Summer months as a youth and missions pastor are always insane! Erin and I plan to buckle down and enjoy the ride each summer and then go on a long and much-needed vacation. This summer was not without trials and problems. It started with our youth and young adults Israel tour. I had 26 youth and young adults signed up, airfare booked, and ready to go on a ten-day Israel tour, but we had to cancel last minute due to Israel updating their COVID policies. This has been the norm for the past year and a half but has not stopped us from trying and moving forward with plans. I already have plans for Belize next summer, Israel in summer 2023, Mexico this Fall and Spring 2022, and more. I figured that I will still run full steam ahead until God closes the door or reroutes us.
Our School of Missions is nearing its final week, and God has been moving. I was privileged to head down to Mexico on the 28th and 29th of July to spend a few days with our 12 students, plus our excellent CSOM staff and volunteers. Pastor Trent also had me teach (unplanned and last-minute). I was grateful for the opportunity. While the team, which comprises most of our staff, is in Mexico, I have been holding down the home office on the missions and church side, plus running our Summer programs for our youth ministry. In fact, I ran our four-day Summer camp right before I went down to Mexico (July 23-26). We had 43 people in attendance and I was able to teach on our assurance because of the finished work of Christ.
On the missionary care front, we have had a plethora of opportunities to minister to our missionaries and host dessert gatherings, counseling sessions, and administrative support. In the context of missionary care, a lot of what I do with our missionaries cannot be communicated in an update letter as it is all confidential. Still, please be in prayer as the enemy has been attacking our missionaries and their families. COVID has been a primary tool that the enemy has used to discourage, distract, and derail so much ministry, and helping our missionaries and ministries navigate these uncharted waters has been challenging to say the least. In the end, God is and will use it for His glory, but we could use your prayers and support in the meantime.
Last week I submitted my final assignment for my Master’s Degree. I am officially graduated with the highest honors (3.95 GPA) with a Master’s in biblical and systematic theology. Thank you to everyone for your prayer and support over the past five-six years as I journeyed through this season.
Lastly, please be in prayer for Erin and the kids as they start up a new school year in two weeks. My house is buzzing with planning and anticipation for the new school year. Also, please be praying for the youth ministry that Erin and I lead. We have so many things going on and such wonderful teens. It is a privilege to be involved in discipling these young adults.
Thank you for your faithful prayer and support. Erin and I do serve as state-side missionaries and half of our monthly income comes from missionary support. If you would like to become a financial partner, please click here to access our online giving link.
I Graduated! After five to six long years, I was privileged to walk at Liberty University’s commencement ceremony in May. I graduated with high honors and earned my M.Div. in Biblical and Systematic Theology. The past five to six years have been tough! On top of managing the rapidly growing ministry of Saving Grace World Missions, working as Calvary Chapel Saving Grace’s Youth Pastor, being a husband and a father, I completed my associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Free time was not a part of my life over the past five to six years.
My wife Erin and I saved up for years to travel out to Virginia for my graduation. It also doubled as our fifteenth anniversary. We had a fantastic time visiting with family in Prince George, touring Washington DC, visiting Virginia Beach, and attending my graduation in Lynchburg. One of the highlights was my wife planned a surprise and my best friend, Chris Bohon, flew from Tenessee to Virginia to attend my graduation. It was honestly one of the best gifts I have ever received.
COVID and Missions Over the past year, there probably hasn’t been a missionary update from any of our missionaries that doesn’t mention the effects of COVID. This past year, I had to cancel a trip to Uganda, missionaries have been stuck in the States or in lockdown in various countries, and so much more. I also had a team of about 30 youth and young adults scheduled to do an apologetic tour through Israel in June. But due to COVID restrictions and the recent conflicts, we had to cancel the trip.
