Where A Dog Bites... God Plants a Church!

Greetings from Guatemala! I am here with Jeff Kroenlein, Joe Cooper, Tim Goulet, and Erica Whittington of LifeQuest Church of Belton, Missouri. Also here is Ty DeMint from my home church Nall Avenue Baptist of Prairie Village, Kansas. We’ve only been here a day and a half and already have some stories we are excited to share with you.

“Day of the Dead”

Yesterday was the last day of the “Day of the Dead” celebration that happens November 1 and 2. On these two days, everyone goes out to the cemeteries to have a picnic with their families. If you could imagine our Memorial Day combined with Halloween and the Fourth of July, you’d get the feel of it! To get the full experience, we walked through a local cemetery to see it firsthand. Cesar parked outside the cemetery in the truck while I led the team through the maze of people. Because I have been in this region many times through the years, several people spotted me who knew me already.

 Our first day in Guatemala, the team paused in a cemetery for the annual “Day of the Dead” celebration.

Our first day in Guatemala, the team paused in a cemetery for the annual “Day of the Dead” celebration.

What I didn’t realize yesterday was that just by walking through the cemetery we would make an impact in people we saw today! Hang with me, because this story involves a dog bite of 2 years ago, a children’s event we did today in Cesar’s hometown of Amberes, and a pineapple we bought at the cemetery!

Amazing children’s event

In two different church starts within walking distance of Cesar’s house in Amberes, Cesar had arranged for the pastors of these churches to bring some children from their villages for a Play. Story. Eat. morning for kids. Sixteen children came from a brand new house church. About 45 came from a church that has been going several years in another village.

 My friend Tigra, who bit me nearly two years ago.

My friend Tigra, who bit me nearly two years ago.

Tigre

Part of our team walked with Jose, pastor of the new house church, to where he had arranged for us to gather children and bring them to our event. As Jose led us up the trail to this house, I noticed that we were hiking along the trail that I liked to run. In fact, yesterday, Ty and I ran this trail on our first morning in Guatemala. When we got to the house, I could hardly believe my eyes! This was the very same house where, two years ago, I had been bitten by a dog! If you have been on our updates for a while, you might recall the dog bite story where that very same dog had been vaccinated two months prior by a US veterinary group!

Sure enough, “Tigra,” my friend, was there to meet our group! She calmly walked around us as we talked with the family.

 In front of Tigra’s house, I took this picture of our group before we hiked to Cesar’s house.

In front of Tigra’s house, I took this picture of our group before we hiked to Cesar’s house.

New House Church

About 50 yards from Tigra’s house is the new house church where Jose is working to reach families through a weekly children’s gathering. Yesterday two of the sets of parents had accepted Christ with Jose when he was getting permission for the children to come to our event. As we walked the trail with the children, they mentioned that they had noticed me running through the village from time to time and had even seen Ty and me yesterday morning.

When I got back to Cesar and told him that the people from the house where I got bitten are a part of the new church there, he put his hands on his stomach and shaking his head he laughed. “Esteban, we need you to run through all the villages around here. Everywhere you get bitten by a dog, we can start a church!”

At the children’s event, we had a a great time. Tim taught the children how to make dogs and swords and hats out of balloons. Jeff did magic tricks. Ty, Erica, and Joe told stories. And all got snow cones and a hot dog.

 About 60 children came for our children’s event at Cesar’s house. Here they sat for instructions before breaking into three groups.

About 60 children came for our children’s event at Cesar’s house. Here they sat for instructions before breaking into three groups.

 Alejandra served us our Crazy Pineapple.

Alejandra served us our Crazy Pineapple.

Crazy Pineapples

During our time together, several of the children mentioned that they had seen us at the cemetery talking to people they knew. At one point yesterday, just outside the crowded cemetery, we bought a “Crazy Pineapple.” It’s when they put cayenne pepper, chili sauce, lemon, and salt on a perfectly good pineapple! Little did we know that Alejandra, the lady serving us, would be the person that Cesar had hired to make snow cones for the children today at his place!

When we connected with her today, we found out that she is a believer who wants to serve God. We had a chance to encourage her to make a difference with her friends who don’t know Jesus.

 Ty, Joe, and Tim enjoyed the pineapple.

Ty, Joe, and Tim enjoyed the pineapple.

10:02 Prayer

Sunday, we will be near Moyuta, where we started a Christian Rancher group that did the trash project earlier in the year. Monday we work with young people in Santa Rosa de Lima, Tuesday we work with women’s groups near Quesada, and Wednesday we plan to be with older folks in Santa Cruz Narranjo. Please pray for our team this week.

Engage

If you have an interest in a mission trip, please let me know. When I get home we will be looking at the calendar to nail down the dates for January through August of 2019.

Invest

Thanks for your faithful giving. We had just enough to cover the expenses for the next two weeks of activities here. Muchas Gracias!

Thanks again for your prayers. I hope to share more stories from this trip!

Love y’all

Steve

From Kansas to Guatemala God is Moving

Thank You, Cornerstone SBC of Hays, Kansas!

Bill and I had a great time with the good folks of Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church in Hays, Kansas, October 5-6th. We both witnessed the work of God in the people of Cornerstone. They are so responsive to God’s work in their lives. We are excited to see how God uses them to love Hays and central Kansas. Special thanks go to their pastor, Jason Murray, and their team of warm and hospitable folks.

