Can He use me too?

Can He use me too?

I’ve served as an ambassador for Christ in two countries overseas twice in short term trips and once in vocational ministry for a longer period.

I am not a big-shot theologian from some fancy seminary.

I am an ordinary person.

I struggle with temptations like anyone else.

I often become tongue-tied and suffer from a slight social awkwardness (the exact degree may vary based on who you ask).

It’s okay.

I’ve learned to embrace it.

I state my flaws because I do not wish to give the impression that I walked around other countries with a silver tongue, quoting scripture and thumping bystanders with my biblical rhetoric. However, God did use me, a weak individual (2 Cor. 12:9) incapable of right action without Him, to glorify His name by empowering me to share the good news about Jesus among the nations.

And He can use you, too.

I recall a man visiting my church talking about his work with some tribe off in the middle of who-knows-where and me telling God “not for me” when I was sixteen. Six years later, God said, “Yes, for you.” However, my mind and heart had changed to where I wanted to go. Emphatically, I prayed, Lord, send me (Isa. 6:8) daily. But, how did that transition happen?

At an early age, I heard and knew that God loved me. He died for me (John 3:16). He paid for my mistakes so I could be right with Him. He came back from the dead (Rom 10:9) so I would one day rise again, too. I did nothing to earn salvation, but received it as a gift through faith (Eph. 2:8-9. But… these facts, theses immutable truths as I understood them, did not impact my life. Why?

Well, I remained spiritually immature for many years (1 Cor. 3).  As the Pharisees, I did right for the sake of right. When struggling with sin, I ran aimlessly. Not towards Christ, but to functional saviors like video games, food, and running… anything to keep from plunging into the same pitfalls and patterns that would lead to sin. Anything but God. Anything but Christ. Because I could overcome anything on my own sheer force of will. Oh, how wrong was I?

Although in many respect s I had abandoned God, he did not abandon me.  At eighteen, I met several individuals who truly loved the Lord and delighted in Him and His word. They were weird.

And, I wanted to be just like them.

 

In the time that followed, I found something that eluded me until that point, Community. These young men and women implored me to seek God daily through prayer, scripture, accountability, and encouragement.  And I did. And I experienced more growth then ever prior.

Gradually, God worked on my heart and liberated me from my addictions (note the plural tense).  Christ set me free (Gal 5) through His word, His Spirit, and His body (Community). Christ molded me through this process to be more like Him. It was not easy. It was not immediate. It was often painful. And it took time.  Ultimately, God changed my heart to be more like His and redirected my path in life. Though I had plans and ambitions for my future, those changed. Not to say God wrecked my dreams, but that my heart’s desire changed. Just as a friend mentored me (2 Tim 2:2), I wished to disciple others as Jesus commanded all believers to do in the Great Commission (Mat. 28:19).

Jesus radically altered my reality.

God used me to glorify him and make him known among the nations on the far side of the world three times, despite my ordinary struggles, my brokenness, my bitterness, and despite me. And I endeavor to continue to be more like Him and to grow His Kingdom. Even though I often fumble over my own words, I can still have confidence when sharing the good news of Jesus because the creator of the universe commanded me to do so.

Jesus overcame me. He overcame the grave. And he can certainly overcome you. If nothing else, let my testimony provide a defense for his power to heal the broken and to use the ordinary to grow His kingdom by making disciples of all nations.

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Chris Chilton serves as a team member with 1520 Unreached in Austin, TX and as a member of Wells Branch Community Church. Thank you for all your work Chris.

Which Seeds Will You Water?

Which Seeds Will You Water?

For most of my life I believed that being a missionary required you to be some super Christian, theologian, or maybe someone who could translate scripture in 10 different languages. I figured that those people I had dreamt of being possessed every form of spiritual gift imaginable and some mysterious thing that I could never obtain.
Having grown up knowing that Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins, going on short-term mission trips, and evangelizing with local ministries painted a beautiful picture in my mind of God’s heart for HIS people in every nation.

The questions pressing on my mind were then changed to: How do I get to become one of these missionaries? What do I have to do to become one of these spiritual Titans?

Little did I know that it would take five long years before I was open to hear the answers to these questions. I struggled in my walk by leaning on my own understanding time and time again and lacking the discipleship and community I needed to grow.

