You Made a Difference this Week in Guatemala!

Hello Everyone!

Thank You! Cesar and I thank God for your prayers and support each day. Your faithfulness is paying off. The Gospel is spreading in Guatemala! 

As I write this note, I have just come out of the jungle and am trying to get my head back into civilization and modern communications. When I close my eyes, I can still hear the howling monkeys. And when I tune my ear, I can hear the songs and praises to God of the 40 people crammed in and around a hut who have just started a new church since November.

Aníbal (white shirt), pastor in Sejux, and his new congregation sing praises.

Aníbal (white shirt), pastor in Sejux, and his new congregation sing praises.

In a new twist, Cesar and I have brought five Kekchi friends from the jungle who will be traveling with us for four more days as we make our rounds visiting some of our new groups. Every day as we travel, we are doing both formal and informal training on the Play. Story. Eat. process. So far it has been extraordinarily good. Having the extra time with our Kekchi leaders is making it easier for them to digest the training, and we can do a lot of it as we go.

Kekchi group traveling with us: Left to right is Aníbal, Lorenzo, Cesar, Jose, and Jose's daughter Maria.

Kekchi group traveling with us: Left to right is Aníbal, Lorenzo, Cesar, Jose, and Jose's daughter Maria.

In the next few days, we will be meeting with cowboys, coffee growers, and women’s leaders. Also, our Kekchi group plays the marimba, so at each gathering (including Cesar’s 70th birthday party Saturday, Feb. 17!) they will add extra spice to our meetings. In addition, we want to see if having a mix of cultures offers us a way for the various groups to get a vision of how the missionary process and principles can work for any group.

The Kekchi team played the marimba on our first stop near El Estor, Guatemala.

The Kekchi team played the marimba on our first stop near El Estor, Guatemala.

10:02 Prayer

Pray that this week we will equip someone in each group to be able to facilitate a group in their area. As of this writing, we have already touched base with 5 different areas and key leaders in our visits. Each place seems primed and ready to grow.

Invest

For this trip, special thanks go out to our friends from Orangecrest Church in Riverside, California. Because of their monthly support for jungle church planting, we have been able to support the work of this newest church in the jungle and have the resources to do this special training this week. Thanks Josh De La Rosa and your team!

Engage

In the months of March and April, Bill Burrows and I will be going to Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska to do several different PSE training events. Stay tuned for the exact dates and schedules for each.

Thanks for your continued prayers this week. We believe that our open doors and opportunities here in Guatemala are due to your faithful prayers on our behalf. Muchas gracias!

Love y’all!
Steve

Mission Encourage

Hi Everybody! 

Cowboy Steve in Guatemala.JPG

Since getting back from Guatemala on my latest trip, I have been struggling a bit in how to communicate what is happening in our projects. For one, the scope of it all is making it harder for me to keep up. Christian Rancher groups, women's groups, and churches in the jungle are getting started in many places I've never been. 

But more than just the scope of it "down there", we have stuff happening "up here" in the U.S. With more and more Play. Story. Eat. Friendship Circles getting started, I am feeling like a spectator at a ping pong match with my head swiveling back and forth! And worse yet, I don't even know what the score is! We haven't stopped to take inventory of the current group counts.  

On Friday of this week, I am heading to Guatemala again to join Cesar Gonzalez to do one thing--ENCOURAGE. For one, we plan to engage  the leaders of the 5 new groups that started in January. In addition, we plan to make a run to the jungle to encourage them as well. Here's a brief list of the groups we hope to connect with: 

  • Rodeo-related friends in Agua Blanca 
  • Two new groups wanting to start equine therapy programs 
  • Leaders of the ladies groups in Quesada
  • Bull riders starting PSE groups in their home towns
  • A coffee growers group near Moyuta 
  • A new church that started in the jungle a couple months ago
  • Our church-planting pastor friends in the jungle 

I hope to have a better idea of how to communicate some of this as I see it first hand. From time to time, I will try to drill down into a story that might inspire us or call us to pray in new ways about what is happening.  

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Please pray for Cesar and me as we travel the next couple of weeks. Pray that God would continue to raise up leaders for His harvest. 

INVEST

Thanks for your continued generosity that keeps us traveling and responding to what God is doing with our friends in many places.      

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

If you haven't been part of a Play. Story. Eat. training experience, we would love to come to you this year! Bill Burrows and I are in the process of working out the year's schedule of 2018 PSE Experiences, so now would be a great time to contact us! 

Love y'all!   

Steve

 

Welcome Zeke to the Reed Family!

Hi Everybody! 

Nola and Zeke for the first time. 

Nola and Zeke for the first time. 

Since getting back from Guatemala, Nola and I have been enjoying some of the perks of the grandparent gig!

Our third grandchild, Zeke, was born January 11th to our son Zac and his wife Liz. So, for this week's update, I thought I'd share a few pictures!  

Next week I plan to share more about the opportunities before us that have come from this past mission trip. 

Hope you are doing well! 

Love y'all. 

Steve 

 

 

Weighing in at 9 lbs and 6 oz, Zeke is resting from his first hard days work!  

