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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.

1 Books, books and more books:

At 7:00 pm we closed the book table, did an inventory and by 9:00 pm had all the remaining books packed up and ready to ship back home. When we closed out the cash register, the sales for the day showed we had been successful in moving a lot of inventory into peoples hands. We were all quite pleased with the results, considering the current state of our economy.

Kelly and I were attending the Mission ConneXion Northwest, sponsored by the northwest area churches and held this year in Vancouver, WA. It’s a two day event challenging the Church to fulfill the Great Commission. We were there assisting Ken, our ACMC team member, with his book sales for the conference.

Kelly and the team set up the book tables for the conference
Kelly and the team set up the book tables for the conference

This event, with its 125 workshops, four leading keynote speakers, and inspirational worship sessions had something for everyone. The attendance count hasn’t been posted yet, but we are estimating around 6 to 7 thousand may have attended. (While it’s not as many as the 15,000 that has attended in previous years, it was a good attendance for the times.)

One view of the crowd mingling in the foyer.
One view of the crowd mingling in the foyer.

About 80 missions agencies set up exhibits providing information about work being done in countries around the world.

Here is our Pioneers booth exhibit, right next to Wycliffe.
Here is our Pioneers booth exhibit, right next to Wycliffe.

In between workshops and general sessions, the book table was a favorite gathering place where a wide variety of books about missions could be found.

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We had 6 long tables stacked with books, videos, and other resources all pertaining to missions.

There was something for people of all ages at the conference and at the book table.
There was something for people of all ages at the conference and at the book table.
This young lady couldn't resist taking a closer look at the book she chose.
This young lady couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the book she chose.
These two college girls found this corner the perfect spot to browse through their books.
These two college girls found this corner the perfect spot to browse through their books.
Connie explains the plot found on this DVD of "The Enemy God".
A customer asks Connie to explain the plot to this DVD movie, “The Enemy God” that was made by our Denver film team.
Kelly rings up another sale.
Kelly rings up another sale.

We love getting mission materials into peoples hands and to the churches. It was a great weekend for us in, even if it was rainy and cold. We even got to have lunch with a couple we hadn’t seen since 1986, back when we were living in Portland. Friends and missions, what a combination.

Reflections:

With the start of a new year, many of us are reflecting on the past year as we look to ‘what’s next’. I’m thinking back over three main events from the last 3 months of 2009.

The first event happened in October when we broke our record for ‘the number of new missionary going through our training program in one year’.  Our 5th and last orientation program for the year had 29 new candidates bringing the years total to 158.

OCT COP 2009

The second event was hosting this group of pastors and church leaders (shown below) for our November Church Partner Forum.

Even though it takes a lot of hard work to put it all together, it’s one of my most favorite events. The positive response and feed back from the participants makes it all worth while.

Church Partner Forum November 2009

Church Partner Forum November 2009

The third event, that just ended on New Year’s Eve, was Urbana 2009. What? You’ve never heard of Urbana?

Urbana logo

Upwards to 20,000 young people (ages 17-30) attend this student missions conference sponsored every 3 years by InterVaristy Christian Fellowship. It started in 1946, and from 1948 to 2003 was held at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana… thus the name “Urbana”. Since 2006 it has been held at the St. Louis Conference Center in Missouri.

It’s amazing to see this many young people give up 5 days of their Christmas break for the opportunity to see, hear and respond to God’s global mission.

Kelly and I had the privilege to attend back in 1991, and were amazed by the zeal and commitment of these young people whose hearts are turned toward God and missions.

PI Urbana 2009

Pioneers sent a team from our office to represent our agency. The photo above was taken by one of our co-worker showing our world globe and Pioneers’ sign hanging over the heads of the participants.

Yes, 2009 has been a great year and we have great expectations for 2010. Our prayer for you is that 2010 will be a blessed year for you and your family. Happy New Year!

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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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:

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

africa-dress

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

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

007-mongolia

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

cpf-apr-2009-grp-photo

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

WHO STOLE MY CHURCH?

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.

DRY-DRY-DRY Albuquerque, NM

ALBQ CPF Group Photo

Kelly and I just spent all of last week (May 12-16) in Albuquerque for our first ever, off-site Church Partner Forum. (We usually hold these forums in Orlando at our Pioneers campus.) The exciting part of this event was that none of the 8 churches who attended had any previous connections with Pioneers! It was a great opportunity to open the door for the possibility of future partnerships.ALBQ CPF Kelly table setting

We took 3 of our team members with us and co-hosted this event with another agency called:1615 logo You can learn more about this group at www.1615.org . They coach churches on how to design their missions programs to fit the DNA of their church.

