Thursday, August 26, 2010

Good News in a Distant Land

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." (Prov 25:25)

Wanted to show you a couple of pics of the good news in a distant land that many of you were a part of last week. It will be refreshment - and warmth - for years to come.

The first pic shows some of our team, some of the students, and some of the blankets and mats that you purchased for the students at Ban Ho.

In the second pic is one of the GVI leaders, Tan, who has led us on each trip.

And then below is a story from Stacey Gaines (which she gave me permission to share), who participated in giving for the students. An awesome story about our awesome God . . . And how we're blessed when we listen to the whispers of His Spirit . . .

Hi Pastor John,
Just wanted to let you know (again!) how perfectly God provides for His children! Last week as I read your blog about the need in Ban Ho for beds, I immediately sensed in my spirit that we were to give $100. Almost instantly, my flesh chimed in wondering how we could afford to answer this need. My husband was laid off last month, and while God has provided for every need, finances are tight and I honestly didn’t know where the $100 would come from. But I knew God was asking us to help meet this need and was obedient to his calling. The next day, I was scheduled to facilitate a session with our new faculty. I had agreed to do the session as a simple service and wasn’t expecting any compensation. When I arrived that day, the person in charge of the orientation session told me that I was being paid $200 for the session! Not only did God provide for the need He had created, but provided abundantly. I am reminded of the passage in Luke where Jesus talks of giving...”Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap!” (Luke 6:38). I am incredibly thankful to have a Father who challenges me to obey Him when it makes no love trust Him.

I hope this encourages you!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jesus Changing Lives That Change the World

On Sunday I shared this battle cry for the next season of Oso Creek . . . (And if you weren't there Sunday I encourage you to go here and listen to the message)

Jesus Changing Lives
That Change the World

Some people call it a mission statement or purpose statement or whatever - but we want to be clear and unified as to what we are about!

We're about people's lives being transformed! We're about people moving from the old to the new, from death to life.

Like I said in a post last week, 'Jesus didn't come to make bad men good, but to make dead men alive!'

Monday, August 23, 2010

November Trip?

There is one more opportunity this year (2010) to go to Ban Ho, Vietnam and serve these beautiful people for the Kingdom.

The possibility is the first week of November and the deadline is closing quickly. I would need to know of your interest THIS week.

Let me know asap.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Widows & Orphans . . .

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27)

My friend Tray Pruet (Who did an awesome job speaking at Oso Creek last Sunday!) let me know about a situation with a young lady who wants to give her baby up for adoption.

I want you to see the email exchange below so that you can see:

1) Tray's heart and what they are really doing at ANC
2) A real need that someone may want to fill
3) The power of loving one person, one person at a time and the difference it can make!

I've intentionally left off the personal info about the 'Young Lady' below, but if you want more info about this young lady and this baby email Tray here:

From: Tray Pruet
To: [Young Lady]
Subject: Your Baby

Hi there [Young Lady],
I was sent an email from someone in our church that got a brief history of your story. I know there is no way to understand all of it in a brief email. But I want you to know that our church has been overwhelmed with amazing stories of adoption...and many families in our church are pursuing adoption as we speak.
I understand that you are planning to terminate today and I would ask that you reconsider.
If you will let us....we will walk along side you to find someone in our church or another to adopt your baby.

Please call me as soon as you get this. Number below.

Tray Pruet | Austin New Church

[Email back to Tray]


Well, my appointment was scheduled for 7 am today. After spending
some time with my 5 year old son, Evan; I realized that if I had
terminated that pregnancy 6 years ago, I would never have known love
like I know it now.

While I laid in bed, mentally and emotionally shutting down, numbing
myself for the coming morning's activity, a dear friend of mine came
to check on me. We talked at length and I decided I couldn't go
through with it. I just couldn't. There was something inside of me
telling me that if I did this, I wouldn't be right for a while. My
heart just broke. I called the child's father and told him that I
couldn't do it. He was upset because he wanted a quick fix. He
doesn't want to be involved. He just wants it to 'go away'.

