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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From my meditation today...

The story of creation in Genesis, the Proverbs about listening and using few words, and the parable of the four soils hit me today as I read the Bible.  It is so easy for me to accidentally focus on the wrong things or even to look at the right things the wrong way and thus to be the seed that gets choked out by the weeds—wanting the nice things in life or focusing on the worries or cares of this world.  Today is my ‘office’ day when I spend the bulk of it in my room at my computer and desk.  I use the time to do web programming for Unite and Aikido of Northwest Kansas, to do paperwork and accounting for the dojo, Unite, and me, to catch up on dozens of emails, phone calls, and texts, to get files in order, to do little errands that I haven’t had time to in the week, and to try and take a nick out of the huge pile of things I would love to do in the ministry and/or dojo if I had the time.  It can easily become a day governed not by God but by my list of things to do, and my perspective can easily be not focused on Kingdom things but on accomplishing a bunch of check marks (if I am not careful).

My meditation challenged me to slow down and listen to God throughout the day, to be in harmony with the creation we are a part of, and to focus especially on the things that are clearly of the Kingdom.  In fact, I need to focus MORE on the exciting meeting I will have at 2:00 p.m. with the ladies who are helping run the Common Grounds Coffee House and Unite Game Night.  It is an obvious Kingdom thing, and I am truly excited to see what may come up next for Unite Game Night and Common Grounds!  The same is true of tonight when I help at my congregations’ youth group.  While not a direct part of the in-state missionary work I do per se, it is still Kingdom Work and can often be one of the most important parts of the day, if I let it.  I need to relax and be focused on those things even as I crank out web pages and fill out forms.  More importantly, perhaps, I need to see the forms and paperwork not as worries of the world or things to do that demand my attention be focused on them due to their seeming urgency, but as an important part of the Kingdom—as opportunities to share what God is doing and how He is working, as opportunities to make community here smoother and better, and as potential opportunities to increase my missionary financial support or income at the dojo to free me up and further Kingdom work here.  When I don’t let them rule my day instead of God but let God rule and excitedly get to those things, the whole day goes from another busy day to a fun and exciting day serving the Kingdom.

Thank God for a good time this morning in prayer, meditation, and in the Word!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Missionary Monthly Update

Near the end of August I ran into a difficult ministry decision.  Each year I have helped coordinate [alt], which is a Christian alternative event to the partying, drunkenness, and violence that occurs each year in Hays after the local Oktoberfest celebration.  [alt] provides a Christian concert that starts right after Oktoberfest and ends around midnight.  Then later night alternatives are provided by local ministries (including Unite—our game night and coffee house run all night that evening).  The lead coordinator for [alt] stepped down from his ministry position at his church near the end of August, and the other coordinator and I weren’t sure if we could do the event without him in such a short period of time.  The bands hadn’t been locked down and the money was partly tied to the lead coordinator and his church, which was understandably unwilling to route the funds through their nonprofit accounts without his involvement.  Everyone indicated that if I could get it all organized through Unite’s nonprofit accounts, could get good enough bands locked down and money to pay them, and if I could keep the whole event at least as high quality as last year that we could go ahead and do it.  We all agreed that was a long shot.  We also needed to know within a week to get advertising out OR to get out the word that [alt] would be coming back bigger and better next year.  It left a very short time window, but I felt like I should definitely pray about it to see what God wanted me to do and to look into the possibilities to see where we were really at.

As I prayed and looked into it, I didn’t really feel like I was hearing any answer or getting any inclination about whether to proceed or not.  Several doors opened up—I found some leads to different bands that might be able to perform for the event, and I was able to get permission to use our nonprofit accounts for [alt].  Also, some of our old partners were up to the task of helping out, and I had already done some work earlier this year in getting new partners to help with the event.  We didn’t have any god leads to indicate how much financial backing we could expect from old community partners, but at least one indicated that they would provide something if we could get the event to work out.

It was an odd contradiction for me, because as I prayed and meditated, I felt slightly inclined to hold off until next year, but as the more I looked into it, the more doors seemed to open and the more it looked feasible with God’s providence and with a titanic amount of effort (which I was willing to provide).

My meditations brought me back to an interesting moment from the week before.  Unite had a table at Fort Hays State’s event ‘Picnic in the Quad’ along with the dojo and our Godly Warrior and early church prayer meditation ministries.  Right after the event I had to run to Trinity Lutheran church for a meeting, so I shoved all of the contents of the tables (including some syrup for the coffee house and some candy) into my car.  When I came back to unload it for the coffee house, I grabbed the candy first and then the syrups.  I had to set one of them up on the roof of my car before I could grab the next, so I made sure it was secure and then reached in for the next one.  To my surprise I heard the wobbling sound of the glass bottle ‘walking’ down the roof of my car.  I popped my head out and shot my hand forward to catch it, but with the other full of candy I couldn’t support it very well.  I readjusted but ended up dropping the bottle, and it shattered and spilled lovely smelling syrup all over the ground.  Needless to say I was upset—in hindsight I should have dropped the candy and let it spill all over the ground to catch the breakable syrup bottle; then I could have picked up the candy and put it back in the bag.  Unfortunately, it was now too late.

