Crimea, day 5

A good marriage requires good LISTENING skills!

A good marriage requires good LISTENING skills (says the queen of object lessons!)

Our friend and son of Bishop Grabovenko from the largest Russian network of pastors, David Grabovenko arrived this morning and helped translate some marriage discussion exercises we gave the pastors.

Our friend and son of Bishop Grabovenko from the largest Russian network of pastors, David Grabovenko arrived this morning and helped translate some marriage discussion exercises we gave the pastors.

Of course, Anna (center) was our primary interpreter for the entire seminar-

Of course, Anna (center) was our primary interpreter for the entire seminar – we’ve loved her since our first visit to Russia over 7-8 years ago.

This Russian pastor became a 'punching bag' to illustrate what happens when we attack our spouse verbally.

This Russian pastor became a ‘punching bag’ to illustrate what happens when we attack our spouse verbally.

Again tonight as an icebreaker, we had couples take a turn at Jenga after they shared a principle they learned during the seminar

Again tonight as an icebreaker, we had the pastor couples take a turn at Jenga after they shared a principle they learned during the seminar

The highlight of the seminar came at the close when each pastor couple renewed their marriage vows - lots of love & hugs in the room tonight!

The highlight of the seminar came at the close when each pastor couple renewed their marriage vows – lots of love & hugs in the room tonight!

I love witnessing those 'special moments' with faithful shepherds!

I love witnessing those ‘special moments’ with faithful shepherds!

 

This 14-year old boy has an amazing gift for art, and he surprised us with a beautiful pencil drawing!

This 14-year old boy has an amazing gift for art, and he surprised us with a beautiful pencil drawing!

Bishop Edward leads the largest network of Russian churches and was unable to join us, but his wife Larissa was SO encouraging to us with her kindness throughout the retreat !

Bishop Edward leads the largest network of Russian churches and was unable to join us, but his wife Larissa was SO encouraging to us with her kindness throughout the retreat!

Of course, we couldn't have ministered at all without our interpreter-friend, Anna!

Of course, we couldn’t have ministered at all without our interpreter-friend, Anna!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll be headed to the airport in a couple of hours, feeling quite fulfilled in this ministry assignment – but can’t wait for this “Generosity Sunday” at each campus of CLC – it’s going to be a GREAT close to our “Moneywise” series – hope you’ll bring a friend!

Crimea, day 4

This little guy has captured my eye each day, but he's too bashful to pose for my camera!

This little guy has captured my eye each day, but he’s too bashful to pose for my camera!

Each teaching time always begins with some worship - today led by our friend, Pastor Sergei from Perm (he's coming to visit us at CLC in a few weeks)

Each teaching time always begins with some worship – today led by our friend, Pastor Sergei from Perm (he’s coming to visit us at CLC in a few weeks)

This afternoon we had separate sessions for men and women - and these guys kept me on my toes with their questions!

This afternoon we had separate sessions for men and women – and these guys kept me on my toes with their questions!

To open tonight's session, we used a balloon game where each table had to keep their balloon in the air without using their hands

To open tonight’s session, we used a balloon game where each table had to keep their balloon in the air without using their hands

I gotta tell you: they were competitive! And they kept those balloons in the air much longer than I expected-

I gotta tell you: they were competitive! And they kept those balloons in the air much longer than I expected-

It was important to have a little fun & release some stress, because tonight's teaching was pretty intense as we challenged each couple to examine their own relationship for "hidden" dangers

It was important to have a little fun & release some stress, because tonight’s teaching was pretty intense as we challenged each couple to examine their own relationship for “hidden” dangers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have two more sessions tomorrow afternoon and evening before heading back to the airport for the first of three flights that will get us home on Thursday afternoon.  Thanks for your prayers – we feel it’s going very well based on the responses from these precious pastors!

Crimea, day 3

Chris reminded us all that we sometimes have to REFOCUS in marriage, to see what our partner is doing right, instead of only what they do wrong! (the Queen of illustrations strikes again)

Chris reminded us all that we sometimes have to REFOCUS in marriage, to see what our partner is doing right, instead of only what they do wrong! (the Queen of illustrations strikes again)

We began the retreat with an icebreaker where each wife kissed her husband's face as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The winner was determined by counting the 'lips' on his face.

We began the retreat with an icebreaker where each wife kissed her husband’s face as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The winner was determined by counting the ‘lips’ on his face.

and the Russians REALLY got into this contest!

and the Russians REALLY got into this contest!

The winning couple (although the lighting in this pic doesn't reveal it) - they said they won because he had more space on his face than anyone else (his bald head!)

The winning couple (although the lighting in this pic doesn’t reveal it) – they said they won because he had more space on his face than anyone else (his bald head!)      

another of the couples in an icebreaker game before tonight's session began-

another of the couples in an icebreaker game before tonight’s session began-

 

 

 

 

This is just ONE of the pastoral couples who have touched our hearts. Their story of sacrifice and faith really inspired us today-

This is just ONE of the pastoral couples who have touched our hearts. Their story of sacrifice and faith really inspired us today-

just before Chris concluded our teaching tonight I took this shot of a few of the pastors in attendance

just before Chris concluded our teaching tonight I took this shot of a few of the pastors in attendance-

 

 

 

Crimea, day 2

Of course I always think our KidsLife kids are the cutest in the world, but these Crimean kids are stiff competition - CUTE!

Of course I always think our KidsLife kids are the cutest in the world, but these Crimean kids are stiff competition – CUTE!

The worship team today in Crimea - I didn't know any of the songs they sang, but I sure knew the Spirit they entertained!

The worship team today in Crimea – I didn’t know any of the songs they sang, but I sure knew the Spirit they entertained!

Anna is our veteran interpreter from the New Testament Church of Perm, and with her help today we saw 8-10 adults stand to give their hearts to Jesus after the Word!

Anna is our veteran interpreter from the New Testament Church of Perm, and with her help today we saw 8-10 adults stand to give their hearts to Jesus after the Word!

We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Crimean specialties (the bread will be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb - take my word for it!) with our host Pastor Sergei (in center w/striped shirt) and his friend, an Armenian pastor who also owns the restaurant where we ate.

We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Crimean specialties (the bread will be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb – take my word for it!) with our host Pastor Sergei (in center w/striped shirt) and his friend, an Armenian pastor who also owns the restaurant where we ate (at the left) – Pastor Sergei’s wife at the right.

They insisted on taking us for a walking tour of their town, situated right on the Black Sea.

They insisted on taking us for a walking tour of their town, situated right on the Black Sea.

We were especially fascinated with their story of the Crimean Karaites, a small group who claim to be Jews.  Their synagogue pictured here is hundreds of years old.

We were especially fascinated with their story of the Crimean Karaites, a small group who claim to be Jews. Their synagogue pictured here is hundreds of years old.

There was a whole section of town dedicated to these people and we couldn't resist a little fun pic to end our day here.

There was a whole section of town dedicated to these people and we couldn’t resist a little fun pic to end our day here.  The real ‘fun’ starts tomorrow with the pastor’s retreat where we’ll be ministering twice a day.  

Crimea, day 1

For some reason this lake near the Black Sea attracts many, many SWANS, and our hosts thought you'd like to see-

For some reason this lake near the Black Sea attracts many, many SWANS, and our hosts thought you’d like to see-

We always insist on our CLC missions trips to include one “fun day” for the team to do some sightseeing or local activities – but when Chris and I travel for missions, we seldom practice what we preach.  But this trip is an exception,  and today was our fun day before the ministry begins tomorrow. (It would have been more fun had we checked the weather forecast this week instead of last week.  We packed nothing but long-sleeved shirts only to get here and discover that the forecast had changed and high’s are in the 90’s for our entire stay!)  Oh well, the joys of international travel.

But what was fun was our 11-hour excursion that enabled us to see practically the entire Crimean peninsula and some breathtaking views of the Black Sea, as well as a delicious lunch with our friends here.  But the highlight was a visit to Livadia Palace, the site of the Yalta Conference.

It’s past our bedtime now and we’re fighting jetlag to boot, but if you’re not familiar with the Yalta Conference, read about it here.  It was neat to be at the site of some US & World history  and we even got a picture to prove it:

Posing with the main characters of the conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt & Joseph Stalin (at the monument outside the Livadia Palace)

Posing with the main characters of the conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt & Joseph Stalin (at the monument outside the Livadia Palace)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took lots more pictures, but it’s late and we have a full day of ministry tomorrow, with a marriage seminar at a local church added to the schedule unexpectedly – that’s another rule of missions trips: always be flexible.

I’ll post again tomorrow-

To Russia, with love…

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Chris and I will board a Swiss Air jet in a few hours for an overnight flight to Zurich, then another flight to Moscow, and finally an S7 Airways flight to Simferopol, Crimea.  This will be our first visit to Ukraine (or what was a part of Ukraine before being ‘annexed’ by Russia a few years ago).

We’re looking forward to a reunion with several pastor friends from the Perm, Russia region who will help us conduct a pastor’s retreat for some faithful Crimean pastors who have labored in very difficult circumstances.

We DO love these Russian pastors after several previous visits to various parts of their country, so please pray that we can both encourage and challenge the Crimean pastors in fulfilling their ministry.  I’m not sure we’ll have internet access while there, but I’ll certainly try to keep you posted if we do.

 

You’ve seen the pictures…..now it’s time to help!

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Sometimes we must do MORE than pray.  If you’ve seen the pictures I’ve seen, I know your heart is moved for the people whose lives have been turned upside-down by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Take a moment to read this article to see how desperate the need.

CLC has a missions partner already on the ground serving people in the affected areas – every penny you give will go to help them.  The simplest way to donate is our text to give option: Simply text “Give $Dollar Amount” (ex. Give $100) to (708) 265-3315

Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.

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Siberia, day 6: headed home!

Chris and I board our first flight early this morning in Siberia (Tuesday evening in Chicago) and should arrive at O’Hare Wednesday afternoon.  The media team here in Novokuznetsk provided us with some pics from our time here, so I thought I’d give you a hodgepodge of our experience with this wonderful congregation:

Hey, if you can't have fun in church, where can you?

Hey, if you can’t have fun in church, where can you?  It’s always a good sign the teaching is connecting when people are laughing!

...an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my jokes...

…an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my humor…

of course, there are more serious moments...

of course, there are more serious moments…

....and you can't just talk off the top of your head....

….and you can’t just talk off the top of your head….

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past…

I'm a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

I’m a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

That’s all – see you soon for another installment of “God@the Movies”!

 

Siberia, day 5

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight's seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men.  The leader of the orphanage they're developing, Oleg, is at the far left.  Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight’s seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men. The leader of the orphanage they’re developing, Oleg, is at the far left. Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we're standing on the bridge YOU BUILT!  The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did - it's all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we’re standing on the bridge YOU BUILT! The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did – it’s all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

We then spent 3 hours with Pastors Ilya and Janet Bantseev and their board, discussing the whole multi-site model of ministry that CLC uses and that they’ve been considering.

Tonight is our final assignment for this trip, as we teach a 3-hour seminar to their young adults.  Then we’ll grab a little sleep before heading to the airport at 5am (Tuesday at 5pm in Chicago).  Thanks for all your prayers – see you soon!

Siberia, day 4

First, we visited their Teen Challenge Women's Center, where they help women who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or prostitution to meet Jesus and get the help they need. Chris taught about a dozen of these women at a chapel service.

First, we visited their Teen Challenge Women’s Center, where they help women who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or prostitution to meet Jesus and get the help they need. Chris taught about a dozen of these women at a chapel service.

I loved seeing the HUNGER of these new converts, as they read with Chris in THEIR Bibles and took notes of everything she taught!

I loved seeing the HUNGER of these new converts, as they read with Chris in THEIR Bibles and took notes of everything she taught!

The women have classes in this classroom, to help them finish school, learn Bible subjects, and more.

The women have classes in this classroom, to help them finish school, learn Bible subjects, and more.

They're also taught practical skills, like jewelry making & sewing, which enables them to do fundraising to help with the expense of the center.

They’re also taught practical skills, like jewelry making & sewing, which enables them to do fundraising to help with the expense of the center.

The Women's Center also cares for the children of these women who escaped their abusive backgrounds.

The Women’s Center also cares for the children of these women who escaped their abusive backgrounds.

The Director of the center and some of her staff presented us with a Russian "nesting doll" as a gift! (fed us a great lunch, too!)

The Director of the center and some of her staff presented us with a Russian “nesting doll” as a gift! (fed us a great lunch, too!)

Most importantly, Chris was asked to counsel with this young pregnant mom who has faced serious rejection, drug use, etc. - but we believe her life is being changed!  (Aksana our interpreter is in the center)

Most importantly, Chris was asked to counsel with this young pregnant mom who has faced serious rejection, drug use, etc. – but we believe her life is being changed! (Aksana our interpreter is in the center)

Then tonight we taught a parenting seminar to a PACKED room (kept bringing in more chairs as people kept arriving!) - Pastor Ilya Bantseev is in the front row at the left.

Then tonight we taught a parenting seminar to a PACKED room (kept bringing in more chairs as people kept arriving!) – Pastor Ilya Bantseev is in the front row at the left.

For three solid hours, we taught parenting principles from Scripture (with Aksana's help translating)

For three solid hours, we taught parenting principles from Scripture (with Aksana’s help translating)

Chris was a great hit with her teaching, as always, and we did a Q&A session that seemed to seal the evening on such a practical note.  After hearing from the pastors about the needs of families here in Russia, we feel the Lord is bringing about real breakthrough for the families of this ministry!

Chris was a great hit with her teaching, as always, and we did a Q&A session that seemed to seal the evening on such a practical note. After hearing from the pastors about the needs of families here in Russia, we feel the Lord is bringing about real breakthrough for families of this ministry!

 

Siberia, day 3

Some of the congregation at one of the four weekend services here in Novokuznetsk - so neat to hear songs we know being sung in Russian!

Some of the congregation at one of the four weekend services here in Novokuznetsk – so neat to hear songs we know being sung in Russian!

The praise team may be small, but they're a talented bunch! The man in the microphone can shred a lead guitar!

The praise team may be small, but they’re a talented bunch! The man in the microphone can shred a lead guitar!

Chris preaching here that unforgiveness gives the enemy legal access to us - he can then bind us up! (Aksana on the right is her interpreter; the young woman was a volunteer for the illustration)

Chris preaching here that unforgiveness gives the enemy legal access to us – he can then bind us up! (Aksana on the right is her interpreter; the young woman was a volunteer for the illustration)

After Chris' message in the 10am service, these two ladies gave their heart to the Lord, as a deacon led them in the sinner's prayer!

After Chris’ message in the 10am service, these two ladies gave their heart to the Lord, as a deacon led them in the sinner’s prayer!

The 5pm service featured an entirely different praise team, and they were just as talented as the first!

The 5pm service featured an entirely different praise team, and they were just as talented as the first!

Chris preached her heart out at the 5pm service, and it seemed almost everyone in the building responded to the altar invitation!  God is working in Siberia, and we feel privileged to be a small part of it!!

But we’re also thinking of home, so if you attended a service at any CLC campus today, please leave us a comment as to what you most enjoyed or how the Lord ministered to you through God@the Movies or the Watoto choir-

Siberia, day 2

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

His visit this year coincided with our visit for this Family Conference, and he told me in between sessions that his marriage of 40 years is having difficulties now that he and his wife are empty nesters.  Pastor Janet Bantseev and I prayed for him and when I opened my eyes, big tears were streaming down his cheeks.  Thank God for His providential timing!

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Then tonight I preached the first of their four weekend services:

This lady sang a beautiful solo of "It Is Well with my Soul" (in Russian, of course)

This lady sang a beautiful solo of “It Is Well with my Soul” (in Russian, of course)

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

I’m not sure if it’s jetlag or just exhaustion from teaching for six hours and preaching for another hour tonight, but either way, it’s time to hit the sack for some SLEEP!

Can’t wait to hear about the Watoto Choir at CLC tomorrow – if you’re reading this, shoot me a Facebook message or email or even a comment below as to how you enjoy them on Sunday-

Siberia, day 1

Oops – I forgot to take my camera to the seminar tonight, so I have no pics to show you.

Nonetheless, the opening night’s Marriage seminar went as well as we could have hoped – and we really feel needed, as I learned today from Pastor Ilya that the divorce rate here is hovering at almost 90% of marriages!

