Monday, December 31, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 7

Meet Ariel and Luis!

Since I don't have separate pictures of these guys, I would like to introduce you to them together.

They are both from the small high-jungle town of Shell. When Ariel shares about his call to missions, he shares the story of Nate Saint, whose story you might be familiar with from the move End of the Spear. Those five missionaries were based out of the town of Shell as they ministered to the Waodani indigenous people, who ultimately killed them.

One of Ariel's strengths is charisma (or Woo, as it is called in English in the Gallup StrengthsFinder themes), and it is very notable from the first time you start talking to him. He is charismatic, confidant, and friendly, and so passionate for the Lord.

Ariel and Luis have both worked in indigenous villages to plant churches. When Luis shares of this experience, his flexibility in all circumstances comes through when he speaks of eating bugs and sleeping on the ground when necessary. Luis is so laid back, and loves people so much that he wants to take the gospel to them.

Pray for Ariel and Luis as they continue to raise funds in order to be deployed in January with the Ambato team.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 6

Meet Nikol!

Nikol Calderón is from Riobamba, Ecuador and is excited to put aside her studies for the next two years to become a part of a church planting team. We are excited to see her thrive in the church plant as she is a vivacious fun young lady with a passion for missions.

The inspiration for Nikol's call to missions comes from a song by Jesús Adrian Romero, which says, "You don't have to look for anyone else, I want to go.  Here is my time, here are my hours, here I am."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 5

Meet Nancy!

Nancy Ojeda hails from Riobamba, Ecuador and is passionate about getting on the field to start church planting. She is such a blast to be with and knows how to hold her own with sarcasm. Nancy has already finished her fundraising and will deploy in January and be part of the team planting a church in Ambato. 

She shares, "I can't imagine my life not doing His will.  I understand that when the Lord calls you He also backs you up.  I'm leaving behind all that I am for cause of God's love because, He loved me first.  My best decision is Christ."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 4

US Mobilization Team

These churches were planted, built, and have been covered in prayer because of the Mobilization team.

What if we could train and deploy every person in the world who is called and able to serve? What if there was an avenue in which we could disciple all nations to Jesus Christ? What if the Church remembered that to be mission-minded is not enough, and that we must focus on mobilizing the called to win the world for Christ.

Often times we forget that the most important link between the called and the field is mobilization. I am here because I met members of the Mobilization Team on campus of Southern Nazarene University in 2009. Everyone on the field works with a mobilizer who helps them find the way God has uniquely equipped them to serve.

But the Mobilization team has an extremely tough job! So join me in prayer for them today, that god would encourage their spirits and lead them to the people he has called.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 3

The Cercado Team

Arequipa, Peru is a city close to my heart, since I lived there for nine months during my time of 40/40 training. It is a beautiful city of about one million people, considered to be "The Land of Eternal Spring."

But Arequipa is a tough city to do ministry in, since it is located in the Andes mountains where people are generally not very receptive to the gospel.

But my friends in one of the very first church plants of XSA are planting a church in the urban center of Arequipa, the district known as Cercado.

Please pray for the members of this team:
Chris and Anndee Stringer and their daughters, Cluster Coordinators
40/40s Sheena Green, Brenda Portocarrera, Jessica Strickland, Kelsey Halterman, Mike Wheatley, Heyner Rustafo, Ray Bezjak, Sammy Martinez, Megan Schimmer, and Elisabeth Nuñez.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 2

SAM Mobilization Team

For the first time, Extreme Nazarene has a mobilization team for South America, seeking and deploying national missionaries into an Extreme expansion of God's kingdom.

This team currently includes myself, and Trevor Allen. We have both worked as 40/40s in Peru, planting churches in Cusco, and Puno.

Now, we find ourselves in Quito, Ecuador, seeking out 40/40s to send to four cities of Ecuador, and mobilizing local churches to send them. After six months, we will move to Chile to do the same thing there.

We are also seeking another member (or two) to join us in this mission in South America.

God is doing amazing things and blessing us greatly!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twelve Days: Day 1

What is Extreme Nazarene Ministries?

The purpose of Extreme is to seek and deploy people into an Extreme global Expansion of God's kingdom by prayerfully and thoughtfully engaging the specific talents, skills, experience and resources God gave them and to further develop them into full-time constructors of the Kingdom.

Extreme began in 2005 in the Ukraine with just one long-term staff person and 113 short-term volunteers. Projects have taken place over the last seven years in Ukraine, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay.

The newest project of Extreme is called "Extreme South America," a five-year project during which we will plant 16 churches in urban cities of South America, in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and more, using the 40/40 model and the Master's Plan strategy.

The two goals of the project are to:
1) Plant self-funded, self-replicating and self-governing churches
2) Develop 40/40™ Missionaries for Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth

Join us in prayer for Extreme and this huge vision God has given us!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas Introduction

Having been thoroughly informed on the Twelve Days of Christmas from a Wikipedia article (insert tongue in cheek), I now feel I can pass my knowledge on to the blogosphere!

