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2 It was an International Experience

How do you transform a gymnasium into an International Market Place?

Is it even possible? Why would you want to? They say, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I will show you with a few photos, “how” we did just that. And the “why”? It was our church’s (Pine Castle United Methodist Church) annual mission’s weekend called GIC or Global Impact Celebration. Kelly and I co-chaired the event with our Missions Pastor and many, many other volunteers.

Friday night was to be a world affair banquette with the movie “Peace Child,” and Sunday would feature our guest speaker, missionary and author – Don Richardson, followed by an Expo display of the missionaries and outreach ministries which our church supports.

First the expo draping went up to help disguise and soften the gymnasium walls. Tables were skirted in preparation for the Sunday Expo and stored to be used on Sunday. (Thanks Jeff for providing these for us!)

Backdrops from the Children’s department added color and definition to our ‘international’ theme. (Lee holds the ladder for Stephaney.)

Round tables were decorated (by a small army) for the banquet (thanks to Eleanor and her team). We were going for a South American ‘fiesta’ look with bright colors that popped, and colorful helium balloons to fill the dead space above the tables.

The perimeter of the gym would feature the International Market Place, displaying cultural artifacts and trinkets from around the world. Here Connie and Jeanette discuss how the Africa market will look.

An African ‘Safari’ look was the finished product (thanks Jeanette).

From Africa we transition into South America. Bright, happy and fun colors draws one into this village scene that could easily be Mexico or even Guatemala.

South America came alive thanks to Kim, Sondra & their team.

Next, we move into our Asian market (above and below photos).

This area included , China, Thailand, Myanmar and the country near and dear to my heart, Indonesia (two photos above), and the Marshal Islands & Japan (as seen below)

The Island Nations (above)

Stephaney and I are smiling because the work is done and we still have a half hour to change our clothes before the banquet starts.

Now, just add ‘people’, and let the festivities  begin.

Volunteers like Marilyn and Liz served close to 200 people.

Our school chef, Patrick (in the black hat), outdid himself with an international meal that was amazing…from the pita bread & hummus to the couscous and adobo chicken with rice and more.

With the tables cleared, it’s now time to “let the program begin”. Kelly was the MC and the program began with a dramatic video of “Peace Child.”

It’s Don Richardson’s story of a primitive tribe of cannibals in Irian Jaya (Papua, Indonesia). The Sawi people honored & practiced treachery and betrayal and thus in the Gospel story (to Don’s dismay), chose Judas over Jesus as a hero. But hidden within their cultural, Don found a practice that would point them back to Jesus. It was the tradition of a ‘Peace Child.” When the chief’s only infant son was exchanged with the warring tribe for peace, Don was able to point them to Jesus, the perfect Peace Child. (Link to YouTube clip of Peace Child)

On Sunday, the round tables are replaced with the expo tables holding the displays put up by our missionaries. The missionaries line up in front of their tables waiting for the church members to enter.

Church members use their passports (found in their bulletin) to enter the expo and participate in the prize drawing later. They fill the aisles as they talk to the 40 some ministries attending and supported by PCUMC.

Some of our missionaries were unable to attend so church members volunteered to “represent” that person and share their ministry with others. Here, Jo shares with this couple about Suzanne’s work in Africa.

Our Guest Speaker, Don Richardson and his wife Carol join us at the Expo with their book table. (Books by Don Richardson: Eternity in Their Hearts, Peace Child, Lords of the Earth, Secrets of the Koran, Acting Without Agony and Unhidden)

And finally, a photo of Kelly standing in front of our Expo table, sharing about our ministry with fellow church member, Armand. (Kelly is wearing his Indonesian batik shirt and a black felt cap, or peci, as the Indonesians call it.)

Mission Accomplished

One of our goals was to create an atmosphere that would help make missions more touchable for the people.  The encouraging part was the great turn out of volunteers helping bring it all together.  It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it. It was a fun time for all.

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.


Am I serious? Is my church missing? No, I’m talking about a GREAT book that I just finished reading. It struck a chord with me because it deals with an issue that has crept into many of our beloved congregations today. It could be a growing sentiment in your church.