The church administrator, who is serving as our driver, told me that one of the youth programs they operate has about 40 teens and only ONE of them is living with both of his birth parents – the others are all either single-parent families or living with a step-parent!

So the need is great, but people were quite responsive to our teaching tonight, and EVERYONE here is still talking about the team of CLC’ers who served here last month – they can’t stop talking about what a blessing the team was to them!

Now it’s time for some sleep before our longest day of ministry tomorrow – a six-hour marriage seminar followed by their Saturday weekend service – should be fun!

Helping our brothers & sisters in the Philippines…

As always, war affects even the most vulnerable innocent ones-

As always, war affects even the most vulnerable innocent ones-

You may have heard that ISIS has tried to establish a caliphate in the Philippines to use as a launching pad in Asia.  Over a month ago, while our CLC team was in Davao, ISIS militants invaded the Muslim capital in the Philippines, Marawi City, which caused the Philippine president to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.

I just heard from Bishop Herley Montes that the war continues and that over 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area, with many of them fleeing to Iligan City, where CLC has a campus.  Our church there is reaching out to these Muslim refugees with food and clothing, but their resources are very limited.

We want to respond to help our brothers and sisters in Iligan City be the hands and feet of Jesus to show His love to these displaced Muslims.  If you would like to help, you can do so online here.  You can also designate an offering at any CLC campus this Sunday to “Philippine relief”.  Thanks in advance for helping us to help them!

Pictures below show the devastation from this war:

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In this Friday, June 9, 2017, photo, evacuees stay at a crowded evacuation center on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. Nearly every day for the past three weeks, the Philippine military has pounded the lakeside town of Marawi with rockets and bombs as it tries to wipe out militants linked to the Islamic State group in some of the most protracted urban combat to hit this volatile region in decades. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In this Friday, June 9, 2017, photo, evacuees stay at a crowded evacuation center on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. Nearly every day for the past three weeks, the Philippine military has pounded the lakeside town of Marawi with rockets and bombs as it tries to wipe out militants linked to the Islamic State group in some of the most protracted urban combat to hit this volatile region in decades. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

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off to Siberia

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Chris and I will leave O’Hare about six o’clock tonight on the first of three flights that will get us into Novokuznetsk, Siberia about five o’clock tomorrow night, Chicago time. (Novokuznetsk is 12 hours ahead of us, so it’ll be 5am Friday there)

We’ll be ministering at the same church our CLC missions team recently visited, as our friends, Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev, invited us over a year ago to return to do a Family Conference for them.  We’ll actually do 3 different seminars – one for married couples on Friday & Saturday, another for parents on Monday and a final one for single adults on Tuesday.  We’ll also minister at their four weekend services.

I hope to have internet access to keep you posted during the trip, and we certainly will appreciate your prayers.  So sorry that we’ll miss the Watoto Choir, but I know you’ll enjoy them on Sunday morning in Tinley Park and on Sunday night in Hammond!  Here’s a preview:

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Night of Hope in CHICAGO!

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If you haven’t heard, a “Night of Hope with Joel & Victoria Osteen” is coming to the United Center on Friday, August 11!  (Actually, they’re doing 2 events: a matinee at 2pm and the evening event at 7:30pm)

While some Christians like to criticize Joel for a variety of issues, I’m convinced that God is using him to bring hope to many, many Americans who might never have been open to the Gospel otherwise.  For that reason, I’m proud that CLC is one of the sponsoring churches for the United Center event!

There are some benefits to our sponsorship: our ministry will be promoted from the United Center stage to thousands of people, some of whom may be looking for a Spirit-filled church in the south suburbs-

AND, we have a few tickets for CLC’ers at a discount – but please note: the information I gave last Sunday was incorrect, as I was misinformed.  The regular price of $15 on JoelOsteen.com turns into over $27.21 when the service fees are added, whereas the price for CLC’ers is just $18.00 (which includes parking at the UC).  I apologize that this is almost twice what I announced Sunday, but I was sincerely mistaken and this is our actual cost – we are not adding any markup whatsoever.  You can purchase the tickets for the 7:30pm event here, first-come, first-served.  (NOTE: we do not have tickets for the 2pm matinee event, so to purchase those tickets go to JoelOsteen.com or click here.)

We’ve also been asked to provide several volunteers to serve as ushers, greeters & retail sales at the matinee and another group for the evening event.  If you’re interested in serving at either one (and attend FREE, plus a meal is included), let us know here.

NOH Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

They’re coming back: WATOTO Choir!

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If you’ve been a part of CLC for the past few years, you’ve probably seen the amazing Watoto Choir perform on one of their visits here. To say that they are delightfully energetic is the understatement of the year!

This team of orphans from Uganda are part of a wonderful ministry that is literally making a difference in that African nation – take a look for yourself.

I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at our Tinley Park campus on Sunday, July 9 at any of our 3 services (8:30, 10 or 12).  

By the way, we still need one host home for Saturday nightyou can volunteer here.

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Nigeria, day 2

CAPRO International Council (when I see the pic I remember that the International Director told me that they wanted me on the CIC to add VALUE, not just COLOR!

CAPRO International Council (when I see the pic I remember that the International Director told me that they wanted me on the CIC to add VALUE, not just COLOR!)

Today has been a very FULL day of meetings and deliberations for CAPRO.  I’m still not sure how I got here, but I’m humbled at the responsibility we carry for 700 missionaries in 35 different nations, most of them located within the 10/40 window of the most unreached peoples on earth.

What CAPRO has been able to do in the past 42 years of missions ministry is nothing short of a miracle of God’s grace, especially considering their limited resources.  Even more astonishing is that 80% of their financial support comes from within Nigeria!  (Humbling for this American to realize that God uses people outside of the USA to accomplish His work!)

We finished our deliberations here about noon on Friday, Chicago time, and after a hair-raising, two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Lagos airport in rush hour traffic and an even crazier check-in experience at the airport, I’ll be boarding my return flight soon.  See you Sunday!

Nigeria, day 1

 

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

My first day here for CAPRO meetings was spent with several hours of discussion with the subcommittee dealing with Resource Development.  Honestly, it could have been depressing, since the needs are so great and the ‘bread and fish’ so small, but I really felt we made some progress and I was even able to contribute a few ideas that may work even in an African context.

I wish everyone could see how much this ministry accomplishes on so little in the way of resources – it’s really a modern-day testimony to God’s favor and the miraculous!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D'voire and the International Office here in Lagos.  I'm excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D’voire and the International Office here in Lagos. I’m excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Tomorrow we’ll be in meetings from morning until dinner time, when I’ll head back to the airport for my return flight home.

Off to Nigeria (but not for long)

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I left the office yesterday afternoon for an evening flight to Frankfurt and then my connecting flight that should get me into Lagos, Nigeria about 10:30 Wednesday morning in Chicago.

This may be the shortest missions trip I’ve ever made, as I’ll be in meetings on Thursday and Friday as part of the CAPRO International Council before flying home, arriving back at O’Hare on Saturday morning.

As the International Chairman told me last November, I’m hoping to add value, not just color to the CAPRO team – so please pray for wisdom in all our deliberations about the missions work CAPRO’s 700 missionaries do in 35 nations across the world.

See you Sunday!

“That’s what I love about this family”

Riley & Lincoln, my youngest grandkids are pictured at the top (from months ago)

Riley & Lincoln, my youngest grandkids are pictured at the top (from months ago)

This past Sunday morning my daughter received this picture in a text from my daughter-in-love.  Jen had bought the ‘onesie’ outfits for Lincoln and Riley about a year ago and we loved the picture of them.

However, this past Sunday the text from Dorothy explained that she has a friend who is actively serving Syrian refugees in Germany, and that the friend had learned of a Syrian family who also had twin preemies, who were the same birth weight as our twins!

Dorothy sent them some infant clothing, including the onesie outfits, and when my wife & daughter saw the pic during service on Sunday, they were moved to tears – and then Chris heard the Lord whisper, “That’s what I love about this family!”

You may not think God speaks like that to people, but I do.  And I do think His heart is touched that even our daughter in law wants to help the needy in the Nations. May those Syrian twins come to know Jesus and serve Him well in years to come!

And I’m still rejoicing that CLC sends 70% of our monthly missions support to the 10/40 window! (I also think God loves that about our CLC family!)

Headed to Sox park, but not for the game….

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I’m headed to Guaranteed Rate Field (still think that’s the dumbest name for a stadium I’ve ever heard) as the Sox play the Royals tonight – but I’m not going for the game.  (In fact, I haven’t been to a Sox game in at least 2 or 3 years, maybe longer.)

Instead, I’m headed there for a planning meeting with Champions Network, because Joel Osteen will be at the United Center for a “Night of Hope” this August 11.  In case you’re not aware, Joel regularly ministers to full stadiums for these events, and 50% of those who attend are unbelievers/unchurch folks and 70% of them respond to his call for repentance and trust in Christ as these events!

I’m excited that CLC has been invited to help as a sponsoring church and the potential to see hungry people brought into the Kingdom on August 11!

Leaving on a jet plane……

With apologies to John Denver....but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

With apologies to John Denver….but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

It’s been a great trip:

  • deepening some strategic relationships for the Church here in Cambodia,
  • sowing good seed in a young man that Chris and I both perceive has great potential for the Kingdom of God in an almost totally-unreached Muslim nation (when he himself surrenders to Christ)
  • strengthening the leaders of the Cambodian church
  • planning the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, who have become dear friends over these past few years of our involvement here.

but we’re ready to be home for a great Palm Sunday celebration (with the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem….or, maybe one like it) and a great word from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron as to why ‘only Jesus’ could be our Savior! (Your celebration of Communion will never be the same again after this Sunday!)

And that means EASTER is just days away!  WHO are you inviting to be your guest?

see you soon-

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Cambodia, day 7

The new property is very near the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot's regime in the 1970's.

While we were together with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul today, he showed us some of their plans for the future.  He casually mentioned that the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s was nearby and asked if we’d like to see it, so we had a short tour of the horrible atrocities done here.

We had visited the Museum in 2013 on our first visit to Cambodia, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem - so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

We had visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 2013 to honor the 3 million who died during the Pol Pot regime, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

One more day of meetings with the pastors here and then we’ll board our flight for home!  So looking forward to week 2 of “Only Jesus” as we hear from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron!

Cambodia, day 6

If I'm honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching - I love this candid shot from one of today's discussion times.

If I’m honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching – I love this candid shot from one of today’s discussion times.

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP "battle of the bands", featuring an all-girl band.....

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP “battle of the bands”, featuring an all-girl band…..

.....and a shy all-boys band.....

…..and a shy all-boys band…..

.....and, of course, the WINNERS (can't you tell?)

…..and, of course, the WINNERS (can’t you tell?)

Chris gave her all in today's teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) - and we're both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Chris gave her all in today’s teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) – and we’re both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Now that the hard work is over, we’re looking forward to a chance to connect & plan for the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!

Cambodia, day 5

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar!

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar! (MeyChen was translating for some of the seminar attendees)

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship - here's the coffee bar

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship – here’s the coffee bar in the lobby

Here's the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here’s the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here's a great information desk at the main entrance

Here’s a great information desk at the main entrance

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they're learning during the seminar

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they’re learning during the seminar

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today's competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY!

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today’s competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY! (the engineering feat was building a tower with spaghetti noodles, yarn, masking tape & marshmallows)

Honestly, four consecutive days of teaching for hours each day has both of us wiped out, but the good news is that we have only a half-day of ministry tomorrow as we finish the last seminar!  This bed has never looked so good……

 

 

Cambodia, day 4

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we've experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception - strong anointing in the House!

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we’ve experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception – strong anointing in the House (and love their new stage design in the beautiful new building they just moved into this month!)

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit! We love being with him!!

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit!   Chris & I love being with him!!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

After the two morning services in the brand-new building (actually located inside a shopping mall, so the location couldn’t be better to reach Cambodians) and a quick lunch with friends, we had a little time to get rest before the two evening services – one at the new location and one at their other campus in a different part of the city.  I’ll report on those services when we return tonight-

Cambodia, day 3

During today's opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

During today’s opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder.  I'm very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder. I’m very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

As yesterday, we had a battle of the "Air Rock Bands" - and these girls were good...

As yesterday, we had a battle of the “Air Rock Bands” – and these girls were good…

.....but 1st Place went to this animated group!

…..but 1st Place went to this animated group!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the "tallest tower" with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the “tallest tower” with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

In between the fun activities, Chris & I spent about six hours teaching four of Dr. John C. Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership” to students & faculty alike, and they were like sponges, drinking in every word we said.  I believe much good seed was sown today!

Tomorrow we will minister at four different services at two different locations for New Life Fellowship and our partners and friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – looking forward to a great day!

Cambodia, day 2

This "air band" pretty well summarizes our day - even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

This “air band” pretty well summarizes our day – even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

Our first seminar for EQUIP on this trip was at VisionFund Cambodia, which is the microfinance arm of World Vision.  They serve over 250,000 families in Cambodia, which makes them the largest microfinance ministry in the world, as they offer small loans & other financial services to poor families, helping them to grow small businesses and enable their children to grow up with improved health and education.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, we taught about 75 of VisionFund's managers from around the country.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, who translated, we taught about 75 of VisionFund’s managers from around the country.

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything - even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game.....

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything – even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game…..

.....or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmellows!

…..or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmallows!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

But the enthusiasm of this "air rock band" knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

But the enthusiasm of this “air rock band” knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Now some more sleep to try to kick the jet lag that’s hindering both of us before we head to the leading university in all of Cambodia, Beltei International, for another seminar tomorrow-

Cambodia, day 1

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong.  With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home!

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong. With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home! (And I don’t mind showing Cubbie blue!)

I guess keeping everyone posted from this trip applies even when nothing happens.  For the first time in a long time (ever?), we deliberately planned a day of rest before diving into our leadership seminars here.  By that I mean our flight arrived about midnight local time last night and today we did nothing  except sleep, eat, and study a bit for our week of ministry here.

Our first of three seminars begins tomorrow at 8am (8pm Thursday, Chicago time) and I should have some pics and reports for you after that.  Until then, I’m gonna give in to jetlag and sleep some more!

Off to Cambodia

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Chris and I were up before dawn today to catch the first of 3 flights that will get us to Phnom Penh about 10am on Wednesday, Chicago time.

We’ll be teaching three different leadership seminars for EQUIP and ministering at one of our favorite churches in the world, New Life Fellowship.  They recently moved to a new location in a shopping mall, with tons more room than they had before and many, many people have been flooding into their services according to Pastor Jesse McCaul.  We’re expecting BIG things!

If you’d like to pray for us with specifics, I’ve attached our itinerary.  Thanks for standing with us – I’ll keep you updated daily if possible-

prayer for Cambodia trip

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, but here’s a good one from 2009:      A CLCer recently asked, “Why are there so many bible translations? Is anyone of them better than the other? Which translation is your favorite one? Which translation would you recommend people to read?”

Great questions!  Let’s take them one at a time:

  • Until 1881 you could only read the Bible in English in the King James Version, which was translated in 1611.  Of course, not many of us speak the Shakespearan-type English of “thee’s” and “thou’s”, which is what initially led to more and more translations.  So many English words have changed in their meaning over these past 400 years, and, for that matter, all language is constantly evolving, so it is needful for their to be new translations if the average person is going to read the Bible in the common language of everyday use.
  • It would be hard to say that any one translation is better than another – they’re just different. Some translations (such as the New King James and the New American Standard Bible) attempt a literal, word-for-word translation from the original languages (The Old Testament was written in Hebrew; the New Testament in Greek) into English.  Others (such as the New International Version and the New Living Translation) use a phrase-for-phrase approach, to help convey the original intended meaning.  Still others (like The Message and The Living Bible) are not actually translations, but rather paraphrases that attempt to convey the original thoughts into modern, contemporary thoughts.  (By the way, for what it’s worth, many scholars agree that the New American Standard Bible is perhaps the most accurate translation of the Scriptures into English.)
  • My favorite translation has changed several times as I’ve grown older: initially, I grew up with the King James, and I memorized numerous verses in the stilted old English.  Later, when I was introduced to the New King James, it became my favorite, probably because it retained much of the poetic beauty of the KJV, but updated the English to eliminate the need to talk like Shakespeare.  However, in the last few years I’ve grown to love the more modern, New Living Translation, and I use it almost exclusively on Sundays at CLC.
  • It depends on the purpose: if you want a Bible to study, I’d recommend the NKJV (my preference is the Spirit-Filled Life Bible).  For general reading, I personally think you can’t beat the NLT (which is why I use it in the pulpit so much). For a change of pace, I really like The Message, as it has a way of ‘jarring’ me with truth that I might otherwise have overlooked.

