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

Could you take a minute to write a check or make a gift today? Below is the easy button for giving. 

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

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. 

INVEST

Thanks for your investment in seeing people's lives change. You are making a difference each time you give!   

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

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

      How do you catch fish?

      Put this on your hook... 

      As I write this article, I'm washing clothes and getting ready to travel. While I should be packing, I'm thinking about fish! No, I'm not planning on doing any fishing in the next few weeks, nor have I been listening to others talk about their fishing expeditions. All I did was read one verse from the Bible, and I got hooked!

      fishing.jpg

      When Jesus called two sets of fishermen brothers--Peter and Andrew and then James and John--to follow him, he said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

      In our missionary work, Cesar likes to joke that he can catch a lot of fish in Guatemala with gringos. Put an American cowboy on a hook, and he can catch a lot of Guatemalan cowboys. Put an American cowgirl on a hook, and he can catch EVEN MORE Guatemalan cowboys!  

       In 2011, Cesar makes a point about horse trainer Gary Snider's story on a fun day with cowboys near Chapas Guatemala. Paul Embick of Long Pine, Nebraska looks on. 

      In 2011, Cesar makes a point about horse trainer Gary Snider's story on a fun day with cowboys near Chapas Guatemala. Paul Embick of Long Pine, Nebraska looks on. 

      Being the bait...

      While being good bait may not seem very desirable, it does lead us to a deeper question. What kind of bait works on your friends? Cesar has figured out a way to use North Americans to catch men and women in Latin America. Are we figuring it out where we live?

      This is where our mission work has boomeranged and gotten some of us excited about evangelism back home. After much deliberation, we believe that catching men and women for Christ can be easier, more fun, and more productive if we help normal, everyday Christians engage in three vital behaviors. 

      Vital Behavior #1: Initiate Spiritual Conversations

      All spiritual fishing expeditions start with a spiritual conversation, and someone has to start the conversation. In our Play. Story. Eat. process, we have two standard questions that help get a conversation flowing.  

      The first is "What are you grateful for today?" The second is "What are you concerned about today?" The first question opens the dialogue with something positive. The second question helps us not gloss over a potential area of worry, pain, or trouble. 

       Two friends converse at a cattle sale in Guatemala. 

      Two friends converse at a cattle sale in Guatemala. 

      After listening a bit, then it can be appropriate to offer to pray for the person's concerns and thank God for their blessings. Different variations of these two questions work just as well. We can ask, "What's good in your life?" and "What's not so good?" Another friend of ours asks, "What's happy and what's crappy?!"  

      Catching fish with our ears...

      The key to initiating spiritual conversations is not talking a lot. It comes in asking a question and then listening. If we listen well, the person will tell us how to capture their attention for God. And this leads us to the next vital behavior. In the next update, I hope to share that with you!  

        10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

        Pray for Bill Burrows and me as we travel to Nebraska this week. Pray that what we do there will be mutually beneficial as we ask for help on our projects while also offering to partner with them to reach their friends for Christ, too. 

        Also pray for Betty Hemeyer, one of our most faithful prayer warriors. She lost her husband Cal this last week after his long battle with Parkinson's disease.  

        INVEST

        We are grateful for your partnership in helping us respond to the increasing opportunities to do mission work both in the USA and Central America. Thanks! 

        THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

        ENGAGE

        Start a spiritual conversation this week with someone. If something good happens, let us know!   

        Talk to you soon! 

        Love y'all.   

        Steve

        PS...Here is our itinerary 

        • April 21...North Platte, Nebraska...Nebraska Church Leadership Conference
        • April 22...Farnham, Nebraska...Lonestar Cowboy Church
        • April 23-27...somewhere in Nebraska! 
        • April 28...Ord, Nebraska...PSE training @ Ord Christian Church
        • April 29...Sand Hills Baptist Association meeting in North Loup, Nebraska
        • 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

         

        0 Likes

        Making the Rounds in the Heartland

        As I write this update, I am looking at the calendar for the next couple of months and thinking, "Ready or not, here we come!" Bill Burrows and I plan to cover some ground this spring as friends are helping us get the word out about our mission work and the Play. Story. Eat. methodology. At the bottom of this email, I will list some of the places we have on the travel docket. Most are in Kansas and Nebraska, but there is one Guatemala trip squeezed in there as well.

