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Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Though it may sound strange, I would describe the last couple of months since my marriage as cyclones of blessings.  Nothing has been bad—in fact, quite the opposite, everything has been VERY good.  However, we have had so many VERY good things back to back to back, all of which have taken up large quantities of time, that about one week ago when things finally slowed back down, I was left just sitting, catching my breath, wondering what had happened the last couple of months.  To share them with you briefly…

Right before our wedding, things had been exceptionally busy.  The week of our honeymoon was the week before college classes, which is usually one of my busiest planning weekends since the first week of college holds the Picnic in the Quad promotional event at Fort Hays State University (I have a booth there for our ministry, one for the Aikido school, one for The Gamers Guild, and I help there with the college Aikido club), our ministry puts on ‘The Welcoming Event’ (formerly ‘Get Plugged In’) at the university, we have the first Unite Game Night of the year, and the first large promotional card tournament of the year.  As such, I had a lot of make-up work the week or two before the wedding for the planning week that I would soon miss.  On top of that, we closed on our house at 10 am on Tuesday, July 30th.  Since I had to move out of my existing apartment that very day, it led to a hectic move; I also had been contacted by some international students since the dorms hadn’t opened but their rental agreements ended the next evening.  As such, the day after chucking my belongings into a house very haphazardly, I got some great friends to help me move some international college students’ items up to the Aikido school along a wall.  One of them needed a place to stay, and my house was not yet livable, so we stayed up at the dojo on the couches that night.  The next day, we moved all of their stuff into the dorms.  All during this time and the rest of the time until the wedding, I was finishing the work of closing on a house and fixing it up, moving into the house, helping with final wedding plans, and trying to get makeup work done for the ministry time we’d miss ON TOP OF maintaining our existing ministry projects (we still had game nights, small groups, etc.); you get the picture—though all of the things happening were beyond amazingly good, it was nuts!  Once we got to the big day, I felt that the wedding went very well, as did Tella, and we had a great time afterwards with family and friends and then with our honeymoon.  It was strange slowing down to such a dead stop after so ridiculously much had been happening, but Tella and I enjoyed the time VERY greatly!  The honeymoon, like so many other things right before our wedding, almost fell together perfectly in front of us (thank God for His providence!)  One of my Aikido students in Plainville has a dad who has a cabin near Leadville, Colorado, and they make a habit of letting friends of the family use it for just $15 per night; this is a NICE two-story cabin with an in-door Jacuzzi bath, two fireplaces, and a deck with a pretty view of the mountain evenings.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed adventuring with my new wife in the small mountain towns and retiring there to rest.  It was a wonderful week!

We returned to Hays late Saturday night, and then we went from zero to one hundred miles per hour almost instantly!  We finished settling a few things in and then moved all of Tella’s items into our house and got ready for the first day of college.  The Picnic in the Quad event was good for getting the word out (we did get one new small group bible study member and several new interested Aikido students plus a LOT of new attendees at our Unite Game Night).  The Welcoming Event was smaller than usual, but it was still a good chance to interact with college students and welcome them to the community in the name of Christ.  We had a few staple churches come and all of the college ministries turned out, but a few churches that usually come had leadership changes and/or couldn’t make it this year.  Nonetheless, a couple hundred college students received free meals, free coffee, warm smiles, good conversations, and other welcoming gifts from many of the churches in Hays and all of the Christian college ministries, which, to me, is a powerful and important witness to our campus.