As I’ve explained at other times, I personally try to use a different version each year for my daily “through the Bible in a year” devotions.  I’ve found my mixing it up each year, it helps me not to get stale by thinking “I’ve read this before”.

That was fun….hope it was helpful.  Now, what would YOU like to ask the Pastor?

The Syrian refugee crisis & OneHope

Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope is an amazing leader for this amazing ministry!

Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope is an amazing leader for this amazing ministry!

We Americans see and hear about the Syrian refugee crisis almost nightly.  The whole issue of refugees has become a political football in our country, with lots of opinions but no real solutions to what some have called the “worst humanitarian crisis since WWII”with literally half of the population of Syria killed or displaced from their homes since the crisis began.

What you don’t hear on the nightly news is how God’s people have responded.  Just a few days ago I heard from our partners at ELAM how thousands of Muslims have become refugees in various European countries, and literally have been knocking on the doors of churches, looking for information about Jesus and Christianity.  In fact, I heard of just one small church in Europe that has baptized over 1,000 Muslims in the last year alone!

Yesterday I heard what our partners at OneHope are doing to serve these refugees and was especially touched by the testimony from Pastor Paul Demetriades of Thessaloniki, Greece, whose congregation has responded in sacrificial ways to refugees in Greece.  As he described how some of his own members who are unemployed and struggling financially show up to serve the refugees instead of focusing on their own needs.

When asked what he had learned through this crisis, Pastor Paul said, “you don’t have to have things to be a giver; you just have to be there!”

To that I would simply add, SELAH.

Our friend, Bishop Edward Grabovenko told how OneHope has been such a great partner in reaching Russia (his son David translated)

Our friend, Bishop Edward Grabovenko told how OneHope has been such a great partner in reaching Russia (his son David translated)

One of many highlights for me was meeting this man of God from a country I can't name for security reasons. He's one of many who risk their lives to preach the Gospel in spite of oppressive governments & God is honoring their efforts!

One of many highlights for me was meeting this man of God from a country I can’t name for security reasons. He’s one of many who risk their lives to preach the Gospel in spite of oppressive governments & God is honoring their efforts!

I’m so glad CLC is able to partner with ministries like OneHope!

P.S. I also got to meet Kirk Cousins, quarterback of the Washington Redskins who is a committed believer (if talk radio is right, the Bears may be looking to acquire him during this off-season, and I for one wouldn’t mind having a Spirit-filled Christian behind center!)

Hope Celebration

I joined my wife and daughter in south Florida today for the 30th Anniversary of OneHope, one of our favorite missions partners at CLC. Tonight we heard from the founder, Bob Hoskins, who has faithfully engaged in ministry to reach the lost for 73 years (he started preaching at age 7)!

The thing that I love most about Bob and his son, Rob (who is the President of OneHope) is their heart for souls, as each of them still weeps for those that are being reached through this amazing ministry.

But the unexpected highlight of the day for us was to be joined at our assigned table tonight by our friends from Perm, Russia, Bishop Edward & Larisa Grabovenko. Edward leads the largest network of evangelical pastors in the nation, and is the founder of perhaps the largest Spirit-filled church in Russia, where we’ve been privileged to minister about five or six times through the years, and it was great to reconnect with them tonight-

We love Larissa & Bishop Edward Grabovenko and the work they do in Russia!

We love Larisa & Bishop Edward Grabovenko and the work they do in Russia!

We’ll be in meetings tomorrow as the Hope Celebration continues, then home on Wednesday in time for our final Life Group meeting for “That’s MY Church”-

Philippines trip, day 4

Our last night of ministry in Davao WAS truly "A Night to Remember" - so many fun memories with some of our favorite people in the whole world!

Our last night of ministry in Davao WAS truly “A Night to Remember” – so many fun memories with some of our favorite people in the whole world, as we spoke at the CLC-Davao Valentines Banquet for married couples. (I even got Chris to ‘dance’ with me….well, at least we hugged and kinda swayed to the music)  We also led about 40 couples in renewing their marriage vows!

Can you tell which one is MY Valentine?

Can you tell which one of these lovely ladies is MY Valentine?

One of the greatest privileges we've ever had in ministry is partnering with this precious couple and their family - we LOVE Bishop Herley Montes & Pastora Nelly Montes!

One of the greatest privileges we’ve ever had in ministry is partnering with this precious couple and their family – we LOVE Bishop Herley Montes & Pastora Nelly Montes!

This concluded our ministry assignment for this trip – but we’re taking the next few days for some much needed R & R at a nearby resort Pastor Herley has been telling us about.  (We really do plan to rest, so I may not post so much from Pearl Farm Beach Resort)

Philippines trip, day 3

We got to meet the 2 newest CLC churches in Mindanao (bringing us to a total of 15!) This is Pastor Al Montano & his son Dale from Koronadal-

We got to meet the 2 newest CLC churches in Mindanao (bringing us to a total of 13!) This is Pastor Al Montano & his son Dale from Koronadal-

We taught the pastors this morning and then a group of both pastors & leaders this afternoon. No matter what we teach, it's more fun when Pastor Jeser Molina interprets!

We taught the pastors this morning and then a group of both pastors & leaders this afternoon. No matter what we teach, it’s more fun when Pastor Jeser Molina interprets!

After the teaching, the pastors & leaders met in small discussion groups-

After the teaching, the pastors & leaders met in small discussion groups-

we're glad that CLC in the Philippines also believes in women in ministry - each of these ladies is a pastor or leader in their church!

we’re glad that CLC in the Philippines also believes in women in ministry – each of these ladies is a pastor or leader in their church!

Tonight Pastors Herley & Nelly 'presented' to us their top 288 leaders, who are ALL soul-winners & disciple-makers! This is what it looked like from the pulpit - I'm sure you'll agree that it was an AWESOME sight for any pastor to see!

Tonight Pastors Herley & Nelly ‘presented’ to us their top 288 leaders, who are ALL soul-winners & disciple-makers! This is what it looked like from the pulpit – I’m sure you’ll agree that it was an AWESOME sight for any pastor to see!

Meet our NEWEST CLC-Philippines pastor (#15), Ian Enriquez from Bukidnon!

Meet our NEWEST CLC-Philippines pastor (#15), Ian Enriquez from Bukidnon!

One more ministry event as we speak to CLC-Davao’s married couples tomorrow at a Valentine’s Banquet.  Thanks for the prayers-

Philippines trip, day 2

 

It was a JOY to preach with Bishop Herley Montes interpreting at both morning services today-

It was a JOY to preach with Bishop Herley Montes interpreting at both morning services today- (we had more fun than you’re supposed to be able to have in church)

This children's ensemble opened the morning services singing, 'Yes, Jesus Loves Me' & it was ADORABLE! (Just to the right of center stage are the 3 children of Pastor Joel Montes: Sophia 2, Jaden 6 & Yada 4)

This children’s ensemble opened the morning services singing, ‘Yes, Jesus Loves Me’ & it was ADORABLE! (Just to the right of center stage are the 3 children of Pastor Joel Montes: Sophia, 2; Jaden, 6; & Yada, 4)

After a skit depicting a young believer whose family practically disowned him for his faith, the bass guitarist stepped to the pulpit to announce that the skit was HIS story. But just 2 years ago, his mother accepted his invitation to CLC and now serves the Lord with him!

After a skit depicting a young believer whose family practically disowned him for his faith, the bass guitarist stepped to the pulpit to announce that the skit was HIS story. But just 2 years ago, his mother accepted his invitation to CLC and now serves the Lord with him!

And his mom was singing in the choir (front row, center)

And his mom now sings in the choir (front row, center)!  God is Faithful!!!

After each service, Pastor Herley gave instructions to those who came forward to receive Christ.

After each service, Pastor Herley gave instructions to those who came forward to receive Christ.

I'm always touched by the numbers of Filipino's who respond to the salvation invitation, and today was no exception.

I’m always touched by the numbers of Filipinos’ who respond to the salvation invitation, and today was no exception.

 

Each service they came forward to receive Christ!

Each service they came forward to receive Christ!

Even after a powerful move of the Holy Spirit among believers, this group of people waited until the close of service, but when the invitation to receive the Lord was given, they came!

Even after a powerful move of the Holy Spirit among believers, this group of people waited until the close of service, but when the invitation to receive the Lord was given, they came!

Chris preached 2 powerful messages this afternoon/evening (and even had a little help from Dr. Seuss!)

Chris preached 2 powerful messages this afternoon/evening (and even had a little help from Dr. Seuss!)

We’re gonna to get some rest after today’s ministry marathon, as we’ll begin meeting with the CLC network of pastors in about 12 hours.  Thanks for the prayers!

Erik proposed & Joy said ‘YES’!

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I know some of you are concerned about our safety after learning that an earthquake hit the Philippines a few hours ago – but it was centered about 200 miles north of Davao City  (where we are). 

So the BIG NEWS for CLC is that Erik Lumagsao proposed to Joy Bumanlag last night shortly after Chris & I taught at a special event here for young professional singles!  (Erik was an intern in our EnTheos ministry last year & won our hearts at CLC – but he & Joy have been together for so long I wasn’t sure he’d ever pop the question!)

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So, thanks for your prayers – we are safe & sound.  In a few hours we begin a marathon day of ministry here with five services between us.  And a special congrats to Erik & Joy!

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Off to the Philippines

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I’m typing this at O’Hare where Chris and I will soon depart for the first of two flights that will get us into Manila about 9am Friday (Chicago time).  We then get a night’s sleep in Manila before flying to Davao City for the first assignment of this missions trip, a Saturday session with the singles of our CLC-Davao campus.

Then it’s a whirlwind of ministry, with 5 services on Sunday, 3 on Monday and 3 on Tuesday, concluding with a Valentine’s banquet for the married couples of CLC-Davao.  Since they just had over 200 people come forward to receive Christ last Sunday, I’m especially excited to see what God is doing there!

I’ll try to post each day to keep you aware of what we’re doing, and I can’t wait to hear  your reports this Sunday as we continue the “That’s MY Church” series.  I’ve already previewed the messages, and it’s going to be good at each campus!

Thanks for your prayers-

CAPRO missions

One of my favorite connections in missions began in 2001, when we were first introduced to a Nigerian-based missions movement known as ‘CAPRO’.  From that initial contact through their missionary in Senegal (at the time), Charles Bavelloni, we have since met so many wonderful men and women of God – people of integrity – who love Jesus and His Church and who are giving their lives to help make the Great Commission the Great Fulfillment!

I believe in the mission and work of CAPRO so much that I’ve been honored to serve on their USA board in the past and last year was invited to join their International Council.  Even more importantly, when CAPRO appointed their first representative to North America  (Niyi & Tayo Gbade), CLC provided an office for them to be based here.

This past Sunday afternoon we were blessed to conduct a “missions awareness” meeting to introduce CAPRO to some CLC’ers and other church leaders in Chicagoland, and we were blessed to have Tom Ogunleye, chairman of CAPRO USA and Amos Aderonmu, one of the founders of CAPRO who now serves in South Sudan.

Niyi Gbade is the North American representative for CAPRO

Niyi Gbade is the North American representative for CAPRO

Amos Aderonmu is one of the founders of CAPRO and a former International Director for the ministry who now serves in South Sudan.

Amos Aderonmu is one of the founders of CAPRO and a former International Director for the ministry who now serves in South Sudan.

Tom Ogunleye is a professor from Austin, TX who serves as Chairman of CAPRO USA

Tom Ogunleye is a professor from Austin, TX who serves as Chairman of CAPRO USA

Thank God for Kingdom partnerships!

Sunday reflections

On this Super Bowl Sunday, our Davao City, Philippines campus is undisputed champion:

Pastor Joel making the salvation invitation to a packed house at one service

Pastor Joel making the salvation invitation to a packed house at one service

and they came!

and they came forward to receive!

and they kept coming!

and they kept coming!

in the 4 services today, literally HUNDREDS of people came forward for salvation at the Davao campus!

in their 4 services today, literally HUNDREDS of people came forward for salvation!

Pastor Jon hosted today in Tinley Park - loved the way he quoted the 23rd Psalm!

Pastor Jon hosted today in Tinley Park – loved the way he quoted the 23rd Psalm!

Everyone in my Life Group this week talked about how FRIENDLY Tinley Park is - and this pic captured some of that.

Everyone in my Life Group this week talked about how FRIENDLY Tinley Park is – and this pic captured some of that.

Our FAMILY EXPO is coming  March 11 - get more info at http://clc.tv/tinleypark/events/clc-family-fun-expo/

Our FAMILY EXPO is coming March 11 – get more info here.

GET NAKED is our annual Marriage Retreat this March 24-26.  Register TODAY (Feb. 5) ONLY and a $25 deposit holds your space!

GET NAKED is our annual Marriage Retreat this March 24-26. Register TODAY (Feb. 5) ONLY and a $25 deposit holds your space!

Pastor Sam reports a great day of worship at NWI-

Pastor Sam reports a great day of worship at NWI-

The 'prayer wall' at NWI is a list of people we're praying for salvation & inviting to the March 5 beginning of two services at NWI.

The ‘prayer wall’ at NWI is a list of people we’re praying for salvation & inviting to the March 5 beginning of two services at NWI.

Pastor Taylor welcomed two new members after Growth Track at NWI today!

Pastor Taylor welcomed two new members after Growth Track at NWI today!

Worship at Blue Island was anointed today!

Worship at Blue Island was anointed today!

And the congregation responded in praise!

And the congregation responded in praise!

My wife brought the word on our core value of "the full ministry of the Holy Spirit" (Supernatural Power)

My wife brought the word on our core value, “the full ministry of the Holy Spirit” (Supernatural Power)

Afterward, many people were indeed touched by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Afterward, many people were indeed touched by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Israel, day 9

Our final day of the trip began with a surprise visit from our tour guide, Andrey Gelbet. Of the 5 times I've toured Israel, Andrey is my favorite guide and we look forward to seeing him again!

Our final day of the trip began with a surprise visit at our Jerusalem hotel from our first tour guide, Andrey Gelbet. Of the 5 times I’ve toured Israel, Andrey is my favorite guide and we look forward to seeing him again!

We had the privilege of being at one of CLC's partners, "Revive Israel" for their Wednesday time of worship, prophetic ministry & teaching. This pic is the Founder/Director, Asher Intrater, who brought a great teaching about the purpose of apostles today.

We had the privilege of being at one of CLC’s partners, “Revive Israel” for their Wednesday time of worship, prophetic ministry & teaching. This pic is the Founder/Director, Asher Intrater, who brought a great teaching about the purpose of apostles today.

The final teaching of the morning came from our friend, Daniel Juster, Director of the Tikkun network of ministries, our primary partner in the Land.

The final teaching of the morning came from our friend, Daniel Juster, Director of the Tikkun network of ministries, our primary partner in the Land.

No visit to Israel is complete without a visit to the Garden Tomb, which meets all the Biblical descriptions of the place of Jesus' burial - but HE is not there; He is risen indeed!

No visit to Israel is complete without a visit to the Garden Tomb, which meets all the Biblical descriptions of the place of Jesus’ burial – but HE is not there; He is risen indeed!

Finally, we toured the full length of the Western Wall underground, thru tunnels and ended our visit to Israel with a final look at the Western Wall at night - and it was even more special to have the love of my life share the experience with me!

Finally, we toured the full length of the Western Wall underground, thru tunnels and ended our visit to Israel with a final look at the Western Wall at night – and it was even more special to have the love of my life share the experience with me!

We’re home now and I can’t wait for “The Polar Express” this Sunday (December 11) at each CLC campus!

Israel, day 8

Our first stop today was climbing down some never-ending stairs to the City of David, where the pool of Siloam (see John 9) was located.  (It doesn't look like much of a pool now, but it's there beside Nikki Bosi)

Our first stop today was climbing down some never-ending stairs to the City of David, where the pool of Siloam (see John 9) was located. (It doesn’t look like much of a pool now, but it’s there beside Nikki Bosi)

While many of the "holy sites" are based on tradition and we don't really know if they're the true location, we DO know that the steps behind our guide are the southern steps which led to the main entrance of the Temple, and Jesus walked on these steps without a doubt!