        O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A!  

        Before I share that, I must say that we have already been traveling some. The week before Easter we were with family and friends in Oklahoma, spending time with Larry and Carmi Davis (my brother- and sister-in-law) near Sallisaw at Victory Baptist, a church they are helping restart. On that same trip, Bill and I spoke on a Sunday night at Hansen Baptist with pastor Bob Pittman and his congregation. And then the next day we did a short PSE introduction to some folks at First Baptist of Muldrow with Rick Deason, longtime Kansas City friend and new pastor at FBC Muldrow. 

        TEXAS

        This past weekend, Nola and I were in Benbrook, Texas, for a quick visit with my "Aunt" Betty and "Uncle" Charles Alexander. While not blood relatives, Charles and Betty are like family to us, because they were part of my missionary family when my parents were missionaries to Peru back in the 1970's. We were supposed to have visited them the week before going to Oklahoma, but Betty fell and hurt her hip and spent a couple of weeks in a rehab hospital. Thankfully she has had a faster than predicted recovery, and she insisted we come after she got out. 

         Betty and Charles Alexander (and Cocoa, their chihuahua!) with me and Nola  

        Betty and Charles Alexander (and Cocoa, their chihuahua!) with me and Nola  

        Betty and Charles wanted us to come meet friends of theirs from First Baptist of Benbrook to recruit some of them for some upcoming mission trips. And we had a great time doing that. 

        One quick note I have to mention about Betty. She LOVES puppet ministry! In retirement, she has continued to make puppets and write scripts in both English and Spanish, and her puppets have gone all over the world.

         Here Betty poses with some puppets she made just before she sent them to Cuba. 

        Here Betty poses with some puppets she made just before she sent them to Cuba. 

        In addition, she has been a prayer warrior for many missionaries--myself included. For years she has forwarded my updates to 50 or more of her friends and has collected money, Bibles, and Spanish materials to take to Guatemala. All I can say is, "Aunt Betty, may your tribe increase!" 

        KANSAS and NEBRASKA!

        For the rest of April, we will be in Kansas and Nebraska as we are slated to be a part of the regional Kansas/Nebraska Church Leadership Conferences, in Topeka, North Platte, and Dodge City. For the conferences, we will be doing breakout sessions on our PSE methodology and hope to recruit some folks to participate with us on various projects. Beyond that, we will be seeing as many of our Nebraska friends as possible.

        Coming to a town near you! 

        • April 14 Topeka, Kansas...Regional Kansas Church Leadership Conference  
        • April 21 North Platte, Nebraska...Nebraska Church Leadership Conference
        • April 22 Farnham, Nebraska...Lonestar Cowboy Church
        • April 23-27...somewhere in Nebraska! 
        • April 28...Ord, Nebraska...PSE training @ Ord Christian Church
        • April 29...Sand Hills Baptist Association meeting in North Loup, Nebraska
        • 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

        10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

        Pray for Bill and me as we travel, share, and recruit. Also continue to pray that Betty will be walking soon without her walker.   

        INVEST

        Special thanks go to several who gave above and beyond to help us this month. We appreciate all you do to help us respond to the increasing opportunities to partner in missions with more and more people.

        THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

        ENGAGE

        Please let your friends in Nebraska know we are coming! And keep those cards and letters coming. We love hearing what God is doing in your neck of the woods.  

        Talk to you soon! 

        Love y'all!   

        Steve

         

         

        Ready for a resurrection? This Easter make a change that sticks

        JCC_0194-X2.jpg

        This Easter season I've been thinking a lot about change. In almost every area of my life, I need to change. Physically, I need to change some things in the way I work out and eat. As a husband, I need to change--a lot! In my spiritual walk with God, I need to change to be more like Jesus. And in our mission work, we are constantly looking at helping others change as well. 

        Speaking of our mission work, this past month, we have gathered a brainstorm team to talk about how we can be more effective in our Play. Story. Eat. process of evangelism and discipleship.  

