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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!
Thank you very much for your prayers and support in the Kingdom Work in and around Hays, KS. It’s been a great semester—the small groups have been experiencing good community and time in the Word. We’ve had some really excellent discussions based on the Word that directly apply to students’ lives in the groups at the time. It’s also been a great semester for one on one discussions and walking with people through difficult times. We’ve had several opportunities open up to assist members in the community, international students, and college students. Each one has been a blessing to us and to the people we’ve helped—thank you for your prayers that enable these situations.
Game night continues to be an alternative for many, and we are excited to be adding more interaction opportunities to it and possibly some new activities. It’s also been EXCELLENT working with new leaders this year in the ministry and during game nights; we have some very Godly young leaders who are also very refreshing presences to be around.
We will be passing on quite a few updates to you soon. The Christmas Season newsletter will be coming out shortly, and it will contain several ministry updates. I will also pass out more information about myself as a support based missionary; to serve with more longevity I want to get that information out to see how God will provide. My current support is $670 per month, and I would like to have enough more that I could afford health insurance and some vision correction for my right eye. Finally, I will pass on information about a new school, Aikido of Northwest Kansas, which I will open up January 15th. It will have traditional self-defensive Aikido martial training, prayer meditation sessions, and Godly Warriors classes (you can find out some more information about this at I already spend about 8-10 hours a week teaching Aikido and working with Aikido related things (it is one of my most important connections to the university students—many in our small groups and at game night come from the FHSU Aikido Club or I meet them when I am on campus to teach). This school will be a powerful augment to the ministry I already do as a missionary and through Unite. Though it will likely not earn much at first, it also may serve as an augment to missionary support and replace the small odd jobs that I currently do to make ends meet. I will still be devoting more than 40 hours a week to missionary projects and Unite without counting the time that will be spent at Aikido of Northwest Kansas. With all of these exciting happenings, I would ask you to PLEASE keep us in your prayers. Again, we want to thank you and wish you all a VERY…
Merry Christmas!
Brandon Nimz

Monday, December 12, 2011


So much has been happening in the past two weeks that I hardly know where to start!  I will be typing it all into the newsletter, which I will post here, but I do want to start by saying thank you for your prayers!  God used several of us VERY powerfully last week, and I have to believe that prayer support is a big part of how everything went so supernaturally well (that will be a large part of the newsletter).  Please continue to pray for us--finals are this week, and after that many of the students will be away on break.  I personally will be traveling to train for an upcoming ministry endeavor (will mention more about that in the newsletter as well), then will be returning to head out as the Instructor/Sponsor for the FHSU Aikido Club Jan 7th.  That should be a great time to bond with about 16 students, so please keep that in your prayers.

Right NOW we can use prayers for the students in finals.  Many of them are very stressed and are having difficulty finding time for God in any location.  I will be excited to meet with those who show up at today's 3:30 p.m. small group in the Union, and we will be praying for everyone--especially those who can't make it.  Still, even most of those who will make it have been requesting prayer for studies and stress and not spending enough time with God.

Thank you all again for your prayers--it is critical.  If there is any way we can pray for you, feel free to post it on the Unite facebook page or email us at!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This morning I brewed up a pot of coffee about 4:50 a.m. and a young guy in one of our small groups came over and shared some caffeine with me as he prepared to hop on the road to get to his family.  After he had left, I sat around in thought for awhile.

I want to take the time to thank you especially for your prayers and for your financial support.  If it wasn't for the way you are blessing me, I couldn't be available at all hours for simple interactions like this one.  While they may seem small, they are pivotal to what I do (to developing relationships and loving people).  The Kingdom advances in so many small ways that we often cannot clearly see.  Thank you so much for enabling me and whoever else you support through prayers and finances to do what we do.  Your blessing is SINCERELY appreciated.

PS  During this holiday season I am doing an extra large amount of small odd jobs that won't conflict with ministry times, so if you or someone you know needs such work done, please let me know!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crazy days

It seems as though every college student (with a few exceptions) is very stressed right now with tests and exams right before fall break.  Please keep them in your prayers--especially that they take the time to STOP, and listen to God and rest in God.  In these stressful times it is so key and so hard to do.

For me, please pray that God help me clearly hear and follow Him--especially right now.

Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Updates/Prayer Requests

Hello all!  I appreciate you keeping up with us and praying with/for us.  Please let us know if we can pray for YOU by emailing us at with any prayer requests!

Ministry Leaders—I think we have an opportunity to begin coming together with a renewed fire and better sense of purpose in Christ.  I am meeting one on one with my leaders to discuss this and to catch up with them in life; this time of year many of them are EXTREMELY busy between classes and work/life.  Please pray that God help us be open to coming together as He wishes in this.

International Students—I have met many new international friends this year and am regularly meeting with a couple to work oral English (and learn some Chinese).  Please pray that the Spirit loudly direct me and others who interact with these communities that we may make the connections we need to and be available to help in whatever way may be needed at the right time.

Small Groups—The students in many of the small groups have been completely over-burdened with classes this semester such that the groups fluctuate greatly from week to week.  This isn’t always a problem and can actually be a very good thing, but please pray for the students as they are stressed and also that they come when then should and that we be ready for them when they do.

Game Night Advancements—You get a better feel for how to pray for game night on the other page; we have been serving a little coffee and now have contact with a man who will hopefully train us this month in how to best use our equipment and brew the more difficult drinks.