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day and continuing through the Day of Epiphany on January 6th. The traditions of the twelve days vary in the different Christian churches and regions of the world.

Well, I want to create my own Twelve Days of Christmas, commemorating the work of Extreme in South America and sharing about the newest members of the Extreme team--the Ecuadorian 40/40s. This is most of all a call to prayer for what God is already doing in South America.

So make sure to check back during the Twelve Days of Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 Year In Review

New Year 2010
New Year 2011
This year, I was going to skip my now-traditional year-in-review post. I felt like there wasn't that much to talk about, or not that much to reflect on. But then I started looking back on past blog posts, and I LOVED reading those posts from 2011 and 2010.

So, I don't want to miss this opportunity to review twenty-twelve, the year the world was supposed to end. But I will have to really rack my brain, because I have been a lazy blogger this year, and the only old journal I have in Quito only goes back to April of this year!

Here goes...

January: Alex and I celebrated Christmas and the new year with our good friends in Arequipa. Work resumed in Cusco, with Kathy and I working in Lamay, Coya, and Santiago. Tyler and Amy brought a ping-pong set back from the States that can be used on any table, so we started having ping pong nights!

February: We had a short-term team of five men come and build the first ever MOBILE foam chapel out of styrofoam bricks. We continued church services. I made homemade Pop Tarts, which might qualify as one of my proudest moments of the year.

March: I started to work more in the church plant sites of Oropesa and Huaro. We painted the foam chapel, and also began preparations for handing over the church plants to local leadership. We filmed the testimonies of our contacts, which I will always cherish. The Cusco team travelled to Arequipa to do a time of debrief with the Well-Being Team.

April: Since it was the Cusco team's last month, and we had done almost all of the leadership-handover, we got to do some fun things, like visit the Chocolate Museum of Cusco, take a day trip to the nearby city of Abancay, and go on several trips for coffee in our brand-new Starbucks. We also had a goodbye service at the home church in Cusco, and said our goodbyes to our dear friends and disciples. At the end of the month, Tyler, Amy, and Alex headed to the United States, and I went to Arequipa.

May: I was able to take a couple weeks of rest in Arequipa, recovering from the hard work of being a 40/40 and preparing for the next task of helping with short-term projects. May was maybe the first time in my life I have experienced real homesickness. But then it was off to the jungles of Peru for the first time, where we did a short-term building project in Puerto Maldonado with a team of college students from Southern Nazarene University. We built two chapels and did several outreach events, and I got to hang out with a monkey and zipline across the Amazon!

June: I went back to Cusco to prepare for the short-term project, and the first two weeks of June were all about preparation: organizing transportation and setting up events. Then a team of about forty people came, and they built two chapels for the churches I helped to plant, and did countless impact events, visiting schools, hospitals, orphanages, and plazas to reach out to people in these small towns. We dedicated the churches, and I will always remember hearing the disciples say, "Now we have to fill this church!"

July and August: I went back to Cincinnati! Chipotle, Graeter's, the Reds, and time with family and friends. I spent a week with kids at camp. I also spoke a total of twenty times to various groups about what God has done and continues to do in South America. I took a road trip with my dear friends Katie and Kristen to Chicago to get my visa for Ecuador. God provided financially in amazing ways, paving the way for me to return to South America.

September: I left the USA and went to Colombia, earning a new stamp in my passport. I spent two weeks in Cali, becoming completely immersed in the church there, and growing spiritually in intense ways. At the end of the two weeks, I made my move to Ecuador, beginning my job as SAM Mobilization Manager.

October: Off and running in my new job, making new contacts, following up with candidates, receiving training with Rachel Kuhn, and getting to know Ecuador, traveling to several cities, including Santo Domingo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, and Shell. I also celebrated my twenty-third birthday.

November: With Trevor having arrived at the end of October, we were able to visit two youth camps and generate new candidates. We had our first interviews and approved the first five 40/40s. We had a big Thanksgiving celebration with many missionary families in Ecuador.

December: More interviews, more speaking, more travel, and more new candidates and new 40/40s. Completely falling in love with Ecuador! Also visiting some very special people in the States for the holidays.

I was dead wrong about not having much to say this year, and in thinking not much happened!

 God has been so wonderful to me in 2012. I can't begin to sufficiently praise him for what He has done. He has poured his love on me and allowed me to swim in oceans of mercy. He has healed my heart and restored my soul. He has continued to call me and to equip me. I thank him and praise him.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012

I am not a music critic.

          And plenty of people really don't care for the music I like.

                    Nevertheless, music is very important for me. And I like to reflect on it.

