Leadership Institute, Nov 6 | New Testament Course

posted on October 10th, 2017

Josh Bunce, Bible/Theology Professor at Barclay College, will teach the three-month course on the New Testament, beginning November 6. Last month, Kevin Lee described Old Testament prophesies, foreshadowing Christ and New Testament events. Now Josh, with clear instruction, will give accurate meaning and interpretation of the New Testament events and teachings that underlie our Christian faith. Josh’s hope, and the desire of each of us, is to understand more fully God’s revelation in the Bible, so that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we might be more effective ministers and church leaders in our world that desperately needs the Gospel. Josh is committed to help us in this noble mission. His first class will focus on the Gospels.

Josh Bunce is Chair of the Bible/Theology Department and Professor of Biblical Studies, Church History, Christian Beliefs, and Youth Ministry at Barclay College. He is a graduate of Barclay College, with Summa Cum Laude honor. He did graduate work at Friends University in the Master of Arts in Christian Ministries and earned the Master of Divinity degree from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Josh was recorded as a Friends Minister in Northwest Yearly Meeting. He has Friends pastoral experience, having served on the pastoral team at Netarts Friends Church in Northwest Yearly Meeting. Josh is active in the Haviland Friends Church, where he provides volunteer leadership in worship and preaching. He is married to Marcy, and they are the loving parents of three beautiful children: Audrey, Ethan, and Clayton.

We wish for the greatest number of us to be able to participate in this creative learning experience, so we will offer live, interactive classes at these places: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church Atlanta, GA (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul and Gabriel Sunday (pastors in Nigeria), Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center,Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

For Friends unable to join us November 6, Drew Davenport will place the video recording of the class on YouTube at this link.

I invite you to expand your knowledge of the New Testament under the informed teaching of Josh Bunce. The class will begin at 7:00 p.m. central time on November 6.

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Soul Keepers

posted on October 6th, 2017

*While I thoroughly enjoy the ministry of writing, there are times when it seems even more helpful to borrow the words of a fellow colleague. As I was preparing to pen an article for this particular edition of Insights, focusing on the celebration of Pastor Appreciation Month, I came across the following words of wisdom from Pastor Eric Geiger, and I share them here with great pleasure. The original article in its entirety can be found on Eric’s blog. 

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

 

 

October is fast approaching, which means so is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Very few folks celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month, and I am not advocating that it become a more prominent holiday on our calendars. While I am grateful for those in our churches who express appreciation to pastors during October, it is far better for the pastors, their families, and the churches they serve if the love, support, and encouragement is ongoing. Below are two important passages and five gifts we should give our pastors.

“Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith … obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything.”
(Hebrews 13:7, 17-18)

“The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages.”
(1 Timothy 5:17-18)

  1. Pray for them. The greatest gift you can give your pastors is prayer. Pray that the Lord will keep them to Himself, pure and blameless (1 Timothy 3:2). Pray they will persevere in life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). And pray for their families as their families shoulder the burden of ministry alongside them. As you pray for your pastors, you will find yourself loving them more and more. You can’t pray for someone and despise them at the same time.
  2. Imitate their faith. Of course, this is a challenge for leaders to be imitable, to live holy lives in response to the grace of God. And obviously this does not mean our pastors are perfect, as the writer of Hebrews has clearly articulated Jesus as the only perfect One. But this does mean we should learn from our pastors; we should put into practice the faith we see displayed in them.
  3. Follow their lead. In His providence, God places pastors in their places of ministry. The Lord gives them unique gifts and specific passion for the churches they serve and the communities they serve in. Their passion, sense of mission, and specific gifting will and should impact the direction of the church.
  4. Pay them well. This is biblical. The church’s goal should not be to “starve the pastor to keep him humble.” That is the Lord’s work, not the work of the finance committee. Too many pastors and their families are under unnecessary financial stress because some churches are not generous in this manner.
  5. Help them love their families well. Pastors must be able to love and shepherd their own families well if they are to lead the people of God (1 Timothy 3:5). Help your pastors love their families well by not putting expectations on them that would equate to neglecting their families if they actually lived up to the expectations. Rejoice that your pastors disappoint others by not accepting all invitations so that they may invest more in their own families.

A pastor never “clocks out.” A pastor is a pastor all of the time. The responsibility is enormous as, to quote Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the pastor “is given charge of souls.” Let’s encourage, love, and support our pastors as they seek to faithfully fulfill all the duties of their ministries.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Update

posted on September 19th, 2017

Here is the latest update from our south Texas leaders regarding recovery efforts among our Houston area Friends churches:

The clean up is mostly done and out to the curb.  The sheet rock, carpet, and other ruined items have been removed from homes.  We did not have the wind damage with Harvey and so the clean up of trees and lawn debris is minimal. We are now somewhere between the waiting and reconstruction phases.  We are waiting for insurance adjusters, rejection letters, FEMA awards, and available supplies.  YES, we are needing to reconstruct our homes and churches.  YES we need SKILLED manpower to do this.  The time for massive groups of unskilled, grunt type labor is past.  We are beginning to look for skilled labor that can drywall, tape/float, paint, install cabinetry, flooring, siding, roofers, etc.  This includes small groups of people that have a balance of skilled and teachable volunteers. Some of our churches/homes will be ready for these groups very soon.  We will have need of groups for a few months to come.  If you are able to provide a group or groups please contact Robyn Burns at robynburnsmarko@gmail.com. Please indicate how many workers, what skills they possess, and when they are available so we can plug that into the needs present.  With God’s help and a lot of prayer, we hope to plug the right group into the right church to help the right situation.

We have received close to $10,000 so far in donations from our extended family of Friends from across EFC-NA.  Thanks so much for your ongoing encouragement and support!

– David O. Wiliams

 

Home Missions Update

posted on September 8th, 2017

“The Church must be forever building, and always decaying, and always being restored.” –T.S. Elliot

You may know me as part of Communitas in Wichita, or you might know me as the 2nd daughter of Randy & Charlene Littlefield. I grew up in the Friends Church, starting out at Northridge Friends and then to Linwood Friends when it was planted in Wichita. When I was nine, my dad left Pizza Hut Inc., and we moved to Friendswood where my dad attended HGST and worked as the Associate Superintendent of Church Planting with EFC-MA. During the 4 years we were in Friendswood, Friendswood Friends Church was home, but we traveled to many Texas Area churches and church plants, encouraging new works and mission, many of them cross-cultural and/or urban. As a fourth grader I remember calling folks out of a phone book in a phones-for-you campaign and also helping to literally build a new Life Ministries Center building in Houston’s fifth ward.  My parents have always been pioneers and encouragers of innovation and have always valued sharing life with and advocating for those on the margins.  Like Jesus’ model of discipleship, they took us kids along to serve and minister with them. For this example, I am so grateful.  

I love the Friends Church. Not just because it’s my family heritage, but because I think we are rooted in exactly what the world needs and wants today. In an era of highly stylized forms of church with heirarchies and business models, the world is looking for genuine community where each one has a part to play. Friends can offer this. 

