Lies that have crept into the church.

This can be approached from two angles, either arms up ready to throw a punch or arms open to a healthy dialog. Either way come prepared to have a few feathers ruffled.

 

I recently felt the wind knocked out of me from not just one, or two or even three but four people I have respect for in my life who have taken bold steps to walk in and live in a lifestyle of sin. Now let me just remove the word sin and replace it with the actual word, homosexuality. These are people I have invited into my life as spiritual influence or people I saw making huge impacts in their sphere of influence in communities I feel close to.

 

I felt wounded some how, let down even, but this wasn’t a personal attack on my faith or me. I could easily choose a different path from them but somehow I felt so unsettled. The more I looked at it, the more I saw a good plan. That father of Lies is no fool and he was up to something. I mean all he has to do is take these powerful people who love Jesus and proclaim Him from the rooftops and trick them into believing that sin in His presence is acceptable and get all the people under them and around them to believe the same thing.

 

I couldn’t help but try to compare this lifestyle to others, since I know having sex with the same gender isn’t the only sexual sin committed by man. Is adultery acceptable? No, I know it isn’t. I remember men being brought in front of church who had to confess their sins and be removed from fellowship. (I’m not even agreeing with this method, but I know it happens and I see why churches do it.) Is pornography acceptable in the church now too? Surely it is not. Though a subtle sin, that eats at a person’s soul is disastrous it is not blatantly declared as tolerable or an alternative to natural relationship with your spouse.

 

I really couldn’t compare it to any other sexual sin because no other sexual sin has been as widely accepted in the church as homosexuality has.

 

Did you read that correctly? IN THE CHURCH!!!

 

Jesus found people on the streets in pieces and as messes; He loved them and accepted them in all their imperfections and struggles, but not once did I read about Him saying, “Now go and continue in your sin!” No, He called them out of their sin and into greatness. He restored them, redeemed them, forgave them but did not commission them to go live in their mess. He made them new. A new creation.

 

So why is that I look around and see a bunch of Jesus followers making excuses for this lifestyle and widely embracing it. Am I missing something?

I have pondered and prayed over this for weeks now and today something finally made a bit of sense.

 

So here it is… homosexuality is a lot like idolatry.

 

I was recently reading the story of Gideon and sharing on it. There were several things in the story that stood out to me like never before. First that he was a man of incredible doubt, he guessed God’s intentions and plan at least 4 times. But his fear was silenced over and over with miracles. Second, that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him, that Gideon walked in enormous favor. Thirdly, here is a man who is loved, respected and known by the people. The people wanted to follow him as their leader but he did not want the responsibility of leading Israel.

 

So instead of leading he turned around and built a large golden idol to worship. Is this the man that at the beginning of the story tears down idols and their alters in obedience to God? WHAT? This man has seen God’s favor and seen miracles and yet he chooses to make an idol, a thing he knows he is not suppose to do. The scriptures say this idol was a stumbling block for Gideon’s family.

 

But here is the real kicker, Gideon worshiped an idol and chose not to lead but the favor of peace experienced by Israel lasted through out Gideon’s life. Which reminds us favor upon man is not dependent on the man but on Father God who placed it there.

 

Gideon was a man who saw and knew God’s strength and favor. The battles fought and won were done so with 300 men that didn’t drop at all during the course of several days in battle. The chaos in the camps only God could have created and given the victory to Israel over their large enemies, and yet he choose to settle in and perhaps compromised his influence and position.

 

Is God still good? Yes! Does God get the glory for those Victories? Sure does! Did God give Gideon the choice to follow him? He did.

 

Gideon wasn’t the only man who choose something over his calling but still experienced favor from God. Samson also compromised his influence and position by choosing his sex drive over leading the Israelites. But was Samson still powerful? Yes! Did he still have victories? Yes! Did he eventually get it right? Yes!