        But we have this problem. Change is hard!

        Resurrecting dead things to life requires more than we can do! Even the great Apostle Paul was tormented by this.  

        I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing...What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Roman 7:18-22

        Ever been there? Me too. I really want to change. I feel motivated, but something happens in me that works against my own initial desire.

        In our research on effective change, I am learning that most of the time, I don't have a personal motivation problem, I have a math problem.  

         This chart depicts the six sources of influence in the book titled  Influencer.  Currently a team of us are working through this material to help refine our mission process. 

        This chart depicts the six sources of influence in the book titled Influencer. Currently a team of us are working through this material to help refine our mission process. 

        Social scientists tell us that when making changes, there are always six sources of influence working either for us or against us. If I am personally motivated, that is one source. But if that's all I have, I could be playing tug of war against 5 other sources of motivation. To win, I need to have a whole team pulling for me. 

        With that idea in mind, we have a team of volunteers working behind the scenes to test and work through our Play. Story. Eat. discipleship model with the idea of getting all categories of influence pulling for us. So far we have been brainstorming a lot on how this could help us encourage more clusters of people to come to faith in Christ, grow, and pass it on to others.

        Our Secret Advantage  

        In doing our research and in putting our ideas on paper, I am getting excited--not that we are going to be able to manufacture spiritual changes because we are so smart or strategic. No. I am getting pumped up because we have an extra player on our side who can help us do so much more than we have the ability to do.

        Paul reveals this advantage we have when he answers his rhetorical question above about his insanity of not being able to follow through on what he wants to do.

        Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:23

        The resurrected Jesus is our ultimate source of change. He gives us both the model to follow and the power to do it. In another letter, Paul said it this way.

        I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

        cowgirl for christ (1).jpg

        By God's grace, every day men and women like you are riding wild broncs of obedience to God and following Christ in simple but profound ways. We believe some of you are ready to bust loose with greater effectiveness in pointing your friends to Christ and inviting them to join you in taking some bold steps of obedience as you follow Him. We think we can help you. Will you help us? You can help in three ways...

        10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

        Pray for our team of folks working on refining our discipleship and evangelism processes. We hope to have a road-map for the next year of putting together the best resources we can for individuals and groups using the Play. Story. Eat. process.  

        INVEST

        Would you consider helping us financially? Bill Burrows and I have been grateful for the time you have given us to strategize and work on our mission processes without the burden of painting houses. Thank you! And may your tribe increase! 

        THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

        ENGAGE

        If you would like to join in our strategy discussions, let us know. And if you have a story or testimony of how God is changing you through His resurrected power, please let us know about it! We might need to pass your story on to encourage others.

        Hope you have a wonderful Easter!

        Love y'all!   

        Steve

         

        Your Witness Matters -- A Story 12 Years in the Making

        Do you ever wonder if sharing your faith really matters? Do you sometimes question your ability to lead someone to Christ? Do you have friends and family who seem like lost causes in crossing the line of faith?

        Here's a story that has been in the making for 12 years. Grab a cup of coffee and linger a bit with me, because I need to take you back to Guatemala in January of 2006. A group of Nebraskan ranchers, while on a mission trip to Guatemala, told Cesar Gonzalez that they would like for a group of ranchers from Guatemala to come visit them for the week of the big rodeo in Burwell, Nebraska, in July of 2006. In what we called a "reverse missions trip," ten Guatemalans made the journey to Nebraska. The idea was to see if we did a missions project in "reverse" and had Guatemala friends come and visit us, we might include more people in the missions process here at home who would never be able to go to Guatemala.

         Cesar took this picture of the Guatemala team that visited Burwell, Nebraska in the summer of 2006. Note that Oscar is seated on the curb in the middle. His cousin Alex is in the green shirt next to him. Elba, Cesar's wife, is seated on the right. Rolando is second from the top right. 

        Cesar took this picture of the Guatemala team that visited Burwell, Nebraska in the summer of 2006. Note that Oscar is seated on the curb in the middle. His cousin Alex is in the green shirt next to him. Elba, Cesar's wife, is seated on the right. Rolando is second from the top right. 