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

In an era when culture is shifting rapidly, we must be about keeping the faith but adapting the practices. The mission field is next door and down the street and across town, and if we continue to treat mission as something that only happens “over there” or if we sit comfortably in our pews with a “come to us” mentality, we will not survive. If we adapt, it will be uncomfortable and there will be some failure, but ultimately, I believe Friends will get to be part of what God is doing in the world. THAT excites me.

Business as usual won’t cut it.  I’m not saying to turn the ship on a dime or throw the baby out with the bath water, but I am suggesting that we reorient ourselves back to our roots, harness what made us Friends in the first place, and move into the future with a sense of hope and adventure and determination, with a renewed passion for Christ and His Kingdom.  

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Mk 2:22)

I’m encouraged by the ministries, initiatives, and new churches among Evangelical Friends in our region that reach out to the community with the message of hope. Let’s keep asking, “What else is the Holy Spirit inviting us to be a part of as salt and light in our neighborhoods and communities?” Let’s keep experimenting. Let’s keep moving.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

– Carrie Corliss

The Discipline of the Empty Chair

posted on September 8th, 2017

As I write these words, I am gazing at a one of my favorite images. It is a photograph I took a few years ago while hiking around Sprague Lake, a pristine mountain oasis located at the south end of Rocky Mountain National Park. At the center of this picture there is an alpine lake, surrounded by a vast forest of Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. Enthroned in the background are the majestic, snow-capped summits that preside over this portion of the Continental Divide: Flattop, Thatchtop, Chief’s Head, Long’s Peak. In the foreground, at the bottom of the photograph, there is an empty bench made of rough, hand-hewn timber that has my name on it, or so it would seem. As naturalist John Muir was known to say, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

As an avid hiker and nature lover, this image continually reminds me to give thanks for the breath-taking beauty I have been privileged to behold, while stirring within me a fresh hunger for exploring the multitude of new destinations that are just waiting to be discovered. More importantly, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, the empty bench serves as a regular reminder that our risen Lord is inviting me to recognize his presence, to engage him in conversation, to join him on the journey, and to allow him to be the strength of my life at every point along the way: “I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 121:1).

This is easier said than done, of course. Like everyone else, there are an endless number of competing voices pulling at me from every direction from morning to night, both internally and externally. And I want very much to respond to them, to please them, or to appease them, at the very least. I want to have a sense that I am valued, appreciated, affirmed, loved.

But among the many capricious voices clamoring for my attention, there is but one Voice that has the ability to satisfy the deepest longings of my heart. Augustine was right: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O Lord.” At the end of the day, whether we realize it or not, we ultimately live, move and have our being before an Audience of One.

This became unusually clear to me seventeen years ago during my first weeks on the job as a professor at Barclay College here in Haviland. I moved to the sunflower state by myself in August of 2000, leaving my wife and six children in Ohio, waiting for our house to sell. Although I was extremely excited to begin my new adventure on the college campus, I was less than thrilled to do it by myself. I was the new kid on the block, living alone in an empty house, occasionally feeling like I was stranded on a desert island in the middle of a tiny, remote village in the middle of … somewhere.

After enduring two or three weeks of this solitary confinement, the Lord decided it was time to crash my little pity party. As usual, He did so in a very kind and unexpected manner. As I was laying down for bed one night, I noticed something that had been there all the time. It was there when I sat down for dinner, it was there when I rode in the car, it was there when I flew on the plane, and it was there when I was at work in my office.

“It” was an empty chair. Except that it wasn’t empty at all. The Lord was gently reminding me that what appeared to be an empty chair was, in a very real sense, continually occupied by the One who promised to be with me “always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He was with me when I laid my head on the pillow each night, when I got into the car each morning, when I took my seat on the plane, and when I sat down to work on each and every course syllabus. He was with me, and He wasn’t going anywhere. He was just hoping that I would notice.

As this simple reality began to sink in, the Lord began to transform my loneliness into a whole new appreciation for solitude. It wasn’t long before the silence became increasingly welcomed as a personal invitation to engage in intimate, uninterrupted conversation and ongoing companionship with Christ. As Paul Tillich has said, “Loneliness is a word to describe the pain of being alone; solitude is a word to describe the glory of being alone.”

In time, the house in Ohio sold and my family was finally able to join me in Kansas. As thankful as I was to have them all with me, I have to confess that I was somewhat disappointed at first to discover that it was suddenly much harder to find an empty chair!

The lesson was not wasted, however. I am continuing to benefit from the discipline of the empty chair. To this day, when I find an empty chair next to me along the way, I am regularly reminded that it is not empty at all. The Lord is with me, and he’s not going anywhere. He is my constant Companion and Friend. He is just waiting for me to acknowledge his presence, to engage him in conversation, and to join him on the journey. And when I do, my spirit sings for joy: “And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known” (see “In the Garden” by C. Austin Miles).

May our Lord Jesus continue to bless you and keep you, dear friends, and may you experience great joy on your journey as you embrace his presence in your midst!

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Hurricane Harvey Update

posted on September 6th, 2017

Here is the latest update from our Friends in south Texas (as of September 5, 2017) as they recover from the impact of Hurricane Harvey:

  • The folks in Friendswood were hit especially hard by Hurricane Harvey, but they have also been given a unique opportunity to provide ministries of compassion to their friends and neighbors.  According to Molly Black, at least 36 homes of church members were seriously damaged by the flood waters.  At least 24 of these homes have already been gutted (with most belongings, carpeting and drywall out on the curb while things dry inside), and they hope to finish with the remaining homes by the end of this week.  Over 100 volunteers have been actively involved in these efforts, many of whom have provided ministry to more than 50 young children who are trying to make sense of it all.  The congregation met for worship on Sunday morning, and the church office reopened today (the office will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday for additional recovery time, but will reopen again on Friday).  You can find additional updates on the Friendswood website.
  • Pastor Jim Barclift reports that his home on the north side of Houston is still in the process of repair, but he and Cindy are safe and sound and living with their daughter in a nearby neighborhood.  Lighthouse had three homes of church members that were flooded, but since the church property was not damaged it is now being used as a Relief Distribution Center, providing food, clothes and other essential items for the residents of League City.
  • At nearby Bayshore, Pastor Karl Newmann is leading efforts to assist the three or four church families whose homes were flooded, but he is also giving thanks for minimal damage to their church property, which they hope to offer to work crews in the coming days as a base for long term rebuilding projects.
  • The church property at Friends Community (Angleton) was also spared any serious damage, as well as Pastor David Davenport’s home, due in large part to the timely efforts of the entire Davenport family, who laid sand bags around the perimeter of the house before the nearby rivers and creeks crested.  David remains concerned for four of their church families who live in the Lake Jackson area, since the flood waters are not expected to crest until later this week.
  • David Davenport also reports that three or four homes of members from Liverpool were flooded, but the church property was not damaged.  Pastor Bubba Rouse and his wife, Shelly, are staying with family in the area as they wait for the flood waters to recede.
  • Our Friends from Northshore had over a foot of water in the church last week, and are continuing the process of clean up and recovery.  Pastor Robyn Burns-Marko currently serves as our Texas Area Elder, and will be meeting today with Karl Newmann, our Texas Area Superintendent, to put together a strategic plan for ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts among our Houston area churches in the days ahead.  David Byrne, Director of the Coalition for Hispanic Ministries (CHM), will be assisting them as well. 
  • Our yearly meeting office in Wichita is serving as the primary collection and distribution center for financial assistanceto our Friends in south Texas.  You can send your donations directly to the Ministry Center (2018 W Maple, Wichita, KS, 67213) or you can contribute online here.  Just make sure and clearly designate any gifts for “Hurricane Harvey Relief.”
  • Here is a link to a video that was prepared by a member of Morningside Friends Church in Port St. Lucie, Florida (please keep these folks in prayer as well as they brace themselves for Hurricane Irma).

