We started off summer with a big road trip to visit and reconnect with several friends and supporters. It was a great time, and we loved seeing you!
We’d also like the opportunity to see our local friends and supporters, and to hear and share about what God has going on with all of you and with us! In order to facilitate that, we’ve scheduled a few small local events. Each of these will be a short time with a ministry update from us (and possibly others too), some pictures, and the opportunity to ask questions and pray together. We’ll serve coffee and a light breakfast (no need to bring anything).
The places and times are:
Lincoln, NE: July 24th 9:00am – 10:00am Omaha, NE: August 7th 9:00am – 10:30am Ashland, NE: August 21st 9:00am – 10:30am
Reply to let us know you can come, and we’ll send you the address! (That way, we also know about how much food and coffee to prepare). If you would like to host a similar event at another time or location, let us know!
It seemed to be a date-night like many others, a little ice cream and good conversation. We had managed to step out together for an evening out alone during our recent trip and we were delighted to practice this important routine in a new place. As we finished our ice cream and walked back to the car, we recalled seeing an Indian grocery store nearby, and thought we’d like to go check it out. We pulled through the parking lot toward the Indian grocery and noticed a group of bikers standing at a bar and grill. But what shocked us out of our conversation would change our night.
It started with yelling suddenly getting louder than our conversation.
“I’m not f… drunk. … on’t let him go.. … keep him away fr….. “
A bike revs to life as a handful of bikers run toward the commotion. Five or six others were trying to restrain a guy on a bike.
Before we knew it, there were more then twenty guys in leather were rushing forward. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. People went down, bikers were shooting and running, and cycles were racing out of the lot.
In a matter of a few seconds, our evening was transformed from a peaceful date night conversation into one with gunfire less than 40 feet away. It could have easily ended badly for someone. It sounds like a bad TV drama, but this was no romantic Hallmark rewrite of “The Wild One“.
As the action slowed, people poked their heads from behind cars and looked around. As far as anyone could tell, there wasn’t going to be a bloodbath right in front of us, and the danger was past. Amy and I looked at each other and said “Welcome to the big city”.
Later, I reflected on the situation and was reminded again that five seconds can be a very long time. God was gracious that night, and reminded me again how precious life is, and how uncertain is the number of our days. We are given but a small window of time here, and the choices we make significantly impact our own lives and the lives of others, both here and for all eternity.
If you have not believed in Jesus to give you the free gift of everlasting life, please talk with us – we would love to share with you some of the reasons that we are persuaded that you can believe Him to do as He promised.
If you a believer and not experiencing closeness and vitality in your Christian walk, I want to share a bit with you from my heart. You have probably heard me say it before. Even though you can’t lose eternal life, there is something which you can walk away from – discipleship.
Luke 14 defines a disciple of Jesus this way “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” You can try to sugar coat things a bit but let’s just be honest here, if we look at what we have been given (time, talent, treasure) and we see relationships, objects or affections in close competition for our lives, you can call it lots of things but one thing you can be certain is that it is not discipleship. If we meditate more on Facebook than on His book, it’s not discipleship. If we are seeking the praise of others, it’s not discipleship. If we spend more time investing in our sports team than God’s mission, it’s not discipleship. Discipleship is learning from Jesus and putting this knowledge into action. Discipleship must permeate all aspects of life or it is not discipleship. It is not free and it takes hard work, commitment, and endurance.
Perhaps the hardest thing is that for every one of us there are times where we can see we are not living the life of a disciple. But do not give up. Luke 15 goes on to tell three of the most gracious and emotionally stirring stories which answer “Can I regain discipleship – and become salty again? Is there hope even for me?” I encourage you to read them on your own and note just a few things.
The sheep, the coin, the son – they are always the Shepherd’s sheep, the Widow’s coin, the Father’s son. No matter where you have strayed, any who have believed in Jesus’ promise for everlasting life are secure in that position.
See the common thread of God’s joy over anyone who gets right with Him. See 1 John 1:9 on how to get right with God.
Note the patience and forbearance of the shepherd, the widow and the father in looking for the restoration of his valued possession. Remember that this is the picture of God who in His lovingkindness is merciful and longsuffering yet looking for the restoration of you, His valued child.
See the tender kindness of the shepherd who carries his wandering sheep back. Remember that you can’t restore yourself, only God can.
Observe the father who does not bully or cajole but waits for a straying child to ‘come to his senses’ and does not withhold richness much beyond what the son deserves or could earn through his own labor.
Friends, I hope that you know that there is little more important to us than that each of us would be able to stand before Jesus one day and with a radiant, warm smile on His face He would wrap you up in His arms and say to you “Welcome home, you were a faithful servant. I am so proud of you. Rejoice, come share in your inheritance.”
Your life is precious, and your time here on earth is finite. Use it with great discernment. And if there are issues between you and God, now is a good time to get things right.
If you have any questions about this passage or other matters we would love to chat with you.
Thanks so much for praying for us during our supporter-connections trip, dear friends! We had a wonderful trip, successfully connected with several supporters and a few churches, and are thrilled to be back home (even if it’s only for several hours).