It wasn’t till two summers ago, while on a mission trip to Tanzania, that I realized God takes ordinary people who have a love and desire for serving him, and aligns their hearts with the desires of HIS heart. This desire is for every man, woman, and child of all nations and all people groups to experience and know God’s love for them, ultimately bringing them to worship HIM.

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate not missions because God is ultimate not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God missions will be no more it is a temporary in the necessity  but WORSHIP abides forever”
-John Piper

You might be thinking to yourself, “Woah what’s this guy talking about? I thought this was supposed to be a blog about missions, not worship.”…Hang with me. Let’s look at what the scriptures say.

(1 Chronicles 16:23-31)
“Sing to the Lord all the earth proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise he is to be feared above all gods. For all gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him strength and joy are in his dwelling place.”

The Scripture speaks of declaring His glory- Someone who is worthy of praise, splendor, majesty, and all that is true. From Old Testament to New, from Abraham to Paul, there have always been worshippers (aka missionaries). Abraham, Paul, and the like, were not perfect people in any way, shape, or form but they did have a few things in common. They had faith to follow God wherever life took them, and loved Him with all of their hearts.

I am confident that these things have been given to me and to all those who know God. So the “calling” or “seed” that missionaries have in their hearts you already have in your heart. My prayer is that you water that seed and allow it to grow as God shows you the immense capacity of his love for those who have never experienced it.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who Waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

– 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

JORDAN ISAAC WILCOX

Milestones & Dark Humor

Milestones & Dark Humor

The Introduction

Let me take you back to 2001 for just a moment. There’s a hilarious scene in the movie Zoolander in which Mugatu unveils his new design for the school he wants to build in the protagonist’s honor. As Mugatu, played by Will Ferrill, pulls the crimson sheet off the pedestal to reveal the architectural design, there’s a moment of tension as Zoolander, played by Ben Stiller, inspects the proposition. What is he going to say? Mugatu is on pins and needles as he waits, hoping Derek will embrace his design. After a thorough perusal, Derek takes a confident step back and responds in his classic diva fashion, “What is this?!” The stern look on his face catches Mugatu by surprise and robs him of a response before Derek tosses the design to the floor, not bothering to watch it shatter into pieces.

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He continues at Mugatu, furthering his line of questioning, “A center for ants?!” Mugatu’s face twists in confusion before he begins to grasp what just happened. Derek actually believed that the center was the size of the model. He actually thought that Mugatu was proposing such a ridiculous design. “The center needs to be at least three times this big!” Derek concludes in his rant. Hilarious. I remember reenacting the scene at school with friends as we laughed at the absurdity of the situation.

 

The Problem

I’ve often found dark truths lurking behind the veil of parody. We hide them in order to avoid them. After all, laughter is often preferred to the gravity of facing the truth. It takes a boldness to push past the veil. The daring to face down one’s own heart and to wrestle with the intentions that shelter therein is a quality at which no one should scoff.

So, might I invite you to do just that.

In our adventures with God we tend to fix our eyes on achievements we hope to obtain. They differ from person to person. For instance, the single man trekking with God for the long haul will have mountains of sexual purity he hopes to climb. One man hopes to stop having sex with his girlfriend, since God has called and redeemed him in the midst of such circumstances in which such expectations have already been established. Another man, having never touched a woman sexually, hopes to conquer his addiction to pornography, to which he has been enslaved for as long as he can remember.

Fathers hope to be an image of God’s love to their sons because their own fathers left so much to be desired. Mothers hope to maintain the right balance of closed and open-handed love with their children because some were given free reign as children and others were locked up like Fort Knox.

Pastors want to preach life-changing sermons that explode their church attendance. Students want to either pass with flying colors or slide in at the last moment so that they can use the excess time to become social butterflies.

We all have milestones before us that companionship with God will require us to reach. However, might I point out a dangerous ditch into which many fall? God has an established destination to which he is leading each traveler. However, within each traveler’s heart lies the temptation to abort said destination for the nearness and sweetness of victory over the next milestone. The secondary becomes the primary. The minor becomes the major. And all of this is exchanged in the name of convenience and comfort. “We’ve done it!” resounding triumphantly. All the while, the truth behind the veil is that we are exhausted from the climb and refuse to trust God to honor his Word and renew our strength for the next milestone.