Weighing in at 9 lbs and 6 oz, Zeke is resting from his first hard days work!  

A proud dad! 

A proud dad! 

Zeke and Liz. 

Zeke and Liz. 

Zeke meeting his cousin Bridget, for the first time! 

Zeke meeting his cousin Bridget, for the first time! 

Your Prayers Answered In Guatemala

Good morning everybody! 

Now that I have been home for a few days, I'd like to stop and say "Thanks" for your prayers for our teams in Guatemala the first couple of weeks in January. During that time, we posted a few pictures of us doing a variety of things--from a Play. Story. Eat. training, to Sam Anderson doing an Equine Therapy talk and demonstration, to participation in a rodeo, to working with a mayor's wife with over 40 women's leaders, to a meeting in a beautiful coffee plantation, to dancing with folks at a senior citizen home! 

Most notable is how we saw 5 new Christian Rancher groups get started! In all our trips, I can't remember that many groups getting started in such a short span of time. In addition, we believe that we have about 27 people primed to start other groups--including women's groups, a coffee growers group, and others. Maybe in the coming days we will stop to count how many places we now have Play. Story. Eat. groups using some version of our process.  

Even though we participated in several high profile events, we believe that we did some of our best work out of the spotlight--especially with our friends who are considering starting other PSE groups.

First meeting of a new Christian Rancher group in Moyuta 

First meeting of a new Christian Rancher group in Moyuta 

To give you a snapshot, I want to talk about two days that kind of blew my expectations. On Tuesday, January 9th, we had a first event in Moyuta. This place is located within about 15 miles of the El Salvador border. Anatoly, a young man who turned 25 years old our last day with him, had organized the meeting with Alicia, a friend of his. Both of them had attended our PSE training event January 4th at Cesar's place and were excited about getting a couple of different groups started. This particular day, we met at Anatoly's coffee plantation that his family has had for a couple of generations. Our meeting place was under a screened coffee net that shaded us and overlooked a picturesque lake where a few men were fishing and nearby some ladies were washing their clothes by hand in knee deep water.

While sipping some of the best coffee you'll ever find in the world, we had quite a diverse mix of people--from some fairly well-to-do coffee plantation owners to a couple of guys who had been homeless at one point in their lives. Most of the 25 or so in attendance were believers, but a few were not. One of those was a man named Dario, an Iranian refugee who fled Iran in 1979 when the Shah of Iran was getting ousted. Somehow he managed to get some land and learned to grow coffee in these hills and had managed to fit in. While still considering himself a Muslim, he claimed to be a God fearer and was extremely attentive to everything we did and especially loved it when we had our horseshoe throwing competition.

Our team posed with the group that's starting to meet monthly. Anatoly is the top guy in the denim shirt. Alicia is in the middle with the scarf around her neck. Dario is kneeling with Michael Macias on the far right. 

Our team posed with the group that's starting to meet monthly. Anatoly is the top guy in the denim shirt. Alicia is in the middle with the scarf around her neck. Dario is kneeling with Michael Macias on the far right. 

While a few did pray to receive Christ at the meeting, Dario didn't, but he hung around for the group picture of those who wanted to start the group. So pray for him and the others planning to continue meeting in Moyuta.

Getting ready for the official start of the program with the Cattlemen's Association of Moyuta in San Pedro Alvarado 

Getting ready for the official start of the program with the Cattlemen's Association of Moyuta in San Pedro Alvarado 

Sort of connected to this group is the cattlemen's association of Moyuta that has it's milking coop building in San Pedro Alvarado, about 100 yards from the El Salvador border. On Sunday, January 14th, we had an event with this group and their families. About 150 showed up! Cesar and I talked about how we had come to connect guys in Christian Rancher groups all over Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Renato, our Brazilian team member, gave his testimony. And then we did our play time. Over 30 guys had come with their horses to participate in the "riding of the rings" event. This event is extraordinarily popular in this region and drew riders from about a 20 mile radius, including about a half dozen guys from El Salvador. Local businesses had donated prizes, including a brand new saddle for the winner! 

The crowd getting ready for the horse demonstrations and the "Riding of the Rings" 

The crowd getting ready for the horse demonstrations and the "Riding of the Rings" 

In the "Riding of the Rings," the cowboy tries to spear a keychain-looking ring dangling from a rope. If he spears a ring, he wins a prize and gets a kiss from a beautiful young lady! 

In the "Riding of the Rings," the cowboy tries to spear a keychain-looking ring dangling from a rope. If he spears a ring, he wins a prize and gets a kiss from a beautiful young lady! 

Laura Slaughter poses with a cowboy for a picture after giving him a prize of a rope. And yes, she did give him a kiss on the cheek! 

Laura Slaughter poses with a cowboy for a picture after giving him a prize of a rope. And yes, she did give him a kiss on the cheek! 

The donor of the saddle gives the grand prize to the winner!   

The donor of the saddle gives the grand prize to the winner!   

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for these folks starting new groups, and please pray for Cesar and me as we plan to meet with them in February to help them get their groups established.  

