What My Job Taught in Me 2016

My first journal entry about the Factory Ministries was January 11, 2016. It simply says, “I’ve been emailing the executive director of The Factory Ministries about a part-time Women’s Youth Director position, and I am THRILLED”. A few days later, on the 16th, I penned, “A PHENOMENAL meeting with Chuck Holt—I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS POSSIBILITY.”  Believe it or not, my excitement for this opportunity has not waned in the past 12 months, and I am just as thrilled about the ministry God has called me to do here as I was at the beginning of the year.

Although my excitement for this youth ministry hasn’t changed, and my impactful meetings with my boss hasn’t changed, there are a few things that have changed.

I’ve changed.

I’m a lot less concerned with external behavior now. Vulgar language doesn’t offend me like it used to, and stories of brokenness don’t churn my stomach now-just weigh on my heart. I’m so much less concerned about “how to prove that LGBTQ is wrong according to the Biblical text” and so much more concerned about making sure people feel loved. I look past the immodesty and the teetering vulgarity and I look to the open wounds, to the scars. I look to the heart and what’s behind it-what caused it to race so quickly, beat so irregularly? I look past the crude responses and the blatant disrespect of authority and I see lonely, hurting, insecure kids. I see ministry less about programs and more about relationships. I see relationships not as “icing on the cake” of my job-but as the very bedrock and foundation of everything I do-for the spread of the Gospel. With the school, with my volunteers, with the students-my focus is no longer “What do I do to have them follow me” but instead, “how can I serve them and show them the love of Christ?”.

Leaving 2016, and heading into the New Year, I am confident of many things. I am confident that I will make mistakes, that I will drop balls, that I will continue to tweak my leadership and ministry style and decisions. I am confident that God has called me to be the Director of the Youth Center, and consequently, He has and will equip me for this work. He has given me everything I need for His glory to be made known in the Youth Center. I am most confident that He has plans for so many lives to be touched by this ministry. In my life, He has provided an amazing school district, a skilled and passionate boss, an energetic and committed team of volunteers, and all the teens He wants me to love and invest in. I am immeasurably confident that He will guide, provide, and bless His work here at the Youth Center.

teens

Update from Spain: Day One

Our flights landed in Madrid early this morning, where our missionary (and now friend) Jon Tempelton picked us up. Fortunately, most of us were able to grab some very delicious”cafe con leche” in the airport before packing into the 9 passenger van. Spain’s coffee es muy deliciouso!

cafe

Many of the team only got a few hours of sleep on the overnight flight before, and the battle with jet lag during the 4+ hour drive to Jon’s home was a tough one. We will all sleep VERY well tonight.

During the drive, and during a short “orientation time” at his home Jon taught us a bit about the Spanish culture we were now absorbed in. He told the ladies to always expect 2 kisses when meeting gentlemen, that coffee shops are called bars (it’s funny to hear his 4 year old daughter tell us how much she loves it when daddy takes her to bars!) , and to not believe all the stereotypes you believe about Spaniards. He also articulated the importance of not being time driven, and how their relationship culture has an unwritten “no anxiety” policy. He told us about how he became passionate about Spain-the least evangelized Spanish speaking country in the world, and about the ministry opportunities God has been giving his team.

After meeting Lorena, and getting settled into their home, we walked around the town, interacting with the locals, and enjoying the PERFECT weather.

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Around 8:00 we had a dinner of cheese, tuna-vegetable-potato salad goodness, tomatoes, and chocolate chip cookies :). We cleaned up together and spent more time hearing from and encouraging Jon and Lorena before heading to bed. Tomorrow we will join them and their other 2 team members for “house church”, as they are seeking to start a church plant in their town of 80,000+.  We will also listen to a lecture on cultural acquisition and tour the city of Molinaseca. While sight seeing our team will be not only looking for opportunities to interact with Spaniards, to help Jon and his team in building relationships, be we also will be striving to see deeper things than surface level observations about the culture. Knowing these deeper aspects of their culture is what will help us understand how to best spiritually engage spaniards with the glorious news of the gospel.

Please pray for our team to quickly recover from jetlag so as to most effectively interact with the Tempeltons and their friends with the gospel. Pray for good conversations with the many unsaved people we are going to meet and hang out with. Pray we deeply encourage and bless Jon & his team!

Gracias!

Betty, for the Team 🙂

Ask Them Questions

Question

Last night, I had the opportunity to go over to a couple’s house for dinner. I provided a “Mistake Cake” Dessert (what was supposed to be a bundt cake, that turned into a trifle) they provided a delicious dinner , and we just chatted about life.

The conversation was delightful-topics including marriage, exegetical preaching, current readings, and the like filled our evening. Before we sat down to eat, I asked the Mrs. about how she was feeling about life right now.  I asked what she found most difficult, how each member of her family is dealing/processing with the current situations, and just listened to her story.