During this trip, we memorized Romans 15:5. It says “May the God of encouragement and endurance give you the same attitude of mind toward each other as Christ Jesus had”. As we drove home, we took some time to notice that indeed, God had provided encouragement and endurance all through the trip.
Several times on the trip, there were several small things that threatened to discourage us – poor nights of sleep, guilt over what felt like missed opportunities for deeper discussions, a bout of stomach flu and interpersonal tensions. But there was so much that encouraged us too – so many people willing to host us (even some complete strangers!), opportunities to help out on small home or grounds improvement projects at our hosts, people asking to know more about this ministry, then taking the time to let us know that they think what God has given us to do is really cool. Even our kids encouraged us by serving heartily and by really enjoying and participating in the Grace Evangelical Society conference we attended.
God also gave endurance through long days of working and long days of driving, and gave the extra measure of grace we needed to withstand (most of the time) the temptation to be irritable with each other and with our hosts, instead helping us to have a bit of Christ-like attitude toward each other, as mentioned in the verse. Those of you who have traveled with kids know what a miracle that is, and we are grateful to God for that!
We reached home five weeks and two days after departing, did lots of laundry, attended church and visited our local area family, then forty hours after arriving, Chester and the kids left to be staff at Glad Tidings Bible Camp. As we look forward to a summer of serving with the camp, we’re again so grateful to God for His encouragement and endurance, and are continuing to pray that we’ll have the same attitude of mind toward others that Christ Jesus demonstrated to us.
It’s been a year to have priorities clarified through adversity, hasn’t it? We’re grateful for the year that God provided, and wanted to take a minute to thank you for being part of it.
Thank you for praying, giving and serving with us through the year! We are grateful that even though travel was restricted, we could be active in serving missionaries and ministries. We counted 27 ministries and families that either we served or distinctly served us this year! Many of you joined in the work with us, blessing missionaries and ministries (and us) with their work and fellowship. See the Projects 4 Missions annual report for additonal information on our year, financial numbers and both praises and prayer requests.
Thank you for praying with us as Chester and our friend Rich went to Kenya to meet the Kamau family, who are missionaries there and wanting to start a camp. They have safely returned, recovered back into the midwest USA timezone, and are currently working with the Kamaus and engineers in Kenya to plan the camp!
Thank you for your friendship through the year. If we have your physical mailing address, you should have gotten a Christmas card from us with a family Christmas letter. You can read that online too.
Next week, look for an email with some of our thoughts on the year to come, and guesses as to what God might have in store for us and Projects 4 Missions in 2021.
If you’d like to make a year-end gift, now is the time to do so, and here is the link.
Dear Friends, When I (Chester) was a tad bit younger I served in the US Navy. I visited many ports in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and loved most of it. The beauty of God’s creation is staggering and it truly stirs your heart to praise.
However, the most moving of times was those days returning from deployment, standing at parade rest along the ship rail and as the morning fog lifted you could just see the outlines of your own home shore. As you chugged into the harbor the fog would continue to lift and the details would become clearer. Finally, when the tugs have gone and the ship is docked, the Captain would give the call “Liberty Call, Liberty Call for all non-essential personnel. Welcome Home and God Bless America”. The moment you hold for a lifetime though is sharing the joy of families reunited with their beloved. Even writing this narrative stirs my emotions.
This last week we had the joy of welcoming Moriah back home from her service with Matt and Noelle Harris. We are very proud of Moriah for choosing to give of herself to serve during Noelle’s recovery from c-section. Matt and Noelle returned from serving in Uganda to have this latest addition (Charlotte), and connect with their supporters for a few months. Moriah helped them tend the kids and the housework as they scooted around Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska for the last weeks. I do not know if Moriah’s experience in returning home was like mine but what we want to say publicly is “Welcome home. Well done”. I want to engage your mind for just a moment and imagine a colossal homecoming that has been waiting for thousands of years. If you have been up on recent news in the world it may occur to you that perhaps that homecoming is closer now than ever. When Jesus returns there will be a performance review for believers, those who have received the free gift of eternal life by faith in Jesus. I get so excited about this return because God has said those whose performance excels will receive a hero’s welcome.A hero’s welcome, for me? Is it really possible? Absolutely yes. God wants you to succeed in your spiritual life and has made significant promises which you can trust. Because of this God wants you to add some things to your faith so that your faith will mature and be productive. Read more about this in 2 Peter 1:3-12 but I quote from the Berean Study Bible. “Therefore, brothers, strive to make your calling and election (commission) sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
I love it! A lavish reception. Yes, for those who have believed Jesus for everlasting life we can also believe Him to bring through life well. Do not be discouraged. Jude 1:24 says it so well. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
I pray for you, that one day you will have the joy of being welcomed to our forever home with a truly lavish reception and these words “Welcome home. Well done my good and faithful servant”.
This time of year often gets cluttered with piles of mailings from non-profits who would never write at another time of year. In recognition of “Giving Tuesday” we wanted to send you a note from a friend and ministry partner.
No doubt you already know and feel that this last year has had a few too many surprises and unexpected turns. We have been praying for you all in what we know has been some very trying times. We all need the encouragement of fellowship so let’s work to stay connected in whatever ways we can. Please feel free to call or email if you ever need someone to talk or pray with.
