Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Challenge at the Fort 2014-2015 Video!

Ministry Updates Coming Soon!

So it's been awhile since our last ministry update... Don't worry, we are still alive and well.  Things have been crazy with support raising trips and surgeries...and my computer running super slow.  We're talking frustratingly slow to where I forget what I'm even writing.  Not good for a guy with ADD.  My Mac is on it's last legs unfortunately.  So because my computer is slow, the updates are slow in coming out.  But they are coming!  So check back soon and there will be some more info...and maybe a new video if you play your cards right!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Guest Post by Kazu on the Mexico Mission Trip


I went to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, during spring break. Usually, I don't want to share my thoughts with others because someone can tease me if I talk about something important seriously. But this time, I'm willing to be made fun of. I hope someone can grasp a part of my opinions.

We were involved in building school there, for example painting, digging, and constructing wall. I belonged to the brick team and built wall there. Still, we cannot say the construction of school is completed, but I believe we could did a good job for Mexican children. I won't be able to partake in the trip next time, so I really want a lot of students to join in it till school is perfectly built.

Also, I was glad to have opportunities to think about the Christian religion through the assigned reading and discussion on the roof. Japanese people are often said to be kind and friendly, but I don't think so. I feel most Japanese including me pay attention to our personal space and don't go out of our comfort zone. I must be a person who can be more capable of sustaining others. I would like to say that this life is for others as well as for me.


In this trip, I decided to act instinctively rather than rationally. That's why I was much more active and talkative than I had been. Hence, I could get acquainted with a lot of people in short time although Ryo and Misae might get fed up with me. I was happy to absorb many kinds of things because of being crazy.


In the town, I saw a lot of differences in socioeconomic status and recognized the fact I have grown up in a favorable environment. I knew I had lived a happy life compared to people in developing countries, but the fact I saw was impacting me more strongly than I expected.

Of course, we cannot make everyone in this world happy easily. The thing we can do may be limited. But I just felt this world should be for all people's happiness. We cannot achieve this goal easily. However, we can walk into this goal. I hope my word will be the one step toward this goal. Let's start with changing our perception!


-Kazuaki Shimada
 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Christian Challenge Spring Break 2015 Update!


      This update is a little late but we wanted to update you on the mission trips our students went on this year over spring break. We sent teams to Denver and Juarez. Quite frankly, God did some pretty amazing things for those being ministered to and for our students as well.

      A little back story on how the mission trips came about. Josh has had a relationship with a school down in Juarez for years. The school is free private school for all kids in the area as long as the parents put in some hours helping the school out. It’s one of the few safe and positive places in Juarez for these kids. In safer times, the school would have lots of mission teams come down and work, with the kids and on building projects. After the cartel violence escalated, the mission teams disappeared.

      Despite what people see on the news, Juarez is safe as long as you don’t go into bad areas. We are now one of the only groups that heads down there to help the school out.

      We also sent a team to Denver to do ministry in the inner-city. We offer the Denver option because we know a lot of parents won’t allow their kids to go to a place like Juarez. That’s understandable but we don’t want students who have a passion to serve Christ losing out on a mission trip opportunity. Our Denver team worked in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and in low-income housing areas sharing the Gospel and serving those in need. It was eye opening our students in that they realized there are ministry opportunities right in their backyard. They didn’t have to go overseas to be used of God.






     Our Juarez team of eleven headed down to Mexico during that same time-frame. The team consisted of seven believers and four non-believers. Our days were filled with long hours of building projects and playing with kids as much as possible. The evenings consisted of assisting another team from a Christian high school in Denver with different ministry events for the community. We always ended the night on the roof top sharing highs and lows, as well as pondering and sharing thoughts on an assigned scripture for the day. All of our students, including our non-Christian ones, had good insight and opinions. On the last day, we weren’t going to have a scripture reading, due to us needing to pack and get on the road the next morning really early. Kazu, one of our Japanese, non-Christian students, requested that we have one anyways!




     There were so many things that I loved about the trip. We had an incredible team. The eleven of us got along very well all week. I credit that to God. He really made the team one. We loved one another well. It was really cool watching each student throughout the week. The way they loved on the children, the way they interacted with each other, how hard they worked. They took great interest in the local people and their way of life. I believe God was at work in each student’s life, from the believers to those who do not believe yet.




     I’ll leave you with a couple of short quotes from students on what they learned from the trip.

     Kazu: This trip opened my eyes to how selfish I’ve been. How good my life has been. But now I should focus on others and helping them.