The whole picture was a good analogy for my life at the end of August.  I was so busy during the first week of school between promoting the different ministry opportunities at ‘Picnic in the Quad’ and other events, organizing and running ‘Get Plugged In’, and preparing for the grand back-to-school-opening of Unite Game Night/Common Grounds Coffee House that I literally felt unable to breathe at times.  I was also still running the small groups, leading prayer meditation, and doing the various dojo ministries.  My hands were quite full.

I spent a few days trying to figure that analogy out (I didn’t want to drop the syrup—whatever that meant).  Then the next week the [alt] decision came up.  At first my meditations just let me to different Bible verses and ideas, but then they also showed me how those verses related to the situation with the syrup.  It struck me that the candy I had held onto was somewhat similar to [alt].  If we dropped it this year, we could always put it back in the bag and make it even bigger and better next year.  The syrup was more similar to my life in ministry at this time: the small groups I lead, the one-on-one meetings with college students, the Unite Game Nights/Common Grounds Coffee House, my relationship with my girlfriend and friends and family, writing down some of what God is teaching me, and the unforeseen Kingdom Work that pops up in front of me from time to time (from preaching at different churches to helping make Hispanic ministry connections).  Though those things wouldn’t necessarily shatter never to return if I devoted less time to them, they also represent the heart and soul of what I do.  Would it be right to drop those to catch [alt]?

Even then, I still wasn’t sure, because more doors were opening even as the deadline to decide approached.  Finally, in meditation, I realized that it was much like the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.  I could choose to run around and do very real and necessary work (like what I would have to do for [alt] to be possible), OR I could choose to slow down and devote time to listening to Jesus and relationships.  In prayer I honestly believed that God would open the doors to make [alt] possible if that is the road I picked AND that it would be good and would be a God-thing that it happened.  I also believed that He would help me slow down and listen and love even better in what I was doing if that is what I chose.  It really felt like He was asking me ‘which road do you want to follow?’  I picked the listening and relational one.

As such, we won’t be having the concert portion of [alt] this year.  We WILL be asking all of the ministries (including our very own Unite Game Night/Common Grounds Coffee House) to step it up this year and offer alternatives that start even earlier and are even bigger to pick up the slack, and we also plan-Lord willing-to have [alt] again next year even bigger and better.

I am personally excited for the opportunity this gives some of the leaders for Unite Game Night/Common Grounds Coffee House and I.  We have a chance to come up with some really fun stuff to do outreach for the Kingdom this Oktoberfest night.  Please be in prayers with us as we see what God may have for us to do!  I also personally request prayers for God’s continued financial providence.  He has gotten me through the most difficult first two years of being an in-state missionary, and now I am excited to see how He will continue to provide for this Kingdom Work.  I have not received any additional supporters at this time, so I am still earning $907 per month.  However, I have received at least two one-time donations, and I am hopeful that a few additional individuals will prayerfully join in supporting me as a missionary.  Thank you again for your prayers!  --Brandon

Unite Updates Quarterly Newsletter (Sept 2012)

Beginning of Semester News!

Hello everyone!  It’s been a great start to the semester, and I am very excited to see what the rest of this school year will hold!  We had a good first week; Unite/Common Grounds (the name of our Unite Coffee House) and the dojo were at the FHSU ‘Picnic in the Quad’ (picture to the left: One of our students at the Unite/Common Grounds Coffee House Table at Picnic in the Quad).  This is an event where local businesses, nonprofits, and student groups are allowed to show up to campus to distribute information about themselves.  We gave out quite a few coupons for potential free coffees and had a couple of students sign up for small groups, but this event is a veritable madhouse as people run everywhere and give away big prizes and free things to get students’ attention.  As such, there is really no way to know for sure how many connections were made.

Get Plugged In

Later in the week, Unite hosted ‘Get Plugged In’ on campus—during which we invite all local churches and college ministries to the quad to serve students for the day from 9:00 a.m. until about 2:00 p.m.  It’s hard to tell how many students came by—I know that one church gave out about 200 meals even though they were only there from 11:00 am until about 1:00 pm.  I do know that I, personally, had more quality conversations that day than I did at ‘Picnic in the Quad.’  I also know some of the churches were able to serve quite a few students.  New Life Assemblies of God brought their mobile coffee house (picture above left) and gave out a ton of free products, North Oak brought dinner (picture above right), the United Methodist Church and Student Center served watermelon, First Presbyterian served cookies, Unite gave out regular coffee and did pour-overs, Renew showed up with some drinks, the dojo gave out a little info about our Godly Warriors class, Perspectives gave out info, St. Joseph’s coffee house ‘Cup O’ Joe’s’ gave out cookies, and Messiah Lutheran gave out Ramen and invited students to sign up for an English-Chinese Bible study.