INVEST

Thank you for your faithful support. You invested close to $5000 in this one trip. And God produced amazing results. Way to go!      

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

If you would like to know more about how PSE might benefit you or your church, let us know! We are seeing good things happening with our partnering churches as they try out some of the basic strategies we use in our missionary work.

Love y'all!   

Steve

 

Horse trainer, Sam Anderson, takes one of the horses on a test drive. 

Horse trainer, Sam Anderson, takes one of the horses on a test drive. 

Guatemala Week 2: Updated

Hilda López sharing her faith story in Quesada. January 12, 2018

Hilda López sharing her faith story in Quesada. January 12, 2018

Hello Everyone! 
This is Bill Burrows. Steve and the team have been having electricity issues this week, so updates have been tough to come by. Steve sent several pictures and a few details in the small window of time that he had. Look for them on the dates below.

See updates for Week 1 below this entire update in "FOLLOW ALONG WITH THE MISSION TEAM IN GUATEMALA! UPDATED!" to learn what God did in our first week.

Laura Slaughter and Hilda Lopez arrived safely and went straight to playing, storying, and eating!

Please Pray and Engage

Please continue to engage with us by asking God to heal the normal health issues related to going to a Central American country and for a safe return home by the team.  

DAY 7 TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2018 - UPDATED

  • Purpose: Make new friends and introduce PSE Friendship Circles
    • Made 30 new friends.
    • Many professions of faith
    • Sparked 2 PSE/Christian rancher groups
    • Potential of 5 new Friendship Circles
  • Where: Moyuta, Guatemala, and possibly into El Salvador
  • Who: Steve, Sam, Michael, Renato, Cesar
  • How: Building trust with new groups by listening to understand their reality  

 

DAY 8 WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018  - Arrival of Team #2 from Kansas City to Guatemala 

  • Where: Kansas City to Atlanta to Guatemala City to Cesar's home in Amberes, Guatemala
  • Who: Laura Slaughter, Hilda Lopez
  • How: Airplanes (7 hrs) and 4X4 Pickup (1.5 hrs)

DAY 9 THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2018- UPDATED PHOTOS

  • Purpose: PSE Evangelism
    • Update Pending
  • Where: San Jose Acatempa, Guatemala
  • Who: Laura Slaughter, Hilda Lopez, Cesar, Steve, Sam, Michael, Renato, PSE Women's Group
  • How: The PSE women's group will invite their husbands and other families in the community to a large group PSE evangelism event.

DAY 10 FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2018 - Updated  

  • Purpose: Introduction of PSE Experience
    • Presented the PSE Process to 40 leaders of groups representing as many as 1,000 women in the region. They have a burden to serve those with special needs and are making great progress in doing that!
  • Where: Quesada, Guatemala
  • Who: Laura Slaughter, Hilda Lopez, Cesar, Steve, Sam, Michael, Renato 
  • How: Working with women's micro-business groups of the region, the team will initiate the PSE process by having intentional spiritual conversations in small groups as well as large group activities. 

 

DAY 11 SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018  Updated

  • Purpose: Change of Plans - DAY OF REST AND RECOVERY
  • Where: Cesar's Home, Amberes, Guatemala
  • Who: Laura, Hilda, Cesar, Steve, Sam, Michael, Renato 
  • How: Doing whatever needed to regain physical and spiritual strength

DAY 12 SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2018  

  • Purpose:
    • UPDATE PENDING
  • Where: 
  • Who: Laura, Hilda, Cesar, Steve, Sam, Michael, Renato 
  • How:

DAY 13 MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018  

  • Purpose: Share the love and joy of God with area Senior Citizens group
    • UPDATE PENDING
  • Where: Santa Cruz Narranjo, Guatemala
  • Who: Laura, Hilda, Cesar, Steve, Sam, Michael, Renato 
  • How: The team will dance, share their stories and God's story, and eat lunch with these wonderful friends. (pic from July) 
Santa Cruz Narranjo, Guatemala. Senior Citizens

Santa Cruz Narranjo, Guatemala. Senior Citizens

DAY 14 TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018 - TRAVEL HOME DAY!

Love y'all!   

Bill

Follow Along with The Mission Team in Guatemala! Updated!

Hello Everyone! 
I'll be in Guatemala from Wednesday, January 3, to Tuesday, January 16, with a team from Open Range Fellowship. While I am gone, Bill will be mapping out our movements and updating this page on a regular basis.

Pray and Engage

Please engage in this trip with us by asking God to empower and encourage us to follow His lead in initiating and developing friendships with the Guatemalan people. 

 
Day 1 Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - Travel Day

UPDATE: Sam, Micheal and Renato arrived safely in Amberes on Wednesday evening. Steve was stuck in KC unable to get a seat to Dallas.

