Our Mission Statement

As a family of servants of God, we seek to Glorify Him by offering our lives as living sacrifices, being intentional about engaging people with Christ and the Gospel, and using the talents and training He has given us through grace to proclaim the Gospel of Grace to those near and far.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Observations From the Inside: Reflections on a Recent Barna Survey on Post-Christian Scotland

My brother Micheal Felker forwarded to us an article put out by the Barna Group, a leading research organization based on Ventura, California that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture (many of you reading this will be familiar with Barna). The article is titled Scotland: Lessons for Effective Ministry in a Post-Christian Context; and after reading it, we found truths that we have seen on the ground in northeast Scotland over the last almost-3-years.

The study indicates that about half of Scots describe themselves as “Christian” while the other half describe themselves as “other” or “none”. However, as the article makes clear (and as we have come to know in our experience), in Scotland, the term “Christian… demonstrates a more cultural than personally transformational view of their religious affiliation.” I would describe this group as a Christian-In-Name-Only. As the article points out, the vast majority (69%) of self-identified Christians do not even believe basic elements of the faith nor express a personal faith in Jesus. In other words, identifying as “Christian” is a misnomer. The 51% figure means absolutely nothing.

The truer number indicated, and one we have found most appropriate in the field, is the number of Scots who could be described as “evangelical”, or close to it. Keep reading...

(Important Note: In using the “Bebbington Quadrilateral” (BQ) rubric to define “evangelical”, as the study does, I believe it is an accurate representation to be used here. To be “evangelical”, all four parts of the rubric must be affirmed. The four-part rubric is as follows: 1)a perception of the Bible as totally accurate or authoritative in all of its teachings; 2)a focus on Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Individuals who are crucicentric have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their Savior; 3)the belief that the gospel must be shared with others. Someone who holds this conviction believes that he has a personal responsibility to share his faith with others; 4)a belief that conversion to Christianity is imperative for every person.) 

Importantly, what Barna has found is that in all of Scotland, only 17% of all Scots have accepted Jesus as their Savior and made a personal commitment to Him, and of those, only 3% of all Scots qualify as evangelical.

In real numbers, out of a population of about 5.3 million, 901,000 believe in Christ and seek to follow Him; and of that 901,000, only 159,000 would fall in to the BQ rubric as evangelical. That’s it.

Let that sink in.

This may be astonishing to you, but it is the post-Christian reality of the west. And unless one has their head in the sand, you will know the United States is not far behind these figures.

Moving beyond the general numbers are specific points of interest that match what we have experienced on the ground here. And even with fewer and fewer actual numbers, I believe it is good news for the faith.

Of those claiming religious faith, the study concludes “Scots under the age of 45 are twice as likely (23%) as those 45 and older (12%) to say faith “has transformed my life.” And here is an important point from this, learning from our own experience and as expressed in the numbers: For the majority of the older generation, Christianity was/is a legacy of their culture. It was/is about what the community did. It was a way to belong. It was/is about “attending the kirk”.

[Necessary Disclaimer: Some of these statements are “broad-brush”, with exceptions to the rule. Personally, we (and you) know many of the older generation where Christ is core and central to their being and they seek to follow Him and do good works. But for the sake of argument, the numbers do paint a majority picture; one that I’m running with.] 

When Christianity was the majority religion/faith, it began to have the tendency to not be so much about Jesus, the Gospel, knowing the Bible, personal transformation (unless couched in “moralism” – ugh). It became more about legacy. It became more about the institution (and in particular, often in the Churches of Christ it was about “our tribe”).

I was tempted to tell a few stories to this regard, but I will resist. However, there have been experiences where the entire Christian experience had little to do with Jesus; had little to do with wanting to know the Scriptures; had little to do with wanting to know God more and doing good works. The problem with the plague of legacy-Christianity is that it is very little Christian.

But what we are seeing now that Christianity is becoming less and less an influence on culture; and more and more of a minority; is that the younger generations who are coming to faith are coming to the faith for different reasons. It is to know Jesus. It is to believe the Gospel. It is to know God and His Word. It is to be used by God to do good works. This is what we have seen on the ground; and I attribute these figures about transformation to the greater focus on the Scriptures and daily discipleship (what it is to actually follow Jesus day to day). And it is because to claim Christ today will actually cost something in the short and long term as the west continues to darken.