 

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Pastoral Opening | Liberal, Ks

posted on August 24th, 2017

We are seeking a Pastor to guide our church forward into the next chapter of life and growth in Liberal, Kansas. The Pastor must be Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, and have a clear calling from God to pastor. The ideal candidate is someone who loves people both inside and outside the church, and who passionately communicates God’s Word. Additionally, it is incumbent upon this candidate to embrace and practice Friends values.  Ideally, we would like to see a leadership track record that demonstrates collaboration, recruiting, and team building. Moreover, it would benefit the church for our Pastor to be culturally-current, creative, and financially responsible.

Ideal candidates will have a degree from a Bible college or seminary. Five plus years of a proven pastoral track record desired, but the church is willing to consider recent Bible college/seminary graduates with some ministry experience. Additionally, a connection, understanding and calling to southwest Kansas would be extremely beneficial and preferred.

The Lead Pastor will exemplify the character of elders described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4, and Matthew 20:25-28.

This position is salaried, full-time exempt, and includes the use of a beautiful parsonage in a great neighborhood.

Please submit resume and list of references for prayerful consideration.

The contact address is: friendspastorsearch@gmail.com

Camp Quaker Haven Junior High Camp 2017 Highlight Video

posted on July 14th, 2017

Check out this video capturing some highlights from Junior High Camp 2017 #ALLIN

 

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Highlight Photos

posted on July 11th, 2017

Check out this compilation of photos from Saltshaker 2017 to India and Bhutan. Each photo has a short caption below it submitted by one of the Saltshaker 2017 team members.

David Tamang

Picture 1 of 16

David Tamang, the tenth member of our Saltshaker team, was such a blessing to everyone he met. From the moment he joined our team in India we felt complete. Not only was he encouraging and a humble servant but he pushed us all to be better. Having a better idea of what the culture was like, David helped us to have some context into how to love the people better in both countries. David, lead our team through example on a daily basis reminding us that Christ was at the center of everything we did. While in Bhutan he was our official driver and “tour guide” and wore the national dress everyday. We miss David so much as he created a space in each of our hearts. -Jenna

Leadership Institute, Aug 7 | Kevin Lee

posted on July 11th, 2017

Kevin Lee, our teacher for our new Institute course in the “The Survey of the Old Testament,” will reveal to us the glorious beauty to be found in these ancient Scriptures, during the months of August, September, and October. Kevin teaches with the high view of the Bible held by George Fox, who claimed, “The Scriptures were given forth by the Spirit of God.” Therefore, we will know God more fully as we understand the Scriptures more fully. May we grow in our knowledge of God and the Scriptures during this course in the Old Testament, starting August 7, 2017.

Kevin Lee has a ministry of law enforcement with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department in Kansas (the Emporia region).  His background includes college teaching and administration, church leadership, and studies in Bible, theology, and pastoral ministry. With a true pastor’s heart, Kevin is able to render a very unique ministry in his law enforcement work. He has numerous opportunities, in ways that many of us do not have, to touch people’s lives with the compassionate love of Christ. Before assuming his present work, Kevin Lee was Vice President for Student Services, Head Soccer Coach, and Professor in the Bible/Ministry Division at Barclay College. Specifically, he taught Old Testament and New Testament courses in the Distance Learning program. He is also well rooted in the Friends Church. Kevin grew up in Northridge Friends Church. After completing an undergraduate degree in Bible and Business Administration at Barclay College, he served as a youth pastor for ten years in Evangelical Friends Church-Mid America Yearly Meeting (Hutchinson and Bethel Friends Churches). In 2005, his family moved to southern California, where at the Friends Center at Azusa Pacific University, he earned the degree, Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies.  While studying for the Master’s degree, Kevin served as Minister to College Students at Friends Community Church in Brea, California. He also has experience in banking and substitute teaching and coaching in the public school system. Kevin is married to Jennifer, and they are the loving parents of three beautiful children: Nathan, Hannah, and Jessa.

Because God has blessed our Institute so abundantly, we desire to share the fruits of our teaching. Technology has made possible our ability to hear, see, and interact with Kevin and one another. This we will do at the following locations: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church, Atlanta, GA (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), Friends in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, Faith Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), New Hope Friends Church, Friends Church at Liberal, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

Some Friends prefer a time more convenient than Monday nights. Graciously, Drew Davenport places the video recorded classes on YouTube. A good model to follow in viewing them is to gather a group in your church or area, so that you may discuss the class presentation together. Click here to go to the link.

Kevin Lee’s hope is that through his teaching, the Holy Spirit will open to us new insights into the Truths of God that are revealed in the precious Scriptures. The first class in the Old Testament series is August 7, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. central time. At 6:50, we will hear the story or testimony of one of our Institute Friends.

Inviting you to join us as Kevin opens to us the fascinating beauty of the Old Testament,

Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

posted on July 11th, 2017

I was looking through my dresser drawers the other day and I came to a startling realization: I have way too many t-shirts. The problem is that I really like t-shirts, and I find it surprisingly difficult to part with them. After all, t-shirts are readily available, relatively inexpensive and extremely comfortable. They can be easily re-purposed as rags, quilts, pet bedding or painting attire. They also make great souvenirs and serve as portable billboards for your favorite people, places, teams and causes.

The most recent addition to my t-shirt collection is one of my very favorites so far. It’s a trekking t-shirt that features a solitary hiker and a solitary tree framed by the following caption: “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” This caption is actually a portion of a short poem written by Bilbo Baggins, the main protagonist in The Hobbit and a primary character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. The poem presents an encrypted description of Aragorn, an heir to the royal throne who is currently wandering throughout the land as a vagabond ranger known as Strider. The poem is used to help convince Bilbo’s nephew, Frodo, to trust Aragorn even in his Strider guise. Aragorn later recites the first two lines when he is attempting to get Frodo to trust him enough to join him on his journey. 