  • Where: Kansas City to Dallas to Guatemala City to Cesar's home in Amberes, Guatemala
  • Who: Steve Reed, Sam Anderson, Micheal Macias, Renato Quadreli (from Brazil)
  • How: Airplanes (5 hrs) and 4X4 Pickup (1.5 hrs)

Day 2 Thursday, January 4, 2018 - Guatemalan PSE Experience

UPDATE: The PSE Experience at Cesar's home had about 20 people. The event went well. They had a great time playing horseshoes. Michael said, "The group stared out real quiet, but at the end people were like old friends." The groups where able push through the "uncomfortable" and connect with God and each other. Please pray that they will continue to Play. Story. and Eat. together. Steve made it to Amberes Thursday evening. Yeah God!

  • Purpose: To equip Guatemalan pastors and believers to initiate and develop PSE Friendship Circles
  • Where: Cesar's home in Amberes, Guatemala
  • Who: Steve, Sam, Micheal, Renato, many pastors and potential PSE disciplers.
  • How: We will Play. (horseshoes) Story. (story activities) & Eat. (Guatemalan pot-luck)
Play. Story. Eat. Experience Amberes, Guatemala July 2017

Play. Story. Eat. Experience Amberes, Guatemala July 2017

Day 3 Friday, January 5, 2018 - Chiquimulilla Cattlemen's Gathering

MAP

UPDATE: 

Potholders Open Hearts and Minds to the Gospel!

Cesar Shares Gospel using potholders!

Cesar Shares Gospel using potholders!

I wish I had the time to share the stories of today. In a nutshell, after making friends with some ranchers and friends of Oscar (Coca) Melgar, Sam spoke from horseback and Renato shared his faith story. But it was the potholders that gave us a spark to present a salvation message.

Several prayed to receive Christ and a new PSE group is forming.

A New PSE Christian Rancher Group Formed! Ranchers and Friends of Coca Melgar

A New PSE Christian Rancher Group Formed! Ranchers and Friends of Coca Melgar

  • Purpose: To share the Gospel and invite engagement in Christian Rancher Groups/PSE Friendship Circles (joined by our friends Oscar "Coca" Melgar and his cousin, Alex Melgar)
  • Where: Oscar's ranch in Chiquimulilla, Guatemala
  • Who: Steve, Sam, Micheal, Renato, "Coca," Alex, ranchers from the region
  • How: We will play rancher games, share the gospel and our salvation stories, encourage them to join or form Christian Rancher Groups/PSE Friendship Circles, and enjoy a meal together.

 

Renato Sharing the Gospel!

Renato Sharing the Gospel!

Day 4 Saturday, January 6, 2018 - Agua Blanca Rodeo

Last year at the Agua Blanca rodeo many of the bull-riders came to Christ. Since then, Cesar has visited several of them in their homes and helped them start new Christian Rancher groups.

UPDATE:  In Agua Blanca we invited our old and new bull-rider friends to play horseshoes in the arena in front of the early crowd. Renato gave his testimony. The team re-connected with the bull riders and promised to meet them in their homes to encourage the PSE/Christians Rancher groups. Much to our surprise, 8 of the bull-riders were from Brazil! Renato connected with the Brazilians. They plan to continue the relationships back home and see were God leads. The team was unable to do the Brand skit but it worked out for the best. 

Bull-rider Horseshoes Agua Blanca Rodeo

Bull-rider Horseshoes Agua Blanca Rodeo

  • Purpose: To share a Gospel Invitation with everyone attending the rodeo, and to equip and encourage our bull-rider friends as they develop their CRG/PSE Friendship Circles 
  • Where: Agua Blanca, Guatemala
  • Who: Steve, Sam, Micheal, Renato, rodeo crowd, cowboys, bull-riders
  • How: We will enjoy the rodeo, present Gospel skit "The Brand" written by our friend Keith Moody, encourage our bull-rider friends to develop and form new Christian Rancher Groups/PSE FC's, and connect over a meal together.

Day 5 Sunday, January 7, 2018 - Serve Jalpatagua, a Grieving Community

The original Jalpatagua Fair plan was to participate in the parade and activities for their annual celebration. But the president of the cattlemen's association was murdered just a few weeks ago, so they canceled all activities except for ours. 

UPDATE: We attended a joint meeting of the women's association and the cattlemen's association. Cesar did a great job addressing the murder of their leader. He expressed our condolences and promised we would continue to pray for them and their town. Latter we laughed together while roping the steer heads. Diana, one of the Guatemalan ladies on our team shared the Gospel using the potholders. Renato give his testimony and about 5 or 6 people responded to the salvation message.

  • Purpose: To serve this grieving community as God leads, present Gospel message with invitation, encourage new CRG's/PSE FC's
  • Where: Jalpatagua, Guatemala
  • Who: Steve, Sam, Micheal, Renato, rancher families from the region
  • How: We will hear their stories, share the gospel and our salvation stories, encourage them to join or form Christian Rancher Groups/PSE Friendship Circles, and share a meal together.

Day 6 Monday, January 8, 2018 - Equine Therapy Ministry

UPDATE: Yesterday Sam did a great job doing the equine therapy demonstration at Humberto Solares ranch. In doing that we did get a chance to also play and organize for a new PSE group that will meet weekly at Humberto's. We finished the day singing in three languages!

