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Missio-Nexus Award

Missio-Nexus is missions network representing an absolutely enormous number of missions organizations (200) and missionaries (35,000!) around the world. It helps to coordinate efforts and resources. This year the Jesus Film Project received a significant award for the work that my team has been doing! The eXcelerate Award’s inscription reads:

For strategic innovation in ministry by modeling continuous improvement that leverages digital platforms to share the gospel. In presenting this award we affirm and celebrate initiatives that accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

I am so proud and humbled (I feel both, really, is that even possible?) to be part of a project that is having such a large impact for the Gospel. Thank you for being a part of it, too!

We’ve Hit Our Goal!

Over the past 9 months we have been working on finding partners to contribute $2100 of new monthly support. I’m excited to say: WE HIT THAT GOAL! The goal really is a minimum goal, but it means that I’ll be headed back to my desk and helping improve JFM’s products full time this month, and Carrie will be helping to plan the spring semester at UCF – just as soon as we clear everything with our support coach.

So many people have started partnering with us, and so many of have increased their financial giving to make this possible! Thank you for being part of it, too!

Pressing Forward

While we’ve been working on our funding it has seemed that the Lord has been putting ideas in my (Jayson’s) head. I’ve realized some gifts that I have which need to be developed, ones that tie specifically to my current role.

This week I put in my application to a local college to pursue an associates degree in Graphic and Interactive Design. I’m excited to be pursuing something that I’ve grown passionate about – and something that will help the Jesus Film Media platform deliver the Gospel into more hands. When I told my boss that I was going to do this in my free time, he suggested that there would be a possibility of my team picking up part of the tab! Nothing is even close to sure yet – please pray that the next steps would be clear.

Pray For:

  • The application process and the finances as I pursue this new education endeavor.
  • Gospel opportunities with my fellow students.
  • Carrie’s re-entry into the UCF team as the semester ends and they begin planning for the Spring semester.
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The vigil for Steven Sotloff at UCF this past month.

Steven Sotloff

The house was still mostly quiet three weeks ago Wednesday morning at 6 am when my phone alerted me of a text message from News 13. In the wake of a national disaster, I (Carrie) had signed up for this service, and in hindsight, most of the texts are useless traffic reports. I keep it around, though, just in case of apocalyptic weather, zombie outbreak or alien invasion. This particular morning, the message hit with a thud:

“U.S. confirms video of former UCF student Steven Sotloff’s beheading by ISIL militants is authentic.”

Now, I did not know Steven personally or have any mutual friends at UCF, nor have I been a particularly close follower of the recent Middle Eastern happenings. And yet, I find myself affected by the death of a stranger across the world.

Technology’s Moral Value

Weeks later, I’m still struck by a number of things: mostly, the accelerated speed at which information reaches me, and the heightened emotional impact of a story accompanied by a visual. After all, the execution of American journalists by extremists in the Middle East is not a brand new thing. But technology connects us all, and video is a powerful medium.

Of course, debating the moral value of the technology itself would be about as fruitful as deciding whether dynamite is good or bad. For every example of evil going viral, you could find a positive counterpart. Consider the role of video and social media in the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge of Summer 2014. With a simple internet video campaign and some creativity, the ALS Association quadrupled donations to research a devastating disease.

Terrified Exhilaration

Thinking about the speed at which the world is changing, I am any given mix of terrified and exhilarated, depending on the moment. But viewing current realities in light of the commands and promises of Jesus, I am energized:

“All authority has been given to me…”

“Go and make disciples of all nations…”

“I am with you always…”

One source estimates over 10 billion mobile connected devices by 2017. What possibilities are within reach with the Holy Spirit in the mix? God saw fit to launch his Great Commission into the unique era of the Roman Empire with it’s new highway systems to aid the first missionaries. Might He use the technological wonders of our day to bring it to completion? Only He knows. Pray with us that it might be so!

Pray For:

  • Creative applications of Jesus Film content by our partner organizations and individuals who use the app.
  • The UCF students, that they wold turn to the Lord with any anxiety or grief related to the ISIL events.
  • We’re getting close on our financial partnership “project.” Pray that Jayson would be able to return to his team’s work very, very soon.
photo by Tex Wilcox

photo by Tex Wilcox

7 Days, 9 Flights, 3 Languages, 60 Trained.

In May, we asked prayer as Jayson’s teammates flew to Brazil to train nationals from 6 World Cup host cities to use the Jesus Film Media app for outreach during the games. Below is an update from teammate Hannah:

People came from all over – one guy took a 14-hour bus ride to attend this training! This guy, Roberto, lost 3 days of work just so he could come and be equipped to share Jesus with his community in Natal, Brazil!

We taught them in how to use the equipment, the Jesus Film app and how together, they can be used in ministry… We specifically highlighted the films that have been added for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

Another encouraging thing for me was Hugo, a guy we partnered with, using the app as we traveled. On one of our taxi rides, he shared a film in Portuguese with the tour guide. It was so natural and easy!