For those who may not be familiar with these fanciful tales of Middle Earth, it may be helpful to note that Tolkien, a devout Christian, created them to serve as allegorical representations of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. As such, Aragorn (and to varying degrees, Gandalf and Frodo) embodies much of the character of Christ. Not only does he wander in the wilderness before revealing his true identity as the chosen one, but through multiple acts of sacrificial love on behalf of his friends, Aragorn helps to save all of Middle Earth from the demonic sway of Sauron and his dark forces of evil. Sound familiar?

As I reflect upon my first three years of ministry as general superintendent for EFC-MAYM, there have been many days when it seems as though Mid America bears an uncanny resemblance to Middle Earth. To be honest, I have frequently felt a bit like Frodo, just a little Hobbit from the Shire. One day he is minding his own business and enjoying a relatively simple life with his friends and neighbors, and the next thing you know he is suddenly summoned to fulfill a new and unsolicited mission, one that is way above his pay grade, in response to the call of a great and godly king who, like Aragorn, typically appears in the distressing disguise of a vagabond ranger who is relentless in his determination to free the entire land from its captivity to the dark forces of this fallen world.

While there are those rare times now and then when the king chooses to reveal his true identity in all of its splendor, more often than not, his character is made manifest most clearly in the midst of the seemingly mundane, messy, every day, ordinary events of human life. And every life has a story to tell.

Far from fanciful tales, the stories we have to tell here in EFC-MAYM are about very real people from very real places who find themselves fighting all-too-real battles. Having visited all of our churches (including multiple visits to many churches) during my extensive travels across Mid-America over the past three years, I can speak from firsthand experience when I say that we are all just a bunch of ordinary Hobbits after all, an equally flawed yet remarkably resilient family of Friends, representing a wide variety of racial, ethnic, religious, geographic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and we all share a common condition:

  • We are all harassed and helpless, left to our own devices, like sheep without a shepherd.
  • We are all longing to be free from Satan’s reign of terror upon this fallen planet.
  • We are all weary of the wreckage left behind in the wake of sin and death.
  • We are all desperately seeking salvation, in all of its multi-faceted expressions.
  • We are all passionately and unconditionally loved by our great and godly King, who also just happens to be our Creator, Redeemer and most faithful Friend and Companion, the One who is absolutely relentless in the pursuit of his mission to “seek and save that which was lost.”

As we gather for the 146th sessions of EFC-MAYM this month in Haviland, we will pay special attention to the Israelite’s long, arduous, transformational journey through the wilderness on their way to the promised land. We can learn much from those fellow sojourners who have walked before us on this trail of faith (cf. Heb 11), but if we have any hope of completing the journey ourselves, we must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer [trail blazer] and perfecter [trail guide] of our faith” (Heb 12:2), for he is our one and only reliable Way in the wilderness. Over time, as we learn to follow him even more faithfully, we find our lives slowly, surely and increasingly reoriented as we wander together along this truly transformational journey with Jesus, our vagabond King. And it isn’t long until we come to the very same conclusion as J.R.R. Tolkien and every other faithful friend and fellow traveling companion who has gone before us:

“Not all who wander are lost.”

 

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #15: Final Reflections and Reports

posted on July 10th, 2017

Saltshaker 2017 Final Reflections and Reports

The entire Saltshaker team was challenged in so many ways in both Bhutan and India. It is not easy to be a Christian in either of these countries. Americans don’t have to chose between their life, family, job, or social standing and the gospel. We met a lady who literally had to sneak out of her house in order to come to church services because her husband was Hindu. You see, often when Americans become Christian, they just add it as a title to their life, as if adding another line in their resume, but they don’t make it their life. I have been asked many times in reflecting on this Saltshaker experience, “How are you going to let it change you?” Well, I am going to start with making my life revolve around Christ. The past 18 days have been packed full of opportunity and change. Each of us has pushed our limits, gone outside our comfort zone, but now we all have a new comfort zone. I have felt a great challenge to make following Christ my comfort zone. He has no limits; therefore, when following His call, I shouldn’t have any either.

-Lynelle Bogan

Bethel Friends Church

 

I think that I could write a ten page reflection paper over this trip. I feel like I have said it a lot in the past few days but this has been one of the greatest joys and honors of my life, being able to see the international Church in action. Seeing what the Lord is doing overseas through EFM Bhutan and EFM Kolkata, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same or look at church the same way. 

I loved India even though my heart was broken over and over again watching the Indian people worship idols. Walking down the street and not being able to count to 15 without seeing another idol or prayer temple was sickening, like a constant reminder of the darkness at work in India. Specifically, one time when we were walking and there was a Hindu idol and a group of adults were chanting and giving some type of sacrifice. Then I noticed a small girl, maybe around the age of 6. Her parents were teaching her how to bow and how to give an offering to this idol and they were pushing her towards this idol she very obviously didn’t want to be looking at. She had no choice to the family she grew up in and I couldn’t help but think about her life to come. A life of constant offerings and worshiping hundreds of different gods and a life of hopelessness without joy. I thought about her teenage years when she was trying to figure out who she was and having to search that out through the idols she worshiped and finding her worth in how much she could offer to them. I thought about her first heartbreak and where she would turn, about her marriage and how that would be centered around rules and restrictions rather than love and the example Christ gave us. As well as her children and how that cycle would continue. I had never been more grateful to my parents for raising me in a Christian home. A freedom I take for granted nearly every moment of the day. 

I have felt challenged by the leadership of the churches and the way they are discipling the next generation, specifically the Church in Bhutan. Rupak himself, on top of all the ministry he and his family are doing, is discipling and equipping leaders that start churches, shepherd people, and make more disciples. Every bit of the Tamang family life revolves around the ministry the Lord has called them to. There is no higher priority or aim than to seek first the Kingdom. In my life, there are so many more things that take priority over the ministry the Lord has called me to, I refuse to let that take a backseat any longer. I refuse to live a life that has any other higher aim than to further the Kingdom of God here on this earth.

-Jenna Easley

Friends University/Northridge Friends

 

Saltshaker 2017 was my 3rd mission trip that I’ve ever been a part of. The other two were Spring Invasion trips to Mexico.  Although Spring Invasion is great, the Saltshaker experience is much more like the life of a missionary.  No matter what we did, God, relationship building, and spreading the news of the Great Faith was our main focus. We visited churches all over West Bengal, India and Bhutan.  Being able to see the work of God up close and personal was what changed my life the most. In this part of the world, once a person chooses to follow Christ they are cast out of their homes or villages (if their family/neighbors do not believe in the same way) for months sometimes even for life. Christians struggle everyday. In America we also struggle from persecution, but in a different way. We usually aren’t cast out of our homes or frowned upon by others but we can be kicked out of friend groups or made fun of because we choose to live a different lifestyle.  Being able to go on Saltshaker 2017 has opened my eyes to the troubles that I will face in the near future. Going off to college is a big step in a young person’s life and it’s during this step that most young Christian’s fade away from the faith and begin to live for themselves. This mission trip has allowed me to reevaluate my priorities in a way that may help me be a bright light for God in the atmosphere of a non-Christian college. Going on this Saltshaker has changed my life for the better and I am forever thankful for the opportunity to be a part of God’s ministry in Asia.