        Of that group of 10, only four were believers. We prayed that the other six would pray to receive Christ on that trip. I even remember on the second day in Nebraska sitting in Rex Kelly's living room going through a plan-of-salvation talk and inviting those six to respond, and not one did. I was disappointed. The guys all enjoyed the trip immensely, and we all had a good time. But our idea of seeing some pray to receive Christ while in the U.S. didn't pan out. But our Nebraska friends kept praying. And Rex and Deb Kelly stayed in touch with a couple of them by email and Facebook.

        As the years rolled by, one by one, they came to know Jesus. Rolando came to know the Lord a few months before having a massive heart attack and dying. German and Juan did so later at their respective ranches in Guatemala. Otto did we think at a cattlemen's association meeting in Jutiapa. Alex did, a couple of years later after his wife nearly left him, and Rex and Deb Kelly, through many emails, encouraged he and his wife to stick it out. But Alex's cousin, Oscar, a trick roper and the life of almost any party, was a tough cookie to crack. While being generous and friendly to us--participating in several cowboy events with us in Guatemala--he just never would cross the line of faith for his salvation.   

         Oscar, a trick roper, leads the Guatemala delegation in the Burwell, Nebraska parade. Rolando is carrying the Guatemala flag on horseback. 

        Oscar, a trick roper, leads the Guatemala delegation in the Burwell, Nebraska parade. Rolando is carrying the Guatemala flag on horseback. 

         Oscar showing his stuff at a ranch with a group of new friends from Nebraska. 

        Oscar showing his stuff at a ranch with a group of new friends from Nebraska. 

        Meanwhile, Rex and Deb and many of our friends in Nebraska continued to pray. On our last trip to Guatemala a few weeks ago, Rex was reunited for a lunch with Alex and his wife Joanna, their twenty-something sons, Alan and Alejandro, Oscar, and Oscar's girlfriend. In introducing Rex to her sons, Joanna said, "I want to introduce you to the man who, with his wife Debbie, helped save our marriage." The two boys remembered how hopeless their parents' marriage seemed when they were teenagers. One of the boys told of how depressed he was in those days, but because of the change in his parents, both boys came to faith in Jesus too. 

         Alex and Joanna Salazar pose with their two sons, Alejandro and Alan along with Alan's girlfriend. 

        Alex and Joanna Salazar pose with their two sons, Alejandro and Alan along with Alan's girlfriend. 

        While Rex was enjoying reminiscing with Alex and Joanna, Ray Gurney, pastor of Cross Creek Baptist Mission in Oak Grove, Missouri, felt burdened to talk with Oscar, who was sitting next to him at the dinner table. Though Ray had never met Oscar before this day, he had heard about his recent troubles. For the past several years, Oscar has lived a nightmare. A few years ago, his father died in prison after being framed for an apparent murder of a cousin in the family. After his father's death, the truth came out that he did not commit the murder. In the meantime, another cousin of Oscar's turned up dead, and Oscar was similarly blamed. The authorities cleared him, but in a country of vigilante-style justice, Oscar had been living in fear that there are people wanting him dead too since the real culprits had not been brought to justice.  

        "Oscar, do you know that Jesus Christ can save you just like he saved Alex and Joanna?" Ray asked, referring to the miracle story told of Alex and Joanna coming to Christ and seeing their marriage saved. Alan, one of Alex and Joanna's sons, translated for Ray.

        "Si," Oscar nodded.

        "Would you like to get that done right now?" Ray asked.

        "Si," Oscar said, with tears forming out of the corners of his eyes.

        Over a family style lunch at a street-side restaurant in Monterrico, Guatemala, the prayers of a group of faithful friends in the Sandhills of Nebraska were answered as Oscar prayed to receive Christ. After the prayer, Ray prayed for protection for Oscar and that the truth would prevail and that soon the situation would be resolved. 

         Oscar with his girlfriend moments after praying to receive Christ. 

        Oscar with his girlfriend moments after praying to receive Christ. 

        "How do you feel Oscar,?" Ray asked after he concluded his prayer. 

