Another Month, Another Whirlwind

We started September in Nebraska, spent the middle part of it in Montana, and finished it in California. Another month, another whirlwind of travel and opportunity. It was great to spend a few more weeks on the farm after returning from Mexico. We have been able to create a home base for ourselves there, and it’s a place we can return to any time we are in the States. We are thankful for the stability that it provides us, and look forward to many future furloughs there.

Our trip to Montana was the most blessed we’ve had so far. We were there long enough to reconnect with several friends and have face to face interactions with most of our supporters. The Lord strengthened our ties there and encouraged us greatly with their love and support. We were able to share at several bible studies as well as at our church (twice!).

Jeff sharing with our church in Montana.

Now we’re back in California and excited to get to the work that the Lord has for us. We have started attending bi-weekly prayer meetings for a missionary support ministry where we will be volunteering in the upcoming months. I am very excited for what God has planned to do in this ministry, and am very thankful that we have the opportunity to serve with the people there.

Our fellow interns at our Wednesday afternoon class.

I am also going to do more of the morning Facebook devotions for Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, so if you’re on Facebook be on the lookout for those. If you didn’t see the ones I did this month, I have included links below so you can check them out.

Number 1
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=302657504165408&id=191491494242294
Number 2
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=327365675131342&id=191491494242294
Number 3
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=744596856384323&id=191491494242294

Thank you to everyone who signed up recently for our newsletter or to support us. It means so much to us that you would invest in us by reading our emails, praying for us, and giving financially to our journey. So again, thank you so much.

Here is an update on Japan. In September, Japan elected a new Prime Minister. He has stated that he wants to open up travel between to US and Japan soon, especially business travel. However, in order to travel from the US to Japan you would have to be staying at least three months. Our next step is to take a vision trip to Japan, which would be about two weeks long, so we don’t qualify to travel right now. Hopefully, we will see things move forward in the next five weeks or so and after the US election we’ll have a better idea of our timeframe.

Praise Report:

  • Our time in Nebraska was invigorating and refreshing, and we were able to set up a basecamp for ourselves there.
  • Our visit to Montana was fruitful and encouraging. We are excited to be back among you soon.
  • We have arrived safely in California and are excited for the ministry God has for us in this season.

Prayer Requests:

  • For God’s provision and direction for our family.
  • For Japan to open up to short-term travel from the US soon.
  • For mercy in language learning as we start taking Japanese classes this fall.

Love you all, Jeff and Alishia

Stirring Up the People

He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.

LUKE 23:5B

What more can I say about our time in Mexico that I haven’t written to you already? As our time down here is wrapping up and I’m able to reflect on the last five weeks, some things stick out as poignant. Other lessons learned are harder to recognize, but will no doubt resurface when needed. We are being prepared for ministry like an outfitter prepares for a backcountry trek. How can you know what you’ll need for a journey you haven’t taken before? The Lord knows, and has added supplies to our pack that we won’t be able to identify until we need them. While I can’t tell you about those things, because they are beyond me, I can tell you about some things that we will definitely use in the future.

We (Alishia and I, and the other students as well) have been instilled with hearts for planting churches and making disciples. I believe that God’s plan for fulfilling the Great Commission is through discipleship, and that a local church body is essential in that process. My vision is to start a bible training school to raise up nationals, but how can they go out and plant churches if the aren’t having church modelled for them each week. So, we will plant a church, and it will be very difficult, but it is what we’re called to by our Savior and so we do it with joy and excitement.

Playing water balloon volleyball with the kids.

We will adopt the culture of the people we’re serving. Ethnocentricity defeats the message of the gospel. God loves the people He’s sending us to, and they matter enough to Him that He wants us to go fight for their souls. If we are unwilling to become one of them, how can we possibly try to explain that Jesus became one of us. He is our example of what a missionary should be, fully foreign and yet He was fully integrated. We will take the time to learn the language and culture as quickly as possible, because we don’t want to have any hindrances to the gospel.

We will be passionate disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we make what we are not already ourselves? We must follow closer, abide more deeply, and obey more joyfully than we ever have before. We’re not missionaries or church planters, we are disciples first and foremost. We will be sacrificial, we will be relational, and we will be transformational! We will deny ourselves luxuries for sake of the gospel. We will create relationships with those around us that they might see the love of Christ through us. And we will assimilate to the culture around us that we might be able to preach the gospel in their context. We will be committed to prayer and meditating in God’s Word. We will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and we will love others because He first loved us.

At the church planting conference with Pastor Trent and Debbie Douglass.

 There are several other things I could share, and probably will in the future, but these are the ones that first came to my mind. We had the opportunity to attend the Calvary Chapel Church Planting Conference 2020 this week as well. Two days of keynote speakers, church planter testimonies, and specific topic workshops. It was fantastic, we were able to connect with pastors from several countries who share our hearts for planting churches. Some committed to pray for us as we head for Japan, it’s amazing the people that God has put us in contact with the last three years.