-Zack Leininger

Bethel Friends Church

 

Every morning since we left Wichita, we have had a morning devotion as a team. Each day during these mornings we prayed that our hearts would be broken for the same things that breaks God’s heart. On our last day in India we got the opportunity to view a Hindu temple, the idol being worshiped is the goddess of destruction. From the moment we entered the door of the temple, to the moment we left, my sprit was unsettled. On one end I witnessed men physically pushing each other to get close to the idol, on the other I saw women and children bringing offerings to the idol. At first I was angry at these people and at God for allowing his creations to stray so far away. But it was the smiling children with paint on their faces and offerings of food in their hands, that broke my heart for the kingdom. That same day we went to the Ganges River, a Hindu pilgrimage where they are to come and bath in the “holy” water. Although the site was unnerving and I wanted to leave immediately, God brought to my attention the young children. These six and seven year olds splashing each other with the water and seeming to have fun. I was once again made aware that this is not joy. This is happiness, that feeling is fleeting. My joy comes from the Lord. These people don’t know what true joy is, nor do realize that they are still searching. They are unsatisfied by their gods, they are hungry for something more. They are hungry for the one who created them in His image. These are the people my heart breaks for.  

-Hallie Mayes

Rose Hill Friends Church

 

Saltshaker 2017 was such an amazing experience. I am so thankful that God granted me the opportunity to participate and share the gospel. Normally, Saltshaker stays in one country for the whole trip, but we had the special privilege and honor of visiting two different countries: India and Bhutan. We were able to preach, sing, perform skits, and worship God with so many different people and churches. Both mission fields have impacted my life and faith forever. The believers in this part of the world have such strong faith and courage for God. I knew that Christians were persecuted for their faith, but I did not fully comprehend the extent of the persecution. When someone accepts Christ, both in Bhutan and India, they are instantly shunned and excommunicated from their villages, friends, and families. In America, we have complete religious freedom. We are not shunned from our towns or families when we accept Christ, and we do not have to hide our faith. In Bhutan, we had to be quiet and hurry into the churches so that we would not be seen or caught violating the terms of our “tourist visas”. I am so thankful that I live in a country where I am allowed to worship my God freely. Someone who impacted me a lot was this pastor from Bhutan. His name is Solomon and he is only 19 years old. He has been leading and pastoring this church in a slum since he was 15. I thought that was so amazing that he had so much faith as a 15-year-old that he would lead a church. His story really made me think about what more I could be doing for God’s kingdom. Seeing their faith and courage greatly encouraged me to be stronger in my faith. At the beginning of this trip, I was scared to let people see us pray in public or worship God because I was afraid of the persecution. Once I got to witness true faith in God from these people, I learned not to be afraid. I am not afraid to show my faith and worship my God. Both the mission fields of India and Bhutan have changed my life and my faith for the better. I have been so blessed by them, and I am excited to live fearlessly for God.

-Mark Persinger

Bethel Friends Church/Friends University

 

This trip has been an amazing experience! We saw so many wonderful things while in India and Bhutan. I got to see one of my oldest and closest friends get baptized, I got to see that the church in India and Bhutan is very much alive and well, I got to encourage youth in their faith, and I got to witness the incredible faith of a group of brave women who were a part of a house church. These were just a few examples of the amazing things that the team and I got to be a part of on Saltshaker 2017. Like on all other mission trips, we are listening for God’s voice and what he has to say to us and to show us. We prayed that our heart should break for what breaks God’s heart. While in India and Bhutan, my heart was broken. There were several times where we saw so many people practicing a religion other than Christianity. It broke my heart to see so many people who didn’t know of the one true God. Whether it was seeing Hindu’s give offerings to an idol, or merchants selling Buddha statues it broke my heart. I do not know for sure what God was trying to tell me, maybe He wants me to minister to people of other religions. This trip truly has been life changing. I have grown more mature in my spiritual life, and I realized some things. I realized that I don’t need a perfect testimony to make an impact on someone’s life. My crazy life is what will make the impact, not a seemingly perfect life. I also feel ready and willing when called upon to preach or share. Before the trip, I felt like preaching and sharing was for people with a Bible degree. After the trip, I realize that you can share and preach no matter who you are. These will stick with me for the rest of my life and will impact my walk with Christ. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet and to share with the people of India and Bhutan!

Bailey Pohlman

Northridge Friends Church

 

I went into the trip pretty scared, scared of pushing my boundaries and going to a new place on the other side of the world. But I felt called to go to India and Bhutan so I decided to push my boundaries. Adam says I personally worked harder and sacrificed more than any other team member to fundraise for this trip. Throughout the trip I grew spiritually. As we did have a little suffering during the trip, I realized how there’s people worshiping God that were persecuted, kicked out of their family or village, maybe even stoned. But still they follow Jesus relentlessly. They still worship him loudly. Pray to him contently. And they still love him with everything they have. Through everything they had endured just to follow the one true God, they were still firm believers. And this really helped me in my faith. I realized how God really is there for everything, and no matter how bad it may get, we always can turn to God. You can see the joy of the Lord on all of their faces, a joy that I could do much better at showing. This trip also made me realize how willing I need to be, to be his hands and feet, how if I’m called to do something then to not even think twice, because whatever it is that God is calling me to do, he will empower me to do it. While we were in Bhutan I had felt called to get baptized in the Thimphu River along with five other Bhutanese youth. I felt ready to take the next step in my faith, to show that I am here and willing, that I’m His, that I want to be God’s hands and feet, I want God to work through me in any and every way that he needs. This trip has opened both my eyes and my heart. 

Alec Schenck
Northridge Friends Church

 

I want to thank God for the wonderful opportunity he gave to everyone of us on this Saltshaker mission trip. It gave me a great joy and blessing to participate on this trip with all the Saltshaker team with God’s leading and guiding us in every field and in every way. I have experienced God’s love and great mysteries of new and great blessings towards everyone of us. I even got a chance to know and feel about what it takes to serve and to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ and that was amazing. In fact, I would give myself to serve and to suffer for him all my life. On the other hand, I know that he has great plans for everyone of us in this team and for everyone who he loves. 
But in every thing, it’s not about us but for the glory to our heavenly Father. I would say that I am in love with Him once again and that wouldn’t be possible without this team and this trip which was imparted from our Lord through EFM. I love you all and thank you so much.

-David Tamang
Thimphu Friends Church, Bhutan

22 year old eldest son of Bhutan National Leaders Rupak & Pramila Tamang

 

Saltshaker 2017 was an amazing experience for the whole Saltshaker team, the EFM ministries in India and Bhutan, and for me personally. It was an honor to work along side the missionaries in India and Bhutan. I enjoyed preaching, teaching, and learning with the Saltshaker team. We got to work alongside of many of the youth workers in India and Bhutan. In Bhutan, we got to lead a Youth Revival Meeting, which brought a lot of joy to my heart. In India we went from church to village church and even from house to house sharing encouragement and learning from the believers. This trip really affirmed my call into ministry. With the experiences we had with the youth, I feel God calling me into youth ministry. Not only do I feel called to minister in the future, I also feel called to do God’s work now. I have learned a lot about joy and trust. When hard or different times come, I have learned to have joy through those hardships and to trust God with everything. God is doing amazing things in Bhutan and India and also in each of the members of our Saltshaker team. I am so thankful for this opportunity to gain new perspectives and to further the Kingdom of God.