 

Humberto Solares, a friend, is setting up his ranch to do an Equine Therapy program for special needs children. Humberto also has a Christian Rancher group meeting at his ranch.

  • Purpose: To equip and encourage Humberto and the ministry team in the CRG/PSE Process
  • Where: Humberto's ranch in Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala
  • Who: Steve, Sam, Micheal, Renato, Humberto, Equine Therapy team, and the CRG/PSE group
  • How: We will be there to encourage his group and reinforce the PSE discipleship process that has already been started.

Love y'all!   

Steve

Hiking With Bill and Steve PSE Style!

Parkville Nature Sanctuary Sign (1).jpg

If you have been around Bill and me for very long, you have probably heard about our weekly hikes. Believe it or not, for years we have consistently asked the same basic questions every time we get together. We've become good friends over the years, but more importantly I believe we've become better people.

The practice of hiking together is play for us. As we walk shoulder to shoulder, up and down hills, through the trees, and by the waterfall, we are able to lay down our internal shields and weapons of defensiveness down. With open minds, hearts, and wills, we can then hear and respond to God. 

Every week we intentionally choose simple, specific actions to take, based on shared Bible passages, our stories of resistance and/or responsiveness to God, and current circumstances. Over time, little by little, God is changing us, forming Christ in us. Bill and I are not special, nor have we arrived. We are just two ordinary people choosing to hear, trust, and obey God, while hiking and talking together.

An Invitation to Life-giving Conversations

We invite you to join us in being the church with each other. Find someone and have a soul-connecting and life-transforming spiritual conversation consistently over time, years even. Every person on the planet needs a friend who loves Jesus. You need that, and you can be that friend for someone. 

If you don't know how or if you are somehow stuck, Bill and I might be able to help. That's why we began Play. Story. Eat., to share our experiences with you and learn from yours. Please consider hosting or attending a Play. Story. Eat. Experience near you.

Bridge over grassy lowlands in the park. At the right time of day deer are close enough to touch.

Bridge over grassy lowlands in the park. At the right time of day deer are close enough to touch.

A Virtual Tour of Steve and Bill's Hikes

Bill & Steve 12.2017 Parkville Nautre Sanctuary.jpg

Several have asked us about what we do, so I thought I'd take you to the nature trail in Parkville, Missouri, on a typical Bill and Steve hike to give you a feel for how we use the PSE questions.   

"Mornin'!" I greeted Bill as we got out of our cars. 

"Hey," Bill acknowledged as he walked around his car and I pushed against my back bumper to stretch my calves.  

"Did your Missouri Tigers win on Saturday?" I asked. 

"Yes, but it was ugly," Bill answered. "How about your Okie State Cowboys?" 

"No. They lost in a barn burner to OU." 

"Sorry man. Well, what can you be grateful for this morning?" Bill asked, kicking us into our first PSE question. 

"I'm grateful that Nola and I got to go up to Omaha last weekend to see the grandkid," I answered. "I don't know how he does it, but he knows exactly what to say to wrap us around his pinky! What about you?" 

"Well, I'm grateful for getting to hike yesterday with Justin. We had a great conversation." 

"Cool," I responded. Then flowing to the next PSE question, I asked, "What are you concerned about this week?" 

"I am really worried about my friend Henry. He's struggling physically and emotionally. Plus just getting all the tasks done before the end of the year. And all my family is moving in for the week of Christmas. I'm excited, but the preparation is a load, especially on Joyce," Bill answered. "How about you?" 

"I'm right there with you on getting those tasks done. I'm also worried about Mom. She fell last week and messed up her knee; she is really hurting."

After further descriptions of Mom's struggles, Bill directed upwards. "Let's pray," he said, and he began to pray out loud for me and my concerns. I then reciprocated. At a couple of times during our prayer, we met up with people on the trail, and paused briefly to say "Hi" and then continued as we kept walking.

Bill & Steve 12.2017 The Dam Hill.jpg

We Are Accountable

Once I finished praying, Bill asked, "What act of obedience did you commit to the last time, and how did it go?" 

"The last time we were together, we were talking about the verse on how we need to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Out of that, I felt like I needed to call John to encourage him. So, I did call him, and he told me more of what he is dealing with. I think we were both glad that we got to talk. How about you?" 

"The part of that verse that I was struck with last time was the part that said 'let us consider how to spur one another on.' I felt like I needed to focus on the word 'consider' and really think about my friend Justin. That spirit flowed into our walk yesterday, because I wanted to listen and lighten his load. When I'm wrapped up in my agenda, it's hard to really hear what's going on with someone else. I did OK." 

"Good deal," I affirmed. Then moving to the next question, I asked, "Who did you tell your change story to this week?" 

"Three Js: Justin, Jane, and Jan," Bill answered. "What about you?" 

"I did with my Man-Up group last Wednesday night."

 

Time to Hear and Obey God's Story 

"Cool. So what scripture do you want to consider?" Bill asked, keeping us moving. 

"Speaking of our Man-Up group, we were talking about Jesus' parable of the lost sheep," I said.  