So much has changed and we are all adjusting to the ups and downs these chaotic times are causing. Nonetheless, my conviction is to keep moving forward. I will not let COVID or any other issues stop any forward momentum in SGWM and CCSG. We will plan, we will strategies, and if necessary, we will hit walls head-on. But we will hit the walls running at full speed. The Great Commission hasn’t stopped and we are still taking ground for the gospel both locally and abroad. So, I had to cancel Israel, but I instantly started planning next Summer’s trip to Belize and have moved forward with plans to do another youth and young adults apologetic tour of Israel in 2023.
Missionary Care One of our primary goals at SGWM is missionary care. We desire to come alongside all of our missionaries and provide whatever support is needed, whether encouragement, administrative, pastoral, practical, or spiritual. We are here to love and care for our missionaries. Over the past fifteen years of serving in this kind of ministry, I realized that the task of missionary care takes an army of people. The Missions Pastor cannot do this alone. Actually, alone, the Missions Pastor will fail. This is why over the past fifteen years, I have sought to multiply my efforts to provide missionary care. I am so very privileged to serve alongside a plethora of mission-minded and Spirit-filled men and women who have joined arms with me in this monumental task of missionary care. It is truly amazing and I am grateful.
Calvary School of Missions and the SGWM Internship The office is full steam ahead as we prepare for and put the finishing touches on this Summer’s Calvary School of Missions (CSOM) in Mexico. We currently have around ten students that will be joining our six-week missionary training school. We also have a stacked lineup of active and seasoned missionaries who will be teaching every day. This year, we are also adding a short-term trip to southern Mexico.
After the first CSOM, we launched a one to two year long intensive internship at the SGWM and CCSG home office. We currently have twelve interns who graduated from one of our CSOM schools, serving and receiving deeper and real-life church planting and missionary training. Our goal is to launch these fantastic individuals out to the mission field.
My Family My wife and kids are rejoicing that Summer is finally here. Homeschooling three kids is a labor of love. I am always blown away at my wife’s ability to manage the kids schooling, be a faithful homemaker, run a photography business, lead an American Heritage Girls Troop, and serving with me in youth ministry (I am also probably forgetting a bunch of other things that she does). I am also proud of my kids. They captivate my heart every day. This year, Malachi graduated from jr. high and will be going into high school, Kyla graduated from elementary and will be going into jr. high, and Alaina will be going into third grade.
One prayer/financial request we have is for summer camp. Originally, Malachi was going to be in Israel with Erin and me and we planned on sending Kyla to a 7-day long Hume Lake Summer camp with a friend’s church. Now that we are not going to Israel, we are trying to get Malachi to this camp. But there is a $700 price tag attached. If you feel let to give, please click on the “ways to give” link below.
Thank you for taking the time to read this long update. There are so many more things I could write. God is moving in profound ways all over the world. Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support. By way of reminder, Erin and I do serve as Stateside missionaries and our monthly income does come from financial supporters who value the ministry our family does. If you would like to join our team, please click on the “ways to give” button below.
2020 has been a crazy year. I know I don’t need to remind anyone of that truth. COVID hit the world like a destructive force and the enemies of darkness rejoiced as they launched this weapon in their war against the gospel. Yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 27th) at CCSG, when I was teaching our youth ministry, I focused on Ephesians 1:19 and Ephesians 6:12. Eph. 1:20-21 centers on Christ being placed in his seat of power “far above” all demonic strongholds, and Eph. 6:12 reminds us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces in the “heavenly places.” I encouraged our teens to remember that the Christian life is a life chalked full of spiritual warfare. This is what COVID, at its roots, was – spiritual warfare. It was a guided missile aimed at the ministry to shut down the church and halt missions. However, sitting at the end of 2020, I am glad to say that the enemy has not prevailed. In fact, the enemy lost ground and the gospel has spread through SGWM’s efforts in phenomenal ways. In this end of the year update, I would like to reflect on a few key victory points the Lord brought about, even amid intense warfare. This will be a longer update than usual, but if you read it to the end, your soul will be encouraged and your boldness in the gospel will be strengthened.