Calvary Chapel Church Planting Conference 2020

Thank you for your continued prayers as well. Alishia and I plan to start language classes this fall. Please pray for the right program to be made available to us and for provision financially to pay for them.

Praise Report:

  • The Lord continues to lead us one step at a time.
  • We have made connections with amazing missionaries and pastors.
  • We have been healthy and safe down here in Mexico.

Prayer Requests:

  • For Japan to open up soon so we can go on a vision trip.
  • For strength, energy, and health to finish strong here in Mexico.
  • For financial provision as we continue to follow the Lord’s leading.

Ablaze for Japan

What a month we’ve had. Week four has concluded here in Mexico, and it was just as challenging and amazing as the previous three. Thank you for your continued prayers, the Lord has used them to minister to us in some really cool ways. Our hearts are ablaze for the people of Japan, and we can’t wait until the day that they worship Jesus as King. May it be on this side of His return!

Serving at Calvary Chapel Rosarito

We had more outreaches this week with local church plants. One was on a Native Mexican reservation southeast of Rosarito in the middle of Baja. They are an isolated people group that live in difficult conditions. They were excited for the worship and Bible teaching, grateful for the COVID relief food packages we brought with us, and the kids loved the crafts and games we played with them. Spanish is not their first language (we had something in common!), so communication was tough at times. Yet, there was a response to the gospel, thank goodness that the Spirit works in spite of us.

Giving a message at a church with Bryan translating into Spanish.

We were taught by Rob Douglass this week as well. He showed us the unbalanced approach that missions make toward the unreached people groups in the world. It ignited a fire in us for the least reached in the world and reconfirmed our desire to go to Japan and share the gospel. I won’t even attempt to summarize eleven hours of classroom teaching into a paragraph here. If you’d be interested in hearing more about the unreached and frontier peoples, please let me know and I would love to talk with you about them. We also talked at length about culture and what becoming “all things to all people, that I might, by all means, save some” looks like in a practical, boots on the ground, scenario. He has been a missionary for over twenty years in both South Sudan and Sri Lanka and is now training others to be missionaries here in the states.

Pastor Rob using me in an illustration of awkward situations that he experienced in Africa (I am representing one of the brothers in Uganda extending a hand of brotherhood) they also pick there nose and it is very shameful to put your hands in your pockets so quite different cultural norms).

The Lord has opened a door for us that we are praying over. It would give us an opportunity to do some missions work while we wait for Japan to open up to American travelers. Please pray with us about this opportunity, for confirmation or the door to close.

Alishia seeking God on the roof of our compound.

 Praise Report:

  • For the amazing opportunities for growth and stretching that the Lord has provided.
  • For the connections we’ve made with the students, staff, and missionaries.
  • For the weaknesses that the Lord has shown us in ourselves, that we can surrender to Him.

Prayer Requests:

  • For Japan to open up soon so we can go on a vision trip.
  • For strength, energy, and health to finish strong here in Mexico.
  • For financial provision as we continue to follow the Lord’s leading.

No Place to Rest

Arise and go, for this is no place to rest….

MICAH 2:10
Alishia doing her morning devotions.

Another week has wrapped up here in Rosarito, and it’s an honor to get to share with you again. Thank you so much for taking the time to read these updates, and I hope that they bless you as much as we feel blessed to be here.

Pastor Phil Metzger teaching us one morning.

In the classroom this week, we had the pleasure of learning from Phil and Joy Metzger. They spent 20 years in Hungary planting churches and running a bible college. Alishia connected with them right away, as they have a mutual friend with us in Japan and are familiar with church planters in the city where our friend Tamera lives in Serbia. Phil taught on the importance of learning language and Joy joined him to teach about raising a family on the field. They shared their testimony for two hours on Tuesday night, and they easily could have gone two more. It was amazing to have a living, speaking missionary biography right in front of us. We know that we won’t follow their specific steps to get to Japan, but it was such an encouragement to hear the ways that God showed Himself in their journey.

Calvary Chapel Rancho Santa Cruz and Pastor Martin’s dog, Krisha.

On Thursday, we did an outreach at Calvary Chapel Rancho Santa Cruz. We brought food relief, created a program for the kids, and moved hundreds of cinder blocks. I was given the really incredible opportunity to teach a bit from God’s word. It was a great exercise in working with a translator, being prepared to teach without forewarning, and relying on the Lord’s strength instead of my own. The Holy Spirit showed up, and we were extremely blessed by the church. Even when the culture is foreign, there is so much joy being around our Church family.

Moving hundreds of cinder blocks for God’s glory.

Again, thank you for your incredible support, and please reach out to us if you need prayer or encouragement for anything. We love you would be blessed to be able to come along side of you in this way.

Praise Report:

  • For the amazing opportunities for ministering that God has provided.
  • For the connections we’ve made with the students, staff, and missionaries.
  • For the weaknesses that the Lord has shown us in ourselves, that we can surrender to Him.