 Bill and I enjoyed our time with the great folks of Cornerstone SBC of Hays, Kansas. What a great weekend!

Bill and I enjoyed our time with the great folks of Cornerstone SBC of Hays, Kansas. What a great weekend!

By the way, several of them have already started our 3-week Play. Story. Eat. trial with some friends. Pray that this sparks a contagious faith in them and that they would want to continue. Also pray for them as they team up to reach out to a nearby apartment complex to build spiritual friendships with the residents there.

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

We have two teams that are preparing to head down to Guatemala.

November 1-8, a group from LifeQuest Church of Belton, MO, and a group from Nall Avenue Baptist of Prairie Village, KS, will be teaming up with Cesar Gonzalez to touch base with several of the newest PSE groups. From women’s groups to Christian Rancher groups to a senior citizens group, the experiences and settings will be varied. The most unusual day will be November 2nd when we go to the cemetery for the annual “Day of the Dead” tradition. This holiday is like our memorial day mixed in with the fourth of July. Whole communities pause to go to cemeteries and remember the dead, eat a lot of food, and play games. Pray that during this time some of our team will have a chance to share their faith story.

November 8-15, I will be joined by a young man from Westside Church of Shawnee, KS, for a quick trip to the jungle. On the way, we will drop in on some Christian Rancher groups. While in the jungle, we plan to visit two of the newest Kekchi churches. In the last couple of weeks, one church baptized 10 people and the other 8! As always, pray that the Lord of the harvest will multiply His laborers for His great harvest.

 Here’s a picture of the first baptisms in Sepoc 13 years ago. This church is now the leader in the region in helping other churches get started. I hope to get pics of their recent baptisms. Stay tuned!

Here’s a picture of the first baptisms in Sepoc 13 years ago. This church is now the leader in the region in helping other churches get started. I hope to get pics of their recent baptisms. Stay tuned!

 This is one of my favorite jungle pictures of all time. It captures a new church reflecting on the significance of the baptisms they have just witnessed.

This is one of my favorite jungle pictures of all time. It captures a new church reflecting on the significance of the baptisms they have just witnessed.

INVEST

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You may be noticing that churches of all kinds and all sizes are using us to train their people to use their talents and interests in unique ministries of building spiritual friendships. If you would like for us to come to your church to coach or train a group, let us know!

Love y'all.   

Steve

PSE Training Camp Events in Hays, Kansas and Norfolk, Nebraska

From Valentine to Norfolk to Omaha…

In a moment, I want to highlight an upcoming Play. Story. Eat. training event, but before doing so, I am busting at the seams to share what has happened in the past couple of weeks with some of our friends and family in Nebraska.

First, the Turner family wanted me to thank you for praying for them at the passing of Lawrence Turner’s wife, Sue. For me, her homecoming celebration was truly a wonderful time for many of us to get together in her hometown of Valentine, Nebraska.

A few days later, on September 20th, our son Josh and his wife, Kristin, who reside in Omaha, Nebraska, welcomed little Landon Michael into the world, and all are doing great—even Josh! If you are keeping score at home, this is our fourth grandchild—the third born in the past 12 months! (See picture at the end of this update!)

In between Valentine and Omaha, I had the privilege of staying with David and Perla Martinez in Norfolk, Nebraska, to see the churches and ministries that David is leading to reach Hispanics in Nebraska. Besides his Norfolk congregation, David has been catalytic in seeing other Hispanic churches started.

 David Martinez speaks to Companerismo Cristiano, his congregation meeting at Northern Heights Baptist Church in Norfolk, Nebraska.

David Martinez speaks to Companerismo Cristiano, his congregation meeting at Northern Heights Baptist Church in Norfolk, Nebraska.

 The Companerismo Cristiano congregation hung around to take a picture with me after the service.

The Companerismo Cristiano congregation hung around to take a picture with me after the service.

I had the privilege of speaking to the church on Sunday, and after the service a young lady came up just beaming from ear to ear. “Do you remember me?” she asked.

“You look familiar, but help me out,” I replied.

“My name is Julieta,” she revealed. “I sat next to you on the airplane from Guatemala to Dallas in June of 2017!” After introducing me to her daughter, sister, and mother, Julieta reminded me of how she was originally from Zacapa, Guatemala, but has made Norfolk, Nebraska, home with her family. Since Zacapa is one of the areas where we are trying to get some Christian rancher groups going, Julieta may be helping us get in touch with some of her family back in Guatemala. Stay tuned for more on that story!

 In a fun surprise, I got reacquainted with my airplane friend, Julieta, here with her daughter after the Sunday service in Norfolk.

In a fun surprise, I got reacquainted with my airplane friend, Julieta, here with her daughter after the Sunday service in Norfolk.

Besides connecting me with his congregation, David arranged on short notice for me to speak at a pastors gathering of the Northeast Nebraska Baptist Association about the Play. Story. Eat. method we use both in Latin America and in the U.S. Thanks to the positive reception, we plan to be back in December for PSE training in both English and Spanish for those in that region.

 At Primera Iglesia Bautista in South Sioux City, Nebraska, I got to hear about God’s moving in the churches in that region, and they allowed me a chance to share the Play. Story. Eat. story.

