Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Is it possible that time moves faster in the Southern Hemisphere? Because as I reflect on each year for my now-traditional end-of-the-year post, I find myself ruminating on how quickly the year has passed, as if I am traveling at warp speed. This can’t be unique to me, but is perhaps a phenomenon of the type of life I lead. I know that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will, and I am living in the truth of that promise.

This year, instead of going month-by-month through the year, I have chosen my top ten moments from this year to revisit with you and give you a peak into 2013.

10. Home Assignment in the States
Nothing compares to fall: leaves changing, briskness in the air, pumpkin spice in every cup, scarves and hats making their appearance (for those who don’t wear scarves year-round, as I do). It is purely magical, though all of these elements have been absent from my life the previous three years in South America. So to spend September and October in the US of A this year was a pure joy for me. I visited many churches, and spent time with many special people.

9. Getting To Know Ecuador
At the beginning of 2013, I returned to Ecuador to continue mobilizing 40/40s for four months. During that time, as new Extremies came to live in Quito, I was able to get out a little more and see the sites. Ecuador is a beautiful country, wih such diversity that only our Creator can be given the credit. So as I traveled around for work, and a few times for fun, it has been such a blessing to serve the Lord in Ecuador.

8. Revisiting Peru
For those of you who have been following my blog (or life) for some time now, you know that my first missionary assignment was to Peru as a 40/40 church planter, beginning in 2010. When I left in June of last year, I really didn’t know when I’d ever go back. But the opportunity arose to join the short-term project team in May-July, and return to the country I hold so dear. And going back was wonderful! Familiar faces, fantastic food! It was a blast!

7. Visiting the Equator (and checking it off my bucket list)
My boss and his family came to town, and while in Quito, we set off for the Middle of the World! An item on my bucket list was to straddle the

Equator, and I did!

6. Alex and Beth’s Wedding/Katie and Daniel’s Wedding
I am at the age where it seems like all my friends have been getting married. While in the States this year, some of my dearest friends were married, and I was able to share in their joy as a bridesmaid in both weddings. Alex and Beth met in Peru, and I lived with both of them. Their wedding was extra special as it proved to be a reunion for many of us who were in Peru together! Katie has been one of my best friends since high school, and I remember when she started dating her now-husband, Daniel. I could not be happier for these two couples!

5. May Short-Term Project With the College Team
After arriving in Peru, I was privileged to get to work with a team of almost twenty students from Olivet, Trevecca, and Midamerica for two weeks. They were such an awesome team, and they worked their rear-ends off to reach Arequipa through flash mobs, prayer, English classes, soccer, culture fairs, and so much more! I made such good friends while we ministered together. 

4. Meeting My Soon-To-Be-In-Laws
The Wheatley Family was so kind to receive me around the new year at their home, and I loved spending time with them for the first time! They introduced me to Washington, the beautiful mountains, elk-deer, and shared so much love with me during my week with them. 

3. Deployment of and Beginnings for the Ambato Team
As a mobilizer, my very first 40/40s deployed in January to begin their training, and shortly after, began their ministry in Ambato, Ecuador. In a way, they felt like my very own kids that I was sending off to change the world. And they certainly are making an incredible difference for the kingdom of God! They've already had to knock down walls to make the church bigger, and after just seven months, have an attendance of three digits! I could not be prouder of this team!

2. Spending Time With My Almost-Husband
Yes, the news is finally out! In February, I will marry the wonderful Mike Wheatley. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man. We rang in the year 2013 together, worked alongside each other in Peru, got engaged, and will finish the year together too. I have to admit, actually being able to be in the same room as this guy was one of the highlights of the year, as we have spent the majority of the three years we've known each other in different countries. I must thank God for bringing us together. 

