Sunday, March 27, 2011

SHOULDERS TO CRY ON


Ligonier Evangelical Church
Ligonier, IN

Rev. Troy Diersing is the son in law of our former Executive Director of Evangelical Church Missions, Duane Erickson. Molly had the chance to meet Troy and his wife Gloria about a year ago when they were serving in Shiloh, Ohio. Troy and Gloria are now serving the Ligonier Evangelical Church and there is another big change from a year ago. They have a beautiful new baby boy. I didn’t get the chance to hold the little guy, but Molly did for just a few brief minutes. Babies are so busy at that age with all the eating, sleeping and well… what happens after they eat. It is quite a tough life isn’t it? Babies are such good reminders for us of God’s love. He looks after our every need and stands at the ready for whenever we let out a cry.

Often times God looks after us through the care of His loving people. We have felt so well taken care of during this whole deputation. Everywhere we go we are welcomed with open arms and people go far and above to make sure we are comfortable and all our needs are met. This was no exception in Ligonier. Throughout this past year we have had some hard family issues and it is sometimes hard to know just how much to share with hosts and hostesses. While in Ligonier we were sorting through some medical issues with Bryan’s mother and our hosts, Tim and Joyce Gaff, were great listening ears and shoulders to cry on. We only wish we could have shared a few more days with them.

On Sunday morning at Ligonier we shared during Sunday school with some of the interactive PowerPoint games that we have done other places. I quickly realized that we were in the presence of other missionaries when one of the young boys talked about the lizards on one of our slides and said they looked similar to the ones near his home in Argentina. We had the pleasure of meeting Elson and Toy Mast, missionaries to Argentina with World Gospel Mission. Please keep them and their 3 boys in prayer as they are back in the states raising support. You never know who you may cross paths with along the way.

Ligonier is a great mission minded church. We were encouraged by the testimony of one man who shared about a work team that had gone down to an area that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Can you believe it has been almost 6 years and they are still picking up the wreckage? The man shared about the spirit of these people who had lost everything and how they were so incredibly grateful for the help. We should all be reminded that as we pray for missionaries all around the world, no matter which organization they are with, we should be praying for the mission field that sits right outside our door.

Blessings,
Bryan & Molly

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Where are the motorcycles?


Sturgis Evangelical Church
Sturgis, MI

I have to make a confession of ignorance. I had always heard about the huge annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. As we drove toward Michigan I mentioned something to Molly about how it would be interesting to see where that was hosted. She gave a look that said, “oh you poor thing”. She then quickly corrected my misinformation and told me that the motorcycle rally is held in Sturgis, South Dakota. We drove through South Dakota earlier during this deputation, but somehow missed the rally. I wasn’t too broken up about it, because I don’t look the best in a bandana and leather vest.

Getting back to the topic at hand…

We arrived at Rev. Rodger and Joyce Moyer’s house and I let Rodger know that I’d be keeping an eye on him to report back to his brother Bruce in the mission office. He told me he would do the same for me. Of course this was all in good fun and we had a really great time all weekend. Along with having a good time playing some board games and movie watching with the Moyers, we also felt incredibly blessed by the generous hearts of the congregation after we shared on Sunday.

In Sunday school we shared, for the first time, about an exciting new ministry that God is opening up in Santa Cruz. It has been on many hearts ,for a few years, to reach into the communities around our seven churches in Santa Cruz. One new way to do that is through a tutoring center. This idea has been in the brainstorming stages for a long while, but has recently been taken from brainstorm into reality. We shared, with those in Sunday school, six specific areas of prayer surrounding the tutoring center. We will lay those out with more explanation in a later post.

We left Sturgis feeling so amazingly blessed. We came away with almost 9 shares. God continues to amaze us as He works in the hearts of His people.

