Thursday, December 30, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
God help all involved in each small group listen to and hear His voice, especially during the small group time.
God help us open up, listen to and pray for/encourage one another.
God help us see opportunities to love those around us.
God keep the enemy at bay and help us have the right attitudes and perspectives when we meet.
The game nights continue to go very well—we’ve had pretty high attendance and a lot of fun at each one. The international themed game nights continue to be lower attendance, but those have been going well, too, and good relationships have been strengthened on those nights.
Lord willing, we will soon be speaking with a variety of ministries that affect campus and inviting them to pray with us about coming together once a week to pray for campus. I am excited to see what the Lord may be doing here. Thanks again for your prayers and support!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Thank you so much for your prayers! The [alt] concert, game night, and [alt]ernative ride service went extremely well. We had a good turn out (maybe 400 through the concert and 60-80 at the game night) and a lot of fun. Two small groups are off to a good start and at least two more will begin this week; please also keep them in your prayers!
Also, Brandon will have a meeting to discuss his status as a missionary and Unite and its mission on Thursday, October 7th at 7:00 p.m. at North Oak Community Church (3000 Oak Street, Hays, KS 67601) in the Southernmost classroom. There will be prayer and a time for questions and answers. Please feel free to come by!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Thanks again for your prayers and support! Please keep the small groups (this is their first week) and the game nights (with the upcoming [alt] event) in your prayers!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Also, on October 1st, Encounter, a college ministry we work with, is hosting an event called [alt]. This event will occur after Oktoberfest activities are officially over for the day and individuals begin heading to bars and house parties. The event will include a concert from 4:00 p.m. until midnight with a variety of local and regional Christian bands in attendance. Afterwards, Unite will host an after-party at the United Methodist Student Center during our remaining game night hours. The after-party will run from midnight until 5 a.m. Christian organizations in attendance will be working with Safe Ride to provide rides for anyone who needs one in the area all evening and morning, as well.
Please keep this event in your prayers. I am very excited that we will be able to help serve the community this way and provide an alternative to the bars for anyone who wants to come by. The additional connections with our game nights may serve to further increase connection opportunities in future, which is also exciting.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Please pray that the small groups go as He will--we are currently coordinating all schedules and hope to start them up next week. Also, the leadership team will begin meeting soon--please pray that all involved hear God's voice.
Please keep [alt], the alternative event to Oktoberfest in your prayers. It will be a viable alternative for those who don't want to drink AND we will be the safe-ride designated drivers for Oktoberfest (if all goes as it seems it will). Both are great opportunities to love others.
Finally, please pray for the upcoming trainings for the congregations members and that God lead all involved with the game nights and international themed game nights. May the right students and international students attend and may the right connections form.
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
PS To read about my personal updates and prayer requests, remember to go to http://www.missionaryprayers.blogspot.com
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It’s been crazy every since we’ve gotten back from Mexico, but very good.
First, to clarify things, this existing blog will be JUST for Unite updates and prayers. If you are someone would like to track what’s going on in my personal missionary journey and pray for me as an individual, then please check out http://missionaryprayers.blogspot.com/. I will post personal updates and prayer requests there.
That said—this is a very busy month for Unite. August 23rd we have Picnic in the Quad, August 26th is the ‘Get Plugged In’ event that we put on for anyone who wants to connect with the body of Christ in Hays. August 27th and 28th will be our cross-cultural and interpersonal training hosted by Doug Schaible of New Tribes Missionary Agency. The training has been opened up to any congregation member or ministry that works with international students especially or to anyone who wants to learn to communicate better with people who have different backgrounds. There will also be an emphasis on maintaining a Biblical perspective if a person does share Christ with explanation about how to do that.
Shortly thereafter the small groups will start up—they will launch bit by bit as more students and congregations members become involved. We will also offer other training sessions for any community members who want to be involved. The coffeehouse game nights geared towards international students will also be starting up shortly.
As you can see, these two months have a lot going on. Thankfully it is not just for us to have to administrate—God will guide and direct us all if we continue to listen. Please pray that all who are supposed to be involved in these opportunities—including those we haven’t met yet—listen to the Spirit and be guided into involvement. Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Please keep praying for all of our leaders to listen to and be united in the Spirit, for all incoming students to interact with a Jesus follower and get connected to Christ’s body in Hays, and for all of those members of the body who may become involved in one of our small groups or other interaction opportunities to listen to the Spirit. Please pray that all of us continue to be transformed by the Spirit and that we be sensitive to His leading. Thank God for this exciting chance to step forth and serve!