1. Love Extreme Mega-Event and Project 
82 Short-Term Volunteers from across the United States (and one Colombian!). 20 Days. 7 TV interviews. 60 radio spots. 1000 posters. 30,000 flyers. 1,143 people in attendance for the Mega Event. 150 people giving their lives to Jesus Christ. Nothing compared to that moment. Countless hours had be spent preparing for it. But God received all the glory for the amazing work He did in the city of Arequipa. The effects of that moment are still being felt in that beautiful city and in the Open Door Church of the Nazarene. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Music of 2013

I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about and studying the Gallup Organization's StrengthFinder. For those of you who aren't familiar, Donald Clifton developed what we know as 34 themes of talent based on research about humanity's universal strengths and talents. This year I received coaching, then training, and then began coaching others.

My number one theme of talent is called Input, which essentially means that I collect things or information, hoping they will eventually be useful to others. I think it is because of that strength that I so enjoy sharing my favorite music from the year.

So without further ado, here are my favorite albums of 2013.


1. Zion by Hillsong United
The song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" is easily my favorite worship song this year, and though I haven't spent much time in the US this year, it seems to have gained a lot of popularity in general, maybe for the lyric, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me."

2. The Lone Bellow by The Lone Bellow
My most played album of 2013. This band really broke out this year, and with good reason.

3. I Was Worng, I'm Sorry, and I Love You by Derek Webb
Derek Webb apologizes. This album is what he would say to the Church.

4. Burning Lights by Chris Tomlin
Chris Tomlin is Earth's Most-Sung Music Artist. And this album is certainly singalong-worthy. 

5. The Civil Wars by The Civil Wars
Though not as strong as their first album, and released after the announcement of the duo's breakup, they still deliver a fantastic album. And if you listen closely, you might discover why they ended it. 
6. Volume Three by She & Him
Everybody likes Zooey Deschanel. And M. Ward is pretty great too.

7. Home by Kim Walker-Smith and Skyler Smith
This husband-and-wife offering is a short album of beautiful worship music. "Unstoppable Love" should not be missed. 

8. Meet Me At The Edge of the World by Over The Rhine
Cincinnati's own released another fantastic folk album this year. Of course they did, since they practically invented the folk music that has gained so much popularity in recent years. 

9. Evening & Morning by The Digital Age
The David Crowder Band without David Crowder. And this music is so good, it seems like they don't even miss him.
10. I Am Mountain by Gungor
I am a huge Gungor fan, and though this album is excellent, it was so different from their previous album, Ghosts Upon The Earth, that at first I didn't care for it. Though I didn't enter into worship the way I have with their past albums, what they did create is art, and definitely worth taking notice of. 

Honorable Mentions:

Night Visions by Imagine Dragons

Fiction Family Reunion by Fiction Family

For Freedom: A Covers EP by Jenny & Tyler
--Proceeds from the sales of this album go to fight human trafficking, so I can't recommend it enough.

Skin and Bones by Kel
--I heard Kel opening for Tenth Avenue North in a high school parking lot, which turned out to be her alma mater. Though she is young, this is an excellent album that I can just keep going back to. 

If You Leave by Daughter

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Partners in Marriage and Ministry

"And since the Bible does not define 'femininity/womanhood' or 'masculinity/manhood,' we should avoid dogmatism, stereotyping, and the making of restrictive lists in these area also." -Ronald W. Pierce, Partners in Marriage and Ministry

It may be surprising for many to discover that manhood and womanhood are not defined in the Bible. After all, we know many passages that speak directly about marriage and women in ministry. In Partners in Marriage and Ministry: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality, Ronald W. Pierce unpacks the most infamous biblical passages on these subjects, and the results may surprise some.

Beginning with the creation account, we begin to see that God's design for the sexes is mutuality, a plan the was disrupted by the Fall. But humanity's disobedience has never changed God's heart. In exegeting chapters such as 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 2, he really digs in to the cultural context, audience, and true intentions of the texts, further revealing God's desire for gender mutuality. Though at times theological, he brings his points to application with "Principles for Today" chapters at the end of every new topic.