In this light, we make the mound into a mountain. We exaggerate and drown out any questioning with excited revelry. Hilariously enough, the challenge of Zoolander finds its mark in each of our hearts. It is a dark humor. “What is this” he cries, “a center for ants?!” Who’s the real clown? At whose expense is this joke climaxing? Push beyond the veil.  Wrestle with your own heart.

The truth is that the milestones that become our ultimate destinations are simply too small. The man seeking to conquer his addiction to pornography eventually ceases to plan for expeditions beyond that dark locale. He no longer intends to travel into darker parts of his own heart or this world. His focus is fixed, never to be moved. His sights are forever set abysmally low. Real darkness lies not in the struggle. Rather, it rests at home in the confident footfalls of the man enslaved to travel no farther. This is where we fight. We were made for so much more.

The Biblical Parallel – OT

Take this peculiar passage out of the book of Ezra for reference. Upon returning to the promised land out of exile, the Israelites set themselves to the task of rebuilding the temple of God. When they had laid the foundations, the author records this:

All the people gave a loud shout as they praised the Lord when the temple of the Lord was established. Many of the priests, the Levites, and the leaders – older people who had seen with their own eyes the former temple while it was still established – were weeping loudly, and many others raised their voice in a joyous shout. People were unable to tell the difference between the sound of joyous shouting and the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people were shouting so loudly that the sound was heard a long way off.”

Ezra 3:11b-13

You’ll completely miss the dark reality embedded in these three verses if you speed through them on the way to your milestone of reading the Bible in a year. What a horrific scene! The completion of the temple’s foundation sparks the rejoicing of the new generations of Israelites born during the exile. They had never seen the old temple, never witnessed the glory of the former. This milestone for them was cause for worship! And so they worshipped. Mixed thoroughly into that worship was the weeping of the old ones who had witnessed the possibility of the former. Weeping and Joy mixed together in a haunting scene in which so many are deceived into thinking that what they’ve accomplished is worth celebrating. The scope of their design was incredibly small and the terrifying part of the whole ordeal is that they are completely comfortable with this reality. Indeed, they are blind to its existence. They drown out the weeping with cheers. In a sense, they ridicule the clown as he parodies them with moronic questioning. Who’s the real clown, though? At whose expense does this joke reach its climax?

The Image Unveiled

The ultimate reality that the temple of God was meant to point to was the church of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians, the Holy Spirit teaches us through Paul:

“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:17-22

This is no meager foundation God has laid with Christ the cornerstone. This is a foundation with a global scope. It includes people near and far. Anything less is in danger of suffering a clown’s ridicule. Might we not settle for less. Might we not succumb to the allure of cutting the foundation short for an extra day of rest and misplaced triumph. Might we not mix dark sorrow into our confident joy. Fix your eyes upon the given destination and refuse with all wit and might to settle for a near victory.

The Future Ahead

What exactly is this destination established by our companion King? What better place to look than at the end?

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. 10 They were shouting out in a loud voice,

“Salvation belongs to our God,

to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Revelation 7:9-10

Our King’s foundation is enormous, his scope global. Should not we join him in this perspective? He aims to redeem nations, not only our sexual purity. He desires to liberate whole peoples, not simply our desire to be Godly fathers to our children. When we settle for these milestones we miss entirely the whole picture of our Savior’s plan. We mix dark sorrow into the cup of eternal joy that He has for us.

The ultimate destination by no means negates the milestones nor discounts their value. Make no mistake, they are incredibly valuable. Yet when their incredible value becomes supreme value they become bankrupt because they disconnect from the King and His ultimate story. Do not delete them from your heart, indeed such a thought is ludicrous. Rather, set them in their proper place with regard to the King’s order and plan. Set them properly with regard to the cross. May it be your eternal point of reference.

What does it mean to join our God in His global scope for this enormous foundation? Let me pose a further question. What in your life conveys the reality of the enormity of this foundation? What in your life conveys its global scope? Where does your money go? Where does your time go? Where are your prayers leveraged? What breaks your heart in this world? Do the answers to any of those questions reveal the grand mission of God?

Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

All nations. Does anything in your life reveal those two words? Something should. Take the money you give to church, for instance. Do you actually know what that is used for, or are you content with knowing that you gave? For instance, my church gives 4% of the budget to global missionary efforts. That’s four dollars stamped with “all nations” out of every hundred given.