 

I am reminded that powerful people in powerful positions struggled and on large, public stages. Did they still have His love? Yes! Did they still have His favor? Yes! Did people still struggle in their absence or misleading guidance? Yes!

 

So this is where I am at… this is what I am asking myself and now you…

Are we not responsible for our influence?

Are we not responsible for our choices to walk in our calling?

Are we called, saved and then granted a golden ticket?

Did the straight and narrow mean we could fall off of it?

Can we really live a lie in the presence of a Holy God?

Is silence a representation of love or fear?

 

 

 

 

 

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” Rick Warren

 

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Intentional Dreams

Have you ever woken up from a dream and known it was important? Have you had dreams repeat that mean something to you?

 

This week I was reading in Matthew about Joseph being encountered through dreams. How repeatedly angels came to tell him when it was time for him to transition. The first time being when he was told he would be the father of Jesus, the second time when he was told to leave Bethlehem, and again when they were supposed to leave Egypt. Joseph learned to trust the Father when angels came to him in dreams. Each time Joseph obeyed. He trusted God’s heart, His plan and His timing.

 

Mary and Joseph must have wondered why they had to run when they had the Savior of the World with them. It must not have made sense to flee or be in a culture so unfamiliar. I imagine it was difficult, lonely even at times. They must have felt unsettled and confused each time they had to uproot their family. But time and again they trusted the Father that it was for His purpose.

 

 

What a valuable reminder of not only the importance of obedience but also that their family went through a lot of transition.

 

Raising a family overseas has its challenges. There are language and cultural barriers. We are an ocean away from family. And change is inevitable on the mission field. But we are thankful for this opportunity and this time to be intentional. We are thankful that though our children or we can feel unsettled at times that Jesus understood.

 

 

 

We want to be people that respond to the dreams. To be people that know the Fathers heart. To be so deep in relationship with Him that He transforms communities through us.

 

Learning to RECIEVE

Too often have we wanted to be a Blessing, Bring a Blessing or Provide a solution to often desperate circumstances and have been humbled, blessed and reminded that we may not have the answers.

A constantly changing and growing environment, missions can have its challenges. A place were entrepreneurs, strategist and evangelist come together with hope to accomplish change, to accomplish community development and to accomplish transformation. A place were often we think WE are the change, WE bring the Change and WE bring the answers. It’s only natural to assume we have been called to be THE change. When you live in a place of heartache or poverty, it’s easy to want to offer temporary solutions. We all have different ideas on how to help, or minister and most of those are really good but we are in a place of figuring out what is best for us. The question we are asking ourselves is, “Are we solving anything or creating more dependency?”

Yes, we do bring Hope, and yes, we do believe that sometimes the Father can use us to be a blessing to circumstances and people. But we also know that it is He that works in and through us to accomplish His purposes and to be love to those around us. We are so blessed by friends in this community that have allowed us to learn how to love, bless and be in relationship with them in this season of praying through what is best for them.

This has been a season of learning how to graciously receive. A season of allowing gratitude and love to  bring about transforming friendships. A place that feels uncomfortable at times but so good, as we allow those around us to love us and bless us with what little they have and in return we are learning to value them in the process.

 

John has been an example to us as he gives, blesses and loves those around him. Before John left for job training in Burma, before moving to Singapore for work, he wanted to bless New Jerusalem children’s home with a feeding. He gathered friends from his neighborhood, Muslim, Hindu and a Christian to buy, cook and give a meal to a “Christian Migrant Children’s home.” They prepared a feast of Biryani Rice and Masala Chicken, with drinks and candy to serve more than 50 people. John loves blessing those around him, even if it is the last bit of money in his pocket. He was so proud to introduce his Muslim friends to us and even more proud to tell us that they wanted to continue to do feedings at the children’s home. We are thankful for beautiful moments like these where we get to step out the way and watch the locals minister and love one another.

