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.

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?

Would you do it for a Friend?

Would you do it for a Friend?

We Christians know the Great Commission. We know Jesus commanded his disciples to reach the ends of the earth and make disciples of all the nations. And if we’re not kidding ourselves, we know that command was for our generation, just as it was for theirs.

So why is there an epidemic of complacency among Christians today?

The question is, of course rhetorical. We live in an era where the idols of comfort and entertainment rule. Facing the dangers and hardships of missions seems less appealing than ever to Christians, and so we excuse ourselves by believing that lie that missions are for someone else. Rather than concern ourselves with the gravity of the subject, we write it off, saying that the work is for some supersaint who has a “gift” for it (I know; I’ve been there). For those of us caught up in the business of our own lives, the Great Commission as a command sounds burdensome. That’s why I offer an alternative perspective.

In John 15:12, Jesus told his disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his mater is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” In saying this, Jesus changed the nature of the relationship between God and man. Despite Christ’s superiority, despite His complete entitlement to the term “Master”, He did not want his disciples to obey Him on the basis of authority alone. He wanted to establish a partnership, one in which He and His disciples could work together to achieve God’s ultimate plan. He called His disciples friends. The ramifications of that declaration are staggering, because the closeness implicit in the term “friendship” was something few had ever experienced with God up to that point. Here, Jesus offered it freely.

That, to me, sheds new light on what Jesus prayed two chapters later in John 17:20-24, “I do not ask for the world these only, but for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one … so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” 

Before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father, baring his heart and letting his desires be known. Other scriptural evidence leads me to believe that Jesus was also aware that His words would be written down for future generations, which means that when Jesus bared His heart to the Father, He was baring it to us as well. He revealed his heart’s desire to us whom he calls his friends that we would know and share in His longing. That longing is for all who would believe to be brought into relationship with Him.

One of the factors that separates Christianity from the world’s religions is the relationship God has established with us. We do not earn salvation by obeying rules; we are gifted salvation through belief and faith, and the relationship established through God’s love motivates us to want to do His will. In the same way, we do not obey His command to reach the world because we must, but because it is something He greatly desires, and as His friends, should we not desire it too?

If your best friend said to you, “I’ve known you for so long, but I’ve never met your parents; I would really love to meet them,” would you not introduce them? How much more should we want to do this for our Savior? Missions aren’t just about following orders; they’re about pursuing the very heart of God. The more we understand God’s heart the better we know Him the more we will want to partner with Him to fulfill His deepest desires. That partnership comes in many different forms: for some, it means becoming a missionary to an unreached people group; for others, it means committing to support and prayer. No matter how busy we are or where we find ourselves in life, we can always be on mission with God.

Maybe you’re too busy to embrace obedience to a command you aren’t sure is for you. But would you do it for a friend?

-Tyler Huggins, 1520 Unreached

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.

Life after “Yes!”

Life after “Yes!”

“It matters not how strait  the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.”

 

This is the closing four lines of the poem Invictus written by William Ernest Henley. The final two lines are often quoted in countless speeches and self-help books in one form or another. I, for the majority of my life, prescribed to this logic; I adhered to this tenet of humanism. Then, the one and only captain of my faith began to steer.

didi and moses

I would love to take full credit for moving across the world to be a missionary, but that would be misleading. I always loved the idea of missions, but I probably never would have “taken the plunge” were it not for the Lord working through my bolder than Folgers husband. You see I’m not that fearless. I would love to say I’m fearless, but I must concede that the majority of the time I am kind of a scaredy cat that puts up a great front (fake it until you make it, right?). I wasn’t raised to dream THIS big and out of the box. I like to color in the lines. But, somewhere around 23 years of age, the Lord stirred my spirit and my heart. He plucked me from my safe, planned out, master-of-my-fate line of thinking and gave me the courage to go.

 

So here I am in Chalinze, Tanzania with my family, on mission introducing God’s love to villages and people that have never heard of Jesus. My career aspirations, once luminous and weighty, have been put in place in pursuit of goals with eternal consequences. People keep reminding me how much I’ve given up, but to tell you the truth – I haven’t thought twice about it. All the possibilities, options, opportunities,  “what could have been’s” will be, because I am right where I need to be – in the center of God’s will for my life.

 

There is a common misconception that whatever happens to us is the will of God. Many of us think –  I can do whatever I want and God will either do something or not and that will be his will. It will all happen like it needs to according to his plan for our lives. God is who he says he is – sovereign, majestic, unchanging and merciful; and God is in control but all of us have a choice. We must decide to follow him or to turn away. I can say yes to Him or I can say no. I can go to the hard places, get uncomfortable, or I can remain in my safe, perimetered zone.

me with kulea girls after church

Say yes and the Lord will absolutely, positively, intentionally, give you more than you can handle. Because when you surrender to him, owning up to your complete depravity and sinfulness, and allow the Lord to take the lead, he will prove himself by doing more than you ever could or would have done alone. In this way his glory can be displayed and people can see his grace and faithfulness through our lives. As the Lord told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

Is this easy? What do you think? In fact, every day is filled with reminders, sometimes painful reminders, of my human emotions, human desires, and human limitations. The brokenness of this world does not get any less sad, the longer you live in the midst of it. It is devastating that people have to live, and die like this. I would love the view from my window to be a nice subdivision with clean children running around wearing shoes. But it isn’t, life in Africa is hard – no way to pretty that up. Sometimes I get caught up in my “I deserve more” moments; I want to go home, I want to go back to work into my office and live out the “American Dream”, I want to drop off Moses at grandma’s house and hang out with my friends and family.  These momentary screams of my heart remind me how normal, how human I am, and how much I love God. He gave his one and only son as a sacrifice for me, for us. His one and only son…When I focus on this simple truth, his faithfulness, love, and mercy resonate within me. God is using me, despite my frailties, self-reliance, and little faith. Through me, God is accomplishing his purpose. Because of him, hope courses through my veins, even on the most difficult days.