Parker Titus

Bethel Friends Church/Friends University

 

Top 10 Reasons To Go On A Saltshaker Mission Trip

posted on July 10th, 2017

Top 10 Reasons To Go On A Saltshaker Mission Trip

Written by the Saltshaker 2017 Team that went to India and Bhutan.

 

1. Grow in life maturity. The Saltshaker trip helps you learn how to cope and endure suffering. It gives you an understanding of how others live and how to affirm yourself and others. I also learned life skills like being more assertive for both myself and others, how to extend and receive hospitality, work with a team, and how to speak in public. -Alec Schenck

 

2. Grow spiritually. Saltshaker helps you understand God’s purpose and role in the world, which helps you understand God’s purpose for you. During Saltshaker 2017 I grew so much spiritually and felt called to be baptized in the mission field of Bhutan. God was working in my life spirituality and He will in yours too. -Alec Schenck

 

3. Lots of laughter! Laughter is the best medicine for anything. On a Saltshaker trip, the cultural differences are so intense that the only way to compensate is to laugh. A lot! At everything! Also, your Saltshaker team becomes your family, so what do you do with family? You laugh. You will be filled with so much joy that you can’t help but laugh all the time. And it feels so good! -Mark Persinger 

 

4. It will leave you speechless. There are lots of things that happen on a Saltshaker that are amazing. They are so amazing that they will leave you actually speechless. God reveals his majesty in so many undeniable ways and it is amazing! -Lynnelle Bogan

 

5. Intense cultural experience. You get to try new food, learn different languages, and experience different church services. You get to have a front row seat to a new culture. -Zack Leininger 

 

6. It will change your life if you let it! If you let God work through your experiences and through the people you work with, it will give you a new perspective. Personally, it affirmed my calling to ministry. -Parker Titus

 

7. Relationships you build with the missionaries. You become more connected with the missionaries personally which connects them to your family and to your church. Choity was a very sweet lady and I enjoyed getting to build a relationship with her. -Hallie Mayes

 

8. You will be stretched! You will be used and stretched in ways you didn’t know you could be. It may even be something you needed, but didn’t know you needed it. Before Saltshaker, I didn’t really like talking in front of people a lot. During Saltshaker, I had to talk in front of people everyday. Because it stretched me, now I’m more comfortable talking in front of others. If you’re willing, it will change your life forever! -Bailey Pohlman

 

9. Capacity to suffer. We very rarely suffer here in America but when we do suffer we are able to understand somewhat of what Jesus experienced on the cross for us. Without great suffering can we really experience great joy?! Going on a Saltshaker allows us to suffer and in turn experience great joy. -Jenna Easley

 

10. Life is a missions trip! Saltshaker is the best training for the ministry that Jesus sends his followers out to in Luke 10, but that doesn’t just apply to 3 weeks out of the summer. The call to always be ready to share, preach, testify, and step up and lead is what it means to follow Jesus 24/7 for all believers. By the end of a Saltshaker trip my teams become fluent, confident, able and willing to serve. So confident that even 15 year old girls can preach the gospel on street corners to 200 Hindus gathered to listen. Ready to sign up for “Following Jesus Boot Camp?” Time to sign up for a Saltshaker mission trip!  -Adam Monaghan

 

 

 

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #14

posted on July 6th, 2017

July 5, 2017 

Don’t stop praying for Saltshaker 2017! Our team just arrived in Chicago at 6:05am Thursday morning weary, tired, and jet lagged from all the travel. But Saltshaker 2017 is not over yet. We have started and will continue the hard and important work of debriefing, processing and reflecting on the last nearly three weeks. We are asking questions such as “where do I see God at work in the Friends Churches of India and Bhutan”, “how will I live differently in light of what I have experienced”, and “what lesson does the persecuted church teach us in how to follow Jesus more faithfully”?

We have been reflecting on a quote that I am not even sure of its origin, but it says: “We don’t learn from our experiences, we learn from reflecting on our experiences.” When we arrive back to the Wichita airport at 1:40pm on Thursday afternoon we will not yet be greeted by our family and friends. Instead we will head straight off to a retreat center in north Wichita to stay overnight in order for our whole team to have the chance to reflect, rest and apply what God is saying to us. We will arrive to Northridge Friends at 1:30pm on Friday afternoon for our official release and goodbye from Saltshaker 2017. 

God has been very good to us all along the way and has blessed this team tremendously with great health overall, willing spirits and so many life and spiritual lessons learned. Please pray with us especially in the next 30 hours that we would be attentive to God’s spirit and leadings even while being tired and jet lagged in order to reflect on our experiences and respond accordingly. In many ways this next phase is the most important part of the whole trip. 

 Thanks for all your faithful prayers and support. 

Adam Monaghan

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #13

posted on July 6th, 2017


We landed in Kolkata around 4 in the afternoon on Tuesday where we were eventually greeted by D.K. and Choity. From there we drove to Seva Kendra (our Catholic mission guest house) and dropped off our bags before going to dinner. We drove across town and went to a really nice restaurant. D.K. said that it was authentic Bengali food. I thought it was really good!!!

At dinner we had an impromptu “program” right in the middle of the restaurant that included us giving testimony speeches and performing Boom Chicka Boom, of course. Many of the youth came as well as the EFM Kolkata team. Many speeches were given about how the trip had influenced the team and the youth. They all were very touching and inspiring to hear. Our main course was made up of chicken, fried potatoes, egg plant, fish, and of course rice and lentil soup. For dessert we had a cake that Alec got to cut with a “sword”, celebrating his baptism. Following the food, we took lots of pictures with the group so we can remember it forever!

Wednesday morning we woke up and had breakfast and devotions at Seva Kendra, where we started the debriefing and processing phase of our trip, according to Adam. We were then picked up by the bus and we loaded everything into it before heading out to visit a few of the important sites of Calcutta with Choity. We went to see Mother Theresa’s Home for the Dying. It was placed right next to one of the most popular Hindu temples to the Goddess of destruction, which we also visited. It was crazy to see the contrast between the two places. Afterwards, we went to the Ganges River and got to see the bridge that runs over it. We went to the Queen Victoria Memorial and then the St. Paul’s Cathedral. I really enjoyed getting to see the architecture and learn about the history of the sites. Our last spot was the Ganges River where the Hindus immerse themselves for a ritual pilgrimage believing it to be holy water. After that we grabbed some pizza at Dominos which was a nice “slice” of home (see what I did there).