In closing, Pierce states, "Mutual partnership was present in God's design of men and women when humanity was first formed. Moreover, it continues to stand at the very center of the gospel message of Jesus Christ." I agree completely, and Partners in Marriage and Ministry is an excellent resource to further understanding about biblical equality.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Upon hearing last night of Nelson Mandela's passing, I wanted to reflect on his life and legacy. The easiest way for me to do that was to watch the movie Invictus, which centers on the South African rugby team's quest to win the world cup during Mandela's first term as president, thereby seeking reconciliation in the process.

The part of the film I have been reflecting on ever since is a scene the night before the World Cup Final. Matt Damon's character, the captain of the Springboks, is asked what he is thinking about, and he says something like, "Thinking about how you can spend thirty years in a cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there."

Mandela's life flows with forgiveness and grace. It's the kind of forgiveness that makes no sense in our world. Approached from  a "survival of the fittest" standpoint, this forgiveness makes no sense. Seen through the eyes of any modern philosophy, that forgiveness is still incomprehensible.

This forgiveness leads me to reflect on the cross, where Jesus Christ gave his life so that humanity could be reconciled to the Heavenly Father. And then he called his followers to forgive the way they have been forgiven:  "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." He sets the example for grace that can only be a reflection of the grace that has already flowed from his hands. 


Mandela spent nearly thirty years in prison for his political activism. In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela says, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks

I am thankful for where I am.
I am thankful for where I am going.
And I am thankful for my precious Savior who leads me every step of the way.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A General Rule

Photo by Corey Stevens
"A general rule for the good use of time is to accustom oneself to live in a continual dependence on the Spirit of God, receiving from moment to moment whatever it pleases to give us, referring to him at once in the doubts which we necessarily run into, turning to him in the weakness into which goodness slips from exhaustion, calling on him and lifting oneself to him, when the heart, swept away by material things, sees itself led imperceptibly off the path and finds itself forgetting and drifting away from God."  ~Francois Féneton

I have run into doubts. 
I have discovered anew my own weakness.
I have slipped into exhaustion from all my efforts. 

So I must call on Him. 
I must lift myself to Him. 
I must find my strength in Him. 
I must pray the prayer of that Father, pleading with Jesus to help his son, "I believe; help my unbelief!" 
I must surrender to Him. 
I must lay down my burdens. 

I must expect a miracle. 

Please pray for me, and pray for the mobilization of Ecuador as we seek five 40/40 church planters to begin a church in the coastal city of Manta.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Encouragement and a Challenge

It was an absolute joy for me to be home and visit so many churches, sharing the passion that God has given me for discipleship. Every week, my desire and prayer was to bring with me both encouragement and a challenge.

The encouragement I long to instill is drawn from the incredible things God is doing in South America. Extreme’s Cercado team has a brand new church building of their own in Arequipa, Peru, and is continuing to see growth from the Love Extreme event and beyond. As the missionaries step out of leadership and prepare to leave, local leadership is stepping up to take on their roles, and flourishing. Additionally, Extreme’s team in Ambato, Ecuador is seeing tremendous growth in both attendance and individuals in leadership training.

Can I say it again? God is doing incredible things in South America!

Furthermore, the challenge I long to bring is this: God has called every believer to live out his or her faith in action. It is not enough to just send others into the disciple-making business; every believer should be fulfilling Christ’s mandate to, “As you are going, make disciples of all nations.”  Discipleship is not an easy call, but Jesus Christ is worth it all every single day.

For those who cannot go plant churches in South America for two years (or more), there is still the necessity to be obedient. No matter what it is that God may call us to do, the best thing is to say yes!

An eleven-year-old girl asked me in my very last speaking engagement if what I do is fun. And I can say in complete honesty that doing the work God called me to do is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life! I am incredibly blessed, even on the days it is hard. Even on the days I am pleading with God to yield the fruit of my work, I am blessed.

