Monday, January 30, 2017

Attack of the News Media and Social Media

I had hoped that the false narratives, fearmongering, bullying, hate, and extremely divisive rhetoric would end on both political sides with the election over. But sadly, it is only getting worse and the dire consequences of it will be very real.

Manipulation, disinformation, false context, hypocrisy, and flat out lying is what the news media and social media now thrive on. The news media driven no longer by truth but by political agenda is now feeding social media.

So let's step back and take a deep breath. Look at issues from as many angles as you can to get better perspective. We as the people of this nation often struggle to see the big picture. We tend to not see the forest for the trees. We've stopped thinking critically in many instances only to follow herd (or mob) mentality. Social media makes that mentality spread like wildfire. And really, this is not just an American problem but a human problem worldwide if you study history and what's going on elsewhere in the world right now.

There are many politicians who think the American people are stupid. They think the American people are easily manipulated and use that to their advantage.

Prove them wrong and figure out where you may be getting played. Truly examine your thoughts and investigate if you might be getting manipulated. Always stand up for what God says is right but also know the devil is waiting and scheming ways to take advantage of that goodness in order to divide us and destroy us. He strives to pervert all that is good. He preys not only on our weaknesses but also our strengths.

So be on guard. This isn't a game. Don't underestimate the situation. The devil wars against us and against this nation. There is a reason why God tells us to put on spiritual armor. We are to guard ourselves...while at the same time loving the way God does. It's not one or the other but both at the same time. It takes effort and much prayer but it's worth it. The future of this nation and our own futures depend on it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Christian Challenge November Update 2016!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Hope everyone is having a great holiday and safe travels.  I also wanted to say thank you for all the birthday emails and cards.  Definitely feeling the love getting those.

So with the election craziness finally in the rearview mirror, I thought it was time to get our update out.  Something more positive and encouraging than all the political mail and emails.  It's time to share about what God's doing at Fort Lewis!

Before we get started, I just want to remind our friends and family who do end of the year giving, that the time is coming soon if you’re wanting to get that giving in for 2016 tax purposes.  And look at that just so happens to be #GivingTuesday this coming Tuesday...wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  It's the day set aside after Black Friday (and all those other shopping days I can't remember) for charitable giving across the nation.

We are hoping that we can use this time and opportunity to not only raise funds for what God is doing in Durango but to also raise enough for mission work opportunities overseas this summer.  Obviously, those mission fields are something very dear to our hearts and something we're very passionate about.  Know that we definitely appreciate that support for the ministry God is doing on campus and around the world!  You can give by clicking on this link: Give Now.

Alright, so what exactly has God been doing on campus this semester?  A whole lot of things!  But let's start with some quick facts.  Fort Lewis normally has around 4,000 students enrolled.  This year, we have around 3,500 students.  That said, this has been one of our biggest years for the ministry yet.  It's also been one of our most fruitful!

This has also been an extremely small year for our Japanese students.  There are literally only around 10 on campus this year due to changes in credits and how classes transfer.  That said, this has still been a very successful year connecting with the Japanese.

They are a very adventurous group this year and very active with us.  Not only are they going to our weekend adventures, many are also going to the Christian Challenge Bible studies we have on campus.  One of them has really connected with Rachel and I've got some great news about that but I'm going to save that for our next newsletter.

Our discussions have been going really well.  We've worked in more student led discussions.  This semester, we've tackled discussions like mental health and politics.  We're not shying away from tough topics.

We actually were even asked by the LGBT club on campus to lead a discussion on what the Bible says about homosexuality.  In that, we got to share the Gospel too!  It might surprise some but the discussion was very civil and respectful from everyone who attended which opened the door for Jesus.  That's a miracle in and of itself with as much of a sensitive topic "homosexuality and the Bible's stance on it" is in our culture.  God is really opening doors for His Gospel to be shared on campus!

The events we've been able to do have gone great as well.  We had over 300 students at our pizza party on campus the first month.

We had around 55 students on our night hike up Smelter Mountain.  It was a little like herding the dark.

Our next hike was up to Ice Lakes where we had around 30 students.  It was cold and snowy but everyone made it.

We also headed up to Adrenaline Falls to take our students, about 25 of them, waterfall jumping.

They all had a blast...except the one who face-planted in the water from 35 feet up.  She was fine but now knows why we tell students to not try to dive or do any flips.  In some strange way, it really bonded her to the rest of the students who thought it was pretty awesome that she even had the guts to try a flip.  God can even work thru a face-plant.

There was also our Telluride trip that went great.  It was another trip that really helped build friendships and create bonds with our students.

I could keep going about all of our weekend events.  We've had so many.  We've had an event pretty much every weekend since the end of August up until Thanksgiving Break.  That's a lot more than in years past but God is using them so we'll keep making them happen.

Two of those weekends, we had retreats.  The first one was on relationships and how the 10 commandments can be applied to that.

Our second retreat was on discipleship, spiritual gifts, and how to apply them in Challenge and in the local church.

Speaking of that, one of the students Rachel is meeting with is now helping lead a local church youth group with one of our upperclassmen.  That upperclassmen not only runs a local youth group but she also runs a ministry in Africa that rescues girls out of sex-slavery.

In other exciting news, William, a guy I've been discipling since he arrived at FLC, and his girlfriend, Chelsea, got engaged.  It's been great seeing God work thru them and their relationship to bring others to Christ.  William was one of our first cross-country runners who really helped open the door to the rest of the team.  Chelsea has been a big part of our ministry helping disciple other girls and leading them to Christ.

The exciting news continues with already having two baptisms this year.

We also had one of our freshmen who Rachel is discipling lead another student to Christ after going out with a group of students to share their faith.  And to go with that, we've had two of our other students come to Christ!

Some of you might remember me talking about Kelly in past newsletters.  She was one of the two girls from Alaska Aleksandr met when he was an RA.  Her and her roommate, Audrey, were looking for something positive to do so he recommended they check out Challenge.  Long story short, Audrey got saved and baptized last spring.

Kelly went home for the summer and came back to the Fort really wanting nothing to do with God even though she was so close to getting saved before going back home.  We didn't give up on her and God didn't either.  One of our student Bible studies even started praying for her salvation.  Then one night, she was talking to her brother.  After getting advice from him, she came away from that conversation knowing that she needed to figure out some way to change things up because what she was doing wasn't working for her.  Well, God had been tugging on her heart for a long while, and she knew exactly what she needed to do.  She needed to accept Christ so she did it.  We praise God for that!

Along with everything else God is doing, we're also seeing bunch of our returning students discipling other students.  It's such an exciting year seeing God work on campus and thru our students!