I know that there were some very valuable student conversations—I got connected with one young lady who had been looking for a church all last semester but who didn’t know where to start.  I also overheard other students connecting with various ministries.  Beyond that, though,

there were some VERY good ministry connections and conversations.  Numerous pastors and lay-people from different churches intermingled and talked about what they were doing and sometimes even about working together.  One cool example was that Messiah Lutheran Church had been trying to contact the United Methodist Student Center to see about having their Chinese-English Bible studies there (since it is much closer to campus).  I was able to wave Steve (the gentleman in charge of the UMSC) over so that they could directly arrange it.  If I saw the list right, more than a dozen and possibly up to a few dozen Chinese students had signed up for the study!  All in all, it was a great day and a good event with very positive feedback from those who had attended.

Unite Game Night and Common Grounds Coffee House

That Friday we had the opening back-to-school night for Unite Game Night and Common Grounds Coffee House (picture left).  There were many returning faces, and it seems that quite a few people liked the fact that we were able to not just serve coffee but could also serve foods and a much greater variety of coffee drinks.  Though only a few people participated in Crosswalk’s faith discussion at 6:30 p.m. and in our devotion time at 12:01 a.m., I felt like both of those things went well, too.  More exciting than that, though, are some of the changes in Unite Game Night this year!

One of the most enjoyable changes, as far as I am concerned, is that I now have leaders and student leaders who work JUST with Unite Game Night and Common Grounds.  Instead of having student leaders who have to help oversee everything, they can focus in on that which they are passionate about.  As a result, the three gals and one guy who help me out with that have had some excellent ideas, and we have been able to do some fun and interesting things.  One of the new things is that we bought out Semolino’s syrups when they went out of business, so we can now serve literally hundreds of combinations of lattes and cappuccinos.  We also have begun experimenting with new drink types (like Italian Cream Sodas) and other specialties weekly, which we add to the menu if they go over well.  We have additionally created menus, bought a bell that students can ring if they want a drink, and bought aprons for ourselves so that they can identify people who can assist them with food or drink orders when we are all out playing games or chatting.

Equally exciting is that we have partnered with Trinity Lutheran, who hosts ‘Crosswalk’ (which is a faith discussion over coffee) at our coffee house at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays.  This gives students a chance to discuss serious faith things right before and at the beginning of game night.  It also lets those who come from Trinity stick around and meet students.  Additionally, we began our own devotion set at 12:01 a.m. to give students another chance to interact with God at Unite Game Night.  Only a few have taken that up since it is in the chapel, so we are already switching gears to have a video series in the main room, though no one is required to join in; we feel that

this will allow students who have some interest but who don’t want to go so far as to enter a separate room a chance to just sit at their tables and watch and listen to the discussion after video while they play their games, while others may opt to actually just watch the videos or just play their games.  We are also considering starting the video earlier than 12:01 a.m.  All in all, I feel that dropping to just Fridays for Unite Game Night and extending the hours has been great for the quality of everything and has made it much more of a night to look forward to!

Small Groups

Our small groups are also off to a great start.  To my extreme surprise, one of the summer small groups chose to change its time to 7:30 a.m. at Cup of Joe’s Coffee House!  The other switched to Sunday afternoon, and we are trying to pin down some times for either a large third or a third and a fourth small group, too.  The Sunday group continues to be very deep—it is guys only and allows men to share very openly about very private and difficult matters.  I love the accountability and community in that group.  Monday morning is an excellent group because of Martha and Sister Janet, who occasionally stops in for the prayer time and discussions.  Both lend a very unique perspective and bring substantial experience to many of the discussion that come up as we read scripture.  That particular group also has a very great combination of backgrounds—from Catholic and United Methodist to Baptist, Mennonite Brethren, and Non-denominational; I love the way that the different backgrounds tend to lead to an excellent depth during our discussions and surprising insight.  The Spirit is very palpably present in that group in a great way.  Please continue to keep the small groups in your prayers!

Mexico and Website

We’ve also made some progress in trying to plan the next Mexico trip a year in advance.  If I can lock down dates with the children’s home and Joe’s in Oklahoma, I think that we can try to rally better community involvement and support.  In previous years our trips have been small—five to seven people.  Way back in the day we were able to take trips with thirty or more and provide more tangible help and support to the home through work projects that only bigger groups could do.  I would love to see us be able to reach out and do that again!  Please pray that the right doors open in this arena and that we follow God in them!