Seek to know these things. Press beyond the veil and wrestle with your own heart’s tendency to stop short of all nations. Move beyond the clown’s ridicule and face the truth. The One who rescues you calls you to a scope of global proportions. Something in your life should echo that call. What is it for you?

Start Here. Go Everywhere.

Start Here. Go Everywhere.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will
be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of
the earth.” Acts 1:8
One of my favorite slogans is held by a College in the northwest corner of Harvey
County, Kansas. I first saw it on a billboard while driving down I-35 from
Nebraska to Texas. It simply says, “Hesston College – Start Here, Go
Everywhere!”.
That caught my attention;Start Here, Go Everywhere”. I knew what they were
trying to say, in reference to a college experience, but that slogan has stayed
with me as it relates to the Great Commission Jesus gave His disciples in Acts
1:8. The work of reaching the world with the life changing reality of Jesus Christ
was to extend well beyond the His death, burial and resurrection. Matthew, Mark
and Acts clearly record our Lord’s final words to His disciples. Mark states it most
succinctly; “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”. Jesus told
His disciples while standing just outside Jerusalem, “Start Here, Go Everywhere!
Fast-forward almost 2,000 years.
We at Wells Branch Community Church still take His Great Commission
seriously. We are a family of believers committed to reaching people with the life-
changing reality of Jesus Christ. It’s who we are! It is why we exist! It is the
reason we have sent James and DiDi Myer and support the work of 1520
Unreached in Tanzania. For WBCC, Austin is our “Start Here” and Tanzania is
our first door to “Go Everywhere”.
Gala and I have just returned from a two-week visit to Tanzania. It was not only a
blessing to catch up with our family, but it is life changing to see the work that is
being accomplished and the growing 1520 Unreached Ministry. By working with
two seminary trained, experienced Tanzanian pastors and their families, Pastor
Eliah Chilendu and Pastor Jacob Mwakibinga, James is seeing a God-sized
mission develop. These men have moved their families into Zaramo villages.
James is engaging with the culture, developing a ministry team, and forming over
ten church communities in remote areas. The Gospel is being lived before the
church. They have weekly Bible and theology lessons and monthly all night
prayer meetings. The study of the Word of God and discipleship is changing lives
and people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ. It was a highlight for me to be
able to preach to 25 fellow believers at the church in Kwala Village on November
15th.
I am in awe to realize that less than one year ago, that church did not exist;
this is the power of God just as He promised.
As I process my Tanzanian experience, the power of the Holy Spirit in and
through the lives of the 1520 Unreached efforts is beyond belief; the wisdom, the
opportunities, the protection, the open doors, the changed lives. Jesus told us as
we start here and go everywhere we could expect His power and such results!
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We enjoyed our time with the family in Tanzania. Here Gala and I are with James, DiDi and Moses

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Pastor Jacob and Eliah outside of Pastor Jacobs fish shop in the Kwala village.

#unreachedlivesmatter

#unreachedlivesmatter

You are probably familiar with the hashtags #blacklivesmatter or #policelivesmatter. For the most part, I don’t think that the majority of us would disagree with either of these statements. (Granted, I know there are some people who do and we’ll keep praying for these people.) These trending statements have been used to shine a light on injustice against a particular group of people. Areas where maybe our words say one things but our lives and actions say another.

Often when we look at the Bible there are many “commands” which make us feel like it is compiled of a list of rules and regulations. The truth is, when boundaries are drawn and things need to be repeated, it’s probably because it goes against our very nature as humans to do those things. This is something that was pointed out to me by a friend who led our community group a couple of years ago. He ended every conversation about some sort of “command” in the Bible with this reminder, “If it’s a command, it probably doesn’t come naturally. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a command.”

The writers of the Bible were God-inspired to use the phrase, “fear not” 365 times. If we as a human race weren’t so inclined to fear, maybe we wouldn’t need a reminder for every day of the calendar year! In the same way, the sad fact is that statements like #blacklivesmatter exist because our society and its actions denote otherwise.

When God gives a commandment, it is meant to bring and give life. It is my assumption that trending statements are meant to do the same.

Here is my opinion. And what I think God wants us to understand about how He loves His people.

 

There is not one group of people that is more or less important than another … and our words AND ACTIONS should reflect that part of God.

Equally so, when 1520 Unreached decided to be a single-minded ministry, they decided to solely focus on people groups with less than 2% being evangelical Christians with no indigenous church planting movement/resources to evangelize their own people, otherwise known as an unreached people group.