First, when COVID first hit, I watched the entire globe shut down, and rightfully so. We didn’t know anything back at the beginning of the year. However, as a result, I watched already hurting and impoverished people all over the world suffer greatly. They did not have stimulus checks coming in the mail. They did not have access to food, clean water, or medication. I gathered our missionaries and SGWM leadership together on a Zoom meeting and organized a Christ-centered relief plan. On top of that, I was able to, with the support of the SGWM team around the world, raise $60,000 in relief aid and then get those funds organized into gospel-centered food and supply outreaches to hurting people in places like Mexico, Nepal, South Asia, Uganda, Peru, and Sudan. In all, we hosted around fifty different relief outreaches around the world. Thousands of people were helped and are continuing to be helped through our efforts at SGWM. Furthermore, since all these outreaches took place at one of our church plants, all of these people are now directly connected to faithful Bible-teaching churches and pastors.
Next, a few months back, I wrote about the restructuring of SGWM. This sounds like a lame point to bring up in an end of the year update. Boasting in administration usually doesn’t produce a whole lot of enthusiasm. But my primary role as SGWM’s Vice President is to organize and administrate SGWM to see that we are strategic in our efforts to advance the gospel. In this, I boast that God has been faithful to surround me with an amazing and qualified team that I have organized into three departments that focus on missionary care with Joel Garcia at the lead, missionary training with Tim Pappas at the lead, and church planting and national worker car in the most unreached places on earth with Heather Gaona at the lead. We officially launched this new structure in October and I can already see SGWM growing exponentially. These new department heads are leading their areas forward into more significant ministries with greater gospel impact. As a leader, I look to surround myself with people more talented than I am because I know that they will help me bring the ministry to greater heights and that what happened this year in a big way.
God’s Amazing Provision
In my opening paragraph, I mentioned how COVID was a demonic attack upon the ministry that aimed at shutting us down. In light of this, I also want to share one point that shows how great this attack failed this year. I met with my Administrative Assistant Hope Douglass last week and we were reviewing some end of the year financial information. I was blown away by the information we found and I think you will be too. Amid a global pandemic where regular day-to-day ministries across the world were shut down, God funneled over 2 million dollars through SGWM. That is 2.5 million dollars err marked for church planting, sustaining missionaries in over 35 countries, hosting outreaches, running Bible colleges, providing COVID relief, and facilitating the advancement of the gospel, to name just a few areas. Isn’t that incredible! I am so privileged to be at the helm of a missions organization that God is blessing in such tremendous ways. Imagine what the Lord has in store for 2021?
Calvary School of Missions
Next, when COVID hit the US back in March, we were well underway with our plans to host our second summer school of missions. This is a six-week on-the-field missionary training program that SGWM started in 2019. Once COVID hit, we didn’t know what to expect or which direction we should go. Through much prayer and in a step of tremendous faith, we gathered 12 college-age/young adult students and headed to Mexico. At the time, Mexico was shut down and we did not know how the school or the ministry would play out. Over the six weeks, we watched God move on the lives of these 12 students and confirm their calling for cross-cultural church planting. We were also able to host over a dozen COVID relief outreaches where the students partnered with our church plants in Mexico and distributed food and supplies, ran VBS style children’s ministries and preached the gospel. Furthermore, our two summer missions schools (20219 & 2020) resulted in 12 semi full-time missionary interns who are working at CCSG and SGWM and are getting specifically prepared to be sent to their desired locations (i.e., Jordan, Japan, etc.). It is incredible to me that God accomplished all of this, even during a global pandemic.
Christmas Outreaches in Asia
Lastly, I would like to share with you a praise report that over the Christmas season, SGWM has been able to coordinate, administrate, and conduct 18 outreaches throughout South Asia. Throughout Asia, our ministries have been radically affected by COVID and intense persecution, but that has not slowed our national pastors down at all. These individuals minister in some of the most hostel and least-reached areas of the globe and I rejoice together with you in knowing that the Christ is being preached.