Is there a chance you are hearing similar comments from your congregation, from those who are older, 50’s and up, whose life is closely tied into church? Are they struggling with relinquishing control and influence to: “change” and the “younger generation”?

Who Stole My Church is authored by a talented writer and pastor of 47+ yrs, Gordon MacDonald. It’s a captivating narrative that places the reader right in the middle of these church people’s lives. Even though they are fictional characters, you could very well find each one of them sitting in your church, only their name would be different. I thought this comment from MacDonald was very revealing about what he was about to share: “The specific reason for this meeting came out of an organizational meltdown that our membership had experienced in a congregational business meeting the week before…”

Tipping Point

Did he say “organizational meltdown”? He was describing what one would call a “tipping point” for this fictional church. They were on the brink of change or no change. (If you are from the two older generations you have probably heard similar comments, or maybe uttered them yourself, under your breath of course.) What are some of the comments this pastor was hearing? “The music is too loud and I miss singing the old hymns.” “Can’t we sing those songs without having to stand all the time?” “Why don’t more young people join the choir?” And for some churches, “I miss the choir, now all we have is a ‘praise band’ with 5 people standing up front. We can’t sing harmony to these new songs, and I wish we would go back to using the organ.”

Reinventing Church

We’ve all witnessed these changes to some degree over the past 10-20 years and made adjustments (we thought). Some we’ve liked, others were more difficult. Changes like; not wearing a suit and tie, replacement of pews with individual chairs, abandoning the midweek prayer service, placing coffee kiosks in the church lobby, or bulletins replaced with overhead power-points. Here’s a big one, changing the name of the church. But honestly, are these the things that make a church, …a church?

4 Generations:

The book is not just for the builders and boomers. All generations can grasp a better understanding of each other as we; ‘find a way to move gracefully into the 21st century.’ If not, as MacDonald says: “Any church that has not turned its face toward the younger generation will simply cease to exist. We’re not talking decades—we’re talking just a few years.”

Anyway, I couldn’t put the book down. And last Sunday, we gave a copy of the book to our pastor and are recommending it to other pastors. We’ve seen give and take among the generations within our church, and that is very encouraging. Not that we’ve got it all figured out, but walking in love and submission is a major part of seeing God’s hand at work in His body.

If you’re wondering, here are the categories for the 4 generations: Builders (born before 1946), Boomers (1946-1964), Busters (1965-1983), & Bridgers (1984-2002) sometimes called Mosaics. Give the book a try, and happy reading. (Oh yeah, next time you see one of those bridgers at church with a tattoo and a couple of piercings in their eyebrow…give ’em a hug! They could be your somebody’s grandchild, yours maybe?)

A great follow up to this book is “One Church Four Generations” Understanding and reaching all ages in your church, by Gary L. McIntosh.


We had 111 Edgers this summer going out in 3 phases, or tracks. Our second Edge group came through Orlando this week on their way home? So what is an “Edger”?

>>Definition? The Edge, a short-term ministry of PIONEERS. Focus: mobilizing and mentoring this generation to passionately follow Jesus and discover their role in the Great Commission.

>>Who Goes? College age >>How Long? 4 to 6 weeks

>>What Happens? They get a close-up view of what career church-planting is all about.

>>How? They work and learn alongside our career church-planters and live among people whose culture is dominated by spiritual darkness.

What’s the Program?

1) >> They go on teams of other Edgers: can be 3 or 20+ young people on an Edge team

2) >>Orientation: 4 days before departure, they have cross-cultural ministry training & team building

3) >>Debrief: Return to America via Orlando to process their summer experiences…

I debriefed 2 young ladies this week. Chelsea was on a team who served in Greece working with kids camps. She worked as a life-guard. One of her high spots? A group of Afghanistan Refugees came through the camp for 2 weeks, and Chelsea got to teach the women how to swim. No, they don’t wear bathing suits; they swam in their regular clothing, headdress and all.

I also debriefed with Catlin on how her summer went. She was on a team of 4 serving in Croatia; building relationships through English classes and children’s clubs.

