Friday, January 31, 2014

Christian Challenge January 2014 Update!

Hey team! Hope everyone is doing well! Rachel and I are doing great getting back into the swing of things. Classes have been back in session for three weeks and the ministry is running smoothly.

We’ve had a lot of positives so far. One of them being our ministry has been allowed to set up a table on campus again. We set it up once a week by the cafeteria which allows us to not only meet new students but also spend time and build relationships with students we already know.

Monday nights, FCA has been going well. Though our numbers fluctuate due to the demands of being a student-athlete, we continue to build up our athletes. We’ve been looking at the Holy Spirit and learning about that part of the trinity.

Tuesday nights, Christian Challenge has been going great as well. Second semesters always tends to bring a bit of drop-off but we really haven’t seen that this semester. We’ve covered topics like “Can God really use me?” to “How do we handle friends and family who bring stumbling blocks into our lives?” We also had Caleb Cunningham, Rachel’s cousin and one of our young adults, share about his recent mission trip to Ireland.

For our conversational English class, it’s been a bit of a challenge. Our numbers have really dropped off. We certainly have a few that we’ve really been able to pour into and encourage but we may have to make some adjustments going forward with the class in the future.

Event wise, we ended up having to cancel the worship fundraiser we were going to put on. The band that was going to come in ended up having to cancel less than two weeks before the event. Unfortunately, it was too late to bring in someone else to play despite my best efforts.

On a positive note though, our hot springs trip with the students was a hit. We ended up having twenty-three total. That was close to triple what we had last year for the event. We moved it back a week this year and I think that really helped. It was a great relaxing way to kick off the semester with the students.


We are looking forward to a packed rest of the semester. Discipling, FCA, Christian Challenge, English class, tons of events, mission trips...I have a feeling the semester is going to fly by. Pray that it’s an awesome semester and that God does great things on the campus of Fort Lewis!

Prayer Requests:

Huge praise: Though they found cancer in Jennifer’s dad, they caught it in time and were able to surgically remove it all!

For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would be transforming their hearts and minds.

That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially, to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writer's Commentary on "Now is the time to go"

So not too long ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to write an article for the internationally distributed magazine, The Climbing Way.  The magazine is published by Climbing for Christ, a mission organization I've been working with for almost 5 years now...if I remember right.

The article came out in the latest edition.  Being that the magazine is not easy to get your hands on, I've been asked to post the article on Rachel's and my blog site.  The funny thing is that I don't have the actual article as it was printed.  But I do have two draft versions of it.  I sent those two versions of the article to the editor and he took the longer of the two and cut it down so that it would fit in the magazine while also adding some pictures.

So being that I don't have the final article, I figured I could at least post both of the drafts.  If you don't have much time, you can always just read the condensed version.  If you have more time on your hands, give the extended version a read.  Don't be afraid to pass them along either if you feel like it might encourage someone.

Condensed Version: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/2014/01/now-is-time-to-gocondensed-version.html

Extended Version: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/2014/01/now-is-time-to-goextended-version.html

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike

Now is the time to go...(Extended Version)


One of the biggest misconceptions with young folks is that they’re young and they have plenty of time to do things like mission trips in the future. "There’s always next year." That’s unfortunately not always true though. There will always be something holding them back from going. There will always be an obstacle. There will always be an excuse. We as Christians need to break through that and find out what our priorities are. Are our priorities the obstacles or are our priorities God’s work? Many times, they’re not necessarily bad things. They can actually be really good things. But all too often we settle for good things when God’s got something great for us to do.

For college students, now is the time to go. Not next year. Not when they’re done with college. In truth, things don’t get easier after college. With every year, responsibilities grow. More and more is put in front of us. After college, there’s working full-time. Then maybe marriage. Making car payments and house payments. Then taking care of kids possibly. Health might start to go. Then maybe taking care of your parents when they get to that point. Things only get more complicated with less and less free time to do something like a mission trip as people get older.

Being in college, sure you have to possibly work during the summer or train if you’re in athletics but it’s still much easier to take time off to serve God on a mission trip than after college. The responsibilities most have in college are much more flexible than the responsibilities that come after college. So why wait? Why put it off till next year? I can tell you from experience that normally, the people who put it off until next year never end up going. By the time they get to next year, something else has come up. It almost always does. Life has a way of doing that.

As Christians, we desperately need a sense of urgency. No more, “I’ll do it next year.” We need to realize that the people God is calling us to reach may not have next year, especially if the Lord is calling you to a C4C trip. With the places C4C goes, these people are living in harsh conditions, in dangerous places, and without much medical care.

Whenever I go on a C4C trip, there always seems to be a natural disaster or great tragedy just beforehand where a lot of people lose their lives. Now, these things happen all the time around the world. I think I’m just more tuned in to what’s happening right before the trips so I notice them more. It’s always a reminder to me of the urgency we need to have as Christians. The people we are reaching may not have tomorrow. We may not have tomorrow. I feel like a lot of times, western Christianity has lost that urgency. We are too comfortable sitting in our churches. We have either forgotten or ignored the call on our life to go.