Roadrunner from website One highlight of our trip was seeing New Mexico’s state bird — a real “Roadrunner” scooting across the parking lot at our hotel. Kelly captured a photo of one on his cell phone and maybe he will add his picture to the blog. Here’s a link to Kelly’s photo! This is the same bird that was made popular in Wile E. Coyote’s Warner Bros. cartoons. (Credit for photo above: Photo: and no it did not go beep-beep www.birdwatchersdigest.com/)

Roadrunner Facts: Roadrunner is the state bird of NM. They prefer walking or running, attaining speeds up to 17 mph. hour; and are quick enough to catch and eat rattlesnakes.

Description: The roadrunner has a long, graduated tail carried at an upward angle, long stout legs and a distinctive head crest.

Albq map of stateCity of Albq from wikipedia

Albuquerque Facts: Dry, dry, dry is my description. Officially, the climate is classified as arid (defined as: a severe lack of available water). That’s an understatement! The city was founded in 1706 and is named after a Spanish village Alburquerque (extra “r”) and a “family name” from Spain and Portugal. Living at sea level in Orlando, this view of the mountains is breathtaking. (See photo above)

The red area on map above shows where Albuquerque is located in NM. Population: 534,089 (2008); Elevation (at airport) is 5,352 feet (1,631 m) above sea level.

Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, NM Albuq Hot Air Balloons

(Hot Air Balloon photo © Cindy Petrehn photo)

The Rio Grande (photo left) flows through the city north to south. (3 Albuquerque photos come from “wikipedia.org” ) A Striking Site: On a previous trip we got to see a view like this of the hot air balloons. A popular attraction in early Oct. is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

1 NEW MISSIONARY CANDIDATES ANSWER THE CALL

A week ago we wrapped up our 2nd (for the year), Candidate Orientation Program with 27 new individuals going through training and receiving an appointment to serve overseas.

These are the statistics from those 27 people 6 couples and 15 singles (3 were male & 12 females) from 14 states

Their anticipated destination of service: 2 to S. America/ 2 to Africa/ 5 to Middle East/ 2 to Europe/ 4 to Asian countries/ 1 to China /and 5 who are undecided.

WINTER WONDERLAND FOR A DAY- IN DENVER connie in denver snow full scene

Then last week we went to our Denver office. We arrived on Tuesday and it got up to 80 degrees. On Wednesday a cold front went through and by noon, huge snow flakes were coming down in sheets. It was beautiful, like a winter wonderland. We got 5 inches of snow.

The snow caked on the trees and grass but never stuck to the streets or sidewalks, making it the perfect snow fall (not requiring any snow removal). We woke up Thursday morning with the sun glistening off the clean white snow. By noon it had all melted away and we were walking around in short sleeves. Now that’s the way a snow fall should be. Twenty-four hours of blissful white snow, and then, GONE! SWEET!!!

Connie close up denver snow

connie in denver snow full scene

1 Meet our ACMC Team

We’d like to introduce you to our ACMC Team. These are our Regional Directors and they were in Orlando the first week of April to meet with us for their quarterly team meeting.

ACMC Group Photo Apr 2008

Back Row – Left to Right: Frank (Alaska), Joe & Tom (Pennsylvania), Ken & Larry (California), Lee (Indiana) Connie (Orlando) Front Row – Left to Right: Paul (South Carolina), Blake (Texas) Kelly (Orlando)

ACMC stands for “Advancing Church Missions Commitment” and their mission statement reads: “ACMC helps churches mobilize their resources for effective involvement in world evangelization.” Link to ACMC Website They are a great group of guys and we are excited about what God is doing through their ministries.

We celebrated my birthday that week and here is a photo of the birthday cake Kelly bought to share with our entire Orlando team. It was gone in no time. (The picture on the cake is of a person sitting at their desk with piles of paper work stacked around them…)Connie\'s Birthday Cake Apr 2008

HOW DOES ONE INCREASE EXCITEMENT ABOUT MISSIONS?

Answer: Attend our Church Partner Forum (CPF)

Group Photo

The week after Easter, our Church Partnerships team hosted this event on our Orlando campus. We were at maximum capacity with 40 participants. We had churches represented from 13 different states (TX, MN, NY, IN, NH, CO, AR, IL, FL, CA, KS, CT, & SC).

We hold this event twice a year to strengthen the relationship between sending churches and our agency. Our intent is to help mission-minded church leaders explore how partnership and networking can help them sharpen their missions focus, mobilize members for missions ministry, and maximize their mission impact. (Link to our webpage.)

Our guest speaker was Dr. Tom A. Steffen, Director of Missiology and professor of Intercultural Studies at Biola University. (He is Kelly’s D.Mis.advisor.) He spoke on the hot topic; Business as Missions…is it a fad or something unique God is doing and how will your church respond?

Great discussions

Great discussions and interaction take place during the sessions.

over lunch

These discussions continue over lunch.

Banquet

The banquet is a time for good fellowship.

There’s always down time in-between activities for networking.

Next month (May 15th) we are holding our first ever, “off-site” forum in Albuquerque, NM. Stay tuned for a report on how it goes.