We drove to the EFM Kolkata office and shared in a time of worship and sharing our testimonies of what the trip meant for us. It was a very emotional time and many of us were in tears. We had more cake and gave them our gifts. They were very kind and gave each of us a mug with our name on it and a picture of the EFM Kolkata team. They are amazing people and we will miss them so much!

We drove to the airport where we said our goodbyes to D.K., Choity, and Manti. I think I speak for the whole team when I say that they have become family to us and we will miss them dearly. We checked in and we are now flying over somewhere in India. We have a long day of traveling ahead of us, so please pray that we make it safely with little complications.

This has been an amazing trip and I have been so blessed by it! It has no doubt been a life changing experience and I have left a piece of my heart both in India and Bhutan. Thank you so much for all the prayers and support!

Bailey Pohlman
Northridge Friends Church

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #12

posted on July 6th, 2017

July 3-4

First off, being in Bhutan the past couple days has been one of the greatest honors of my life.  The entire Tamang family has been so inspiring and challenging to me in their example of ministry.  Bhutan truly has been a blessing to me.  I have loved seeing the beauty and breathing in the clean, fresh air.  I love the mountains and they reminded me of my Colorado mountains, which was definitely needed.  The Lord had been so challenging and good these past couple of days.

Today we started off the day early with breakfast and devotions. We then met up with all the youth of the Bhutan churches and headed deeper into the mountains for a hike.  We had about a 2 hour bus drive to reach the hiking destination and the entire trip was filled with tons of laughter and songs.  We all really enjoyed getting to know the youth and being able to talk to each of them directly, as most of them spoke English fairly well.

The entire hike took a little under 4 hours. All four of us girls rode horses about half way up.  The boys went the whole way on foot.  It was a super fun and exciting experience for all of us.  At the top of the mountain, after about a zillion flights of stairs, we reached a beautiful monastery called Tiger’s Nest which was set into the side of the mountain.  The views from it included the Bhutan mountain range and a lovely waterfall.  After the hike, we ate a picnic lunch of chicken curry and white rice with the whole crew.  We all really enjoyed the extra fellowship time we had with the youth.

We then drove straight to Thimphu Friends Church for an exciting celebration of the youth of the church.  We got to witness many graduations from the Sunday School discipleship program and I was able to give a brief message to the children about Sunday School’s (and Christian education/discipleship) importance.  It was so encouraging to see the joy on the faces of the entire church, as well as, the significance they place of raising the youth of the church up as warriors.  On that subject, the pastor of one of the churches in the slums was 19, which I find absolutely amazing and challenging for all of us.  We also had the opportunity to share some songs and a skit about the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  To top it all off, the program finished with a fun “fashion” show in which we each escorted the kids down the aisle while dancing and waving.  Dinner was the served, which was extremely good, although some interesting salad made me cry a little bit due to it’s spiciness.  Adam called it “suffering for the Lord”. And then after I had already finished it Adam mentioned I didn’t have to eat it if it this time if it made me cry, but it was too late.

On Monday we had a devotion time in which we had the pleasure of affirming and praying for David Tamang.  We spent the rest of the morning at the Tamang’s house.  There we had the amazing opportunity to hear the story of Rupak’s calling story and also the story of their family’s meeting with the King of Bhutan.  Saying goodbye to such a wonderful, Godly family was hard, but their lasting legacy and work is so exciting.  We are truly a man short without David and we will all miss him dearly.  Please continue to pray for them and the mission field in Bhutan as they seek to plant 108 churches before 2020.

We then headed back to Paro for our flight.  Before we got to the airport we had a chance to do a little shopping and eat lunch, which by the way there were these little baby potatoes and they were delicious. We then said goodbye to the Tamangs (so hard!) and went into the airport. We all got some coffee there, and FYI, it was not good, but you probably didn’t need to know that.  Anyway, we then boarded our flight back to Kolkata, which went smoothly.

The past two days were packed full of so many wonderful adventures, each proclaiming more and more of God’s majesty.

Lynnelle Bogan
Bethel Friends Church

 

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #10

posted on July 4th, 2017

July 1

This morning we woke up and had our morning devotion like every morning but this morning it was especially needed. We were reminded that our strength comes from the Joy of the Lord, that He is calling us into a life of deep intimacy with him in every moment. We reflected on what those things were that the Lord was calling us into, when we were ready we responded with yes Lord. This reminder was needed and a great way to start our day, with open hands ready to receive whatever the Lord had for us that day. 

After our devotional time we went straight to the morning session for the conference. We started off with some songs and fun, introducing them to the gospel of Boom chicka Boom. It was a lot of fun and we laughed a lot. After that I taught from Mark 10 and the story of The Young Rich Ruler and how my life has been much like this story where the Lord has asked of me to let go of things that I held onto so tightly in order to step into the Kingdom of God. I walked them through a practice of visualizing those things they too were holding onto or finding their identity in and then releasing them in order to have open hands to receive what God was calling them into. The Lord was faithful in empowering me with his strength in my weakness in preaching in order for his light to shine through me. I was definitely reminded that in my weakness the Lord is made strong. Hallie and Zack both shared their testimonies with boldness and vulnerability. I was so proud of them both for allowing the Lord to use them. After that the revival was concluded and I have to say that it was one of my greatest joys and honors to be a part of what the Lord is doing through the young people here in Bhutan. The Tamang family is very passionate about growing and empowering young leaders. It was energizing to see church leaders that are passionate about the things that stir my passions for the Lord. God is at work in and through their family and churches. 

After lunch we headed to Wangdue, all we knew was the name of where we were going and nothing else. We thought we were going sight seeing because by law we have to go at least once a day to be in Bhutan. We drove through some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen, crossed many rushing rivers and was pleasantly surprised when we pulled off to the side of the road in what looked like a saw mill. We walked down a very narrow and steep mountainside to get to a small village church. We were accompanied by some of the youth from the revival. The congregation at this church was made up of many women and their children, they seemed hopeful and full of light. After the service they served us a very traditional Bhutanese meal that was by far the hardest thing the team has had to eat. The meal consisted of rice, dried pork fat, and what they called “pickles.” I love pickles so I took quite a lot however we soon found out that their pickles were actually peppers, the hottest peppers I have ever eaten and I would argue the hottest peppers in the whole world. The team ate as much as we could in order to receive the women’s hospitality but it was very difficult. 

After the service we walked back up the mountain to our vehicles where all of the girls road on one van that David (our Bhutanese teammate) drove. Much laughter took place in the van as we made the journey back to Thimphu. I was privileged enough to ride shotgun with David where we had a really great conversation, talking about his view of the trip so far as well as our shared love for X-Men. With the windows down and fresh air in our lungs we talked about the idea of finding the divine in the mundane and how we can seek to find God in the small things and in His whisper. The conversation and drive was energizing and refreshing. David has been such a blessing to our team and ministry. 