Personal Support for 2021
As I type this update, I keep thinking of more and more amazing stories that I could share. God truly moved in powerful ways in 2020. I do want to thank you for taking the time to read this update. Also, I would like to take a moment to communicate that I am able to fulfill my calling as the Vice President of SGWM first, by the grace of God, and second, by the generous support of faithful ministry partners. Like our missionaries service overseas, I too live on missionary support, which is profoundly difficult to do with a family while living in Orange County. As you consider your end of the year giving or your vision for 2021, could I please ask you to prayerfully consider becoming one of my monthly ministry partners? Currently, I am at about 50% of what is needed to sustain my family. Any amount of monthly support is helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. If you would like to support me in my role as the VP of SGWM, please click the link below.
First off, we want to thank you for your continued prayer and support for our family over the years. It is very incredible to think that Mike and I have had the privilege of being in full time ministry for the last 18 years. Saving Grace World Missions has developed a six-week missions training program over the summer for anyone for is interested in being involved with or going on the foreign mission field. Both Mike an I had the opportunity to go down for a few days to serve and use it as a personal retreat to seek the Lord and get refreshed. During that trip, the Lord put in on our hearts to come back to our roots.
As many of you know we have lead the youth ministry at our church for the last ten years. We merge together the passion of reaching the nations with the Gospel and raising up the next Generation for the Gospel. In both our lives, God used our frequent missions trips to Mexico to stir us up as well as train us for being on the mission field. We felt it would be amazing to start quarterly missions trips with the youth of our church to serve in Mexico with our sister church Calvary Chapel Rosarito and their small church plants.
Early November we took our first youth missions trip in a while with a large batch of kids, many of whom had never been on a mission trip. It was amazing to be able to help them experience loving others even when it is not comfortable. It literally dumped rain and we had crazy monsoon power winds in the middle of the outreach. The kids did amazing sharing a kids’ message through a translator for the first time. Some worked by building a “wall” with tires for the church property that we were doing the outreach at, and they packed and distributed Covid relief bags for the community.
Its such a joy to walk in the calling the Lord has for us in this season where we are serving our missionaries and potentially discipling and training future senders and goers into the mission field. Thank you again for your prayer and encouragement and support. May we continue to go strong together for the sake of the Gospel.
I have been a part of SGWM since 2004 and have been blessed to be the Director of SGWM since 2006. I have watched God take a small missions department and turn it into an international missions agency working in over 35 countries. For many years, our administrative staff consisted of just myself and maybe an assistant or two. It was overwhelming. However, after years of praying and years of growth, God has provided a fantastic support staff to help me run SGWM. However, there was a need to restructure and spread the overwhelming amount of administration and leadership needs. I found myself inundated and unable to keep up with all the needs. Over the past ten years, I have watched God birth 20 plus churches, three Bible colleges, a US-10/40 window Skype teaching program, and almost 30 national missionaries in the 10/40 window, along with nearly 65 US missionaries sent out through our organization, and a new summer school of missions and year-long internship program. It was too much for me to manage, which is a fantastic reality. Therefore, I approached the board with a plan to restructure our entire leadership and to open up three distinct departments with three individual directors overseeing them. The board was enthusiastic about this plan, to say the least. So I created a Director of International Relaships (10/40) and placed Heather Gaona as the director, a Director of the SGWM Missionary Sending Agency and placed Joel Garcia as the director, and a Director of our School of Missions and Internship (Missionary Training) and place Tim Papas as the director. As a result, the board promoted me to the Vice President of Saving Grace World Missions and commissioned me with the direct oversight of these three directors and departments. This change has brought in such a breath of fresh air to my life and ministry as these three individuals are stepping up and taking a much-needed leadership role. I truly believe that God will take SGWM to new heights and expand our reach even farther.