By then it was September, and we had several more big events including the FHSU Aikido Club seminar (which is a great time to interact with many college students), and a few very large card tournaments at The Gamers Guild.  The Gamers Guild (the small card and board game shop that I started next to the dojo that has been helping us connect with many more students and community members) hosted a few major card tournaments (a prerelease tournament for a game company and several other competitive tournaments), and Unite Game Night, in turn, has had very large attendance almost every Friday night.  For that first month, I had to focus more on developing The Gamers Guild and preparing for those tournaments, but now it has hit a stride, so I plan to focus more on Unite Game Night and what we can do with all of the huge influx of new gamers into our game night.  (Side note: we are looking for volunteer baristas who are willing to love and serve students and possibly do relational ministry, if you know of any).  We also had our usual [alt] game night (as an alternative to Oktoberfest after-parties in Hays).  It was well attended, and the students there seemed to have quite a bit of fun—all the way until 7am the next day!  During this time, our small group Bible studies have also grown slightly—one college student in the Aikido classes knew about our small groups and asked to join, and one knew about us through the Unite Game Nights.  Each small group is still a strong community, but both could use prayer as the times we meet can be a bit challenging with everyone’s schedules being so full.

We also received a very surprising and direct answer to prayer over this time.  My parents and several others have been praying that God provide financially for me more heavily than He has been.  His existing providence has been more than sufficient for all basic needs.  However, it is true that it has been perpetually tight since I started missionary work, and they wanted to see more money coming in to help out.  Thanks to God for a direct answer to prayers!   A couple received an inheritance and they wanted to send some of it to an in-state missionary instead of just supporting overseas efforts.  They decided to send it to support me and the work here in Hays.  In effect, as long as existing donations continue through December, it has raised my salary in the 2013 year from 1/3 of a starting youth pastor’s salary to a full starting youth pastor’s salary for the year; this is a HUGE difference!  It has completely changed the landscape here for both Tella and me.  It took me from a long slow process of paying off my remaining $4,000 in student loans to having no debt whatsoever except for the house.  It also helped with some surprise medical expenses that came up and allowed Tella and I to set aside some of the money as a ‘blessings fund’, which we have already started using to bless some local individuals when needs arise that can’t be met by some of the existing systems in place in Hays.  It is very exciting to have some money set aside to bless others with and the ability to start saving up ourselves for our own needs as they arise.  Thank God for answered prayers and thanks again to that couple for such a tremendous blessing!  Please keep in prayer that God provide more long-term supporters for us; if my salary were regularly closer to my goal (a starting youth pastor’s salary), it would open up several new ministry windows that we’ve wanted to take advantage of but don’t have the finances for!  Thanks again for your prayers and your patience during this overly-busy time in life; I plan to get back to keeping you all more regularly in the loop (your prayers are VERY important for us!), and I look forward to sharing more soon in next month’s newsletter!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Aikido Meditation Thought

Tonight, as I sat meditating on the mats during the end of Advanced Aikido class, I was strongly stricken by the fact that yes, I DO need to keep doing Aikido and yes, God DOES use it to teach me VERY greatly.  Listening to the rain and focusing on His bigger presence in life, I realized that I was spending the first time sitting—just sitting and listening—that I had spent in a LONG time.  Not only is it through Aikido that we have our early church prayer meditation program that allows me the committed time to sit and meditate in Christ like that, but my body also felt SO happy to be back to Aikido today (even though it will be very sore tomorrow due to jumping back in from 0 hours to 5 in one day due to our heavy Thursday class schedule).  We have been on a 2 week break, and I have honestly even been enjoying having my evenings more free to get more work done on the wedding and house details—until I got back on the Aikido mats tonight.  It was SO nice—beyond simple words nice—to be back on the mats and moving, learning to blend with others and move and work with others in community.  God teaches me so much through Aikido, and it is good for me in so many ways.  Thank God for interesting and unexpected providence!  I never would have expected Him to teach me so much through a self-defensive Japanese martial art—nor did I know that there was a martial art founded on protecting our attackers as much as possible and blending with harmful energy to turn it positive.  It is firmly founded in principles that, though the founder may or may not have known, were the same principles that Christ so heavily espoused in His earthly ministry.  How cool is it that I now get to study Aikido and Christ together?  :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Newsletter 2013

This has been a very challenging couple of months to try and really trust God and His providence in the midst of extreme busy-ness and life fluctuations.  It has also been a time of great successes in the ministry and great excitement and joy in life.  Some of it is just that I am overly busy right now, and some of it is that I need to trust God to take care of the things that He promises to take care of in the Bible when we surrender them to Him; some of it, though, is that I am currently seeing in real life that the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few, and that can be difficult to see when it affects real people whom I care about.