What I have found, from not only the young adults who knew Jesus before we got here, but from the seekers and the 1st-generation Christians who have come to faith through our work, is that they crave study of the Scriptures. And not just topical nonsense; but rigorous, deep, expositional study of books: verse-by-verse, section-by-section. They highlight. They read. They underline. They ask questions. They question. They want to know more. They don’t just want to be talked to about it; and it is so much more than attending a building. They want to OWN it.

I believe this is because they have and will have a lot to lose in this world if they accept the Truth of the Gospel and are granted repentance and faith. (It is actually something I teach to seekers right up front: you will lose something).

So to be a “Christian” for those under 30, means something much more. (Again, broad-brush statement, but one shown by the numbers in the study). They truly have to count the cost with culture; with family; with friends. Their social networks will change. They will lose friends. Their families in some cases have and will make fun of them, discourage them, or even reject them because of their decision to follow Jesus. It is no longer culturally acceptable to stand for Jesus and His Word.

And so it comes as no surprise that, according to the numbers and on-the-ground-experience, the younger generations see following Jesus as more of a transformation than an institutional cultural legacy. The days of cultural-legacy-belief are over in the West. And I believe this is good for faith.

When we read the New Testament, and as we look at the course of history, we see that the church became stronger when it was being persecuted the most. God, in His way, tends to sift the claimers of His Name. And when push comes to shove; when the winds of culture around us begin to close in; when persecution becomes a reality (from losing businesses, to being ostracized, to criminalization of speech or practices, etc.), the chaff blows away, and the wheat remains. And this is a good thing for the future of the church.

This effect also demolishes the man-created separations we see between denominations AND non-denominations. It will be less about man-made separations and traditions; and more and more about core theological truths about Christ, the Word of God, and obedience in following Him. Dare I say, it will be much more “1st-Century”.

I would encourage everybody to read an article by Dr. Al Mohler on the need for a Theological Triage and Christian Maturity. I couldn’t agree more. And in light of post-Christianity, we must stand firm on first-level theological issues; and learn to be open-handed on second and third-level. I believe the increased pressure upon the church in the west will force us to do just that; and I see that as a good thing.

There is more to say and consider in light of the realities of post-Christianity in the West: How should these realities of post-Christianity affect us? How we study? How we teach? How we love? How we focus? How we work? How we do missions? This is the needed discussion moving forward…

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Change in Direction: Plans Moving Forward

We feel now that it is appropriate to let all of our supporters in on our plans moving forward and how we seek for you to continue to be involved.

At this point we are in a very hectic time of organizing and packing. With just about 6-weeks remaining, we have all of our logistics of travel to coordinate as well as the selling of almost everything we own before making the move.

As of now, it looks like we will be leaving Scotland sometime during the week of December 6th (probably the middle of that week; say around the 9th/10th). Since we have a dog (a miniature schnauzer named “Piper”), we have to coordinate getting her back over as well; and this is proving to be a tad difficult. But it will work out.

From the time we arrive in the States, we will be in Fairfax through the Christmas holiday, staying with my sister and family until the week of the 27th. At that point we will journey to Abilene, Texas through the New Year to see some more family, including my dad and Daisha’s sister and family. Then, on the week of January 3rd, we will make our way to Tallahassee, Florida to settle down for a semester, until the end of the school-term.

So: why Tallahassee for a time? We lived in Tallahassee from 2006 until 2009 before moving to Memphis where I earned my M.Div. Additionally, Naomi was born there, my mother still lives there, we still have friends there, the church family is healthy, and it has always been a place of restoration for us throughout the years. It isn’t as “hustle-bustle” as the Fairfax/DC area, a slower pace that we feel will be better for our children in regards to transitioning back to the States. Our end-goal at this point is once school has ended, to end up in the Fairfax, Virginia area in the summer 2016 (though, depending on opportunities that may come up, we are open to other locations).