At Primera Iglesia Bautista in South Sioux City, Nebraska, I got to hear about God’s moving in the churches in that region, and they allowed me a chance to share the Play. Story. Eat. story.

Upcoming Training Event in Hays, Kansas!

And that leads me to what’s coming up. On Saturday, October 6th, from 9am to 3pm, Bill Burrows and I will be doing a Play. Story. Eat. Training Camp in Hays, Kansas. Location is Cornerstone Southern Baptist at 1605 East 29th. Let us know if you’d like to come. For those in that region, contact pastor Jason Murray at (336) 978-8460.

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for more laborers to be sent into the harvest with Hispanics in Nebraska, and pray for the training events coming up in both Kansas and Nebraska.

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Besides our upcoming training in Hays, we plan to be in Pratt, Nebraska, for the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists annual meeting October 8-9. If you are planning to go, we hope to see you there!

Keep those cards and letters coming!

Love y'all.   

Steve

 Landon Michael Reed arrived off the assembly line September 20th weighing in at 8lbs 7oz. Nola and I got a chance to approve of Josh and Kristin’s hard work!

Landon Michael Reed arrived off the assembly line September 20th weighing in at 8lbs 7oz. Nola and I got a chance to approve of Josh and Kristin’s hard work!

Barb's Story ... a Testimony of Play. Story. Eat. in Kansas City

As I write this update, I am preparing to head up to Valentine, Nebraska, for the Saturday homecoming celebration of Sue Turner, the wife of longtime friend, Lawrence Turner. Following the funeral, on Sunday and Monday, I plan to spend some time with David Martinez and his church in Norfolk, Nebraska. David is a catalytic church planter of Hispanic churches in Nebraska and is recruiting pastors and leaders to start churches all over Nebraska. Currently there are about 5 of these, and more are coming.

As I get my bags packed, I want to say thanks for your continued support in helping Bill and me continue to move about the country. This year our travel budget has about doubled on stateside travel as we respond to help our friends use the Play. Story. Eat. process in their ministry contexts. So thanks in advance for helping us!

Barb’s Story…

 Barb & Dick Cates

Barb & Dick Cates

Today I want to highlight Barb Cates’ story. When Barb’s husband, Dick, worked for Cardinal Health, he looked like he was in perfect health. Having been a semi-pro catcher in his younger years and a weightlifting enthusiast, Dick was a powerful man. But due to a snafu when Dick was saving a patient by holding a leaking artery, a surgeon accidentally cut into Dick’s finger while working on an infected Hepatitis patient, Dick’s career was over and his health radically changed. Today, while Dick’s Hepatitis is cured, he now deals with the deteriorating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Last year Barb retired from her full-time job as a high school teacher and is caring for Dick at home as they have had to adjust to their new reality.

During the past couple of years, they have opened their home to a Play. Story. Eat. group. And despite the curve-balls that life has thrown them, they have found that they can minister to others even though they can’t get out as much.

I’ll let Barb tell you a bit of this in her own words…

My husband and I have received many blessings in our walks with Jesus Christ over the years. We have learned, prayed, and served alongside some wonderful fellow Christians. We have engaged in Sunday School classes, prayer groups, and prayer partnerships in hopes of connecting in meaningful ways with others as well as enriching ourselves. Often though, our interactions with others have remained on a comfortable surface level of interaction without delving into a deeper level. We have engulfed ourselves in the business of church life and the social pleasantries that go with it without meeting some deeper needs.

Five years ago a fellow church member, Bill Burrows, decided to get to know and befriend my husband, Dick. They began walking a park trail once a week and talked as they walked. Eventually the weekly visits were conducted in our home, and I was able to join them after my retirement. Over the years, Dick and I have been able to share with Bill the difficulties of transitioning into retirement and confronting the increasing debilitation of Dick’s Parkinson’s disease.

Using the process of Play. Story. Eat., we have been able to open up and address these needs of intimacy with the Lord. Weekly we share our blessings and concerns. We focus on one command in scripture and relate it to our lives, and we commit to obeying the Word in real ways for the next week. This process has allowed us to develop meaningful friendships with others. Though our range of influence may have decreased because of our circumstances, we have been able to find new ways to be a vital part of the Lord’s kingdom. Play. Story. Eat. has helped us to live more genuine Christian lives.

A couple of weeks ago, Barb shared her PSE story with her Sunday School class and is looking to share with others how doable the process can be for people like her and Dick. In the past year, several other groups have started naturally out of the consistent witness of Barb, Dick, and others in the group. We pray that God will continue to use them in a great way!

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for Lawrence Turner and his family as they mourn the passing of Sue. I’d also appreciate your prayers for me as I travel to visit David Martinez and his heroic friends starting Hispanic churches in Nebraska. And please lift up Barb and Dick Cates—praying especially for strength for them as they continue to love and serve the Lord in this era of their lives.  

INVEST

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Are you curious about how God might use you in ministry right where you are? We’d love to have a conversation with you! Send me a note, and Bill or I will call you.

Talk to you soon!

Love y'all.   

Steve

When It Rains, God's Blessings Pour...

Rain, Rain...

I don't know what the weather has been like where you are, but just a few weeks ago we were hot and dry here in Kansas City. At the peak of our heat wave, Ray Gurney called me from Guatemala. As you might recall from our last update, Ray had gone down to meet the president of Guatemala and be at the mayor of Chahal's big ribbon cutting for a road and the completion of several water projects in the region that we had helped with.  