Our goal has always been to disciple students and turn them into disciple makers sharing Christ wherever God leads them in life.  Recently, a filmmaker came to Fort Lewis to create a short video on that.  We didn't really know the guy but somehow, he heard about what God was doing on the campus and the discipleship that was happening.  He followed our ministry around for a few days, got footage, and did interviews.  Check out the short video he did here: Challenge at FLC.

Speaking of good press, a short article was recently published in Missions Mosaics Magazine on the ministry that is happening at the Fort.  It was basically a missionary spotlight on me and the ministry.  I was interviewed for it over the summer but the article didn't come out until just before my birthday.  Unfortunately, I don't have a link to it online.

Though the videos and articles are nice and fun, that spotlight is wasted if we're not using it to help grow the Kingdom.  Thankfully, we've heard a lot of good feedback from across the nation on the video and article so that's really encouraging for us.  I'm glad to see it encourage people to not be afraid to share their faith and to hear how encouraged people are by what God is doing here on campus.

It's not lost on us that a lot of that has to do with the time you guys put into praying for us and the campus.  I challenged everyone in the last newsletter to really be praying for the ministry and campus, to set at least 5-10 minutes a day aside to do that.  We have really seen fruit from that.  Please, keep praying.  Don't stop.  God is moving thru your prayers!

Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that!  As always, keep us, the ministry, and the FLC campus in your prayers! #Pray4FLC

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, please follow this link to our giving options:

Prayer Requests:

- Last year, we had a great group of solid students and leaders in the ministry. It was a big answered prayer. Pray that God would continue blessing us with awesome student-leaders.

- When semesters get busy, it's easy to neglect things big and small. We get so focused on ministry that we lose track of the things that help keep us going. We lose track of taking care of ourselves. Pray we have energy and get good sleep as the school year continues.

- With as many things as the ministry does, it's easy to take on way too much and get burnt-out. I'm pretty sure most of the staff is pretty close to being burnt-out by this point if not already there. Thankfully, Christmas break is on the horizon where things will slow down a bit until our conference for students after the new year in Colorado Springs. It's easy to be even busier over break catching up on everything and everyone that we didn't have time for during the semester. Pray that we would be good stewards with our time so that we don't fall into burn-out. You never want to start the new semester already burnt-out.

- Throughout the year, the semester can wear on you, and it can be easy to find yourself discouraged at times. It happens in just about any ministry at one point or another. Pray that God would keep us and our staff encouraged throughout the year.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle. When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle. Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us from any spiritual attacks. Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure. Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- Atheism is a big belief system at FLC. On any given year, about half of the students we work with are atheists or non-believers. Pray that God would open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts and minds of those students on campus.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement. Our most successful years have been when we have good health. Half of our staff this semester ended up getting bronchitis/pneumonia, me included. I haven't had that since high school. I've been fighting bronchitis off since the middle of September. I've also been fighting off a brown recluse spider bite (the second of my life) since that same week of September. Pray that God would heal us up and keep our staff safe and healthy.

- Our staff has meshed really well this semester. It's a huge answered prayer. I think it's one of the reasons why the ministry has been so fruitful this semester. Keep praying for our new staff members and our team that it would continue to mesh well.

- Pray for discernment about our summer mission trip plans. At the moment, we have three opportunities we are praying about. Our first option is going back to Peru. That would be in late July to early August. We really have a strong desire to get back there after our last trip being the most fruitful trip Climbing for Christ has ever had to that area of Peru. Our second option is another trip to the Philippines in early to mid-June. We've been asked by one of my best friends from high school to join his mission team there for a couple of weeks. We've been praying for years for God to open the door for us to do a trip and serve together. We'd be in a different region than the past trips we've done there but it would still allow to us connect and encourage our friends we met there on the first two trips. The Philippines trip would also allow us to hop over to Japan afterwards to visit and encourage all of our past and current Japanese students which is something we really feel like we need to do in the near future. Our last option would be going to where my wife grew up, in Serbia and Croatia in late June. Though we would do mission work on this trip and possibly open the door to bring students over on future mission trips, it would also be a trip to help bring my wife closure. It was something she never really got when she had to move to the States. It may not seem like a big deal to most but it's something that really weighs on her heart. There is a term for people like her in the mission world. She is a third-culture kid. Basically, she grew up in two different cultures but was never fully part of either of them hence being part of a third culture. Even as an adult, for many former missionary kids, they never feel like they have a home when they are back in the States. One of the things that is suggested is that they revisit where they grew up. It helps bring closure and healing. This is a trip we've been praying about for years. Recently, it's really been on my wife's heart. Funny enough, then we got a wedding invite from a really close childhood friend of hers in Serbia. Obviously, one of our goals is to take students with us on mission trips but that wouldn't be an option with this one. We do already have students interested in the Peru and Philippines trips. My prayer is that if we took my wife back to Eastern Europe, we'd still be able to do one of the other mission trips with our students. We realize that it's obviously a big ask though financially. So please be praying that God would guide us in our decision making and bring in the funds where He is leading.

- So you've heard me talk about our pest issue. For now, I can say it's under control. We put up bee catchers and caught probably 300 bees. I also had an idea to put up a couple of box traps which can catch up to 30 mice. I put them under the cabin hoping the mice would think they could nest in there for winter, and it actually worked. Now they can't get out to destroy our cabin. So at the moment, we don't have a pest issue for the first time since we moved here two years ago. Praise God for that and pray that God would keep those pest problems from returning.

- Some of you have been asking about our water issues. It is still an issue. We tried all summer and fall to find someone to put up a rain capture system for us but no one seems to want the one or two-day job. We have people look, say they'll do it, and then back out before ever giving us an estimate. At least we do know it's going to be cheaper than the $17,000 it would take to drill a new well. We just have to find someone to put up the gutters and heat strips. But yeah, it's been disappointing especially after hearing that our water truck guy put his truck in a tree again the other day in the snow. Needless to say, we're not very hopeful about having water this winter. I'd love to install the system myself but unfortunately, I'm not good on ladders which would be required. Having a bigger ministry and having more students over, we use a lot more water. So be praying that God would provide us with that water one way or another whether it be by getting the rain capture system of by our water truck guy being able to deliver. Also be praying for our water truck guy that he stays safe and on the road when he's just trying to help his customers out because that's no good for him or his business if he's ending up in ditches or trees.

- This semester has been a tough one at times for our staff. Three of us have lost people close to us to suicide. For me, one of my roommates and best friends from my freshman year at college passed away in Kansas City in late September. He was a John Doe initially as I understand it so no one, including his family, found out until a month later. He had struggled for years with mental illness, having extreme paranoia and having heard voices. That caused him to eventually go off the grid which made it really hard to get him help. I found out toward the end of October a week or so after we had done our mental illness discussion. It was weird timing for sure. Be praying for his family and friends. Keep our staff in your prayers as well. Pray for comfort and peace. Ministry can be very heavy at times already and adding the suicide of someone close to you can be a lot for one person to handle at one time. Personally speaking, I'm doing alright but I know everyone processes things differently.