The last few days in Mexico were a tremendous blessing-coming back to the States was a whirlwind; I want to let you know what happened, ask for your prayers, and thank you for your support.
Wednesday July 28 was a time I can still remember clearly. We went out into the city center with some of the kids who wanted to powerfully serve God, and we prayed for anyone we felt led to pray for. My group had a particularly long chat with a fellow who didn’t believe in the Bible. It was very interesting to sit back and watch how the oldest, Lucilla, handled the situation. I could see that she definitely wanted to respect the older man but also that she was upset by some of his statements (including some rather rough language). The talk that I had with her afterwards about what she perceived from her encounter was very neat. It was also a blessing to see how some of the kids there prayed for strangers.
Leaving the home to go to the States was hard, as usual. I sincerely wanted to stay with many of the children just to hold them and speak into them—to tell them how valuable and worthwhile and amazing they are. Many have been abandoned by their families and truly believe they are ugly or stupid or somehow wrong… otherwise why would their families give them up? Each one of the children there is precious to me, and I will keep them in my prayers. I would ask you to do the same—especially the oldest ones.
The home is in somewhat of a tough situation in that, due to the news, only 40 people went this summer vs. 800 in summers past. The children need not only money and prayers (and they are somewhat tight for money since the groups bring money with them for the service projects they do), but they desperately need people to see them for the amazing children they are… to engage them, hold them, pray with them, and love them. I strongly urge anyone who has interest to contact me at Brandon.firstname.lastname@example.org I would be more than happy to work with the home to set up a visit for you. I also plan to return there in December; I am not sure if that will be as an individual, with the Church, or with Unite, the college ministry I lead. However, there will be future options for you if you would like to come. All of us were deeply touched by God and what He is doing there, and I have no doubt that we would all urge you to pray and see if you might have more of a part to play in this than you realize. Thank you sincerely for your prayers and support! The Home was incredibly thankful to have us as a group since they have had so few. Your contributed greatly--Brandon
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
While on the roof, I had the opportunity to pray with Esteban and Alex. Esteban has been at the Home six years—he is an amazing twelve year old kid with a warm smile and something always going on behind his brown eyes. He told me that his first family had separated and would never come back together or come back for him. Every day for the past six years he has earnestly prayed for a new family. This is still his prayer. I could see how badly he hurt and how much he yearned for family connection as he told me his story. It nearly broke my heart for such an amazing young boy to have such pain.
Alex is maybe six or seven. He asked me to pray for his brothers and sister. They are with his father in the United States. He does not know where they are or if they are ok, and he told me that he never will know. They crossed and permanently left him and his mother behind. They will not reconnect again. His mother lives in a Durango, so his home moves sometimes when he isn’t at the Home. He desperately misses his siblings and prays that they are ok.
Please pray for these, our little brothers in Mexico, and all the other kids at the Home. Many go through more pain in their days than we ever realize.
Friday, July 23, 2010
We also had a big fiesta to end the week with the kids after our classes with them. Many will be gone next week for vacation. I’ll let the others share more, though…
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Between two lessons it was requested that our group share during the afternoon service. Since the lessons are finished around 4:50 p.m. and service was at 5:00 p.m. and we had to drop our things off at the casita (little house—where the missionaries (us) stay), that meant we had no time to prepare. I was a little nervous, but we prayed and I knew the Holy Spirit would do what He wanted. The service was awesome—I LOVED the thunderstorm partway through that blew a fresh breeze through at several opportune moments as we sang and prayed. When the Americans shared, I could feel the Spirit move—each had something right to say. God helped me get through the interpretation (verbal translation) as each spoke to the audience. I was able to share something about how I DEEPLY desire for all of the youth to either have a relationship with God or a stronger relationship with God… Then we read 1 Corinthians 13 (the beginning and love section) and we replaced ‘love’ with God when we read it a second time (to help the youth know the nature of the one they should seek relationship with). It seemed to go very well.
Immediately afterwards we practiced Spanish worship with Armando (the worship leader) for two hours and then headed up the hill to grab supper. Three of us left it cooling on the table so we could catch as much time with the kids as possible while the others ate and recuperated—then they joined us. During the oldest girls’ lesson we had offered to pray in the concha (the court where they play basketball). I was very pleasantly surprised to find that they not only remembered but were asking when we could start. We got together and asked them what to pray for—we prayed for quite some time (in English and Spanish) for the Home, for unity, for relationships, families, health, and a few other requests. After we were done we got back in time to eat and cool down for a few minutes. Exhausted, we sat down to chat.