"So how did it go?" I asked Ray, expecting a good story of how he met the president.

"It's gone really good!" Ray said as I could hear the rain bouncing off a tin roof in the background. "But it's been raining a lot here, and the president couldn't make it, and the whole celebration got delayed, so we left." My heart sank as Ray told me this. The whole premise for Ray going to Guatemala was to be there for this big honor, and now it sounded like it was a washout. I felt bad for Ray. But before I could verbalize an apology, he continued.

"But the pastors gathering this morning went really well," he said. "I didn't understand much, but Cesar told me that the president of the Baptist Kekchi Association was there. I'll pass Cesar the phone and let him explain it."

"Hola Esteban!" Cesar yelled trying to overcome the continued downpour in the background. "Remember the president of the Kekchi Association we met a couple of years ago at the radio station?" 

"Si," I responded, remembering a visit we made to a group of Kekchi Baptists in another part of Guatemala where we had tried to talk them into partnering with us to support our Kekchi friends with their training and Kekchi materials. But nothing had come of it, and we figured they weren't interested. 

 Ray snapped a picture of the president of the Kekchi association of churches inviting our pastor friends in the jungle to join their group.  

Ray snapped a picture of the president of the Kekchi association of churches inviting our pastor friends in the jungle to join their group.  

A Kekchi Association is Born... 

"Well, he showed up at our meeting. I didn't even know he was coming. Today, he offered to make them a part of their convention of Kekchi churches, but our pastors were leery to agree without talking with us. When I suggested that our pastors organize their group as a regional association that voluntarily works with this Kekchi convention, they opened up. I think they were worried about this guy being an outsider trying to take over their churches. Anyway, I gave them my blessing to decide as they wished. In the end, they agreed to organize an association and begin relating to this new group. I think it was a God-thing we were there. When it's not raining so hard I'll call you back to tell you more."

 Cesar's note on some spare calendar pages inaugurated the new Kekchi association of churches and their gathering dates for pastors and leaders. 

Cesar's note on some spare calendar pages inaugurated the new Kekchi association of churches and their gathering dates for pastors and leaders. 

Since that conversation, the Kekchi Association has been formed. One of the Kekchi pastors from another region has come to be a catalytic missionary pastor of two of our churches needing leadership. In a couple of weeks Cesar will go back to the jungle to follow up on this new development. 

After debriefing with Ray later, he said, "What an honor to be there at the beginning of a brand new association of churches!" When it rains, God's blessings really do pour! 

 Ray Gurney poses with the nucleus of a new church in Sejux, Chahal, Guatemala, standing under their church's new roof.   

Ray Gurney poses with the nucleus of a new church in Sejux, Chahal, Guatemala, standing under their church's new roof.   

 Thanks to Ray's church, Crosscreek Baptist Mission, since Ray's visit, this congregation has been able to finish their construction and get the box for hookup to electricity that just recently came to their village. This photo was sent to Cesar yesterday to show that they had just finished constructing the outside walls of their structure. 

Thanks to Ray's church, Crosscreek Baptist Mission, since Ray's visit, this congregation has been able to finish their construction and get the box for hookup to electricity that just recently came to their village. This photo was sent to Cesar yesterday to show that they had just finished constructing the outside walls of their structure. 

A Shout-out to FBC Muldrow, Oklahoma! 

Both Bill and I agree that the recent Play. Story. Eat. training camp event that we did the weekend of August 18th at First Baptist of Muldrow, Oklahoma, was our best one yet. Rick Deason, the pastor of FBC Muldrow, shared with us that as a result of the training, approximately 25 of the 75 regular attenders of the church agreed to doing a three-week Play. Story. Eat. experimental group with a friend. "I believe this stuff works for churches like ours," Rick said. "We are excited."  And so are we! Thanks, Muldrow, for having us! 

 Rick and Karen Deason, far left, gather with a few of our friends from Muldrow, Oklahoma, who are dedicating themselves to being "a friend who loves Jesus" in their home town.  

Rick and Karen Deason, far left, gather with a few of our friends from Muldrow, Oklahoma, who are dedicating themselves to being "a friend who loves Jesus" in their home town.  

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray that God would continue to send forth laborers into His harvest fields. Whether it is Chahal, Guatemala, or Muldrow, Oklahoma, we believe that at the core we are all the same, and we all need friends who love Jesus. May more of us step up to His calling of being that friend who is willing to go anywhere anytime. 

INVEST

Several of you have given generously since our last mention of our needs. Thanks! And keep those cards and letters coming! You are making a big difference. Each gift, no matter the amount, is like a personal word of your encouragement to me. I am grateful to you and to God. If you haven't had a chance to give, below is our easy button for investing in our mission.  

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In September we will be gearing up for the fall schedule of PSE training and a Guatemala trip. October 5-6 we will be in Hays, Kansas, and October 18 we will be with a group of cowboy church pastors near Waco, Texas, where Greg Moore, pastor of Top Hand Cowboy Church has invited us to come down and be with them. We will announce more specifics as we go, but the plan is for us to make several stops between Kansas and Texas during that October time frame. If we come near you, we would love for you to have us over for dinner!  :-) 

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

The Crazy Days of a Play. Story. Eat. Summer

The last time we updated you, it was the first day of summer. And now, a little over a month later, a lot has transpired.  