God is still calling me. And the God who called is able to provide for all my needs. When He called me to go, He called others to send me. So even though I have not reached my fundraising goal, I know He is still calling others to send me. Please consider joining my support team as God may be calling you. If you would like more information, contact me at cstevens@extremenazarene.org.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four Boxes

Since the Love Extreme mega-event in Arequipa, Peru, I haven't been able to get Romans 10:14-15 out of my head: 

"But how can they call to him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out? As the scripture says, 'How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news!'"

Following the mega-event where over 100 people committed their lives to Christ, our leader, Pastor Brian, shared the vision of why and how Extreme operates. 

There was a stage divided into four boxes. On the first box stood the local leaders in the Cercado church, which has been planted in the last two years by 40/40 missionaries. Two years ago, these individuals did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. They were not a part of any church, and the Cercado church did not exist. Now, they are leaders of small group Bible studies, making disciples. But how did they get to where they are now?

In the second box stand the 40/40 church planters--North Americans and Peruvians sent out in pairs, just like in Luke 10. Their job is to proclaim the gospel, and make disciples. They led the leaders in the first box to know Jesus, and taught them in Discipleship and Leadership School. But how did they step into this role?

They were sent, by the mobilizers who take their place in the third box. This is where I stand. The church leaders cannot believe unless they hear the message. And the 40/40s can't preach the message unless they are sent. The Mobilization team in North and South America alike send the workers. 

But there is a fourth box. In in, the church must rise up to send and support financially. Without financial partners, there are no missionaries on the field and there are no disciples making disciples. 

So this update from me comes to you from my home continent, and it is not a typical update. Instead, it is a call to action. Will you step into this fourth box? 

If you are one of the people God is calling to send this worker into the harvest field, donations can be made by visiting extremenazarene.org/stevens. If you have questions about other ways to give, please contact me at cstevens@extremenazarene.org

Note about fundraising: The funds that are donated to me go directly into my Extreme account. I then request the funds I need on a monthly basis. Therefore, the money given to support me goes to my rent, utilities, food, transportation, airfare, etc. If I do not have 100% of the required funds pledged, I am prohibited from returning to the field until I meet my minimum funds goal. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Literal Cost

"But how can they call to Him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out?" - Romans 10:14-15a
While the work of mobilizing South Americans into extreme kingdom expansion marches on in Ecuador, I find myself focusing on another challenge--another call. 

Back in my native Ohio, where the leaves have barely begun to change and the fall nip is just finding its way into the air, I have a mission. I am sharing in churches across Southwestern Ohio about the work the Lord is up to in South America, and how He is using Extreme Nazarene Ministries to bring His kingdom to earth. 

And in makes me excited. 

Yes, the words "enthusiastic," "bubbly," "contagious," and "effervescent" will likely be used to describe me when I share my passion with many groups here in these weeks of home assignment. I just can't help it. I love my job. I love the call God has placed on my life. 

However, I want to bring a challenge with me as well. I want to see congregations in my home country step up into the radical obedience that discipleship demands of Followers of Jesus Christ. So I hope to be a part of the Holy Spirit's work as He afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. 

But I have a side mission, one I know my Savior is already taking care of. I love to talk about discipleship, and the cost of discipleship, in a figurative sense. But this call carries a literal aspect as well.

I need to raise funds to be able to return to the field, and head back to Ecuador to finish the work I started a year ago of deploying 40/40s to four cities in Ecuador to make disciples (who make disciples who make disciples). 

I am making a three year commitment to continue with Extreme Nazarene in South America. But this call--that has evolved into a commitment--requires economic support. 

And as ever, I cannot do it alone.

I am seeking forty individuals, families, or small groups to give $50 monthly for the next three years. I believe God has already called the chosen, and I am simply waiting for them/you to say yes to this call. (If God lays another quantity on your heart, by all means, pledge that amount!) But here is my challenge to you: DON'T give within your means. Give until you have to rely on the Holy Spirit to come through for you. Trust until you place total and utter dependence on God to accomplish what seems impossible. 

I am saying "Yes," because I have already counted the cost, and He is worth it all. 

Please, pray, seek the Lord's will, and then, SAY YES. 