A New Year #done
SGWM successfully completed our second annual Calvary School of Missions (CSOM). It was touch-and-go with COVID and all of the lockdown restrictions, but the Lord opened up the door and we brought 12 students down to Mexico for a six-week intensive missionary training program. We also brought down a plethora of qualified and experienced missionaries to come and teach almost 150 hours worth of classes. They were also able to do over a dozen COVID food/supply relief outreaches to some of the most hurting and affected communities in Northern Baja. I was also able to travel down twice to teach and was even blessed to bring my whole family down.
Upon graduating from our CSOM, the students are offered one of our one-year internship openings. This internship program aims to give each student hands-on ministry experience in church planting and continue their biblical and missional education. The final goal is to launch them out to the mission field as qualified and trained full-time missionaries. In fact, one of our 2019 CSOM and last year’s internship program graduates is preparing to be sent out to the country of Jorden by next spring.
I could go on and on with all the great things that God is doing. This only barely scratches the surface. This morning I met with our national directors in one country of the 10/40 window and the ministry there would blow your mind! We also have amazing things happing in Pakistan, Jordan, Mexico, Nepal, South and Central America, and Africa. I am so thrilled that from my desk in Yorba Linda, CA, I get the privilege of impacting so many placed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you would like to connect with me or question what the Lord is doing through SGWM, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Lastly, please remember to pray for myself and my family. We have served as full-time US-based missionaries for fifteen years. In this, we do live off of missionary support. So if you are supporting us, I would like to say, “thank you” and remind you that you are a part of this ministry and all the fruit that is happening in and through my ministry here at SGWM accredited to your account in heaven. If you would like to support us, please click on the giving link below.
The Christian life is one of adventure. As we work together to advance the Gospel to the unreached, we will experience high-hights and low-lows. There are going to be victories and defeats along the way. There are going to be times when you want to quit and there are going to be times when you are pumped to run harder. In this season of hosting and facilitating the Calvary School of Missions and walking our twelve students through the Bible’s vision for evangelism that spreads from our hometowns to the farthest corners of the globe, it has been a season of excitement, passion, and potential. What a thrill to be used by the Lord!
Two nights ago, when Erin and I arrived in Mexico, we hosted a night of worship and a sharing time. I was able to share with the students that our time in the “sanctuary” (times of worship) are vital and essential, but do not make up the whole of the Christian life. Sadly, many Christians think that attending a church service and sitting in an afterglow is the Christian experience. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Christian life is to be lived out on the highways and byways. Our Christianity is to be put on display by loving God AND loving people (Matt. 22:35-40). In this, I was able to encourage the CSOM students, who are on their last week, to recognize that their time in the sanctuary (at the CSOM) is about to come to an end and that it is now time to put their hand to the plow and move out in Great Commission leadership.
I was able to travel down here three weeks ago with Pastor Joel Garica and I taught on the essence of the Great Commission – making disciples. Erin and Malachi were able to come down for a few days and serve alongside our staff and students. Erin was able to connect with all of our girls and lead worship. She was also able to catch up with some old friends down here in Rosarito. Side note, Erin was a part of the original team sent out by CCSG to plant Calvary Chapel Rosarito almost 19 years ago. During this trip, Erin and I were able to bring our three kids with us. They have had a blast hanging out with the students, and as I type this update, Malachi is out doing a COVID food relief distribution in a colony about 30 minutes away.
I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this brief update and hope the video was edifying. Please continue to pray for my family and me as we serve as State-side missionaries. If you would like to become a financial partner and help us spur on the Great Commission to completion, please click on the link below.
I was so blessed to travel down to Rosarito, Mexico this week to visit and minister with our Calvary School of Missions students and staff. Last year, SGWM launched a 6-week summer missions training program for young adults who feel called to missions. This summer marks our second year. The students and staff are having a fantastic time. I was also blessed to bring my son Malachi (13) with me. We were supposed to travel to Nepal this summer, but because of COVID, that got canceled. He has been a blessing to travel with and it has been a joy watching our male staff and students welcome him in and pour the Gospel into him.