I was excited because even though we were all dog tired at least two were brimming with excitement and energy from our experiences today. That’s when I was able to surprise everyone with the letters of support from you (those who love us and had the time to write one for a trip-goer). Thank you SO much! I saw so many smiles and more than a few tears. Your letters provided a powerful push when we were excited but very very tired. Thank you so dearly for your love and support—it along with God’s love will give us the strength to push through successfully to tomorrow. Now we are going to write up encouraging things for each of the kids for tomorrow—we are going to give them to them for them to keep (a page with their picture and things like ‘you have beautiful eyes’, ‘you are a great artist’, ‘you have so much energy and excitement’… I know that, at least for the little ones, it should have a very big impact to be so encouraged. We are all excited to complete our project for tomorrow. Thanks again, and good night!!!--Brandon
There is a different feel here, though. It shows that there have been far less visitors to the Home this summer. The initial reaction from the younger kids was cooler, though they warmed up very, very quickly. The older ones who recognized me seemed very glad to see me, and I am deeply happy to see them again. Their warm greetings meant a great deal to me, and I am excited to catch up with them. It also saddens me quite a bit to know that they have been unable to give such warm greetings to many of their recurring friends over the years.
Today we had a surprise—right as we were preparing to teach a lesson to our last group of the day, the oldest boys, Luis (our contact for whatever we need) asked us if we could join him and the kids for a surprise trip. We canceled the lesson and joined him and the oldest boys and girls as we loaded up the van and the Home’s bus and headed for a nearby park. There 15 of the students from the Home who have been at a camp put on by Joventud (a Christian organization) met us. It was very exciting to see some of my friends again (this is where I received some of the warmest greetings). We were able to watch them perform a few street evangelism skits in the park. Afterwards, we returned for an evening of supper, music, and playing with the kids in the concha (outdoor courtyard). It was a great day.
A few highlights for me: One of the originally troublesome girls is now helping us quite a bit with the other students and seems to be very touched by the ‘His Princess’ letters we read. Also, the other night we learning Spanish worship with Armando in the concha, and we were surrounded by a couple dozen of the kids… Most of the youngest girls were there. They jumped up on the tables where we were worshipping in and loudly joined us as they swayed back and forth. It was so awesome to enjoy the cool sound of Spanish worship music on guitar (Armando has an incredible voice) as a bunch of very cute five-year-old girls smiled and danced and sang to the music while the moon rose into the night sky. The moment was very unforgettable.
Just for those of you who wonder what we do in a typical day… We get up in the morning for personal time with God, group devotions, a little lesson planning/tweaking, and off to the Home for time with the kids. We teach three sessions before and three sessions after lunch—each involves a lesson of some sort with some activities (we’ve done skits with the youngest kids and more discussion/question/answer interactions with the older ones). Letters from ‘His Princess’ translated for the girls and times we’ve shared very personal occurrences relevant to the lessons seem to have had the greatest impact on the youth so far. The lessons run 45 minutes and we have 5 minutes between lessons to switch up the room. Sometimes we combine a section for larger activities, and we always do at least some fun stuff—time in the concha, drawing, cards… etc….
Probably the most impactful activity so far has been the ‘red and blue cup activity’. We filled red cups with dirt, water, coffee, salsa, and spit in them (in front of the kids—believe me, some of the kids would have drank it otherwise). The kids were very disgusted. Then we filled blue cups with soda (the good Mexican kind from the little stores). We blindfolded the kids and ultimately sat them in front of a cup. It was possibly to smell the putrid nature of the ‘feos’ (gross ones). The kids were squirming and not sure if they wanted to drink them or not. We had quietly switched out the red ones with nasty stuff for red ones with soda (we kept them red for peekers). Then we told the students to drink (and gave them the option to refuse). Afterwards we had them open their eyes and let them drink their pop. We had some great reactions and excellent discussion afterwards—many of them said they were afraid…. The lesson was over meekness and how it didn’t mean weakness (Christ was powerful and even told the Pharisees that He would be seated next the right hand of the Almighty, yet submitted to God’s will and let them beat Him not two minutes later (Matthew 26:62-68; also Isaiah 53:7)—He was incredibly strong, yet obedient to God). It was also over the fact that the meek are always submissive to God (true meekness) and that we have to trust God and submit even when it seems like a bad idea (like drinking when you smell the grossness and maybe even peeked and saw a red cup in front of you). It seemed to go over very well and definitely made for good discussion.
