Looking Back on 2016

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Don’t start rumors, I’m not pregnant. But since I have spent a full 3 years of my existence now on one side or the other of such a relationship, I’ll take the liberty to speak on it; Pregnancy is bizarre.

Physically closer than anyone can ever be, you and the most important stranger you’ve never met collaborate in a mystical project of exponential growth. Eventually, what started out as an imperceivable state of being, fills you with a certain “gravity” that, by the end, is rather hard to ignore. Then, after an inevitable, terrifying separation event, full of unknowns and much pain, you finally meet the face of the familiar stranger you’ve known rather abstractly from within for what feels like — trust me — a lifetime!

The thought struck me this week as I was talking with friend struggling to feel close to the Lord amid the emotional turbulence of pregnancy: Being indwelt by the Spirit of God in the “already/not yet” of His redeemed but still broken world is bizarre.

Even for “veterans” whose personal relationship with Jesus dates back decades, life with God can feel uncertain and abstract. When the day is new and the coffee’s fresh, everything tingles with the glow of glory, and by 8pm you wonder if you could even tell the Holy Spirit from indigestion. In Paul’s words, we are seeing only “through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13). Being “pregnant with glory” is hard!

To be sure, relationships deepen when faces get involved. Why else would my phone come with hundreds of emoji faces to augment my text messaging needs? But the occasions that call for a standalone face without words are few and far between. Scripture affirms as much; In John 20:29, Jesus describes the blessing of having believed without seeing a face, but according to Paul in Romans 10, it is pretty stinking hard to be saved without words involved somewhere.

Now, I have some quite wordy children, but none of my babies to date have been verbal in utero. Imagine if you could get a written commentary from your baby during pregnancy — expressive, informative and nuanced with personality. It would be a different experience for sure!

Thinking about the impact of the Jesus Film, it does indeed involve faces — a factor that has given immense dynamic power to all manner of visual media in our day. But since actors are clearly not the Biblical characters they portray, the “faces” are beneficial like a mere sonogram. In our estimation, it’s the script of this 37-year-old film that packs the punch — words spoken by an actor, directly from the gospel of Luke, translated into 1,463 languages and dialects as of this month.

Jayson has been working hard this year to make sure that we’re able to do our part in this work that the Lord has called us to in an unburdened way. He’s travelled more than 100 days this year to meet with new connections. He has been challenging scores of people and dozens of churches to pray for us, and to be ongoing financial partners in the Lord’s work.

As Jayson and I look toward 2017, we’re trusting God’s provision for the necessary $20,000 to cover the remaining costs of Xander’s birth, upcoming car repairs and purchases, and missed paychecks during this leaner season. As we prepare, and pray would you prayerfully consider a tax-deductable year-end financial gift of $1000, $500, $250, $100?

Please know that in any case, we’re so grateful for the ways you’ve stood behind our family, and your partnership with the Jesus Film has helped make a whole lot of folks’ “glass” a little less dark until the day we all finally see our Lord face to face!

Global Hackathon participants in Thailand this past weekend.

Hacking for the Kingdom – November 2016

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This past weekend 1,426 people, gathered in 28 cities around the world for 67 hours to complete 14 challenges to participate in a Hackathon put on by 30 organizations (Cru, Jesus Film Project, World Vision, Wycliffe, KLOVE, Intravarsity, etc.).

They strategized, designed, coded, and tested to solve problems and eliminate barriers to help people around the world experience the One in whom they can find life, forgiveness & peace. The Jesus Film Project, and my team specifically was a primary sponsor of the event. One of the challenges that was overcome was something called “deep linking.” The technology allows apps to communicate with each other and enables the combining of strategies, improving people’s ability to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in clear ways.

Apps and Taking Opportunities

Sarah traveled to eastern Asia to bring Jesus to students on college campuses there. During a conversation, she showed Vicki (a student at one of the campuses) the short film Jangled on the Jesus Film Project app. Jangled touches on issues of shame, disappointment, and the dangers of hiding who we really are. Over dinner they discussed the film and life in general

“I’m not content or hopeful with accounting as my major,“ Vicky told Sarah.

“I can relate. I majored in accounting, too. And even though I work a bit in accounting now, it still doesn’t give me the happiness I hoped for. Are you looking for purpose in your work?” Sarah asked.

“Yes. But I don’t see it happening. I have no hope.

“Can I share with you the way I found meaning and purpose even if my work is boring and hard?” Sarah said. Vicky nodded, and Sarah smiled. “I’d like to tell you about my friend, Jesus.”.

Sarah was prepared, and exited the Jesus Film app and found a different app that she had installed on her phone already, where she was able to share from an updated electronic version of Cru’s Four Spiritual Laws. In the end Vicky prayed and asked Jesus to be her Savior.

Connections

It was Sarah’s relationship with, and care for Vicky that made their conversation possible. It set the stage for God to work and make Vicky a new creation, and to give her a hope that will not disappoint. Vicky’s training helped her know how to move from one app to another to jump from film media to a succinct outline of the Gospel. In future months and years, the Jesus Film Project app can itself be equipped to train users how to do this, and can be able to switch from app to app seamlessly, making the work of connecting even easier.