     Lane: I didn’t use to see the point in humanitarian trips/mission trips. But I can see the need to help others now.


     Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that! Keep FLC in your prayers!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

*If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:
http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Prayer Requests:

Housing-

     So we had a pretty good report in our last update. Unfortunately, a couple days after sending out the last update, the issues came back. So keep praying for our septic system. I'm going to try some more pipe hair remover soon and see if that fixes things again. Be praying for our well as that is dry again. Thankfully, there's been moisture in the area so that should help at least a little.

     Our new war is against an old enemy, mice and pack rats. They have come out of hibernation with the warmer temperatures. We plugged up all of their access points into the house but can now hear them throughout our walls clawing and biting trying to get through the drywall. We've got traps and poison set up under the house. The traps catch them every now and then. They are also eating the poison...and then dying in our walls making our house smell not so pleasant at times. When we moved in, it seemed the last owner clearly let them run rampant throughout the house. They seem very unhappy that they can't do that anymore. Pray that we can get the upper-hand on them and that their activity dies down.

Students-

     Praise that God kept everyone safe on the mission trips!

     Pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to grow our students in their faith and that they'd stay strong in it.

     Pray that God would continue to reveal Himself to the students who have not yet put their trust in Him.

     Pray for Misae and her family. Misae was on the mission trip to Juarez. In mid-April, she got word that her dad had a stroke. She left Durango early to be at his side. Pray that her and her family would have strength and comfort to get through this tough time. As far as we understand, it was a very severe stroke. At the time, they didn't know if he was going to make it. Pray that God would do a big miracle and that her dad would have a complete recovery.

Rachel and Mike-

     Pray that we would get positive answers concerning our medical concerns. We may have some good leads but it's too early to tell just yet. (Include Josh with his medical stuff in those prayers as well.)

     Pray that we would make time to rest and not get burnt out by the busy nature of ministry.

     Pray that God would open doors for us after the semester as we begin the support raising process again and that it would be fruitful.

     Pray that our marriage would stay strong, keeping God always at the center of it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Body of Evidence

     I'm a pretty skeptical guy nowadays but I didn't always used to be that way.  Growing up, I was intrigued by ghosts, UFOs, bigfoot, etc.  I loved the paranormal, the unknown, the mythical.

     Over the years though, that changed.  It's not that those things aren't interesting to me.  I'll admit, I've been known to sneak a listen into Coast to Coast AM a few times.  It's at least good for a laugh.  And don't worry, I wore my tinfoil hat just in case while listening.

     All joking aside though, throughout my life, I've become more and more skeptical.  Now, you should grow smarter and wiser as you age and I think that's part of it.  I also credit a big part of my skepticism shows like Ghost Hunters.  When the show first started out, their goal was to disprove hauntings.  This was a totally new concept to me.  Disprove instead of trying to prove.  Something clicked.  After years of buying into whatever I read, saw or was taught, I started thinking critically.

     Sadly, it took me getting away from college to finalize full movement into critical thinking.  Colleges pretend to teach students to think critically but really they just want regurgitation.  Profs want you to believe what they believe.  If you think outside of that, they flunk you or give you bad grades.  Thankfully, I escaped with a degree and finally the freedom to think for myself.  That's not to say I didn't learn anything worthwhile...or that all of my profs were terrible.  Some of mine were pretty great.

     One actually made a documentary on bigfoot.  It was interesting.  It was funny.  They at one point thought they were being chased by a bigfoot.  Looking back, that in itself is pretty funny.  I remember the colorful language about how they needed to drop the apples or bigfoot would get them.  Just wow.

     When it comes to bigfoot, I'm agnostic.  I'm very skeptical.  I used to believe 100%.  Now, not so much.  Cheesy bigfoot shows make me want to believe even less.  I think it's possible something big and undiscovered is out there but I think for the most part, it's hoaxes and misidentifications that drive the myth.  Those television shows on bigfoot only reinforce my suspicions.  I've been all over the wilderness here.  Heck, I live in the wilderness.  I've seen plenty of bears, elk, moose, and even the extremely scarce wolverine...but I've never seen bigfoot.  I've never even seen a shred of evidence for one.  I've seen and heard weird things but nothing that would lead me to believe it was bigfoot.  Sure, there is plenty of supposed bigfoot footage but it can be so easily faked and most are crappy fakes at that.

     So what would make me believe without a doubt?  Only a body would do that.  You bring me a body and that would settle all doubts.  Still, after years and years of searching, there's never been a body found and studied.  I think for most, if you produce a real body, people will believe.  Discussion over.