 

A part of my heart will always be in Texas and my heart will ache to be there making memories with everyone I love. This is personally my toughest sacrifice. But we all must sacrifice in one way or another to accomplish great things. Just know – God’s love made known is worth it, even if only to one person. We, individually and collectively, must keep trying. Say “Yes” to the call. Your mission field will probably be different from mine, nonetheless, we have all been empowered to do BIG things for our God.

 

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

 

Matthew 16:24-25didi with a funny face

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?

Missionaries & Motorcycles

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.. Ebola.”

We want to start off this post by putting everyone’s heart at ease about what seems to be the “elephant in the room” about our team being on the ground in Africa …. Ebola. The Ebola pandemic is concentrated in West Africa currently, many many miles away from East Africa, where Tanzania is located. We are praying for West Africa, those affected by the outbreak and their loved ones, and for it not to make its way towards our mission field.

Home is where you make it.

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The team has been on the ground for about 6 weeks now, building a home, chicken coop, goat house, and shed in preparation for DiDi (Endurance) and Moses to arrive. We are happy to announce that the house is near completion, with finishing touches to be completed in the next 3 weeks, just in time to welcome the entire Myer family on August 25th!! Endurance & Moses will finally be reunited with their father and husband, James. While James is waiting for his family to arrive he has some special little ones to keep him company. A number of local children have adopted our missionaries as their own. Below are pictures of Jessica and Ezekiel, some new found friends for our team.

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Adding to the Body of Christ with Zaramo Brethren

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With the house substantially complete and the men itching to share the gospel, our missionaries took a construction break and ventured into the Zaramo community to proclaim the good news. Meeting with a group of 4 men on the side of the road, Trevor shared about the love and life of Jesus Christ. God stirred their hearts and three of the men accepted Christ and are looking forward to learning more about Yesu Kristo and the book written by God that they’ve heard so much about. Hallelujah!

Coming Home

Two of our missionaries – Trevor Batton and Robert Spivey, who travelled with James to help lay the foundation for him and his family, have returned state side after their stay in Tanzania. Both men have returned with a fire in their hearts to keep reaching the unreached. Keep praying for Trevor as he finishes his last year at Texas A&M University. He has committed his life to fulfilling his calling of taking the Gospel of Christ to those who have never heard. He will join the Myer family in Tanzania next year. Robert is returning earlier than scheduled due to some unforeseen medical issues. Pray for the Spivey family as they continue to pray about where the Lord would have them serve the unreached.

“Piki-piki”

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The Myer family is completely funded by supporters like you and because of your support, they were able to purchase their first family vehicle for the mission field, a 200cc Chinese motorcycle or as they would say in Swahili “piki-piki”. This vehicle will provide a way for the family to go into town when needed, but most importantly, it will be a way for them to spend intentional time with the Zaramo people group. This motorcycle will take aquaponics, agricultural education, and most importantly the gospel out to the Zaramo. These things are possible because of you giving to, supporting and praying for this ministry. We cannot thank you enough for being a part of the vision God has placed on our hearts to reach the unreached. Asante sana! (Thank you very much!)

Become a Supporter

So what can we do? For those of us who want to be an active part of God’s mission of reaching the unreached but aren’t quite ready to fly over and join the Myers (yet), what can we do to spread the Gospel into these unreached parts of the world? My advice – be ZEALOUS.

 

Be a zealous goer.

You can contact the Director of Communications (me) for ways to get involved with being a zealous goer and join the Myers on the ground in Tanzania.

Be a zealous giver.

As always, you can support the Myers or any of the members of the team by going to our support page.

Pray Zealously

Pray. Pray. Pray.

-Native pastors to join on mission with the Myers and take the gospel to the Zaramo

-The Zaramo & surrounding tribes; that the Lord will prepare their hearts and minds

– Pray for swift healing of James’ bacterial infection

-Travel plans for DiDi & Moses as they leave in for Tanzania on August 24th

-Pray for protection from Ebola and Malaria

-James serving alone until DiDi and Moses arrive

-The 1520 unreached team stateside and their efforts to spread awareness about unreached people groups

One Week on the Ground

“Continue to pray for the Lord to work even in the building phase of this ministry.”

The team has been on the ground in Tanzania for just over a week now. In that time, they have gathered their supplies to begin building the house that the Myer’s will do their ministry out of in Chalinze. They attended a church service on Sunday there in Tanzania. Putting first things first, the team put up a shower that they will use throughout the building phase of this journey. Continue to pray for the Lord to work even in the building phase of this ministry.

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