Prayer Request/Update—I teach Aikido at FHSU (Aikido is a Japanese self-defensive martial art built on protecting one’s attacker and oneself).  I am not paid to teach and spend about 7 hours a week instructing, but God uses this HEAVILY to connect me with new students—many who come to game night or are in small groups come from Aikido (and vice versa).  I plan, Lord willing, to open up my own dojo Jan 15 and offer a ‘Godly Warriors’ ministry at it.  This will only increase my instruction hours by 5/week, will increase ministry opportunities, and will give me a chance to earn money teaching Aikido to augment my current missionary support ($675/month) so that I may better/more freely serve.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Prayer Requests

The game night is picking up steam in a very healthy way, and I am very excited for it.  Not only have we had some new regulars, but we have also had a lot of higher energy and more fun.  Bumping Friday back to a later start of 9pm has helped both Friday and Saturday develop more of a separate identity (late night game night vs. earlier game night that ends at 1am).

We've had a LOT of conversations with new students this year--both in other parts of the body/ministries and those who are not currently believers.  In particular it seems that I'm meeting a lot of freshman and international students, which is a very good thing.  I've spent several nights up till almost 5 am chatting about some pretty cool life issues things with students.  Please pray that we listen to the Spirit's voice during these conversations and speak when and how He wants us to speak.

The small groups are also off to a start--this semester we have one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one that has yet to have a start time, and a potential for a fourth if momentum continues as Monday's has grown to nine students when all show up at once...  This is also the first semester we will be offering a women's only small group, and I believe it has a powerful chance to impact some women whom we don't get to interact with on serious levels as often.  Please keep all of these groups in your prayers--especially that the Spirit move powerfully through them to all around.

Finally, please keep [alt] in your prayers--we are very busy with set up and preparation this year, as it will be a very large year for it.  It is absolutely critical that we keep this event centered on God and what He wants, so please pray that we listen and follow His direction.  Thanks again, and I'm sure I'll be on here soon with more updates!

Friday, September 9, 2011


Today has been a good day so far.

A couple days ago I ran into a young man on leave from military service in Africa.  I've gotten to know him a little over the past year through his involvement in another college ministry.  We set up a meeting today so that we could catch up.

It was an excellent way to start the day.  Finances have been really tight, but due to a check I received yesterday I had just enough to grab a coffee with him in the morning and chat at Semolino.  For those of you who don't know, I really enjoy fair trade coffee, so being able to enjoy that as we chatted was quite a nice blessing.

What was more of a blessing was hearing how this young man has been seeking to serve by leading a Bible study in his military unit.  The stories about how he tried in his own power and then had to stop, wait, and follow as God led (doing it under God's power) were exciting and reminded me of my own journey.  We talked for a couple hours about how God has been moving in each of our lives and what he has been teaching us in scripture.  It was a very good reminder for me about all that He has shown me over the past year, and I believe the time was very encouraging to both of us.  After we shared, we prayed and I offered to pray for him and his study if he will send me the information electronically while he is deployed.  I am excited to be praying for another small group on top of the ones we currently have meeting.  :)

After that meeting I ran a few errands and by chance ran into another friend who is working with me to help internationals on campus this year.  We were able to chat about some really cool things and also just catch up as friends, which was a very nice rarity since we are both so busy at this time of year.  Though we only spent maybe twenty to forty minutes talking, it was a very refreshing part of my day.

I briefly returned home to send out a few electronic documents needed for some past and future ministry endeavors, and then biked out to meet a pastor from WaKeeney whom I have been meeting with off and on over the past year.  He and his wife feel called to Hays but are currently supposed to be in WaKeeney.  As we ate lunch, I got to hear about how things have been playing out for him and His family and was greatly encouraged by the Godly way he was leading his congregation.  There is something there for me to ponder further, and I am excited to see what God may show me about it.

The rest of the day was pretty eventful, but it ultimately came together for me tonight after I had a chance to take a 20 minute cat nap in preparation for game night tonight (which will last from 9:00 p.m. until probably about 4:00 a.m.).  As I was praying, I really felt how God is re-renewing parts of me that have gotten overburdened in the past week or two.  These weeks have been insanely busy in the best of ways--I have made dozens of new relationship contacts, we have had several major ministry events and are preparing for a few more, and God has been helping me develop better relationships with a variety of individuals and ministry groups throughout the community, including a fair amount of new college students.  However, during the time I have not had time to just sit back and process very much.  The last few days, and tonight in particular provided me a refreshing burst of wind and momentum.  I am very excited to head out to game night tonight and see who all shows up--there is strong potential for a great night, and I can feel it.

Thanks again for your prayers--they are VERY VERY important!

Monday, August 29, 2011

International Student Needs

At this time I have one international student who needs help practicing for her driving test (she has a Bejing driver's license and just needs to make sure she is good with American traffic differences--she has already passed the written portion of the exam), and I need American families who are willing to spend time with a few Chinese women to practice oral English and discuss American culture and their family and its values for about one hour once a week.  Please contact me if you have interest!


It has been a crazy week of ministry!  We have had several large interaction events like the class crawl, picnic in the quad, and Get Plugged In, but I personally have also been spending a lot of time developing relationships with other groups and individuals.