As to the busy-ness, life is currently full of some VERY excellent things for me—they are work intensive, but very exciting.  For instance, I am right now in the middle of wedding planning along with my fiancĂ©, Tella.  We are getting married August 10th at 2:00 p.m. at North Oak Community Church, and if you would like to come (and you are reading this), you are invited!  I apologize if you do not get an invitation in the mail and just get the invitation in this newsletter, but in this day of cell phones (and thus few addresses in the landline phone book), we just couldn’t find addresses for everyone whom we wanted to invite!  As such, please do consider yourself invited if you are reading this newsletter and wish to come join us!  We will have a reception following at the church with cake and punch until about 5:00 p.m.  Though very time-intensive as far as planning goes, this busy-ness is extremely exciting.

In regards to very exciting but very busy things, I am also closing on a house July 30th.  Since I must be fully out of the house I rent by the 31st, that leaves very little moving time, but we should be able to get it done!  I’m knee-deep in everything that goes into buying a house for the first time in life (private party sell); I’m also trying to figure out how to work boxing and moving in with everything else.  Again—it’s an EXCELLENT problem to have, but it is still time spent and financial craziness as money shifts accounts every which way and budgets are entirely re-designed.  This is all hitting in the middle of the time that I usually go out and promote The Welcoming Event (formerly ‘Get Plugged In’) to the various churches and college ministries, and all of the usual ministry stuff is still going on or starting back up near the end of summer break.  As such, it has honestly been almost overwhelming at times—especially if I focus on the immense lists of what I have to do.  However, when I am able to ask God in prayer to help me step back and surrender my worries to Him in prayer (and then when I actually follow up and do so), I can look around and truly enjoy what is going on around me.  This is a time of intense adventure and super-exciting new life experiences.  I cannot wait to be married to Tella—she is such a blessing in my life, and we are both very excited to start off our new life together!  I am also excited to have a new place to live, just her and me (and a renter downstairs, but that will be separated by doors).  I intellectually understand that in less than 3 weeks I will go from living with just guys in a dirty, run-down house to living with my new wife in our own safe house, but it is such a huge change that I really can’t fully get it through my head until I am there! 

In the midst of all of this, my bachelor party really helped highlight God’s providence in my life; while I was out with a bunch of good male friends and my dad shooting some targets in the country, I took a moment to look around and let the moment sink in.  I was surrounded by real friends who were a blessing in my life, I was enjoying time with my dad, and I was enjoying a variety of excellent blessings all day.  It struck me that God has answered (or is answering) all of my major prayers from my time in High School.  Back then, I was always the ‘nice guy’ who everyone liked, but I had very

few if any close friends.  It was easy to feel lonely, and some of my largest prayers were 1) that God would help me love Him more, 2) that He would provide a spouse for me, and 3) that I would one day have close friends.  As I looked around at this group of guys, I realized that He had long been teaching me to love Him more—ever since the difficult step out to become an in-state missionary/ministry leader.  He had also provided me with true friends along the way, and He even blessed me with a spouse who is beyond my words to describe (as far as how much of a blessing she is and how amazing of a woman she is).  What a humbling and astounding thing!  Though I often didn’t see Him answering my prayers when I was younger, and even at times wondered if He was answering my prayers, He was faithfully answering them even when I wasn’t listening or following well.  What a sincerely amazing, loving God we serve.  In truth, I feel blessed beyond my words’ ability to express it, and I really can’t pen down my emotions, gratefulness, or feelings of being inadequate to the blessing received (which, in the sense that none of us have ‘earned’ them, we all are, though His choice to love us makes us valuable enough and ‘adequate’ to receive them).  This feeling is accompanied by an almost bashful joy that He would love me, and all of us so much.  It is a truly blessed period of my life.