I am open to adoption. I am only about 8 weeks along and I am in
great health. I don't drink or do any drugs. I exercise regularly,
and my current mode of transportation is my mountain bike :) I am
trying hard to find a job and might actually have one next..let's hope
so. I am going back to school in the Spring (January) at ACC,
Physical Therapist Assistant. I am college-educated with a AAS in
Medical Office Managament. I graduated from college with a 3.9 GPA.
I was an honor student in high school and served in The U.S.M.C. for 7
years, until I was pregnant with Evan. I was born and raised in the
country and I have one sister. I have never had any serious health
problems, but my mom is obese and has developed some health problems
due to her obesity. My dad died when I was 15, he drank alot, but was
otherwise very healthy. I like to think I am pretty intelligent. My
son, Evan was reading by the time he was 4 years old and reads on
about a 3rd grade level. He has Asperger's Syndrome. I don't know
much about this baby's father's medical or family history, but his mom
did die of cancer about a year ago. So, he is now an organic health
nut :)

I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has a
plan for everyone. This child I am carrying may not be for me, but an
answer to someone else's prayers. I am more than happy to carry this
child to term and present it to a loving family. I will most likely
be on government assistance, so no one (except all of us tax payers)
will have to pay for anything. I am also willing to pump the colostrum
after the baby is born, so that he/she will get the antibodies they
need. I know this is no accident. . . . . .

[Young Lady]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Help End Local Poverty . . .

A few weeks ago we were blessed on Sunday morning by Chris Marlow whose mission is Help End Local Poverty . . .

As Chris presses ahead in keeping the Gospel and Justice forged together, I thought that some of you might want to stay connected with what is going on so that you can pray for him . . . and maybe God is whispering to some of you join the mission in more tangible ways . . .

Here is is Chris' latest blog . . . Chris Marlow's Blog

Thursday, August 19, 2010

From Vietnam Team

Just got email from Greg as they head home that he asked me to share with you . . .

Oso Creek!
Don't have much time before we are leaving - but have to say THANK YOU AND Praise Him! It is with mixed emtions that we prepare for the overseas portion of our travels home because we are finding this leg of our journey to be the hardest; the goodbyes.

Our goodbyes began yesterday in the village of Ban Ho and our final goodbyes will be in just a few moments when we leave for the airport and leave behind our GVI friends. We have met so many amazing people in our journey, from Hanoi to Ban Ho & back again, we have encountered many wonderful and special people.

As we travel to our final stop at our HOME (big H up above), we are confident we will see some of them again and we encourage you all to join us as we focus our thoughts on those we may not see again. Your gifts to the children were so much more than beds, blankets and mats, they were individual expressions of love that will we hope will allow the children to feel more and more at HOME (big H!).

We cannot wait to share so many of our relational stories! Please continue your awesome prayer support for out last leg!
From your humbled Vietnam team

Need in Mexico

Below is an email I received today from Ed Jump the head of the CC Baptist Association. Just felt like I needed to pass it on.

If there is a whispering of the Spirit in your life about this then contact Raul Elizondo ( . . . and also 'comment' at the bottom of this post so that you can connect with others who God is whispering to . . .

Brother Ed,
Alejandro Cortinas is the pastor of the church we assisted in building homes during our summer mission trip in Matamoros, Mexico with RHBC and ABC churches. He has contacted me about a church pastored by his brother, Gilberto Cortinas. Giberto's church lost their roof during Hurricane Alex. They would like to build a new roof, but a solid one not one from metal sheets, the cost is approximately $4,000.00. I verified the damage and the cost with Dwight Hendricks, our contact in Brownsville. Gilberto sent pictures of the damage made to the church as well as some of the surrounding houses. Could you please send out this information to our sister churches. The church is 2 hours south of Matamoros. If anyone feels the Lord would like them to help, they can call me and I can provide them with contact information.

