Category Archives for "Church"

4 Home Again In Indiana

Pumpkins on door stoops, fall colors of red and orange and willy-worms slowly crawling across the country roads, yes it was Indiana in October. And, I hardly noticed the low 40 and 50 degree temperatures. Well that may not be totally true, but it did feel like “home”. That’s because our Bicknell friends at Word of Life Church always treat us like family.

Kelly with our hostess Aunt Rita.

Kelly with our hostess Aunt Rita. We ate at the Kerusso Coffee Shop, an outreach ministry of the church.

The missions conference was great, and we’re definitely a good 6 lbs heavier from all the down home cooking of Aunt Rita and the other great cooks from the church.

The theme for their conference was “Show Them Jesus” and the youth did an outstanding job with several dramas.

Some of the youth with their youth leader

Here are some of the Youth Drama Team called, "Impact"!

Getting to know our friends better

Getting to know our friends better

Even though it was a short trip we got to spend a little bit of time with Kelly’s mom and some friends of the family. Kelly’s brother and sisters will appreciate these photos since they didn’t get to join us.

Best Friends (Kelly's Mom and the Birthday Girl)

Best Friends (Kelly's Mom and the Birthday Girl in Blue)

Bezy grp photo (2)

It's the Birthday Girl and her Daughter "Ice Cream Cake for Everyone"

It's the Birthday Girl and her Daughter, "Ice Cream Cake for Everyone"

More family friends

All in all, it was a great trip. Of course, Kelly says the one thing that really topped it off was our flight home by way of Chicago O’Hare Airport. Why? Because he got to eat his Chicago Style Hot Dog, and he loved enjoyed every bite.

Kelly Enjoys His Chicago Style Hot Dog

4 It Happened on a Sunday!

Two weeks back, our church service at Pine Castle United Methodist Church (PCUMC) started as it normally does, with praise and worship, followed by the offering. But ‘normal’ stopped there. An outsider might have been shocked by what happened next. We all got up and left the sanctuary, some 400 of us. We walked out the front door.

Let me back up and explain a few things. The situation with our economy is affecting everyone in one way or another. Our church is among those to be counted as struggling to stand our ground. So much of what has happened in this past year and a half would discourage most, and yet we continue to see the Lord at work in many different ways.

In February 2008 I showed this picture of our church in one of my first blogs.

PCUMC SanctuaryNew Worship Center (on the right) featuring a 1,250 seat sanctuary is nearing completion. Our original sanctuary is on left side of road.

And then in an April blog, I announced that on Easter Sunday we had moved into our new sanctuary.

PCUMC front

Pastor Blake in The Master's House

As you can imagine, this beautiful building has become a bit of a financial challenge for us during these hard times.

A lot of hope had been placed on selling the old sanctuary, but we all know what has happened to Florida’s real-estate business. A deal that had been in the works in early 2008; crumpled by the end of that summer. Everything seemed to dry up after that and looked hopeless.

And then all at once in June of this year, we had an offer from a group to “lease with an option to buy”. In July our church membership, through our Charge Conference, voted unanimously to accept the offer. By August the members of Greater Trinity Baptist Fellowship Church of Orlando were moved in and starting services. We are thrilled with our new neighbors. They have joined us in many of our activities, like our Pot Luck Night and our ladies functions.

So, when we walked out of our Sanctuary two Sundays ago, all 400 of us marched across the street and joined our brothers and sisters in their Celebration Service. It was a grand time.  A Baptist Church and a Methodist Church, one African American and one not so much, rejoiced in what the Lord had done. Hallelujah.

I forgot to take our camera but Kelly came to the rescue with his cell phone. He was able to capture this shot of the two Pastor’s wives standing in front of their husbands who are giving each other a brotherly hug.

Celebration Service


Our two pastors are becoming good friends and we all look forward to getting to know each other better. Both churches hope to find shared projects that will allow us to work together for the good of our community.

2 Destination Naples, Florida

How does the phrase; ‘swaying coconut palms, sweeping white-sand beaches and spectacular sunsets,’ grab you? Well, that’s what we found on our recent trip to Naples, Florida.  We were attending a regional event held by the ministerial association that ordained Kelly.

It was a much needed and timely weekend get-a-way for us. The meetings were refreshing, the food delicious and our accommodations great. As you can see by the first photo, Kelly was able to set up his ham radio from the balcony of our hotel room. From this balcony, I got some sun, he got some radio time…and we both enjoyed the view!