 

Because of John and our friendship, we have bonded with his family. His mother loves us so well and his father adores Abel and Itiah. Abel will see Johns father wave him over with his hand, run up to him and follow him to the little shop nearby to pick out a snack. John’s family is from Burma but his grandparents were originally from India. They know how much I love India and how much we love to eat with them. After sharing many delicious meals together, and exchanging stories and pictures, his mother bought me fabric, took my measurements and had a beautiful Punjabi outfit made special for me. I was humbled as I slipped the silk pants on in their simple, shared bedroom. My smile would not come off, as I thanked her, and she knew I loved it and was proud.

It is sometimes easier to think we are making a change when we offer money in desperate situations, but it is the time that we give and the value we give others that brings about change.

 

We are blessed to be Here in this season, blessed to be in relationship, and blessed to be with family for the Holidays.

 

May your Holidays be full of love, peace and the wonder of receiving.

Merry Christmas.

 

For the one

Sometimes you meet someone that you just know is special. Someone that has greatness inside of them, someone you don’t want to lose track of because you just know that big things are in store for them.

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John is one of those people. A man with great integrity, a joyful spirit and an intelligence to speak 5 languages fluently. This man at 18 is wise beyond his years.

This kid is so loveable, so contagious, so energizing.

He is motivated and diligent and has a positive outlook on life. When John talks to me about the sewing factory he used to worked in, he doesn’t know that in America we call them, ‘sweat shops.’ He doesn’t know that his skilled, hard work at a sewing machine cranking out large orders of sleeves, hems and collars is unacceptable in the States for anyone. At only 14 years old, John worked 6 days a week, 13 hour days in the small, crowded room lined with sewing machines. Each project he sewed payed only 20 cents apiece, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. He told me he learned to sew quickly, for it is only profitable if you can be good and fast at the same time. The first time he came home with his ‘salary’ he proudly showed his mom his earnings equal to 50 dollars. Graciously, and generously he would give to his family, to support them.

John loves his family and loves helping them financially. He even tells us that it gives him the greatest joy when he is helping people. I believe him. Without a doubt John is one of the most generous people we know.

At the age of 16, John’s uncle and aunt passed away, leaving their 11 year old daughter in his care. Though she lives with his family and is supervised by his mom, he provides for her and he told us he will do so until she marries. Her food, clothes and school fees come out of his earnings at Famous Rays Bike Shop. A job he is grateful to have. John is treated kindly, and loves the safe, welcoming environment that Famous Rays provides. He loves that the people he works for and with, value helping others, which he so naturally does himself.

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An Indian heritage originally but from Burma, John and his family now call Mae Sot home. His family is one of the only Hindu families living in the Muslim community. He and his family are well respected, and well-loved.

John could have felt defeated by his circumstances but instead has striven to grow, learn and adapt. He has risen above the norm and will go far in life. We are so proud of him and are thankful for our friendship with him and his family.12231477_10208477543762830_930891867_n12204943_10208477543722829_251661567_n

It is because of men like John, that God has called us to Thailand. He loves them so much that He made a way so that we could be love to him. This man is learning about identity, about love, about family and about a Father who is perfect, loving and redeeming.

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(The kids at New Jerusalem LOVE John. Here he is translating the book You Are Special by Max Lucado and teaching English words with a picture dictionary.

Return from Nepal

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Let me begin with saying thank you to everyone who sent encouraging words, prayer and support for this journey to Nepal. Gods hand was everywhere we went!

It was so great to see our good friends there and join with them in their effort to seek and save the lost. I spent half of my time in Kathmandu working with and teaching a young man named Samuel.

Samuel is a 24 year old Nepali man with faith, courage and love. He travelled with me, built with me, taught with me. He will continue to teach and build in his home Country. As a young pastor, who lost his best friend, his brother in law in the first earthquake under the walls of his own church, he plans to rebuild his church in the next few months with the plans that he and I finalized. We spent late nights studying and drawing plans for their new church so that it would be safe and strong. During the day time we built an office space for New Light Nepal (an anti human trafficking Org) for practical hands on learning. We both learned a lot from each other.