I didn’t think it strange to ask her those questions, because I care about her! I want to know how she is doing! But later in the evening, her husband said something about how rare it is that someone ask how SHE is doing. They have been in ministry for many, many years, and she has mentored many people. They have found that most of the time, the conversations circle around how the other person is doing. Far too infrequently, he said, is her life and struggles addressed and talked about.

Honestly, I was surprised by that.

But then I thought, perhaps that is normal for people in ministry, or who have a counseling heart. Perhaps they listen SO often, and give advice SO frequently, that others simply forget to ask how THEY are. And they deeply need ministered too as well!

So I guess all this to say, that when you are sharing your life and burdens with others, do not forget to also care for their burdens. Remember that their shoulders that help bear your pain, through strong, could certainly use a friend to bear their pains as well. 

This quote has been steadfastly on my heart and mind these last few months:

Loving

Listen. Love. Ask. Care.

Thanks for reading 🙂

You are the Answer to a Gypsy’s Prayer

Last night at our Spring Banquet, I sang a song from Disney’s 1996 animated film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In it, a gypsy shunned and rejected from society, prays to God asking him to help people like her (and Quasimodo the hunchback) since they have it so rough in this life. She asks for mercy to be shown, and for life’s purposes to be revealed to them.

Here’s the thing, believers–WE ARE THE ANSWER TO HER PRAYERS. As the hands and feet of Jesus Christ WE are to be the ones showing mercy, and explaining beautiful truths to EVERYONE. WE are the ones who are to show people love and value and grace-especially the kinds of people that Christ himself dedicated most of his earthly ministry to-the outcasts.

Camp Update: Thankful, Prayerful, & Learning

Wow! I never would have guessed that God was going to be SO GRACIOUS in TEACHING ME so much during this week at camp. With me being the speaker, I thought God’s primary desire was for me to be the vessel for him to speak to OTHERS (the campers and the staff). Though, I know He deeply wants that, and is accomplishing that through this unlikely and very imperfect vessel, it has been encouraging to see all the refining work he is doing inside of me as well.

I am learning so much about communication, teaching, and prayerful preparation. I am learning about trusting the Holy Spirit, the importance of pleasing God primarily, and how to fight the fear of man.

Yesterdays message on the day’s theme: ONE PASSION was a difficult truth for me to explain.I walked away from the stage asking God, “Did I let you down? Did I explain your character to the campers in a way that was accurate? Were you pleased with my words? Did I confuse them? Did I make you too complex?” Etc. etc. etc.

And in the hours that followed-God was SO gracious to use various circumstances to remind me of truths that I knew, but needed to hear out loud, nonetheless! He used a conversation with my translator about fear to speak truth. He used the next morning’s devotion and a conversation that followed, to deeply encourage me to the point of tears with words like “so clear” and “orthodox”.  Words that I begged God would allow my message to be! God used His word, and his children to dispel the doubt that was creeping into my heart. Thanks be to God!

Also, God has deeply gifted and equipped my ministry partner, Christina, for the work He has planned for her here. She is developing amazing relationships with the camp staff, both Canadian and German. They turn to her for advice and wisdom, and the Lord continues to give it to her. She has had difficult conversations that left her nearly begging the other parties to trust God’s word, and to not throw it out. And she has been able to delightfully co-teach an English class for beginners with absolute excellence.

I wish you all could interact with the campers and staff here at Neues Leben! It truly is a joy! God is working in so many hearts, in so many different ways. Here are some specific ways, and how you can pray:

  • I talked to one staff who is trying to faithfully serve and seek God, but has been deeply struggling with Him for the past 3 months. We hope to talk more later this week-please pray for her faith to grow!
  • During their small group time, a camper asked, “Do you think God is racist? Since He wiped out all the Egyptian first borns, but not the Israelites?” To which another camper responded, “No! God gave them 10 days of warnings, and signs, and opportunities to repent!” Pray for these students and their Cabin Leaders to know how to respond to so many great questions and answers!
  • I met a french student who does not church, whose parents are humanitarians, who started coming to this camp 8 years ago because her art teacher in an international school was a Christian and told her about it. So she comes every year, and it is the only time she hears about God all year. This is the last year she’ll be young enough to attend this camp. Please pray for her salvation (if she isn’t yet a believer) and for her desire to grow in faith to propel her to find a good church in France to disciple her.

Thanks so much for your prayers. I really believe that God is doing some amazing things here at Camp in Germany. And Christina and I are SO THANKFUL for your support that made it possible for us to experience this and serve the Lord here.

Praise God from whom ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

(P.S. Sorry if my English “sounds” strange! At English Camp we are immersed in semi-broken German-English all day every day, so sometimes it is hard to speak/type normally! It’ll take a few days back in the states, and it’ll all come back-but for now…Christina, Liz, and I’s English is less than perfect :))