Hotel Room Balcony

Hotel Room Balcony

The highlight of the trip had to be the sunset dinner cruise they arranged for all of us to take on the Naples Princess Yacht. This is one of those things we never would have done on our own, so it was a real treat.

Naples Princess Cruise Yacht

Naples Princess Cruise Yacht

We sailed out of Naples bay and cruised into the Gulf of Mexico. From the bow of the deck we could see the dolphins playing and the multimillion-dollar homes of Port Royal lining the shore. Unbelievable!

Mansions in the Bay

Mansions in the Bay

We were served a great dinner inside where it was nicely air-conditioned, and then went back out on the deck to watch the beautiful sunset and enjoy the fresh air.

Dining Area - Table Next to Our Table

Dining Area - Table Next to Our Table

After dinner we went out on the deck for a better view of the water and sunset.

It Was A Beautiful Sunset Set!

It Was A Beautiful Sunset!

Mansions Along The Shoreline at Sunset

Mansions Along The Shoreline at Sunset

What was striking was to watch the sunset change as the sun got closer and closer to the horizon.

Sunset as we enter the Gulf

Sunset as we enter the Mouth of the Gulf

Sunset in the Gulf of Mexico

Sunset in the Gulf of Mexico

Our regional director hosted the event at his church and his staff definitely took care of all of us with excellence.

Our Host Church Put Out the Spread

Our Host Church Put Out the Spread

As you can imagine, we can’t wait to find out what the next regional event will be like. They set the bar pretty high so it will be hard to top this one.

From the frying pan into the fire…

From the frying pan…immediately following having “all those Edgers” invade our campus (see previous post on Aug. 9 for that story)…

…we jumped into the fire…with a campus full of new missionary candidates who were going through their first round of training and orientation called, “Candidate Orientation Program” or “COP” for short.  One event following so closely on the heels of a previous event keeps all of us on our toes, but it’s always worth it.

August 2009 Candidate Orientation Program

August 2009 Candidate Orientation Program

We had 44 attending our COP, which means we had to “pack them in,” to make room for everyone. It’s a great problem to have. In this group, the youngest was 18 years old. She’s going to the field for one year and then back to the US to attend college. After getting her degree, she plans to go back to the field full time. The oldest was a couple who said, “retirement is not in our vocabulary”. The husband is 78 and the wife is 68. What an inspiration for all of us to see their desire to “finish well” in their golden years.

It’s Been a Great Summer!

“My life is changed forever and I will never be the same.” Her eyes filled with tears as she choked back the emotions that were building. “My expectations didn’t even come close to preparing me for this.” I handed her a tissue and waited for her to continue. I knew what was coming…I never tire of hearing their stories about how God showed up, usually in some unusual and unexpected way.

This is an Edge worker from a previous trip.

This is not Patricia, but an Edge worker from another team.

Patricia had just returned from living 6 weeks in another culture as part of our “Edge” program. Her experience had been a positive one, which she felt might be one more confirmation of her call to go long term. My role was to debrief her, which means I helped her process her summer experience.

She was just one of some 126 young college age adults giving up their summer break to work and learn alongside our career church-planters working with the least reached people around the world.

Our hope is that the participants in this program will grow in their passion for God, view of the world, and understanding of themselves as they learn and serve.

  • The first 4 days of their trip involves cross-cultural training and team building just before leaving the states.

    (Around 8 of the participants received their orientation in England with our British mobilization base located there.)

  • Once overseas, they live with a missionary family or possibly in the home of a national for 4, 6 or 8 weeks depending on their destination.

  • And finally they return to the US via Orlando, to go through the debriefing process.

What does 112 young college kids look like when you get them all together for orientation? Here’s a photo that says it all.

Summer Edge 2009

1 Could You Pass This Test?

1) Where is the largest church in the world? 2) What continent has the most evangelical Christians? 3) What is the largest mission association in the world? 4) Which country sends out the most missionaries per Christian?

The answers may surprise you because, “The Center of Christianity Has Shifted”. This was the topic of our most recent Church Partner Forum held on PIONEERS campus. Our featured speaker was Scott Moreau; author, Professor of Missions & International Studies at Wheaton College and editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly.

If you’re interested in this subject you can read: The Changing Face of World Missions and Engaging Contemporary Issues and Trends from a series written by Scott Moreau called, Engaging Missions.

Oh yes, the answers to those questions above are:
1) Korea [830,000 members (2007)]
2) Asia
3) India Missions Association
4) Singapore

The theme for our banquet was “International Market,” so we transformed the recreation hall with a few treasures several us have brought back from our time serving in various countries.