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Children of the Zaramo people group.

Why?

Is it because we consider those without any church MORE important than those in communities surrounded by other believers and able of evangelizing their own? BY NO MEANS! On the contrary, it’s because they are neither more NOR LESS important than #blacklives, #policelives, #americanlives.

And the truth is, the current message that we are sending to those living in unreached people groups is that they are just not as important.

Now hear me out people, I know that somewhere in you there is a voice that wants to jump up in disagreement, but first let me present some numbers.

According to aboutmissions.org,

  • American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministries.
  • 5% on cross-cultural efforts in already reached people groups.
  • 0.5% to reach the unreached.
  • Only 0.1% of all Christian giving is sent to the mission efforts in the 38 least evangelized countries in the world!
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Small Zaramo child holding a Gospel of John.

Now don’t give up hope. If we believe that the Lord will fulfill His promises to us, and we do, then we can find hope and rest in this prophetic passage.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from EVERY nation, from ALL tribes and [ALL] peoples and [ALL] languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” –Revelation 5:9

This is the verse that 1520 Unreached derives its vision statement. Our vision is that “Every man, woman and child in all unreached people groups has the opportunity to hear and respond to the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ, at least once.”

Our heart longs to one day stand in the presence of the Lord, in this very scene mentioned in the above scripture. Standing next to our brothers and sisters, knowing it was our words, prayers and our funds that reached them from across the world.

 

How?

What are practical ways to reach the unreached from where YOU are right NOW.

Give

Find local churches and organizations that are sending missionaries to work in these unreached areas.

You can visit 1520 Unreached’s support page here or donate to Well Branch Community Church’s Well Project 11666273_10107291573475184_1260321006876417191_n_clipped_rev_1

Pray

Pray for those missionaries daily. Pray for the leadership in those areas and for the indigenous people.

1520 Unreached support group meets every Friday morning in Austin, TX to pray for the Unreached. You can join us in setting an alarm to pray at 3:20pm (15:20) daily for unreached people groups around the globe.

Go

This begins with prayer, but if you feel like the Lord has equipped and called you to reach the unreached, reach out to a local organization or leader and work towards being sent by a church to an unreached people group.

 

So ultimately, it is not that there is a group of people more or less deserving of our love, care, resources, time and efforts, rather it is that we truly believe that we are equally as loved and cared for by an all-knowing and all-powerful God, and our lives as His people should reflect that.

 

So it is absolutely #alllivesmatter, and in light of that it leads us to display with our lives that #unreachedlivesmatter.

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Swahili/English Bibles being passed out in a Zaramo unreached people group.

Prison to Mission Pt. 2

Two weeks ago we were able to share with you Eddie Franz’ story of God’s redemption in his life. He went from “Prison to Mission” when God intervened in his life. Now we are excited to get to hear more from him on how that led him to serve with 1520 Unreached on the ground in Tanzania with James & DiDi.          

 

Bible Initiative

“James, Didi and little Moses, their toddler, met us at the airport at 4am. Me and Teresa were beat. After only a few hours of sleep, we were whisked away to the bible store to purchase English-Swahili bibles.  While we were in America we started a fund raiser to purchase bibles for the Zaramo.  We were hoping to buy 100 bibles at $8 a piece and then and extra $200 for transportation to the Zaramo.  With the help of some amazing people, we raised $1010.00 for that very purpose.  When we arrived at Soma Biblia, the store, we were met by the young man who was in the last picture of my first blog post. ”

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“After an hour of crunching numbers,  Soma Biblia walked us out the front door with 280 bibles and 240 tracts containing the entire book of John, and money left over for transportation.  God blessed us with almost 3 times the amount of bibles we were hoping for, and they sure would come in handy later.”

“Soon I will tell you about the trip out to the Zaramo that allowed this boy to get the bible and hear about Jesus.  It involves me and Teresa getting into a motorcycle accident.”

 

Chalinze

“Bibles in hand we started the 4 hr trip from Dar es Saalam to Chalinze where James and Didi live.  5 adults, 1 toddler, 4 full size suitcases, 3 back packs and almost 300 bibles were crammed into a mini-minivan for the journey.”