This is, however, certainly a rollercoaster time of highs and lows, for in the midst of such joy, I have also had to struggle with trusting Him in various fields.  There was a time of uncertainty that the house would go through, which was very stressful; I had to spend substantial time praying it into His hands and trusting Him to take care of it either way.  We also had to officially cancel the Mexico Mission Trip due to lack of attendance/sign-up.  Though several have already committed to go next year and though this time ended up being truly needed for wedding planning and house-buying, it was still difficult to have to miss seeing the children and staff there for another year.  Also, I started up The Gamers Guild next to the dojo (it is a card and board game shop).  As I explained in the last newsletter, it costs a few extra hours each week but opens up MANY new fields to develop relationship and love people.  This has been a pretty huge success—I see more new faces each day than I can truly get to know.  This has been VERY encouraging; we have also had a few visits by local ministry leaders who came to hang out with us during Game Night and develop relationships.  Unfortunately, due to how busy they are, they cannot regularly come at this time, and I see the truth to the fact that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  We are getting many more new faces in the door than we are getting believers who wish to come and get to know the life stories of those faces, develop relationships with them, love them, and live life with them.  I truly pray to the Lord of the Harvest (as I request you do as well) to send more workers and to share His true nature with them (and with us, too)!

Anyway, this has been a crazy, rollercoaster couple of months, but I thank you for reading this newsletter and for praying for me and for us.  PLEASE do keep us in your prayers; it is through His providence that so many amazing things—more than I could oversee myself—are all happening at once.  Thank God for who He is, and thank you for your prayers and financial support in our ministry endeavors.  Please pray for more baristas and/or people willing to step in and help lead and serve at Unite Game Night.  Please pray for The Welcoming Event as I am promoting it among the churches and college ministries a bit later than usual.  Please also pray for [alt] as we seek to put together a leadership team for it and to see how it may ultimately look this year.  I am excited for what lies ahead, but I ask God to help me enjoy and ride in the now.  May He bless us and help us all continue to see His hand, providence, and trustworthy nature in everything around us, and may He help us seek first His Kingdom (living in the Spirit, surrendering, and loving daily) in all that we do!  Amen!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quick prayer request

Hey all--keep me and us in your prayers as I seek to put together a planning team for [alt] and as we prepare for the Welcoming Event when campus opens back up in August.  This is my week to go out and invite churches and college ministries to attend!  It's also time to go take care of a lot of ministry and life things, so prayers would be appreciated!  IF ANY OF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP PLAN AND/OR COORDINATE [ALT], PLEASE CONTACT ME ASAP!  We could sincerely use the help!  :)  (contact if interested)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer morning meditation

This morning during prayer meditation, it was just my fiance and me.  As we sat meditating, I think I experienced a bit of God's peace through the sounds of a lazy summer morning.  As an adult, I am frequently quite busy all morning running errands, meeting with college students, leading meditation or attending to other ministry duties or even just life needs.  Stopping completely, I could hear the sounds around me--the crickets chirping, the cars moving by, someone working nearby.  It all seemed so slow and casual as the warm morning sunlight slanted through the dojo windows.  I LOVE the feel of just stopping and listening--being there as life occurs around us--often more slowly than we realize (even if the people driving by are caught in their own busy internal worlds, the external world around is just waking up to the day).  It was a beautiful time to sit and not mentally meditate on anything--just to relax and let the day, the calm, and God's presence fill me up with relaxation and peace.  Thank God for a beautiful morning!  As a reminder, you or anyone in the area is welcome to join us for meditation any morning (  You may even join us from your home or other location--few things are quite like starting the day off well that way!  God bless!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thanks for prayers (for those of you who were praying for us).  It sounds like we have the bid on the house; now we just have to get all of the financial things lined up, inspections done, and all of the other good stuff that goes with buying a house.  Thank you very much for your prayers!  Also, please contact me if you know of a temp job for a college-aged student who needs $50 in a timely manner.  The student is a hard worker and is willing to put down some sweat for it.  Thanks!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prayer Meditations

