04
Jul 16

I have found these things to be universally true. 

  1. Jesus is real and people are better for choosing that faith. Believe. 
  2. The fruitfulness of ministry can be measured by whether people come to follow Jesus as a result of its work. 
  3. Life is hard and it’s good. Complain less, solve more. 
  4. Real love inspires people to follow. Love first. 
  5. Be about building team if you want a thing to grow. 
  6. People need and work better when they have heard an honest declaration of the good in them. Encourage people. 
  7. We’re not delicate. Work hard. 
  8. Keep moving. 
  9. Life is better when we invite people into it with us. Multiply the good in you. 
  10. Christ and his love give us boundaries. Be constrained. 
  11. You decide what you love. You don’t discover it. Be shaped toward the good. 
  12. It is best to lead by inspiring people to follow, not by gathering authority. 
  13. Dream big, pray often and live toward the accomplishment of those prayers. Carry the bigger vision as your own, because it is.

08
Apr 15

Things I learned this month in Canada, India and Los Angeles

This month, James B. (a fellow staff Hillside Missions staff member) and I traveled to Canada, India and Los Angeles consecutively.
In Canada, members of World Horizons staff and leadership met with the leadership of the ACOP denomination. Together, we’ll be working to send more missionaries to places in the world yet to be reached with the gospel.
In India, James and I worked with a team to open the first on-field art gallery in our effort to build an art-as-mission ministry.
In Los Angeles, several members of our World Horizons team represented the organization at Biola University’s missions conference. Our conference display included out first pop-up art gallery.
The three week trip went great. As a result of the trip, there are new missionaries on their way to the field through our mission training internship, there is a new platform for disciple-making in India, new relationships with universities and ministries are in development for the multiplication of mission sending and I learned new things.

Here’s a list of some of the things I learned:

  • The world’s largest dinosaur is in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.
  • A poutinerie is a restaurant that serves only poutine. (http://mybigcheese.com/our-menu/)
  • Eston College may be small, but they’re aiming to do big things in the nations. (http://www.estoncollege.ca/)
  • Canada is cold.
  • The Indian holiday called “Holi” is my new favorite celebration.
  • If you over-pay the neighborhood boy who collects the trash, he will always expect to be over-paid (and it’s still worth it).
  • In order to start a popular art gallery in India, at minimum you need: white paint ($250), lighting ($200), cleaning supplies ($25), promotional flyers ($20), artists to present art they have made for good purposes ($?).
  • Los Angeles loves tacos.
  • Biola University will produce lots of missionaries to work among unreached peoples. (http://www.biola.edu/)
  • In order to have a popular pop-up art gallery in Los Angeles, you need recycled pallets ($120), white paint ($50), nails and hardware ($50), artists to present art they have made for good purposes ($?).
  • A 5 passenger car has room for more than 5 people.
  • Raw beef works well as a sermon illustration.
  • 5 Hour Energy Drink works well for at least 2 hours.

Interested in mission training, sending, art as mission or something else? Feel free to contact me. I’d probably love to talk to you.


08
Apr 15

My Rules for My Life – another incomplete list

On Food and Drink
Drink your coffee black.
Drink your whiskey neat.
Eat your beef medium or medium rare.
Eat your beef.
Cook with butter. Never use margarine.
Make bread.
On Family
Kids are portable.
Don’t take your kids everywhere.
Eat together.
Fight with Nerf guns.
On Friendship
Love big. Need people and tell them you need them.
Put others first.
On Gifts
Give gifts that have good personal meaning and value.
An inexpensive, but thoughtful gift is better than a gift that is only valuable because it’s expensive.
Give gifts.
On Restaurants
Avoid chain restaurants.
If you must split a check, give more than you owe and never take out a calculator.
Tip 20% minimum.
Never send food or drinks back simply because you don’t like it.
If someone at your table needs more time before ordering, say so. Help the waitstaff avoid the awkward long-pause.
On Grace and Class
Bodily functions and emissions shouldn’t be discussed or exhibited with anyone other than a doctor. And even then, it’s probably not that necessary.
Never snap or whistle at another human being.
Commenting on the physical attractiveness of a third party is almost always a bad idea.
Learn people’s names.
Be a friend first, Facebook later.
React small to the bad stuff.
On Reading
Always be reading something informative and something shallowly entertaining concurrently.
Read on a Kindle reader.
Read first, Facebook later.
On Health
Eat healthy and exercise just often enough to be able to eat unhealthy and relax often enough.
On Fashion
Never tuck in a collarless shirt.
Dry-cleaned and professionally laundered clothes are good for the soul.
Buy more shoes.
Wear more rings.
A sportcoat makes it look better.
Don’t put tattoos where they can’t be easily hidden.
On Productivity
Work hard. There’s big stuff to do.
Prioritize your schedule. Save your “dessert” for last.
Write everything in Evernote first.
Build your life toward some big, scary and right goals.
On Faith
Decide to believe.
On Other Stuff
Avoid the trendy stuff.
Use and carry an all-metal Parker Jotter pen.
Listen to the music that moves you – even if they laugh at you.
Tell people about the good you notice in them. Don’t withhold love and praise.