     For those of you thinking this article would end there, bad news.  It continues!  This article isn't actually about bigfoot.  It's about Jesus!  Surprise!  Before you write me emails, I'm not saying Jesus is just a myth.  Quite the contrary.  To prove Jesus and the Bible wrong, all you would have to do is produce a body.  Certainly, there have been many who have tried and searched but after 2000 years, nobody has done that yet.  No one has ever found a body.

     Sure, that's a pretty tough task in today's day and age.  But think back 2000 years ago.  Think back just after Jesus died and news started spreading that He had resurrected.  The claim was that the tomb was empty and Jesus was walking amongst the living again.  People were seeing Him.  There were sightings.  And people were converting like never before.

     The pharisees, the guys who hated Jesus so much that they had Him killed to stop His movement...how did they feel to see thousands still converting?  The same anger that killed Jesus still burned in their hearts.  They were furious so they had more and more people who had been spreading the news of Jesus killed.

     But why go that route?  Why keep killing when there was such an easier way to end it all, to put a stop to the movement?  Produce a body.  That's all they had to do.  "Look, your leader is still dead.  Here is the proof."  Just go down to the tomb and pull the body out.  Easy as that.  It's not like they didn't know where the tomb was.  It was accessible.

     Christianity hinges on the resurrection and if there is no resurrection, Christianity is dead.  If Jesus is still in the tomb, Christianity is dead.  The only reason the pharisees didn't offer His body as proof is because they like everyone else knew that the tomb was indeed empty.  There was no body in there to produce.  Some would say that the body was stolen but a whole lot of Roman guards guarding the tomb.  How do you sneak past, at the time, the best trained soldiers in the world?  How do you roll a huge stone away from a tomb and steal a body without anyone hearing?  Who would even steal it?  The disciples?  The disciples didn't really even understand that Jesus was coming back until He actually came back.  And it doesn't make sense to risk stealing it for some hoax.  People don't really risk death to keep a known lie alive.

     The pharisees couldn't explain it at all either.  That's why their first thought was to keep killing.  Dead people don't ask questions.  Dead people can't talk to spread movements.  Eventually though, there was a little voice of reason amongst the pharisees for a moment.

     "34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus."  Acts 5: 34-42 ESV

     That day, all the had to do was produce a body.  It would have stopped the movement cold in it's tracks.  Clearly, there were some doubts by this point even amongst the pharisees.  You don't go along with the guy claiming God just might be with those preaching Jesus if there wasn't some doubt.  There was a creeping suspicion that there might be something to this Jesus thing.  But these are the guys who had just had Jesus crucified.  Most of them were so sure then.  They knew they had killed Him but something was fishy, pun intended.  What evidence or lack thereof had caused the group to start doubting?  Maybe it started with them not having a body to cling to.  They could not prove the apostles wrong.  In the end, they lacked a body of evidence to move forward and kill off Christianity in its infancy.

     Sorry pharisees...and bigfoot enthusiasts.  No body, no proof.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Christian Challenge March 2015 Update!

     It's that time again!  Time for another Christian Challenge update!  I hope you're doing well!

     It's been an interesting time since our last update.  We feel like we've been a roller coaster.  We can't go into it too much but we got to see God do a true healing miracle for someone close to us from a very serious diagnosis.  We praise God for that!  Nothing like hearing a doctor saying, "I'm shocked..." when God does a miracle.  We weren't shocked.  Our God is big!  What was a very low point quickly became a very high point.

     Another high point we've had was the last retreat we did.  We brought in Mike Story, a collegiate minister at Oklahoma State and also Josh's dad.  We focused on discipleship and the importance of it.  We also looked at what spiritual gifts each student has and how they could use it for ministry.  We've done a lot of retreats over the years but this was the first time we've been able to go pretty deep spiritually.  I can't tell you how exciting it is to have students we can do this with.  It's a big answered prayer.





     After the retreat, one of the athletes I disciple, in response to the retreat, said he realized that discipleship didn't have to be as hard as he made it out to be in his mind.  He's now extremely excited to reach out to his team and start a breakfast and Bible study for the Sundays they can't be at church due to races or training.

     Challenge on Tuesday nights has been going great as well.  We've moved on to issues like the difference between Christianity and other religions, and the many different denominations within Christianity.  This past week, our Japanese students were able to do a presentation on Japanese culture (and updates on tsunami relief) and we finished the night off by having a former missionary to Japan, Dr. Mark Edlund, share about his experiences as a missionary there.