Tonight during Godly Warriors Class at the dojo (, we meditated early church style; as I sat and listened to the summer evening sounds around me, I heard summer again for the first time in a long time.  I have been quite busy this summer with life changes, ministry, and ministry work--extremely busy.  It has been excellent--we have served MANY people and had a LOT of fun; as we were meditating, people were starting to arrive for Unite Game Night (, and I could hear them chatting about all types of things.  It was obvious that if I was not meditating on the mat that I could be taking care of a million little things that needed taken care of--that's kind of my 'work mode'.  However, on the mat, I had the freedom to just listen to it happening around me--and to listen to the sounds outside and the slow lazy summer evening.  Everything just kind of...  slowed down.  It was indescribably nice.  It helped me enjoy Game Night from a much more chill perspective--that of an outside observer.  As I listened, I developed a new appreciation for the evening and for how much it serves people.  I also was able to relax a ton and appreciate having nothing that I had to do.  I just sat in God's presence in a room of people with summer happening around me, and I relaxed--much needed!

I also realized that sometimes I have to do less and be more.  It takes time to say no to the million little things that all need done, but when I do say 'no' to some, I can relax and refill as I really should.  That meditation carried deeply into my evening--even into now (1:02 a.m. at Game Night).  I am so much more relaxed--enjoying things as they progress.  Though I may have gotten a few less little things done, I have BEEN much more to the people I have interacted with--more chill, more personable, more able to listen.  Thank God for the times to slow down and to take that peace with us in our days!  God bless!  :)

Also, to those who want to see a video of Unite Game Night as it now looks (including some of the dancing and games on the projector), check out the video at  --it's going well; thanks for your continued prayers!!!  :D

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prayer Request

Hello everyone!
   I want to request prayer today if you get a chance; we just visited a house a couple of days ago that is the first one that we REALLY liked.  It had a good feel to it, it would be EXCELLENT for ministry use (we could EASILY have Bible studies there and could later rent out the basement to a college student), and Tella and I immediately had a good feeling about it.  To be frank, when we've looked at housing options for once we are married in August, this is the only one that has stuck out as good, and after visiting a bank, we can definitely make the payments on it (it is less than the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Hays).  We discussed it heavily, prayed, and called confirming that we wanted to make an offer on it one hour after visiting it.  Apparently a neighbor saw us looking at it and made an offer before us.  The seller asked if we would counter-offer that minute, so we did make a slightly higher counter-offer; now it's up in the air.  If God wants this place to work out, it will; if He's ok either way, we want this place--it would fit our ministry and personal needs very well at a perfect price.  If it isn't supposed to work out for some reason we don't know, then it's better that it not work out.  That said, we both have a good feel about it, and I think it's in the middle option.  I think God has given us an excellent opportunity if we are willing to fight for it a bit.  I COULD be wrong, though--it could be the first or third option.  As such, I would request prayer for clarity and for it to work out how God wants it (either first or third option) OR, if He is cool wherever we live in Hays so long as we do ministry with our lives, then we request prayers that it work out as we would want this place for ministry.  Please pray with us, and we'll let you know what happens!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


It's funny how God sometimes seems to answer short prayers when we are under heavy duress and/or stress in life; it's also funny how sometimes it is so difficult to just think to pray to Him in those times when it is such an obvious thing to do!  Thank God for reminding me of my need to pray to Him and walk with Him, and thank Him beyond words for walking with me.

Unite Newlsetter May 2013

The start of summer has definitely been a time to trust God.  Everything changes this time of year—students whom we’ve worked with for years graduate and move away, while new students move in early for the school year, we shift gears and locations for our small groups and prepare for summer mission trips and big events in August, and we have quite a few special events in both the Unite ministry and in our dojo outreach.  Additionally, this summer I am getting married in August, so my fiancĂ© and I are going through marriage counseling, planning a wedding, and trying to figure out where to live when August rolls around!  It is a time when finances dip super low, surge high, and then cycle again; it is a time when basic things (such as where I will live in August) come into uncertainty, and it is a time of great potential for outreach ministry!