Our ministry was invited to help freshman at class crawl by leading them around the quad and showing them where their classes were.  We also handed out freezer pops.  It was a great opportunity to interact with freshman and let them get to know our faces.

At Picnic in the Quad we had a few sign up as interested in small groups and were able to serve water and freezer pops to quite a few individuals.

Summit Coffee House serves students
 I personally feel that Get Plugged In provided some of the best interactions, as a whole.  Though we didn't have many interact at our booth (we gave out coffee, water, freezer pops, and information about game nights and small groups), there was tremendous interaction with students and many parts of the body.  We had a good number of groups show up for Get Plugged In, and we had a really nice inviting spread in the Quad.  It was open enough that individuals could wander around without feeling pressured yet had enough coverage of walkways that they were able
Encounter engages a student
to interact with quite a few groups.  Many of them stopped by to eat food provided by Cup of Joe's early in the morning or to get free coffee and doughnuts at Pastor Dave's Summit Coffeehouse tent (along with free laundry detergent, deodorant and other needed supplies).  I saw a good number interact with Renew early in the day when the played some music, and more students seemed to interact later with Challenge when they began to play music.  Encounter had several good interactions over the smores that they prepared, and quite a few students came by North Oak's table when they began serving a free lunch.
Challenge students play hacky sack with others

Liberty had more interactions later in the day (they gave students a chance to beat the ministry leader on a video game for a free supper), and I saw a few students walking around with the free bags provided by Trinity Lutheran Church.  First Presbyterian had a few internationals engage in conversation, and the UMSC also had a few people stop by.

North Oak serves food and information

More than just the interactions, though, what I really enjoyed seeing was the body of believers coming together to serve students as one.  Students had a great chance to simply be served and cared for, and I heard many conversations start up along the lines of 'Why are you doing this? Really, well why do you care about us?'  It led to some great conversations about love and Jesus.  I also enjoyed watching groups leave their tables to go interact with other parts of the body that they didn't know well.  It was great to see local college ministers and lead pastors having good discussions about what they were doing.  I feel that God powerfully used the day, and I am very grateful for it.

Beyond the big events, it has been a busy week of interactions.  I recently had a chat with a student until about five in the morning about faith and life.  It was a very awesome time, and I am grateful for that interaction.

I've also started having more interactions with a few new people in different ministries that I have been getting to know.  There is one young man who is working in the fraternities to start up Bible studies and love his fraternity brothers, there is a group living in a house in the party scene as a ministry house to reach out to their neighbors, and there are several ministries that have been around awhile who are just now getting their names out there.  It has been fun engaging in all of these arenas and more over the last week.

Additionally, I have been interacting more with Chinese Students and Chinese Student Association (I just spoke there last night and we have invited them to lead one of our game nights and perform at [alt] if they so desire).

Crazy as it's been, I want you to know that I greatly appreciate your prayers and support.  Have a great week and rest assured that the Kingdom continues to forcefully advance in Hays :)

Monday, August 22, 2011


Wow it's been a crazy interesting two weeks.  Each day has been absolutely chalked full of one-on-one discussions, meetings, and events.

Right now I am trying to help an international student who has no place to stay; he is looking for a rental house with others or some other living arrangement that isn't too expensive.  If you know anyone, please contact me.  Also, please keep him and that situation in your prayers.

Quite a few ministries and churches came to the meeting last Sunday to discuss needs and issues pertaining to international students living here.  We prayed and talked about many of the ideas at length.  It appears that we may start up a few initiatives that have great potential to help out in the next year or two.

It's been a little hectic for the small groups as we figure out who will be in which small group and when that will occur.  We now have one women's small group, one men's small group, and several mixed groups meeting in different locations.  Since everyone's schedule switches at semester and we may have quite a few new students join this year, having it all come together takes quite a bit of listening and following.  Please pray as these communities come together that they happen at the right place and time.  Thank you again for your prayers and support!

Today is Picnic in the Quad--we will interact with many students (likely at a pretty surface level since the event is so large), but we would love prayers that it go right and that God help us be sensitive to any connections that we should make.  Thursday we will be hosting our 'Get Plugged In' event in the quad which we have limited to churches and college ministries, so we would especially appreciate prayers that the right connections are facilitated at that event.  Thank you for your prayers and support over these crazy few weeks!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


We are beginning to feel the semester approach.  New students are arriving, old friends are returning, and things are really beginning to get busy.  As so many new opportunities approach it gets overwhelming unless I just look towards today and God and what He has for me in it.  I am very, VERY excited to see how the Kingdom will be advancing in the upcoming weeks.  There are so many things going on that it makes my head spin to think about them, but we serve a great God who is doing even more things that we don't see.  I have no idea what all to expect, but I know it looks to be an interesting year.

Please pray that the body of believers help out international students--this year Fort Hays has almost 200 more than normal coming in and many will need help getting used to a strange culture, using a secondary language as a primary language, and studying at an entirely new university in a very different setting.  It is a great chance for believers to step up in love and support for them (The Bible does speak to looking out for the foreigner among us).

Also keep those already here in your prayers.  Small groups have been going well this summer, and we have some new faces around.  I'm excited to see how God may be growing things over the year.  There is so much more going on than I can begin to update you on, so for now I will just report about things we are planning for once they actually get here.  In the meantime, please pray that God help us to step where we need and that we don't overlook anything that is in His plans...  In the next few days I hope to meet with many churches and ministries about upcoming events, so please pray that the Spirit lead in that.