If you are one of the people God is calling to send this worker into the harvest field, donations can be made by visiting extremenazarene.org/stevens. If you have questions about other ways to give, please contact me at cstevens@extremenazarene.org

Note about fundraising: The funds that are donated to me go directly into my Extreme account. I then request the funds I need on a monthly basis. Therefore, the money given to support me goes to my rent, utilities, food, transportation, airfare, etc. If I do not have 100% of the required funds pledged, I am prohibited from returning to the field until I meet my minimum funds goal. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Okay, really, who starts crying while singing, "Le llaman Guerrero. Le llaman Guerro, Señor de los Ejercitos??"(Seriously, listen to the song. It is not a slow and emotional song.) I can't explain it, except to say that Jesus Christ overwhelmed me.

This song that we sang in church this morning is about the Lord fighting for the Israelites in the Old Testament. The lyrics say, "Giving them power, they conquered kingdoms. They took cities in his name."

Those two sentences struck me so hard, because that is what God has called us to do in South America: we are to take the cities of Arequipa, Ambato, Ibarra, Manta in the name of Jesus Christ, through the power He provides for us.

And here I am, being a dork, wondering how everything could possibly work out the way we need it to. And really, God should say to me, "Cailyn, you dork, are you forgetting who I AM?" (I am very thankful that my Heavenly Father doesn't call me a dork.)

Exodus 24:14 is a verse I memorized while I was still living in Cusco, working as a 40/40 church planter. And wow, was it hard work. But this verse says, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still." I can take great comfort in that. The Cosmic God of the Universe is ahead of us and fighting for us.

That means...the battle is already won, for crying out loud!! Why in the world would I doubt?

Right now, we have a team of 40/40s for Ibarra, Ecuador beginning Spanish classes and seminary classes this week. The problem is that this team is incomplete. For various reasons, including funding, there are only two North Americans and three South Americans who were able to join the team on time (the goal is five pairs of North and South Americans).

And I am stressing out about getting the Ecuadorians we need not only for this team, but also for the next two Ecuador cities.

And I basically end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off, as if worrying and stressing would somehow help things.

But here's the thing:

The work I do has pretty much nothing to do with me. God calls. God confirms the call. God sends. God provides. God speaks. (I'm actually not sure what I do...)

The Lord is fighting for us. They call Him Guerrero (Warrior). That is something that allows me to be still. That allows me to lay down my worries and stresses and fears. God has already won, and He is still fighting.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Extreme Pilgrim

I recently read a quote in a friend's blog from Brennan Manning's Ruthless Trust in which he says, 
"The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise."
It was three and a half years ago that I had to leave everything that was nailed down, obvious, and secure to follow God's call on my life. That call has so far lead me to Peru and Ecuador. In the course of this journey that began in Arequipa in February of 2010, I have been a part of planting three churches, been part of two evangelistic mega-events, helped construct multiple churches, seen countless people repent and become new creations, organized paperwork, cast the XSA vision to numerous churches, interviewed many other young people eager to follow God's call on their lives, worked alongside amazing short-term volunteers, and worked with many incredible long-term Extreme staff. 


Today, I find myself reflecting on the truly extraordinary things I have seen God do during this time. 

Some days, I was exhausted.

Some days, I rejoiced with the angels in heaven for new lives in the Kingdom. 

Some days, I felt stuck in the routine.

Some days, I could have exploded with joy.

Some days, I felt busy and stressed.

Some days, I felt like I could reach out and touch the Holy Spirit. 