Community affected by hurricane Alex:

Ejido Santa Isabel

Municipio Soto La Marina

Ejido Santa Isabel is at few hours south from Matamoros near Ciudad Victoria Tamaulipas. This is a ranch that has approx. 50 homes that live in very poor conditions and that has never had electricity, sewer system or phone lines. All they had was their homes and descent/low income jobs to support their families.

Church affected in the above mentioned community:

Iglesia Bautista Pescadores de Hombres

Pastor Gilberto Cortina

Intermediary - Pastor Alejandro Cortinas (Cell # 011 521 86 81 35 80 73)

Pastor Gilberto has no way of communication from Ejido Santa Isabel. Therefore, he has asked his brother, Pastor Alejandro Cortina from Matamoros, to assist him in getting the help they need. Pastor Alejandro will be using Moises’, his brother, email to communicate and ask for support in the reconstruction of the church in Ejido Santa Isabel. Pastor Alejandro will be sending us more pictures of the affected area via Moises’ email.

Raul Elizondo

Summer Reading

I had a few friends who I spent time with this Summer talking about life & leading . . . but much of my learning was through friends I've never met.

I read about 10 books this Summer and in a couple of different blogs I want to share two of them that had the great impact on me and my thinking.

The first is Untamed by Alan & Debra Hirsch. I'm asking all of our Creeker leaders to read it and would encourage everyone to.

What I love about Untamed is that Hirsch unclutters what it means to really follow Jesus.

He gets at the core of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

And he refuses to let us relax in an ordinary, irrelevant, religious meaning of 'Christian.' It just ain't what Jesus died for.

Here are a few (of the many) great quotes from Untamed:

"If God is not the defining center of our faith, life and identity, then who or what is? This is a question that should disturb each and everyone of us."

"The fact is that you can't be a disciple without being a missionary: no mission, no discipleship. It's as simple as that."

"Worship is no less than offering our whole world back to God."

"Instead of looking at holiness as a list of 'don'ts,' see it as a list of 'do's'."

"The very language of 'getting fed' at church betrays the fact that many attendees are not disciples at all, but rather passive (and somewhat dependent) consumers."

"As followers of Jesus, we must embrace our God-given identity, for it is as we embrace the imago Dei and live out this image that we come alive to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us."

Get it and read it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Sunrise this (tomorrow really for us) morning in Lao Cai was 5:42am (close as I could get to Ban Ho) . . .
At 5:51pm (12 hours difference) the final message of $100 was emailed to me from Colorado.

Isn't God awesome! Within 9 minutes of the sunrise we raised the $1,600 to care for children around the world who no one who contributed has ever met! They will now have beds, mats and blankets to be warm & somewhat comfortable as winter comes on. Things we take for granted.

We had people from 8 different cities in Colorado and Texas give generously to help those in need in Southeast Asia - and it all happened in less than 12-hours! Wow!

I want to share with you one message I got from Lynn Floyd. You Creekers remember that Lynn filled in for me the first Sunday of my sabbatical this Summer. Pretty cool that God would have him collide with His need in Vietnam through my blog post as I come back from sabbatical.

Check his message out . . .

John, So, I've been reading "The Hole in Our Gospel" the last week and a half. It's been a major eye opener and no doubt I have personally and led the churches I have been involved in to be guilty of the sin of omission by not being more passionate and active in bringing hope, relief, and aid to those living in abject poverty.
I have resolved for that to change in my personal life, the life of my family and the life of my church.
So as I finished up another chapter last night in the book I prayed something like: "God it seems like such an overwhelming task. The misery is overwhelming and the needs are far too great. What do I do with all of this information?" Then I remembered something Stearns said in the book: "I believed that we really can alter our world, but we can only do it one person at a time. And when enough people choose to do this, even a crisis on a global scale can change." (pg. 163)

I then got out of my bed to check my email and I saw your post about the Immediate Need in Ban Ho and helping to break the cycle of poverty in their life and how by just helping to provide beds and blankets could help meet a tremendous need......I knew it was God answering my prayer and inviting me to join Him in what he was doing over there.
So, praise God for your team. And praise God for the vision that you are spreading to take the gospel to the whole world.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Immediate Need in Ban Ho

Greg Richmond, who is leading the group from Oso Creek that is in Vietnam this week, emailed me an immediate need and another opportunity to help the students at the school in the community of Ban Ho.