- This fall has been a stretch for us financially as the ministry grows and with that, ministry expenses increase. We trust God to provide but would appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met. If you would like to give for the end of this semester or the coming winter semester, please go to: Give Now.

- With as fruitful as the ministry has been, I want to end this section on a high note. We're so thankful for what God is doing on campus! Praise God for the fruit we are seeing at FLC and pray that He continues to bless the ministry and campus with that fruit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Challenge New Fall Semester 2016 Update!

Wow, the beginning of the semester is upon us already! It's always an extremely exciting time for us in collegiate ministry! The students are back. New ones are coming in. Christ is ready to do amazing things on the campus of Fort Lewis College!

With the ministry over the summer, we've been busy continuing to meet with students who were still in town.  We were able to do some hikes with them too.

We did a weekly game night and when we could, we'd look at the stars with the students thru Josh's telescope. It's a pretty cool sight to see Jupiter and some of its moons, and even Saturn and its rings. It was a lot of fun but it also helped Josh in his mental recovery from his stroke. The game nights were actually Doctor suggested. Josh, though still working his way back to health, has come a long way, thank the Lord!

One of the coolest things to come from the game nights was that it helped us stay in touch with one of our former students. If you've been reading our updates for awhile, you might remember a student named Lane. He came to Challenge with a couple of girls two or three years ago. When he first started coming, he was a pretty strong atheist. As time went along, we'd continue to invite him to things. His typical response was "I don't believe that [garbage]...but I'll see you tonight." He used another word instead of garbage but I cleaned it up a bit. Despite him being a strongly opinionated and vocal atheist, our group accepted him and he's a guy everyone just loves.

Well, during the last game night of the summer, he asked, "So if a guy like me wanted to check out a church in Durango, where would he go?" Needless to say, we were pretty shocked with excitement. We've been reaching out and praying for him for so long. It was a huge answered prayer. That next Sunday, he came to church with us. Now, I wouldn't say he is there just yet (so keep praying for him) but being open to coming to church was a huge step forward. We're stoked!

That right there made it a pretty awesome summer. Thankfully, Rachel and I also got to rest and recharge which made it pretty awesome as well. Doing ministry where you're in the trenches with young folks working thru some pretty heavy things in their lives can take a toll on a person and a marriage. It can be draining so being able to rest, recharge, and reconnect was very much needed. Rachel has said that this is the first time she has ever gone into the start of the school year energized and not already exhausted. We're both very thankful for that!

This summer was also filled with some travel. Rachel traveled to Glacier National Park to do a ladies' backpacking trip with some friends.

She was so refreshed and encouraged spiritually by the trip with those ladies. I traveled to the Denver area to go to Aleksandr and Anna's wedding which was great.

Rachel and I had state directors' meetings in Colorado Springs. We just had our local staff retreat a week ago. This summer, we've also tried to run and hike more in order to get to a healthier place in life. The hiking has been nice.

The running?'s running. It's nice when it's over. Anyway, it certainly hasn't been a quiet summer but I think we've learned to balance it with rest much better than previous summers. We're in a really good place right now ready to start the school year and see all that God is going to do!

I've also had doctors' appointments with my thyroid issues. I am cancer-free by the way. Praise God for that! It was a 2 cm nodule on my thyroid which I guess is pretty big but no surgery was required. The doctors did some blood work testing my thyroid level and whatever the one thing they tested for was okay. They want to continue to monitor the area of the nodule so I'll have to get an ultrasound and biopsy again when next summer rolls around. My energy levels are still on the low end but I've learned to pace myself and push thru when I need too. We still don't know the cause of that but we'll keep researching. I know that when I'm weak, God is still strong and more than enough to see ministry get done. So I'm not too worried.

Last year, God really challenged me to be in prayer more for our ministry and to challenge our supporters to be in prayer more for the ministry. We saw huge fruit from that. This year, that challenge hasn't changed.

So without further delay, I give you guys this year's Christian Challenge Prayer Challenge...or The Challenge for Challenge. I want to challenge you to give 5-10 minutes a day praying for the ministry. If that sounds like not much, go for more. I suggest praying for it during your mornings so you don't forget. If the ministry comes to mind later in the day, pray for it then too. I'm challenging you to do it for 14 days. If you can make it that far, take it another 14 days. I know I might be asking a lot but it's so important and so worth it.

I'm going to give you the normal prayer requests section below but here are our event dates you can be praying for as well. Some will already have passed by the time you read this but that's okay. Pray for what you can. Here's our schedule of events:

8/25: Hanging up event flyers, meeting new freshmen students.
8/26: Having a table during Orientation to meet students. Slacklining on campus to also meet students.
8/27: International Student Dinner.
8/28: Breakfast for students and rides to church. Afternoon Pizza Block Party near the freshmen dorms.
8/29: Welcome Back dinner for returning students preparing them to reach out this school year.
8/30: First Tuesday night discussion on campus.
8/31: Day of rest.
9/1: Club Fair where we have a table to meet students. Family dinner which will be student-run for the first one of the year.
9/2: Night hike up Smelter Mountain.
9/3: Basketball Tournament @ court by upperclassmen housing to meet upperclassmen.
9/4: Breakfast & rides to church. Afternoon waterfall jumping.

After this, we settle into our normal schedule being on campus most of the week discipling. Christian Challenge discussions will be on Tuesday nights. Once we talk with the international students and find out their schedules, our conversational English class will get scheduled in. We'll run a table on campus near the cafeteria to meet students and strike up conversation on Wednesdays. Family Dinners will be on Thursday nights. Here are the rest of our big dates for the first month:

9/10: Ophir Pass/Telluride 4WD trip, hike, and dinner.
9/11: River tubing.
9/16-18: First retreat of the year.
9/23-24: Ice Lakes camp and hike.
9/30-10/1: ABQ Balloon Fiesta trip.

Hopefully, those are more specific things you can be praying for throughout the month. Look below for our normal prayer request section.

If you're on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and up for an extra challenge, post the time, date and hashtag it #Praying4FLC and #Challenge4Challenge every time you pray for the ministry. This will remind our staff and students that we've got people praying for us when they get on social media. And hey, maybe it gets others who see it to pray for FLC as well. If you're not into the social media thing, no worries but still be praying.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that! Keep us, the ministry, and the FLC campus in your prayers!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:

Prayer Requests: 

- Last year, we had a great group of solid students and leaders in the ministry. It was a big answered prayer. Pray that we would have an awesome group of student leaders again this year.

