Oct 14

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

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

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

Feel free to remind me if I missed something.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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).


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.


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.


Mar 14

Some good things I’ve learned from people.

I’ve learned good things from people. I’ve been thinking about a few of those things and people today.

These things made me better.

From my former manager – Tony K.
You’re not fully dressed unless you’re wearing a belt.
Always carry a pen.
Never have a meeting without a printed agenda.

From the pastor of the church I grew up in – Joe J.
Commitment to a cause can be measured by a person’s checkbook and date book.

From my 5th grade teacher – Mr. Wiseman
The Old Man and the Sea is Good Literature
Simon and Garfunkel is good music

From my 7th grade History Teacher – Mr. Bagley
You can call the country “ear-rack” or “ear-rock”, but you may not call it “eye-rack” or “eye-rock”

From my former youth pastor – Carl R.
Men should behave as knights. Women should be treated as queens.

From my mother
There is no such thing as too much compassion.

From my father
Spelling always counts.

Oct 13

My Corn Bread Stuffing Recipe

2 small packages of corn bread mix
2 pounds loose Virginia sausage
8 ounces decent red wine
16 ounces dried berries and grapes
2+ cups chicken stock
4 stalks celery
1 onion
2 cups fresh corn kernels, pureed
1 cup fresh corn kernels, not pureed
Black pepper

1. Bake a pan of cornbread (a boxed mix is OK) with corn added. (some blended and some whole kernels). Crumble it when cooled.

2. Drink the red wine.

3. Cook 2 pounds of loose Virginia sausage.Season it with black pepper and sage. Drain it well and set aside. Leave a small amount of grease in the pan and discard the rest.

4.. In 2 cups of chicken stock, cook 4 stalks of chopped celery, 1 chopped onion and 16oz or so of dried fruit/berries/raisins until tender. Season with sage, salt, pepper.

5.. Mix the sausage, crumbled corn bread and vegetables together into a casserole dish. Adding more stock if the mixture is very dry.

5. Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees

Oct 13

A small window into my days

I lead a Christian mission ministry from its U.S. headquarters office.

Weekday mornings, I sit on a pillow on the carpet in the office. The 12 to 16 of us meet there to read and discuss the next chapter of the Bible, pray and then talk about tasks and projects. Jonny, one of interns training to do mission, will lead the Bible discussion today. Each of the interns are learning and practicing to lead Bible discussions.

After the morning meeting, we work.
I balance most of my office time between planning and organizing the ministry’s next activities, corresponding with our team members living on the field in other countries and teaching the interns. This morning, I will lead our group of 7 interns in a teaching discussion about the theology of mission.
These interns have come to learn to do mission among the world’s least reached nations. A few months from now, those interns will be sent to various field team locations for a 3 to 6 month mission “externship”. They will then come home and make decisions about long term mission.

Lunch happens.
Interns usually go upstairs to their apartments above the office to eat. Most days I teach online classes over lunch. I teach online for a few different schools as a “side job”.
If I’m not teaching for lunch, I like to go to the restaurant across the street. I love being a regular at a restaurant. I’m writing this from my usual seat at that restaurant right now. I’m drinking espresso.

We work in the office until 5pm.
This afternoon, my wife will teach a session on Spiritual Gifts for the interns, and the staff will each work on the tasks of their ministry area. I will speak, via Skype, with at least one of our missionaries on the field, assign tasks to other staff and prepare some speaking notes for a message I will give later this month at a church in Indiana.

This work is more than a job. It is how I am living toward the accomplishment of my prayers and it is how I respond to God’s call.

Jul 13

Eight Commandments of Facebook Etiquette

1. Never post an “if you were a decent human, you would click ‘like'” message.
2. Never let a game or app automatically “invite” your friends to play.
3. Make love not war.
4. Do not re-post urban myths, religious conspiracy theories or other spammy nonsense.
5. Never use a shirtless photo of yourself as your profile photo.
6. Learn the meaning of the words “literally” and “random” before you use them.
7. Think twice, post once.
8. Understand the concept of the “humblebrag” before you post.

Do you have one or two for the list?

Jul 13

Questions I think I’ll ask about the boy my daughter wants to marry

Does he love God more than life?
Does he have purpose?
Does he have big dreams?
Is he smart enough to make his dreams happen?
Does he work hard?
Does he do what he says he will do?
Does he appreciate truly good food?
Does he know it’s more important to be generous and gracious than frugal and efficient?