31
Jan 15

Road Trip Rules

I love road trips with our teams of staff and interns. We often rent big vans and drive to events for our organization. Here are some of the rules.

1. No human gaseous emissions.
2. No touching, lap-sitting, massaging, head-resting on/with a person of the opposite gender – unless it’s your spouse.
3. No headphones. Be with us.
4. The driver chooses the music.
5. No ketchup.
6. No chain restaurants. We will eat good food.
7. Garbage always goes immediately into a garbage bag.
8. No uninvited backseat driving.
9. No whining.
10. An arbitrary number of good-will points is awarded to those stuck in a middle seat. 


24
Jan 15

Stuff from a Communications 101 class

  • You are not your audience. Everyone does not think like you do. Don’t make bad assumptions.
  • Rhyming or starting each point with the same letter doesn’t make your message more memorable. It makes it seem cheap.
  • Avoid cliches always. (n.b. We should only get to use some version of “life is a journey” once in our life. Let’s assume you’ve used your chance.)
  • We probably don’t ever need you to tell us how the dictionary or “Webster” define anything. Never use any version of the phrase “according to the dictionary…”
  • Avoid using “you” when you mean “I”. (e.g. “When someone yells at you, you feel angry.” should probably be “When someone yells at me, I feel angry.”)
  • If it’s boring for you to write or say, it’s probably boring for us to read or hear.
  • Velveeta is not cheese.
  • Don’t use more words when fewer will suffice.
  • You can put cream and sugar in your coffee, but you’d be wrong.
  • Inspire creativity in yourself by getting out of the ordinary routines. Fill your head with new stimuli and then create.
  • Never read from your notes or recite your own words from memory while speaking. Talk naturally through your ideas.
  • Never be the hero of the stories you tell.
  • Find opportunities to reveal your passion and personality in your speaking. But don’t forget to be gracious.

28
Oct 14

Stuff I Like and Stuff I Don’t Like – an incomplete list

Stuff I Like:
Black coffee
Carrot juice
God
Cooking
A good wine glass
86% dark chocolate
All-metal Parker Jotter pens
Reading to my kids
Warm bread
Butter
Sushi
Shoes
Meats
Cheese
Cities
Kindle E-readers
Friends at my dining room table

Stuff I Don’t Like:
Fast food restaurants
Instant food
Airplane food
Generic Q-Tips
Camping
Low sodium soy sauce
Sit-coms
Laziness
Disposable plates and utensils
Velveeta and “American” cheese
the middle seat on airplanes
Pig brain tacos
Mint flavored desserts
Whining
Low-fat ______
Pets (yes, even yours)
Sentences with hashtags instead of words
Suburbs

Feel free to remind me if I missed something.


27
Jun 14

Why I went to Nigeria and Cambodia

In the past 2 months, I traveled to Nigeria and Cambodia.
Both of these trips were for ministry and I am better because of them.

Nigeria
In April, 300 young girls were kidnapped from their school by a terrorist group called Boko Haram. As I learned and prayed more about this (and the many other abductions like it) happening in that country, I felt compelled to go. God gives me a love that makes my going unstoppable. In May, I went to Abuja, Nigeria.
I went to Nigeria not because I think it needed me, but because I was moved by the tragedy of the girls’ abduction & if I was one of the fathers, I would find some comfort in knowing that people loved enough to come from far away to stand with me.
I went there to love & learn. I think I succeeded.

The teams of World Horizons USA and Hillside Missions worked hard and well to be sure the trip was fruitful. I think they succeeded.

Some of the things I did in Nigeria:

  • I spoke, preached and prayed at 2 churches in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
  • I attended and spoke at rallies in support of action to rescue the abducted girls.
  • I met and prayed with the Governor of Borno (the state where the girls were abducted). I was also invited to return and travel as the guest of that governor to pray with families of abducted girls.
  • I participated in a simultaneous prayer vigil event held and broadcast at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC and a church in Abuja, Nigeria.
  • I ate one too many snails.
  • I got embarrassingly ill after eating chicken from a road-side stand.
I spoke and prayed at this church in Abuja. Many of the congregants here are relatives of abducted girls.

I spoke and prayed at this church in Abuja. Many of the congregants here are relatives of abducted girls.

The girls have still not been returned. As of today, It has been 74 days since the girls were taken. We continue to pray for their safe return. We’re also considering further action we can take.

One of the possible outcomes of the abduction is that the public outcry against Boko Haram would cause that terrorist group to be broken. That’s our prayer also.