While many of the “holy sites” are based on tradition and we don’t really know if they’re the true location, we DO know that the steps behind our guide are the southern steps which led to the main entrance of the Temple, and that Jesus walked on these steps without a doubt!

What a personal thrill to share this trip with my wife and two of our children - here posing in front of the southern retaining wall just outside where the temple once stood.

What a personal thrill to share this trip with my wife and two of our children – here posing in front of the southern retaining wall just outside where the temple once stood.

Just as Jesus prophesied, when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D., they didn't leave one stop atop another.  They also started to tear down the retaining wall around the Temple Mount by pushing the stones off the top, but it soon became too much work (since the smallest stone weighed 2.5 tons!) and that's why we have a Western Wall where  people can gather to pray.  This picture shows some of those original stones still laying where the Romans pushed them down.

Just as Jesus prophesied, when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D., they didn’t leave one stop atop another. They also started to tear down the retaining wall around the Temple Mount by pushing the stones off the top, but it soon became too much work (since the smallest stone weighed 2.5 tons!) and that’s why we have a Western Wall where people can gather to pray. This picture shows some of those original stones still laying where the Romans pushed them down. (In fact, one of them even had an inscription that it was the stone from the corner where the trumpeter sounded the alarm for Israel!)

We ended our day at the "heaviest" place in Israel - Yad Vashem - the memorial to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.  Perhaps the saddest part is the Children's memorial for 1.5 million children who died - and this sculpture is in honor of Janusz Korczak, a medical doctor who cared for almost 200 orphans during the Holocaust, and when the Final Solution came, he refused the Germans offer to spare his life and chose instead to die with this 'children' in the gas chambers.

We ended our day at the “heaviest” place in Israel – Yad Vashem – the memorial to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Perhaps the saddest part is the Children’s memorial for 1.5 million children who died – and this sculpture is in honor of Janusz Korczak, a medical doctor who cared for almost 200 orphans in Poland during the Holocaust, and when the Final Solution came, he refused the Germans’ offer to spare his life and chose instead to die with this ‘children’ in the gas chambers.

Tomorrow will be the longest day of our trip, as we start early with a worship service at “Revive Israel” (one of CLC’s partners in the Land), before going to the Garden Tomb and seeing the site of Jesus’ crucifixion (and resurrection!).  After our final stop at Hezekiah’s tunnel under the streets of Jerusalem, we’ll head to the airport for the long flight home.

Shalom!

 

 

Israel, day 7

We spent all of Monday in the Old City of Jerusalem, beginning on the Mt. of Olives with this group photo-

We spent all of Monday in the Old City of Jerusalem, beginning on the Mt. of Olives with this group photo-

The pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5 (healing of the impotent man) as it looks today

The pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5 (healing of the impotent man) as it looks today

The highlight of every trip to the pool of Bethesda is actually at St. Anne’s church next door, famous for it’s amazing acoustics.  Of course, we had to test it by singing “It is Well with my Soul” as a group – and it was beautiful (if I say so myself)

We closed our day's tour at the holiest site in all of Israel (or in all the world) - the Western Wall.  (This is the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which was completely destroyed in 70 A.D.)  Since the Holiest of Holies was closest to this western wall, people gather here to pray, giving it the nickname, "Wailing Wall".  As a sign asking for all to respect the place says, this is "where the Divine Presence always rests"!  It's always a privilege to pray here-

We closed our day’s tour at the holiest site in all of Israel (or in all the world) – the Western Wall. (This is the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which was completely destroyed in 70 A.D.) Since the Holiest of Holies was closest to this western wall, people gather here to pray, giving it the nickname, “Wailing Wall”. As a sign asking for all to respect the place says, this is “where the Divine Presence always rests”! It’s always a privilege to pray here-

Tomorrow will be another full day in the Old City, including a visit to Yad Vashem, the museum to the Holocaust, which I think is the heaviest place on earth.  I’ll post more then-

Israel, day 6

This model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ was one of the highlights of the day - it really helped us all get familiar with the sights we'll see up close in the days ahead.

This model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ was one of the highlights of the day – it really helped us all get familiar with the sights we’ll see up close in the days ahead.

This was our first glimpse overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem  - and we were breathless!  The whole team can't wait until tomorrow when we explore up close-

This was our first glimpse overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem – and we were breathless! The whole team can’t wait until tomorrow when we explore up close-

Personally (and maybe a bit selfishly) this trip has been my best ever because of having our children share in the experience with us!

Personally (and maybe a bit selfishly) this trip has been my best ever because of having our children share in the experience with us!

Israel, day 5

Because of yesterday's storm, no boats operated on the Sea of Galilee, so we joined in with a church group from Singapore today.  Both flags were raised when we left shore to the "Star Spangled Banner"

Because of yesterday’s storm, no boats operated on the Sea of Galilee, so we joined in with a church group from Singapore today. Both flags were raised when we left shore as the “Star Spangled Banner” played.

When we left the boat at the Sea of Galilee, the first person we saw in line to board was none other than the comedian, Michael Jr!  (Sorry about taking a pic into the sun - but take my word for it, it's really him!)

When we left the boat at the Sea of Galilee, the first person we saw in line to board was none other than the comedian, Michael Jr! (Sorry about taking a pic into the sun – but take my word for it, it’s really him!)

The highlight of our Sabbath service at 'Tents of Mercy' was the ordination of Avishalom & his wife as senior leaders of the ministry.  Our long-time partner, Eitan Shishkoff, who founded the ministry, will be moving into an apostolic role throughout the nation. Other partners of CLC are pictured here praying over Avishalom - Leon Mazin of 'Return to Zion' in Haifa (at left, with his hand on Avishalom), Dan & Patty Juster, Tikkun Directors (left & center of pic), Asher Intrater of 'Revive Israel' in Jerusalem (behind pulpit, next to Patty), and Eitan Shishkoff (far right)

The highlight of our Sabbath service at ‘Tents of Mercy’ was the ordination of Avishalom & his wife as senior leaders of the ministry. Our long-time partner, Eitan Shishkoff, who founded the ministry, will be moving into an apostolic role throughout the nation. Other partners of CLC are pictured here praying over Avishalom – Leon Mazin of ‘Return to Zion’ in Haifa (at left, with his hand on Avishalom), Dan & Patty Juster, Tikkun Directors (Dan wearing prayer shawl at left-center of pic & Patty at center of pic, directly behind Avishalom’s wife), Asher Intrater of ‘Revive Israel’ in Jerusalem (behind pulpit, next to Patty), and Eitan Shishkoff (right, with microphone)

We ended the day with a tour of the ancient city of Akko, an important port city that played a prominent role during the infamous Crusades.  When we stepped out of the historical site, the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea grabbed our attention- (the gal with the umbrella is pretty nice, too)

We ended the day with a tour of the ancient city of Akko, an important port city that played a prominent role during the infamous Crusades. When we stepped out of the historical site, the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea grabbed our attention- (the gal with the umbrella is pretty nice, too)

 

Israel, day 4

We started the day with 28 baptisms at the River Jordan, including these 4 (my wife, my daughter, my son & my daughter in law!)

We started the day with 28 baptisms at the River Jordan, including these 4 (my wife, my daughter, my son & my daughter in law!)

Chris brought us a timely word at Capernaum, where Jesus healed the centurion's servant.

Chris brought us a timely word at Capernaum, where Jesus healed the centurion’s servant.

  • I was too excited to take pictures at two of our afternoon stops – we visited the Mt. of Beatitudes and listened to the entire Sermon on the Mount from the Message translation (you owe it to yourself to do that sometime – such powerful, wise teaching from the Master!), and then the “Jesus boat” museum at Nof Ginosaur – a preserved boat from the time of Christ and possibly one of the fishing boats that his disciples used on the Sea of Galilee!
But no doubt the most AMAZING site today was at Magdala, where a synagogue that Jesus likely visited has been uncovered just in the past few years -it's the oldest synagogue  excavated in Galilee & includes a stone with the world's oldest carved menorah!

But no doubt the most AMAZING site today was at Magdala, where a synagogue that Jesus likely visited has been uncovered just in the past few years -it’s the oldest synagogue excavated in Galilee & includes a stone with the world’s oldest carved menorah!

This painting on display at Magdala is amazing - an artist's depiction of the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of His garment

This painting on display at Magdala is amazing – an artist’s depiction of the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of His garment

tomorrow will be one of our busiest days, with an early boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, followed by a Shabat Celebration and pastoral installation service at Tents of Mercy, and then an afternoon of touring other Biblical sites.  Time for some shut-eye now!

oops, day 3 in Israel wasn’t quite over!

I posted a few hours ago, just before going to dinner at our hotel, thinking our day was pretty much over.  But we were joined at dinner by our friends, Leon & Nina Mazin, and they stayed for our team meeting afterward to share with us.

Our friend, Leon Mazin, founder & leader of "Return to Zion" ministries (one of our five primary partners in the Land) came to our hotel and delivered The Most Profound message I've ever heard from Luke 4, where Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue.  I'm not kidding - it was A-MAZING!  (We used a cell phone to videotape the whole message & if you'll email me, we'll send you the link)

Leon Mazin is founder & leader of “Return to Zion” ministries (one of CLC’s five primary partners in the Land) who came to our hotel & delivered The Most Profound message I’ve ever heard from Luke 4, where Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue. I’m not kidding – it was A-MAZING! (We used a cell phone to videotape the whole message & if you’ll email me, we’ll send you the link)

Israel, day 3

The view of the Sea of Galilee that greeted us from our hotel room this morning-

The view of the Sea of Galilee that greeted us from our hotel room this morning-

Unfortunately for us, the long-awaited winter rains came to Israel today - and our CLC team were really troopers as they donned jackets, poncho's & umbrellas to get thru the rest of the day touring in the lower Galilee region, ending the day at Megiddo, which not only has a rich history in the Old Testament and even in more modern times, but will eventually play a significant role in prophecy during the battle of Armegeddon mentioned in the book of Revelation.

Unfortunately for us, the long-awaited winter rains came to Israel today – and our CLC team were really troopers as they donned jackets, poncho’s & umbrellas to get thru the rest of the day touring in the lower Galilee region, ending the day at Megiddo, which not only has a rich history in the Old Testament and even in more modern times, but will eventually play a significant role in prophecy during the battle of Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation.

Tomorrow we’ll head to the Jordan River where almost the entire group of 32 will be water baptized, and take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as the tour continues-

Israel, day 2

This is my 5th tour of Israel since 1985, but I had never before seen the "Fountain of Tears", a 60-foot wall with 7 panels depicting God's love for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust through the 7 last sayings of Christ as he was crucified.  There are simply no words to describe this memorial, but several members of the team took better pics than me, so visit their Facebook pages to see more detail.

This is my 5th tour of Israel since 1985, but I had never before seen the “Fountain of Tears”, a 60-foot wall with 7 panels depicting God’s love for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust through the 7 last sayings of Christ as he was crucified. There are simply no words to describe this memorial, but several members of the team took better pics than me, so visit their Facebook pages to see more detail.

Our first stop today was at Masada, which is always one of the most amazing sights of any Israel tour.  While it has no Biblical significance, seeing the construction expertise by Herod the Great and his Roman soldiers over 2,000 years ago is beyond amazing.

Our first stop today was at Masada, which is always one of the most amazing sights of any Israel tour. While it has no Biblical significance, seeing the construction expertise by Herod the Great and his Roman soldiers over 2,000 years ago is beyond amazing.

At the ancient city of Arad, we saw the ruins of a large city defeated by Joshua as he led Israel into the Promised Land.

At the ancient city of Arad, we saw the ruins of a large city defeated by Joshua as he led Israel into the Promised Land.

Israel, day 1

Here is some of our group of 32 (including 29 CLC'ers) at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered

Here is some of our group of 32 (including 29 CLC’ers) at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered

This is cave 4 at Qumran, where most of the scrolls were found

This is cave 4 at Qumran, where most of the scrolls were found

  • If you don’t know the story or the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, read this
Our Messianic, Spirit-filled Tour Guide explains the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran

Our Messianic, Spirit-filled Tour Guide explains the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran

The team finished our first day here at En Gedi (see 1Sam. 24) in good spirits, despite their exhaustion, as most of us haven’t slept since Sunday night.

I’ll try to keep you posted each day when possible-

Last day in Nairobi; headed HOME!

My last day in Nairobi was spent with our partners since 1999, David & Jennifer Hatley. This couple have survived more battles than most of us have fought: each has come thru life-threatening battles with cancer, ministry challenges, family challenges and more - but through it all they have faithfully built a great work for the Lord with over 200 churches planted in Kenya alone, and many others in 5 neighboring African nations!

My last day in Nairobi was spent with our partners since 1999, David & Jennifer Hatley. This couple have survived more battles than most of us have fought: each has come thru life-threatening battles with cancer, ministry challenges, family challenges and more – but through it all they have faithfully built a great work for the Lord with over 200 churches planted in Kenya alone, and many others in 5 neighboring African nations!  It was a privilege to visit them again!

I spent part of the day touring their compound, as almost every building on their site wasn’t here on my last visit in 2005!  I wish every CLC’er could see the beautiful sanctuary, the Children’s Home, the primary school, the medical clinic, the social hall, the library, and even the guest house where I stayed – their property alone is now valued at over $2 million USD (not counting the buildings), and ALL of it is debt-free, to the glory of God!

They also took me for some last-minute Christmas shopping at Kazuri, a fascinating, Christian-owned pottery & jewelry enterprise that now provides employment to 340 Kenyans, most of whom are single moms who are able to support their families as a result.

I took the whole tour of their operation in case you wanna see (I guess if you don’t wanna see you should stop reading now):

Using Kenyan clay for everything, they produce pottery of various shapes & sizes...

Using Kenyan clay for everything, they produce pottery of various shapes & sizes…

afterwards, some women paint the various pottery pieces in a wonderful variety of designs.

afterwards, some women paint the various pottery pieces in a wonderful variety of designs.

...but the major part of their enterprise is producing native jewelry from the clay to the finished product...

…but the major part of their enterprise is producing native jewelry from the clay to the finished product (these ladies are forming the clay into jewelry molds)…

...after the jewelry is baked in the kiln, it is HAND-PAINTED by ladies like this one...

…after the jewelry is baked in the kiln, it is HAND-PAINTED by ladies like this one…

...then other women assemble the necklaces & bracelets by hand like this...

…then other women assemble the necklaces & bracelets by hand like this…

Get this: their products are now sold in many different countries around the world, including Harrod’s of London, and here in the USA department stores like Macy’s, Dillards, and more!  All from humble beginnings by some Christians who wanted to provide jobs for needy women in Kenya – I love to see Christian entrepreneurs succeed!

That’s all for this trip – I’ll board a flight in a couple of hours and be home Tuesday afternoon, ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and then share with you as we open our Christmas series THIS Sunday!

Sunday reflections from KENYA

 

It's been 12-15 years since I was here with the Hatley's, and the development of their property is amazing - beautiful church auditorium & a choir to lead us in worship today-

It’s been 12-15 years since I was here with the Hatley’s, and the development of their property is amazing – beautiful church auditorium & a choir to lead us in worship today-

I especially enjoyed this children's trio of RAPPERS for Jesus! I'm not sure what they sang, but it was too cute!

I especially enjoyed this children’s trio of RAPPERS for Jesus! I’m not sure what they sang, but it was too cute!

I preached how God wants to do "new things" in them this next year.

I preached how God wants to do “new things” in them this next year.

After I preached & made the salvation invitation, Pastor David called people forward - and one new guest man wept his way to salvation thru Christ!

After I preached and made the salvation invitation, Pastor David called them forward – and one new first-time guest wept his way to salvation thru Christ!

One Sunday a month the various ministries have a meeting after service, so I taught the Men's Ministry session - these are a few of the men as Pastor David prayed over them to close the meeting.

One Sunday a month the various ministries have a meeting after service, so I taught the Men’s Ministry session – these are a few of the men as Pastor David prayed over them to close out.

