Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christian Challenge March Update 2013!

Hello Team! Isn’t the spring weather just beautiful? March has been an exciting month. The month started off with Josh Story returning to full-time status as he took eight students down to Dallas, TX. They spent their spring break serving the inner city kids and house churches in the area. All of the students came back sharing how their hearts had been changed.

Mike worked up at the mountain over spring break to maintain his friendships and witness there as well as raise some money for our upcoming Philippines Mission. This gave me a chance to travel to Colorado Springs and see my family. That certainly was much needed.

We closed out the month with celebrating our risen Savior. We stand amazed at what He did on the cross for each one of us. Let us not lose sight of that throughout the year but remember daily the sacrifice given for us so we might live!

Easter Weekend started off with a showing of Passion of the Christ and our annual Easter Eve snowshoe service up at Andrew’s Lake, 10,800 ft. in elevation. Thirteen of us went this year and five stayed on to camp out. This was a great time to reflect on what Christ has done for us and how every sin we have committed in the past, or will ever commit, was nailed to the cross. We burned our sins (written on pieces of paper) in our bonfire resembling them being nailed to the cross. They are forgiven, gone, taken care of.

Easter Morning, we awoke to a frosty landscape as the sun was rising. I couldn’t help but be joyful and full of praise as I stood in His creation, the sun rising. He is risen! We snowshoed our way back to the car and headed straight to church. "N", the guy Mike met over unplugging his computer power cord, came with us.  He invited a friend of his as well.  Praise the Lord!

We certainly have so much to be thankful for as we look back on this past month!

“He is not here, He is risen, just as He said.” Matt. 28:6a

Prayer Requests:

-We have a month left of school. Pray for energy and opportunities to continue sharing the good news, as well as loving on students.
-We have guys and girls retreats before the end of the semester. Pray students are encouraged and grow through them.
-This is our last month with the Japanese students before they head home.  Pray that seeds planted would start growing and bearing fruit.
-Pray as we get back into support raising. If you know of anyone who would be interested in hearing more about what God is doing through the ministry, please let us know.

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Friday, March 29, 2013

Some Good Friday Thoughts

In the spirit of Good Friday, I thought I would finally get around to writing this post.  It's something that's been on my mind for a long time.  I figure this is a good time to get this out.

Anyway, Good Friday is a time to remember the death of Christ and to look forward to His resurrection.  It was a game-changer.  2,000 years ago, the world as changed forever.  Eternity was impacted.  Hope was about to emerge out of great despair.  Can you imagine the hopelessness, the despair the disciples must have felt after seeing Christ die on the cross?  Yeah, the guy they had put all their hope in killed right in front of their eyes.  Thankfully, that feeling of despair would all change days later.  Hope would soon spring forth changing eternity for millions of people over the generations to come.

Today is a day of great sorrow, yet also great celebration.  Thousands of years ago, Christ willingly went to the cross to endure severe pain and torture.  He took our sin upon Himself and became the sacrifice we deserved to be so that we could connect back to God.  He basically stepped in front of a bullet for us out of the great love He has for us.  He was an innocent man without sin who paid the penalty for our own sin.  I've been a Christian for a long time and I'm still blown away by the love humanity was shown through Christ's actions.  And in that, knowing myself, I'm also blown away by the love and blessing He has shown me.

Throughout my week, I get the privilege of hanging out with my pastor a lot.  Through meeting for coffee, small group, and Sundays at church, I get to hear his perspective and wisdom on things quite a bit.  It's great stuff and such an encouragement in my life.

Some of the things that have stuck with me lately were the parables in Matthew 13.  The parables about the pearl and hidden treasure to be more specific.  In both of the parables, a man finds something of great worth.  He then sells all he has so that he can buy that object of great worth.

Now, I have always read those verses as our relationship with Christ and our salvation in Him is worth giving up everything to obtain and pursue.  There is nothing greater or worth having that is more important than our treasure in Christ.  What a great truth that is!

My pastor turned that around, though.  What if we look at those parables through the lens of us being the great treasure?  Did Christ not give up everything to save us?  Christ sold or gave up everything so that He could buy us out of the slavery of sin.  One doesn't just willingly go through the torture of a crucifixion just for the heck of it.  He saw something worth saving.  He paid the ultimate price to buy us out of bondage so that we could be free from sin and have eternal life in Him.  To Christ, we are a great treasure worth giving up everything to save.