In June and July, both the Burrows and the Reed families went on separate vacations in Canada. For the Reeds, it was our first vacation with all our sons, their spouses, and our three grand-kids! What a blast! But there is a lot more that we haven't told you! 

 The whole Reed clan poses for a chilly group picture during their Canadian vacation in June.  

The whole Reed clan poses for a chilly group picture during their Canadian vacation in June.  

"I need you to come meet el Presidente!!" 

Those were the first words Cesar spoke when he called me a few weeks ago. "Esteban!" Cesar continued excitedly. "The mayor of Chahal has invited us to come for their big celebration of the road opening," Cesar explained. "Our presidente is supposed to be there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the mayor wants to recognize those who helped with the various water projects in the region."

"When is it?" I asked.

"August 8th."

"Oh man!" I countered. "Nola and I will be coming off a trip celebrating our anniversary, and I have a leadership conference and a Guatemala team training I would have to reschedule."

Ray Gurney to the Rescue!

After a day of trying to figure it out, I called Ray and mentioned my dilemma. "Steve, that week I am actually available. I'll go!" 

As I write this update, Ray is en route with Cesar and Elba Gonzalez for Chahal. Ray's church has been one of several that have been instrumental in collecting money for these water projects, so I am excited that he will get to be there for this occasion. 

 The water project in Sepoc was recently completed. The water is pumped from a spring below up to a couple of containers above. 

The water project in Sepoc was recently completed. The water is pumped from a spring below up to a couple of containers above. 

 From the containers on the top of the hill, the water drops by gravity to the village of Sepoc. Here the workers turn on the faucet for the first time in their village! 

From the containers on the top of the hill, the water drops by gravity to the village of Sepoc. Here the workers turn on the faucet for the first time in their village! 

PSE Training this Month...

While Steve and Nola celebrated their anniversary last week, Bill Burrows was hard at work doing Play.Story.Eat. training in Avilla, Missouri, and Muldrow, Oklahoma. He and I will be at First Baptist Church in Muldrow on August 18th for a PSE Experience Training Camp.

Your Summer Gifts are Vital 

Many have asked us how our funds are holding up this summer. Given the fact that we have not done a painting project like last summer, we are at a much lower ebb than we have been all year. So your giving makes a huge difference. Keep those cards and letters coming! 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray this week for Ray, Cesar, and Elba as they attend the celebration in Chahal. Pray that God would get the glory and that other churches would be started in the jungle as a result of the word getting out about these water projects.

INVEST

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Would you like to know how PSE groups can be "hands on" in helping with a community project? Though we don't mention all that our groups do, know that there are likely others interested in what you might be interested in. Got an idea? Give us a call or drop us a note! 

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

 August 4th Nola and I celebrated our 34th anniversary in Chicago around a work trip for Nola.

August 4th Nola and I celebrated our 34th anniversary in Chicago around a work trip for Nola.

Little Things Add Up Quick

REVIEWING THE VITAL BEHAVIORS

In three previous updates, we shared vital behaviors we want to engage in as we follow Jesus. 

#1: Initiate Spiritual Conversations. We want to help Christians feel confident that they can initiate a spiritual conversation with anyone, anywhere. 

#2: Be "Story Ready." We want to help believers to have four types of stories ready to share at any time. 

#3: Engage in Obedience Training. We want to encourage each other to follow God in specific acts of obedience every week. Last week we talked about how a few cowboys in Honduras were "riding their bulls" of obedience. 

Today I want to share a story of how one simple act of obedience can compound over time and cause growth that we might not think possible.

How many times have you eaten dinner with your wife? 

A few months ago in a PSE discipleship group, one of my friends was considering the Bible's admonition of "Husbands, love your wives." To get to an act of obedience, he pondered what he should do. He thought about the reality that he and his wife were microwaving their own meals separately on different eating schedules. "How many times have you eaten dinner with your wife this year?" came the prompting in his mind. As he strained to remember, he could count those instances on one hand. 

So to his group of PSE friends, he pledged to invite his wife to eat dinner every night that week. He went home and made his pitch. "Would you like to eat dinner with me this week?"

"Okay," she agreed. And they ate together each evening. 

"How'd it go with your commitment this week?" came the question at the next group meeting.

"Pretty good," he answered. "We did it every night, but it was a little awkward and quiet. We haven't talked much lately, and I struggled to have anything to talk about."

"How about getting a fun list of conversation starter questions to help?" came a suggestion. 

"Sounds good," he said. "I have some stuff on my phone I can use. I will continue to eat with my wife, and I will find a question that I can throw out to get us talking."

The following week my friend reported, "We had some really good conversations."

"Great!" encouraged the others.

"But in asking the questions," he continued, "I realized that I wasn't listening to her very well. A couple of times my mind drifted when she talked about something I wasn't interested in. So this week I am going to eat dinner, I will ask a question, and I will seek to listen to everything she says and not judge her or get sidetracked or distracted."

The next week he reported that he had a few moments of wanting to drift, but that he hung in better to the conversation. That week, the scripture challenged everyone to pray.

"I've had trouble praying with my wife," my friend chimed in. "This week, I will invite her to pray with me after we eat our meal and do the question. I will pray for whatever is concerning her, and if she is open, I will ask if she would pray for me."