That completed MY Sunday here in Nairobi, but as a pastor, I’m always curious about things at home.  If you attended any service at any campus of CLC today, please leave your thoughts about the service you attended:

  • what was your favorite part?
  • how did the Holy Spirit minister to you through the teaching?
  • what was your takeaway for this week?

I look forward to being home Tuesday and can’t wait to see all of you next Sunday for the kick-off of “Christmas@the Movies” with ‘ELF’ – invite a friend!

CAPRO meetings, day 2

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It was two full days of meetings with some of the finest men I’ve ever known and I often wondered why I was here – but near the end of the meetings, the International Director, Sam Kputu said, “Pastor Jerry, you’re not here just to add color; you’re here to add value!”

(Hoping I’ll be able to do that as we go along)

I thought a lot of CLC'ers would be glad to see this face: Pastor Eloi Dogue (whom we know from Senegal) is now part of the CAPRO international office & serves on the Council - he sends his greetings!

I thought a lot of CLC’ers would be glad to see this face: Pastor Eloi Dogue (whom we know from Senegal) is now part of the CAPRO international office & serves on the Council – he sends his greetings!

As the meetings ended, our long-time partners in Nairobi, David & Jennifer Hatley picked me up and we enjoyed great fellowship over some good food tonight before they dropped me at their guesthouse.  I’ll minister at Church on the Rock tomorrow morning and afternoon and spend some time with the Hatley’s on Monday before catching my flight back to Chicago.  Thanks for all the prayers!

 

 

CIC meetings in Nairobi

with Dondo Iorlamen, National Director for CAPRO in Nigeria

with Dondo Iorlamen, National Director for CAPRO in Nigeria

I was especially touched by Dondo’s story as all the Council members introduced themselves this morning in the opening session.  It seems that he had a series of dreams & visions in which he saw himself doing missions, but he had no knowledge of any missions ministry.  He searched for months, asking people he would meet if they knew of missions.  Finally, he was told to go to a certain town where there were people who did missions, but when he arrived there, he couldn’t find them.  So he went to a parking lot where taxi drivers often met and asked them, but none of the taxi’s knew about missions until a young man on a motorcycle asked what they were talking about and quickly told Dondo that there was missions where he was from, which required more travel by bus.  When Dondo finally reached the place and the bus dropped him off, he looked up toward the missions training school and it was exactly the picture he had seen in his dreams!  Today he is the Director for CAPRO in Nigeria!

CAPRO International Chairman, Judah Bett, from Kenya, called the meeting to order this morning.

CAPRO International Chairman, Judah Bett, from Kenya, called the meeting to order this morning.

The Council met today for about 10 hours, and we'll keep the same schedule tomorrow.

The Council met today for about 10 hours, and we’ll keep the same schedule tomorrow.

Long-time CLC'ers will remember Pade Tokun, who was the International Director of CAPRO when we first started working with them in Senegal.

Long-time CLC’ers will remember Pade Tokun, who was the International Director of CAPRO when we first started working with them in Senegal.

They actually seated me between Pade and Bro. Amos Aderonmu, who also has visited CLC, so I really had to behave today.

Hope to share more tomorrow if I can access the internet again, and then I’ll spend the weekend in ministry with Missionary David Hatley at Church on the Rock here in Nairobi.

 

Off to Kenya

shutterstock_187642739I left last evening for Nairobi, Kenya where I will begin my service as a member of the CAPRO International Council.  You may recall that we have partnered with CAPRO in Senegal for the past 15 years, and I could not be more impressed with the integrity and single-minded focus of this Nigerian-based missions agency.

I was honored earlier this year when their highest leadership council asked me to join them as possibly the first American to serve, and this week’s meeting is my first opportunity.  We’ll be deliberating over some major challenges the ministry currently faces, so your prayers for wisdom and supernatural direction are needed.

I’ll try to post regularly this week to keep you informed on my whereabouts and work, so stay tuned-

Ask the Pastor

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Today I’m reposting this question from 2008:

Someone asked about the meaning of “five-fold ministry”, which is a term often used these days.

First, thanks for finally asking a ‘softball question’ that I can easily answer!

The term gets its origin from Ephesians 4:11-13 where the various ministry gifts that Jesus has given to the Church are listed: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  Since there are a total of five, oftentimes this kind of minister is referred to as a ‘five-fold ministry’, to distinguish from the fact that according to the New Testament, all of us as believers are ‘ministers’, since each of us has a ministry from the Lord to fulfill.  It’s perhaps a healthier way to view the Church rather than the traditional “clergy v. laity” terminology that is contrary to Scripture.

The Ephesian 4:11 ministers are called and gifted by the Lord specifically for the word of equipping the members of the church to fulfill their individual ministries.  Much has been written on the specifics of those fivefold ministers, but let me give my brief summary here:

Apostles are ‘fathering’ ministries who generally open up new areas for the gospel (such as missionaries who bring the Gospel into an unreached area) and/or who have many churches/ministers under their covering or leadership, who look to them for oversight.

Prophets are often trans-local ministers (meaning, they may travel and minister to the Body of Christ at large, rather than ministering in one local church), and they are gifted to see and proclaim word from God that often reveal the future or establish God’s heart on particular matters.  Prophets are often thought to be ‘ahead of their times’ and tend to see things in clear black-and-white ways rather than shades of gray.

Evangelists are gifted to lead lost people to Christ, and to train others to do the same.  They are often gifted with the working of miracles or healing gifts, to help facilitate their ministry to the lost.

Pastors are the shepherds who are given to feed, guide and protect the sheep (members) of a local church.

Teachers are gifted by the Lord to teach His Word to His people, with clarity and insight, so that the Word can be lived out.

To be honest – and I hope this doesn’t stir up needless controversy – a careful reading of Ephesians 4:11 indicates only a ‘fourfold’ ministry, since the office of pastor and teacher is joined, as in pastor-teacher.  This is easy to understand, since one of the primary requirements for a pastor is that he be able to teach.

Finally, I suspect the reason that the term is used quite often these days is to distinguish the fact that the Church (or individual using the term) does believe in all five of these ministries as being valid today.  For many years, it seemed the Church as a whole only embraced three of the five (evangelists, pastors and teachers) and the ministry-gift of Apostle and Prophet was considered by many to have ended in the early years of the New Testament.  However, like many churches across the globe, CLC definitely embraces the role of Apostles and Prophets as still be valid (and needed!) in the church today.

P.S. Among the many excesses that I’ve witnessed in the Church is the proliferation of ministers who are “claiming” the titles without doing the ‘stuff’.  Quite often I hear someone referred to as “Apostle so-and-so” who in reality has never fathered anything and has no real following of churches and ministers, etc.  At CLC, we prefer to err on the other side; i.e., we don’t often use the title; we just thank God for the ‘ministry’.  Thus, I may refer to someone as providing ‘apostolic oversight’  to a group of churches instead of calling him, ‘Apostle’.  In my humble opinion, real men and women of God aren’t interested in titles; they are doing the ministry!  May their kind never cease until we reach that perfect day of Christ-

Cambodia, day 6

We finally had some time off today to be with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul.  We love them like our own children, and we’re so thankful to get to be a part of what God is doing through their ministry here.

The highlight of our time together was a guided tour of their new facility that is currently under construction.  It’s an absolute miracle how God is providing them with more than twice the space they currently have, but on a major street inside a new shopping mall!  Take a look & rejoice with us:

Jesse & Chris walking thru the new entrance to their building-

Jesse & Chris walking thru the new entrance to their building-

Our first look at what will be their new 800-seat auditorium!

Our first look at what will be their new 800-seat auditorium!

From inside the auditorium, looking back at the entrance & 2-levels of classrooms

From inside the auditorium, looking back at the entrance & 2-levels of classrooms

The new offices for New Life Fellowship will be housed here-

The new offices for New Life Fellowship will be housed here-

 

From the second floor classrooms & offices will be a  bridge & stairway leading back to the auditorium

From the second floor classrooms & offices will be a bridge & stairway leading back to the auditorium

As pastors, we know the real excitement is NOT about brick & mortar, but about the fact that this new facility will enable NLF to reach many more Cambodians with the love of Jesus, and we fully expect explosive growth for this wonderful New Testament church!

That’s all for this trip – we’ll be boarding in less than 2 hours for the first of three flights (Phnom Penh-Seoul; Seoul-LA; LA-Chicago) that will get us home Tuesday evening.

Until then-

Cambodia, day 5

Our final day of ministry on this trip was spent at one of our favorite churches in the world,  New Life Fellowship in Phnom Penh, pastored by Jesse & Soar McCaul.

I had the honor of preaching their 10am service today, "What Happens When You Pray", and the response was wonderful!

I had the honor of preaching their 10am service today, “What Happens When You Pray”, and the response was wonderful!

While there were many who came forward for prayer afterwards, I thought some of you might recognize this NLF altar worker - MeyChen Pham!

While there were many who came forward for prayer afterwards, I thought some of you might recognize this NLF altar worker – MeyChen Pham!

Since returning home from EnTheos, MeyChen was scheduled to lead NLF's children's ministry. However, when the leader of their large internship program stepped down, MeyChen was appointed to that role instead, and Pastor Jesse says she is excelling! (She has also acquired a 'young suitor', pictured here with us)

Since returning home from EnTheos, MeyChen was scheduled to lead NLF’s children’s ministry. However, when the leader of their large internship program stepped down, MeyChen was appointed to that role instead, and Pastor Jesse says she is excelling with their interns! (She has also acquired a ‘young suitor’ who serves on the NLF worship team, pictured here with us)

We can't pronounce her name, but this young woman has become a dear friend that we look for on each visit.  When we first met, she was helping rescue girls from sex trafficking.  Now she works with an NGO to provide land & houses for impoverished people - such a heart to serve others!

We can’t pronounce her name, but this young woman has become a dear friend that we look for on each visit. When we first met, she was helping rescue girls from sex trafficking. Now she works with an NGO to provide land & houses for impoverished people – such a heart to serve others!

Tonight was the 4th worship experience we've had at New Life Fellowship on this trip, and each time it's been a different 5-piece band and different singers leading - and each has been amazing!  Such depth of talent & anointing here!

Tonight was the 4th worship experience we’ve had at New Life Fellowship on this trip, and each time it’s been a different 5-piece band and different singers leading – and each has been amazing! Such depth of talent & anointing here, plus every song we’ve sung has been written here!

This young lady works at our hotel, serving our breakfast each morning.  Tonight we learned that she is a member of New Life who really loves Jesus!

This young lady works at our hotel, serving our breakfast each morning. Tonight we learned that she is a member of New Life who really loves Jesus!

Chris preached her heart for missions tonight, and the altar response was amazing, as Cambodians streamed forward to offer themselves for the Lord's work (I wish you could have seen them, but I didn't intrude w/pictures because I was busy praying with so many)

Chris preached her heart for missions tonight, and the altar response was amazing, as Cambodians streamed forward to offer themselves for the Lord’s work (I wish you could have seen them, but I didn’t intrude w/pictures because I was busy praying with so many)

Finally our ministry time for this trip is done – tomorrow we’ll spend the day with Pastors Jesse & Soar.  We’re excited to see their new building under construction now and then catch our midnight flight home-

photos from day 4 in Cambodia

We forgot to take pictures of our seminar at Beltei International University yesterday, but their school photographer did not:

They even got me to dress up for the formal ceremonies to open & close the seminar

They even got me to dress up for the formal ceremonies to open & close the seminar-

This group photo was just a few representatives of the students who completed the seminar, "Today Matters"

This group photo was just a few representatives of the students who completed the seminar, “Today Matters”

Beltei really is an "international" university, with students from several different nations, including this bright young man from Turkmenistan, whom we met on our last trip here.

Beltei really is an “international” university, with students from several different nations, including this bright young man from Turkmenistan, whom we met on our last trip here.

Some of the students are Buddhist monks

Some of the students are Buddhist monks

Chris and I each had the privilege of presenting Certificates of Completion to the students

Chris and I each had the privilege of presenting Certificates of Completion to the students

In many respects, the highlight of the day for me was being able to present His Excellency Ly Chheng with an autographed copy of Dr. John Maxwell's latest book!  (Mr. Chheng was elated!!)

In many respects, the highlight of the day for me was being able to present His Excellency Ly Chheng with an autographed copy of Dr. John Maxwell’s latest book, “Intentional Living”!

In fact, he even wanted a picture of John's autograph!

Mr. Chheng was so elated with the gift he even wanted a picture of John’s autograph!

Cambodia, day 4

(LtoR) Pastor Mara Kong representing New Life Foundation; His Excellency Mr. Ly Chheng, President of Beltei University, me & Chris, & Mr. Chheng's youngest son, who is Vice-President of the University

(LtoR) Pastor Mara Kong representing New Life Foundation; His Excellency Mr. Ly Chheng, President of Beltei University, me & Chris, & Mr. Chheng’s youngest son, who is Vice-President of the University

Today was our final day of EQUIP seminars, as we had the privilege of teaching at the leading university in all of Cambodia, Beltei International University.  This was our second time to teach here, and we are building a wonderful relationship with His Excellency, Mr. Ly Chheng, who is the founder and President of the school.

We compressed an entire notebook of six lessons that normally take us a minimum of nine hours to teach into a little less than six hours today, but in the process we forgot to take any pictures of our audience, which was comprised about half and half of students and faculty from Beltei.

We’re praising God for the opportunity to sow into these precious people for whom Christ died, but we’re also thankful that today was the last of back-to-back-to-back seminars, as Chris and I are both wiped out!

We’ll minister at two of the three services at New Life Fellowship tomorrow.  Thanks for your prayers for this wonderful ministry which is leading the way in Cambodia!

Cambodia, day 3

Every student had the opportunity to be a "super hero" today....but the teacher got to model it first!

Every student had the opportunity to be a “super hero” today….but the teacher got to model it first!

To help review what we had taught these last 2 days, the students played Jenga after Chris explained how-

To help review what we had taught these last 2 days, the students played Jenga after Chris explained how-

They caught on quickly - look at the concentration on these girl's faces-

They caught on quickly – look at the concentration on these girl’s faces-

It felt good to wrap up the second seminar this afternoon - that's about 18 hours of teaching in the past 3 days. Whew!

It felt good to wrap up the second seminar this afternoon – that’s about 18 hours of teaching in the past 3 days. Whew!  (Now we can rest up for another 6 hours of teaching tomorrow)

Thanks for your prayers – one more seminar to go tomorrow, then we’ll minister at a couple of services at New Life Fellowship on Sunday before catching our return flight on Monday-

Cambodia, day 2

This day started with Chris and her "partners in crime" preparing some special object lessons

This day started with Chris and her “partners in crime” preparing some special object lessons-

One of those object lessons involved these 4 volunteers eating a pill that affected their taste buds so that nasty stuff (in the box) tasted good to them - to illustrate how a change our perspective can enable us to affirm others.

One of those object lessons involved these 4 volunteers eating a pill that affected their taste buds so that nasty stuff (in the box in Chris’ hand) tasted good to them – to illustrate how a change our perspective can enable us to affirm others.

At first we thought this object lesson flopped.... when Chris poured water on top of a chemical powder in the jar, it was supposed to overflow with 'snow'.....

At first we thought this object lesson flopped…. when Chris poured water on top of a chemical powder in the jar, it was supposed to overflow with ‘snow’, not stay in the jar…..

It really did work!  It wasn't cold like snow, but otherwise, it sure looked like it snowed in Cambodia today!

…..but moments later, it really did work! It wasn’t cold like snow, but otherwise, it sure looked like it snowed in Cambodia today, as the Queen of Object Lessons struck again!

Meanwhile, I just lectured, with no 'fun' stuff to liven up the class.

Meanwhile, I just lectured, with no ‘fun’ stuff to liven up the class.

  • Well, I did try my hand with an object lesson this afternoon with the taught university students for the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports – but we forgot to take ANY pics there all afternoon.  (Just take my word for it – it worked & the students were impressed!)

So day 2 is done and tomorrow we’ll spend all day with those university students, learning why “Today Matters”.  Until then-

Cambodia, day 1

It was 32 hours of travel from when we woke up at home Monday morning before we reached our hotel in Phnom Penh, so our teaching may have been discombobulated today, but we managed to complete 4 of the 6 lessons at New Life Fellowship:

Chris demonstrated a "lid" that limits our leadership potential.  (Most of today's teaching was about removing those lids to maximize our influence with others.)