Samuel and I were able to design a house that is made out of stone, mud, wood, and tin that they will use to be build 200 houses in remote villages with the direction of New Light Nepal.

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After his training was over we started our journey into the remote villages in the mountains. Samuel went as the teacher and the translator. A man named Pastor Sudip came too. Pastor Sudip has a heart for the unreached.

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Nepal was beautiful! It was heavy, it was stretching, and it was adventurous. Days of hiking, riding in the backs of random transportation to reach villages far in the mountains. Sleeping outside under the stars only to be rained on, then back up hours later to keep hiking. I bonded with the Nepali men who traveled the same road.

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We had about 20 local builders at our first gathering. I think they taught us more then we taught them! It was amazing to see Samuel speak with confidence while talking to the builders. By the end he was doing all the teaching! It was a great introduction and “open door” into the village. Later at night we showed the Jesus Film with about 40 people with the help of a hand held projector. We were able to pray for a lot of people and hand out medicine.

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We are so thankful for the Woman’s Missionary Fellowship at Flagstaff Christian Fellowship for donating the amazing pocket projector. It has been such a blessing both here in Thailand and Nepal. I was able to gift the projector, a backup battery and a foldable solar panel to continue to be used in remote villages in Nepal.

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Nepal loves well, hosts well, and shows tremendous amounts of courage as they encounter the Spiritual world in ways most people can only imagine. Men, women and children were prayed for, some were healed and some were not. Some choose fear, others choose relationship with the Father.  We encountered a few people that were being tormented by witchcraft and demons.  Several women who watched us pray over one of these people gave their lives to Christ.

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 I saw men and women that make incredible sacrifices to go to the ends of the earth to take His love, to minister, to rebuild. I was honored to spend time with these Nepali men and women and serve with them.12067838_10208304229390079_1461737441_nimage

I’m so happy to be back with my family, it was much harder than I thought it would be, but God is great and brought me back! Jamie and I are really excited with where God is taking us, and we’re truly blown away by all our friends that believe in us and what we’re doing. Thank you, we love you, God bless!

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Transitions

Cole leaves for Nepal this week. Please continue to pray for political and spiritual unrest in the Country. Strategies and plans may change because of conflict in Country but the goal is still the same, to see the Father glorified and to bless and encourage family there.

Cole is packing his bag after recently just unpacking it. Right after Itiah’s birthday party, we packed our bags, loaded our truck and moved to a new house several streets over. We are excited for this new adventure in a new place. Abel is really excited about his new playmate across the street that is his same age. The place is cozy, cheaper and leaves room for creativity. Cole and I have been working on projects, organizing and making this place feel like home.

Here are some pictures of the kids helping us get settled into the new place.

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Since getting back to Thailand in July, things have looked different for us. We have stepped back from some of the things we were really involved in last year and have watched the Father bless this next season for us. God made Cole creative, skilled with his hands and courageous to fix anything, and I mean anything! Many friends have benefited from repaired tables, fences, built shelves, fixed plumbing and furniture building. I love his confidence and joy when he does the things the Father gifted him to do.

When we were in the States we felt like the Lord was asking us to be better students of the Word. Cole has been really enjoying the opportunity to help lead a Bible study weekly in the dump, as well as teach at a Discipleship Training School here.

I get sweet Heavenly kisses every time I hear the birds outside the Mae Sot general Hospital making their evening music and taking flight when we visit the hospital. The Nurses from the NICU always welcome us and swoop our kids up in their arms. We adore the Doctor and value his faithful presence in our lives.

I also love how the Father sees how much I LOVE India and He gives me the desires of my heart by blessing me with relationships with a family who originally called India home. I cannot explain the joy it gives me.

Transitions can be hard but they can be really good too. I really love that we gained four Jasmine flower plants/ trees in the front yard, Heavenly Kisses He gives to us.