Of course no mission trip is complete without the traditional “trunk” to contain all of your possessions.


And, the best mode of transportation for those narrow streets in Asia is the bicycle rickshaw.


This was our International Market Street which lead on around to the street-side night café shown below.


Candle lights on the tables and strands of hanging lights enhanced the night time street café feel.


Without a doubt, our “food affair” was international all the way.

We added to this international atmosphere by having those who could, dress for the occasion in the cultural dress of a country (or they could go “Hawaiian/Floridian”).  We had a wide range of countries represented:


Of course, Kelly and I dressed in our Indonesian Batik, as did several others.


Africa was represented by several, including Denny and Nancy (above).


We even had the Middle East attire…thank you Art.


But by far, Tom’s dress was the best…Mongolia!


This is what our group looked like in “normal” dress. It was another successful Church Partner Forum.

3 It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.

This Easter weekend I am struck by how great a love our God has for each of us. Our King gave His all for us. The extraordinary suffering, rejection and death that should have been ours…He took it all. In return, we have the joy of Resurrection Sunday and Eternal Life. How incredible is that!    Happy Easter to all of you.

This is one of my favorite Easter Sermons:

“Dr. Tony Campolo tells the story of a little preaching competition that he had with his pastor during services at the church where he attends. Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon, perfect in every way. He had taken the congregation to the heights of glory. And as he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Campolo patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.”

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this. (Below is a brief excerpt, click here to read more, including the ending that begins with; “And now it’s Sunday…”)

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.”

To hear a short recording & get the whole effect of the sermon click here for a 3 minute 41 second recording. It’s really good!

Promised Results & Photos Of Walkathon

The PIONEERS’ “Walk for the World” event last Saturday, was a great success. Thanks for your prayers and support. Through our family, friends—and God’s grace—Kelly & I raised $1,170. The total raised by all participants from our office staff (Orlando & Denver) will be around $30,000, once it’s all collected. With the matching grant we will have nearly $60,000 to help us in mobilizing missionaries into the least reached parts of the world. Praise the Lord!

Kelly and I each walked 5 miles, which means we made our goal of 10 miles between the two of us. The weather was great with just enough of an overcast to keep it cool. The breeze was nice, but it added some challenges to Kelly’s radio antenna, whipping the backpack frame around a lot.

Kelly, aka the Radioman, was able to hear transmissions from 18 countries on four different continents with his 10 watt radio, including hearing a ham operator from Macedonia.

The pictures speak for themselves:


Connie and Kelly Ready to Meet the Challenge

Connie and Kelly Ready to Meet the Challenge

Connie Picks Up Prayer Request From The Prayer Station

Connie Picks Up Prayer Request From The Prayer Station

Kelly Tunes The Radio As We Prepare to Start

Kelly Tunes The Radio As We Prepare to Start

Back View Of Back Pack Frame With Antenna Mount, Battery Is At The Base On His Waist

Back View Of Back Pack Frame With Antenna Mount, Battery Is At The Base On His Waist

The Walk-a-thon Starts With Prayer

The Walk For The World Starts With Prayer

And They Are Off On Their First Lap

And They Are Off On Their First Lap

Drink Station On One Side - Lap Counters On The Other Side

Drink Station On One Side - Lap Counters On The Other Side

Even The Pets Joined The Walk

Even The Pets Joined The Walk

Not Only Pets, But Lots of Kids TOO!

Not Only Pets, But Lots of Kids Too

PIONEER'S President, Steve, Comes Up Behind Kelly. Watch Out For The Antenna!

PIONEER'S President, Steve, Comes Up Behind Kelly. Watch Out For The Antenna!

The Last Lap! We Did IT!

The Last Lap! We Did IT!

Matt (a co-worker) is Kelly's "Ham Buddie". After The Walk Kelly Helps Matt Set Up His New Radio

Matt (a co-worker) is Kelly's "Ham Buddie". After The Walk, Kelly Helps Matt Set Up His New Radio

Walk Is Over. One Last Transmission On The Way Back To The Car!

Walk Is Over. One Last Transmission On The Way Back To The Car!

It Was A Good Day!

It Was A Good Day!

Walk for the World

The countdown has started, and March 28th is “D” Day for our big walkathon event – one week away. Are we ready for our 10 mile challenge (40 laps)? Wait until you see how ingenious Kelly has been in preparing his “Radioman” setup.  See Kelly’s Blog for photos of our weekend at Honeymoon Island. (More about this below.)

The Cause:

Our PIONEERS staff is walking to raise $100,000 to send missionaries to 6,500-plus unreached people groups around the world. (Click here to see a brief description how the funds will be used to accomplish our goal.)