Thank you for your prayers--sincerely.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unite Updates/Prayer

This Saturday's small group was a lot of fun.  We started out catching up (because many had been gone between Mexico and other things) and a young Semolino employee who I've gotten to know a bit from being at Semo all the time sat down with us and chatted.  Since the discussion was over things related to Ecclesiastes we read that book in our study and discussed the topics.  The Semo fellow had some really good thoughts and we all had a great discussion over things.  One of our younger members who recently attended a wedding then had a relative pass away right after also commented on the relevance of the book to his life right now.  It was really a good time.

After we shared and prayed for each other--there are a few difficult things going on in several peoples' lives in all of the small groups, so I'd ask that you pray that God help us to let go of our control over difficult situations and that He help us turn it over to Him in prayer and action.  We also ask that those whom we care about let go and trust in God in those situations.  Thanks again all of you for your prayers for us and for God's work here!--Brandon

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mexico Update from the US

Hello from Tucumcari, New Mexico (We have made it safely about halfway home)!

It was difficult to say goodbye to the few remaining kids this morning (most had already left for vacation--the home shuts down for a couple weeks to let its staff take a break and has the kids stay at other homes or with a relative if they have one). At first when we said we were leaving they thought we just meant back to the house, but when they understood we meant to the U.S. there was a visible change in some of their expressions. One boy, in particular, went from a relatively neutral expression to one of visible upset. I could tell he understood that we had to go but that it hurt him still to see us leaving. I am definitely planning to come back if only to see that one little boy.

Once we got across we had a very long day in the van. God did provide some beautiful weather to drive through including some distant thunderstorms, pretty rain-showers, and some gorgeous sunsets over New Mexico mesas. (I suspect Dawn will post some of those photos).

I would ask that you all pray that each of us can sleep deeply tonight, wake rested and recharged in the Spirit, and that we all be peacemakers and at peace in Christ all day tomorrow. Thank you for your continued prayers!--Brandon

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mexico Last Night in the Cancha Videos

Here are three videos of our last night playing with the kids in the cancha--they are pretty fun (especially the first one).  Enjoy!--Brandon

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Mexico Update (Last Evening Here)

It's our last full day in Juarez--we will cross the border and begin our return journey tomorrow; it is not, however, the last day of this trip.  The Spirit will still be using us on the return trip and after.  I would request that you pray that God help us be sensitive for when and how to share about how He has worked here and to help us treat every day as it should be--surrendered to Him.  This place is amazing, and the children are even more so...  they are precious beyond words.  I cannot explain to you how it feels to see their cute eyes and huge smiles as they sit down and pull your arms around them.  Even the most disruptive ones--especially the most disruptive ones--want to be loved.

This morning we played with the littlest boys--the most disruptive group of all--so that the dorm mother (hermana) could clean the bathrooms for them.  I watched as one of the more disruptive little ones at the time got knocked down and started crying.  When Dawn came near he raised his arms and she held him as he cried.  However, long after he had finished crying he refused to let go and clung tighter and tighter to her.  The precious nature of the moment and his deeper need were so evident that it hurt.

This evening we played in the cancha for the last time with the kids.  They had found a pool of water under a bus from the storm the other night and were running around enjoying the change of pace.  As they played a few got too cold and I had to help run them inside with some of our ladies so they could clean up.  One of the most disruptive boys of all didn't want to change because he wanted to stay outside so he found a towel.  Shivering, he came up next to me and huddled into my side to stay warm.  As we sat there I helped him cover his head and put my arm around him.  Long after he had warmed up he continued to sit there; this young kid who loved to be loud and make as much trouble as possible really just wanted to sit with someone quietly who would put their arm around him.

God is an amazing God, and His story and love are beyond words, and I pray that these truths would be clear to these little ones and to all of those who walk by the house we stay in here late at night.  So many walk by to smoke marijuana, do harder drugs, find comfort in the opposite sex, and try to find something that fulfills them in this life.  So often too I can go through my day living for my kingdom, worrying about foolish fears, and ignoring the true life God freely gives me and His providence.  Though I don't embody Christ nearly enough I dearly wish that I could show those who have never seen what little bit He has shown me, and I hope that I can live more and more for Him.  It is so hard, yet it is so simple...  Dear God, help me let go of the reigns to you, to surrender, follow, and be transformed by your Spirit.  I pray that I may let go of my foolish worries, fears, and selfish pride and walk hand in hand with each brother and sister across the world--that they may know we are Christians by our love and by our oneness in you even as you prayed for us before you died.  Thank God for the humbling honor of being used by Him for His Kingdom.  May we all be forever amazed as we are part of it as it advances...  as we are part of Him.  Thank God.

Mexico Update from Vicky

Dear friends,

Thank you for all your prayers and support for us and the people we come into contact with. I have especically bonded with Karen. She is only 9 years old, but she seems at least 14 I had thought because she is so good with taking care of the other kids, like a little momma. She is trying to teach me Spanish. Thursday, I felt led to share a short testimony of my life as a single mom to one of the groups we had been teaching a lesson and craft. I wanted to share with them how even though things can be bad God can turn it around for good to give you and your family a new good life. I love you forever and always Teagan, my daughter. You are by far the greatest blessing from God to me. Chelsea, one of our group, inspires me so much with her sweet spirit, patience, servant's heart, Godly wisdom, and unselfish ways. She is an example of Jesus to me and a great blessing.