After the last section of lessons we have time to plan and prepare for the set the next day, then grab supper and take a short break. Afterwards we usually play with the kids in the concha until around 9 or 9:30 p.m. There is sometimes an evening debriefing, and always some time to rest…
So far it has been a blessed trip—I have definitely seen God working with the kids and with those with me…. I am excited to see what is yet to come—especially with my friends who are at the camp and will be rejoining us Saturday.
Please keep us and the kids in your prayers—there is much to do and yet we always must discern what is in God’s will and needs done vs. what is just a good idea. We also need to continue to take the time to rest and draw our strength from God.
Thanks again for your prayers and support
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It has been excellent so far here in Juaréz. God has been powerfully challenging our group to stretch and grow in many senses. He is also challenging us individually and helping us support and love one another as He works.
The pastor Sunday made a special point in the service of thanking us for coming when so few have. According to Wendy the Children’s Home has only had about 40 visitors so far and that may be all they get (compared to 800 a few years ago). To the pastor here, the congregation, and the children, we are a big blessing. It works my own heart pretty hard to see some of the kids whom I have grown to love and then to know that they have not been loved this summer as usual. The kids are amazing kids. Most of them are pretty smart, and most of them are very loving. They are still kids and there are plenty who are ornery and some who are even obnoxious sometimes, but they all are amazing and each so deserving to be loved. Some are being extra loud and distracting for attention likely just because they have received so little for such a long time. The rest are some of the coolest kids I have had the pleasure to talk with (though I think almost all kids are pretty amazing). Most have been very happy to see us, and quite a few remember James and me (I remember more of them than I would have figured, myself). Some have grown up pretty well—I’ve enjoyed watching some of the older boys give the younger ones opportunities to have the ball in soccer… even giving up great shots and sometimes hurting the momentum of their team to give the younger kids the joy of playing up front… God seems to be raising up some cool leaders in that age range.
Worship on Sunday was beyond what words can describe. I was borderline crying at one point and felt the Spirit move in powerful ways. Something about the way that worship in the Spirit occurs in this local Church moves me greatly every time. Especially powerful to me was a song that, in English (roughly) repeats “adore, adore, adore, all of the glory and all of the honor to His majesty”… It’s not really just the words or just the music or just the way in which it is sung/played… it’s more than that which makes that chorus ring so powerfully… The Spirit was almost tangible in the place as we sung those verses… and the presence of God easily can move one to tears…
It has been interesting to see the status of the city. In the poor district here, it is almost the same (except the lack of Christian visitors). It hurts my heart that, regardless of the reasons why, so many are not coming the Children’s Home now. The message that the Church is sending by stopping its flow of servants is quite simple and quite clear. When it looks rough or dangerous, or even if it is rough or dangerous, the body of Christ stops loving. As one who deeply loves some of these kids, that cuts me straight to the core. THE most powerful thing that one can do for the kid here is to help them know God and know His love… The message sent is a strong contradictor to what the groups have taught them for a long time about how strong and great God’s love is… If we Christians really embody the love of Christ, then how can His love be all that great? If these kids don’t get into a powerful RELATIONSHIP with Jesus, then all of the efforts of all the years have been for almost nothing… I WANT these kids whom I care about to know God—He is the only one who can give them a life worth living… Please pray that they see His love for them despite the recent circumstances…
Please pray that God embolden His children so that more of them would come here. Please also be praying for our team to be listening to God’s spirit and to continue to be sensitive. Pray also for unity in the Spirit and that God help us let go of what we need to and move with Him in everything. Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Our work project in Chanute went extremely well. We were able to be a blessing and be blessed by a local music ministry. I felt like God was definitely at work even though I wasn’t entirely mentally there the entire trip. He gave me enough of what I needed to have at least one very awesome conversation about Him with a brother down there and one awesome conversation with a brother in Wichita. It was a truly great blessing. The others who went with me also seemed to have a good time with it. I was very thankful for their company and kindnesses on the trip. We’ll see if we can get some photos up.
Beyond that, prayer has been answered about our training session in August—we have invited several other area ministries who might send people to learn more about international student interactions, interpersonal communication, and how to share not just the story of Jesus but God’s story from a Biblical perspective. Trinity Lutheran Church has agreed to host the training, and Doug Schaible of New Tribes will likely be the primary speaker. We’ll be working up a brochure for that event. I’ve also met with a few more Churches (still quite a few to go) and have greater buy-in for both the community groups on and near campus and for the coffeehouse ministry/hangout in the United Methodist Student Center. Ultimately, God is doing some amazing things. Please pray that He keep all of us involved on track and energized in Him. I am so grateful for what He does and for answered prayers! He, and especially His love, are truly amazing beyond words.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Also, I’ve been meeting with several more Churches and, Lord willing, will be meeting with or at least contacting the rest before we leave for Mexico. Please pray that God work through those meetings. I have at least one student leader who will be accompanying me to most meetings and a few who want to help more heavily with the coffee house. We also have to prayerfully decide which training opportunities to take up in August before the community groups launch.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The last few weeks have been very good, and I feel like God has helped me to be at the right place at the right time several times. Besides some very important conversations and prayer-times with college-aged students, multiple other opportunities have arisen. In terms of people connections, I have reconnected with old friends from WaKeeney and Hays, and through that several new people to the area.
