Friday, December 21, 2007

Europe's 750 Million

Here's a video produced by Greater Europe Mission (GEM, not ECMI) that reveals the need for followers of Christ to offer Him relevantly to the peoples of Europe:

Finished! (For Now)

We finally have a chance to pause and catch our breath! My final papers for the semester are now handed in, and what a relief it is not to have anything academic hanging over my head! On top of that, our fall 2007 tour (like we're rock stars!) is completed, leaving us with a couple weeks simply to be a part of a worshiping congregation. God has certainly answered our prayers (and yours on our behalf) for strength and stamina throughout the past three months or so, and we continue to be grateful for the way He is providing for us in many ways.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Finland Mennonite Church!

This Sunday was another change of pace for us. Instead of giving our Spain presentation, I was invited to preach a normal sermon at Finland Mennonite Church. We met their youth group and youth leaders at a Pennsylvania Christian Endeavor work camp this summer--I was the speaker for the week. So it was a great opportunity to reconnect with both the young people and their youth leaders, as well as to meet their parents and other folks in the church. The youth led worship, as you can see above, and they did a great job! They're a great group of teens, and we're convinced that God wants to do great things in them and through them--we can see that He already is.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving with the Family

Thanksgiving was spent at Rachel's grandparents' house in Ohio this year. It was quite a full house, as well as a full table, as you can see above! We enjoyed the opportunity to be together, but, as always, it was hard to say goodbye, especially for Rachel. The main thing that softens Rachel's goodbyes to her parents is knowing that before long we will be living and ministering in the same country...and that her parents love her, as you can see below.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ECMI Orientation!

Unlike the past 7 or 8 weekends, this weekend was not spent speaking in a church to raise prayer and financial supporters. Rather, we spent this weekend in Richfield, PA at ECMI's orientation. Above you can see all 10 of us orientees--not a bad looking group! We are the largest group of Americans that ECMI has trained in quite some time, so it was exciting for the leadership as well as for us.
So what did we do at this orientation? We interacted with experienced ECMI missionaries in various sessions, we ate, we shared our stories of calling with one another, we ate, we participated in various Sunday School classes and worship services in the church that hosted us, and we ate some more. The two of us left a bit on information overload, but we are sure that God is using our experience from the weekend to prepare us for joining the ECMI team in Spain. We enjoyed meeting everyone, especially since they will be our future co-laborers. Hans and Jennifer Anderson (the big fella in the beard and the gal in the red blouse) are heading to Spain, as well, so we will likely be working with them more closely than the others.
Here's a picture of the ECMI-USA board, orientees, and other leaders of the mission. For Rachel the best part of the weekend was probably being able to spend it with her parents, since they're in from Spain for these meetings and Thanksgiving. Well, that's it for now. Enjoy giving thanks this week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Busier Than The Bishop!

Our apologies to those of you who may check up on us through our blog. As you can see (and may have noticed), we have failed to post anything for over three weeks now, a bit longer than we would prefer. As the title of this post indicates, we have been extremely busy the past few weeks, perhaps even busier than our bishop, Mike Sigman (see Oct. 21's post for him). So here is what we've been up to.

Rachel, as usual, has been working as a therapist during the weekdays, and B.J. has been splitting time between substitute teaching and working on seminary stuff (more books and papers). On certain evenings and weekends, we've been wearing our missionary hats, and the past week and a half we have been wearing those hats a lot. Last Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 3-4) we were at First E.C. Church in Palmyra, PA (the picture above is this church's sign). Last Monday evening (Nov. 5) we were with Community Evangelical Church in Sinking Spring, PA. Wednesday was spent with Bethany E.C. Church in Pleasantville, PA, and this Sunday we split time: we were with Grace E.C. in Millersville, PA in the morning and Mohn's Hill E.C. Church in the evening.