Chris demonstrated a “lid” that limits our leadership potential. (Most of today’s teaching was about removing those lids to maximize our influence with others.)

It's always a joy to return to New Life Fellowship in Cambodia!  (I think this was our 7th or 8th trip here)

It’s always a joy to return to New Life Fellowship in Cambodia! (I think this was our 7th or 8th trip here)

One of the reasons we enjoy teaching here so much is the HUNGER of the Cambodians to learn.  There were 400 leaders from churches & NGO's all over the country who gathered today to receive, and they love to discuss what they're learning.

One of the reasons we enjoy teaching here so much is the HUNGER of the Cambodians to learn. There were 400 leaders from churches & NGO’s all over the country who gathered today to receive, and they love to discuss what they’re learning.

A tiny magnet attracting a LOT of paper clips illustrates how good leadership skills attract loyal followers! (from the queen of object lessons)

A tiny magnet attracting a LOT of paper clips illustrates how good leadership skills attract loyal followers! (from the queen of object lessons)

We’re early to bed tonight so we’ll be rested for tomorrow’s conclusion at NLF in the morning, before opening another seminar for the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports in the afternoon.  More later-

Off to Cambodia

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Chris and I leave before dawn this morning for O’Hare to catch the first of three flights that will get us to Phnom Penh, Cambodia about 11am tomorrow.

While there we’ll be teaching back-to-back-to-back seminars for EQUIP, the missions arm of Dr. John C. Maxwell.  The first seminar will be with our dear friends at New Life Fellowship (led by Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul) on Wednesday & Thursday.  Then on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday we’ll teach some officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports, along with some hand-picked university students and then all day Saturday we’ll teach faculty and students at the most prestigious university in Cambodia, Beltei International University.  Sunday night we’ll speak at one of the campuses of New Life and then spend Monday in meetings with Pastor Jesse before catching our return flight to Chicago.

Whew!  As always, it’s going to be a full 9 days, but we’re excited about what God will do!  Thanks for the prayers-

Sunday reflections

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Today was the climax of our N2 series, and what a powerful day it was with Dr. Patricia Bailey as our guest at the Tinley Park campus!

The Dance Team made His Praise glorious today!

The Dance Team made His Praise glorious today!

  • We also rejoiced with John Watanabe, a new believer who was baptized today!
Dr. Bailey was "in our face" all day, and we needed it! So appreciate her ministry!

Dr. Bailey was “in our face” all day, and we needed it! So appreciate her ministry!

We prayed over the Kenya team that will be leaving later this week to serve our missionary partners, David & Jennifer Hatley.

Altars were full in each service after Dr. Bailey’s challenge for CLC’ers to GO on a missions trip-

We prayed over the Kenya missions team that will be leaving later this week for Nairobi, to serve our partners, David & Jennifer Hatley

We prayed over the Kenya missions team that will be leaving later this week for Nairobi, to serve our partners, David & Jennifer Hatley

Pastor Sam is proud of NWI teens who serve in KidsLife - and rightfully so!

Pastor Sam is proud of some NWI teens who serve in KidsLife – and rightfully so!

Chris preached her heart for missions at NWI, and was well-received today.

Chris preached her heart for missions at NWI, and was well-received today.

Our amazing Blue Island Worship Director, Alan Franklin!

Our amazing Blue Island Worship Director, Alan Franklin!

We are called to reach children & young families.  (Yes, we are!)

We are called to reach children & young families. (Yes, we are!)

Pastor Brent shared his heart for missions, and Blue Islander's responded (it looks like about 10 people are committed to go to Siberia next summer!)  God's heart is our heart!

Pastor Brent shared his heart for missions, and Blue Islander’s responded afterwards (it looks like about 10 people are committed to go to Siberia next summer!) God’s heart is our heart!

Why I make a Faith Promise to missions every year

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I shared this with our entire CLC staff yesterday, to explain how I sincerely want each of them to experience the spiritual growth that I have experienced through this simple practice each year.  Honestly, it’s not about the money!  It’s about growing closer to God:

  1.  Nothing replaces personal time with God – prayer, reading Word, worship – those are the indispensable habits that bring us closer to Him.
  2. Honoring God with the tithe (Proverbs 3:9-10) is definitely a “growth practice” since what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 is true of all of us.  (I especially like the Message)
  3. I think I was 18 years old when I made my first ‘Faith Promise’ commitment.  The amount was small, but what was HUGE then and through the years since, is how I was stretched spiritually by making a Faith Promise:
  • I was stretched by praying and asking God how much He specifically wanted me to give to missions-
  • I was really stretched by listening for His answer (listening has helped me grow to hear His voice in other ways!)
  • Perhaps the neatest thing about listening is when Chris and I prayed separately and received the exact same number!  That’s a real faith builder!
  • I was stretched beyond words to obey by making the commitment of the amount I heard from him, because what I’ve heard each year has almost always been bigger than what I thought I could do-
  • My favorite ‘stretch’ is then trusting Him for the next 12 months to provide the amount we had heard, and seeing Him do it in surprising & unexpected ways!
  • The result has been clear: I’ve grown in my faith and in my love for people!

I want this for every CLC’er!  

It’s NOT about the money; it really is about YOUR spiritual growth!

CLC excels in SO many areas.  Would you read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, and aspire to excel in this area as well?

I pray that you will join me in making a Faith Promise commitment this Sunday.

Missions makes the world smaller!

Maybe I should have said "Gateway Conference makes the world smaller"

Maybe I should have said “Gateway Conference makes the world smaller”

Worship at the closing session of the Gateway Conference was as strong as I’ve ever experienced, so we ALL ended the conference on a high note (pun intended).

But for me perhaps the biggest takeaway is how missions had made our world smaller.  There were close to 5,000 people here for the conference, and the building is understandably HUGE.  Yet in the past two days, just minding our own business walking to the different sessions, I was able to meet:

  • Jesse McCaul, our dear friend and the missionary/pastor of New Life Fellowship in Cambodia, where Chris & I have the privilege of training for EQUIP, the missions arm of John Maxwell’s ministry (and where we’ll be in just 2 weeks!)
Pastor Jesse McCaul has become a real friend over these past few years & he's doing an AMAZING work in Cambodia!

Pastor Jesse McCaul has become a real friend over these past few years & he’s doing an AMAZING work in Cambodia! (don’t mind the photo bomb from our Youth Pastor!)

  • Leon Mazin, another friend and the leader of the Messianic congregation “Return to Zion” in Haifa, Israel, where we ministered last year and where a team of 30 CLC’ers will worship on the first weekend of December during our Israel trip!
  • Sergey (whose last name I cannot pronounce) who is the Worship Pastor at New Testament Church in Perm, Russia, where we had the privilege of ministering at least 5 or 6 times, first through EQUIP and more recently in a Marriage Retreat for their network of pastors.
Pastor Sergey with us last night

Pastor Sergey with us last night

Get this: none of us knew the other was coming to the conference in advance; we simply bumped into each other on the Gateway campus! (what are the odds?) 

I hope you understand that these aren’t just happenstances; these men have become  friends from afar to us.  As we continue our N2 series this Sunday, my prayer for every CLC is that you, too will join us in the adventure of missions and be able to build a genuine relationship with someone in the Nations – it really is a special treat in God’s Kingdom!  Can’t wait until Sunday!

missions, Missions, MISSIONS!

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In many ways, this is my favorite time of our church calendar, as we take a few weeks to FOCUS on the Mission of The Church, the last words that Jesus gave us:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Here’s what you can expect for the next 3 Sundays at our Tinley Park campus (our other Chicagoland campuses will be participating in the missions emphasis as well):

  • October 2 – Don Finto & Tod McDowell from the Caleb Company.  When the Lord dealt with me from Romans 11 about our lack of support for Jewish evangelism back in 2008, my heart was immediately on board – but it wasn’t until I read two of Don Finto’s books that my head understood why.  He and Tod will be doing a 3-part series instead of repeating the same message, so if you have a heart for Israel, you may want to consider attending more than one service.  Do. Not. Miss. This.
  • Oct. 7-10 – The Compassion Experience is coming to Tinley Park!  All the experts agree, the #1 best way to help Americans catch a vision for missions is to have them go on a short-term missions trip to the Nations.  The Compassion Experience may be the #2 best way, because you’ll be able to take a realistic tour of what life is like for so many people in the world (in this case, Bolivia and Uganda).  And after your heart is touched by these true-life stories, you’ll have the opportunity to respond by sponsoring a child in need, knowing that a local church in their area will minister to them personally because of your sponsorship!  By the way, if you make a reservation, you won’t have to wait as long to take your tour – do it here now!
  • October 16 – Dr. Patricia Bailey will be our guest at all 3 services in Tinley Park AND our annual International Dinner that evening.  Many of our African-American members have told me that they had never heard of missions to the Nations prior to coming to CLC, and that missions to them was about helping needy people in Chicago.  Dr. Bailey will revolutionize your thinking through her ministry in some of the most dangerous places on earth!

(In my best Bishop Jakes voice, “get ready, get readygen ready, GET READY!”

 

What CLC is doing in the communities we serve

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Without a doubt, the #1 objection to our missions focus at CLC through the years has come from well-meaning Christians who question,  why do we focus so much on The Nations when we have so many needs right here at home?”

If you’ve ever wondered that, I hope you’ll be present at any Chicagoland campus as we kick-off our 2016 “N2” series this Sunday, September 25, when we’ll focus on the first ‘N’ word of the series, ‘neighbors’.  And then for the following three Sundays of our Missions Emphasis, besides our international emphasis, we’ll also look at what CLC is doing in the south suburbs and Northwest Indiana to reach our own neighbors.

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Here’s just a quick list to whet your appetite for Sunday:

Neighborhood Partners

and a whole LOT more!

What local churches do around the world

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Sunday we talked about the difference the local church makes, not only in America, but around the world – and I mentioned one such church in Irbil, Iraq that had 1,600 refugees  show up in their courtyard, needing everything, since they had left all their possessions behind while fleeing Islamic persecution.

In case you missed it, here’s a one-minute video summary from the pastor:

I love his line: “we don’t call them refugees; we call them our relatives” – that’s what it means to be in God’s family, The Church!

NEXT!

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We still have one more Sunday of “Family Matters” before our campaign comes to a close  (maybe the most important message of the series!), but I’m already looking ahead to what’s NEXT at CLC………..

It’s our annual Missions Emphasis that we’re calling “N2” – as we go to both our Neighbors right here in Chicagoland, AND to The Nations of the world for whom Jesus died!

Mark your calendar for some of the most amazing guests we’ve ever hosted at CLC, with Don Finto and Tod McDowell joining us on October 2, and Dr. Patricia Bailey as our guest on October 16, plus an incredible ‘Compassion Experience” on October 7-10.  Click on any of the links to learn more-

I can’t wait!

Philippines, day 6

Today was pretty much the PERFECT day to close this trip.  All of the CLC pastors & some leaders took this boat to a nearby island for a buffet on the beach (and some swimming for those so inclined), but mainly LOTS of conversation & fellowship, as many of them didn't know each other before this convention.

Today was pretty much the PERFECT day to close this trip. All of the CLC pastors & some leaders took this boat to a nearby island….. 

...for a buffet on the beach (and some swimming for those so inclined), but mainly LOTS of conversation & fellowship, as many of them didn't know each other before this convention.

…for a buffet on the beach (and some swimming for those so inclined), but mainly LOTS of conversation & fellowship, as many of them didn’t know each other before this convention.

  • My favorite part of the outing was when Bishop Herley had each of the CLC pastors share a little about their work or a brief testimony.  Chris & I were moved to tears to learn of the sacrifices that some of them have made, and so touched by their gratitude to CLC-Chicagoland for our partnership.  (I took pics of each of them & will share some of those stories in another post)
Then we gathered for a closing service of the convention, where I exhorted briefly before Chris preached about being broken with what breaks God's heart  (this pic doesn't do it justice, as all of us were greatly moved by her words)

Then we gathered for a closing service of the convention, where I exhorted briefly before Chris preached about being broken with what breaks God’s heart (this pic doesn’t do it justice, as all of us were greatly moved by her words & Pastor Jeser’s translation into Cebuano)

Then Pastor Herley preached a masterpiece from the story of the missing axehead in 2Kings 6.  I don't  think any of us will ever forget that "the iron did swim" and no matter how illogical or impossible it seems, God can still do it again!

Then Pastor Herley preached a masterpiece from the story of the missing axehead in 2Kings 6. I don’t think any of us will ever forget that “the iron did swim” and no matter how illogical or impossible it seems, God can still do it again!

After his message, the Holy Spirit ministered powerfully in the altars as we prayed over each of the pastors and many of the local leaders, before a party-atmosphere of praise broke forth in the entire auditorium.  I recorded a brief video to show you, but the file is too large for me to post here.  (Once we return, I’ll get our tech guys to help me so you can see a little of what God is doing in the Philippines through CLC!)

We have about 3 hours now to get some ‘quick sleep’ before leaving for the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago on Wednesday afternoon.  Thanks for the prayers!

Philippines, day 5

The "Queen of Object Lessons" strikes again, this time with a can of shaving cream!

The “Queen of Object Lessons” strikes again, this time with a can of shaving cream!

How I wish EVERY pastor could have heard Bishop Herley Montes practical teaching at this first-ever CLC-Philippines Convention - such wisdom & experience!

How I wish EVERY pastor could have heard Bishop Herley Montes practical teaching at this first-ever CLC-Philippines Convention – such wisdom & experience!

Pastor Joel Montes challenged all the pastors to prepare for the MULTITUDE that is coming!

Pastor Joel Montes challenged all the pastors to prepare for the MULTITUDE that is coming!

To be honest, this full day of teachings had everyone weary (especially the Americans!), so Chris used a game to keep everyone awake in her afternoon session.

To be honest, this full day of teachings had everyone weary (especially the Americans!), so Chris used a game to keep everyone awake in her afternoon session. (P.S. It worked!)

Our long-time friend, Pastor Jeser from CLC-Tagum interpreted today's sessions & his humor kept everyone AWAKE!

Our long-time friend, Pastor Jeser Molina from CLC-Tagum interpreted today’s sessions & his humor kept everyone AWAKE!

Tonight wasn't sleepy, though - with powerful worship from this Davao team we love!

Tonight wasn’t sleepy, though – with powerful worship from this Davao team we love!

Then I preached with a great sense of anointing (Pastor Jeser interpreting)

Then I preached with a great sense of anointing (Pastor Jeser interpreting)

Chris ministered prophetically to close the service, and it was POWERFUL!

Chris ministered prophetically to close the service, and it was POWERFUL!

Philippines, day 4 (Sunday in Davao)

Bishop Herley Montes exhorting us before we received communion together (CLC'ers note Erik in the red pants, still shredding the guitar!)

Bishop Herley Montes exhorting us before we received communion together (CLC’ers note Erik at far left in the red pants, still shredding the guitar!)

After I ministered about prayer today, Pastor Herley gave the altar invitation and these precious people came forward for salvation. (What God is doing in the Philippines is AMAZING - our campus in Davao has grown from less than 500 to more than 2,000 in just the past 7 years!)

After I ministered about prayer today, Pastor Herley gave the altar invitation and these precious people came forward for salvation.

Pastor Herley led the prayer for all those who responded.

Pastor Herley led the prayer for all those who responded.(What God is doing in the Philippines is AMAZING – our campus in Davao has grown from less than 500 to more than 2,000 in just the past 7 years!)

Chris preached at CLC-Tagum this morning, but returned in time to preach the 3rd Sunday service in Davao this afternoon.

Chris preached at CLC-Tagum this morning, but returned in time to preach the 3rd Sunday service in Davao this afternoon.

and she was quite proud of herself when the balloon trick worked!

and she was quite proud of herself when the balloon trick worked!

Tonight was another FIRST - the fan blew my notes so much this morning that I decided to go hi-tech & preach from my laptop! (Don't expect to see that at home)

Tonight was the 4th Sunday service at CLC-Davao and another FIRST for me – the fan blew my notes so much this morning that I decided to go hi-tech & preach from my laptop! (Don’t expect to see this at home)

At least 18 people came forward afterwards to receive Jesus!  I'll say it again: what God is doing in the Philippines is AMAZING!

At least 18 people came forward afterwards to receive Jesus! I’ll say it again: what God is doing in the Philippines is AMAZING!

