards into the arms of their team members. As they fell I was able to see their fear fade to comfort as the team members caught each member from their team. For one of the teams there were three team members who were struggling and after each one was caught the team took a moment to pray over them, during one of these prayer times a member of the team ask for repentance and to dedicate her life to the Lord, it was awesome to see that in this moment of giving her trust physically to her teammates she was also able to spiritually give her trust to the Lord. I’m grateful that I was able to be a small part of allowing God to move in these teams lives and in the calling they will be stepping into in the future. This is part of the dream, empowering others to share the gospel and seeing God move in their own lives as they seek to serve others.
I have found, and am finding that there are different seasons in our lives. Many realize this, others have to strangely discover this as things which they planned seem to unfold in ways they were not expecting. I have grown up in the American Church and have been taught about many men who have lived through seasons of both good and bad in their lives. A couple of the men who stood out to me are Jospeh and David. They lived normal and simple childhoods, strange and unexpected middle age years, and then stepped into their calling and divine purpose in the later part of their lives around thirty or forty years old. The middle age years were challenging, difficult, impossible to anticipate, however after they ended it left a wisdom and a purpose inside which enabled each man to lead in a way that they would not have been able if they had not experienced the season of difficulty.
When I was in College I had the opportunity to train and disciple leaders and missions teams before they went on short term missions trips. One thing that I love about these opportunities is the ability to impart some of the wisdom and insight that I have discovered throughout my life. People need to know that they have what it takes to make a difference, and training people is such a joy. People need to know that they are a vital part of the team, and that they have something to contribute. By helping teams discover what they are good at and how to work better together, I believe that their time of ministry will be more effective. I love missions, whether it is short term, long term, or full time. There is something about giving of your time, effort, and energy to others.
When I started my life, I didn’t know that I would have the opportunity to impact people in the way that I have, but looking back at the experiences that I have had, I am delighted by each memory and new opportunity that I have. Our lives are not meant to be lived along, but in consistent community with people that believe the way we believe. I hope to alway be able to teach and train others before they go out to change the world.
Another dream that I have is to start an orphanage, but not run as I have seen in some of the nations that I have visited. I want a place where God is exalted and taught to the children that live there. I want the kids to be able to interact with other kids in the surrounding community, and be able to visit extended family and friends when appropriate. I want them to learn practical skills, and be able to call mentors and leaders names like mom, dad, uncle, grandma, aunt, and cousin. I want there to be a plan set in place for when kids turn 18 and begin the process of becoming an adult, I don’t want to just leave them to the world to try and make it on their own. I want there to be a plan for how they will learn a trade, start a business, go to college, and become a faithful spouse.
I have seen excellent children’s programs, superior high school classrooms, well established systems, and efficient processes; but I yearn for things to be better. I want to make a difference in the world, and I know that there is so much to be done. I want community and excellence to be a priority, but I don’t want relationships and family to suffer because of it. I want there to be safety, but also freedom to be a part of the greater culture and community of wherever I am.
I believe that these dreams of mine grew out of the place that I grew up. My home was loving and caring but also busy and stressful, I have seven brothers and two sisters, my personality is one of getting along with others and helping others get along with each other. I am usually a giver and desire to help others, often without anything in return. During the chaos of living with so many people in one house, I believe that these dreams of creating a safe place came about. I found that even in the chaos there was love and concern and delight.
Along the journey that my life has taken I have been able to experience things that I believe make me come alive, and I want to continue to have these things in my life. I have learned that I like these things by doing them, and I am grateful for each of those opportunities.
Here are seven things that are important to me:
1. Having the word of God as a central part of the missions’ life I live. I would be no one without the love and forgiveness that I find in the word of God. The answers to so many problems in the world are found in following the truths that are found in the Bible. I have read so many books that give insight and wisdom, however in the hardest times and for answering the toughest questions, the bible still reigns supreme in my life.
2. Strong community among the people I work with. On the teams I have been a part of the community and friendship that is built is the best part, and the most valuable for me. I love doing things on my own, but it is much more fun and empowering to do life with others. The friendships that are able to be built while doing ministry are incredible and I hope that this is always part of my journey of helping others.
3. Practical projects that have a lasting physical impact where I have worked.
4. Food to be served to the people that I interact with and minster to.
5. Fun activities for the kids.
6. Teaching and Prayer for those who are serving in ministry.
7. Mentor-ship for young people as they grow in their calling and purpose.
These are a few things that I have been able to experience. I hope that these lessons and things can continue to be a part of my life.
Sports have always been a major part of my life as well. I love soccer and enjoy playing with people my age, and with kids in the countries I have visited. Exercising and staying active is important to living a healthy life.
I always wondered how I could live with a focus on missions and still have some of the dreams of a house, a dog, and kids some day. As I have turned thirty this year, comparison, and wondering how it all fits together has been difficult to understand. But in the process, I bought a piece of land outside of Tulsa, got a dog from a friend, and have continued working and being consistent in my job. I know I’m not fully living out the dream yet, but I can feel parts that are being fulfilled now.
One thing that brings so much peace and refreshing in my life is to pause near a fire. When I was a kid growing up my favorite part of a weekend camping trip was the fire. The way the flames reach up, the crackling and sizzle of the logs, and the glow of the coals long after the flames had vanished. There was something mystifying about the fire, something awe inspiring. On a cold night the warmth, a place to cook a meal, light in the darkness, and the ever changing direction of the smoke.
At home my favorite place is the chair that faces the fireplace. Spending a quiet weekend morning in front of the fireplace with my journal and a book or just some music and the sound of the fire. There is a peace that comes, a warmth, a renewal. Fire is a gift, something that only a loving father could have thought of creating. It brings comfort and safety.