    Candid shot of Croatia team sitting on front row.

Candid shot of Croatia team sitting on front row.

(Photo Below) Our Orlando Team welcomed this Edge Group of several teams back to the US by providing a party atmosphere to help celebrate a successful summer.

Welcome Home Party & Debrief

Welcome Home Party & Debrief

(2 Photos Below) Part of the debriefing process is giving a team report about their trip. This African team is sharing what they experienced on their trip through their native dress, song and overhead power-point photos.

   Sharing African Song and Dance

Sharing African Song and Dance

     African Team Report with Overhead Photos

African Team Report with Overhead Photos

(Photo Below) This team of 4 went to a sensitive area that will be left un-named. Their focus: Ethnographic Research: the study of a culture; their social structure & behavior. Their task was to research and producing video footage and materials to enhance missions awareness for this remote forgotten area of East Asia.


Yes! The week, before the Edgers came through (college age), Gettysburg Bible Church sent their ‘Senior High School’ Youth Group down from Pennsylvania for a week stay on our campus to learn about missions. Here are 2 photos of Kelly sharing about our work.

   Kelly Shares with Senior High School Youth Group

Kelly Shares with Senior High School Youth Group

    Kelly Uses Humor With the Youth Group

Kelly Uses Humor With the Youth Group

Look close at the photo above and you will see Kelly is using “humor” to explain his point. His co-workers joked that the comic strip he choose, “Blondie,” really dated him with these young people. Hey, Blondie and Dagwood are timeless!


Tuesday evening, July1, the ACMC team meetings were winding down. (See previous posting for that story.) It was late (7:00 PM) as Kelly and I returned home for the evening to pack for our trip the next day to Tennessee. Our flight on Wednesday was early afternoon, giving us ample time to have breakfast with the team and still see them off for their flights home.

Imagine our surprise that evening when our phone rang and I heard a familiar voice say, “Ibu Connie, ini Ibu Hanna.” Two of our best friends from Indonesia, Ardian & Hanna were here in Orlando, with their son Ken, for a 4-day convention.

Kristanto and McClellands July 2008

In spite of their having just arrived and being tired from a “long” trip, they came that evening to visit with us. What a joy to catch up on their news and reminisce over old times. The last time we saw them was on our last day in Indonesia in 2004. They had come to say goodbye as Kelly and I moved back to the US due to Kelly’s health (photo below).

Kristantos goodby to McClellands 2004

Ardian and Hanna are one of the godliest couples we know, and they have 3 great kids. We were friends, neighbors and co-workers in the ministry. They were always there for us when we needed them, most notably was the time during our first year in Indonesia. It was Sept. of 1994. Kelly had some serious chest pain, but thought he was ok. He wasn’t. Kelly had experienced a heart attack and Ardian was instrumental in helping save his life by talking him into going to the hospital.

Kristanto and McClellands July 2008 close up

Their son Ken, graduated this year from Ohio State. During his junior year, Ken stayed over at our house, here in Orlando, while doing an internship at Disney World. Their 2 daughters also attended OSU, with the oldest graduating from there 3 years ago. Jessica married this summer and Janet will be back in the US this fall to continue her schooling.


Once again we had “the gang” in for their quarterly, planning meeting. (I posted a group photo of this growing team on our blog back in April.)

The good news is: we’re still growing. We have added another couple to our ranks and I’d like to introduce them to you. Please meet Danny and Judy from South Carolina (photo below). Kelly and I first met this couple when we both were serving in SE Asia. We are blessed to have them join the ACMC team.

Judy & Danny Armstrong June 2008

The team arrived Sunday evening, June 29th for 2 ½ days of meetings. We all left Wednesday afternoon; each of them to their respective homes, and Kelly & I to Jackson, TN to visit my family.

ACMC Team meeting Jun - Jul 2008

A Side Note: Frank wasn’t able to be with us for this meeting. He lives in Alaska and is still raising his support. Meanwhile, he watches his budget and plans his trips accordingly. He was with us in Dallas for the Perspectives Conference just a couple of weeks earlier.