Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Were Leaving On A Jet Plane - The Story of 2013

As we look back on our past year, it seems the words from the old song "I'm leaving, on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again" rang true for both of us this year.  The one thing that was different, is that Debbie spent more time on a plane than Karl!  But, we are glad to both be home for the next few weeks as we get our house ready to sell and make preparations to move to Colorado Springs.  

Around the World In A Few Pictures

This year we traveled to Malawi, Guatemala, Cambodia, Thailand and Uganda.  Here are some photos of our international ministry travels. 

Debbie took four trips to Malawi and Karl two.  Too much to say about all that happened, so the following pictures will have to suffice.

Njanda, Malawi, Community Center Celebration in April

Our Team in June

Debbie greeting a friend in Ntandile, Malawi.

Debbie, Gary & Cheryl Krueger and Cythia Croker in Malawi in September 

In May, Karl led a team to Guatemala to visit and capture on video some of the work being done by Global CHE Enterprises.  On the last day they visited several families that Global CHE had helped in the aftermath of the 2012 earthquake.  The mother of one of the families we visited expressed her gratitude for the help in rebuilding her home.  Her new home was so much better than her old one - afterall, it had cinder block walls and a concrete floor. She never imagined being able to live in such luxury.
The New Home in the Aftermath of the Earthquake
The Grateful Family in their New Home
Cambodia and Thailand
In July and August we spent two weeks in Cambodia and Thailand visiting ministries involved in helping to stop sex trafficking.  It was our first time in these two nations and we learned a lot about what God is doing in these Buddhist nations.

Residents of One of the Ministries We Visited in Cambodia

Mike and Nicole Zins and Debbie in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
It was great to visit with Mike and Nicole Zins, missionaries from Mission Community Church working with The HUG Project

While Debbie was in Malawi, Karl went on his first assignment with Development Associates International (DAI) to Uganda.  In Uganda he joined the DAI Training Team as part of a week of training with the leadership of New Covenant Christian Centre - a ministry with over 100 churches in Uganda, Sudan, Kenya and Congo.

Karl with the DAI Uganda Training Team in Lira, Northern Uganda
 On A Personal Note
Because we didn't spend enough time on planes this year, we also traveled to Edmonton Canada twice to be with Karl's parents. 

Shoveling snow in Edmonton in March

Karl's Parents - 61 Years of Marriage!
One of the highlights of our year was to be able to go to California in August and attend a  concert at McCabes Guitar Shop of the "Trippin the Sixties" show and see our friends Barry and Mari McGuire.  

Debbie, Mari, Barry and Karl at McCabes Guitar Shop

On January 2, Karl starts his new job with DAI, and we will focus on getting our house ready for sale.  The international office for DAI is in Colorado Springs, so once our house sells, we'll be moving.  We'll certainly miss Donovan and Hyesun, the friends we've made over the years, and Debbie will miss her ceramics community, but we are looking forward to all that God has in store in the days ahead.  
We hope you too are looking forward to the coming year and hope that you will have a wonderful "slide" into 2014.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Beginnings

On December 26, 2012, I (Karl) wrote the following on this blog:

As we have been thinking and praying about 2013 we are filled with expectation that the Lord is going to do some new things in our lives and in our ministry.  We "see as in a mirror dimly" but we know He only has good in store for us in the months ahead.

As I write this update today - almost 11 months later, that paragraph seems prophetic - because there are some new things happening in our lives and ministry.  Let me give you an update.

In the middle of August we learned that Karl's time as the Justice Pastor at Mission Community Church was going to come to an end by December 31, 2013.  As a result, we began to pray about what "new things in our life and ministry" God had in store for us. As we thought and prayed, and as some of our intercessors prayed, the Lord gave us His assurance that He would lead and provide for us in every aspect of our lives.  

Over the last three months a number of opportunities were presented to us, and after a lot of thought and prayer we have accepted the position of Senior Consultant for Church Partnerships with Development Associates International (DAI).   DAI works in 30 nations “holding up the arms” of Christian leaders who are bringing the hope of the Gospel to their communities.  These leaders face enormous challenges in their own nations, including corruption, disease, persecution, poverty and war.  Despite their deep faith and commitment, they often find themselves ill-equipped to respond.  Since 1996 DAI has equipped these leaders by providing training that grows a leader’s personal integrity, spiritual life, leadership effectiveness and management skills. 

With the growing “partnership movement” in missions DAI is often approached by both American churches and ministry leaders overseas for help in either facilitating and developing new partnerships or helping both North American churches and majority world leaders to navigate the challenges of cross-cultural partnership.  Unfortunately they have been unable to respond to all the requests for help due to lack of staff.

This is where Debbie and I come in.  As you know, over the last 12+ years we have been involved in facilitating, initiating and developing cross-cultural partnerships. It’s been challenging work.  We’ve met some amazing leaders and ministries, and throughout this process we’ve learned a lot – and realize we have even more to learn.

One of the people praying for us during this time was Miriam Gomez. Miriam and Dr. Hugo have been friends of ours for 13 years. Together they lead the ministry of Global CHE Enterprises based in Guatemala. A few weeks ago Miriam sent us an email and shared with us the first twelve verses of Ezekiel 47. She felt that they were for us.  As we read them they resonated with us. In these verses Ezekiel sees a stream, and as he walks into the stream, the water starts out ankle deep.  But the further he goes, the deeper the water gets and eventually the stream becomes a river, and he needs to swim. On each side of the river there are trees producing fresh fruit.  Over the years of walking in the stream of cross-cultural partnerships we have been going deeper and farther.  We believe that we are now entering the river, and God is calling us to swim – and that He is promising much fruit.

So, we have taken up that challenge. Our work with DAI will focus on facilitating and developing new partnerships between graduates of DAI programs in the Majority World and North American churches, as well as serving as mentors, coaches and consultants to existing partnerships that are experiencing challenges. We are looking forward to this new challenge. We'll certainly be swimming - not just walking or wading.

As a result of our new ministry with DAI, we will be selling our house (anyone want to buy a great house for a great price in Mesa, AZ?) and moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado.  These changes are bitter-sweet for us.  We will miss living only 25 minutes from Donovan and Hyesun.  We'll miss so many of the friends and ministry partners we've made since we've moved to the Phoenix area almost 15 years ago.  Debbie will miss being part of the ceramics community at Mesa Community College.  BUT, we do know that God is leading us and we have confidence that He will provide in every aspect of our lives.

In the middle of this change, some things will stay the same.  We will both continue to be the representatives of Theresa Malila and Somebody Cares Malawi here in the USA. Karl will continue serving on the boards of Global CHE Enterprises, WorldChristian Concern and ALARM

As we transition, we would so appreciate your prayer.  Both of us are going to Africa in early December (Karl to Uganda as a partnership consultant with DAI and Debbie to Malawi with Somebody Cares).  We of course need to prepare our house for sale - and there are what seem like hundreds of details to take care of in the next few weeks and months.

Thank you for your friendship and prayer.  If you'd like to know more about what we are doing or how you can participate with us, let us know.  We'll keep you up-to-date as we move forward.

Karl and Debbie