As we work on an end of year report for Projects 4 Missions we want to express to you how incredibly humbled we are to have you partner with us. Of the hundreds of ways you could spend or invest your money you have chosen to sacrificially give toward this ministry and God has blessed that work.
We are glad to share with you that our basic monthly costs, which consist of a small stipend to cover project consumables, tool repairs and administration, are now being covered by regular monthly giving. It may not seem like a big milestone but to us it is huge. We continue to work toward building our regular monthly support level (which is nearing 30%) but we are confident that as we continue to be faithful to serve where God guides that He will take care of those needs. We are very thankful for God’s provision through your partnership.
With all the craziness in the world it is important to recall the faithfulness and constancy of our God. From the infancy of this ministry when it was just us giving a helping hand to missionaries as best as we could, up to today, we have never lacked the essentials for what God wanted us to do. God’s faithfulness goes well beyond just having money for a project. We do not have the time or space here to recount even a portion of the ways God has taken care of us. However, I regularly reflect on things like: wheels not falling off trailers, many thousands of dollars worth of donated equipment, and specific answers to prayer. But there is so much more. All these speak highly of our God and we honor Him.
On this “Giving Tuesday” we would encourage you in this way: First, not all giving is money. When you are serious in prayer, or send a personal letter to a missionary or lend a hand to a project in person, you are giving a piece of yourself and investing in eternity. What and where can you give of yourself for God’s purposes?
Secondly, Give to God. He deserves respect, honor and a place of significance. Your mouth and life are the means to give something special and meaningful to God. Hebrews 13:15 says to offer up to God a sacrifice of praise. Colossians 4:2 encourages us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us to rejoice, to pray and to give thanks in all circumstances. Let’s do that!
Finally, Give on purpose to a greater purpose. Be faithful in supporting your Church. This is right and appropriate. Also consider supporting a missionary whose focus is sharing or teaching the gospel. If you do not already know such people then talk to us, we would love to introduce you to several people who are on the frontlines. Developing such a relationship via phone calls and visits will definitely push your faith into a more active place. (2 Cor 9:10-11)
Thank you again for your partnership in prayer, in relationship, in participation and financially. We are very thankful for you.
If you are not already receiving regular emails and other stuff from Projects 4 Missions we invite you to sign up here.
If God moves you to make a special year end gift or monthly donation toward this ministry, you can use this link here, or click the donate button below.
Friends – Would you mind praying for us today and this week? For the past few weeks now, we’ve felt spiritually attacked. It’s been comical (two broken stoves within a week), a bit painful (a broken tooth) and annoying (computers that don’t work right). It’s also been distracting (a project was delayed while we tried to fix stoves), and is starting to hinder our work (we tried to haul a load, and discovered that our trailer has two flat tires and of course, only one spare tire). Our patience is being tried(we’ve been trying to wait patiently for Rich’s boss to approve time off so that he and Chester can go to Kenya, but the approval keeps being delayed). And it’s starting to discourage us (after Chester spent an entire day working on the Suburban, it started backfiring).
This week, we are planning to leave for a week of visiting family and friends and getting some spiritual refreshment at the Grace Evangelical Society conference. It’s our version of a family vacation. The conference is an eleven-hour drive for us, and we want our vehicle to be in great shape to do it. Today, Chester plans to spend a portion of the day, in the freezing rain, troubleshooting and fixing whatever is causing the Suburban to backfire.
Would you please join us in praying:
For us to not be discouraged in our circumstances
For the Suburban to start working properly with very little additional time invested
For our health to stay good (we seem to be in a covid hotspot right now)
All the details of our upcoming trip to work out
Rich’s boss to allow his time off, and soon, so that we can purchase tickets for Chester and Rich to go to Kenya in six weeks.
And an additional prayer request: Our friends, the Shires, who serve in Southern France are in the process of buying a home. They have asked us to consider coming to help renovate so that they have sleeping quarters for all eight children as well as an office space to use for their work. Please pray for God to provide for them and to work out for us to help them if He would like us to.
Spoiler alert: We have pictures of the Glad Tidings Bible Camp kitchen, newly upgraded and ready for use. And, you’ll read on page two that we have been invited to serve with a Bible camp in France later this summer! Please pray with us about this opportunity.
A few years ago, our pellet-fed smoker on the back deck malfunctioned. During the malfunction, the wind took off with some hot pellets, and blew them out of the smoker on to our porch. There a small fire started. Some neighbors (we never found out exactly who) were playing at the playground near our house and saw the fire. They called the fire department, then walked over to our yard, and used our hose to put the fire out before the fire department arrived. By the time we got home, the only remaining evidence of the fire was the burn hole in the deck.
We covered the hole with a piece of plywood, and went on with life.
The past weekend, Chester tackled the project of removing the burnt boards and replacing them.
And the deck is almost as good as new! The only tiny remaining evidence of the fire (and our neighbors kindness) is that some boards are obviously new, and there’s still some melted/charred scars on the rail.
This may be my favorite thing about social isolation – so many at-home projects getting done!