We all have sin in our lives, the question is will we choose to embrace it or God when He shows us a better way of living and if we will embrace God and let Him show us a better way. Will we embrace our own selfish will for a lesser life than God intended for us or will we obey Him for the greatest life of all beyond our imagination or dreams.

I am sad to leave, but I know the children here are in great hands with the loving staff and the Loving God.

Monday I got to catch Kimberly from the cement slide as she began to trust more as earlier in the day she would not even give me her name. My home is wherever God has me at the time. Rana is so unselfish and sweet. I was tying water balloons, for her I thought, but then she gave them all away. This is from the day of the water war. It was refreshing to see Patti get involved in enjoying the water war. At first, she seemed not to want to get wet at first as I squirted her a little and she screamed, and then Ben doused her with a bucket of water, and the fun began. I helped her lay in a stash of water balloons. I need to learn the string tricks from Chelsea as the kids really enjoy them. James is my tech man, when the internet went down he was the one to save my first post from being lost and saved it to the desktop. Brandon is our fearless leader with much Godly wisdom and insight and keeps us organized and on task although he wants us to have much input and is not a dictator at all. Dawn is my tech support as I use her labtop to post. Ben is the crafty man as his mom and him provided most of the craft ideas. God has put together a great team of believers. Chelsea has much Godly wisdom and when she speaks you definitely want to listen. She suggested for one of the lessons to read to the kids parts of Job 38. I read this passage myself after Brandon had read it to the kids in Spanish and it touched me so much that it made me cry.

Wednesday night, I had been wanting to sing worship songs, and had just asked James who was playing guitar if we could do this, and he said sometime when we have some time. Just then Becky and Adam came to the door and asked if we were worshiping, and I said I want to, and then we did. What a great time we had. I thought it would be great to do this for the kids, too, and guess what, Brandon was already thinking this too. I didn't even have to speak. God works so cool. It was great ministry for the kids hearts as a few of them broke down into tears as God touched them and we prayed for and comforted them.

Thursday, we had a fiesta including pinata and face painting. I wanted Patti and Karen to paint my face like a cat and then paint me wherever with whatever design that they wanted to. Most of us were painted up with God's glory and love by the children. We all love it and the designs were quite funny too as you will see as Dawn posts more pictures from her camera. Friday, we did a craft with the roots of the tree the bad things they had experienced and the leaves of the tree the good things they experience or like with the crosses they made earlier decorating the trunk of the tree. Kind of like how God gives us beauty for ashes. Here is looking forward to tomorrow and good night all.

Love in Christ,

Vicky Cowana

Mexico Update

Yesterday we had a good lesson (the kids listened more actively then they had yet all week) and we had a fiesta with pinatas and face-painting.  A few of the kids also decided that WE needed face paint, and that led to some 'interesting' results...

That evening I had a chance to get to know some of the littlest girls better.  One decided she was my teacher and had me do 'homework'.  Most of the others wanted what every little kid here wants--to play 'bolantine' or 'avioncita'.  Bolantine involves grabbing both arms of a little one and spinning them in a circle; avioncita is the same but with one arm and one leg so they can be like a 'little airplane'.

This morning went very well.  We had a much more difficult lesson (in terms of its emotional impact).  We had the kids each draw what they saw as the worst darkness in their lives (pain, sins, difficult things they have experienced, failures).  We also reminded them of all that God gives--from the stars in the sky and cool evening breezes to magnificent thunderstorms to family, love, and friendship.  We then asked them to draw that.  After reading a few verses about surrender and transformation (Luke 9:23 until end of thought and Romans 12:1-2) we drew a very large tree on a few large sheets of paper we'd taped together.  Earlier in the week each kid had made and decorated two crosses--one to keep and one for us to use.  We put the pictures they drew of their darkness in with the roots of the tree, we put the crosses along the trunk of the tree, and we put what they saw as the best things of God in the branches as fruit.  The final project was a perfect visual for transformation--their dark paid for by Christ on the cross (each had their own cross on the tree as Christ had died for each individual) and grown and transformed into God's best by the Spirit.  (We discussed that this transformation happens as we surrender our lives and follow--embodying faith/trust in Christ; an earlier lesson was on trust in Christ within relationship with Him).  The staff had us hang up the final project on the wall.

I could see in the eyes of some of the children that it was difficult for them to draw the dark in their lives--many drew weapons and pictures of violence, and a few had some teary eyes.  To my surprise, the youngest boys (who can be some of the biggest troublemakers) actually wanted me to re-read the verses on transformation and read more to them!  I could feel God's Spirit move at times in the lesson and see in some of the children's eyes that they understood it--at least in part.  Thank God for such a morning.

Afterward we took a group photo and prayed over the children.  On our way out of the building, one of the staff told me that she really wanted prayer for her and the other workers...  so we offered to pray for them and she assembled the staff.  During this time I REALLY felt the Spirit move; one of the staff even broke down and cried--praying in Spanish.  I couldn't fully understand her words through the sobs, but I could feel in my Spirit that she was dealing with some intense pain.  We prayed for them for quite awhile, and I prayed internally that God give me the words as I prayed for them in the Spirit in Spanish.  I must simply trust that He answered even though I only felt that I had partway gotten the meaning across that needed prayed.  Thank God for that opportunity as we felt Him move.