There is no such thing as a nobody in the Kingdom of God.  There are no untouchables, no worthless people.  Christ sees past the dirt, mud, and even manure in our lives to see the gold and diamonds underneath.  And the awesome thing is that He doesn't leave us covered with the imperfections and impurities but He refines us if we let Him when we invite Him into our lives.

You don't find gold and just cast it aside because it's a little dirty.  No, when you find it, you clean it off, melt it down and turn it into something of use.  As is it with Christ, you don't have to wait to be clean of dirt before you decide to follow Him.  No, you come to Him caked in mud and hard rock with all your imperfections.  Out of His love, He sees the treasure within and will break away the hard rock, clean away the dirt, and smelt the imperfections out of you over time.

It not always a fast or painless process.  We are all works in progress for sure.  It's not always easy.  Sometimes, it's downright hard...but even with that, it's still worth it.  It is a treasure worth giving up everything for just as Christ gave up everything for the treasure He found in us.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Guest Post by Meagan Prins

Magandang hapon. Want to take a stab at what language that is? It means “good afternoon”. It is a good afternoon, in fact. A good afternoon to write about something that has been sitting inside me a long time, waiting to make an appearence.

I believe in miracles. I don’t believe in chance, or dumb luck, or utter coincidences. I believe in purpose. The craziest part of those statements is that, because I do believe that everthing happens for a reason, I have to admit to a higher power controlling the stream of my life. Sometimes I have to raise the anchor, depart, and let Him steer me towards a different shore.

A lot of people probobly think that I am a control freak. In high school, my sophomore year, I had a party at my house after the first football game of the season. My mom made popcorn and carmel apples and hot cider, and we played poker and hung out on my back porch. But I didn’t have any fun, because the whole time I was concerned with making sure everyone else was having a good time. That and making sure my friends weren’t making a mess or waking up the neighbors. I wanted to make sure things didn’t get out of control. (From this, I learned it is far more fun to go to parties than to host them.)

I guess I live my life this way. Despite being a relatively flexible person, I want control of my life. I want to know where I am going, to learn from where I have been, and to make decisions that will affect the rest of my life with a clear and level head. It scares me, everyday, waking up not knowing totally what is going to happen to me next. It’s been one of the hardest things I have ever done, and am still doing, learning how to let God have the steering wheel.

He could press the gas, or drop the anchor, at any point in time.

I guess you could say that I am becoming a sail boat. I can no longer be a canoe, trying to cross a vast ocean with my own paddles. But I do not want to be a speed boat, either, crashing into waves so quickly that I miss the beauty of the water lapping against the wood. I want God to be my wind, and Him to fill my sails, and carry me to where he wants me to be.

Three or four months ago, if you told me I was going to the Philippines for a week and a half in June, I would have called you crazy. I would have told you there was no way I would have time to do that. Yet, here I am, starting to become a sailboat.

June 3rd until June 16th, I will be wrapped up in one of the most impactful and amazing journeys of my short life so far. Hiking up into the mountains to deliver medical supplies, Bibles, and the gospel to small villages on the main island of the Philippines, north of Manilla, there will be lush green hills, waterfalls, and smiling locals. I feel so incredibly blessed to get to spend even just a small pinch of my time with these people. Or more importantly, that I get a chance to be a piece to the puzzle of these people’s lives.

I would use the word blessed, not lucky. I’m blessed with words, not lucky to have them. I’m blessed to go on a mission, not lucky that I just happened upon it.

I’m in a tapestry, see. My life is a thread that is meant to intertwine with others, here in Colorado, and soon enough, the Philippines. I don’t know if in that moment, when I set off on this grand adventure/quest if the thread will be gold, or if it will be black, or if it will be red. I don’t know if I will have a blast, or if I will be shaken, or if I will come back a very different person.

I do think, though, that the thread will be green. Green, for growth. No matter what happens, whether I am able to change someone’s life or help heal someone who is sick or love on a needy child, or even if I just get to sit and talk to someone, just to tell them they are important and that God loves them, then this will be a success.

Then all of this striving, and searching, will be worth it.

I wish I could tell you more what the ocean is going to look like, for me. I wish that I could say what is going to happen. But like I said, I don’t know if the waters are going to be rough or if they are going to be smooth. I have to sail, anyways.

I think I am starting to feel free, knowing tomorrow is unknown. What could happen?