What are some of the ways you experience Heavenly kisses?

Itiah’s Birthday photoblog

Itiah had a beautiful party for her birthday. One of the nurses from the NICU came with her family to celebrate this little life she invested into. She showed us on her phone a photo of the first time we held Itiah at 10 days old. She remembers us and she remembers the miracle of Itiah’s life.

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Itiah loves her friend Jasper.

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The cake was not only gorgeous but delicious. Banana with cream cheese frosting made by our friend Sam. Itiah LOVED it!

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The American tradition to smash a cake for a first birthday may be a bit confusing to some but boy was it fun to watch.

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Some friends could not come till later but Itiah did not want to go to bed, she was so excited to see so many of her friends.

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It was a joy and honor to celebrate with friends and though so many could not come that wanted to, we saw that this little, sweet girl has many friends from many Nationalities. She adores these people and so many more. She has such an open and willing heart.

So proud of her love.

And here is the lovely, full of personality, unwilling to smile photo shoot with mommy.

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Cole heads to Nepal in 33 days

April 25th, Nepal was devastated by the first of many earthquakes. To this day they are still experiencing aftershocks. So many are still homeless, jobless and feeling hopeless. The Country is anchored down during monsoons, but the hope is to have more permanent structures put up before a cold winter hits. The concern is that buildings will be scraped together no more durable then the last buildings that crumbled. Our dear friend was one of the first people reaching the rural villages after the earthquake, delivering tents, food and much needed medical supplies. His hope is to help rebuild safe homes for people. He wants to do that by educating the people on how to build safe homes and what to look for in case a builder decides to take short cuts. Our friend is not a builder but he knows Cole is, so he has asked Cole to come help him educate and prepare people for this next season.

Cole will be going to Nepal for 2 weeks in September at the end of Monsoons. There they will travel all over the Country in affected areas teaching courses on building, raising awareness about increased trafficking to rural, desperate villages and by night showing the Jesus film. This is an incredible opportunity to partner with people already doing great things for their people.

Good Materials- English, Nepali

(One of the many documents Cole is working on to hand out and teach on)

Please be in prayer for

Open doors and Safety! Nepal is about to have elections and there is concern that Nepal will no longer be a ‘Secular’ Country but rather be made to be a ‘Hindu’ Country again. This means the conversion to Islam or Christianity could be punishable by law. Some extreme Hindu group including Hindu military are giving increasing trouble to Evangelist and churches.

Discernment on where to go and WHO to give to. Being in tune to the Holy Spirit and where He leads is so valuable in a time and place where there is such devastation and so much need.

Health for Cole and our Nepali friends, as they plan to travel a lot by bus, motorbike and even on foot to reach rural areas. Cole’s history in Nepal with a strong stomach isn’t good.

Family at home. Courage or crazy, maybe a little of both. Honestly Peace is all I feel and know. This will be my first time alone with the babies.

The dates are September 13 – 24th.

If you would like to get more involved or find out more details we would love to talk to you, feel free to private message us.

Baptism in the Dump

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Living inside the garbage dump are families in bamboo huts built on stilts just above the piles of trash. They spend their days sorting garbage looking for recyclables, and anything useful to use or sell. They also tend to their pigs that wander through the heaps of newly dumped garbage. The sights and smells that come from a place like this is impressionable and leaves an impact on those who know they are more fortunate. image Friends of ours that came from Burma started going to the dump and doing a Bible study inside one of the small huts. They considered this to be their mission field. Cole and a friend Mark have been invited to join and teach at this Bible study on several occasions. Two weeks ago Cole went and shared with the Bible Study. As he finished up, he asked if anyone wanted to know Jesus more personally as their Lord and Savior to raise their hands. This was their response.

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The room was full of raised hands.