"How's it going with your wife?" I asked a few weeks later.

"Great!" he said. "We feel more connected than we have been for years." Then he paused. "I don't think people realize the power of doing this process. It seemed so small to start with. But over time it grew and gave me momentum I didn't think was possible." 

What small act of obedience might God be prompting you to do this week? 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray that our groups would be full of men and women like my friend who will take small steps of obedience consistently enough to see positive momentum in their relationships and in their walks with God.

On a separate note, Marcos, a friend from Agua Blanca, Guatemala, died this past Saturday. Their family called Cesar to pass the word to us. Marcos was a part of a group that came to Nebraska for the Valentine rodeo and was instrumental in our involvement in the big Agua Blanca rodeo the past couple of years. Pray for his friends and family. 

 Here is a group picture of the Guatemala delegation that came to Valentine, Nebraska, for their rodeo in August of 2015. Marcos is on the far left. 

Here is a group picture of the Guatemala delegation that came to Valentine, Nebraska, for their rodeo in August of 2015. Marcos is on the far left. 

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Are you engaged in an environment of growth like the one described in this update? If not, contact us at PSE, and let's see if we can help you and your friends get some momentum in your walk with Jesus.

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

I'm Not Going to Kill Anybody This Week...

(Editor's note: this is the third and final installment of a series on what we do to make disciples of Jesus.)  

VITAL BEHAVIOR #3: ENGAGE IN OBEDIENCE TRAINING

In a couple of previous updates, we shared two vital behaviors we want to engage in as we follow Jesus. To review, here they are again.   

#1: Initiate Spiritual Conversations. We want to help Christians feel confident that they can initiate a spiritual conversation with anyone, anywhere. To review that update, it was titled "How do you catch fish?" 

#2: Be "Story Ready." Also, we want to help believers to have four types of stories ready to share at any time. If you missed that discussion, check out the update titled "Make a Life-Giving Connection Today." 

Now, for this third habit we may need to brace you a bit. This one will require the most discipline and the most help from others. We believe it is crucial to anyone, no matter their spiritual level of maturity, to engage in if they want to be a disciple of Jesus.

#3: Engage in Obedience Training. 

When I think of obedience training, I picture a well-trained dog or horse. The more obedient and responsive they are to their master, the more they do things they never dreamed possible.   

 In 2006, at a ranch near Jalpatagua, Guatemala, horse trainer, Byron Garwood, worked with a troubled horse that had never been saddled before.  

In 2006, at a ranch near Jalpatagua, Guatemala, horse trainer, Byron Garwood, worked with a troubled horse that had never been saddled before.  

 Within a couple of hours, Byron had the horse saddled and was riding it. This demonstration opened many invitations for us to go to cattlemen's associations all over Guatemala to talk about doing church for cowboys.  

Within a couple of hours, Byron had the horse saddled and was riding it. This demonstration opened many invitations for us to go to cattlemen's associations all over Guatemala to talk about doing church for cowboys.  

In a similar way, God wants to train us so that we can do things we never would have imagined.  

In the Bible, in what has been called "the great commission," Jesus charges his disciples with these challenging words. 

"Go and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." Matthew 28:19-20

In the North American church, I believe we have done some of what Jesus asked us to do in the great commission. But with regard to our methodology, it's like we left out one word--obey. We "teach them everything Jesus commanded." But we don't "teach them to OBEY everything Jesus commanded." Sunday after Sunday we hear good sermons. In Bible study after Bible study, we learn all kinds of good stuff. But we have been educated way beyond our obedience!   

WHAT BULL ARE YOU GONNA RIDE? 

For that reason, in our Play. Story. Eat. groups, when we learn a scripture or a teaching from the Lord, we want to take a few minutes to ask "what am I going to do about it? What do I need to do to obey God?" In the language of our Christian Rancher groups, we ask, "What bull am I gonna ride as a result of what we just talked about today?"

I'll never forget what David, a cowboy from Poncaya, Honduras said after hearing the Bible story of the prodigal son. "What bull are you gonna ride because of this story?" I asked. David answered quickly. 

“Well, my bull is real clear for me. I'm not gonna kill anybody this week!" When we chuckled, David stopped us, almost pleading with us. “No, you guys! I'm serious. You can ask my wife. Things have gotten so bad with one of our neighbors that this morning I told my wife, 'either I'm going to kill this person or we are going to have to move.' But after hearing this story, I am certain that God does not want me to do that, and I believe He wants me to go talk to them. I don't know what I'm going to say. But that's the bull I have to ride this week."

 David, a rancher from Poncaya, Honduras, shares his first act of obedience to Jesus in a Christian Rancher group. "I'm not going to kill anybody!"

David, a rancher from Poncaya, Honduras, shares his first act of obedience to Jesus in a Christian Rancher group. "I'm not going to kill anybody!"

Last week I spoke with Esteban Hernandez, a friend who has been meeting with that group, and asked about David. "Has he killed anybody?" I asked.

"No!" Esteban said, laughing. "He hasn't killed anyone. He cleared that problem up with the neighbor, and he and that group are still meeting, and they are continuing to ride their bulls of obedience."     

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for David's group in Poncaya, Honduras, to continue in bold acts of obedience to God. And pray the same for the more than 100 other groups in our network of friends. Ask God to help us make more inroads in the United States with people longing to live more obediently to Jesus' teaching as well.    