Blessings,
Bryan & Molly

Saturday, March 12, 2011

DON'T MAKE LOVE OPTIONAL


Wesley Evangelical Church (WEC)
Shiloh, OH

There are always some unique blessings at each church we visit. During the weekend in Shiloh, Ohio, one of those unique blessings was attending the Valentine’s Sweetheart Banquet. We had great food, great fellowship, and great times of laughter. Pastor Bryan Graham and his wife Kara organized a really fun “Newlywed Game” with 4 different couples in the church. We learned a lot about these couples and I think they learned a lot about each other. Along with the fun we had, we also got a really good message from the evening’s speaker. He shared an idea that really stuck with me. He said, “Rather than having your love sustain your marriage, your marriage should sustain your love”. Think about when you ask a couple why they want to get married. Whether the couple is Christians or not I guarantee one of their main answers, if not the only answer, will be, “We love each other”. Now think about the main answer couples give when filing for divorce. “We don’t love each other anymore”. It seems that our society views love as optional and they therefore make their marriages optional as well. Do we see this same problem in the Church. Perhaps we don’t hear people leaving the church saying, “I don’t love God anymore”, but maybe it is phrased in different ways. Maybe they say, “I’m just not getting fed”, or “my needs aren’t being met”, or perhaps, “Things have just changed since I first came. It isn’t the church for me”. I am not an expert in church health and certainly not an expert in marriage, but I want to share just a few of my own insights and opinions. Love does not always come easy to us, because it truly is a choice. At the risk of making marriage sound mechanical, I share this next challenge. Rather than waking up each morning, looking at your spouse, and making a mental checklist of all the things that you love about that person; I challenge you to first think about your marriage vows. You entered into a covenant and spoke words of commitment before a crowd of witnesses and before your beloved. If you reduce that covenant to a checklist of things that you are happy with, you discredit God and the great miracle He did in bringing you together with your spouse. This brings us back to that original idea. Let your marriage sustain your love. Each day as you dive into that commitment, God will use your dedication to deepen your love. Part of that deepening with come as you move from loving things about your spouse to loving the being of your spouse. This translates directly into our relationship with Christ and the Church. If we fully surrender our lives to Christ, then we quickly move past liking things about the Church and rather move to loving the being of Christ. God really knew what He was doing by making the Biblical illustration of the Church as the bride of Christ. I pray that some of these thoughts have got you thinking. I leave you with this secondary challenge.

Don’t let your love sustain your salvation/sanctification/relationship with God.

Let your salvation/sanctification/relationship with God sustain your LOVE.

Blessings,
Bryan E. Canny

P.S. Your third challenge is this…Next time you are in Shiloh, Ohio, make sure to stop by the Wesley Evangelical Church and give Pastor Graham a great big bear hug. It will really make his day. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

WHERE DO YOU KEEP YOUR SPATULAS?

Bridgeway Evangelical Church
Kendallville, IN

I think it is official. Molly and I are becoming Boilermakers by osmosis. We have been blessed to stay with two different generations of Wolheters in the Kendallville area. The Purdue fan transformation started at Dennis and Bonita Wolheter’s house when we stayed in James’ old room. The light switches are a bronze/gold and at the top they read, “PURDUE TURNS ME ON” while the bottom reads, “INDIANA TURNS ME OFF”. Our transformation continued later in the week as we stayed with Pastor Jeff and Andrea Wolheter. We were placed in the upstairs “Purdue Room” complete with everything Purdue themed from trashcan and pillows to pennants and posters. I woke up to black and gold surrounding me and even though I had no prior connection with the university, I had some strange sense of pride.

We were in Kendallville for Super Bowl Sunday and had a good time just relaxing, watching the game, and of course watching the Pre-game interview with Bill O’Reilly and Obama. As my Chicago Bears barely missed being in the Super Bowl, I found myself rooting for the Steelers.  I’m sure I was in the same boat as many others finding they root for teams they’ve never had connection with before. American Idol has been a huge phenomenon for the past decade in big part because the fans hold the collective fate of the contestants. There is something inside each of us that just loves to be a part of something. We spent a full week in Kendallville and got to feel what it would be like to be a part of the Bridgeway EC community. We were invited into several different homes for lunch and dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with each of the families. One of the harsh realities of deputation is having to get back on the road after you have made such great connection with the people of a church. We often find ourselves saying, “We could live here”. We look forward to getting to Santa Cruz and making our ministry connections there, but we are thoroughly enjoying building friendships along the way.

Each time we’re in a new home I am reminded of something I heard in a  seminar last year. The speaker shared this idea: “The true test of whether or not your church people are connecting is when someone knows where everything goes in someone else’s kitchen.” I wholeheartedly agree with this idea. If you know where things go then it shows that you have invested time in that place. So I leave you with this challenge.

Invite some people over to your house that have no idea where anything goes in your kitchen and nurture that connection until they do.  


EXCITING FUNDRAISING NEWS


As many of you know, we raise our financial support through shares.  Some of you connected through this blog might even be shareholders on our team. Each week we share our story and God's vision at different churches and our team continues to grow. We are constantly amazed at how God provides for our need. In the right hand margin of this blog you can see the progress as shares continue to come in. These shares get us ever closer to our goal of returning to Bolivia. That goal has recently moved much closer to becoming reality. 
The Evangelical Church Missions Office recently looked over our budget and decided to do some tweaking in the effort of getting us back to the field sooner rather than extending our deputation to fulfill the full operating budget. The results of these efforts take us from the goal of 273 shares to needing only 245. Of that 245 you can see the continuing progress in the right hand margin. We will continue to keep it up to date and are very excited to share the news that we have been approved to return to Santa Cruz, Bolivia the in April of this year. God is good. We covet your prayers and appreciate your ongoing support as we seek to follow God’s call on our lives.

Blessings,
Bryan & Molly

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