So we're almost finished with our fall tour (we're considering making T-shirts for it), and it's been exciting to meet so many new people and to have the opportunity to share our hearts, call, and passion about Spain with so many congregations! We're now looking forward to this weekend as we have a training with the leadership of European Christian Mission International (

Before we wrap it up, here's some encouraging news we've received in the past week or so: several churches and individuals have committed to our monthly financial support team, so our funding is growing! Thanks so much to all of you who have been upholding us in prayer--we truly are seeing God's hand of provision work in our lives. We don't fully understand how it all works, but we know that your prayers make a difference!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ravi Zacharias, the Bishop, and Faith

Yep, that's us with Ravi Zacharias! Friday evening was our seminary's "Friends of Evangelical Banquet," and the guest speaker was internationally renown apologist, author and teacher Ravi Zacharias. Just as he was getting ready to leave with our president, Dr. Hollinger, our friend Tomo (the Japanese fellow above with his wife Jessica) stopped them and graciously asked for a quick photo! So, long story short, I'm never going to wash my jacket again because Ravi touched it...well, maybe I won't go that far. For more on Ravi's ministry, check out
Also at the banquet was our church's bishop, Rev. Mike Sigman (above), and we had the opportunity to catch up with him a bit. As we were talking about the busyness of life, we realized that our fall speaking schedule is busier than the bishop's! That's not official, but he was surprised when he saw how full our schedule is. We're halfway through, so please pray for stamina and periods of rest!

We joined Faith E.C. Church in the village of Bair (near York, PA) for worship today, and they were so kind in receiving us, allowing us to lead worship, and inviting us to share our Spain presentation during the sermon time. A classmate of mine, Mike Campbell, is the assistant pastor there, so it was great to catch up after the worship service and during lunch. We are quite grateful for the way they welcomed and encouraged us today, and we look forward to partnering with them as we prepare to serve in Spain.

Monday, October 15, 2007


We had a very full weekend with E.C. WorldFest on Saturday and Lawn E.C. Church on Sunday. WorldFest was a great opportunity to connect and reconnect with many people, as well as to share about our heart and vision for reaching Spaniards with the Good News of Jesus. Rachel had more "I knew you when you were just a little girl" experiences with some older folks there who remember her as a child, and one woman even had (in hand) her family's prayer cards from when she was just a baby! We were hugely encouraged by the folks at WorldFest, and we hope they were encouraged by us as well.

We spent Sunday morning and early afternoon at Lawn E.C. Church, and we enjoyed our time of worshiping and sharing with the congregation. However, the highlight of our Sunday morning occurred when the children of the church (about 5 of them) sang a few songs and afterwards gave us a Skippy peanut butter jar (minus the peanut butter) filled with coins and dollar bills that they had been collecting for us over the past couple months. All the pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar bills totaled $23.65, as you can see in the picture above. We were touched by these children's efforts on our behalf, but, moreover, we hope they can begin to understand that because of them, Spaniards are going to know the true life found in Jesus Christ alone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Reading First E.C. Church

This weekend we spoke at Reading First E.C. Church, giving our Spain presentation during the Sunday School hour and sharing in a brief interview during the worship service. Our denomination's former director of Global Ministries, Dr. John Ragsdale, is the associate pastor there, and it was great to gain some wisdom from him and his wife Shirley's extensive experience in missions (they're with us in the photo above). We're looking forward to the E.C. WorldFest this weekend. So, the adventure continues...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Western PA Worldfest & Countryside E.C.

Last weekend (Sept. 29-30) we were out "west"--really just northwestern Pennsylvania. We spent Saturday at our denomination's WorldFest at Grace E.C. in Knox; WorldFest is a day meant for motivating local churches to be involved in what God is doing around the world (above you can see us with Jim Ehrman, the E.C. Director of Global Ministries, and Shannon Beam, his assistant). During the afternoon, Rachel and I, along with the Lakatoses (E.C. missionaries preparing to serve in Mexico City in the picture below), had the opportunity to share about the ministry God has called us to. We were greatly encouraged by how the pastors and church leaders at WorldFest were so receptive that we received several invitations on Saturday to speak in churches in that region!
On Sunday we spoke at Countryside E.C. Church in the tiny village of Clarks Mills, PA. The area and the church reminded us a bit of my (B.J.'s) hometown and church in Buffalo, IL. The folks at Countryside were very friendly, and we had our necks hugged by several older women who were so excited by the fact that "kids" like us want to serve Christ wherever He's calling us to go.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Zion E.C. Church

Yesterday we began our fall church tour at Zion E.C. Church here in Myerstown. I can actually look outside our office window and see the church building, so it was nice to speak at a church so close to home. You might think that we would have taken advantage of the proximity by walking to church, but we were too lazy...or we just had too much stuff with our display to be able to carry it all in one trip over there. It was a pleasant congregation to worship with and speak to since the folks there were very encouraging to us, so we enjoyed our time with them and felt it was a good way to kick off our fall tour.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

South Carolina Getaway

Over Labor Day weekend we were able to get away for a nice little mini-vacation to Columbia, South Carolina, where Rachel's sister Jenny and her husband, Phil, live. It was a great getaway (as is usually the case when you don't have to work), but we found ourselves quite refreshed by being with Phil & Jenny. On Saturday we were able to take a day trip to Charleston, SC to see some fairly old buildings and eat some seafood.