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“Pulling into Chalinze was eye opening, It was literally a town that squeaked out its existence from the main road that went through the middle of it.  Buses would stop throughout the day and the passengers would purchase various goods.  There are very few things people need in order to live.  In America we have exaggerated that number exponentially.  To the point that when in a “bad” neighborhood you feel the need to be careful.  I remember thinking once or twice that we were in a bad part of town and we needed to watch our backs, but the poverty level here did not dictate the danger level.  In America, the desire to have stuff can carry us away into all kinds of violence.  We have made ourselves to believe that we NEED that “thing” that someone else has, and because we have made it a need, we will stop at nothing to obtain it, thus the dangerous neighborhoods.  There is a lesser value here on stuff, and so if someone has less stuff than someone else there is less of a desire to stop at nothing to get it.  The needs and wants of the people were better defined in Tanzania, and so I felt very safe there.”

Home & Neighbors

“We traveled past Chalinze another 4 miles to James’ house which he built on the Kulea Childcare Village land.  Kulea is an orphanage that is co-sponsored between Tanzania and America.  They have brought James over to help them with building the infrastructure of the orphanage, which consists of 75 acres and will one day have 100’s of children living there.  So while they are there in Tanzania they must wear two hats.  One of an evangelist and the other a foster family to the handful of orphans that they help support. As we pulled up to James and Didi’s home it struck me at how similar it was to the houses in all of the old Clint Eastwood movies.  You know the Adobe type homes.  It was really shocking to step back in time 100 years or so and live in a very primitive way.”

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“They do not posses electricity, or running water.  They have an outdoor shower and outdoor toilet that they share with another family who lives on the same land.

This other family became part of me and Teresa’s family while we were there.  They have a little 6 yr. old boy named Ezekiel who taught me most of the Swahili I learned.  He would point at something and say its name, and I would point at it and tell him what it was in English.  We would do this for everything.  Chula, Frog….Chula, Frog….Umbaya, Bad….Umbaya, Bad.”

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“Their neighbors would help us work on clearing the land, or fixing the well, or any other thing that needed doing.  They would never accept compensation.  Their response was that you don’t pay family for helping family. Lamechy was also part of our new extended family from Tanzania. He was the one responsible for killing the 3′ Puff Adder that was found a couple of yards from James’ house.  Even though we posed next to it trying to take the credit.”

 

Soccer Field

“One of our first duties while we were there was to clear a soccer field for the orphans to play on when they came over.  Every weekend James and Didi would have them over and help them with their school work or to just show them some love.”

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“James had already built them a small soccer field but it was time to give them something that they could really play on.  The only problem was the 4′ tall grass and the 15 trees that were in our way.  We did not have a lawnmower or a weed eater, or even a chainsaw. “

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“We had a small machete that was bent into an angle on the end we would use to cut the grasses and trees.  We spent about 3 hrs. on the field and realized that to finish we would need to put in about 15-20 more hrs.  We did not have the time to do that so we had to come up with another way.  How to clear an acre of super dry brush??????  FIRE!!!! I used to be a firefighter before I spent time in prison, so obviously I am perfectly qualified to pull this off.     Did I mention the grass was really dry. What could possibly go wrong? “

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To visit Eddie’s blog and read the complete post, visit here

Faces & Bibles

Faces & Bibles

These are the faces of the children who 1520 Unreached has been able to reach because of YOUR SUPPORT! Visit the support page to join the monthly giving team.

“For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.” 2 Corinthians 10:14-16

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From Prison to Mission

From Prison to Mission

Eddie & Teresa Franz returned from Tanzania a couple of weeks ago after spending 18 days on the ground with James, DiDi & Moses Myer. Eddie & Teresa will be writing multiple blogs in the near future about their experiences in Tanzania (& oh man did they get the full Africa experience) but we’d like you to get to know a bit about their story and who they are first.

 

Meet Eddie Franz

 

“I was standing in my cell being counted.  The guards were counting us to make sure none of us had: broken out of the cell block, climbed up and down a 15′ wall, and then scaled not one but two razor wire fences with 10′ of razor wire between the fences.  Not really a necessary count considering no one had ever escaped this federal prison, but one of at least 5 daily counts none-the-less.  During this particular count I made sure I the guards did not see my face as they walked by my cell.  I possessed 2 huge shiners (black eyes) that I did not want them to know about.  If they would’ve seen my black eyes I would have been taken to the hole for at least a month, or forced to tell them about the fight I was in. If you understand prison there is really no choice here.  So for obvious reasons I gave the guards my back. It was at this moment that something inside me broke.  Maybe it was my pride or maybe it was my heart, either way I was done.  I grew instantly and insanely tired.   It was in this brokenness that I realized  my entire adult life had been an act.  “Acting” tough and “acting” cool for over a decade was exhausting, and I was obviously horrible at it.  It go me nothing except a nine year prison sentence.   I was tired.  I had know idea who I was, or who I was supposed to be, but at that moment I decided to begin the task of finding out.