To say that life has been calm over the past few months would be a full-blown lie. It has been insane! I have never been busier in life and ministry than during the COVID shutdown, and I am still playing catch-up. Missions didn’t stop during the COVID – it increased. Right at the beginning of the outbreak, I was able to organize our SGWM team and raise enough funds to host around 15 food & supply distributions all over the world (with dozens more to come). Despite the lockdown, the hope of the Gospel is still spreading locally and abroad through our ministry. It has been a privilege to serve the Lord in this capacity recently and over the past 15 years. I want to say thank you to all of my faithful prayer partners and financial supporters. Serving as a State-side missionary isn’t easy, but it is absolutely essential for all of our overseas missionaries. Below is a brief video-update. Please take a few minutes and watch it.
I wrestled a bit with writing this update, but I find it necessary and important to communicate. As you know, my son Malachi experienced what the neurologist classified as a severe traumatic brain injury. I can’t express the horror that came over me when I was sitting in the ER with my son and hearing a brain surgeon download to me the possibilities of what to expect. Praise God that Malachi didn’t take a turn for the worst and that God’s grace protected his brain! Erin and I were also overwhelmed with the hundreds of people (and that’s not an exaggeration) from all over the world who reached out to us to let us know that they were praying. I also got dozens upon dozens of messages from my pastor friends from all over the world letting me know that they are getting their congregations to pray. It was really remarkable, once Malachi was able to focus, to go over all of the text messages and phone calls with him. He was overwhelmed with the number of people that he never knew who were praying for him. It was a cool discipleship moment where I got to show him what the Body of Christ was supposed to look like.
It has now been three weeks since Malachi’s accident and he is doing well. The headaches are very mild and are becoming rarer. He can, little-by-little, start focusing on schoolwork without getting dizzy or coming down with a headache. He is still not out of the woods. He has another couple of months before the doctors release him to do any real type of physical activity. In the meantime, he still needs to be extremely cautious as even a mild head injury could be life-threatening. Also, and this is something you can pray for, he still hasn’t got his sense of smell back. Pray that this is not a permanent condition.
As parents, Erin and I are still in need of your prayer too. My anxiety level peaks each time he sneezes or if he plops down on a chair and comes close to bonking his head on a wall. Most nights, I wake up with flashbacks of seeing him lying in the middle of the street or hearing the ER doctor give me little to no hope or thinking that he was stroking out on me when he went limp in the shower. I know that on the outside, we appear normal. But on the inside, Erin and I are dealing with the uncertain realities of life. We also know that in the end, Malachi is still here and that he is doing exceptionally well. We also know and rejoice in the fact that God’s favor has been upon our family every moment.
We could also use your prayer and support as we navigate the future. Obviously, this accident was unexpected. But we are so grateful that we live in a place where I had Malachi in an ER 15 minutes after his accident, and then 10 minutes later, he was getting a CT scan. We are grateful that we had a fantastic team of pediatric neurologists and nurses available who monitored Malachi 24/7. We are also thankful for the medical insurance Calvary Chapel Saving Grace provides for my family and for the investment CCSG makes, along with my family, into a Health Savings Account that we were able to pull from during this emergency. God’s favor is so overwhelming! We also wanted to let you know how grateful we are for you and your prayers and for all those people who brought us food and coffee.
Lastly, I wanted to put one more need out to you all. Our insurance covered a tremendous amount of Malachi’s medical bills (over $13K). However, we have been left with a $4,000 medical bill that is due at the beginning of February. The actual out-of-pocket expenses were $6,000, but we have already paid $2,000. We also still have some money in our HSA to cover most of the remaining bills, which will completely drain the account and we’ll still owe over $1,000. Plus, next week, he has another appointment with the neurologist and probably another CT scan, which will be an additional (estimated) $1,500 out-of-pocket.
As you know, for the past 15 years we have served as stateside missionaries and half of our income is from missionary support. It is always a humbling thing as a missionary to be exposed and vulnerable like this. But again, I know that my family and friends, and the broader Body of Christ, want to know and be equipped to pray and support. If you would like to donate, please click on the button below.