Multiplying the Blessing:

A foundation has established a matching grant enabling us to double what we raise, dollar for dollar, for up to $250,000.

The Radioman:

Kelly is taking his ham radio with him to help pass the time as we walk. He has designed a creative way to talk to various countries, states and cities on his amateur radio while walking. Wait until you see!

Pray As We Walk:

We have asked sponsors to give us their prayer requests so our staff can pray for them as we walk. There will be a manned “prayer station” along our route that will be passing out these prayer requests to the walkers as they pass the booth. Kelly will report to the prayer station the countries/states/cities he has contacted, and they will pass that info on to the rest of us so we can pray for those places also.


hfpack_man_tm Pedestrian Mobile

The Design Challenge:

Radioman calls this type of radio transmitting being “pedestrian mobile,” in Ham Radio talk.

  • Challenge #1: He had to figure out how to “wear” the radio while still being able to reach the controls.
  • Challenge #2: He will also have to carry the rather large battery that powers the radio.
  • Challenge #3: He plans to mount his “Buddistick Antenna” onto an Alice Pack Army backpack (instead of on the extended stationary mount, as seen in the photo below).
Kelly mobile with his radio, and his Buddipole antenna in a ground mount with 3 guy lines for stability

Kelly mobile with his radio, and his Buddistick antenna in a ground mount with 3 guy lines for stability

Stay Tuned For Results:

Many thanks to those of you who have agreed to either pray for our event or to sponsor the two of us. We will post results of how well we do in funds raised, how many laps we actually walk, the names of places Radioman contacts, and of course, some fun photos of the event and of Kelly’s pedestrian mobile design.

Have You Ever Seen A Blessing? Meet Stella!

Stella proves that it’s never too late in life to do something that will make a difference in eternity. She is just one of some 20 snow birds – retirees – Saints of the Lord – a true angel in disguise, who is storing up treasures in Heaven doing volunteer work at PIONEERS. She is freely giving of her time, giftings, and talent to see the Kingdom expanded.

Meet Stella our Volunteer

Meet Stella our Volunteer

For the past 11 years Stella and her husband, John, have been spending the winter months of their “golden years,” serving the Lord through volunteer work at PIONEERS. John is a retired business man and his wife is retired from 30 years of corporate work. But they aren’t sitting back in a rocking chair…no sir!

They drive their 5th wheel down from Michigan and camp in our KOA campgrounds. Orlando S.E. / Lake Whippoorwill KOA has over 120 sites for campers and RV’s of all types, and also cabins and cabanas that can be rented. Visit the website link above to see all the amenities and activities that are provided. Below is an example of what you might see at the KOA site.

Sites for all size RV's

Sites for all size RV's are Available, Like this Super Sized Lot

Cabanas to Rent

Cabanas to Rent

Stella Helps Kelly & Connie

Stella has been a real trooper, working in a different department each day. One day she helps at the receptionist desk, another day in the finance department and on Thursdays she has been helping Kelly. She has organized all his files, inventoried my web-store resource materials and helped update our database by making data entries for us. She’s saved us a ton of time and work.

Stella gets Kelly Organized

Stella gets Kelly Organized

Kelly's Office and My Computer & Desk in Background

Kelly's Office & You Can See Connie's Computer & Desk in Background

A Bushel of Blessings

There are many other volunteers working in areas where they can use their own special talents and gifting. Some help in the area of maintenance: building repairs, carpentry, plumbing, painting, & grounds upkeep. Some enter computer data for various departments, do filing, help in the mailroom, housekeeping for our guest rooms, kitchen help for meals, making airport runs to pick up guests and visitors. They all have true servants heart, willing to do whatever the need is.

But it’s not all work for them. They have their share of fun in our rejuvenating Florida sun. They go to the beach, visit tourists sites, fish in our lake, gather for grill outs and picnics and often meet in the Rec hall for games and planned activities.

Fishing, Canoeing, Biking, Swimming, Hot Tub & More

Fishing, Canoeing, Biking, Swimming, Hot Tub & More

Swimming Pool in Walking Distance

Swimming Pool in Walking Distance

Showing Appreciation

This will be Stella & Johns last year as volunteers. After 11 years I think they deserve a break. But, they aren’t leaving us; they will still come down next winter with their 5th wheel and just enjoy themselves.

Thursday night we had a special “Volunteer Appreciation Dinner” for all of them. But truly, there is no way of repaying them for all they do for us. Those rewards will come later in the form of a crown with many jewels.