02
Aug 18

19 years of marriage

I’m a happy man sitting in a restaurant in downtown Richmond, Virginia where I like to eat and work. This month is my wedding anniversary. After 19 years of marriage, I might finally be learning something. As I was preparing to leave on a trip last week, I was reflecting with my wife about our anniversary this month and we agreed that this past year may have been the best, most transparent, healthiest year of all of our 21 years together. We have found healing in confession, forgiveness and new honesty, new accountabilities, new sensitivities, and a better commitment to construction and mutual benefit. After some difficult times, big mistakes, small mistakes, serious failures, and pains we have both learned some lessons and we’ve noticed that we are better and different than before. We’ve found new humility to learn from others. We found new value in therapy and counseling and talking about relationship (I’m particularly bad at that). We’ve also learned from some of the positive elements and times – there have also been successes. And this last year has stood out to us as a new and important milestone. In some very real ways, we see in each other newness. We are both so different from when we began dating in 1997. We aren’t the same as we were when we were 19 and dating or 22 and newly married. We’re also very different from when we were new parents and new ministry-leaders. And, because of some hard stuff and realizations we’re even quite different from only a couple years ago. We haven’t stopped growing. We’re not married and together because we’ve always felt warm and fuzzy about each other. We’re married and together because we haven’t ever entirely given up. Maybe some people have easier stories. There have always been good things about marriage for us – even when we were bad at it. But both of us can remember times when we thought it wouldn’t last. And I think this year has been the best because we’ve been able to admit more to each other, sacrifice more pride and make decisions fueled by something better than impulse and self-serving emotionalism. We’re married because we decided to be. I love my wife very much. Sometimes we have both had to choose the discipline of love for each other despite our feelings. Today we are known to each other better than we ever have been and I love her more than ever also. Today, loving is easy. That’s a good day. Together we’ve learned first-hand that love is something better and deeper than simply an emotional response.
We’re
still growing and learning how to fix mistakes and bring goodness and healing to places where we’ve caused pain. I’m glad to be on a path that allows us to be open about that.

My wife is is the best person I know. She is an excellent mother to our children, a great friend to me and many others, and the best partner in life I can imagine. After 19 years of marriage, I know these things better and differently than I knew them before.


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.


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. 


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.


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


23
Jul 13

Preventing Idiocy: Classes people should take as adults

This list is in progress. Feel free to contribute thoughts.

The bare minimum essentials:
Creative Writing
Visual Design
Public Speaking
Hermeneutics
Statistics
Geography
Philosophy
Nutrition

Electives:


20
Jun 13

Bad Conscience Medicine

Be true to yourself.
I have/don’t have a peace about it.
That’s not my calling.
Just do what makes you happy. That’s all that counts.
It’s OK, we cracked a window.
It’ll buff out.
I’m just sayin’.
I’ll do it later.
I sent an email. I’m waiting for a reply.
Why go far away when there is so much need in your own backyard.
God closed that door.
God opened that door.
That’s just what I believe.


19
Mar 13

I’m in Indonesia

I left Phnom Penh for Indonesia early yesterday morning. During my 4 hour layover in Singapore, a friend picked me up and we went to lunch. It was my first time in Singapore and since we left the airport and had a good meal, I can now add Singapore to the list of places I’ve been. We also visited Bill’s office and walked quickly around downtown. Here’s a picture of my friend Bill with his office team in Singapore. Bill is the white guy.

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I got to Surabaya, Indonesia at about 5PM and my friend Quan and a new friend Pastor Indro picked me up and took me to dinner. We ate well. Last night I stayed at a Bible school run by a church. There are almost 50 students studying Bible and ministry here. This is a good place.


15
Mar 13

Today in Phnom Penh

This morning we worked at the youth outreach ministry again. We taught English, Bible and Bread-Making (round two). It went great.

Poverty
Train Tracks
Nudity
Chaos
Jumping
Singing
Praying
Play-dough
Bible
Mexican Candy
Dinner Rolls
Braided Bread

This afternoon we had lunch at “Mike’s Burgers”.

Burgers
Pepto Bismol
Canned Refried Beans
Taco Seasoning

After lunch we went to a former “Killing Field” site that now serves as a memorial to the victims of the genocide.

Mass Graves
Prayer
Smell
Bones

Later we walked through a touristy market.

Shopping
Souvenirs
Rings
Paintings
T-shirts
Place Mats

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13
Mar 13

A Village Visit, Church Planting, Fertilized Duck Egg and St. Patrick

Today, we’ll be visiting a village area a couple hours outside Phnom Penh. A long-term goal is to see a church planted in the area. We’ll be going with some of the long-term team to meet people, make friends and pray.

After the village visit, our friend Jon Gordon will take us on a Food Tour in the city. Spiders and fertilized duck-eggs are on the list of scheduled tour bites. Can I eat a fertilized duck egg? I give myself a 50% chance. Is anyone willing to take bets and cut me in on the profits afterwards?

A photo update:
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The trip is going great! The timing has been ideal and it has been good to have the opportunity to remind our friends here how valuable their work is. Yesterday we had a party and gave gifts to the World Horizons mission team. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day American-Style with cheesy green decorations and accessories in an Indonesian restaurant with 1 Irish man, 1 Canadian woman, 4 English people, 1 French woman, 1 Indonesian and 5 Americans.

Later, we spent several hours at an orphanage run by our friends. It’s a good and happy place and evidence that the work being done by our team here is achieving long-lasting, sustainable good. I’m proud to be a member of this organization.

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