Also, I have met with ministry leaders in multiple churches and college ministries to begin cooperative efforts for the upcoming semester. Besides initiating contacts to help find community members for our studies and get the word out about Unite, several of the meetings have yielded potential new relationship opportunities with people who would like to work on and possibly help fund the coffee house initiative. Additionally, things are coming together for two training opportunities that several of the students in Unite and I can attend to help learn about relational ministries and how to run a coffee house. There is also a potential training for some of us in relational ministries and how to reach non-Christians on campus.
We have rented the Union for our ‘Get Plugged In’ event and contacted all of the other Christian college ministries about co-sponsoring the event. [For those who are not familiar with the event, we invite all Christian churches and Christian college ministries to attend a four-hour open house on campus in which student can come and talk with the churches and ministries. This helps students more readily find a church and/or ministry (the only other current existing option to find a church is to find a phone book, look up addresses, and start visiting)]. Three out of the five campus Christian ministries have agreed to co-sponsor the event. The other two may well agree to co-sponsor it, but the deadline to have them listed as co-sponsors in the university brochure has already passed. If they do decide to co-sponsor, we’ll work with them to help get out the word about ‘Get Plugged In’ to students and will list them as co-sponsors on all other materials.
Unite’s Summer small group on Sunday at Coffee Rules has been going well. We had a new college student and a new high school graduate come last Sunday and share as we prayed for and encouraged each other. Also, our game night on Friday night at the United Methodist Student Center had better attendance. I am hopeful that we’ll see more come this Friday and that it will continue to grow over the Summer.
Four student leaders have been meeting with me to pray for and discuss upcoming directions with Unite. I have also been chatting with several older people to get some wise counsel. Interestingly enough, all four students in Unite are the four attending the Mexico Mission Trip that I direct through North Oak. I hope in future years to possibly make the Mexico Trip a Unite trip and that we can invite all congregation members and students from the small groups along with North Oak and a few other Churches at large.
Finally, on a personal note, I have activated my contract with Allegro, the non-profit ministry that helps with legal and tax accountability. I may now legally receive tax-deductible charitable donations for my living expenses as a missions worker to campus. Additionally, Unite will be able to receive donations through a second account for use in upcoming ventures. I plan to begin sending out support letters tomorrow and am currently databasing and addressing envelopes. (If you have an interest in supporting me or Unite prayerfully or financially, please email email@example.com).
The rest of this week for me will be spent organizing and prayerfully preparing. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of meetings with ministry leaders and committees and students, and I have also moved in with three college men so that I may lower my living expenses. I have yet to fully unpack, and I am selling much of what I own both for the money and to conserve space in my smaller living arrangements. I need to separate my items and list the ones I’ll be selling. I also need to complete my databasing for ministry supporters and send out my support letters. Then I need to compile all the notes from all of my meetings and organize all of my files and scheduled appointments (this includes transferring all of my virtual files into a new organized file system and backing them up on an external drive). Organizing will help me on Saturday (my Sabbath) when I sit down and really pray over all that has happened to better discern God’s direction. There are also at least two meetings with college-age students and one meeting with a local ministry leader this week (and a phone call with an area ministry leader to discuss cross-cultural training for the congregation members as they may well work with international students). Friday night is game night, and Sunday afternoon is the small group meeting (I may also be meeting with the student leaders as schedule permits).
Next week I will begin going to Churches in earnest (there are 28 in Hays) to invite them to participate in ‘Get Plugged In’ and to send congregation members to our small groups, if they wish. I will also invite them to participate in the coffee house endeavor.
We will also begin re-vamping our study and sending out the first wave of edits to those who have agreed to help recompile it. [For any who may be interested in forming the study lessons, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.] Additionally, I need to follow up with several ministry leaders about possible commitments of time, money, and/or people to both the small groups and the coffee shop. Then there will still be the continued small group meetings, Mexico planning meetings, Unite leadership meetings, and Friday night game nights, and I will also be continuing to send out my support letters over the week. Until the next update!