-In years past, we've had pretty terrible weather at times during our planned events. Sometimes, it makes for an even better adventure but other times, we have to cancel the event altogether. Obviously, that's no good but we need to keep the students safe. Sadly, we lose out on valuable time to make connections. Pray we have good weather for our events this year and make great connections.

-We've got a lot of retreats coming up this semester. Not only is this a great way to deepen relationships with the students but it's also a great way to go deeper in their faith. Pray that God will speak to our students' hearts and that they will grow in their faith on the retreats. Also be praying that God will clear our students' schedules so that they can be there with us.

- As the semester get busier, it's easy to neglect things big and small. We get so focused on ministry that we lose track of the things that help keep us going. We lose track of taking care of ourselves. Pray we have energy and get good sleep throughout the busy semester.

- With as many things as the ministry does, it's easy to take on way too much and get burnt out. This is especially true in the first month. By the end of September, we just sort of expect it. Pray that we would be good stewards with our time so that we don't fall into burnout.

- Throughout the year, the semester can wear on you and it can be easy to find yourself discouraged at times. It happens in just about any ministry at one point or another. Pray that God would keep us and our staff encouraged throughout the year.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle. When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle. Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us this year from any spiritual attacks. Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure. Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- Atheism is a big belief system at FLC. On any given year, about half of the students we work with are atheists or non-believers. Pray that God would open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts and minds of the students we are going to meet.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement. Our most successful years have been when we have good health. Pray that God would keep our staff safe and healthy.

- Pray for our new staff members and our team that it would mesh well and adjust well to the new dynamic.

- So you've heard about our mice issues. Well, we know have bees too. They are in our roof and walls. Though the mice are still a problem, putting hot sauce on the inside of our outlet covers has really helped. But yeah, now we have bees and tons of them too as house guests. It's almost comical. I'm actually laughing as I write this because it's somewhat ridiculous. We thought of jarring their honey and selling it. We'd call it Colorado Cabin Wall Honey. But warning, it may contain pesticide. I'm starting to think we should pray that God brings us someone in pest control as a supporter. Pray that God would help us solve the pest issue one way or another.

- Though we have been underfunded at different times in our ministry, we have had many big financial hits this past year like our cabin heater going out and the radiator on my vehicle needing to be replaced. Thankfully, God provided. We've got some big financial hits coming up as well like needing new tires on my vehicle and campus parking passes which aren't cheap. We trust God to provide but would appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met. If you would like to give for the coming semester, there is still time. Go to: Give Now

Friday, July 8, 2016

Responding to Recent Violence

As I currently watch the shooting of police officers unfold on CNN, I'm heartbroken.  At this point, there is so little known yet.  What we know is that there is still a shooter at large.  We know there are five cops dead.  There may be more.  There were people just like you and me...and now they are gone.

It's something that leaves you speechless, yet also leaves so many thoughts running thru the head.  It's just hard to put those thoughts into words.  I've tried to organize my thoughts into something that makes sense in the senseless violence.  The following is just a little sample of that:

All human life matters.  It is sickening to see life taken from the innocent.  These issues run much deeper than guns or race or whatever other surface things you want to blame.  They are not the root of the problem.  This is a heart issue.  If you study human history, it's nothing new for this world.  When we walk away from morality, we lose the ability to recognize what is right and wrong.  Instead of our desires conforming to what is right, we conform what is right to our own desires.  As an extremely imperfect people, that is a very dangerous place to be.  It's a place where life can easily be devalued and discarded.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Christian Challenge June 2016 Update!

Summer is here! School is out. Our seniors have graduated. Most of our students have headed home. Though we are still meeting with our students that are still around, things are starting to calm down. Our state meetings in Colorado Springs have come and gone. We're back in Durango. We're actually getting a little rest and time to recharge spiritually which was much needed.

It's been an interesting past few months to say the least. Things with the ministry have been awesome! Check out our video from the past year: Click Here! Josh put it together for us.

One of my event highlights was our Easter Eve snowshoeing trip where we journeyed by snowshoe to a frozen lake in the mountains under starlight.

We roasted peeps over a campfire and made s'mores. We finished the night with me sharing a sermon and having a discussion around that campfire. We talked about how the cross wasn't something that caught Jesus off-guard. It was not plan B. It was the plan all along. He knew it before He left heaven and came down to earth. He knew the pain and torture He would go thru yet still came down to save all who believe and follow Him.

We listened to a song called "I Wonder" by an old friend of mine, Tara Leigh Cobble. It talks about Jesus being reminded of the cross by things throughout His everyday life. We discussed how heavy that burden must have been to carry, and yet even though He could have opted out at any point and gone right back up to heaven, He still chose to go thru with the cross. We talked about how much love He must really have for us to go thru all of that so that we could find salvation in Him.

Now, we also wanted to do some guitar and worship afterwards but this year, it was way too cold. We're talking 5 degrees where it's so frigid, your fingers freeze to the guitar strings. Even without it, we had a great night of ministry talking about Jesus around the campfire.

Speaking of ministry, overall it has been going really strong. It's been an exciting semester. We finished it off with another salvation and two baptisms.

Let me share a little about Audrey who got saved. This was a girl who we first met on the night we did Operation Christmas Child during the first semester. Audrey and her roommate Kelly were looking for something more positive to do than the typical college party scene. In talking with their dorm RA, Aleksandr, he suggested they check out Christian Challenge. It wasn't one of our typical nights but they connected and kept coming to more things. After getting saved, Audrey got baptized by Josh and Randi down in the Animas River with all of our students their to support her.

The baptism was actually pretty funny how it all went down. The water was really cold being that it was April. Josh is a pretty big guy so he wasn't fazed by the cold as much. Audrey and Randi are skinny girls. As Josh was taking his time explaining baptism, the girls were shivering and probably nearing hypothermia. Eventually, Audrey who is normally happy-go-lucky interrupted Josh and sternly said thru chattering teeth, "Josh! This isn't the time for teaching!" True, it probably would have been better to cover that part on shore. With that, Josh quickly finished up and they baptized her. And then of course, a bunch of our students jumped in the water too. Because you know, why not? It was an awesome time.

We followed that up with Aleksandr's brother, Nikolai, getting baptized a week after that on a morning filled with rain and snow.

Their whole family happened to be in town to see Aleksandr graduate so they all got to be there to support the baptism too.

With all of the great things God was doing, we should have expected that Satan would not rest. When things are going good though, you start to forget that we are in a battle. We were reminded the day of graduation. It was at Aleksandr's graduation party. The party was finishing up and we thought because we had all of our old staff and new staff together, we should take a new staff photo.