One such exciting potential is that the United Methodist Student Center, where we usually host our Friday Night Unite Game Night ministry, is closed this summer for renovations.  (Unite Game Night is an alternative to the bars and a chance to experience community—it is a game night with board games, tabletop games, video games, card games, a non-profit coffeehouse serving coffee drinks, and more).  As such, we have had to find an alternate location for it—at least for this summer. 

At the same time, I had begun selling some board and card game merchandise at the dojo (since many who practice Aikido go to the game nights and want to purchase board and card games).  It was just an experiment to see if I could earn a little extra money for the ministry without putting much time or effort into it (since I already had the appropriate zoning and licenses to sell things at the dojo), but it quickly showed me that it was opening a whole new venue for outreach ministry.  By just spending literally a couple extra hours each week, I was meeting a variety of junior high and high school students who play card games, as well as some people from Judge’s Bar and other venues who also play games.  They come in and buy products after Aikido classes and chat—on several occasions we have talked about very real life issues, and we are starting to experience a new community there.  It became clear to me that this was an outreach ministry that I hadn’t even been looking for, and to my excitement it literally only cost me a couple extra hours of my week to accomplish it—AND to open it up for others to come in and use for ministry!  As such, I named the other half of our dojo rented space ‘The Gamers Guild’, and I made it an official part of our contract.

As it so happened, this was all right before we found out that Unite Game Night had no home for the summer.  Well, you can quickly see how a place selling board and card games that is right near college sector (200 E 8th Street in Hays, KS) was an EXCELLENT fit for Unite Game Night for the summer!  As such, amid a lot of hustle and bustle and work, we have set up Unite Game Night and Common Grounds Coffee House at The Gamers Guild to run every Friday night for the summer (a photo of our first Unite Game Night at the Gamers Guild is below).  So far, it seems to be going well—my baristas and I (and others) have A TON of ideas about how to use the much

larger space to make Game Night even better, and I am super excited to see what all God may do with it and through it!  It also opens up a number of other outreach ministry potentials that have temporarily been dormant—including a few projects we had considered in the community at large with some of the local churches, although I don’t plan to look into those too much for the immediate future; right now keeping improving what we have happening and prepping for a summer of transition (including our exciting upcoming mission trip and getting married afterwards in August) is more than a full enough plate!  Nonetheless, even thinking about some of the new opportunities The Gamers Guild opens up while I type this has me excited to see what may be on the horizon!

As I close the newsletter for this month, I want to thank you for your continued prayers for me and for the ministry.  I am sincerely convinced that God does answer such prayers, and that He and such prayers are BEYOND critical for ministry to happen as it should.  PLEASE keep praying for us—it really makes the difference out here!  I also want to report that my monthly financial support has slightly increased—by about $150!  I am hopeful that this is the start of things to come, and I am thankful that this is a direct answer to prayer.  I am very grateful to those who financially assist in the ministry work here, for those who pray with us, and for those who work directly with us in the field!  I am also SINCERELY grateful to God, who provides the basic needs for those who seek first His Kingdom.  May He help me—and all of us—seek first His Kingdom, for the sakes of others and for our own sakes, too!

Prayer Requests

Please pray that more people join us on the Unite Mission Trip this year; we have several interested, and more who have requested applications.  At this time, we don’t know how many are going, but I believe that we need more people to join us to be an effective group.  Please keep the trip in your prayers!

Please pray for Unite Game Night and the opportunities there.  May more volunteers join us to assist in it, and may we have good conversations and may the Kingdom advance there!

Please pray that my personal missionary support continues to rise; it greatly enables ministry.

Please pray that God help the small group communities come back together for the summer and grow in strength.  May we have even more small groups next year.

Please pray that all of us in the field listen to and follow the Holy Spirit as we seek to serve.

Please pray for the Kingdom work in general and seek to follow God in your own lives (in the places and ways that you can love people).  The harvest is plentiful, but the workers ARE few; may the Lord of the Harvest send more workers!  Thank you again for your prayers!