During this entire transition time will be looking for employment. At this point I would like to enter the arena of teaching. While not being ignorant of the challenges of teaching, particularly in a private-school setting, I know that my giftedness is in this area and I seek to put it to use in a focused way. I will be looking at teaching at a Christian private school (high-school age) in the Fairfax/Loudon/Northern Virginia area (again, we would consider other locations); to teach subjects ranging from Bible, to Speech, to History and Government (not an exhaustive list; though I can’t do Latin ☺). If you know of a way in that would help, I would be happy to forward my CV. --- I would also like to coach soccer, not only for a school but perhaps also in a public way.

My extra-curricular will involve being involved in adult soccer leagues (I currently play twice a week in Scotland and desperately need this outlet of activity) and serving the church through teaching and preaching (when applicable). I also see how our experiences could lead me to advise or be a speaker to congregations and missionaries who are engaged in or are looking to be engaged in mission work in the UK or Europe in several different ways. Not sure how to put that together yet, but it is on my radar.

Daisha will also be starting up her own small business in Home Design and Styling. She is already working on her website and marketing plans moving forward. We each had our own small businesses in the States, and most recently Daisha had her own photography business, which proved successful, so we aren’t new to the way it all works. That said, we do seek prayers on behalf of the effort. There is no doubt of her skill and expertise in that area, and the benefit it will have for her to use her gifts and upon our family is an obvious thing to us.

As for the kids, it is imperative for us to place Gideon into a select/travel/club soccer team as soon as possible; both in Florida and in Virginia. He has excelled in the sport while in Scotland and it is his focus in more ways than one. We seek to feed these skills evermore and want to keep this going by putting him into a top competitive league wherever we are. I played on at club level when I was a teenager while living in Northern Virginia in the early 90s and am familiar with the system and the dedication it takes. And while I’m sure it’s even more intense these days, particularly in Virginia and the greater mid-Atlantic area, he’s up for it. ☺

Naomi is very dedicated to her artwork and we will seek to place her into any club of that kind wherever we are; both for socialization and skill exercise.

We are not sure how all this will eventually work out. As it is written, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps,” (Prov 16:9); and we are not ignorant that “if the Lord wills, we will do such and such…” – and so it is all in His hands. But this is where we are in thought, motivation, and desire at this point. And it is now that we ask for your continued support through the transition in several ways:

If you have prayed for us, please continue to do so throughout this time. Pray especially for our children, that they will transition well back to the American culture in several different states. Pray also for us, that we will stand firm in faith and that the Evil One will be cast aside from our path. Pray that I will be able to find employment within the said timeframe.

If you have given to us financially, whether one time, quarterly, or monthly, we ask that you continue to do so throughout our transition. This is not only for the travel back to the States, but also once we are on the ground to help us get settled as we seek employment. At this point half of our support comes from FXCC and we are in an established agreement with them to keep that support going throughout the transition. However, the other half of our support is through individuals, families, and other congregations; and so at this point we are asking for two more quarters of giving (through June of 2016), until at such time we are hopeful to have an established and settled way. We thank you for considering doing so and are so very grateful for each of you as you have supported us and will continue to do so.

There are probably details I missed here, but that is about where we are in our minds. We will continue to attempt to be as transparent as is appropriate and possible throughout this time. See here for the reasons for decision post and here for what God has and is doing post.

Grace be with you –
The Sheets

A Change in Direction: What God Has Done and Is Doing

[See here for our reasons for decision post and here for our plans moving forward post.]

This post will reflect on how we have seen the Spirit at work through this effort; how He has used teachings and our personal relationships for His glory in bringing people to Him.

Upon reflection I have been engaged in something close to 450 teaching moments. These moments included opportunities for relationship building, conversation and teaching via coffee shop and in-home one-on-ones, discipleship small groups, home studies, bigger classes, and sermons.

In 31 months so far, in the above contexts, I have taught verse-by-verse, section-by-section through 15 books of the Bible: Mark, Galatians, Acts, Genesis, 1Peter, 2Peter, 2John, 3John, Jude, Obadiah, 1Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Jonah, and 2Thessalonians. I am currently engaged in the same with 3 more books: 2Timothy, Philippians, and Ecclesiastes. Additionally, I have team taught through 1Thessalonians; and have done topical series on the Temptations of Jesus (in Matthew), Angels and Demons, the Trinity, Shepherd-Leaders, and how God uses and works through sin (ripping the cover off the Sunday school “heroes”).