Now, some are reaching people right where they are at and that’s great. We need to be reaching people who are far from God and encouraging on those who are close to Him. That can happen in your home, at work, at school. But maybe, just maybe, God has something more for you. Maybe He’s calling you to not just go reach your community but to reach communities far, far away.

Years ago when I was in college, I had a strict plan and vision for my life. I wanted to do ministry in America with middle school and high school students. I wanted to be a youth pastor. As I became older and matured ever so slightly, I felt God shifting my focus to college students.

I thought to myself, “My mission field is right here in the States!” I loved overseas missions but it wasn’t for me. “America desperately needs Jesus too!” I was perfectly happy and comfortable on the path I was on doing collegiate ministry at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. It wasn’t as sexy as going overseas but having just graduated from the college, I knew how many students were falling away from their faith and the great need on college campuses for the Gospel.

It wasn’t until God brought a student into my life that my that my heart started to change on North American ministry vs. overseas ministry. I remember meeting him first at a retreat and him telling me all about this mission trip up to Denali he had been on. He glowed when he talked about it. I thought it was pretty awesome. It seemed like it was really something that impacted his life.

Later that year over Christmas break, I was watching the news and saw a report on a climber, Lygon Stevens, who had been killed in an avalanche not too far from where I lived in Colorado. While watching the news report, something caught my eye. The photos that they used were courtesy of Climbing for Christ. I immediately jumped online to research this Christian climbing organization. I soon connected the dots. The student who had talked to me about Denali was on the trip with Lygon and they had become pretty close. It had been a C4C trip.

As anyone would, the student took her death pretty hard. Over the next semester, we did a lot of talking. I heard a lot about how awesome Lygon was and a lot about how awesome C4C was.

It was through that tragic circumstance that I found C4C and decided to become a C4C member, myself. I wasn’t a climber but I certainly had a heart for people in mountainous regions and thought I could at least be praying for the mission trips going out. I’d pray for overseas missions but my mission field was still in America. God was working on my heart behind the scenes, though.

Soon, an email came into my inbox that peaked my interested about a chance to serve in a high mountain region overseas. I thought, I’ve always had a heart for that region and the people who live there. “I need more information on that trip so that I can pray for it more specifically.”

I replied to the email and Gary Fallesen sent me an application to join the expedition. I told him, “No, no, no, I just want to pray for the trip.” He told me to fill out the application and get it back to him.

So I did knowing that there was no way a non-climber would ever get accepted to go on a C4C mission trip to this region of regions for climbers. Well, a couple weeks later, I was accepted to the team. But there was no way I was going to be able to raise the funds for the trip. Well, of course that was no problem for God to do. The funding came in.

Three C4C trips later after some amazing experiences with overseas mission trips, I found myself wanting to take the college students I was working with on a mission trip overseas. I wanted to give them an opportunity to put their faith into action. Going on missions trips overseas truly changed the course of my life. I wanted that life changing experience for the students I work with. I wanted to help them get out of their comfort zones and see God grow their faith in a way that rarely happens in the comfort of America.

After a lot of prayer, I felt God leading us to the Philippines. We started plugging it with our students in early September even though the trip wasn’t until June. We figured, the more time students had to support raise the better. Well, we didn’t have people actually commit until after Christmas. The timing didn’t seem to be a problem. Though the students were a little scared of the cost of the trip, God provided the funding for them. For those students who had to raise their support for the trip, it was really a faith builder seeing God provide.

Before we knew it, June was upon us. We had a team of five from the U.S., three students, my wife, and myself. We flew to Manila where we joined with our Filipino team.  All together, it was five Americans and nine Filipinos. We were welcomed with open arms.

From there, our team headed north into the mountainous jungles of the Philippines. We hiked and climbed to villages with no roads leading to them, only footpaths. Most didn’t have electricity or running water. These places were remote. With us, we took medical supplies, school supplies and most importantly, Bibles in the local language. These villages hadn’t had a Bible in the local language in thirty years. It was a great experience for our students to be able to be part of a team that was bringing them in. There, we were able to see a people extremely thirsty for the Word and for spiritual growth.

With the mission, our C4C team was able to run the Bible outreach, a medical outreach, a women’s outreach, and a kids’ outreach. Our students focused mostly on outreach with the kids really getting to minister to the youth of the villages. One of our students, Cody, remarked after working with the kids, “I didn’t know I could have this much fun on a mission trip!”

Along those lines, as much as our students gave and poured out on the mission trip, they got much more back in return. We all felt so blessed by the people and what God was doing in these villages. I think one of everyone’s favorite moments was when we were getting ready to head out in the morning. The school children lined up and began singing a song they had been taught the day before by our team. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so...” They then finished it off with a song thanking the team. It’s something we’ll never forget.

Looking back on the trip, it was a lot harder for us Americans than we envisioned. It was humbling. It wasn’t so much the hiking or climbing but more the heat and humidity. Coming from Colorado, there’s just no way to prepare for it. A week before the trip, we were still doing our training hikes in the snow. The heat and humidity were certainly out of our comfort zone and really pushed us to rely on God. In that, we saw prayers answered daily and our faith really grown.