The rest of the day went well--we organized our things and gave most of our items to the office (the extra craft pieces that they could use and crayons, glue, paper, and other supplies along with a large box of maybe 100 bags of spicy Cheetos we had received from Joe's Addiction Coffee House).

While I was cleaning up this afternoon, I was VERY excited to hear the sounds of a full-out Juarez thunderstorm.  When a real one rolls of the mountains, they are VERY fierce and drop more rain than I have ever seen.  The wind blows like mad, and the rain rolls down in torrents.  It was beautiful.

To finish out the night we played with the children in the cancha.  I had quite a bit of fun chatting with several of them and was very pleased when a couple of the younger girls whom I get along with really well came over and sat in my lap.  One of them pulled my arms around her and promptly pretended to be a baby while the other pretended to be a concerned adult who was trying to care for her.  The whole thing was very fun and very sweet.  They are such beautiful little girls--I don't understand on any level how anyone could not treasure them.  I realize that they may be treasured and merely have family who can't financially care for them, but that is not the case for all of the children here, and each one is definitely a treasure.  Thank God for the time with them all and for this evening.  Thank you and please pray for us as we finish our time serving here and prepare to cross back to the U.S. and travel home in a van with a leaky fuel neck.  Buenas Noches!

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Greater things have yet to come...and greater things are still to be done in this city!"

So, the past couple of days have been so absolutely chocked full of action and AWESOME that I haven't taken the time to update. But I would suggest that this is a good problem to have. :) I have been experiencing life here and enjoying every bit of what God has us doing in and through us.

We have had lessons and crafts with the kiddos every morning this week and in the evenings we spend time playing with them in las canchas. It is often very exhausting, but God always renews our energy! We have also had some enjoyable afternoon activities with the children at the home...such as a WATER WAR! Which was a perfect thing to do on such a HOT Mexico day! I think several of us agreed the phrase "hace mucho calor!" was SUPER appropriate for that particular day....however being pelted with water balloons and having buckets of water dumped over your head....definitely gave the afternoon a bit of a refreshing touch.

The next day (yesterday) SO MANY things happened! I must say, quite like last year, that a day here often feels like 2 or 3 days chocked into one! So many things happen and it just feels as though the days blend together...sometimes it is difficult for me to determine what happened on which day and if it weren't for my journal I would probably not have a clue! hahaha, it is so easy to lose track of time here...but, in a sense, that is part of what I enjoy about being in Juarez. A week can feel like a month... :)

After lessons yesterday morning and an afternoon spent with the kids in las canchas we, as a mission team, had a good bonding experience. Our friend Adam, who we met last year, and our new amiga Becky came over to the casita where we were relaxing for a little bit after dinner and before heading back to the canchas again. We had a really fun little worship session in the living room! Adam even used one of the empty water jugs to play "drums" on. It was pretty cool, so cool in fact that we decided to relocate to the canchas and sing with the children! This was ALSO a very good time...and very moving. At the end of the singing time some of the little girls wanted to pray for their families and different situations...and there were some tears. I don't know why it always surprises me when things like this happen, but one of the little girls who is the most rambunctious and needy when it comes to attention from the "Americanos" was one that broke down sobbing. God is truly at work here. There is no doubt in my mind, and he finds little ways to encourage me of this SO MANY times throughout the day.

After that, since we hadn't had much of a chance to hang out with Adam much yet and have been looking forward to doing so again since last year, Adam invited us and Becky over to his apartment (on the compound right there by the home) for a game night! IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! What a wonderful time to just take part of the night and relax and fellowship with our brothers and sisters! It was definitely a much needed change of pace, and a blessing to spend time with friends that we only get to see this one time a year...

We played games and pretty much danced the night away (quite literally) and at the end of the festivities we had the opportunity to visit with both Adam and Becky about what we could be praying for them about individually. It was a touching moment and one that I will never forget. What a tremendous BLESSING it is to know hermanos in Christ in a place far away from our everyday norm, who are still working for God's kingdom...still striving to make lives better for these kids....and to know we are all connected. The thought sincerely blows my mind and I PRAISE GOD for the opportunity to get to be here and witness light in this place, a place where I never thought I would ever find myself....and now I've been here twice! I am blessed beyond all reason to have this opportunity to connect with our familia here in Juarez, Mexico. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything.

~Dawn Rickerson

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mexico Update/Prayers

While Tuesday was a good chance to chill with the water war we had with the kids (photo above), Wednesday was truly refreshing. The week had been excellent but very long, and it felt as though everyone was tired. The Wednesday morning lessons went well, and we had a break from the usual when we went to paint one of the rooms in the school for the early afternoon.

The change of pace was just what we needed. Afterward, we played with the kids in the cancha (playground) and had a wonderful supper.

That evening we were surprised by Adam and Becky who came over to visit us at the casita (little house) we stay in. Adam lives here at the home and helps with the kids and administration work. He has taken on a bigger role in the local congregation, as well. Becky is an El Paso student who has been visiting the home for the past three weeks. She may end up helping out here for a longer period of time in the near future.