Now it’s time for some sleep before we begin the FIRST-EVER CLC-Philippines Convention tomorrow morning with all 11 of our campuses – pray for great anointing on all our meetings!

Philippines, day 3

Worship was sweet at CLC-Cagayan de Oro yesterday, and this song captured it all!

Worship was sweet at CLC-Cagayan de Oro yesterday, and this song captured it all!

Bishop Herley Montes is a mentor to so many pastors & leaders here-

Bishop Herley Montes is a mentor to so many pastors & leaders here-

It's always a joy to teach in the Philippines

It’s always a joy to teach in the Philippines & Pastor Herley is a great interpreter!

Once again, the Word Chris shared really moved the people - "No Regrets"!

Once again, the Word Chris shared really moved the people – “Living life with No Regrets”!

Host pastor Jun Bringas from CLC-Cagayan de Oro

Host pastor Jun Bringas from CLC-Cagayan de Oro

After a full morning of ministry, we had a great lunch & fellowship on the seaside with our pastor friends.

After a full morning of ministry, we had a great lunch & fellowship on the seaside with our pastor friends – what a view!

This pic is from day 2, but what a great surprise to see "CLC" so prominently displayed, even in a city we had never visited before.

This pic is from day 2, but what a great surprise to see “CLC” so prominently displayed, even in a city we had never visited before.

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the terrorist bombing in Davao City – it happened Friday about 50 yards from our hotel, but we didn’t arrive until almost 24 hours later.  Thank God that several of our CLC-Davao youth were in the market that evening, but none of them were injured by the blast!  For the remainder of this trip we’ll be ministering in Davao, so we appreciate your continued prayers, not just for safety, but especially for anointing & favor from the Lord on our meetings!

We are SAFE and SOUND in the Philippines!

I started receiving texts from CLC’ers this morning about 1am, concerned about the news of a bombing in Davao City that killed at least 14 and injured 67 others, but Chris and I were never in any danger, as we don’t travel to Davao until this evening.

Our second day of ministry here in northern Mindanao was spent in Cagayan de Oro, where we both preached twice, and while I failed to document any of the services with pictures, I must tell you that the Lord really used Chris last night to impact many of the young leaders from several different congregatinos who had gathered for these meetings.  I was one proud husband as she brought a prophetic word that had obvious impact, and I saw several leaders who received emotional healing from wounds of their past!

This morning we will teach at another meeting with key leaders at CLC-Cagayan de Oro and then head to the airport this afternoon for our flight to Davao.  Please continue to pray for those affected by the bombing there – I don’t yet know if any of our CLC-Davao members were included.

(I’ll remember my phone for the rest of our schedule so I can include some pics)

Philippines, day 1

Maria Cristina fallsOur first day in Mindanao was terrific (especially considering jetlag).

Bishop Herley Montes and the CLC-Iligan pastor, Sylbert, met us at the airport and drove about 2 hours to Iligan.  After showing us the ‘sights’ high above the city and the waterfalls for which the city is known.

Then four churches of various denominations came together for a combined worship service hosted by CLC-Iligan.

It reminded me of Regeneration at our Davao campus because of so many young people and their zeal for the Lord.

It reminded me of Regeneration at our Davao campus because of so many young people and their zeal for the Lord.

Host Pastor Sylbert (L) introduced Bishop Herley Montes to the 4 churches who gathered together.

Host Pastor Sylbert (L) introduced Bishop Herley Montes to the 4 churches who had gathered.

I shared a brief word about prayer before Chris brought the main message of the evening.

I shared a brief word about prayer before Chris brought the main message of the evening.

After Chris brought a word about healing, we must have prayed for over 300 people who came forward.

After Chris brought a word about healing for bodies and emotions, we must have prayed for over 300 people who came forward (along with the other pastors).

We’re leaving in a few minutes for the 2-hour drive to Cagayan de Oro where we’ll have a network of pastor’s gathering all afternoon and a church service tonight.  More later-

Off to the Philippines

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Chris and I left home yesterday about 5pm to catch the first of three flights that will eventually get us to our hotel in Manila, Philippines about 2am Wednesday (Chicago time).  We’ll stay there overnight before catching another flight to Cagayan de Oro in northern Mindanao by Wednesday night in Chicago.

I should have WiFi at the hotel and if so will keep you updated each day of the trip – here’s the schedule in the Philippines, which is 13 hours ahead of Chicago time, for those of you inclined to pray for us:

Thursday night – minister at the CLC campus in Iligan City in northern Mindanao.

Friday afternoon/evening – teaching a gathering of pastors & ministering in a service at our CLC campus in Cagayan de Oro.

Sunday – Chris & I will minister in all 3 services for our Davao City campus.

Monday – we will minister along with Bishop Herley Montes and Pastor Joel Montes at the first-ever CLC Philippines Convention, when 11 campuses of CLC are coming together for an all-day plus evening gathering!

Tuesday – we have a fellowship gathering planned during the day so we can get to know these pastors & leaders better, followed by the closing service of the convention that night.

Then it’s three more flights on Wednesday to get us back home!

Interested in Missionary Training?

Do YOU feel a calling to help fulfill the Great Commission?

If so, I have some great news for you!

My friends, Todd & Julie Powers are veteran missionaries and founders of Empower International and they’re leading a 10-week intensive missionary training program in Thailand starting in January, 2017!

Like them, I believe there is a rising, modern missionary movement in our generation that will utterly change the world!  

We need well-trained, sharp, powerful and fearless frontline missionaries now, more than ever! And, this is exactly what Todd & Julie will produce through Empower Missionary Training Academy.  I highly recommend this training to anyone who feels called to missionary service!

For more details or to apply, just click here.

N2: Missions is what we do!

 

N2

Our MISSIONS strategy is N2, because we’re going to Neighbors & Nations!

Yesterday was a great example of reaching out to our neighbors, as Community Outreach Pastor Moy Mendez led a team of volunteers from CLC as part of Tinley Park’s annual Caribbean Fest, serving many of the 20,000 people who  ‘took over’ downtown Tinley for this summertime event.  We were able to serve and touch childrenyoung families in a variety of fun ways:

GAMES were fun for all the kids-

GAMES were fun for all the kids-

Face-painting drew lines of kids all afternoon!

Face-painting drew lines of kids all afternoon!

The hard part of the games was choosing the prize after winning!

The hard part of the games was choosing the prize after winning!

Who said missions can't be FUN?

Who said missions can’t be FUN?

And today we went a team of excited CLC’ers (led by our KidsLife Director, Stacy Hunter) to Costa Rica, where they will be ministering to underserved children in the inner city of San Jose.

CostaRica team

Unfortunately, we must not have prayed enough for them yesterday, as their flight from O’Hare this morning had some sort of problem with a restroom, which resulted in a 2-hour delay, which means they will miss their connecting flight in Miami and won’t get into Costa Rica until late tonight – after meeting here at CLC at 2am!  Let’s pray the rest of their week goes exceptionally well!

If you’re interested in reaching NEIGHBORS, our ‘Family Matters’ campaign would be a  great way to start – just let us know here that you’d like to host a group of friends, family, co-workers or neighbors!

And if you’re interested in reaching NATIONS, we have two missions trip left in 2016:  Kenya – October 20-November 3 and Israel – November 28-December 8.  You can get all the details from our Missions Director here but this Sunday, July 24 IS the deadline for applications for both trips, so act fast!

Homeward bound

I said goodbye to an old friend, Dr. David Shibley (R) and to some new friends, Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev, before returning home today.

I said goodbye to an old friend, Dr. David Shibley (R) and to some new friends, Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev, before returning home today.

This has been a crazy departure day:

  • Ready to leave our hotel at 5:30am (5:30pm Sunday in Chicago) when I mentioned to Pastor Ilya that we had left the half-eaten cakes his wife made for us in the room.  He decided to retrieve them and while I waited outside for him, put my hand in my pocket and discovered my cell phone wasn’t there!  (My case also includes a credit card, my ATM card & my driver’s license)  I had left it on the nightstand in the hotel room – NEVER don’t that before in my life!  (Thankful that he wanted to get the cakes, which allowed me time to retrieve the phone)
  • After checking in at Novokuznetsk airport (and snagging an upgrade to Business class!) I went to the security checkpoint just about the time the power went out at the airport.  We all waited until just about time for my flight, when the power came back on and the only x-ray machine at the airport began working again.  Whew!
  • Got to my seat on the plane and discovered that I was the ONLY person in the Business cabin.  That was definitely a first.
  • Upon arrival in Moscow, the airline provided buses to take us to the terminal, but just before I got on the bus (as the first person off the plane), I noticed a sign for  “business class” and a special van waiting just for me.  Didn’t have to wait for the entire planeload of passengers to get on the bus – the van took me straight to the terminal.  That may seem like no big deal, but my connection was so tight today that I got to my gate just about 15 minutes before boarding, so had I ridden the bus with everyone else, I would have been sweating it!
  • Then got to Munich but missed the correct corridor for transit passengers and had to clear passport control twice.  I literally got to my boarding gate just as boarding began.  Thank God for short connections that worked, because I only traveled 20 hours today instead of the 24 hours it took to get to Siberia!
  • Loved it in Siberia; made some great new friends in the Bantseev’s; ready now to be HOME!

Sunday reflections

First, a few reflections from Siberia after our final service here:

I sensed a strong anointing again tonight as I preached on prayer & the altar was filled afterwards with Siberians who wanted to pray!

I sensed a strong anointing again tonight as I preached on prayer & the altar was filled afterwards with Siberians who wanted to pray!

3 men gave their lives to Jesus tonight! (Pastor Ilya is leading them in a sinner's prayer)

3 men gave their lives to Jesus tonight! (Pastor Ilya is leading them in a sinner’s prayer)

After service we had dinner with 15 church planters, plus the recent missions school graduates (future planters) AND the Teen Challenge workers.  Dr. Shibley challenged them with a word from the Lord.

After service we had dinner with 15 church planters, plus the recent missions school graduates (future planters) AND the Teen Challenge workers. Dr. Shibley challenged them with a word from the Lord as Pastor Ilya translated.

These precious church planters serve in the Republic of Tuva, which is primarily Buddhist (sits near the Mongolian border)

These precious church planters serve in the Republic of Tuva, which is primarily Buddhist (sits near the Mongolian border)  Pray for them in that very difficult area.

I couldn't be more impressed with Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev and all they've accomplished here in Siberia already.  I hope you'll remember their faces when you pray.

I couldn’t be more impressed with Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev and all they’ve accomplished here in Siberia already. I hope you’ll remember their faces when you pray.

Our driver, Ruslan & his wife Maria, just planted a church a few weeks ago & have already seen 7 Siberians pray to receive Christ!

Our driver, Ruslan & his wife Maria, just planted a church a few weeks ago & have already seen 7 Siberians pray to receive Christ!

Now that this wonderful time of ministry is over, I’m wondering about this Sunday at CLC.  If you attended any campus of CLC today (or online), please leave a comment below to let me know:

  • what was your favorite part of the service today?
  • how did the Holy Spirit minister to you personally?
  • any other comments you’d like to share?

I’ll board my first of three flights about 7pm Sunday (Chicago time) and get into O’Hare about 3pm Monday, the Lord willing.  Looking forward to seeing you soon-

Day 4 in Siberia

Today was our last day of ministry in Novokuznetsk, Siberia with the church pastored by Ilya & Janet Bantseev.  In the first service, I preached with real passion.  I don’t mean  volume because I wasn’t screaming.  I don’t mean emotion because I wasn’t overly-emotional (unless you count tears in my eyes).  But I was really feeling an anointing to help this Siberian church see people as Jesus sees them.  Great response afterwards.

The pictures below were from the second service today:

It was AMAZING how many of the worship songs here we sing at CLC - small world!

It was AMAZING how many of the worship songs here we sing at CLC – small world!

These church planters from Crimea presented their 9th child to be dedicated today (3rd boy, with 6 older sisters)

These church planters from Crimea presented their 9th child to be dedicated today (3rd boy, with 6 older sisters) – that’s one way to grow a church!

He was a cute little guy, but he wasn't too happy that I wanted to take his picture.

He was a cute little guy, but he wasn’t too happy that I wanted to take his picture.

The woman in blue next to Dr. Shibley is a Siberian missionary to South Korea & her sister beside her is returning with her to serve there also.

The woman in blue next to Dr. Shibley is a Siberian missionary to South Korea (working among Russian speakers there) & her sister beside her is returning with her to serve there also.

Dr. Shibley delivered a great message about "7 Voices We Should Hear" in today's second service, with Oksana interpreting.

Dr. Shibley delivered a great message about “7 Voices We Should Hear” in today’s second service, with Oksana interpreting.

Missions conference in SIBERIA

The pastor’s conference officially ended this afternoon, but the local church that is hosting us has 4 weekend services: 1 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday, so tonight we began their annual missions conference.

Dr. David Shibley from Global Advance preached "Keys to the Harvest" tonight, with Pastor Ilya Bantseev interpreting.

Dr. David Shibley from Global Advance preached “Keys to the Harvest” tonight, with Pastor Ilya Bantseev interpreting.

After the message & the response from workers willing to go into missions, Pastor Ilya made a salvation invitation and these 3 men came & prayed to receive Christ!

After the message & the response from workers willing to go into missions, Pastor Ilya made a salvation invitation and these 3 men came & prayed to receive Christ!

This pastor couple traveled for 6 days by car - they serve in Crimea, near the Ukrainian border!

This pastor couple traveled for 6 days by car to attend the pastor’s conference this weekend- they lead a church in Crimea, near the Ukrainian border!

This pastor traveled from the furthest point west of Novokuznetsk - took him 2 full days of driving to get here!

This pastor traveled from the furthest point west of Novokuznetsk – took him 2 full days of driving to get here for the pastor’s conference!

After the service, during dinner, the Bantseev’s told us stories of their history here and I was mesmerized at the hand of God that has been on their lives – I’ll share some of those stories with you later, but right now the bed is calling my name!

Siberia, day 3

This pastor's wife is in charge of Children's Ministry throughout Siberia & she was so encouraged that I told the pastors the priority that CLC places on reaching children!

This pastor’s wife is in charge of Children’s Ministry throughout Siberia for this church network & she was so encouraged that I told the pastors the priority that CLC places on reaching children!

Speaking of kids, they ARE the same the world over.  These little girls (daughters of recent missionary school graduates) were 'flirting' with me until I decided to take their picture, then they acted all shy (uh, huh - just like home!)

Speaking of kids, they ARE the same the world over. These little girls (daughters of recent missionary school graduates) were ‘flirting’ with me until I decided to take their picture, then they acted all shy (uh, huh – just like home!)

After I preached on the Great Commission, the recent missionary school graduates were called forward - many of them will soon begin planting churches in Siberia.  (David Shibley led this prayer over the group of about 20 couples)

After I preached on the Great Commission, the recent missionary school graduates were called forward – many of them will soon begin planting churches in Siberia. (David Shibley led this prayer over the group of about 20 couples)

more recent grads

more recent grads receiving prayer from the Missionary School Director (top right) and Pastor Ilya Banteev

 

More of the Missionary School graduates

More of the Missionary School graduates

The pastor’s conference concludes this afternoon, and tonight we’ll begin the four weekend services for this local church and their annual Missions Conference.  Dr. David Shibley and I will preach two services each before heading back home-

Siberia Missions conference

Sergei is one of those infectious zealots that every pastor loves.  He was radically saved from drug addiction & now serves as the Regional Director for Every Home For Christ, reaching thousands of people in Siberia!

Sergei is one of those infectious zealots that every pastor loves. He was radically saved from drug addiction & now serves as the Regional Director for Every Home For Christ, reaching thousands of people in Siberia, with a heart for missions as big as I’ve ever seen!

Tonight was the opening of the missions conference & the worship team was on FIRE!

Tonight was the opening of the missions conference & the worship team was on FIRE!

Dr. Shibley from Global Advance preached, "10 Reasons Why We Go", with Pastor Ilya Bantseev interpreting.

Dr. David Shibley preached, “10 Reasons Why We Go”, with Pastor Ilya Bantseev interpreting.

These Siberian pastors & leaders flooded the altar to offer themselves to the Lord afterwards.

These Siberian pastors & leaders flooded the altar to offer themselves to the Lord afterwards.