Our final training took place in a favela (a local slum) in Rio de Janeiro. Though they are still fairly poor, I was surprised at how many of the attendees had smart phones. They commented on the fact that it was a common thing in their community… with the World Cup around the corner, they could now share soccer athletes’ testimonies with their friends.

Events & Ever-Afters

By now, all things World Cup are two weeks gone and Brazil has left the limelight. Hannah is home in Orlando, Roberto and Hugo are back to normal routines and the streets will likely see slightly less green and yellow. The much-anticipated event is over.

But as Jesus himself knew, the impact of the big event only goes so far, no matter how many loaves and fishes appear. The lion’s share of life-change happens as normal people bump shoulders with other “non-professional” believers, wrestling through the pits of life and the claims of Christ together.

For us this summer, the highlights have included good conversations about the gospel in light of cults, church, childbirth, marriage, miracles, death, and skepticism with at least three spiritually curious Orlando friends and some family back home.

As for Brazil and its recent trainees, they will likely be faced with a full two years of normal before their next big event on the world stage, the 2016 Summer Olympics. Pray that the unique opportunities leveraged by the World Cup will launch countless everyday folks to see their friends and communities changed by Jesus, with or without a big event.

Pray For:

  • The followup and results from the weeks of outreach around Brazil.
  • Jayson’s family. His grandfather passed away last week, there were some opportunities for the Gospel to go out. Read more about it in the post I wrote yesterday.
  • We still have a lot of traveling happening for work on our financial support. Pray for safe travel. Also pray for the health of our family and our car.
  • Our friend Bobby finally has his driver’s license! Pray for opportunities as he continues to get his feed underneath him!
  • Fall campus schedule kicks off mid-August. Pray for a strong start for Carrie’s team at UCF.

Summer travel photos!

Grandpa

jayson —  July 29, 2014  Leave a comment
Grandpa and Fia

Grandpa with a <1 month old Fia.

I’m the oldest grandchild on my mom’s side. I have older step-siblings, but I’m the oldest grand-descendent of Albert and Mary Merry. I’m also a lot like my grandfather. He was analytical, and a skeptic – even if inconsistently so. He cared about people, but sometimes was oblivious or uncaring about their feelings. He sometimes would catch himself saying something and realizing mid-sentence that it was stupid and mutter “shut up, Al.” I do the same thing pretty often, I also will mutter “shut up, Al.”

I have never had any doubt that he loved me – none of the grandchildren really did, but he could be incredibly grumpy, earning the title “Grumpa” from me when I was about 5. To my childhood mind my grandpa’s growls didn’t sound like a lion, the lions sounded like my grandpa.

Last Week

Grandpa Al died on Tuesday morning at 2:41 am, after a 29-month battle with a cancer that should have killed him in half that time. The last couple days were hard, but not because he was suffering.

The last few days were hard because Grandpa had made is crystal clear over the years that he wanted to have nothing to do with Jesus. He was fine with a good, providing Deist god; he was thankful, and actually said so often. Even after my uncle – his youngest son – died from complications surrounding his lymphoma treatments. Even after my grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. He would always say “amen” heartily when someone said “grace” before a meal. But, if you brought up Jesus or anything specific he would physically bristle and would bring up that lion growl sometimes.

That last 24 hours he seemed different, I’ll copy from a post that I put on our ministry Facebook group that day.

Some good news: I was spending time with him myself, he struggled to put his hands together like he was praying and shook them at me a couple of times. So, I prayed for/with him. I then asked if he would let me read some scripture to him, “I know you can’t really talk, but if you want me to stop, just make a noise and I will.”

I read Romans 8, the “if we confess our sins” portion of 1 John 1:5-10, and the “by grace through faith” part of Ephesians 2:1-10. He did not stop me. I prayed again and afterward said “I love you, grandpa.”

He struggled out, “I love you, too.”

No response outwardly, but up until now he’s been turning down people reading scripture over and over and he clearly had enough strength to make a sound if he wanted me to stop, and he did pretty very clearly ask for me to pray.

No peace necessarily for me, bit at least some more *hope*

Hope

I keep reminding myself and my believing family of Jesus’ words to Peter immediately after he asked 3 times if Peter loved Him at the very end of the Gospel of John.

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Or similarly from the The Horse and His Boy (part of the Chronicles of Narnia),

“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

The reality is that we cannot know anything about anyone else’s relationship with Christ. It can only possibly be known by that person in this world. We can observe fruit, hear words and watch their life, but we cannot know, we can only hope and trust.

My grandfather’s death leads me exactly there as well, hope that he did yield to the Holy Spirit in his last day, and trust that God is perfectly merciful and perfectly just. Whatever my grandfather’s response, Jesus is the true Lion whose growls lead us to repentance and whose death offers life.