Bill & Steve 12.2017 Walking path to bridge (1).jpg

"What did the passage say?" Bill prompted. 

"Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners, and the Pharisees and teachers of the law couldn't believe Jesus would lower himself to do that. So Jesus tells a story. He said, 'Suppose you have 100 sheep and you lose one. Isn't it logical that you would leave the 99 and go look for the lost one? And then when you find that sheep, you throw it on your shoulders and take it back to the fold and then out of joy you invite your friends to celebrate the fact that you found your lost sheep.'" 

"What does it mean?" Bill asked. 

"Jesus told the story to say that lost people matter to God. And since God rejoices over one sinner who repents, He wants those of us already in the fold to also welcome those who are outside and lost to join us as we follow Jesus' example." 

"What do you need to do about it?" Bill challenged. 

"This week I need to reach out to my neighbor across the street. I think he probably sees me as a religious, Pharisee-type person. When I see him this week, I need to talk with him and listen to how he is doing. Eventually I'd like to invite him and his wife over to dinner sometime, but that feels a little too much on the first contact. So this week I will have a conversation with him, and while doing it I want to value him as a person God cares about."

The Process in Full

There are three other questions we ask before we pray with one another, asking God to give us the courage and the strength to obey Him and follow through on our commitments. If you would like to see the whole list of questions/activities, click here! 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Continue to pray for the Open Range teams that will be going to Guatemala January 3-9 and 10-16. And pray for the Play. Story. Eat. training events January 4th in Guatemala and January 6th in Oak Grove, MO. If all works as planned, we will have Renato, our Brazilian friend, joining us in Guatemala. Please pray that the communication between Spanish and Portuguese works well. 

INVEST

This is the last week to get your end-of-year giving done for 2017. Thanks for your continued generosity and your investment in this ministry!     

ENGAGE

Please consider joining us at the next Play. Story. Eat. Experience.

  • When: Saturday, January 6th, 9 am - 5 pm
  • Where: Cross Creek Baptist Mission, 1050 SW 15th St., Oak Grove, MO 64075
  • What: Plenty of Fun, Connecting, & Eating; Lunch & Snacks Included
  • Cost: No Fees - Donations Accepted

      
Love y'all!   

Steve

I'm Questioning My Love for God

When I say, “I love God,” what do I mean?

If I came to your church this week and asked, "How many of you love God?" I am confident that almost everyone present would raise their hand. It would not surprise me to hear an "Amen!" or a whoop or a holler. That’s what I expect, in that setting, with a group of people in a church building.

Lately, I’ve wondered if the statements, “I love God” and “I love Jesus,” have become clichés for me. Have they become general declarations of my belonging “here,” with whatever church group I’m in at the time?

How can I know that I really love God? I question myself, "In this present moment, with these people, under these circumstances, do I think, feel, and act in a manner that God would describe as loving Him?"

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Psalm 36:5 NIV --  What about my love for You?


Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Psalm 36:5 NIV --  What about my love for You?

Striving to Do Something Important vs. Loving God

Thinking back over the years, I have seen myself perform for the applause of people or attempt impressive back flips for God to earn His approval. In far too many moments, my thoughts, feelings, and actions were rooted in my desire not only to be accepted, but to be the “hero” riding in on the white horse to save the day. My claim of “I love God” sometimes had more to do with striving to do something important than it did with humble devotion and obedience to God.

At What Level of Our Capacity Does God Want Us to Love Him?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”   Mark 12:30 NIV

What does Jesus want us to do to love Him?

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching… Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching…” John 14:23-24 NIV

A Helpful Love Diagnostic

At Play. Story. Eat. we want to be guided by the value of Love. We believe, that to love God, it is necessary to be wholistically and obediently responsive to the persons of God and His creation. In our friendships, training, and coaching we offer a way to become self-aware and examine our love for God. To help us think more concretely about it, we have created a diagnostic tool. (Circle the number that describes where you see yourself on the continuum.) 

We suggest you choose a specific life circumstance and ask yourself:

In this present moment, with these people, under these circumstances:

Am I ...??

Grateful to God      6   5   4   3   2   1     Resentful of God

Trusting God          6   5   4   3   2   1     Doubting God   

Obeying God          6   5   4   3   2   1     Resisting God  

Serving God            6   5   4   3   2   1     Performing for God      
 

If you circled 6 in all these categories, you see yourself as a perfect lover of God. Great! If you, like me, scored less, then you have some work to do. Based on your results, you might have a good idea of where to start.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 NIV

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 NIV

For Me, It’s Letting Go of the Big Performance

When I make the time to review my past tendency to perform, whether it was in school or athletics or even in ministry, I can see how my underlying way of being can be a source for not loving God. (Can you see where that is on the chart?) This diagnostic tool has helped me to realize, when I do anything for God, I don't need to perform or earn His love. I can do whatever I am called to do with a sense of gratitude and a desire to serve Him and others. 