After taking the photo, Josh took a fall. I was right by him and watched it happen but, in him falling away from me, I wasn't able to catch him or break his fall. Thankfully, it appeared that he was able to brace his fall a bit. Now with Josh's heart issues, it's not the first time we've seen him take a fall. Normally when it happens, it's because his heart has gone into a weird rhythm and he eventually gets shocked by his pacemaker.

After talking with him while he laid on the ground, he couldn't remember getting shocked or passing out. He said his leg just gave out on him. I think with his past heart issues, everyone just assumed it was his heart again. He had an appointment with his doctor up in Denver two days later already scheduled so they thought they'd just get it checked then. He'd end up having two more episodes before getting to the appointment.

When he finally met with his doctor, his doctor told him his heart was doing better than they'd seen it doing in a long time. That was the good news. The bad news was that his doctor thought he'd had a stroke. A scan of his head later confirmed that.

Thankfully it wasn't a massive stroke but he is still dealing with balance issues due to having weakness on one side of his body. He even had to use a cane for awhile. Josh is also struggling with reading comprehension and a bit with speech. So he has been doing a lot of therapy for those things in the recovery process but doctors think he should make close to a full recovery. We're very thankful for that.

Josh and Jen had to drop a summer discipleship program they were going to run for college students in Denver but it was definitely for the better. Now Josh can recover from the stroke. I think this summer will be good for them to just rest and recover.

Randi's summer will be a busy one. She is currently in Germany working on college campuses there doing ministry. When she comes back, she'll transition down to Farmington. (She seems to be having a great time in Germany doing ministry so I kind of wonder if she'll even come back.) Aleksandr and Anna have a busy summer too. They'll be getting married in early August and preparing to come on staff with us as well. Rachel Horton is fulfilling an internship this summer so she can officially graduate and then come on staff with us this fall.

As for Rachel and me, it will be a summer where we try and find some rest. We've got a lot of work to do around the house like making it safer from possible wildfire. There's a lot of dead trees and brush to be cut down and turned into firewood for the winter. We are also hoping to put up that rain capture system we've mentioned so that we can have water more consistently at the house.

Unfortunately, we won't be going on a mission trip this summer. There are a lot of reasons. Our finances were part of it due to the large financial hits we took over the winter. It also turned out that our point guy for the trip just had a new baby. Jaime, our local missionary and translator just had eye surgery. So there were a lot of things that just made it seem like God was temporarily shutting the door for the summer. In my heart, I was still keeping the door open in case God opened a door last minute to go to Peru or maybe somewhere else.

Rachel and I have even gotten back to training. We're up to running 4.6 miles every couple of days. That's the most mileage we've done in years. I was seriously wondering if I'd ever get back there after the lasting effects of getting sick on the last Peru mission trip. I still have very low energy levels and am pretty foggy-brained a good amount of the time. I've worked hard to overcome those things and be ready for a mission trip if God does open that door.

That said, I'm not expecting that door to open this summer. As I look at the latest news I've gotten, I'm pretty sure God has us home this summer for a reason. If you read our last update, you read about the migraine-type headaches I started getting back around the first of the year. I went to a chiropractor and though I still get the start of those headaches, the adjustments helped greatly in bringing down the severity of the headaches.

In the process of that, and wanting to cover all of my bases, I also saw a general doctor to get his opinion. He referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist wanting to make sure it wasn't an aneurysm had me get a CT scan. Well, it turned out my brain was okay but on the scan, they found a nodule on my thyroid. That could explain a lot from getting sick in Peru to being exhausted, foggy-brained and forgetful to the 30 pounds I gained over the winter. At least that's what the internet research I've seen says...and we all know how reliable that is. I'm still waiting to meet with a doctor about it all.

It's unlikely that it's cancer but they are going to do a biopsy just to make sure later today. At the moment though, we don't really know what treatment is going to entail so it's probably good that we don't have a mission trip this summer. We can focus on getting this taken care of and not put off. Then, I'll be ready to go for the fall semester and ready for a mission trip next summer.

Despite a lot of the hardships endured recently, it was really such a great semester and a great year. I could probably tell a thousand more stories about how God is working but I'll leave you with the words of one of our students, Ryan Evanyo:

"When I first came to FLC I was not 100% looking for a ministry to join. I figured I would nominally attach myself to a campus group just to say that I had. In all honesty part of me just wanted to disconnect and have the "college experience." However I found Christian Challenge and the only way I can explain how was that it was destiny. I saw what this group could do for my life and the lives of many others. For the last 8 months Christian Challenge has been my life and I have connected in ways I could have never imagined a year ago. My friend circle has grown exponentially and my faith has been reignited in a massive way."

Ryan is a funny guy we love having around.  He makes us laugh a lot especially when he creates fun pictures like this with him and some of our graduates.  As he explained it, he got bored and decided he'd make a 90's-style rap album cover with the graduation photo.  Notice the two kids that just happened to be wrestling in the back when the photo was taken.  Seems fitting for a rap album cover and I think it gives their fake rap group street cred.  This picture just makes me laugh a lot.

We have a lot of fun at Challenge doing ministry with our students.  We share and have a lot of laughs with them but even more importantly, we share Jesus with them.  We share the Gospel.  We've been very blessed to be able to walk with these students like Ryan on their faith journey and help them grow in Christ.

Realize that when you pray for the ministry and give, you are a big part of impacting these students! Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that! Keep us, the ministry, and the FLC campus in your prayers! #Pray4FLC

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:

Prayer Requests:

- Be praying for Josh and their family as he recovers from his stroke.  It's certainly not been an easy year for them with this stroke and Jen's dad passing away this past winter.

- Sarah made it back from the Philippines safely and grew a lot spiritually while there on her mission trip.  She now plans to finish her schooling in the States and then possibly head back to the Philippines.  Praise God for her safety, her growth, and the ministry she was able to do there.

- The rodents are back with the warm temperatures.  We put out some poison blocks and this mouse kept devouring them.  We watched it scarf it down night after night.  We thought it was a super mouse being that it just wouldn't die with all the poison it was eating.  Finally, we caught it in a trap.  Then we caught another in a trap.  And another.  Turns out, it was a whole bunch of them, not a single super mouse.  We still have at least two running around the house free.  All that said, be praying that God would protect our house, its wiring, and our vehicle wires from rodents this summer.

- We're heading into dry season for our well.  Thankfully, it's been a wet spring so we've had water in it to use.  We'll soon have gone thru that though. Please be praying that God would bless us with a wet summer and a rain capture system (and the man power to put it up) so that we can have a more consistent and much cleaner water source.