I was asked to be a speaker at the Aberdeen Youth weekend in 2013, and have been a part of other weekends like this a couple times a year throughout the country. I have also spoken and been involved in outreach in other communities such as Buckie (about 70 minutes up the northern coast).

Daisha spent time teaching a Sunday morning Bible class before helping to train one of the young adults to take it over. She was also involved in teaching a ladies class, which included several lessons on the fruit of the Spirit as well as a whole series through the letter of James. Wednesdays were spent with some of the youth, and the lessons have included “Introduction to the Bible”, the “Gospel of Mark”, “What is the Gospel?”, and “Hard Questions & Biblical Answers.”

Daisha’s main focus was on the children, and for one semester home-schooled Gideon and Naomi. During this time and beyond, she was involved in ministry opportunities with women she was meeting in the community, whether in Peterhead, Mintlaw, or in other activities such as through the Haddo House Choral & Operatic Society and Weight Watchers. These opportunities included theological discussions with those who wanted to know more about life and faith. Many of these women had no connection to faith whatsoever; and God knows what fruit will be borne from such things.

For each of us, there have also been the impromptus counseling sessions, midnight and 6am phone calls and texts, and various other ways in which God has placed us in the path of those who need Him and want to know Him better. There are too many of these instances to count. God knows.

Through our works, and in partnership with Billy Strachan, we have seen changed lives, those who have been born-again, further engagement, and maturity. Billy has been a dear friend, mentor, and laborer who has worked tirelessly and sacrificed much for the work here for about 15 years (I would encourage you to check out his blog and keep up to date with him and all the good works). I have also been blessed to work with Michael Gaunt, who has served this area for 30+ years.

It is actually difficult to recall all of how the Spirit has been at work; and not only because it has been much; but because in the moment of recollection the sadness of leaving the people increases.

When we first arrived, there were a number of young adults who were no longer engaged in learning or being apart of the church. However, after engaging with fairly rigorous, yet engaging and conversational studies through the Scriptures, some began to re-engage. It was through what became the discipleship class that two young adults started coming and in several month’s time were granted the gift of faith and believed. Both of them are first-generation Christians, forever changing their family trees.

The Word of God did not return void; and simply allowing people to accept or reject Jesus as they met Him through the Gospel of Mark; and seeing clearly the Gospel as Paul pronounces it in Galatians was (and probably always will be) the method that I developed. It was and is such a joy to watch people come from nothing (and even rejection) to full-convinced faith. This is evidence of the Spirit’s power and evidence of His people reaching others through relationship with His Truth and Love; as many connections being made were through the relationships of the young adults with workmates and such. We are simply fishers. And we also witnessed the baptism of another young man just recently, showing continuing fruit of the Spirit’s work through Billy in this way.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention that during this time I also baptized my son, Gideon, in the North Sea. He is and will certainly be God’s warrior. What a young man he is becoming. We are so proud of him!

Beyond the witnessing of spiritual transformation in a saving way, we have also seen transformation in the maturity of young and old believers within the community of faith. One way is in an increased focus on missions. For the first time, a small group of us from Peterhead joined the Fairfax group on a mission to the Dominican Republic. Before heading to the DR we spent a full week in Fairfax helping serve the church there. It was certainly a new and inspiring experience for us and has aided in spiritual and life maturity. We have also continued our partnership here with the efforts in the DR as we now help support 2 of the children in the Manna Christian School. It has inspired others to consider what other efforts we can engage in; as we also support works in Africa and India.

Last December, we also engaged in a homeless ministry in the city of Aberdeen (about 30 miles south of us). Admittedly, we wanted to keep this going but schedules did not allow us to maintain it for longer than about a month. This is one of my regrets; but even-so the relationships we began with those on the streets and being able to witness to Christ and His love, gifts, and mercy was a joy to be a part of. We would feed them, talk with them, witness to them, pray for them, and follow up with them as they were seeking employment and other was of advancement. It was a joy to watch God work in such a short period of time; and it is my hope that those who were apart of that ministry will pick it up again in a more consistent way.

Other ways of maturity include greater depth of the study of the Scriptures and increasing focus on Christ, the Gospel, and God’s mission through the church to be the prism of life and operations instead of tradition. I will be exploring some of this in greater detail in a future post concerning a Barna study on Christianity in Scotland; so stay tuned.