Thats me front left.

The guys in these pictures  were my friends/brothers.  They were closer to me than anyone I had ever met.  We would bleed for each other, to the point of death if need be.  That was even our motto, “till death.”

That’s me on the left

How could I walk away from a group of men that put their lives in my hands and vice versa.  To this day I love these men and pray for them, but I was changing inside and it was my destiny to travel a different path.

Months after the fight I was transferred to a minimum security prison. (where the inmates were different than the guys you see in the pictures.)   Not better or worse, just different.  They were men that I didn’t care to impress.  It sounds great to not have to impress anyone, but I was used to the attention that I got from doing crazy things, trying to impress.  The aloneness I felt at this new prison was staggering and profound.  It was that aloneness though, that removed the other voices long enough to finally hear God’s.

There was a group of men who came to this prison every Thursday for no reason except they cared. They usually taught bible studies, but one Thursday they showed a movie and some inmates invited me, to which I replied, “no thanks.”  The movie was, “Passion of the Christ” directed by Mel Gibson. The christian inmates continued to pitch it to me by saying, “Mel Gibson made it, so it has to be good.”  Say what you want about the sanity of Mel Gibson, but the irony of a man who starred in Lethal Weapon being the one responsible for me hearing the Gospel, is not lost on me.   I left the movie asking myself,  “was it true?”   I had to know.  So I went on a search for the truth and found only Jesus.

Fast forward 4yrs.  Still in prison, but my entire life was devoted to serving Jesus.  As much as I used to be devoted to destruction, I was now much more devoted to life.   I modeled my life after Philippians 2:17  but even if I am poured out as a drink offering for the sacrifice and service of your  faith I will rejoice.  It is amazing the difference Jesus can make.  People saw life in me where before only death was visible. I truly was a new creation.  Little did I know what God had planned next in life.

Fast forward 2 more years.  Not in prison.  I married an amazing woman and was blessed with two of the best step kids you could ever ask for.  I was serving at my home church, WBCC,  and feeling like nothing could be better.  That is until I head a sermon from James Myers on Missions.  He preached an entire sermon with a coke bottle on the podium, and the entire time I am wondering why.  At the end he says that one day he was in Tanzania looking for a group of unreached people, he came across a man who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ, but he was holding that bottle of coke.  So in about 100 years coke was able to do what 2000 years of evangelism was unable to do.  It struck me at that moment that we as Christians are making the Holy Spirit look weaker than Coke.  That to me was unacceptable.  My wife turned to me at that time and simply said, “we have to go.”  I agreed.

Next time I will tell you all about this trip, and who this man with me is.

Once again that’s me on the left.

Eddie Franz”

Visit Eddie’s blog here

“For freedom Christ has set us free ….” Galatians 5:1

Will you provide SHADE?

“The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night.” – Psalm 121:5 & 6

 

When the Myers first began researching the area in which they now call home, their eyes were opened to an underground genocide of people with albinism. Albinism, compared to the rest of the world, is more common in Tanzania. People with albinism suffer persecution at the hands of witch doctors because local superstition says that albinism is a curse among the culture and they must be eliminated. The average lifespan for a child with albinism is 20-25 years, we would like to begin to change that today.

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On September 7th, 2014 James and Didi met Nasma. Nasma is a sweet beautiful girl with albinism. Nasma, along with a whole community of children with albinism in the Chalinze area have gone most of their lives without the items necessary to protect from the sun which has left many of them covered in red burns and leathery skin. They had accepted that this was going to be their way of life because most families could not afford clothing that fully covered their bodies and sunscreen is not found at all in the more remote areas of Africa.

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How can I help?