- Things tend to calm down a bit for us in summer but we still remain somewhat busy taking care of everything we didn't have time to do during the school year.  We hope that it can also be a time to find some rest.  Pray that God would recharge us and re-energize us during this summer so that we can be ready to go when next semester comes.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle.  When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle.  Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us from any spiritual attacks.  Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure.  Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- Summer can be a tough time for our students when they go home and don't have the support they had here with Challenge.  Pray that God would keep them encouraged this summer and continue to grow their faith.  Also pray that God would already be working on the hearts of the new students we will have this fall.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement.  Currently, Rachel is having issues with her back and neck that she just soldiers thru despite the pain.  Of course, there is also my thyroid issue and biopsy.  Please pray that God would get and then keep all of our staff healthy and safe.

- Rachel has picked up a little side work caretaking for her grandma after her stroke.  It helps bring in a little extra money but we are still working to get our support where it needs to be.  We trust God to provide but would appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met.  If you would like to give, go to: Give Now!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fake Hustle

I grew up the son of a sportscaster.  Sports are in my genes.  I was blessed to be around a lot of professional athletes when I was younger.  Because of that, I love all things sports.  Playing them, watching them, and watching sports shows...I love it all.

Two of the sports shows I've become addicted to over the years are the ESPN shows, Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption.  For the most part, they are just guys arguing about sports.  It's what I do with my friends but these guys actually get paid for it.  Not a bad gig if you ask me.

The shows are not exactly deep in a spiritual sense but as I've seen over the years, God can use normal non-spiritual topics to spark something deeper spiritually in me.  One of the things that has really stuck with me recently has been the topic of fake hustle that co-host Mike Wilbon has brought up.  Now, he's credited the idea of fake hustle to someone else who I actually can't remember right now but Wilbon has been using it recently.

Basically, the idea of fake hustle is exactly what it sounds like.  It's having the appearance of hustling but really just going thru the motions.  You look like you're doing a lot but really, you're not doing much.  You're not trying, not giving your all.

I think I connect with that because that was me in high school.  Once I got to games, I gave 100% but in practice and training, it was a different story.  For soccer, big parts of training were running and weightlifting.  Weightlifting came easy to me but I wasn't a huge fan of it.  I found ways of making it look like I was doing a lot while doing very little.  There was a lot of taking weight off and putting it on but not a lot of lifting.

It's kind of like those people nowadays who go to the gym just to take selfies and stare at themselves in the mirror.  Everyone thinks they went to the gym because they instagrammed it but in reality, they barely even worked out.

For me with running in high school, I literally cut corners.  Once we were out of coach's sight on our five mile runs, we were cutting corners, cutting streets, turning around early.  I use we because I wasn't the only one.  It was me and all of the other out of shape kids.  My favorite fake hustle was when I would act like I was hanging back to encourage all the slow kids.  Yeah, I was that slow kid but I was a goalie so it was more expected.  But still, it was fake hustle.

It wasn't good for me.  It hurt me in the long run and it hurt my team.  I wasn't achieving my full potential and because of that, my team was weakened.  I probably played a lot less minutes because of it too.  When you're young, you don't think about it.  That's not really on your radar.  You might even be told you're hurting yourself and the team but you either can't see it or just don't care.

Today, I've thankfully outgrown that.  I've grown a stubborness that doesn't allow me to cut corners with my workouts.  I now run almost five miles at a time every couple of days.  I won't allow myself to cut corners.  There's a deep guilt, conviction and anxiety if I think of cutting corners.  I've even gotten to a point where I push it farther than I was planning to or should go.  I think to myself, "I can always go a little further."  And that's coming from someone who still hates running with a passion.

Because I hate running, one of the things I do to pass the time and take my mind off of how awful running makes me feel is to listening to sermons on my iPod.  I focus on that and don't focus on how awful running actually is.

Well, a sermon I listened to recently sparked the connection between it and fake hustle.  The sermon wasn't about fake hustle but somehow, the two connected in my brain and left me with the question of: How often do we fake hustle in our spiritual lives as Christians?  How often do we just go thru the motions.  If we're just going to church so that others see us and think we're super spiritual, that's fake hustle.  If we're just reading our Bible but not putting it into practice, that's fake hustle.  Maybe it's going on a mission trip but really only because you love to travel.  Fake hustle.  Maybe someone has a problem, an issue, or needs help and all we offer to them is our prayers.  Again, fake hustle.  I could go on and on.

If you're just fake hustling thru the Christian life, you're hurting not only yourself but your team.  You're hurting the body of Christ.  You're hurting Christ's mission.  Fake hustlers seem to think they have everyone fooled but in reality, they don't.  People see right thru it.  Within Christianity, that makes you look bad and it makes other Christians look bad.  And the worst thing about it, it makes Jesus look bad.

Eventually, fake hustlers come to a crossroads.  You'll realize you're not fooling anyone and just give up all together...or you'll drop the act and the hustle won't be fake anymore.  It will be real.  It will be genuine.  You'll start growing.  And when you start growing, it encourages others around you in growing, in getting stronger.  It builds up a better team.

To close it up, it's simple.  Watch out for fake hustle in our spiritual lives.  It's not good for us or anyone around us.  I think these verses sum the whole issue up nicely:

"24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."  1st Corinthians 9: 24-27

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Christian Challenge March 2016 Update!

Hard to believe it's already March!  It's been months since we were able to get an update to you so it was definitely time to get one out.  Hope you had a great Christmas and hope that the new year is off to a good start!  We've had an adventure the last few months or so.  It's been a roller coaster for sure.

The ministry has been amazing but we've had some stresses outside of that.  With the ministry, we've been averaging 25-35 students consistently at our family dinners and discussions.  This is the most we've seen consistently in the history of the ministry.  We're growing, and it's really encouraging to see.  Lately, we've been tackling hot button issues in our discussions.  In weeks past, we discussed the Syrian refugee crisis, what's driving it, and what the Bible has to say about it all.  The students were really engaged and seemed to have really learned a lot.

We also just had one of my favorite events, the Silverton Snow Day, where we go up to Kendall Mountain, and students can ice skate, sled, cross-country ski, alpine ski, and snowboard.  Here is a link to video of one of our students, Ryan, sledding down a pretty steep hill: Click here!  Don't worry, we didn't have to take Ryan to the ER after his run.  Next year, we might have to start bubble wrapping all of our students for the day.

So I mentioned that it's kind of been a roller coaster over the last few months.  Though the ministry side of things is going great, house issues have been a pretty big stress in our lives.

Let's rewind back to November.  We finished up the month of November up with our house heater and water heater going out.  Not something you want happening going into the cold season.  It actually went out earlier in the month but it took our plumber three weeks to fix it.  We were told we just needed a part at first.  That turned into needing a whole new system and because the previous owner of the house had it hooked up by a guy who cut corners, the warranty was voided.  So $5,500 later, we have a new combo heater that runs our house heat and hot water.  It's still not working right but hopefully that will be remedied soon by making some small adjustments.  And if not, hey, summer's just around the corner.