There is much more to consider. I just went through my photos on my laptop and noticed about two dozen or more special events and occurrences that I could write about here. There are so many... and I may have to spend some time posting a lot more for reflection as the weeks come and go. But even as we recall these things, the action of God is increasingly evident through this work. It is a joy to remember, and we want you to know that without your support for us in spirit and through financial giving, it would not have happened. We thank God for each of you; and pray for blessing upon you as the fruit continues to bear because of your sacrificial offerings.

We want to say a special thank you to our families, the McCains who housed us for 10-months at the beginning, the Distant Missions Team (DMT) at FXCC, along with the shepherds, the awesome and hilarious staff, the accountants, and the ministry team, which includes our brother Phil McKinney (he’s been with us since the early discussions of 2010/11). Additionally, the congregation at Fairfax with their involvement and encouragement for us throughout the effort are a treasure to us. A big thank you to the teens, young adults, and adults that made their way to Scotland to be with us and support the work and continue in their relationships with those they befriended here on the ground. We are grateful to Falls Church CofC as they have supported us from the beginning as well. We are especially grateful for the service of Richard and Michelle Miller, our liaisons to the DMT at Fairfax. Their gifts of grace and concern for us have been incredibly loving and consistent. From the Skype sessions, to the boxes of goodies they would arrange and send, to the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of cards and letters they arranged for our spiritual nourishment along the way. They never ceased to serve God in this way, and we ask God to bless them tremendously for all of their self-sacrifice. And last but not least, for all those individuals, families, and congregations that have prayed for us and supported us in various ways throughout this effort.

The next post will address our plans moving forward and how we desire to have your continued support throughout the transition. And as I mentioned above, I will comment on a recent Barna study on Christianity in Scotland to help show the reality of the post-Christian situation of the UK, Europe, and what will continue to be the US.

Grace be with you –
The Sheets

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Change in Direction: Reasons for Decision

There are several things that have led to this new direction for our family and mission. Admittedly, not every detail can be shared on a public forum, but what follows is as personally transparent as we can be here.

As the next post will point out, God has been working and producing much fruit through this work. So why leave at the 3-year mark if there is evidence of the Spirit’s success? There are several reasons for this.

Northeast Scotland is a unique place. Unlike the more populated places of the country, it became clear how isolated we were, the unique circumstances of the work this presented, and the toll it was taking on us as a family. We have dear, dear friends both inside and outside our church-community here, and it pains us to think of how much we will miss them (it’s probably the hardest part of all this). But even so, with the cultural realities and busyness of us as well as these friends, the isolation we feel is ever-present. Add to this the stresses of the work on the ground and I, as the leader of my family, was not handling the stressors well. These things, along with moving to a new town last December and the new approaching stress of having to move yet again (our rental is being sold, and we were given notice to move), the family and work were going to suffer more.

These things, of course, were not unexpected. We were not ignorant of what was to come in regards to enculturation; but there is always the difference of “knowing” something and even being prepared for it; and actually experiencing it first hand in real life. So many new factors involved. So many people to worry about. So many said and unsaid expectations. Add to that the constant feeling of loneliness and isolation that Daisha also felt; and how I, as a husband and daddy, was leading (or not) in handling certain matters; there was a daily compounding of issues.

There is no doubt in my mind that staying another 2 years would see much good. But there came a point where we had to ask: at what cost? While Jesus calls us to lose our lives for His sake, we must balance that requirement of discipleship and missions with what Paul tells Timothy: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” (1Tim5:8). And while this is in the context of caring for widows and the like; I believe this teaching the Spirit through Paul gives us can be taken in a broader context. There are ways in which my providing for my own family (namely: spiritually and in “being present”) is less than what it needs to be.

We can be involved in seeing many people come to Christ, as we have while we’ve been here. But if more time equals a failure of my first responsibility to my family, it is not worth it. There are too many stories we have heard that make clear to us how quickly these closest relationships can be torn asunder because of the ministry. And my family must be my priority; over and above the work.

We need a reboot.