INVEST

Your continued giving means so much. Thanks for your partnership. We couldn't do this without you.  

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

Are you engaged in obedience training? If not, we can help. Contact us at PSE, and let's see if we could help you and your friends get some momentum in your walk with Jesus.

By the way, I still have a few bags of coffee left. Just let me know.

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

Talking Trash in Guatemala Opens Doors to Share the Gospel

It has been a few weeks since Ray Gurney, Mark Welch, Tim Tucker, and I got back from a Guatemala trip. We went down to scout out the possibilities of using trash as a way to share the gospel. And along the way, we encouraged various Play.Story.Eat. groups.  

The Problem

Guatemala, like virtually every country in Latin America, has trash haphazardly tossed and dumped in many places.    

 In most smaller villages in Guatemala, there is no garbage dump or designated place to throw trash. This has polluted many of their streams, rivers, and water-ways.  

In most smaller villages in Guatemala, there is no garbage dump or designated place to throw trash. This has polluted many of their streams, rivers, and water-ways.  

Through the years we have worked with mayors and public health officials on various projects. In February of this year, Ray Gurney brought up the idea of having friends from the U.S. come help do something about this growing problem.

 Ray Gurney talks about his trash idea while walking through a beach community in Las Lisas, Guatemala. 

Ray Gurney talks about his trash idea while walking through a beach community in Las Lisas, Guatemala. 

"Your country is such a beautiful country," Ray said. "It is a shame that trash is spoiling its natural beauty."

"You are right!" Manuel, a rancher and community leader from a village near San Pedro Alvarado, agreed. "We must do something about it before it gets worse. Can you help us?"

"Obviously, we can't do it all for you," Cesar Gonzalez, our ministry leader in Guatemala, chimed in. "But we could help you develop a trash plan and work with you on it."

 Cesar (seated in the hammock) speaks with Manuel on a boat trip to explore a protected river canal that is being negatively affected by trash.  

Cesar (seated in the hammock) speaks with Manuel on a boat trip to explore a protected river canal that is being negatively affected by trash.  

"I would be glad to help raise awareness for this and do what I can." Ray offered.  

"To be clear," Cesar added, "if we get involved, we would use the opportunity to talk about God." 

"Of course!" Manuel answered, smiling. "We know you! You always bring messages to us of how we need God. And that is what motivates us to do more to love our neighbor."

From that conversation in February, Cesar met several times with Manuel and multiple other leaders, mayors, and public health officials. Those talks prepared the way for our scout team to see what might happen if we brought a team down to work on this kind of a project and share the gospel at the same time. 

 In a village near San Pedro Alvarado, Guatemala, Manuel and a group of community leaders gather a group to talk about their trash problem. Before setting up for this meeting, a new Christian Rancher group was established that will make this project their way to demonstrate their love and concern for the people of their community. 

In a village near San Pedro Alvarado, Guatemala, Manuel and a group of community leaders gather a group to talk about their trash problem. Before setting up for this meeting, a new Christian Rancher group was established that will make this project their way to demonstrate their love and concern for the people of their community. 

During this trip, each team member shared stories of faith using trash as the main topic. For example, Ray shared how God made us stewards of this earth. Tim talked about the benefits of living in a clean community. And Mark talked about how his father taught him how to handle trash on his farm west of Fort Worth, Texas. 

 Tim Tucker, music and youth director for First Baptist of Benbrook, Texas, waits while I translate his words to the group. 

Tim Tucker, music and youth director for First Baptist of Benbrook, Texas, waits while I translate his words to the group. 

 Mark Welch speaks to the group about his Dad's simple methodology in handling trash on his farm back in Texas.  

Mark Welch speaks to the group about his Dad's simple methodology in handling trash on his farm back in Texas.  

One added twist came almost every time that people heard about Mark's windmill assembly business back in Texas. In a future update we hope to share more of the interest many Guatemalan ranchers have in seeing Mark bring a working windmill to Guatemala to pump water for their cows! Stay tuned!   

 The new Christian Rancher group met for the first time. Seated to the left of Cesar are Ray Gurney, Tim Tucker, and Mark Welch. This group committed to meeting every other week and will work to tackle the trash issue as a team.  

The new Christian Rancher group met for the first time. Seated to the left of Cesar are Ray Gurney, Tim Tucker, and Mark Welch. This group committed to meeting every other week and will work to tackle the trash issue as a team.  

What Needs in Your Community Could You Address?

When we think of all the projects we do in our ministry, we want to be clear about where these projects come from. We don't necessarily walk around looking for service projects we think would be good. We wait for a new group to decide what needs they would like to address, and then we seek to help them be the heroes in their community.

While we don't claim to have expertise in most of the projects we tackle, they always come from our desire to love people in whatever community a group is getting established. Through the years, that has led us to do water projects, medical clinics, veterinary talks, and now trash.

But what about you? What might God be prompting you and your group to do where you live?

    10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

    Pray for the new group that got started in Guatemala from our trash project. Pray for wisdom for their leaders working in the new Christian Rancher groups that are working on this project. Pray that people will come to know Christ and follow Him in bold acts of obedience.   

    INVEST

    As we head into the summer months, your giving means more than ever. Thanks for your partnership in helping us respond to the increasing opportunities to share His message both at home and in Central America. Muchas gracias! 

    THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

    ENGAGE

    By the way, I have another batch of fresh coffee from our coffee grower friends in Guatemala! All the bags are $15 a bag and are whole bean. Just send me a note and I'll get it to you!  Make checks payable to Restoration Coffee.  

     Our friend Dario roasts another batch of coffee for us. Let us know you would like some, and we'll send it to you! 

    Our friend Dario roasts another batch of coffee for us. Let us know you would like some, and we'll send it to you! 

    Talk to you soon! 

    Love y'all.   

    Steve

    PS...HERE IS OUR ITINERARY 

    • June 7-17...Reed Family in Banff, Canada
    • July 7-14...Burrows Family in Vancouver, Canada

    Make A Life-Giving Connection Today!

    But First - From Nebraska to Guatemala! 

    In our last update I was packing my bags for a 10-day excursion to Nebraska. Today, I'm still packing. I head out in the morning for Guatemala! 

    Before I say more about that, I want to express how grateful Bill and I are for our many friends in Nebraska who let us come over to share and get to know your places of ministry. Special thanks go to Greg and Kendi Boller, Joel and Linda Wentworth, Dave and Sandy Gideon, Tom and Joyce Huffman, Rex and Deb Kelley, Lawrence and Sue Turner, and Ransom and Britney Wentworth for putting us up in their homes during our stay.

     5 Years ago, Greg and Kendi Boller started the Lonestar Cowboy Church in their barn. Today, close to 100 strong come each Sunday.  Greg is standing in the top left corner. 

    5 Years ago, Greg and Kendi Boller started the Lonestar Cowboy Church in their barn. Today, close to 100 strong come each Sunday.  Greg is standing in the top left corner. 

     This colt was born in an adjacent barn stall just a few hours before the Lonestar Cowboy Church began its Sunday service! 

    This colt was born in an adjacent barn stall just a few hours before the Lonestar Cowboy Church began its Sunday service! 

    Many Nebraskan hearts were opened to the idea of going on mission trips to Guatemala and the mission of making disciples through spiritual friendships with people in their neck of the woods. 

     Greg and Kendi Boller with son, Ayden, and Bill Burrows. 

    Greg and Kendi Boller with son, Ayden, and Bill Burrows. 

    Back to the Three Vital Behaviors...

    In the last update, we introduced you to the idea that in the PSE method, we emphasize 3 vital behaviors for being a "fisher of men" or a disciple of Jesus that makes disciples. We only talked about the first one.  

    #1: Initiate Spiritual Conversations. We shared how simple questions can get a spiritual conversation started. (See the last update for that discussion.) But after the conversation is started, what then?  

    Vital Behavior #2: Be "Story Ready." - Make a Life-Giving Connection.

    During college basketball's recent final four playoffs, Bill was listening to a coach talk about how he trained his players to be "shot ready." He wanted his players to be ready to shoot the ball at all times--knowing that if they were not ready before they got the ball, it would be too late.

    In a similar way, we can be "story ready." 

    ...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,... 1 Peter 3:15

    Together, we can prepare several true stories of God at work in our lives.  When God creates an opening in our spiritual conversations, we will be ready to "take the shot." We can share a key story and connect with another person in a life-giving way. In our PSE training and spiritual friendships, you begin to see how your life events can serve each other. You start to develop your stories and learn where and when to use them.

    Here are four types of personal tales that we can share to connect in life-affirming ways:

    • salvation story - when, why, and how we said yes to Jesus as Savior and Lord
    • defining moments stories - where & how God worked at key times
    • current reality story - real-time response to a command of God
    • family/community stories - sharing others' needs with the goal of engaging others to help meet them

    We believe that there are people in your world who will respond to God if they hear your story of what God is doing in your life. We know that happens in our mission work in other countries. But most of us haven't even scratched the surface of what we could do with our friends and acquaintances at home.  

    And that leads us to vital behavior #3. I hope to share that with you next time!  

      10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

      Pray for Ray Gurney, Mark Welch, Tim Tucker, and me as we head to Guatemala Thursday, May 3. We will be doing a scout trip to assess the possibilities of helping our Christian Rancher groups meet community needs like trash problems and water problems. We have some crazy ideas of creating "trash games" that would be both fun and motivating for communities to clean up their towns and villages while using trash as a metaphor for a gospel message. If it works well, we will tell you about it. If it doesn't, we may share that too!  

      Also pray for Bill this weekend as he travels to Dodge City, Kansas, for another KNCSB Church Leadership training event like we did in Topeka and in North Platte, Nebraska. 

      INVEST

      Thanks, Nebraska, for letting us be with you last week! Thanks for your partnership in helping us respond to the increasing opportunities to do mission work both in the US and Central America. Muchas gracias! 

      THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

      ENGAGE

      If you would like more info on how you can get "Story Ready," contact us about it or try to make the upcoming PSE training event May 19 at LifeQuest Church in Belton, Missouri. As always, if something good or noteworthy is happening in your life and ministry, let us know!   

      Talk to you soon! 

      Love y'all.   

      Steve

      PS...Here is our itinerary 

      • May 3-10...Guatemala...Steve
      • May 5...Dodge City, Kansas...Regional Kansas/Nebraska Church Leadership Conference...Bill
      • May 19...Belton, MO...The PSE Experience @ LifeQuest Church