I am learning that loving God and others is not a matter of checking boxes and executing a list of good deeds. My love for God is evident when, in the moment, I am grateful to Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, and serving Him with my whole being. Thankfully, He offers us the grace to learn and grow as we go. 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for the final preparations and fundraising for the two Open Range teams that will be going to Guatemala January 3-9 and 10-16. The first team will focus on rodeo events. The second team will do follow-up with several women's groups in the towns where we have cowboy ministries. 

Pray for our friends in Jalpatagua, Guatemala. This past week, the president of their cattlemen's association was murdered. They canceled their fair and their parade because of it, but said they still want us to do what we were going to do on January 7th, because they believe it might help people in their grief. So please pray for them and our team. 

Pray for the nation of Honduras. They have had major civil unrest in the past month due to a disputed presidential election. Demonstrations and riots have taken place, so until the smoke clears, we are not taking teams there. Pray that during this time our Christian brothers and sisters will shine in their faith and love towards those who don't know Him.

INVEST

Several people who desire to go on mission trips this year could use some help. If you would like to be the answer to their prayers, let us know. We continue to be blessed by your financial support of this ministry during the final days of 2017. Thanks!

PSE Friendship Circle: Scott & Brandi Barnett, Joyce Burrows

PSE Friendship Circle: Scott & Brandi Barnett, Joyce Burrows

ENGAGE

Christmas is a great time to play, tell stories, and eat! Be open to God using you in this wonderful time to engage in the lives of friends, family, and acquaintances.

 

 

 

 

Please join us at the next Play. Story. Eat. Experience

  • When: Saturday, January 6th, 9 am - 5 pm
  • Where: Cross Creek Baptist Mission, 1050 SW 15th St., Oak Grove, MO 64075
  • What: Plenty of Fun, Connecting, & Eating; Lunch & Snacks Included
  • Cost: No Fees - Donations Accepted
Guatemala Play. Story. Eat. Experience July 2017

Guatemala Play. Story. Eat. Experience July 2017

      
Love y'all!   

Steve

 

Hey Cesar, What's Up?

"How was your trip to the jungle last week?" I asked.

"Muy bueno!" Cesar answered. "First off, our friends in Sepoc were so excited at their church anniversary when over 1,000 people attended. Nobody remembers when we started there, but they figure it’s been 15 years. I wish I could have been there. I was recuperating from my surgery at that time."

Improvements to a water system we have partnered with in San Manzano Guatemala. This project has opened up relations between Catholics and Evangelicals and has been a part of the good will that led to a huge celebration in Sepoc for their anniversary. 

Improvements to a water system we have partnered with in San Manzano Guatemala. This project has opened up relations between Catholics and Evangelicals and has been a part of the good will that led to a huge celebration in Sepoc for their anniversary. 

Jose (in the white shirt), pastor of the church in the village of Sepoc in the jungles of Guatemala, speaks to a group of soccer players after a tournament between four villages in March of 2016.

Jose (in the white shirt), pastor of the church in the village of Sepoc in the jungles of Guatemala, speaks to a group of soccer players after a tournament between four villages in March of 2016.

"How did you do physically?"

"Really well!" Cesar said enthusiastically. "I had no issues. I feel like I’m getting back to normal. Tell everyone thanks for their prayers and for the support given. It really made a difference."

"Where else did you go?"

"One of the newest developments is with the cowboys that are in the jungle. Remember Wilson, the announcer guy at the Agua Blanca rodeo last January?"

"Yes," I said.

"Well, he is from El Estor, just down the road from our jungle friends, and he introduced me to Romilio, another rancher friend up in San Luis, also in that region. They already have people in both areas that want to start a Christian Rancher group. And there is another guy in El Biotopo that I met who is also interested."

"Will they be in Agua Blanca when we come next month for the rodeo?" I asked.

"Si." Cesar answered. "And I already told them we would have lunch and that you were going to be paying!"

"I figured you'd say that!" I protested.

View Guatemalan Locations on Google Map

Cesar Gonzalez with Romilio, a new rancher friend from San Luis,  Guatemala. They plan to start a new Christian Rancher group on his ranch.

Cesar Gonzalez with Romilio, a new rancher friend from San Luis,  Guatemala. They plan to start a new Christian Rancher group on his ranch.

Cowboys and Indians Trip? 

"Since these guys are close to our Kekchi friends in the jungle," Cesar continued, "I think it would be very strategic if in 2018 we had a team that could do something with both cowboys and the Kekchis in the same trip." 

"You know me, I'm good for that kind of trip," I responded. "It would be ideal if we had some cowboys who liked to hike." 

"Some of your cowboys are pretty handy in construction," Cesar interrupted. "Maybe we could do some work on one of the water projects. We could also improve our base camp in Por Venir with just a little bit of work. We need to make it more comfortable for teams to stay longer when they come."

"I'll pass the word," I offered. "We'll call it the Cowboys and Indians trip!" 

Do you know anybody who would want a piece of that action? Learn more about Customized Mission Trips! 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Thank God for the celebration of our Kekchi brothers in the jungle of Guatemala. And thank Him for the continued connections with the rodeo friends. Please pray for the team from Open Range preparing to go January 3-16.