There was consideration in changing mission strategies; and reducing our stressors by focusing less on the established work and more on the fruit we were apart of in reaching unbelievers in our community (which will be explored in the next entry). We were given much freedom by our supporting congregation (FXCC) to pursue whatever we saw necessary for success of the mission they had sent us on. For this we are grateful. But even so, it was clear that this sort of change in strategy was going to cause more harm than good in the short and mid-term, and we were not ready to put others and ourselves through it. The situation on the ground prevented the transition we were seeking.

Beyond the work, there are other considerations that as parents and professionals we need to consider. The health of our children in both society and in regards to education and opportunity are becoming ever more present and important for us as they enter the formative years of life. Both Daisha and I were raised and have lived in a way surrounded and pushed by others who pursued opportunity and what is erudite. We have missed this tremendously (something we did not even consider); and wish to provide our children with what they will need to be productive members of a global society. We wish to enable them with much freedom and greater availability of opportunity so they may succeed and fail, aiding in their growth as people and more importantly, as ambassadors for Christ in their lives.

It is also true that the exercise of our God-given gifts is something we desire to pursue in other ways (as will be explore in a later entry). It is clear to me that I am gifted in teaching. I love it. I love the preparation. I love the reading. And I love passing on knowledge to others in an instructive and conversational way. While I am able to do this on the mission field (I have taught something around 400-450 lessons in varying scenarios while here), I still felt “chained” emotionally and spiritually to the stressors. The emotional roller coaster is intense; bouncing from joy to apathy from hour to hour on a daily basis.

Daisha, of course, is ridiculously skilled in all things art, design, creativity, etc.; and that giftedness has been unable to be unleashed to its potential in the current situation. Coupling all this with the emotional and spiritual swings; the motivation to even do what we love also takes a hit.

We admit, some (many?) of these things are because of our own faults and sins; but it is the reality of realizing our failures and finding ways to grow through them; and to live the called life courageously and responsibly.

This all may sound kind of negative, but it isn’t. It’s more of simple reality in what we have learned through our experience in the almost 3-years of doing this.

The next post will explore what God has done here through this effort, and will continue to do here for His glory.

Grace be with you -
The Sheets

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sheets in Scotland - The Mission Continues... A Change in Direction...

As we approach 3 years in the Scotland field, and with much prayer and consultation, it is with heavy yet hopeful hearts that we now make public our decision to return to the US this December. There are many things we wish to make known to you, our supporters, including: the reasons for this decision; what God has accomplished through this work (the teaching, the changed lives, men and women coming to Christ and greater maturity) as well as what we will continue to do in connection with the work; and our request for continued support from you throughout our transition (informing you of dates and plans moving forward). Each of these things will be written about in greater detail in successive blog entries. We seek to be as transparent as is appropriate, so as they say these days, “watch this space.”

We thank you. We love you. And we look forward to sharing much more as this week progresses.

In Christ alone –
The Sheets

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A 20-month Review (part 2 of 2)

Throughout the week we are involved in other areas of ministry. On Friday nights there continues to be a Bible club, headed by Billy Strachan (a local ministry leader, partner, good friend and brother) that meets for two and a half hours to play indoor fitba (soccer), sing songs, and study the Bible and the way of Jesus. The majority of the group is filled with young non-believers, but some of those in the young adult group also attend this club. This integration allows the young disciples to be witnesses throughout the study. Attendance ranges anywhere from 15-30 each week with a wide age-range of 12-25 or so.

Daisha and I continue to befriend several family units within the community; most of who have zero church background or knowledge of the Good News. We are growing these relationships and have engaged in counseling sessions along with sharing of testimony. Admittedly, we probably have not pushed forward as much as we could have at this point with some of them. We regret this. However, we do hope to have an intentional focus on the beginnings of a young-family Bible club, which will begin with open discussion and toward the study of the Gospel of Mark.

We have become closer to another family here; the owner’s of the Symposium coffee shops in our area. It is a joy spending time with them and being able to use the coffee shops as meeting places and a place to get work done. :)

We try to be involved in the community where we fit. One very important way is through Gideon (now 8) and Naomi (now 6); who have made many friends. Gideon is also involved in a year-round fitba league, which has connected us to multiple young families. We are so encouraged to hear about how these relationships are continuing to be developing and growing and what will become of them.

In addition to this work in Peterhead, we have continued to support and encourage the church in Buckie (about 90 minutes around the coast by car) whenever called upon. I had the opportunity to attend an outreach/fellowship event in the community of Buckie, which included believers from England, who were originally from Africa! (I love how God works!). I also continue to preach in that area whenever called upon to do so.