This I know:

1) I am listening to this fabulous song called “Keep Your Head Up” by Ben Howard.
2) God is in control. I am not.
3) You cannot hope to discover new lands unless you  have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
4) In two months, I will be on a 14 hour flight to Manilla, Philippines, more excited than I have ever been before.
5) I love. I am loved. Do I even need anything else?
6) There are endings, and beginnings. They go hand in hand.
7) I am a sailboat and a green thread.

Things I do not know:

1) What is going to happen tomorrow.
2) What my favorite book is.

I think I am ok with that. It’s scary. But someone once said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” I think they are big enough to scare me.

The ocean is big. God is bigger.

And I’m just a little green sailboat, on my way to the islands.

(P.S. Mangadang hapon is Filipino. Good afternoon!)

*Meagan is one of our FCA student-athletes.  She plays basketball for Fort Lewis College and is currently finishing up her freshman year in Durango.  This post came from where Meagan's blog can be found.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Losing our Foundation

We were talking at FCA the other night about how important it is to have the Bible in our lives and the Bible in our churches.  It is our foundation...or at least it should be.  We talked about what life and church would look like without the Bible.  Well, it would be a life and church without a solid foundation.

One of our students equated it to playing Telephone as a little kid.  He was right.  In college ministry, we take Telephone a step further nowadays.  We add Pictionary to it as well and call it, of course, Telephone Pictionary.  Very original, I know.  We still play it with our students.  It's a fantastically hilarious game.  You start out by writing a sentence.  You pass your stack of small papers with your sentence on the top one to the right.  Those on the right are then supposed to draw the sentence.  After that, you pass to the right again where the next person writes a sentence about what they see in the pictures.  The stack of papers go around the circle until they are back with their original owner.  It's pretty funny how different the pictures are at the end compared to the first sentence.  You can look through the steps it took to get to the final product and it will give you a really good laugh.

This is so true as people move further and further away from the Bible, though the results are not comical.  The further lives and churches get away from their foundation, their sense of truth crumbles.  It gets twisted and distorted until one day, the final product resembles nothing like the original.  You can barely even tell that the original existed at all.  In some cases, there is simply no trace of the original.  And in that, it has lost it's power to change and transform lives.  It's lost all power to make an impact.

I've been reading a book recently called, Eternity in their Hearts.  It's been a really eye opening book so far.  I'm not through the whole thing so I can't recommend it yet, but so far, so good.  In it, the author talks about the fingerprints God has left on cultures all around the world.  In many of his examples, he searched out the beliefs from cultures worldwide to find a belief in a great creator who created all things.  He then would look at the culture's creation story.  In so many cases, the creation story was almost exactly the same as that of the book of Genesis.  Now, it wasn't ever word for word but a lot of times, it was pretty close.  One of the cultures he studied was that of the Karen people.

According to the author of the book, the Karen were a people who lived in Burma.  They didn't consider themselves Burmese though.  They were a minority living in that country.  They were persecuted by the Burmese for different reasons, one of them being that they clung to their folk religion and wouldn't convert to Buddhism.  As more was gathered about these people, they found a people who believed in a supreme being and creator named Y'wa.  It doesn't take a huge jump to see the resemblance to Yahweh, another name for the Jewish and Christian God.  It immediately jumped out at me when I read over it.  The author doesn't stop there, though.

He goes on to tell the Karen creation story.  The people believed that Y'wa created two people in the beginning.  They were given all the food and drink they needed.  There was a "tree of trial" they were not supposed to eat from.  It was a command from Y'wa.  But they were deceived by an evil spirit lurking in the garden.  They ate the fruit, and sickness and death entered into the world because of it.  Due to the act of them eating from the tree of trial, they were separated from Y'wa for generations to come.  With that separation, they turned to evil spirits to worship.  Still, they believed that one day, they would be reconciled with Y'wa.  There was even a prophecy in the culture that one day, a white foreigner would bring a book that would teach them how to reunite with their creator.

Yeah, that's pretty crazy stuff.  It really blew my mind, the similarities between their creation story and that of the Bible.  And while that story survived, they had still walked away from their foundation and served evil spirits.  Without a foundation, they believed that they could only serve the evil spirit that deceived the first two humans.