Becky and Adam spent some time with us in worship; we had two guitars and a water jug that we used as a drum. It was a VERY relaxing time. (You can check out a video of part of it here: We enjoyed it so much that we decided to take the worship to the cancha for the evening with the kids instead of randomly playing whatever they want to in the evening (which is what we usually do).

This was one of the better moments in the trip for me, personally. I sat down and two of the little girls who I get along with especially well climbed into my lap to sing with me. One of them was on my left leg and one was on my right. Both of them pulled my arms around them, and the little one on my right put her tiny little hand in mine. It was a very sweet moment; I felt so very large and old compared to these tiny little precious girls in my lap. They were so happy to be there and so sincere in the easy way that they trusted me. I felt a burden to protect them because of how precious they are, and it made me realize that I definitely want to be a father one day.

After singing and having a very good time together, we hugged most of them good night and headed down to Adam's house. Adam had invited us to play games late into the night. We usually go to bed somewhat early to prepare for the next day, but everyone wanted to go, and I wanted to relax and have some fun, too (even if it cost a bit of energy early the next day).

We ended up having a great time chatting and playing on his Wii gaming console. For much of the evening we played a crazy dancing game that senses your movements and gives you a score. I think that many of you will find the videos of it quite funny, so I posted one here for your enjoyment: (

After we finished dancing, we gave Adam a small gift and prayed over both him and Becky. I feel that this was also one of the more important moments in the trip. The work that both do here is absolutely critical, and I felt very much led to encourage and support them. Thank God for that opportunity. :) I went to bed pleasantly tired and slept VERY deeply. It was an excellent respite and a day that restored much needed energy. That brings us up to today, which I will likely post about later.

Thank you all for your prayers; please pray that as we begin our last interactions with the kids that God be very evident and that they would desire relationship with Him. I think that the lesson tomorrow has very strong potential--pray that God help us help them see Him through it and through our lives.... Thanks again for coming with us in spirit!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mexico Update

While everyone was resting after morning lessons, I had the opportunity to play chess with two young people in the home.  To my surprise, one was a young man whom I had a very serious conversation with about his family last year and whom I was able to pray for.  I was able to ask him about it and also let him know I'd been praying for him.  It was a very unique opportunity--I think it really surprised him that I remembered.  Thank God for that small interaction.  --Brandon

Mexico Update/Disclaimer for previous post

Vicky strongly wanted to share with you about her healing and how it has enabled her to minister on this trip.  Since she felt it was valid and wanted to share it in the Spirit, I told her she could post about it.  I was unaware at the time that any product would be mentioned in the post, so I do need to make a disclaimer.  Unite does not have any relationships with Juice Plus and does not endorse this product (or discourage its use).  The post below that mentions it is solely the experience of its author and in no way is intended as an endorsement by our ministry or trip.  That said, we are excited that Vicky is doing so well on this trip and has not had to use many medications.  It has been fun to see how excited she has been interacting with all around her and how God has already used her.  I hope that clears up any confusion!--Brandon, Unite Ministry Leader

How God has healed me

I feel I must share with you how God has furthur healed me and prepared me for ministry. I no longer have ADHD, migraine headaches, dizziness, and prescription eyeglasses. I have quit several medicines with my doctor, Dr. Harris, two of which are blood pressure medicines, and I plan on quitting more meds with my doctor. I don't need the vitamins,etc. I had been taking. The heat doesn't bother me anymore. I sleep great for the first time in my life with no medicine for that. I am healthier now than I have ever been in my life. Praise God! I have all this energy I have never had before as before I was plagued by fatigue. I can hear God like never before. God has given me mega faith to pray for the blind to see literally. Wow, this shocks me too. God has provided this and more to me through Juice Plus, a fruit and vegetable supplement through whole food nutrition, that was introduced to me by Diana Fowler, a lady at my church, Liberty Christian Fellowship. Although it can take up to 4 months, God gave me results in 2 weeks, and I know God has more for me. My only regret is not knowing about this sooner. It costs $1.50/day. God has healed me to better prepare me for His Ministry, give me financial independence as I had not been able to work, and more income to further support God's Kingdom. Juice Plus is for everyone no matter what condition or age. If you are already healthy, you can get healthier, as God has a more abundant life for us that we don't always realize until we experience first hand. With each paid adult, you can sign up a child for free which the cost is shared by Juice Plus Distributors such as myself. We are not just distributors but also educators as well. I thoroughly enjoy this ministry of health that God has given to me to help others with their health through Juice Plus as well as praying for their healing. This child qualifies for free as long as they are still in school and have not yet received their bacholer's degree in college. Anyone can be a distributor of Juice Plus. I believe as I talked with Jamie Zumalt at Joe's Addiction, this would be a great way to help single moms and others in their community to get out their hopelessness, prostitution, and poverty. My website and phone number for more information is and 785-259-5052. We are having a Wellness Event on health, wellness, and fitness at Diana Fowler's house at 3405 Summer Lane in Hays, KS on July 26 at 7 p.m. I would be excited to share and answer any questions you have about the mission trip.
Love in Christ,
Vicky Cowan

Mexico Posts--Interact with Us!

Just a reminder--if you want to encourage us, share with us, have us pray for you, or ask us questions that we can respond to on this blog, email us at  Thanks again for your prayers!!!