I had the opportunity last year to be a lead speaker in Aberdeen at a youth weekend in September. In attendance were over 100 youth from around Scotland (including Peterhead, Aberdeen, Dundee, Falkirk, Edinburgh, and Glasgow areas). In addition to this, we have taken part in young-adult events throughout Scotland this past year; furthering and deepening these connections when possible.

This past June/July, something groundbreaking occurred. For the first time in its history, the Peterhead congregation had members travel abroad on mission. The Scottish churches receive group after group to help the work here; but it is time for the DNA to move toward not one of receiving, but of sending. As we mentioned last year, I was working toward having some in the young-adult discipleship class over to Fairfax as well as possibly joining Fairfax on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. By God’s grace this was accomplished! Six-members in their 20s joined me in a trip to Fairfax for about 9 days before three of those members (and Jr) joined the Fairfax mission team to the Dominican Republic! Fruit from these works has been noticed, not least of which is the monetary sponsorship of two children at the Bobita Children’s School-Home by the Peterhead group! We are hoping this will spur the congregation on to both domestic and foreign mission efforts each year.

We have confidence in this work and recognize how quickly things are developing. There are many irons in the fire as we feel the way forward. But we know God is working and the mission is bearing fruit even in this short time.

To God be the glory!


A 20-month Review (part 1 of 2)

For purposes of keeping you informed and of continuing this partnership with you, we hope the next two posts coming up will help catch everyone up on the work that has take place. They are general in nature. :)

As we noted in a previous blog post, it is again important to remind ourselves that it can take up to two years to be imbedded enough re: language/socialization social rhythms, message formulation, and on-the-ground ministry experience to actually get to any form of being “settled”. We are fully aware that it is usually from year three to seven that systematic evangelism is fully established, church-growth and planting is seen, some kind of stabilization occurs in life and ministry, and the fruits of maturity are recognized.

Then there are the issues built in underneath each of those items: Leadership, communication, teaching, fellowship, planning, vision casting, relationships, counseling, family dynamics, education, structural and ministry diversification, base building, etc. As we enter the 20th month of the effort, this evaluation of the work has not changed.

But even so, in this short period so far we are both pleased with the work as well as ever more cognizant of the difficult realities of the mission-field in a post-Christian context. The mission continues to be a multifaceted work.

To start, we continue to be fully engaged with the current congregation in establishing leadership criteria as well as a vision and mission forward. The effort to till and water the current soil as well as plant more and more seeds is continuing. This includes setting a firm foundation for the long-term health of the church in the area; not least of which includes a mission to have a Scottish church, supported with Scottish money, and structured biblically with Scottish leaders.

We have continued our emphasis on discipleship with the believers. This includes a young adult group as well as with unsaved young adults who have come and have shown a desire to learn about Jesus at deeper levels. We are most encouraged by this work, as the longevity of the church is dependant upon these youth who will be developed into leaders and doers of good works for the glory of God. It has also been a crucial way for us to increase spiritual intimacy with unbelievers.

The process of discipleship is most precious as the development we are seeing is in watching God make a people who live the life of following Jesus every day as opposed to believing once-a-week church attendance is all this life in Christ is.

As for teaching and preaching; I have the opportunity about 3-5 times a week to meet with individuals and groups to engage in conversation, teaching, and Bible study. Through the last 20-months, I have completed teaching verse-by-verse, section-by-section with individuals and groups through the Gospel of Mark (multiple times); Paul’s letter to the Galatians; The Book of Acts; and the numerous areas where shepherd-leadership and congregational responsibility are addressed.

I had the privilege of baptizing a 25 year-old named Lee. He started attending the discipleship class as we were going through the Gospel the Mark. After about 6-7 months, he received the Kingdom. He is the first Christian in his entire family! His family tree is permanently changed. :) I am proud of him and am encouraged at God's power in bringing him to faith.

As many of you know, I also baptized my son, Gideon, in the North Sea. Water was cold but it was a beautiful day! I am so proud of Him and His mind toward Christ. Sometimes it’s easy to forget he is only 8 years old. He’s my brother now. :)

More to come...