So here is my list of the best songs and albums of 2012, in alphabetical order by band:

"Wake Up" by All Sons and Daughters from Reason to Sing
  • All Sons and Daughters is one of my favorite worship bands, lifting up honest worship for the church to the Savior. This song is a call for the church to wake up, rise, and carry her cross.

"After All (Holy)" by David Crowder Band from Give Us Rest
  • The lyrics in the verses of this song are incredible. "I can't comprehend your infinitely beautiful and perfect love. Oh, I've dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars, but they're never bright enough."
"Skyline Hill" by Jenny and Tyler from Open Your Doors

"I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons from Babel

"Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men from My Head Is An Animal

"Build Your Kingdom Here" by Rend Collective Experiment from Homemade Worship by Handmade People

"Over the Moon" by Rosie Thomas from With Love

  • One of my favorite love songs ever.
"When We Were Young" by Sucre from Minor Birds

"The Struggle" by Tenth Avenue North from The Struggle

  • This entire album is fantastic, and I actually considered doing a blog series to review it. Instead, this is me HIGHLY suggesting you support these guys and get this album. Surprisingly, based on the title, this is a hopeful album, reminding us that we are strangers here, redemption will win, there is still grace, we have freedom in Christ to struggle, and the struggle will end. I can't recommend this band or this album enough.
"Daughter" and "Will You Love Me" by The Vespers from The Fourth Wall

  • This whole album is amazing, and holds your attention with its incredible diversity. I can't even pick just one, because I love the whole album.

Honorable Mentions:

Derek Webb, Ctrl (I always love Derek Webb.)
Heath McNease, The Weight of Glory (This album is written based on the works of CS Lewis, and it is more than worth a listen. You can also download it for free legally HERE.)
Pomegranates, Heaven (I grew up with the keyboardist/singer of this band.)

And as I've done for the last couple years, I want to feature my best posts of 2012, the things you may have missed from this year:
  1. There's a Party In Heaven
  2. It's Over, But Not Really
  3. False Peaks
  4. Intense
  5. Crazy Discipleship
  6. Cost of Discipleship
  7. Twenty-Three and Restless
  8. Mobilizing Ecuador Doesn't Get Sweeter Than This 
  9. I Want Joy
  10. First Love
Thank you for being a part of my 2012. May God bless you abundantly in the coming year!

And don't forget to check back for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Extreme style, beginning December 25th! I've been working hard on this, so I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reflecting and Seeking

Another year is coming to an end.

I think Christmastime typically makes people nostalgic. I mean, at Christmas, you can listen to whatever music you want. I personally, am partial to Point of Grace's Christmas albums. Steven Curtis Chapman, too. And what would I do without Relient K's "Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer?"

You watch the same old movies you watch every year. It is a busy time of year, but I think you can be content just sitting by a fireplace sipping hot chocolate, too.

Reflection is an important part of the holiday tradition. You reminisce about years gone by, about family members who are no longer with you. And as you say goodbye to another year, you think about all the good and the bad that year has held for you.

That's what I currently find myself doing.

A friend recently told me that I seem happier now than I've ever been; and I don't disagree. I love my life. I am so thankful for every blessing I have, and so content with my circumstances.

I have this incredible job that I started in September, and I feel so extremely fulfilled. For those of you wondering what exactly I do as Mobilization Manager for South America, I will try to explain it...

My team is seeking South Americans who want to Go, Give, and Pray through Extreme Nazarene Ministries. A large portion of what we do is meet with individuals who have a passion to do something more. We sit down with them, and listen to their stories. We help them discern what God is saying to them. We listen in order to determine if they have the potential to be long term staff with Extreme, specifically 40/40 church planting missionaries. Sometimes we recommend they go short term. And we pray together.

Some of my job involves paperwork and budgets. I like the relational aspect of the job, but I'm also an organization freak. So this part is really fun for me to.

I love going out though, and visiting churches. One of my favorite things to do in North or South America is to share my passion for missions and cast the Extreme vision. And we are being met with such an incredible response in Ecuador.

I love this job. I get to live in another culture. I get to speak another language every day. I get to travel all over South America and live in several countries during these two years. I get to relate to people, young and old, who have a call from God to go, give, and pray. This is seriously the most incredible job ever!

Are you jealous of my amazing job? Well guess what? You don't have to be! We are seeking a third (and then fourth and eventually fifth!) member of the mobilization team to work with us in South America for the next two years. If you feel God calling YOU to be a mobilizer for South America and have this amazing life too, contact me at We REALLY need another mobilizer, and I believe God is already calling someone to be a part of this team.

So, enjoy this Advent season. Make a fire. Drink some hot chocolate. Consider the amazing gift of Emmanuel. And take time to reflect on this year. Above all, be thankful.

May our Lord Jesus Christ fill you with joy in his presence.

**Keep an eye out for the SAM Mobilization version of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" later this month, where I am going to introduce you to our Ecuadorian 40/40s, and share how you can pray for Extreme.**