Cambodia
In June, I traveled to Phnom Penh Cambodia because I was invited to help to plan and develop a program to train Chinese missionaries who will plant churches among unreached people in Cambodia.
The result of the trip is that there is a training program for Chinese mission interns now operating in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The program is modeled after the Hillside Missions internship program. More work is needed, but they are already up and running with 9 residential Chinese students. Awesome.
The World Horizons USA and Hillside Missions teams are now working to support this training initiative. We’re excited to see waves of Chinese missionaries making disciples in Cambodia.
Initially, John and Christa H. (missionaries with Act Beyond) had asked me to come to help them to discuss and plan for how to develop a mission training internship somewhat modeled after what we’ve built here in Richmond. Their aim is to train and mobilize Chinese missionaries into Cambodia (and eventually other nations).  I have known and worked among Chinese peoples with the Harrills for about 12 years.
Samuel, a long-time Chinese missionary to Cambodia, and John H. have been working together with Chinese people in Cambodia. Samuel recently joined World Horizons as a field member. Jonny H. (World Horizons Cambodia team leader) is also supporting the development of the project.
In the long-term, the hope is that a multi-organizational collaborative training program for Chinese missionaries could grow in Phnom Penh.
I left Phnom Penh very encouraged. I believe that the time and resources are very right for this. I’m also encouraged by the collaborative prospect that this entails. We are planning a follow-up trip in October to continue to support the formalization of a mission training program there.

Some of the other things I did in Cambodia:

  • I met with Hannah Look in Phnom Penh as she arrived to begin a 5-month externship as the final stage of her mission training with Hillside Missions. 
  • I ate Japanese food, French food, Mexican food, Cambodian food and Indonesian food. 
  • I spent time with old friends and made some new friends. 
  • I taught the 9 Chinese mission students
  • I thought about tattoos
teaching chinese mission students in cambodia

That’s me teaching mission to Chinese students in Phnom Penh.


10
May 14

“I never made a sacrifice.” – David Livingstone

“For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”

– David Livingstone


02
May 14

Songs that could make me cry. (if I was that kind of guy)

This is a list in development

Small Enough – Nicole Nordeman
Song to the King – Pocket Full of Rocks
The Little Drummer Boy – almost anyone who sings it
Oh Lord You’re Beautiful – Keith Green


25
Apr 14

Today began with coffee in the shower.

Today, like everyday, began with a cup of coffee in the shower. Yep.

And the work day began like every weekday in the office. We had a prayer and devotion meeting while sitting on pillows in the small carpeted meeting area of our office/art gallery. On Fridays, instead of reading the next chapter of the Bible as devotional material, we discuss the week’s headlines and pray. This is where I had a second cup of coffee.

james on carpet 1400 x 395 40

This is the carpet where we meet and pray. That’s not me.

Then, I had a meeting with our Mission Mobilization team members (6 of our staff members working to recruit, train and send new missionaries to the field) to discuss new strategy and our current plan to recruit for next year’s internship (it begins in September. Read about that here).

Mobilization team

This is Carlos, Kaitlyn and Emery at the Mission Mobilization meeting.

After the meeting, I answered some emails about some upcoming events and church services. We attend a lot of events to speak about mission among unreached peoples. I also spoke with a couple people on the field in Central Asia.

Then, I met with a staff member to go over a debrief summary report (a summary of a set of meetings and conversations we have to help missionaries to be equipped to manage re-entry into their home country healthily) to be sent to a missionary who recently came home from several years on the field.

At 11:30, I met with one of the participants in our Mission Training Internship to talk about her post-internship trip plans and needs. She’ll be going long-term to a country in the Middle East. We talked about fundraising, decision-making, disciple-making and a few other things.

my office

This is my office. Some of my meetings and lots of my work happens here. Can you find the hula dancing doll?

I went to lunch at a restaurant near us here in downtown Richmond, VA with 3 other staff members and one staff-member’s mother. We sat outside. Since service at the restaurant was very slow today, I also had to take a scheduled call to talk with someone from another organization about how to get a ministry internship program started. This is when I had my third cup of coffee.

We walked the 4 blocks back to the office and joined the rest of the staff to write our newsletters and blogs. The 4th Friday of every month is “Newsletter Friday”. We set aside 90 minutes per month in the office to write updates to our friends, families, supporters etc. I’m now drinking my fourth cup of coffee.

After writing this blog post, I will meet with Ben, our office’s resident artist and Art as Mission ministry leader to talk about the new art gallery exhibit he will open in our organization’s art gallery (Our art gallery has become one of the most popular art galleries in the city of Richmond).

Ben

This is Ben making art.

Tonight, I’ll go home and throw my kids around the living room a little bit while they shoot me with nerf guns and otherwise attack me. Then I’ll make dinner.

jumping

This is a photo of the time I taught my family how to jump.

Later tonight, I will teach some ESL classes for Rosetta Stone. I will also probably grade some assignments for the courses I teach for Liberty University while watching TV with my wife, Yurihn. I will not be drinking coffee.

Every day I work toward accomplishing short-term goals along with 3, 5 and 10 year goals. We will make the world better by working hard to accomplish big things that can only be done with long-term work and investment. We pray and work so that people and nations will know about Jesus for the first time.