By putting in the water line and giving them clean drinking water we are removing one of the biggest barriers to children being able to go to school!

But another barrier to them getting an education is having a place to sleep at night while at school. Most of the students live miles from the school and have no transportation except walking. Since it may take hours to walk there it makes it impossible for them to go to school if there is nowhere for them to stay.

I've attached a few pics of some of their 'dorms'. The buildings provide very little protection from the elements at night. And now two kids sleep in many of the beds, or on the floor, or they just don't come.

Here is the immediate need to give these students a better chance at an education and transforming the cycle of poverty:
10 new metal beds
, 40 bed mats and 50 thick blankets. The cost of of the beds are $80, the mats $2, and the blankets $15. That makes the entire cost $1,630.

The dream of the team is to be able to go and get the supplies tomorrow and then present them to the administrators, teachers & students before they leave. We just need to have the resources accounted to do so.

So what can you do to help these students and continue to build bridges to this community? Buy a bed, a blanket and 5 mats for $100. Buy 10 blankets for $150. Buy it all!

This is such a quick turnaround I would ask you to please email me by clicking here or text me 361-877-6461 and let me know what you can do so that I can tell the team what they are freed up to do before they leave.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Kingdom Connections

This is a great pic of the teahers at the Ban Ho school looking at the photo album that Erin Richmond (one of the January trip team members) made for them from our trip in January.
They were in awe . . .
'Go . . . [to] all nations . . . and I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'

Great Connections

Vietnam Team is doing incredible . . .

Today (remember that they are 12 hours ahead) was their first day in Ban Ho and they got to drink the first glasses of water from the new filtration system.

Greg (Richmond who is leading the trip) tells me that the teachers and administrators were so excited to see them. It makes huge impact when you REALLY do come back. It's all about relationships and pouring out the blessing of the Kingdom as eyes are opened.

One story from Greg about small supplies we left last time: ". . . says thank you so much for medical supplies and she is already out of band aids liquid skin neopsporin and headache medicine - great story about how she used medicine kit on a consulate who was hurt in Ban Ho and he asked how she got the supplies so he found out about Oso Creek and GVI."

Audie, Sam, Kacey & Hannah led the first hygiene class and they said that went awesome as well and had great participation.

Check out the videos they are sending back on the front of our web page (click here) . . . and keep going back for new ones.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Much Too Fast . . .

Yesterday we dropped our little Laura off at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. . . .

Another incredible day in the life of parenting with many different emotions

It's difficult for the mind (and heart) to comprehend that this little bundle . . .

And this little toddler . . .

Is occupying this dorm room . . .

I guess it's really harder to swallow that another season of life has come and gone . . .

Here's a couple of cool links . . .
To that article about Laura being recruited to JBU . . .

And this year's JBU Women's Soccer Roster - #12!

Travel Envy

I'm finding myself really envious today of our team that is headed to Vietnam . . . For me it's like Christmas & 4th of July all together when you get on that plane headed towards the adventure!

But when someone sent me this hilarious video by Brian Regan it helped relieve my envy by reminding me of some of my flights. Takes a little (just a little) sting out of not being on the trip . . . . :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pray . . . VN

One of my primary convictions this Summer centered around prayer.

Prayer is not a program or an obligation.

Prayer is simply the core expression of our dependence on God. Period.

When we have anything in our lives that we don't pray about, what we're essentially saying is: 'I've got this one God. Don't worry about it, I can handle it myself.' 'We really don't need your help in this area, we've got it figured out.'