We arrived back at the hotel where we had dinner and debriefed our day. We spent time trying to see the day through each other’s eyes. We lived the same day but experienced it so differently. For me today was so good, such a peaceful day. I couldn’t think of a single moment that I didn’t feel the Lord near me, whispering his grace and placing his goodness before me. My heart beats faster here in Bhutan. Being able to see the Church, the heart behind it, and simply breathe in the Lord’s goodness has been a great honor and privilege. Friends, the Bhutanese church is thriving, passionate, and full of hope. Please pray that their spirits would continue, that the Lord would continue to shine His light here. For the leaders please pray that they would know their labor is not in vain, that they are making a mighty impact for The Kingdom of God. Thank you for your faithful prayers. The team is feeling strong and loving every moment of being in Bhutan. 

Peace,

Jenna Easley

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #11

posted on July 4th, 2017

July 2 

Today we woke up a little earlier so that we could go see the biggest Buddha in the world before church. Seeing the giant statue of the Buddha was crazy, but it broke my heart seeing people worship a statue, rather than the real true God. 

We then went to our first church service at the “Mother” church of Bhutan, Thimphu Friends Church. Here we each did an introduction and said a brief word to try and help build them up in their faith. 

After visiting our first church of the day we went straight to a church in the slums full of Indian refugees. When we arrived, there was Sunday school going on, so we spent time with the kids, prayed for them, and played with them. After we ate lunch, siting on the floor of the church eating with our hands, of course. But right after lunch I attend a smallbaptism class hosted by Rupac and Adam. I attended  because 5 Bhutanese youth and I were about to be baptized in the Thimphu River. I wanted to be baptized because I was ready to show that I am all God’s, that I’m ready and willing to be used in any and every way, and that I was ready for the next step in my faith. I had felt called to be baptized when Rupac had mentioned that some of their youth was going to be baptized (and I had been thinking about it for a while back at home too). So I talked to Adam and my parents, and I got to be baptized! To get to the river we had to take a fairly long walk. We walked through mud, trash, and over barbed wire to get there. Once we got there me, Adam, and Rupak got in the freezing mountain water and I was baptized by Adam. And seeing the other youth baptized by Rupac with Adam’s help brought joy to my heart because that’s 5 more people that are now publicly known as Christians. 

After the baptism we attended the church service. We had a brief time for introductions and short messages because we had a small service project to get done after. 

For the service project, we painted the inside of the church and helped begin to build onto the church because the building was too small for the amount that attended, which is a very good problem to have, and it makes me very happy to see a church so full that people are sitting outside the door. We served hand in hand and side by side with the Bhutanese youth in this service project working on this church in the middle of a slum. It was an amazing opportunity. 

After we finished the project we all left for a youth basketball tournament. Some of the youth and the Saltshakers all played together and had very much fun. 

Today was a fantastic and beautiful day. The Lord’s presence was very apparent today and it was wonderful. Thank you all for the support in prayer! 

-Alec Schenck 

Northridge Friends Church 

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #9

posted on July 4th, 2017

June 30

After making the rigorous 4 hour journey by every form of transportation that exists back from Bali Island, we finally arrived in Kolkata around supper time. From there, we took some taxis and headed to a mall. The traffic was especially crazy that night because even though the mall was not far from the train station, it took us about 45 minutes (maybe 3 miles at the most). 

When we got to the mall, I was in shock. This mall was huge and very, very fancy. They had a beautiful fountain in the middle with lights and everyone was taking pictures in front of it. There were also a lot of fancy stores. It was extremely different from what we had normally been seeing in India. We then proceeded upstairs to eat at a Chili’s. We were all very excited to get to eat some familiar food. It was not the same as it is in America, but it was still really good. Zack and I ordered so much food that we couldn’t even finish it all (and for the first time since we arrived that was okay). Adam predicted, that because we got so much food, that either Zack or I would be up at 2 in the morning throwing up. Luckily, neither of us did. We slept great. 

The next morning, we had to get up early and head to the airport because we were flying out to Bhutan. When we were checking into our flight, we had to check our carry on bags because the plane was quite small. For some reason, they told us we had to take out any power banks or battery-powered devices from those bags. Zack and Jenna did not do this, so they had to be taken into a private room. We didn’t know how long they were going to be gone, so we ordered some breakfast. Then after about 20 minutes, they came back out and we proceeded through security. Thankfully, everything went fine and we were able to get into our plane. Our plane reminded me of the plane from Jurassic Park. This flight was very short; but nevertheless, they fed us. 

When we finally arrived in Bhutan, I was amazed at how beautiful it was. They had lush, green mountains, and rivers, and trees. It looks a lot like the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The air was cool, and it was not crowded with people. It was a very nice break from the heat and busyness of Kolkata. We had an hour drive from the airport to our hotel in Thimphu. As soon as we arrived, we ate lunch quickly and then went upstairs to a youth conference hosted by the Bhutan Friends Church. The theme verse for this meeting was Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine for your light has come. Let the glory of the Lord shine upon you.” During the time we spent at this meeting, we sang songs, gave testimonies, played games, and encouraged the youth in their faith by our team preaching lots of messages. It was a very interesting youth conference. When we first entered, we got to wear the national dress clothes of Bhutan. They were not very comfortable and they were quite hot, but it was so neat to be able to do that. Also, when we entered the room, all the windows were shut and the blinds were closed. We had to be very secretive about what we were doing. Rupak told the youth not to post any pictures on Facebook until we left and to not answer anyone’s questions about what we were doing. This made us realize the challenges of practicing your Christian faith in a “closed” country. Please pray for Bhutan to be open to the gospel. I felt very blessed from this as well, and I could feel God moving in this place. We then proceeded to eat supper and socialized with the youth. I enjoyed this because most of them could speak English very well, so we could have real, meaningful conversations.

After eating supper, we went sightseeing. By this time, it was dark. We drove up a mountain, and when you looked down, you could see the whole city. It was such a beautiful view. I could have sat there for hours just looking at everything. We took pictures, but they did not do it justice. Bhutan is such a fascinating and breathtaking country.

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to come on this trip and visit both the countries of India and Bhutan. I have gotten to see the work of God firsthand, and it is so amazing. These people truly have a heart and soul and love for Jesus. I am constantly amazed by their faithfulness and willingness to do God’s will. I want to thank my family, friends, and Bethel Friends Church for all the support and prayers. I am truly honored. God bless you all!

-Mark Persinger 

Bethel Friends Church

Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #8

posted on July 1st, 2017

Friday morning we woke up super early in Kolkata to go to the airport to catch our international flight. The flight was short and had a windy, bumpy landing on the short mountain runway. We arrived at our destination and traveled an hour from the airport to the capital city and checked into the hotel where the youth meeting is also being held. 

At the request of our missionary pastor host both to us and the nationals here that are a part of the conference we will wait until July 4th after we return to India to post our daily updates. We will still write them daily but just not send them to be posted until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest. 

The Saltshaker team is all heathy and well and learning a ton about what God is doing here and the vision of EFC/EFM. We are all grateful for the cool, dry mountain air and the incredible mountain beauty of this country. Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support for our work here. We are very excited for our 5 full days we have left before our return. 

-Adam Monaghan