On Sunday we worshiped with them at Columbia Crossroads Church, a very exciting place of ministry, and during the afternoon we had the chance to reconnect with Ben and Elizabeth Thompson (and their energetic son, Jack). Ben was a few years behind me in school, but our connection is a pretty cool one, I think--we grew up spiritually together, as a part of the same church and youth group in Buffalo, IL. So it was a great opportunity to reconnect, especially since we hadn't seen Ben since our wedding and Rachel hadn't met his bride.
Even with all the excitement of Saturday and Sunday, Monday proved to be a day of least for Rachel. She and Jenny went to the hair salon where Jenny goes, and Rachel came back a new person. That may be an overstatement, but her new hairstyle is quite different but very attractive! ¡Me gusta muchísimo! To see a few more of our South Carolina photos, click this link:
So now we're back to reality here in Myerstown; Rachel's back to work, and I'm back to seminary at Evangelical. It's hard to believe I'm completing my final year here, but it's pretty exciting, too!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bethany E.C. Church (Tamaqua, PA)

Today we had our first speaking engagement as officially approved missionary candidates! We spoke at Bethany E.C. Church in Tamaqua, PA, where Kevin Roberts, a former seminary classmate of mine, is the pastor. It was a great opportunity to share our passion and burden for Spain, and the congregation was very receptive and kind. The church seems to be doing some very valuable ministry in Tamaqua, and we hope to build a continuing relationship with the people of Bethany Church. Their website is Thanks Bethany E.C.! The rest of today will be spent crashing and recharging for another week of work. Our next speaking engagement (at this point) is not until next month, September 16th, I think, at Zion E.C. Church in Myerstown, which means that we'll get to walk to church that morning!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Unexpected Visitors!

Sunday evening we had a pair of surprise visitors: our friends Julie & Priscilla from New Jersey! (Julie's over my left shoulder and Priscilla's over Rachel's right shoulder.) It wasn't a complete surprise, but they emailed us late in the week to let us know that they'd be passing through and that they'd like to drop in for a visit. It was wonderful and refreshing to catch up with them and find out all the news in their lives. But on top of that, they brought us a gift: Ale-8-One! If you're not familiar with Ale-8, it's similar to ginger ale, but it contains some secret ingredients known only to the makers in Kentucky ( Ale-8 is a favorite among many Asbury College students and grads, and even for those who don't love it, Ale-8 can still stir up some nostalgia for an Asbury grad. It was a pleasant surprise on two fronts, so thanks, Julie & Priscilla, for making our Sunday evening a great one!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Prayer Card!

Well, she's a least we think so! Here's a sneak peak at our newly designed & ordered prayer card, unless you're reading this after you've received one in the mail. It's really energizing for us to see little things like this come together as we prepare to head to Spain, so we're wicked excited about the new card (props to New Englanders for that phrase). At the same time, though, it's a bit humbling or sobering for us: are we really important enough to have our own prayer card to be hung on people's fridges or anywhere else they might put them (dartboards, closets, waste cans)? It's somewhat amazing how this little step continues to confirm for us God's call and direction to Spain as we walk through this transition meter by meter, almost being forced to recognize our great dependence on God, His timing, and His provision for us.

We're looking forward to speaking in our first church, Bethany E.C. Church in Tamaqua, next Sunday as official missionary candidates, and we're grateful to God for how we already see His hand of provision providing, with the opportunity to share in a different church every Sunday from the beginning of October to the beginning of December. Trust, dependence, complete personal abandon...I think that sums up what God is teaching us right now. Not only that we, as His children, should do or learn these attitudes, but that we have great reason to trust in, depend on, and completely abandon ourselves to God--He is our trustworthy Guide, Sustainer, and Love.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Week at Work Camp!

Greetings to any and all who might read this!