Prayer Requests:

  • For continued growth and refining in our lives.
  • For direction on what to do after Mexico.
  • For strength, energy, and health as we are just at the halfway point of the school.

Utterly Astounded

…Be utterly astounded!

For I will work a work in your days

Which you would not believe, though it were told you.

HABAKKUK 1:5B

Praise the Lord as we continue our training here in Mexico! This week we have so much to be thankful for. Alishia had the opportunity to pray with two women this week as they accepted Jesus as their savior! The first was during a street evangelism outreach and the second was during an outreach event that we were part of in one of the neighborhoods in Rosarito. This second outreach also gave us perspective. The neighborhood we were in was easily the most impoverished place I’ve ever seen. The people are often harassed and extorted by corrupt police, and hope is a dangerous thing there. Yet, the children run and play and smile, and the gospel does reach out there as evidenced by the woman who chose Jesus. We rejoice in the knowledge that our needs are met in abundance, but even if not, our joy is not dependent on that.

Alishia sharing with a woman before praying with her for salvation.

We had the opportunity to return to California for a couple of days to attend our friends’ wedding. Alishia got to do the flowers, which is always a blessing for her. The flowers turned out great and the wedding was beautiful, but the chance to connect with the church in Yorba Linda was something that really stuck out to me. Everyone knew that we were just making a quick trip back from the school and they asked about our experiences and what the Lord was doing. It was a micro-version of the relationship that God designed missionaries and sending churches to have, and it blessed us greatly to see that relationship play out. The Lord sent us to Mexico and in turn, we were able to report back on the work being done and encourage the church. I hope that these letters are encouraging to all of you that we aren’t able to see in person right now and I’m excited about the chance to share with you face to face sometime soon.

An example of the flowers that Alishia did for the wedding.

On Friday, class was taught by veteran church planter, Pastor Mike Vincent. He taught on what being a sending hub looks like and why it’s important to be a church that sends. This lines up with what the Lord has put on our hearts, to plant a church and eventually to raise up Japanese nationals to go out and plant their own churches. We have several people in our lives who have done this exact model, and their mentorship has been invaluable. We know that making disciples is the most effective way to reach Japan, and we know that we can’t be as effective in reaching the Japanese as other Japanese can be. Please pray for God to continue to confirm this vision for our work in Japan, along with preparing the hearts of the Japanese. 

Serving at church on Sunday.

Praise Report:

  • We were able to witness God grow fruit during our outreaches this week.
  • The classes have been incredible and our personal growth has been exciting.
  • We were able to connect with the church in California for a couple of days.

Prayer Requests:

  • That God would continue to fill us with the Holy Spirit and direct us during outreaches.
  • For direction on what to do after School of Missions is over.
  • For continued health and safety during the school.

Filled to Capacity

Our first taste of Mexico.

We have made it to Mexico! Thank you for your prayers. The trip here went smoothly and we have hit the ground running since we arrived. Our daily routine is filled with times of devotion, classroom learning, outreach, and prayer, with lots of amazing food in between. The opportunity to learn from active missionaries and missions-minded pastors has our brains filled to capacity. Getting to serve, love and pray with people who have so little has filled our hearts to capacity. And fellowshipping with the other like-minded students and staff has our stomachs filled to capacity.

One of our first outreaches was visiting a part of East Tijuana where a fire had destroyed a row of ‘houses’. We were able to spend time with these families who were still living in the hollow shells of their homes. We got to hear their stories and empathize with them, as well as bring them groceries and share the hope found in Christ as well. We met a man named Napalito, who’s house was completely gone. He and his family were living under a piece of plywood leaned against the charred remains of an exterior wall they shared with their neighbors. Even though he had lost everything, including a flock of chickens that were a large part of the family’s income, he had incredible hope and was not broken in spirit. He told us about the night the fire happened, and how the Lord had woken him up in the middle of the night. He usually sleeps all night, but because of the Lord’s warning, he was able get all six of his family members out just in time. He sees this as the Lord’s mercy and has hope in God having a bigger plan. We came to bless him, but his faith ended up blessing us.

We built a stage for a church plant in Tijuana.

We have been learning about the biblical view of missions and church planting this week, and the fire to get to the field burns hot. We have seen first hand how hard it is to share the gospel when you don’t speak the language. We had already planned to get in language school, but now we know it’s non-negotiable. These types of first hand lessons could only be taught to us down here, so praise the Lord that He has opened this door for us.

Praying for the nations.

If you would like to partner with us monthly as we work towards making disciples in Japan, you can do that on the SGWM website. Thank you all for your continued prayers as we continue to seek God’s will for us, and watch for these updates weekly.

Praise report:

  • We made it through another long drive and are safe here in Mexico.
  • The school is going great and has exceeded our expectations.
  • We are still on a high from our time with Daphne and are thankful to be able to talk with her regularly

Prayer requests:

  • That God would show us the next step towards Japan.
  • That we would be able learn more Japanese from our self-learning.
  • That the next five weeks of school would grow us in the areas we are weak.

Love you all, Jeff and Alishia