Most recently, I was part of the leadership team for the Love Extreme project. My principal job was communication with the 82 short-term volunteers who were part of the project. The project included construction, medical clinics, and tons of promotion, and I had such an incredible time working alongside the short-term volunteers who came from across the US (and Colombia!). Instead of recapping everything myself, I am going to let Mike Wheatley, the project lead for Love Extreme, tell you about it: 
"During the 3 weeks that the short-term volunteers were in Peru, we participated in 6 medical clinics that attended 402 patients, we built foam block walls for 2 sets of churches and installed one of those churches in Juliaca, and promoted throughout Arequipa for the Mega Event on July 20 with Jose Ordóñez.   Our promotion included 7 TV interviews, 60 radio spots, 1 ad in the Sunday morning newspaper, 1000 posters, and 30,000 flyers.   All this promotion helped bring 1,143 people into the Palacio de Bellas Artes for our Mega Event.  José Ordóñez, who holds the Guinness Record for telling jokes for 80 straight hours, presented his comedy show about relationships and marriage.  At the end of his 2-hour show he invited people to accepted Christ, and about 150 people went forward to do so!  Of those, just under a hundred went into the back rooms to meet with our counselors and give us their contact information.   The following morning José Ordóñez preached at our church service, which was held in the park.  We had over 225 in attendance counting the short-term volunteers, and at the end of the service about 15 people stepped forward to accept Christ!"
All I can say is, thank you Lord for allowing me to be a part of something so big and so beautiful!


I will continuously "walk into the unknown" with my life, because it is so much better than all the nailed down, obvious, secure plans I had for my life. I may essentially live as a homeless nomad, but I will continually say, "Here I am. Send me!" It is so much better than anything I could ever have asked for or imagined. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel's secret. (Ephesians 6:19 GNT)

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Destination

I live for the countdown.

My M.O. is to be constantly thinking about the future, waiting for the next exciting thing to happen.

This can be partially explained, I believe, by my Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment results, which includes Focus in my Top 5 Themes of talent. For those of you not familiar with StrengthsFinder, Focus means that I am constantly setting goals and zeroing in on how to make them happen. I organize my life around my priorities, and I always must have a clear destination.

So these numerous countdowns help define my destination.


I keep literal (electronic) countdowns on the dashboard of my laptop...

The first one is actually a count-up: 3 Years, 4 Months, 11 Days, 17 Hours, 12 Minutes, and 32 Seconds since I arrived in Peru to be a missionary with Extreme.

The men of Extreme shaved their heads in solidarity six weeks before the Mega-Event
Then the first countdown chronologically says: 24 Days until Love Extreme. This is a big one! Eighty-something short-term volunteers are hitting the ground in just twenty-four days to put on medical clinics, construct walls for new chapels in Peru, and promote our Mega-Event called Love Extreme. On   July 20th, we will see a huge harvest of people coming to know the Lord at this event.

On that Saturday, we are going to fill a locale with 2,000 people of Arequipa to hear a Christian comedian by the name of José Ordoñez, who holds the Guinness World Record for telling jokes for the most consecutive hours.

And you probably can't imagine (because I had no idea) how much preparation goes into making all this happen.

So with 24 days remaining, I would ask for prayers  for this project and the mega-event.


My next countdown is for when I arrive in Cincinnati for my next home assignment. It is always exciting to go home and see friends and family; I even have a routine down...I get picked up, and my dad has Root Beer in hand, and then we go to Chipotle!

Two of my computer countdowns are for weddings that I am privileged enough to attend and participate in as a bridesmaid. I am SO happy for these two couples!

There is so much more to look forward to as I spend a portion of Autumn in the States for the first time in four years: my birthday, pumpkin spice, the World Series (only if the Reds are playing!), cool weather, colorful leaves, and time to be refreshed as I prepare to return to South America.

(I still have many openings in my schedule for speaking engagements, so if you would like me to come to your church, email me at: cstevens@extremenazarene.org.)

It will once again be time for me to raise the financial support necessary for me to continue in God's call on my life. But this is not about me; it is about ALL of us responding in obedience to the calls that God has placed on our lives. Please, seek the Lord's face and will for how He would lead you to get involved in expanding His kingdom.


As I spend all my time counting down, I am also aware of what I fail to do...just soak in the present, breathe, and inhale His presence.