And speaking of Open Range, their pastor, Frank Slaughter is doing well with his cancer treatments in Mexico. He has called this his "Mission trip to Mexico!" The last we heard, he had become the "holy man" to those in the same program and was sharing his faith openly and freely with his new friends. Continue to pray for him.  

INVEST

Continued thanks go to so many of you who have generously responded to support the ministry. Your support is advancing the work of God. Thanks! 

ENGAGE

Enjoy your time with family and friends this Christmas and keep your eyes and your heart wide open to what God is doing around you.
      
Love y'all!   

Steve 

Learn More About Investing in Play.Story. Eat.

What Kind of Friend are You?

The Play. Story. Eat. Vision: that every person in the Americas has a friend who loves Jesus. 

A FRIENDSHIP DIAGNOSTIC!

Taking a page from the Play. Story. Eat. Experience, how good of a friend are you really? Are you loving your friends like Jesus? How can you know?  

In the training, we offer a diagnostic tool to help us see how we are doing in our love for God, others, and ourselves. Here is the one related to friendship. 

Choose a current relationship. Evaluate yourself by marking the number on the scale that reflects your heart attitude in relation to that person.

In relation to _________: Am I ...??

Accepting   6   5   4   3   2   1   Judging

       Inviting      6   5   4   3   2   1   Rejecting   

Connecting     6   5   4   3   2   1    Avoiding  

Investing in Them   6   5   4   3   2   1   Using Them      

Interpreting My Score

If you score a 4 or higher on most of these questions, you see yourself as a good friend. Great! Read on to see how it could be even better. If you are at 3 or less, you have some sticking points that are holding you back, but if addressed, you could greatly improve the quality of your friendships.

We Can Become "True" Friends

In a world where people often advise us to "fake it 'til you make it," few of us get to the roots of what helps us truly become more like Jesus in our friendships. We tend to focus on tips and techniques that help us act a certain way instead of looking inside of ourselves and asking who we need to become in order to be a really good friend.

It's A Matter of the Heart

When Jesus teaches about relationships, He addresses the heart first. A striking example of this was when some religious and uptight folks threw a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus (John 8). These self-righteous people were certainly judging her, rejecting her, and the only reason they weren't avoiding her was so they could use her to trap Jesus in some misstep. Their scores on our test would have been at a 1 on every question! 

Jesus scribbled in the dirt and after a pregnant pause, rose up. "Here is a stone," he waved in front of her accusers. "He that is without sin cast the first stone!"

From oldest to youngest they dropped their rocks and went their way. "Where are your accusers?" Jesus finally asked the woman. "Has no one condemned you?" 

"No one, sir," she said. 

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."  

What I "Do" Naturally Flows from My Heart

Notice how brilliant Jesus' way is. After zeroing in on the heart and exposing that reality, the actions for everyone involved became very clear. Arrogant judges walked away. A woman caught in a sinful cycle was given a new start and a way to leave her sinful past behind. 

In Jesus' case, He

  • accepted,
  • invited,
  • connected with, and
  • invested in

this objectified woman. He had the heart of a true friend. But notice that he wasn't "nice." He confronted and dealt with the sinfulness of all involved, but he did it with love, truth, and grace. 

When our actions are congruent with the heart of a good friend (the 4 words on the left areas), we become great friends and are not tripped up by our blindness in thinking that we are friendly when we aren't. 

Today I will be a good friend by...

Pick one of your answers above that reveals a heart issue that is holding you back in your friendship. Ask God to reveal a small step you can take in the direction of being more like Jesus in that one area. 

Do you have that step clearly in mind now? Can you see yourself doing that thing with the heart of a true friend? Great! If you have a breakthrough, don't keep it to yourself. Let us know! 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Thank God for the celebration of our Kekchi brothers in the jungle of Guatemala. I just spoke with Cesar last night. One of our first churches that started about 15 years ago was celebrating their anniversary. They had more than a thousand people attend! Given that this village has about 200 people in it, this was a huge feat! Many from the region came to join them. They slaughtered a cow, and I'm told that many Catholics were welcomed and attended the celebration. The buzz going through the jungle is that both Catholics and Evangelicals enjoyed sitting down to a meal together. Pray for continued unity and winsomeness in their witness and faith in Jesus. 

Janice Brite and Virginia Jones hold up two of the 135 "talking" potholders they made for our ladies mission team to use in Guatemala in January 2018. The colors help people share the gospel, and the sheets are the printed Spanish version of the message.  

Janice Brite and Virginia Jones hold up two of the 135 "talking" potholders they made for our ladies mission team to use in Guatemala in January 2018. The colors help people share the gospel, and the sheets are the printed Spanish version of the message.  

INVEST

Many of you have responded so graciously to our recent letter inviting you to financially support this ministry--especially as Bill and I go full time in it. Thank you! And may your tribe increase!   

ENGAGE

For the past year, Virginia Jones has been making potholders with her friends to help us share the message of salvation with women in Guatemala. If you would like to know more about this or you have an idea that you want to whiz by us, let us know!     

Love y'all!   

Steve

INVESTING INFORMATION.