We started the process early as we had a marriage conference/retreat for people in ministry we were supposed to be at for a week in early December.  We had some awesome supporters who had attended it and told us they would pay for us to go.  They thought it would be years down the road before they could send us but they ended up being able to send us much earlier than we all thought they would be able to.

Anyway, due to us not having a working heater, we kept a fire going in our wood stove pretty much 24/7.  With us going on the retreat, there would be no way to keep the fire going and keep our pipes from freezing.  It had to be fixed before we left.

Now with the retreat, we were told that there would be things that came up beforehand that would make you not want to go.  I thought it would be mental blocks like a fear of talking about your feelings or something.  Well, I was wrong.  It turned out to be the heater.  When the time came to leave, the heater still wasn't fixed.  We knew that God wanted us at this retreat, and that it was going to be extremely encouraging.  We just really had to trust God to protect our house while we were gone.

Also, the plumber was supposed to come the next day and have it fully fixed.  When he called us at the retreat to let us know he replaced the system, he also let us know it would be almost $2,000 more than what we were originally quoted due to him being misquoted by the distributor he ordered the system from.  Thankfully, God protected us from letting that news ruin our whole retreat.

We ended up having an amazing time at the retreat.  As much as I loved it, it impacted Rachel even more greatly.  I thought I'd let her share in her own words about our week there.

"One of our supporters surprised us this past summer saying that they wanted to send us to Sonscape hopefully by the summer of 2016. Then this fall, they wrote, 'We have the funds!  Go as soon as you can!' Sonscape is a week long conference for those in full-time ministry. It focused on figuring out how to balance the demands of life, family, and ministry while rekindling passion for Christ and His church. The days were spent alone with the Lord, together as a couple, in group discussions with the three other sets of couples, and time with the hosts where you could discuss anything going on and work through those things in a safe environment. It was hands-down the most enriching, life-giving thing we had ever done for our marriage. We felt understood, cared for, and encouraged. We learned new things about each other. We were given tools as well as understanding more about how we operate as individuals and as a couple."

It was truly an amazing time.  We felt so refreshed and encouraged.  That lasted the whole 6-hour car ride back to home...and then we were back in the dark stronghold of Durango.  The spiritual attacks started literally the moment we turned into the neighborhood.  We had a dog try and attack our car.  We had some kids we'd never seen before walking in the middle of the road walking slow almost like zombies refusing to move a bit to the side so that we could get by.  I felt like were in the twilight zone or something.  You could just feel a heaviness.

Finally, we pulled into our driveway.  We were home at our place of refuge.  We could rest from the drive and from the outside world.  All would be well.  Yeah, not so much.  We came home to a house that was 35 degrees.  It was literally colder inside than it was outside.  Clearly, our new heater wasn't working and hadn't been working since the night the plumber supposedly fixed it.  We had no heat pretty much all week with night time lows dipping to around -10 degrees.  My mind immediately went to if our pipes were okay.  Thankfully, they were.  The fact that our pipes didn't freeze was a true miracle and answered prayer.  God had protected our pipes.  Eventually, the plumber made it out and somewhat fixed the heater.  It still struggles to heat our house and water at night.  But that's better than nothing so we're very thankful.

Upon getting back, we realized that we were going to need our water guy to come out and bring us some water for our cistern.  We told him to come out the next time he had a chance if the weather was good.  We didn't want him coming out in bad weather as our road to our house can be a bit dangerous when it snows.

Well, he decided to come out three days later during a really bad snowstorm and put his water truck in the ditch blocking our road home.  He also dropped a thousand gallons of water on our road which could have possibly froze making our neighbor and HOA president not very happy.  It didn't help that he tore up our road too.  It took all day to get him unstuck but finally we did.

Though he shouldn't have even attempted it, it wasn't entirely the water guy's fault.  Our plow drivers had new tires that had too much tread which swallowed their chains.  They couldn't make it up our hill to plow so snow accumulated and didn't appear to be removed.  Then we had a very wet storm move in.  The wet snow hit the old snow and froze on contact making it an ice skating rink, only on a steep hill.

Even I had trouble making it up in my Xterra with 4wd, snow tires and studs.  I actually ended up sliding backwards 20-30 feet on my first attempt.  A little scary on a steep and very narrow road but I did finally make it home.

So without our water guy being able to make it, we were without water for three weeks.  Did I mention our house uses water for heating the whole place?  Any water that we had to use was from the snow.  I shoveled it into our cistern so that we could flush toilets every now and then.  Eventually things started freezing so I had to stop shoveling the snow into the cistern.  We melted it on the stove so that we could take weekly baths.  It felt like we were doing mission work in a third-world country to be honest or maybe just living like people did 200 years ago.

Our water guy tried a couple more times to make it up over those three weeks but got stuck again.  Finally, he made it into our driveway.  He unloaded his water in our cistern and then proceeded to slide off our driveway, almost taking out our outhouse, and blocking the driveway.  He also tore the driveway up while getting it unstuck three or four days later.  There comes a point when circumstances get so ridiculous that you can't even be stressed or frustrated anymore.  You can really only laugh.  We were at that point.

If you've stuck with my update this long, thank you.  It's been a rough couple of months...but we expect that when the ministry has been so amazing.  While all that ridiculousness with the house was happening, we were still doing ministry.  God was working in our students lives.  We were trying to get as much discipling in as possible before break.  We were also doing all the end of the year Christmas parties and such for the students.

Just before Christmas break, Tate, a cross-country runner who I first met at FCA, graduated.  It was great to see one of the guys I've been discipling for almost four years walk across that stage.  He really opened the door for the cross-country team to be reached.  That door continues to be as wide open as it's ever been.  It's amazing to see how many students have been reached and discipled thru him showing up at FCA one night as a freshman.  And thru that open door, the girlfriend of one of the other runners I disciple lead Tate's girlfriend, who is also a runner, to Christ!  Tate's girlfriend then also got baptized!  It's awesome to look back and see all the work God has been doing!

Eventually, we hit Christmas break which meant shoveling snow and chopping wood at every spare moment.  With our heat going out, we blew thru our winter's worth of wood in those three weeks trying to keep our pipes from freezing.  That meant we needed a lot more to make it through the rest of winter.  Shoveling has taken a lot of our time as well with our snowblower being broken.  (I figure all of these things breaking are just going to make us that much more thankful when they finally work as they should.)  I did eventually get three days of rest during break to recharge so that was nice.