Father God, thank you for the future, and thank you for the Now. Give me the grace to live in this moment, and the strength to make it to the destination.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We Were Humbled

I am so thankful to be a part of what God is doing in South America.

So far, having returned to Peru has been a complete joy for me. As a mobilizer, it is easy to feel disconnected from the ministry going on in the 40/40 service cities. I go ahead of them to make sure that we have the personnel to do the work of the vision God has entrusted to us. And as much as I love my job, and consider it a privilege to serve in this capacity as SAM Mobilization Manager, it can leave me feeling separate from the evangelism and discipleship that the 40/40s that I seek, find, interview, and deploy, do every day.

For this reason, it is so exciting to be living in Arequipa this summer (winter here!). I have been able to be a part of the church here that the 40/40s are planting and in which they are raising up leaders.

Additionally, during the month of May, we received a team of short-term volunteers from Olivet, Trevecca, and Midamerica Nazarene Universities.

And wow.

Just wow.

It was incredible. In those two weeks, we added 470 contacts to the 40/40s' follow-up database, and saw 70 people come to know Jesus Christ for the first time.

We did cultural fairs, Minute To Win It events, flash mobs, a date night for married couples, English practice, a dessert-making course, stoplight ministry, a concert, and church services.

The most impactful part of the project, however, may have been the prayer emphasis. Every moment of the project was covered in individual and corporate prayer. And that made all the difference.

God moved. That's no surprise; He always does. But he heard the cries of our hearts and truly exceeded all of our expectations.

And we were humbled.

And as I type this, several weeks later than I should be, I know that God is doing a great work here in Arequipa, and in my life. And it leaves me humbled that the Cosmic God of the Universe would hear our prayers and respond. He knew the deepest desires of my heart and brought me back to this city to experience Him anew, to be refreshed, to have fun, to spend time with my dear friends, and to have my soul restored.

That is humbling. And I am thankful.

Friday, May 10, 2013

This Is What I'll Be Doing

What do soccer, prayer, church anniversaries, flashmobs, conversational English, dessert, children’s games, ballroom dancing, college students, foam blocks and Fireproof all have in common?

Arequipa, Peru!

The momentum team is arriving today; be in prayer that God uses all these activities and more during the 10 days they are here.

Monday, May 6, 2013


"Every human being who has ever lived has a conscience and knows two things for sure: there is evil within me, and I am in some kind of trouble with the holy Power out there. When people make up their own religious systems, they always put the pressure on the individual to make amends. There are rules to keep, rituals to observe, propitiations and sacrifices, pilgrimages, and various acts of devotion and obedience. But only Christianity gives forgiveness away. Jesus invites you to ask for it."

I am so thankful that Christianity is different from every other religious system in the world.

Only with Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection are we free to live like we are loved. Loved more extravagantly than we ever dared hope or imagine. Loved first, so that we can love back. Loved, so that we can receive forgiveness. Loved so much that we can't help but live differently. Loved so that we can love our neighbors. Loved so that we can love recklessly, without holding anything back. Loved, and thankful everyday for that love.

Grace is what separates being a follower of Jesus Christ from practicing any other religion. Grace says, "There is nothing you have to do. It's already been done for you. Stop working; rest. Believe that you are loved. The rest will follow."

Friends, just ask for it. Then, live it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Love

"The Bible promises--and history confirms--that close encounters with the lived-out gospel will be attractive and compelling." 
--Fritz Kling, from The Meeting of the Waters

Friends, that is really good news.

Because in this moment, there are some startling statistics that I can't get out of my head.

When non-Christians aged 16 to 29 years old were asked, “What is your current perception of Christianity?” here’s how they responded:
  • 91% anti-homosexual
  • 87% judgmental
  • 85% hypocritical
  • 78% old-fashioned
  • 75% too involved in politics
  • 70% out of touch with reality
  • 70% insensitive to others
Woah. Oh man, does that bother anyone else?