I'm going to be leading us and calling us to a deeper commitment in prayer.

So pray with me today for our team leaving today for Vietnam: Greg Richmond, Hannah Richmond, Corey Wigger, Audie Lawley, Samantha Hanson, Kacey May.

Pray for each one of them to have humility in every situation and love for every person they meet.
Pray that will be teachable as they encounter the Vietnamese culture and people.
Pray that they will be wise in every situation.
And pray that they will be courageous as Jesus speaks to them to act.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gawker or Helper?

We've all experienced driving by an accident . . . and rubbernecking. Gawking.
When we lived in Dallas they had a term for the delay caused by people watching a mishap on the other side of the freeway. An 'onlookers delay.'
There's a lot of gawkers . . . but very few folks who actually stop and help.

One of the things that God has shown me in the past few months is that when there's trouble in your life there's also a lot of gawkers . . . but very few helpers.

Proverbs 17:17 says: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

When life and leadership isn't going as planned, there are plenty who stare and point out what (they think) went wrong. They speculate who's at fault.
And plenty who get on their cell and tell everyone about the accident they just saw.

But there's a few who help. A few who just come by and listen. Sometimes it surprises you who generously gives out encouragement.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

Yep, I'm thankful for friends.

Next time you pass an accident, I hope you don't just gawk. Stop and listen. And listen to the Spirit for words of encouragement.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Best Quote of the Summer

'Jesus didn't come to make bad men good, but to make dead men alive!'

I honestly can't remember where I read this during the beginning of the Summer, but I've been dwelling on it off and on for weeks.

Just think about it . . . the implications . . .

So much of what we do as Christians and as Churches revolves around people being 'good.'

It says this in Matthew 16: "Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?' 'Why do you ask me about what is good?' Jesus replied. 'There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.'"

Jesus came so that we can live! Jesus came so that our souls wake and begin living a life that reflects His glory and transforms the world.
When dead people rise they don't just walk into town unnoticed, they freak people out, they start conversations . . . and movements!

I wonder what would happen if we quit trying to be good and instead allowed Christ to make us alive??

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moses Moments

As I began my sabbatical this Summer I was asking God lots of questions.

Questions about my life, my family as we enter a new season, about Oso Creek. And a few weeks in I realized that I was looking for a Moses moment.
You know the moment in the middle of the Midian Desert where God miraculously appeared and spoke out loud to Moses from the midst of a burning bush: 'Moses! Moses!'

Man, I wanted one of those - I didn't really care if I was awake or asleep or whatever. ["John, John" -- hear voice of Morgan Freeman -- "You are my servant . . . "] I just needed a spiritual Red Bull moment or two and I'd be good to go!

I wasn't really thinking though. Moses spent 40-years in that wilderness before the whole bush thing happened. . . . . .

God reminded me this Summer that He much more often works in the midst of a whisper than the slam of the thunder. It's in the daily habit of clearing out space for Him, that He becomes present.

I spent one week at Lebh Shomea - a Catholic Prayer Retreat near Sarita. It's silent - no talking there. Challenging (very!), but fruitful (very!). It's hard for me to hear whispers when I'm talking and everything around me is 'talking.'

God reminded me this Summer that He still speaks, when I'm willing to listen for the whispers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back Online!

What a Summer it's been . . . As we move into a new season

I've been offline this Summer as I've been on Sabbatical seeking God and spending time with my family . . . And I've had some great experiences with both.

In just 2 weeks from today, I'm excited that I have the privilege of being back at Oso Creek on Sunday and getting back alongside you for what is going to be an exciting next leg of the journey!

So for the next 2 weeks I want to unpack, via my blog, some of my experiences of this Summer and what God has been showing me . . .

As for today, would you pray for our family? We're in process of dropping our beautiful twin daughters off at college ---- a lot of mixed emotions going on for all of us as we realize one season of life is coming to an abrupt end, and another springtime is breaking out . . .