The night of Christmas Eve, we had our annual event where we take students with us to the candlelight service at church and follow it up with dinner at my mom's place.  It's normally a big highlight for our Japanese students who come.  We've been told it's one of their favorite experiences on their time in America.

Leading up to the night, we were really wondering if we'd have any students.  None had really signed up.  The night before, we had a couple of our Japanese students sign up.  When we showed up to pick them up, we saw one of them walking towards our vehicle with another Japanese student who wasn't signed up.  That student said that he was also going.  Then another student showed up.  Then another.  Soon, we had no more room in the vehicle.  We ended up having to call for reinforcements to drive because we had so many extra students show up.  We ended up having almost fifteen people in our group at church with us.  It was pretty awesome.

We then had the issue of making sure we had enough food for dinner as we had a lot more students than the two we had planned on.  It all worked out though.  It was an exciting night for us.

Also during break, Jen was able to go to Africa.  She went with Blythe, one of our students.  I've mentioned Blythe before.  She is the one who started up an organization called She has a Name which rescues girls out of sex slavery.  Well, Blythe and Jen were able to go over there and work with girls who had recently been rescued.  It sounds like it was a pretty amazing trip for the ladies.

Unfortunately, it was also a very hard trip for Jen as she got news that her dad had passed away the moment they touched down in Africa.  He had been battling complications from diabetes when the Lord called him home.  Due to flight schedules, Jen wasn't able to make it home for a week but she was able to make it to the funeral.

Immediately after that, Josh, Jen and the boys met us and the students up at Life Impact in Colorado Springs.  Life Impact is a conference where college students from all over meet at the Glen Eyrie Castle and Conference Center.  It's an amazing place but what's even more amazing is that we pulled in almost 400 college students this year.  We had fifteen in our group from FLC.  There's worship, big name Christian speakers, and breakout sessions for the students to go deeper.  It's an amazing time.  We saw great growth out of each and every one of our students who attended.

After the conference, Rachel stayed behind in the Springs.  She was going to be a matron of honor in the wedding of one of her best friends from high school.  Due to the scheduling of things and finances, it just made more sense for her to stay up there for a few weeks instead of having to drive six hours back and forth from Colorado Springs to Durango every weekend.  It ended up being a great time for Rachel.  She got to spend a lot of time with family and friends, and I know that was extremely refreshing for her.

Other than getting back into the swing of being on campus and doing ministry, I spent that time shoveling snow and chopping wood, of course.  We ended up getting about two feet of snow while we were at the Glen so I had a lot of work to do when I got home.  I literally spent about a week working to shovel things out.  Don't worry, though.  I did have some fun in there too.  My free nights were filled with movies, pizza, and Oreos.  Rachel got to have her fun up in the Springs so I felt like I should have mine too.

Since our last newsletter, we've got some big news to announce concerning the ministry.  Randi will be leaving our staff to start up Christian Challenge down at the college in her hometown of Farmington, NM.  While we're sad to see her go, as she played a huge role in the success of our ministry, we're really excited to see what God's going to do thru her on the campus down there.  It's part of what our ministry is about.  Raising up students to go and be missionaries wherever God may take them.  Randi was literally one of our original students.  Now, it's time for her to leave the nest and start a ministry up at San Juan College.  She'll start down there with the start of the fall semester.

That said, we have some other exciting news.  We're bring on three new staff.  We've got Rachel Horton who went to Peru with me on the Climbing for Christ mission trip my first year in Peru.  She's one of our students who has been with us since she was a freshman.  She's graduating this spring with a degree in Adventure Education.  And yes, it's a real degree.  It's not just a code word/phrase for "I was a ski bum for all four years."  She'll be discipling girls, and helping Rachel and me with our outdoor events we run for the ministry.

We've also got Aleksandr Trbovich and Anna Kallas (soon to be Trbovich) coming on staff with us.  Aleksandr has been with us since he was a freshman.  Anna goes to CU Boulder.  Both of them are graduating this spring.  They'll be getting married in August.  We're stoked to eventually have them on campus discipling students full-time.

The team certainly will look different next fall but I'm excited to see God work thru everyone.  Be praying for our staff as it will be a big transition for everyone.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that!  Keep us, the ministry, and the FLC campus in your prayers!  #Pray4FLC

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:

Prayer Requests:

- With the passing of Jen's dad to diabetes, please be praying for comfort and peace for the whole family.  It's certainly not an easy time for them especially since Jen's brother passed away just a year or so earlier due to cancer.

- With Sarah still being in the Philippines, be praying for her.  Pray that God would bless her ministry and grow her in her faith during her time there.

- Our next big issue I foresee with the house is our rodent issue.  The mice are going to start coming out with the spring and they are always an issue.  We've plugged up all the holes we can but we can still hear them in our walls. We also have squirrel issues.  One decided to crawl up under my hood and chew thru a bunch of wires.  That was not a fun fix.  I've tried everything to keep them out but nothing works.  I finally decided to find the hottest hot sauce I can and put that all over the wires.  Maybe that will scare them away.  All that said, be praying that God would protect our house wiring and vehicle wires from rodents this spring, summer, and fall.

- With our well that is dry most of the year and the excitement our water truck guy has brought us, we've come to realize that we really can't rely on a truck making it up to our place in the winter time.  We're at the point where we should probably put up a system that captures rain and snow from our roof and pipes it to our cistern for use.  A new, deeper well would be nice but rain capture systems are a fraction of the price.  It would be nice to have water so that we can have students over and not have to worry about it running out.  (Though rain capture systems are illegal in most of Colorado due to the fact that the state doesn't believe that the water that falls on your roof is yours, they are actually legal where we are due to us having an existing well so we've been told.)  Please be praying that God would bless us with a rain capture system (and the man power to put it up) so that we can have a more consistent and much cleaner water source.

- Throughout the year, the semester can wear on you and it can be easy to find yourself discouraged at times or burning out.  It happens in just about any ministry at one point or another.  Pray that God would keep us and our staff encouraged and energized.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle.  When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle.  Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us from any spiritual attacks.  Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure.  Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- On any given year, about half of the students we work with are atheists or non-believers.  Pray that God would open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts and minds of the students we work with, especially for the ones that seem really close to coming to salvation.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement.  Currently, Rachel is having issues with her back and neck that she just soldiers thru despite the pain.  I'm having issues with a pinched nerve in my neck which sends debilitating migraine type headaches that shoot all over my head like lightning bolts.  On good days where I don't get the full-on headaches, it still keeps me pretty nauseous.  Please pray that God would keep our staff safe and healthy, and bring healing to Rachel and me.

- Rachel has picked up a little side work caretaking for her grandma after her stroke.  It helps bring in a little extra money but we are still working to get our support where it needs to be.  We trust God to provide but would appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met.  If you would like to give, go to: Give Now!