When we left the Philippines, even while still on the plane I thought, “We can’t bring students back soon enough.” It was such an amazing experience for our students.

People always say mission trips are life-changing and Meagan, one of our students would attest to that. When she first arrived home, she didn’t feel any different. She didn’t feel like her life had changed. As time went by, though, she realized that the perspective she received on the trip had worked its way into every aspect of her life. She realized how much it had changed her life. She now tells everyone who will listen that they need to go on a mission trip. She has so much excitement for missions now.

So with as successful as the trip was, Lord willing, this summer, we hope to take more students on C4C trips to Peru and the Philippines. Words can’t express how excited I am for that!

Jesus commanded us to go to reach our communities and even go to the ends of the earth to share the Gospel. This isn’t one of those “only if you feel like it” kind of things. It’s not a command for only other Christians. This is for all Christians. It’s a command, not a suggestion. I pray that many others will listen to that command, that calling. That they would feel the urgency to go and not wait. If you feel God calling you on a mission trip, it’s time to stop making excuses. God’s waiting to work through us. We just have to be willing to step up and go.

Now is the time to go...(Condensed Version)


One of the biggest misconceptions of the college generation today is that they have plenty of time to do things like mission trips in the future. There’s no rush, no urgency. Unfortunately, that thinking can be a dangerous place to be.

For college students, now is the time to go. Not next year. Not when they’re done with college. In truth, things don’t get easier after college. With every year, responsibilities grow. Things only get more complicated.

Sure, college students may have to work during the summer but it’s still much easier to take time off to serve God on a mission trip than waiting until after college. The responsibilities most have in college are much more flexible than the responsibilities that come after college. So why wait? I can tell you from experience that normally, the people who put it off until later never end up going. By the time they get to next year, something else has come up. It almost always does. Life has a way of doing that.

As Christians in general, we desperately need to develop a new sense of urgency. No more, “I’ll do it next year.” We need to realize that the people God is calling us to reach may not have next year.

The people God is calling us to reach may not even have tomorrow. We may not have tomorrow. I feel like a lot of times, western Christianity has lost our sense of urgency. We are far too comfortable. We have either forgotten or ignored the call on our life to go.

Now, some are reaching people right where they are at and that’s great. We need to be reaching the lost and encouraging the saved. But maybe, God has something more for you. Maybe He’s calling you to not just go reach your community but to reach communities far away.

Years ago when I was in college, I had a plan for my life. I wanted to do youth ministry in America. As I became older and matured ever so slightly, I felt God shifting my focus to college students.

I thought to myself, “My mission field is right here in the States!” I loved overseas missions but they weren’t for me. “America desperately needs Jesus too!” I was perfectly happy and comfortable on the path I was on doing collegiate ministry at Fort Lewis College in Southwest Colorado.

Eventually, God would bring Climbing for Christ into my life. It would change my perspective on reaching the ends of the earth with the Gospel forever. Three C4C trips later, I found myself wanting to take our college students on mission trips overseas. I wanted to give them an opportunity to put their faith into action.

Going on missions trips overseas truly changed the course of my life. I wanted that life changing experience for the students I work with. I wanted to help them get out of their comfort zones and see God grow their faith in a way that rarely happens in the comfort of America.

After a lot of prayer, I felt God leading us to the Philippines. Before we knew it, the mission trip was upon us. We flew to Manila where we joined with C4C Philippines. We were welcomed with open arms.

From there, our team headed north into the mountainous jungles. We hiked and climbed to villages with no roads leading to them, only footpaths. Most didn’t have electricity or running water. These places were remote. With us, we took medical supplies, school supplies and most importantly, Bibles in the local language. These villages hadn’t had a Bible in the local language in thirty years.

With the mission, our C4C team was able to run the Bible outreach, a medical outreach, a women’s outreach, and a kids’ outreach. Our students focused mostly on outreach ministering to the youth of the villages.

As much as our students gave and poured out on the mission trip, they got much more back in return. We all felt so blessed by the people and what God was doing in these villages.

Looking back on the trip, it wasn’t easy. It was humbling. The trip really pushed us to rely on God. In that, we saw prayers answered daily and our faith really grown.

When we left the Philippines, even while still on the plane I thought, “We can’t bring students back soon enough.” It was such an amazing experience.

Meagan, one of our students would say it was even life-changing. When she first arrived home, initially she didn’t feel any different. As time went by, she realized that the perspective she received on the trip had worked its way into every aspect of her life. She realized how much it had changed her. She now tells everyone who will listen that they need to go on a mission trip. She shares about her experience with such a passion and excitement.

In the Bible, Jesus commanded us to go to reach the world with the Gospel. This is for all Christians. It’s a command, not a suggestion. I pray that many others will listen to that command, that calling. That they would feel the urgency to go and not wait. God’s waiting to work through us. We just have to be willing to step up and go.