        "Like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders!" Oscar exuded. To Ray, the tears he noticed coming from Oscar's eyes now seemed like tears of joy. 

         Rex Kelly, left, and Ray Gurney share a moment to reflect on a car ferry near Monterrrico, Guatemala.  

        Rex Kelly, left, and Ray Gurney share a moment to reflect on a car ferry near Monterrrico, Guatemala.  

         

        10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

        Editor's note: Just before sending this update, we have learned that in a dramatic court case, Oscar and his family have been completely cleared and the real murderers convicted. Thank God for this and for Oscar's newfound faith! 

        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

        Next week, Bill and I will be traveling to Texas to visit many of our friends in the Fort Worth and North Texas region. Stay tuned for more details on that.

        For you coffee lovers, we still have a few bags of coffee left from our coffee grower friends in Moyuta, Guatemala. If you'd like some, let me know. 

        Love y'all!   

        Steve

         

        Strengthen and Encourage...Making the Rounds in Guatemala

        A few weeks ago I mentioned to you that I was heading to Guatemala to do one thing--encourage. When I arrived, Cesar had a scripture that was burning on his heart, and it caused us to add another key word to our trip.

        Cesar had just read Acts 14. In this passage, Paul and Barnabas were traveling on one of their missionary journeys, and after leading many to the Lord, they endured persecution and severe difficulties. In one place Paul was stoned by an angry crowd and left for dead. Amazingly, Paul survived, dusted himself off, and with Barnabas decided to double back through all the places they had been. Acts 14:22 says they "strengthened and encouraged the disciples to remain true to the faith."

         Cesar and I met with leaders from El Estor who are starting new Christian Rancher groups. This region has many ranches near Lake Izabal. 

        Cesar and I met with leaders from El Estor who are starting new Christian Rancher groups. This region has many ranches near Lake Izabal. 

        So, holding that scripture in our hearts and minds, Cesar and I made the rounds for two weeks dedicated to strengthen and encourage our friends starting Play. Story. Eat. groups of various kinds. Of these are Christian Rancher groups, women's groups, soccer groups, churches in the jungle, and more. Here are a few pictures of some of the places we went. In coming days we hope to share some of the stories of what God is doing in each place. 

         Represented in this meeting of leaders near Moyuta, Guatemala, are folks starting a soccer group with drug addicts, a coffee growers group, and a Christian Rancher group. 

        Represented in this meeting of leaders near Moyuta, Guatemala, are folks starting a soccer group with drug addicts, a coffee growers group, and a Christian Rancher group. 

         A ladies group brought together by the mayor's wife near Quesada, Guatemala 

        A ladies group brought together by the mayor's wife near Quesada, Guatemala 

         Rex Kelly, of Ord, Nebraska, joined me, Clarrisa, Cesar, and Humberto to talk about an Equine Therapy program near the zoo in Guatemala City.  

        Rex Kelly, of Ord, Nebraska, joined me, Clarrisa, Cesar, and Humberto to talk about an Equine Therapy program near the zoo in Guatemala City.  

         The team starting a Christian Rancher group near El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean at Las Lisas, Guatemala 

        The team starting a Christian Rancher group near El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean at Las Lisas, Guatemala 

         We took a boat tour with leaders near Las Lisas, Guatemala, who are particularly interested in addressing the trash problems in their region. 

        We took a boat tour with leaders near Las Lisas, Guatemala, who are particularly interested in addressing the trash problems in their region. 

         

        10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

        Please pray for Cesar as he continues to stay in touch with the leaders in these pictures. Continue to 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

        Want coffee? I brought back 45 bags from Moyuta, Guatemala. This coffee is from the very mountain where one of our coffee growers PSE groups is starting. Email me your address, and I will send it to you! Suggested cost is $15 a bag. 

         Here is our friend Dario roasting a batch of high elevation coffee from Moyuta. If you would like to try some, let me know! I have 45 bags of it! 

        Here is our friend Dario roasting a batch of high elevation coffee from Moyuta. If you would like to try some, let me know! I have 45 bags of it! 

        Well, I guess that is enough for now. Next time I hope to share a story that has been developing for 12 years!

        Love y'all!   

        Steve