The conversation then lead to Baptism and what that means and what that could like for them, if they choose to make a public confession of their faith. T

his last Sunday was Baptism Sunday, where Cole had the privilege to baptize two individuals in the river nearby.

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Communion was served in a non traditional way with orange juice and assorted mugs. A feast followed to celebrate.

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They then enjoyed watching a children’s version of the Jesus film in their hut with a small projector. This is most likely the first time they have ever had the opportunity to watch a movie in their home. What a joy it brought them and what a great opportunity to share with their neighbors.

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We are so thankful for FCF Missions desire to use the Jesus film cross culturally and in native languages. Because of their investment in projectors like this one, many will hear the Good News and know He speaks their language too!!!

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Home Again

After 19 hours of flying, 12 hours driving and 8 hours of layover time we arrived back home in Thailand. With rainy season in full force, we were thrilled to see the green mountain sides and smell the fresh air. It felt good to settle back in with some familiarity.

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The lyrics, “… to be reunited and it feels so good,” keeps playing in my head, as we reconnect with familiar faces and friends.

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Being in the States for the last two months was really good to see family and friends. It was also a really good opportunity for us to reflect and remember the wonderful things we were apart of this last year and to remember the miracles we had seen before our very eyes.

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So we would like to take a minute to share with you some of our highlights from this last year.

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This last year we helped run two businesses that employ Burmese refugees, giving them opportunity, respect and discipleship. Many beautiful relationships have come out of days spent investing in these men and women and in the community here in Mae Sot, Thailand.

We did several large community outreaches in both the Muslim community and the Buddhist community. Our heart is to see unity between these Nations and also between the diverse tribes within Burma that are often in conflict. We saw that unity as employees, childrens home staff, short term teams, long term missionaries and various groups came together to present the gospel and love on the community.

Through doing agricultural projects for the restaurant and by teaching life skills to the children at the homes we were able to promote self-sustainability. We have taught sewing, jewelry making, ironwork, wood work skills, and marketing to the two children’s homes we partner with.

The children’s homes in Thailand that we have partnered with have children that have come out of conflict or war zones. Some still have living relatives but many have been abandoned. Other times the children would not have opportunity if they did not come to live there. For instance the siblings that have parents living in the garbage dump would not have opportunity but by coming to live at New Jerusalem they are able to go to school, are fed three meals a day and are taught the bible. We fell in love with these kids and their house parents, they became our family.

We regularly went into Burma to build relationships with a few villages where in a years time, half the village has come to know The Lord. We are continuing to strategize, disciple and church plant in these 3 villages.

We know that God had called us to Thailand and we know that His peace was all over Itiah’s birth. We could not have for seen the dramatic birth that she had but we had peace that God knew and had His hand on her. Through that experience we have built really special relationships with the nurses in the NICU as well as with the Doctors that we may have never had the privilege to get to know. We look forward to seeing how God wants to develop those relationships and ministry in the hospital. Already I have been able to pray over moms and their incubated infants in their time of crisis. The Doctor that cared for Itiah her first few weeks is Buddhist but he gives full credit to God for healing her. He medically can’t explain or fully understand how she had no brain damage or organ failure. The Doctor who speaks pretty good English explained to a Muslim nurse why we choose Itiah’s name which means comforted by God and explained how God really had comforted her and saved her.

John an employee with famous rays bike shop was volunteering on his day off for a migrant school cutting their grass and when asked, ‘why? he said, it’s just what we do at famous rays.

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Thankful to see positive changes and influence in these young men and women’s lives. We are also thankful to see the Fathers heart for them and for us, as He moves and transforms lives.

This has been an incredible year for us. A year of learning, of loving and of growth. We are so excited to see what this next year holds for us.
Through continuing being in relationship, teaching trade skills, teaching bible at discipleship training schools, and by participating in and teaching at a migrant children’s home church with 60 children we are hoping to impact this next generation of Burmese. We believe that these men and women will impact their Country the greatest, and be the next leaders, Evangelist and world changers.

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