I also want to make you aware of a website update.  Our old website is migrating to  I am still in the middle of programming the new site, so there are likely several link errors and it needs quite a few pictures programmed in, but once it is fully up and running in a month or so, I think it will be MUCH better, more modifiable, and it is also much cheaper.  What’s more exciting is that we can add custom information and pages (without any limits to how many pages we use) to list such things as our coffee house menu and mission trip details.  I am very excited for the change!

Dojo Outreach

Finally, though the dojo, Aikido of Northwest Kansas, is not a part of Unite and is a separate part of the outreach ministry that I do as an in-state missionary, I want to tell you a bit about it, since

many of the students in our small groups and at game night actually come from the dojo and the connections to the college and community that it gives me.

Though the actual numbers of students who come to our early church prayer meditation program in the mornings are small, I feel that it has been one of the mightiest parts of our outreach.  It has provided powerful connections and deep community in the Spirit.  I am very excited for some of the people who have been able to make it and be involved.  We have also been able to take the prayer meditations out to at least one college ministry (by request) and lead their students through lectio divina and parts of examen.  Both early church prayer meditations can greatly open our eyes to the hand of God in our lives and in the Word.

Our Godly Warriors outreach has been even bigger (though attendance at the actual classes is even smaller!)  Though only two students actively tend to make Godly Warriors classes, we have done Godly Warriors demos for several youth groups (picture left), a couple of college ministries, a boy scout camp (picture right), and a fifth quarter in LaCrosse (a nearby town).  Each time the lessons have been very well received by the adults present, and the kids have enjoyed the martial arts aspect and also seem to enjoy the lessons.  It is extremely exciting to be able to use Aikido to discuss Godly peace-making and other principles of Godly living.  I pray that God continues to use this for great outreach AND that He has more people regularly become part of the classes!

Closing Prayer Requests

In closing, the semester is off to a truly exciting start!  I plan to continue to release quarterly Unite Updates and monthly ‘Brandon’s Updates’ about my in-state missionary work.  I want to thank you all again SINCERELY for your prayers and financial support.  Both prayers and finances are tangibly a part of the Kingdom Work here, and both help it succeed at even greater levels than what it could otherwise.  If you or someone you know is interested in signing up for this prayer newsletter OR if you or someone you know is interested in tax-deductibly supporting an in-state missionary, please don’t hesitate to contact me at, 785-259-2539, or Brandon Nimz, PO Box 1264 Hays, KS  67601!  May God bless you through hearing about the Kingdom Work that your prayers and finances help make happen!



Fun from Last Friday's Game Night (Update and Prayer Request)

My feelings about last Friday’s Unite Game Night are positive, though the night was definitely not typical.  While we had less people than usual despite having a fun ‘Italian/Mafia’ theme for the games and drinks, we also seemed busier than usual.  Between the card tournament and the much heavier coffee drink and food orders, all of us serving kept pretty busy.  Also, though less of the typical students showed up, we also had several old faces that we hadn’t seen in a long time and several exciting new faces, as well!

I personally was very happy to see some of our old friends who hadn’t made it in quite some time swing back by.  It was sincerely fun chatting with them, laughing with them, and seeing them around again.  One of my personal friends who doesn’t make it too often came by, as well, though he had to leave pretty early for a trip.  It was good hearing from him about some of what was going on in his life, even though the situation was a bit difficult.  On top of that, at least a couple of brand new people came by!  One was a connection from a youth pastor in WaKeeney.  He turned out to be a very cool young man who wants to do some Christian rap and who is currently training as a carpenter but who ultimately wants to be a youth pastor.  He hails from Juarez, Mexico, which is a city I have strong ties to due to our yearly trips to El Hogar de Los Ninos de Emmanuel there.  Due to the busy-ness of the evening, we were unable to chat as much as I would have liked, but I very much look forward to getting to know him more in the future.  I was also very pleased when a local youth pastor who I greatly respect swung by for a quick coffee and to check the place out.  He has been wanting to come to game night for over a year but has not been able to do so due to being so busy.  Seeing him there interacting with the students and chatting with people brought a big smile to my face.  Part of the idea of Unite Game Night has always been to have established Christians in the community like him come by to get to know the students and interact with him.  Seeing that happen just the second game night into the semester brings me great hope and excitement for what may come.  Please keep that in your prayers—that more local Christians might come out to have fun and join us in conversation and community! 

All in all, though the night was somewhat smaller, I felt that the connections during it were of a much higher quality than usual, and I pray that this trend continues.  Though I don’t know what God has planned for the semester, this and other signs excite me.  Thanks again for your continued prayers!


(PS The pictures are from the poker game at last Friday night’s game night)