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

       

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      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

      The Unexpected Day Billy Graham Encouraged me

      I am back from Guatemala and have much to share with you. But today I want to take a few minutes to honor a man who has inspired millions of us around the world. As I write these words, I have just finished watching the service honoring Billy Graham in the rotunda of our nation's capitol. In watching this, my mind drifted back to a couple of days before July 4th of 2014.   

      I was exhausted. After covering three countries and three projects, I wanted to get home. But I had a problem. I had used frequent flyer miles to book my flight home, and the itinerary was strange. I'd go from Guatemala to Miami, spend a short night in Miami, and then fly out to Charlotte, North Carolina, at 6am the next morning. After a five hour layover in Charlotte, I'd fly directly to KC and get home late on July 3rd. 

      Going to the airport in Guatemala, I was so sure that I could get on a standby flight to get home more directly from Miami in one day. I'd done it before on other trips. But this day it didn't work. No one with the airline would let me change anything! At least not without a sizable fee.

      So after spending the night in Miami, I got my cheapskate self on that 6am flight to Charlotte. When the stewardess asked me what I wanted to drink, I asked for my usual tomato juice. When I set it on my tray, I glanced out the window. Unknowingly, my tray table was bent downward a bit, and my tomato juice began to slide. I turned my head just in time to see it tip right into my lap! Aaaargh! What a mess! Worse than anything was the location! I spent about 30 minutes in the bathroom trying to dab it up and minimize the visual effects.

      When I got to Charlotte, I looked on the board and noticed two earlier flights to Kansas City. "Let's try this one more time," I told myself.  Walking up to the customer service counter, I handed the agent my ticket and made my pitch. "I'm heading to Kansas City. Can I get on an earlier flight?"  

      After a few clicks on the computer, my cheerful airline helper said, "Sure! We can get you on." 

      "Great!" I proclaimed, fist pumping. 

      "The change will only be $75," they continued. Immediately my countenance dropped. Calculating in my head, I realized I'd only get to KC two hours earlier, and considering my last paint job, $75 for a couple hours of work was something I couldn't sneeze at! So I thanked them for their trouble and declined the offer.  

      "What am I going to do for 5 hours?" I muttered as I walked away.  Then, going down one of the halls, I noticed a sign with a picture of Billy Graham. "Hmmm, what is this?" 

      "Billy Graham Library, 5 minutes away," the sign read. "Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm." I looked at my watch and it was 9:00am. I walked straight out to a cab. Fifteen minutes later I was in the library! 

       This is the house that Billy grew up in.  

      This is the house that Billy grew up in.  

      Immediately on arrival, I felt the caring of the volunteer staff there. I must have been a sight. I had my travel backpack still strapped on my back. My clothes were all wrinkled from travel. My pants were still a bit discolored by my tomato juice. When one of the staff asked me what brought me to the library, I told them of coming home from a mission trip and having been stuck in Charlotte and seeing the sign in the airport. They seemed so excited about me being there and helped me map out my way through the exhibits. After a couple of hours of browsing and watching multiple video presentations of various aspects of the life and ministry of Billy Graham, I felt rejuvenated. The bonus came at the end when one of the staff pulled me aside to pray for me and encourage me in my missionary work. 

       Here is the entrance to the Billy Graham library. You notice that you enter by the way of the cross. The building is built in the shape of a dairy barn to remember that Billy was a simple country boy who grew up on a dairy farm. At his home, Billy's father and several other men prayed that a great preacher of the Gospel would come from their town. Little did they know that 15 year old Billy, milking the cows in the barn, would be the answer to their prayers.    

      Here is the entrance to the Billy Graham library. You notice that you enter by the way of the cross. The building is built in the shape of a dairy barn to remember that Billy was a simple country boy who grew up on a dairy farm. At his home, Billy's father and several other men prayed that a great preacher of the Gospel would come from their town. Little did they know that 15 year old Billy, milking the cows in the barn, would be the answer to their prayers.    

      One of the most impressive things about being at the library was not about how great Billy Graham was, but more importantly, how great God is and how great His message of salvation is.

      For me it was like finding an unexpected oasis. My layover became a three hour spiritual retreat. By the time I got back to the airport, I was rejuvenated! As I boarded my plane to Kansas City, I now knew why I had to go through Charlotte. And I shuddered, because I could have missed God's blessing.

      Soon, Billy's body will be buried next to his wife Ruth there on the grounds of the library.

       I love the playful and humble inscription at the bottom of Ruth Graham's grave. She insisted on this phrase after seeing it posted on a newly opened highway. "End of construction--Thank you for your patience." 

      I love the playful and humble inscription at the bottom of Ruth Graham's grave. She insisted on this phrase after seeing it posted on a newly opened highway. "End of construction--Thank you for your patience." 

      And in the coming days, I may just need to figure out how I can get "stuck" in Charlotte to be blessed again by the inspirational life and message of Billy Graham. But the next time I go, I will be more careful when I ask for tomato juice!

      Thank you for your continued prayers. I look forward to sharing more from this last trip.

      Love y'all!

      Steve

       

       

      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!