Pray for Vicky, that she would be growing in her newfound faith. Pray also for us, that Jayson will continue to successfully make connections with people and technology so that the vision every tribe tongue and nation worshiping Jesus will be fulfilled quickly!

Grace & Peace,
2016-04-jayson-signature

“Count it all Joy…” – September 2016

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The kiddos at a random motel in Georgia,waiting for our car to get fixed.

The kiddos at a motel in Georgia, waiting for our car to get fixed.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Count it all Joy!

Babies always bring some stress to a household, but the past 7 months have been downright difficult. After Xander’s birth, it was clear that I needed to pull away from my Jesus Film assignment to get our family fully funded. Since then, we’ve connected with 105 new families and churches, plus countless longtime friends to schedule, meet up, catch up and explain our Great Commission work and our need for partners. Meanwhile, we strive to give updates on what my team is still doing.

Many of my days have started around 9 connecting with pastors, working through emails and planning trips, and many have continued to midnight connecting with people on the west coast. By the end of 2016, I’ll have been away from my family for about 50 days and my home for about 80. For those who haven’t done it, fundraising is a game of “hurry up and wait”, while not getting emotionally pulled under by the ebb and flow of “yeses”, “nos”, “maybes”, “laters” and non-responses.

Along the way I’ve struggled with various things: the juggling act of time and task management, the frustration of losing partners, the difficulty of staring down my own failures and weaknesses, the loneliness of time away from my family, the guessing and remembering game of how each of 700+ people prefer to be contacted — and the rare, but occasional hurt of rudeness from other believers. (I welcome a polite, straight-forward “no”, but it’s taxing to be hung-up on or simply ignored by someone who has already agreed to talk with me.)

Testing… produces steadfastness.

During one week of a trip, I had 7 pre-scheduled things cancelled on me, including a bachelor party I was invited to, and two meetings for the next month. It became clear to me that the Lord was doing… something. But what? Well, if you’re 2,000 or so miles from home and your schedule clears, you end up with a lot of time to pray. And I did.

The next week back home went pretty much back to normal, and so did my prayer life. Then, just this week, I had someone who told me to call him back hang up on me in the middle of a sentence — a pastor no less! At the prompting of some co-workers, I picked up a book called The God Ask, on the spiritual realities of fundraising. I got to the chapter on prayer… and it hit me – hard. I’ve been trusting deeply in the the Lord for his provision, but I’ve been neglecting time with Him. I’ve been neglecting communication. I’ve been just letting his calls go straight to voicemail. I would plan times to pray, then distract myself with reorganizing my database, or one more email, or double-checking my to do list instead.

I want to encourage you to push through difficult times, and trust that the Lord is doing… something.

I wish I could report that I am now a fully-funded prayer rockstar, but I am typing in real time. I started the book yesterday. For 13 years, our leaders have told us that support raising is a central part of our gospel ministry, not an interruption to it. So I want to ask you to pray for our family, and to encourage you to push through difficult times, and trust that the Lord is doing… something.

Thank you for your prayers & partnership,

The Gospel at the Olympics – August 2016

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Gather the Nations

There’s something inherently special and powerful that happens when people from the whole world gather together. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit broke out within the newborn Church and spread through the 3,000 pilgrim-believers that were saved in that day.

The 2016 Olympics just ended this past Sunday, and – with the work Cru’s ministry Athletes in Action (AIA) – the seeds of the Gospel are heading to the world from Rio de Janeiro as well. Using the newly-updated Jesus Film Project app about 100 multilingual staff used a short film, and a series of videos called Struggle and Triumph to share the message of Jesus with Olympic athletes, their families, and fans. Some, like AIA staff member Tim Pitcher, are able to serve even as official chaplains in the Olympic village.

Struggle & Triumph

The film, also given out in DVD form, contains the testimonies of 4 Olympians & Paralympians from the US, Brazil, China, and Kenya. Their stories touch on issues of doubt, failure, idolatry of the sport, rejection, sanctification, blessing, and clear calls to follow Jesus Christ.

I found Li Yan’s story particularly powerful – this is how the lead AIA staff member described it: 

“…an Olympic speed skater and coach from China and just how people initiated her when she was in the US and in Europe and invited her to church, and through that relationship led her to Christ. Now she has an impact on her team, and through her story she’s able to now impact the millions of people from China and those living outside of China who are interested in her story.”

Rio & Beyond

Now that the games are over, people are headed home, but that’s the whole purpose of this project. Pitcher says. “[AIA staff are] here to be able to minister to the athletes from their country or their language group and really try… to be able to meet with them, resource them, so if they go back home, they’re going to have copies of God’s Word that they can get through security and customs that a normal missionary might not.

Praise God that He is using technology, people, sports, film, and His word to bring people to Himself, and to send them out to the world, and – sometimes – back to their home countries.

Pray For

  • Connector.

    The Athletes

    The athletes, families, and friends returning to their homes around the world, that the Gospel will take route

  • Connector.

    Our Family

    Our continued work on our financial support team is going well, but we still have work to go! Pray for Jayson’s two trips, and for the family as he’s away in September & October.

  • Connector.

    Homeschooling

    Fia has started kindergarten as a part of a local homeschool co-op. Pray for her learning, and for Carrie’s new “job” as teacher.