In my mind, these people at one point once had the full Truth of God.  Maybe, they took off from the source either before it was ever written down, or they took off and didn't bring the written Word of God with them.  Maybe, they had the Word written down and lost it.  Another possibility was that it was just passed on by a traveler passing through.  Whichever way it came to them, they had to rely on oral tradition to pass it on from there.  They basically played Telephone over the generations with their spiritual beliefs and truths.  Some things survived but most didn't.  Most was left behind, forgotten, or changed.

They didn't have most of the Old Testament.  (They certainly didn't have the New Testament either.)  Think of all they lost in that.  King David wrote about how he delighted in dwelling and meditating on the law and commands of the Lord day and night.  The Karen had lost those commands on how to live and how to stay close to God.  All they were left with was a creation story and a small glimmer of hope that one day, they might be able to reconnect with their creator.  They had long lost how to connect with him in their day to day lives.  They had lost the power and impact that connecting daily with God, brings into a life.

Many people in America are in the same position as the Karen people were.  They have lost their foundation.  Churches and people alike have lost the daily impact that only God's Truth can bring.  The saddest thing is that in this nation, the Bible is right at our fingertips but we instead choose to let it gain dust on our bookshelves.  That's if we even keep it there.  Might be safer to keep it in a box in storage.  Wouldn't want anyone to see it on our bookshelf.  I find more and more "mature" Christians that don't even know what the Bible teaches.  They rely on word of mouth, Telephone spirituality.  We have no idea what the Bible says because we don't read it in our homes and we don't preach it in our churches.

Some might say it's because people are lazy.  Some might say it's because people don't care.  Some might even say that people don't want to know what it has to say because they want to keep doing what they want.  In reality, it's probably a bit of all of those.

Surely, it's no wonder that Christianity is on the ropes and heading toward life support in this nation at an alarming rate.  When we don't know what it says, we lose our moral compass.  We become duped by whatever spiritual snake oil salesman catches our ear.  Over the years, we have walked further and further away from our spiritual foundation, the Word of God.  It has become about not what God  wants but what we want.  If what God wants doesn't fit with what we want, we just throw it out.  We want our own truth, not God's.  In that, we make ourselves a god.  Sadly, our truths are empty and powerless.

We have left a Truth that was spoken by a being powerful enough to create us and our universe, a Truth that says and shows He loves us with that same backing and power.  Think about that.  God spoke the universe into being.  Think of how much power and strength one must have behind their words to do that.  When He says he loves us, His words carry that same power and enthusiasm.  Yet, with our words and our actions, we have told Him, "You don't know what you're talking about.  I have a better understanding on right and wrong than you do.  I don't need your foundation and guidance." 

When I first started writing this blog post, my thought process was pondering something I thought was hypothetical.  I wanted to talk about how blessed we were to have the Word of God at our fingertips.  Well, we are blessed to have the Bible, unlike many other cultures and nations.  As I thought about it though, I saw that the question we were asking was not hypothetical...a life, a church, a nation without the Bible.

The truth is, that is where many of us who call ourselves Christians are at.  We have the Word but we don't use it, and we don't apply it to our lives.  So often, we pick and choose what we like or what is easy from the Bible and throw away what is hard.  We are good with just having knowledge.  Francis Chan uses the illustration of telling his daughter to clean her room.  When he tells her that, he doesn't want her to come back and tell him that she memorized what he told her to do.  He doesn't want her to get her friends together and study what it would look like if she cleaned her room.  He doesn't want her to learn how to say what he told her to do in Greek.  Those things aren't terrible.  They actually could be a good things but they are useless if they she never actually cleans her room.  It's the same way with the Bible.  Our knowledge and understanding of it is useless if we don't attempt to put it into practice.

In so many instances across this nation, we don't apply it to our churches or communities.  We find our churches weak or even dead; not strong, vibrant, and alive.  There is no impact on the community around us.  All this because we have left or ignored our foundation.  We have disconnected ourselves from God.  But just like the Karen, there is a glimmer of hope that one day, our so-called Christian nation might reconnect with God...only we don't have to wait for a foreigner to bring us the Truth.  We are blessed enough to already have it sitting on most of our bookshelves at home.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mission: Philippines...a first look.

 Dear friends & family,

    How’s it going? We hope this letter finds you well. We wanted to give an update on our June mission trip.  When Rachel and I began doing collegiate ministry full-time with Christian Challenge, a goal of ours was to do summer mission trips with our students, to provide an opportunity for students to put their faith into action across the world.