The last week (July 22-28) has been a full one, and now we get to settle back into a bit of a routine. I spent the week as the keynote speaker at Pennsylvania Christian Endeavor's work camp in Mahanoy City, PA, about an hour north of Myerstown (check out It was a ton of fun getting to know and hanging out with the 90 or so teens and youth leaders, as well as getting to share in ministry with them. Most of the residents on whose houses our crews worked were so grateful, and one woman even remarked that our teenage work crew was far more efficient than a contractor who had worked on her job. So it was a great week for me, and for the teens, too, I think. They seemed to be greatly encouraged and challenged by the talks (or, at least, they said so), as the theme was "Just One Makes the Difference." So I filled in the blank after "One" each night, with just one "Hope," "Love," "Person," "Prayer," "Decision," and "Drink of the Living Water" makes the difference. God really met us during our worship times, not only during the messages, but also as a youth worship team from Finland Mennonite Church led us in musical worship--they rocked us into the presence of God!

While I was away having fun, Rachel was home doing the daily grind of work without me. So even though I had a blast, it's good to be back together and sleeping in the same bed--our own bed. Now that I'm settling back in, I'm working on setting up some missions stuff like sending out our first support letter and scripting our video. We're praying that all this groundwork will pay off later as we begin to build our support team and prepare to go to Spain!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back Home!

Well, our Spain-Italy vacation has come to an end, and we're now faced with the cruel reality of jetlag and work. Our second week of vacation was spent in Spain, and though we were a bit hampered by some sort of virus, we didn't let it keep us from enjoying Spain and seeing some sites. We went into Madrid a couple times, with the picture above being taken in El Retiro, Madrid's equivalent of New York's Central Park. We visited Chinchon, a quaint little Spanish town outside of Madrid, as well as Alcala, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quixote. It was a great way to enjoy our vacation, but the reality that we will be living there in the next year and a half or so really began to sink in. We took some footage hopefully that will result in a promotional video for our support raising, and we were also able to speak with the ECMI field director of Spain, Francis Arjona, who was very encouraging towards us. So, in a way, Spain lost a bit of its fun vacation glimmer for us, since we are already beginning the transition of making it our home.
So, those of you who read this, please pray for us. We are now beginning the process of becoming missionaries to Spain, and while we know it is God's leading, all the details of what needs to happen can be a bit daunting. We are beginning to raise a team of supporters to undergird us with prayer, encouragement, and finances as we step into this next chapter of our lives. We're thrilled about what God's doing, and we're trusting Him all the way here. Good night, and may God be with you.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Italy Retreat & Venice

Greetings, Everyone!

We spent Monday through Wednesday in Desanzano, Italy at an ECMI retreat for the missionaries in Italy. It was a good time of getting to know those missionaries and hopefully encouraging them as B.J. shared a meditation on Tuesday morning and Rachel and her mother led some team building exercises for the ECMI Italy team. We had lots of pasta and pizza, and, as you can see above, we made sure to experience Italian gelato.

Wednesday to Friday were spent being tourists in Venice, the city of canals, boats, and gondolas. The four of us (Rachel's parents and us) were able to walk and ride around most of the city, navigating the narrow streets and the water transportation system, as well as wearing out our feet and sense of balance (at times we still feel like we're on a boat). We had the opportunity to share about why Jesus is the Messiah with a group of young Jews who were in turn trying to convince us that an old Jewish rabbi is the Messiah. Aside from the overall ambiance of the city with all of its anicent cathedrals, Jewish witnesses, and Italian food, perhaps the most unique experience for us taking a 30 minute water taxi ride from our hotel to the airport.

We're looking forward to enjoying the rest of our vacation (until July 14) here in Spain. The reality of us moving here within the next year and a half is settling in a bit more, so please pray for us as we continue through this time of great transition. While we know that God is leading us here to serve Him, we also realize that hundreds of details are involved in our transition. So please pray that we'll trust God with each details step by step--we're learning a lot about faith these days. Hasta luego!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Trinity E.C. Mt. Joy Send Off

Greetings to All!

Well, today was our final day of serving in the youth ministry at Trinity E.C. Church in Mt. Joy, PA. It was a day of mixed emotions for us, complete with laughs, tears, hugs, and plenty of nostalgia as we looked back over our three years of service to that community of faith. The folks there truly made today memorable for us, as they sneakily prepared a video presentation reviewing our time of service (including various mission trip video clips and personal words of thanks from the youth and their families), prayed over us, gave us a scrap book with personal messages from many of the church families, and shared a potluck meal with us. It was truly a memorable day for us, and we consider ourselves richer for having served at Trinity. God was truly present throughout our three years there, and we pray God's continued presence, guidance, and power at work there in Mt. Joy. We hope that our relationship with that church continues as our life and ministry focus changes. Happy birthday to Rachel and good night!