Brandon's Mexico Update

Wow—it has been such an amazing trip so far it is difficult to put it into words.  From the minute we began it seems to have been loaded with powerful interactions with God and others.

On our way down (July 14) we ran into a hitchhiker who needed to get further down the road.  In praying about it I felt that we could help him without compromising the safety of our crew, and we had some very illuminating conversations with him about life.  All of a sudden, it sounded like someone hit us as a car passed us, so we pulled over.  It turned out that the treads had entirely come off our rear driver’s side tire, and our passenger helped us change it out.  As we were changing the tire he smoked a cigarette, but I thought I smelled something strange about it.  Sure enough, as we continued down the highway he showed signs of having taken something—agitation at sound, aggravation over bumps in the road, a vacant stare and mutterings.  It became apparent to those sitting near that we needed to pull over and let him off.  Interestingly enough, as I needed to figure out how to tell him that he couldn’t ride with us past this stop without angering him further (whatever he had taken had him very agitated at this point), we sprung a major leak in the fuel neck (the part form the gas cap to the tank).  Since he could see the fuel shooting onto the ground from the hose as we fueled, he didn’t want to ride with us for safety, so we were able to part ways peacefully.  After I had finished repairing the leak to the best of my abilities, he returned.  Since we were now only going to go into Oklahoma City and couldn’t drop him off in the country outside it, he didn’t want a ride from us.  He also seemed to have come down off whatever he had been on.  What he actually wanted to do was to apologize for having gotten angry earlier.  He said he’d been trying to change his life and become righteous but had been struggling for a long time.  As we chatted more, it became apparent that he genuinely wanted to be on a path towards change and was striving as best as he knew how.  After getting him some food we were able to pray for him as he walked off to camp, and then we limped on into Oklahoma City with the little bit of fuel we had been able to get into the tank.

This interaction with the hitchhiker was a very powerful example of how God can use the bad for good; the fuel leak actually was very much needed so that we could safely split ways with the hitchhiker, this man was 100 miles closer to home and had received food and prayer, we had help changing a tire (he gave us the idea to use a block so the jack would reach), and this interaction prepared us spiritually for much of what we would experience at Joe’s in Oklahoma City and even the stories we would hear in Juarez.

Yet our interactions the first day weren’t over.  At Joe’s Addiction in Oklahoma City, we talked with Chris (a local ministry leader who has been a believer for almost two years).  He told us a recent story about how God had powerfully used him and his abilities to help a local named Mike receive disability pay.  Though this sounds like a simple story, you HAD to be there to hear the emotion in his voice, feel the way the Spirit touched our hearts, and see the way that the groups’ eyes lit up.  God powerfully encouraged us by the way He was working in that situation.

The next morning, the Spirit again touched our group as Jamie (one of Joe’s owners) shared how God has been moving in the community.  I could see several in our group almost crying at points, and I myself held back tears a couple of times as Jamie shared how the Spirit moved in the lives of those in the community there.  Many of the stories were very similar to the situations the children at the home often come out of (sexual abuse, neglect, violence, drugs), and the connections were very obvious.  Throughout that entire day as we worked at Joe’s, many individuals in our group had powerful conversations that God moved in… but I’ll let them share about them.

July 16 was a LONG day of driving, but after some good conversations about the home and the church here we had supper and got to play with the kids.  Many of them remembered us and were VERY glad we were here.  It was good to be with them again.

July 17 after church service (which was powerful in itself—one can always feel the Spirit move mightily during praise and worship at this particular Mexican congregation) we had ANOTHER powerful conversation.  Joel (the principal at the home) shared with us the story about how he had been kidnapped for ransom and beaten last October.  He spoke of his faith and how he knew many were praying for him.  Even after being tortured, he said he slept deeper and more peacefully than he ever had before.  He shared that this experience brought his faith to life for Him and really showed Him God’s presence and providence.  Even more, seeing that most of his abductors were local teens inspired him for his work at the children’s home by showing him how VERY critical what they do is if the cycles of darkness are ever to be changed.  Our discussion with Joel was deeply encouraging.

That night we again played with the children and got to know more of the new faces of the home (while enjoying our interactions with the old ones).

Today (July 18) was powerful in different ways…  but I will let the others share more about that (Dawn just did in the previous post—you should read it).  In general, our interactions with the children were very good and very touching; it shows clearly in their faces that many are extremely happy that we still care about them and remember them.  I thank God that we can be here for them and with them—our little brothers and sisters.

Finally, I want to quickly mention two pertinent things from today.  First, when we went to a local store at the base of the hill we found out that it had been shut down.  After talking with some locals, it turns out that the owners had been threatened and didn’t have protection money so had fled.  This was actually very sad for me as I have had good discussions with that family each year that we come back.  It continues to highlight the difficulties in everyday life in this place.

Second, we had a couple of great conversations with Becky, an El Paso student who is here for a few weeks.  It is very apparent that God is using her to serve and build bridges between El Paso and Juarez.  Her heart clearly belongs to Jesus, and her passion for others and God is inspiring.  She shared many things with our group that inspired us and encouraged us, and we are very thankful for time that we get to spend with her.

Thank you all for your prayers— If you want to share something with us, encourage us, ask us to pray for you, or ask us questions email us at and we can hopefully respond on this blog.  Please keep praying—it has been VERY important already :)  --Brandon