Now for some shut-eye before I teach the opening session in the morning-

Siberia, day 2

Some of the 60 men at the Teen Challenge center we visited.

Some of the 60 men at the Teen Challenge center we visited.

One truth you quickly learn in missions is “be instant in season, out of season”, or perhaps better said: “be flexible”!  Our schedule for this trip was basically rest & get acquainted time until the conference begins tonight – but yesterday we joined the local church fast and ministered at their prayer meeting before breaking the fast.

This morning we drove about a half-hour out of the city to visit one of the Teen Challenge centers operated by our host church (they have 3 other centers in other locations).  You may recognize the name “Teen Challenge” as the ministry began by David Wilkerson many years ago, to help people overcome substance abuse. (Pastor Ilya Bantseev is the Director of Global Teen Challenge for all of Eurasia)

If you don’t know why this is so important for Russian churches, let me explain the scourge that alcohol and drug abuse is in this country.  Pastor Ilya asked his congregation of 1,000 believers, “how many of you have someone in your immediate family who is an alcoholic or drug addict?” and every single hand went up!

The center we visited today currently has 60 men enrolled in the program, and we were privileged to share with them at their daily chapel service.

One of the staff members led the men in worship before we spoke.

One of the staff members led the men in worship before we spoke.

Oksana interpreted for Dr. David Shibley and me as we shared from the Scriptures.

Oksana interpreted for Dr. David Shibley and me as we shared from the Scriptures.

After a brief tour of their operation, which includes over 32 acres of land which the men farm to help raise their food, we returned to our hotel to prepare for the conference which begins tonight.  I cannot express how my heart is touched to see what this ministry has already accomplished, and I haven’t even been in a service with their network of pastors and churches yet.  Surely God is at work in Siberia!

 

Siberia, day 1

Today was supposed to be a rest day before the pastor’s conference opens tomorrow, but shortly after landing we learned that the local church was observing a fast that would end with a corporate prayer meeting tonight, so Dr. Shibley and I joined them.  The prayer meeting was good, but the fellowship and stories we heard around the dinner table has already made the entire trip worthwhile!

The church worship team led us into His Presence before the prayers began.

The church worship team led us into His Presence before the prayers began.

Siberians may be reserved by American standards, but these folks came to worship & pray!

Siberians may be reserved by American standards, but these folks came to worship & pray!

For over 2 hours the host pastors (who have become my newest heroes!), Ilya & Janet Bantseev and their 2 daughters, Jessica & Joanna, kept us mesmerized with stories of incredible sacrifice yet amazing blessings:

  • 11 different church locations in the first 6 years, because of persecution that caused landlords to evict them-
  • worshiping for 2 years in an old shoe factory with no heat….and temps of minus 40 degrees….with people wearing as many as 9 layers of clothing and trudging thru deep snow to get to worship…..AND no one complained!
  • After buying their church building legally, they battled for 6 years in court to be able to worship there, losing three times, but ultimately prevailing by a ruling in the Russian Supreme Court! (such perseverance!!!!)
  • Honestly, I don’t have words to tell you the testimonies of drug addicts and alcoholics who have been delivered and who have today become church planters in this region of Siberia – story, after story, after story!
  • To hear the 2 daughters of our host pastor (both college students in the USA) tell how their American friends can’t understand, but they LOVE the fact that they’ve grown up around drug addicts, etc. because they have seen and KNOW that the Gospel works….and both of them are determined to get degrees that will enable them to assist their parents in the work here!!!!!
L to R: Joanna, Jessica, Janet & Ilya Bantseev, David Shibley & me.

L to R: Joanna, Jessica, Janet & Ilya Bantseev, David Shibley & me.

Jet lag has kicked in and it’s past 11:30pm here, so I’ll report more tomorrow-

Siberia-bound

 

Drama theater in Novokuznetsk, Siberia, Russia

Drama theater in Novokuznetsk, Siberia, Russia

After a round of several meetings at the office yesterday, I left for O’Hare to catch the first of three flights that will get me to Novokuznetsk, Siberia, Russia about 6pm Wednesday, Chicago-time (6 a.m. Thursday in Novokuznetsk)

I’m meeting Dr. David Shibley at the Moscow airport and the two of us are the invited guests for a pastor’s conference this weekend, and we’ll also be speaking at a large charismatic church there on Sunday.  I’ve attached the full schedule below for those of you who will pray for us specifically – and I really do appreciate it!

prayer for Siberia trip

I’ll be home Monday afternoon with a good report from a far country (Proverbs 25:25)

It’s a PRIVILEGE to PARTNER with others in missions

Since Easter fell on the 4th Sunday of March (which is our normal ‘Missions’ Sunday at CLC), we weren’t able to spend the time talking about our missions emphasis.  I hope you’ll enjoy this clip from our partners at OneHope and the AMAZING work they’re doing to help African nations grow their own food to escape poverty:

Besides your designated gifts for missions, don’t forget that 10% of every dollar you give at CLC is going to help fund the Gospel through great partners like OneHope and this “Foundations for Farming” ministry!

CLC and SENEGAL

About 17 or 18 years ago, I had possibly the only God-dream of my life.  In the dream, we were in a large arena for what I recognized as the annual General Conference of the denomination in which I grew up and was part of for the first 20 years of ministry.

The emcee of the conference stepped to the pulpit and said, “And now introducing our newly-appointed missionaries to Senegal, Jerry & Chris McQuay!”  Immediately I woke up.

At that point, I wasn’t even sure where Senegal was – I just knew it was somewhere in Africa.  And since I knew in my heart that God was not calling me to go back to the denomination I had left several years earlier, I interpreted the dream to mean that God had an assignment for us in Senegal.

Fast forward to 2016, where a team of medical personnel and dedicated CLC’ers just returned from the BEST trip we’ve ever made to that nation that has captured our hearts.  In the past 15 years, CLC has invested over $300,000, provided 4 buildings (in a nation that has only about 20 evangelical church buildings in the entire country!), numerous leadership trainings, and conducted about 7 or 8 medical team trips offering free medical clinics in areas of the country where medical care is either difficult or unavailable.

Get this: our team this year treated over 1,500 patients in just four days, despite the fact that one of those areas required 3 hours of travel to and from for our team, and another area they served required 7 hours of travel to reach!

People waiting in line for medical care in the village of Karang that took 7 hours of travel for our team to reach.

People waiting in line for medical care in the village of Karang that took 7 hours of travel for our team to reach.

In addition, with the help of our partners, the team distributed over 700 French Bibles to adults who were waiting in line for medical care, with the overwhelming number of them being Muslim.  And, as a result of the loving care they received from our team, two women prayed to receive Christ on the spot!

Dr. Mope Akintorin (L) was able to lead this young Muslim mother to Jesus!

Dr. Mope Akintorin (L) was able to lead this young Muslim mother to Jesus!

Only eternity will reveal the ultimate fruit from this team’s effort, but this I know: CLC is making a difference in the nation of Senegal.  I give my sincere thanks to the doctors, nurses and compassionate workers who gave of themselves on this latest trip, and a BIG THANKS to every CLC’er whose faithful giving makes it possible for us to reach nations!

Cambodia, day 4

I’m writing this post from the Phnom Penh airport as we prepare to board the first of three flights that will eventually get us back to Chicago on Wednesday afternoon – but I must say our hearts are FULL because of all God did and is doing in this Asian nation:

As usual, Chris taught about the importance of LISTENING to be successful

As usual, Chris taught about the importance of LISTENING to be successful

The Cambodians always LOVE audience participation (even when they're supposed to act nonchalant)

The Cambodians always LOVE audience participation (even when they’re supposed to act nonchalant)

These 2 young leaders are engaged in a contest to see who can empty a tube of toothpaste the fastest.  Except when they finished, Chris instructed them to put the paste back in the tube, to illustrate that we can NEVER take back our words once they are spoken (don't gossip!)

These 2 young leaders are engaged in a contest to see who can empty a tube of toothpaste the fastest. Except when they finished, Chris instructed them to put the paste back in the tube, to illustrate that we can NEVER take back our words once they are spoken (don’t gossip!)

Chris blew a bubble to illustrate how PRIDE puffs us up! (and had a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble - after all, we're just big kids!)

Chris blew a bubble to illustrate how PRIDE puffs us up! (and had a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble – after all, we’re just big kids!)

As leaders will need people who will STICK to us & help fulfill our dreams, rather than POPPING our dreams! (look closely & you'll see the stick went thru w/o popping - I'm impressed!)

As leaders will need people who will STICK to us & help fulfill our dreams, rather than POPPING our dreams! (look closely & you’ll see the stick went thru w/o popping – even I’m impressed!)

After lunch, Pastor Seiha (far R) gave us a tour of her office at Center for Global Impact - a ministry that helps girls rescued from sex trafficking to learn job skills & begin building a new life for themselves!

After lunch, Pastor Seiha (far R) gave us a tour of her office at Center for Global Impact – a ministry that helps girls rescued from sex trafficking to learn job skills & begin building a new life for themselves!

After dinner with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, we learned that another leading university here learned about our seminar at Beltei earlier in the week, and wanted to know how they could be included on our next visit!  God is continuing to open doors to reach this nation, and I’m SO thankful that CLC gets to partner with ministries like New Life Fellowship!

We’ll see you Wednesday night if you attend H2H or Iron Men at Tinley Park – otherwise, look for us this weekend for a very special Palm Sunday at CLC!

Cambodia, day 3

Today was perhaps our longest day of ministry as we began teaching at 8:30am and didn’t finish until 5pm (with a break for lunch, of course), and I’m pretty wiped-out now, but wanted to give you a quick look at our day at New Life Fellowship, teaching the EQUIP seminar, “Talent is Never Enough”:

Leaders from Australia, New Zealand and USA enjoying a discussion time together

Leaders from Australia, New Zealand and USA enjoying a discussion time together

CLC'ers will be proud to know that Chris is still the 'Queen of object lessons'

CLC’ers will be proud to know that Chris is still the ‘Queen of object lessons’ (and as you can tell from the expression on Samnang’s face as he interpreted, the Cambodians LOVE it!)

they also loved it when she invited them to a quick game of baseball to illustrate on of her points

they also loved it when she invited them to a quick game of baseball to illustrate on of her points

No matter what object or game she used, she ALWAYS hit the target today!

No matter what object or game she used, she ALWAYS hit the target today!

And the Cambodians enjoyed every opportunity for group discussion to APPLY what they were learning

And the Cambodians enjoyed every opportunity for group discussion to APPLY what they were learning

In case you’re wondering, I was teaching today, too – just didn’t take any selfies in the process!

Tomorrow we’ll be teaching the final sessions in the morning, then spend the afternoon & evening with Pastors Chuck and Jesse McCaul before boarding our flight home – thanks for your prayers in advance!

Cambodia, day 2

The second day of our seminar at Beltei University was even better than the first:

I was teaching in a CLC polo & jeans when they informed us the closing ceremony was a 'formal' occasion, so Pastor Jesse borrowed a white shirt & black jacket from his dad for me to wear - didn't fit, but I guess it was more formal than my polo! #StuffYouDoInMissions

I was teaching in a CLC polo & jeans when they informed us the closing ceremony was a ‘formal’ occasion, so Pastor Jesse borrowed a white shirt & black jacket from his dad for me to wear – didn’t fit, but I guess it was more formal than my polo! #StuffYouDoInMissions

The discussion times were always LIVELY among both faculty & students!

The discussion times were always LIVELY among both faculty & students!

Dr. Ly Cheng presented Chris & me with a beautiful silver plate of the Beltei logo at the close of the seminar.

Dr. Ly Cheng presented Chris & me with a beautiful silver plate of the Beltei logo at the close of the seminar.

Then students & staff received their certificates of completion for the EQUIP seminar, "Thinking for a Change"

Then students & staff received their certificates of completion for the EQUIP seminar, “Thinking for a Change”

Just a sample of the 553 students & staff who completed the seminar & were awarded a certificate standing with us

Just a sample of the 553 students & staff who completed the seminar & were awarded a certificate standing with us

After a couple of hours to rest, we went to New Life Fellowship’s newest campus on the other side of Phnom Penh for their evening service, and it was, well, WOW!

their Worship team, though young & small, ushered in an AMAZING Presence of God and the whole congregation just entertained His Presence for quite some time....

their Worship team, though young & small, ushered in an AMAZING Presence of God and the whole congregation just entertained His Presence for quite some time….

After I taught briefly about the Holy Spirit, Chris gave some prophetic words under a strong anointing

After I then taught briefly about the Holy Spirit, Chris gave some prophetic words under a strong anointing…

when she invited young people to come forward for prayer, I counted about 65-70 youth who rushed to the altar!

when she invited young people to come forward for prayer, I counted about 65-70 youth who rushed to the altar!

Finally, we prayed over some of the youth who want to be used by God to reach souls in this area of Phnom Penh (100,000 garment workers live in poverty within a mile of this church)

Finally, we prayed over some of the youth who want to be used by God to reach souls in this area of Phnom Penh (100,000 garment workers live in poverty within a mile of this church)

That wraps up our Sunday here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – but since this is now Sunday in Chicago as well, my pastor’s heart wants to know: how was CLC today?  If you attended any campus or online today, please leave your comments below – tell me how the Holy Spirit ministered to you or what your favorite part of the service might have been. Thanks!  Two more days of ministry at New Life Fellowship, teaching leadership principles to church leaders, pastors and business leaders before we head home on Tuesday night-

Cambodia, Day 1

We’ve finished our first day of ministry here, teaching from 8am-4:30pm (with a break for lunch, of course) to a group of several hundred students from the leading university in Cambodia and some of their faculty:

The Beltei auditorium is as nice as any I've seen anywhere - very beautiful, very modern.

The Beltei auditorium is as nice as any I’ve seen anywhere – very beautiful, very modern.

As always, my bride did a superb job of teaching in such a way as to hold the interest of university students & their faculty alike!

As always, my bride did a superb job of teaching in such a way as to hold the interest of university students & their faculty alike!

The faculty, all in khaki's, seemed just as interested in our teaching as the students!

The faculty, all in khaki’s, seemed just as interested in our teaching as the students, during the group discussion times.

Reviewing the lessons with this game at the close of the day also reinforced the idea that we are ALL interconnected with others!

Reviewing the lessons with this game at the close of the day also reinforced the idea that we are ALL interconnected with others!

It was an honor to hold the EQUIP seminar at Beltei International University at the invitation of His Excellency, President & Founder Ly Chheng (R).

It was an honor to hold the EQUIP seminar at Beltei International University at the invitation of His Excellency, President & Founder Ly Chheng (R).  Their 6-story building in Phnom Penh is VERY impressive, and they have 12 other schools of similar design & construction throughout the city.  We believe God is going to use this relationship between Dr. Chheng and Pastor Jesse McCaul to do some great things in Cambodia in the days ahead!

Safely in Cambodia

plane

Chris and I finally arrived after midnight here (13 hours ahead of Chicago time) and between 31+ hours of travel from our house to our hotel and the news of our dear sister Tarshwa’s passing, neither of us really got any sleep.

Nonetheless, we’re preparing for our first day of ministry here in about 90 minutes, when we’ll begin teaching 700 students and leaders from the most prestigious university in Phnom Penh.  Please pray that our thoughts will come together and our teaching will make sense!

I’ll post pics and comments afterwards – thanks for the prayers that got us (and our luggage) here safely!

Missions trips & partners

plane

Chris and I left our house before dawn this morning to drive to O’Hare for the first of three flights that will eventually get us to Phnom Penh, Cambodia tomorrow morning.  We’ll be teaching leadership principles to about 700 of the top university students in the country, as well as leading another seminar for business and church leaders at New Life Fellowship, our partners in Cambodia who are reaching that nation for Christ in amazing way.

That ministry opportunity came to use because of our partnership with John Maxwell’s missions’ ministry, EQUIP, where it’s our privilege to be Associate Trainers.

But last week I also learned about a partnership between John’s ministry and another favorite missions’ partner, OneHope, and I LOVE it!  I think you will, too – take a look:

Finally, tomorrow a team of doctors, nurses and helpers from CLC will leave for a week in Senegal, where they will conduct free medical clinics for the partners with whom we’ve worked for 15 years in that predominantly Muslim nation.  Join me in praying that they experience real fruit for their labors of love there!

What a privilege to work with others in fulfilling the Great Commission!

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