Glad you asked! We will be collecting items to send to Tanzania as well as monetary donations to buy items in Chalinze that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

Items we will be collecting:

  • Long sleeve dri-fit clothing for children. (Children are all slender, all kids sizes)
  • Sunglasses
  • SUNSCREEN
  • big floppy hats that will cover their backs

The biggest need we have is sunscreen. We want to be able to supply them with a lifetime supply and there isn’t any in the villages. The other items can be donated or purchased in Chalinze, monetary donations will be used to purchase those and reading glasses for each kid.

When will these items be taken over?

We will be setting up shipment dates throughout the year to send donations over with short term trips to the area. Our first shipment will be sent out with at the end of September. If you would like your donation to be sent out with this donation, please make sure they are received before September 21st. The next donation will be sent in December/January.

Where can I donate these items?

You can send donations to

1520 Unreached

PO Box 2509

Pflugerville, TX 78660

 (If you are sending packages and need an address without a PO Box, contact Jordan Hope)

or monetary donations can be made at

www.1520unreached.com/support

Type “SHADE” in the memo box

Will you help give SHADE?

Reunited

“The Myers are spending their first day in the city before Didi and Moses transition into the area that they will call home for the next 10-15 years.”

Two months ago, James Myer drove off from his suburban home in Austin, TX leaving behind his wife and child to build a house. A house that does not have running water, air conditioning, indoor plumbing or matching furniture. In spite of these things, this house will be called home to the Myers and so many others as they sacrifice to take the Gospel to an unreached part of the world. While we were sleeping here in the states, James was finally reunited with his family. Endurance (DiDi), Moses and Mama Myer landed in Dar Es Salaam to be reunited with their husband, father and son. After 2 months of not seeing him, 9 month old Moses immediately recognized his Daddy. Of course it must have been hard to forget that beard! The Myers are spending their first day in the city before Didi and Moses transition into the area that they will call home for the next 10-15 years.

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A little bit of Home

James has worked diligently over these last two months to prepare this home for his family. Some exciting discoveries over this last month include Pringles, pigs in a blanket (called Roll Bags in Africa) and mouth wash! In addition to the Boda Boda (motorcycle) the Myer family also purchased a cow. Her name is Ronda Rowsey and she is just one of 10 cows they are seeking to purchase in the near future. Kulea Childcare Villages has played a huge part in getting our team into Tanzania and we are so grateful for their partnership. Pictured below is Ronda, our new friend Jordan and children of the Kulea villages.

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Friendship on the Mission front

Over the last months, James has met with two men that are currently seeking the Lord to decide whether to continue a partnership with our missions team. Nicomed is an African business owner. He owns 6 businesses ranging from construction supplies, lumber, motorcycle parts and a chicken farm of over 4,000+ chickens. After a number of heart to hearts about James’ favorite Bible verses and Nicomed sharing about his Catholic faith, he has expressed the need to be apart of what Kulea and 1520 is doing in the area. Networking with him could open many doors for the Myers in the area. Another young man who James has been connecting with is named Eliah. A father to 10 orphans, Eliah is a pastor from Arusha that first began his ministry in seminary and with the Masai tribe 25 years ago when they were still classified as an unreached people group. He has since planted 32 churches of different denominations in the Masai tribe. His heart feels pulled towards the Zaramo people and is praying about partnering with 1520.

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Tanzania as a whole is not considered unreached, but there is a people group, over one million people, who have never heard the name of Jesus, never seen a Bible, and do not know any religion except for what has been fed to them by culture and the standing government. The Zaramo, one million people without Christ, without hope. Wouldn’t you give up everything to take Christ to them? As a missions team, we are praying Luke 10:2 daily. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” After returning to Texas, Trevor Batton says the one thing that remains with him is the somber reality of how much work there is to do to reach the Zaramo people. Factors like distance, culture, language and timing seem to be growing concerns of getting the Gospel out to the Zaramo. There is a vast harvest but an even greater God. We are asking that you join us in prayer.

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Caleb, Trevor & Shep praying for the Myers and Missions at WBCC State of the Church

Pray:

-To the God of the harvest for more laborers

-For the Zaramo people

-Native pastors to find a heart of evangelism for their own people

-Transition time for Didi & Moses

-Nicomed & Eliah

-Kulea Childcare Villages

– Health for the Myers (James still recovering from a bacterial infection)

-1520 unreached team

 

If you would like to partner with this ministry, you can go to the Support page and follow through there. Be a part of what the Lord is doing “to the ends of the earth.” If you would like to show your support with a shirt contact Jordan Hope

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