    The Lord has opened the door for us to take students to the Philippines this summer with Climbing for Christ. The trip is June 3rd-16th. We will set out to backpack/hike from mountainous village to mountainous village. There are no roads to these villages, only foot-paths. With us, we will bring Bibles in the local language, discipleship materials, medical supplies, and school supplies.

    Our team will be teaching on the importance of the Bible, and sharing the Gospel with those who have not yet heard.  We will be holding VBS for the children and holding medical clinics for the community.

    The coolest part of this mission is that Climbing for Christ has a very big chapter already in the Philippines. So wherever we go, we know that local Filipino believers will be following up and discipling. Between 4-7 of our team members will be from the United States, the other 8-11 will be Filipino.

    The Philippines is considered the only Christian nation in Asia. But when you visit its many islands and provinces, you find there are still many Filipinos who have yet to come to know Christ.

    “In Luzon, in the mountains of the north where tribal people still live with no electricity and farm the mountain slopes, animism and the worship of animals, elements of nature and their ancestor’s spirits are still practiced. The lack of spiritual guidance and growth has caused many tribal people to get involved in crime and illegal activities. This has resulted in more poverty and lawlessness that affects the progress of mountain communities.

    Despite the efforts of many Christian missionaries through the years, the Philippines still have many tribal communities that are considered unreached or have never heard the name of Christ. Sharing God’s love has been made difficult by deeply rooted traditions, culture, beliefs, and the many religions that are preached. There is a great need for more people to pray for more doors of opportunity to open to share the Gospel to many more Filipinos because we are not yet the Christian Nation that we are named to be. We are a nation that is still in need of Christ.” -Ace Concordia, C4C Philippines Coordinator

    We will keep you up-to-date as the trip gets closer.  Thank you for teaming up and partnering with us!  We love you guys!

Overall cost per person: ~ $1950
$100: for food, transportation & lodging in-country
$150: for Bibles in local language
$1500: for airfare
$200: for shots and medications

We have $2600 already raised and are picking up random odd jobs here and there outside of ministry to bring in cash to pay for the trip. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us? All donations are tax deductible through Climbing for Christ and/or North American Mission Board.

How to partner with us:
If you feel led to team up with us financially on the trip, you can make a check out to Climbing for Christ, Inc. Make sure you put “Mike and Rachel Wall” in the memo line. Checks can be sent to:

Climbing for Christ, Inc.
P.O. Box 16290
Rochester, NY 14616-0290

You can also give online by looking on the right side of this page.  You may have to scroll up or down a bit.  Click the link “Giving Online” on the right side of the page.  Then click, “Give Now!” on the next page.  Follow the directions on the page from there.  Thanks for your support!

Prayer Needs:
-Pray that the Holy Spirit would be preparing the hearts of the Filipino people in the mountain villages for the Gospel.
-Pray for our team’s safety.
-Pray for our students as they prepare for the trip and raise support for it.
-Pray that our funding for the trip would come in as well.  We are close but still have a bit of ground to cover.

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

A Past Update Overdue

Something that we haven't addressed with many of you but many of you may be wondering... Why did our plans change this past summer for the month of July?  Originally we were supposed to be overseas for a bit this past summer.  Well, that didn't happen.  We were thrown quite the curveball.

Due us planning a trip to a new location this summer, it's been on my heart to address the circumstances of us staying home in the States this past summer.  With the sensitive nature of our past project, I can only give a few vague details online.  Feel free to talk to us in person if you have any questions.

Now, the location we had been visiting had never been "safe" so to speak but leading up to last summer, the area we were going to became even more dangerous due to rioting and crackdowns.

I apologize for not getting this out sooner online to many of you but with the nature of what we are dealing with, it was hard to know what to say or how much to say.  There is much I hold back even now.

We will try and keep everyone updated on here as much as possible but may still hold off on snail mail about this subject as pretty much all of our resources have gone into support raising for the collegiate work we are doing.  Unfortunately, we are still at a point in our support raising efforts where money is pretty tight...especially when it comes to sending out mail with stamps always going up in price.  Still, we will try and do our best to keep everyone updated on the situation.  Just keep lifting it all up if you would.

With that trip postponed indefinitely, we have found another area to work in this summer.  We are extremely excited and looking forward to what the future holds.  We will have more info on the new trip soon.