On this Maundy Thursday, I just got a history lesson from Facebook, and more specifically, from a status update taken from Tapestry Church of the Nazarene:
"Maundy" comes from the the latin word 'Mandatum' (from which we get the English word 'mandate'). It is a verb that means "to give," "to entrust," or "to order." The term is sometimes translated as "commandment." 
According to John, as Jesus and the Disciples were eating their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, he washed the disciples' feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood! After they had finished the meal, Jesus "mandated" a commandent unto them:

"A new command I give you: Love one another! As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -- John 13:34-35

Those statistics tell me that WE, the Church that bears the name of Jesus Christ, are not doing a very good job of following that commandment.

But the thing is, Jesus wasn't really about general statistics. He wasn't really about ideologies and therums. Jesus was about people. Meeting them where they were, knowing them, loving them, and calling them to something more. 

If Jesus was about people, shouldn't we be about them to? Knowing them? It's hard to be anti-_____________ when you know the person who is identified by that blank. It starts with meeting them, right where they are, and continues with knowing. And then loving. Not just in theory, but with action.

Then, just maybe, we can be identified as disciples of Jesus Christ, our Savior who gave his life up to bear our sins and conquer death and the power of sin.

So friends, may we love recklessly, not holding anything back. This, and only this, will lead people to an encounter with the lived-out gospel. Which in turn, will be attractive and compelling for those around us who have never seen the power of the gospel.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Are The Redeemed

The two parts of this blog post made me tear up.

The F Word Part One and Part Two

And then I prayed, and I will keep praying, "Lord, help your Church represent you well. The culture wars are ugly. But we are called to love. Your disciples will be recognized by how they love. Your Church should be a people with whom love abounds. Help us, gracious Father. Your Word is truth and your Word is life, so help the people who are called by your name to bear them well. May your grace abound within our buildings, within our gatherings, within our midst wherever we find ourselves. For we are the redeemed. Amen."

As we participate in Holy Week this year, my thoughts are drawn to the Christ--Crucified and Risen. Church, have we lost our focus on our Lord? "He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God." 

I believe sin is very real, and it is the ugliest, most evil force existing in the world today.

And it is in me.

I deal with its force everyday. And I believe this is not a unique ailment that pertains only to me, but rather that it pervades the Church as well. At least I'm pretty sure that only confessed sinners are in need of a Savior.

So if the Savior is real in the lives of the Believers, then I believe we need to start extending the same grace we have received. Lay down the culture wars. Just stop participating, and start imitating Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are." He is absolutely right. Let's stop keeping ourselves blind by focusing on another's sin. For he or she is as entitled to the grace we have received from Jesus Christ as much as we are. I want to recognize my own failings and shortcomings so much, that I can't dare to lift up a rock to throw it at someone else, clinging so desperately to my Redeemer every single day. 

Now imagine if all of us who call ourselves the Church would lay down our rocks, cling to the Redeemer, and just bask in his love.

Something tells me that we would become a far more effective agent of His grace in this world.

Savior, help us. 

We are the Redeemed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: Love Does by Bob Goff

Bob Goff sharing his cell phone number at the end of his book, Love Does, was genius.

Because during the course of the book, you begin to feel like Bob might be your coolest friend. At least you want him to be your friend, and you feel like he might actually want to be your friend, too.

Bob Goff is the guy who got into law school by sitting on a bench outside the dean's office for a week. He's the guy who thought it was a prank when he was asked to be Honorary Consul for Uganda. Bob Goff is the guy who never let's his phone go to voicemail. 

Goff’s book is in no way a self-help book, like some may expect, although he begins each chapter with a belief about life that he previously held, and what he believes now. He illustrates these statements with a story in the chapter, a story that makes you believe that it is possible to live a “secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.”

Each chapter reads like a stand-alone essay, but weaves a beautiful picture of a life where love is not stationary; love does.

Love Does is phenomenal, not just because of the vocabulary or the writing style; Bob Goff speaks of God’s love that compels all the rest…a faith that does

This is the heart of that love:

Love doesn't just think about it.
Love doesn't just plan it.
Love does it.