     That brings us up to the present.  Spring break is this week.  While I'll be in Durango getting our taxes together and having a couple of doctor visits, we've got two teams heading out on mission trips.  Jen is taking students to Denver to work with those less fortunate.  Rachel, Randi, and Josh will be in Juarez, Mexico with students at a school run by missionaries there.  They will minister to the kids at the school and also put a new roof on the school.  It's exciting to see them go where others will not.  Help from America has really dried up since the cartel violence down there started making headlines.


     Moving forward, we've got a lot to pack in before school is out.  There is always a stress of getting in as much discipleship as possible before students head home.  We've got lots of events like our Easter Eve Snowshoe Church Service we put on for the students.  Graduation will be here before we know it.

     From there, it's our state director meetings in Colorado Springs.  Then, Rachel and I are off to, Lord willing, Louisiana and North Carolina to get our support up to where it is supposed to be.  After that, we'll be back in Durango for a month to train for our Peru mission trip in the Andes.  We've already have some students committed to the trip which is exciting.  We'll have more info on that trip and the students that are going in updates to come.

     On that note, with our support being down right now, we are trying to come up with creative ways to fund the mission trip to Peru.  I thought of maybe doing a silent auction, auctioning off blown-up pictures from past mission trips, or maybe coffee and mangoes (both of which are the best we've ever had) that can only be purchased in the Philippines.  Just have to learn how to put together a silent auction.  So that's an option with some research and planning.  Rachel had a t-shirt design also put together.  We'll be selling those for $20 a shirt.  I'll put a picture of the shirt below.  Let us know if you'd be interested in getting one.  We need 13 people to commit to make it happen.



     We've also bounced around the idea of renting out our cabin as a vacation rental while we're support raising for a month.  So lots of ideas and not a lot of time to make it happen.  We know God will provide one way or another.

     Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give!  We are super thankful for that!  Keep FLC in your prayers!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel


Prayer Requests:

Housing-

     Huge praise!  For the time being, we have water in our well!  It's murky and not drinkable without a good filter but we at least can wash dishes and shower...and not have to resort to our outhouse.  Pray that we continue to have well water even without the spring snow-melt to recharge the well.  Prayer for lots of precipitation for our area would help that out as well.

     Our snowblower is still down but thankfully we only had one more big storm of about 3 feet which we had to hand-shovel.  Snow season is coming to an end, though, so it's something we can fix over the summer hopefully.

     Another huge praise!  The issues we were having with our septic system have been remedied.  Our house no longer smells like septic after we take a shower.  I added an extra vent outside which didn't fix the problem.  We thought we might have a leak somewhere in our walls which would have been really difficult and expensive to fix.  Thankfully, the shower drainage pipe just needed to be cleaned.  I suspected it might be clogged with dog hair from the previous owner's dog and it was.  A little septic-safe liquid pipe cleaner and the bad smell is now gone.  We're very thankful for that!

Students-

     Pray that God would keep our teams safe on their mission trips.  Also pray that the U.S. border agents don't hassle our Japanese students like last year when they come back across the border.

     Pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to grow our students in their faith and that they'd stay strong in it throughout the semester.

     Pray that God would continue to reveal Himself to the students who have not yet put their trust in Him.

Rachel and Mike-

     Pray that we would get positive answers concerning our medical concerns.  Feels like we're at least finally making some progress.

     Pray that we would make time to rest and not get burnt out by the busy nature of ministry.

     Pray that our marriage would stay strong, keeping God always at the center of it.


If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:
http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Christian Challenge January 2015 Update!

     It's that time again!  Hope you had an awesome Christmas!  Ours was good, filled with hanging out with our students, family time, travel, and doctor visits.

     We started out our Christmas break with three of our students graduating...Kelsey, Will and Vernon.  Kelsey is going to be working on the Front Range as a teacher.  Will is continuing his studies to be a physician assistant.  Vernon is moving to Vegas to be closer to his dad and take more classes.  Keep all of them in your prayers as they move forward in their lives.


     After graduation, it was family time.  We had family come in from all over.  And of course, almost everyone got sick at some point.  I guess that just happens when you put people from all over the country together in confined spaces.  Thankfully, Rachel and I escaped most of the sickness at that point.

     For Christmas Eve, we spent time with our Japanese students.  First, it was our church's Christmas Eve service, and then for dinner, they came over to my mom's place with us.  Christmas day, we had one of them back over to celebrate the day with us.  It was a great time getting to share the Christmas experience with our students.



     After Christmas, we took a bunch of students up to Colorado Springs for Life Impact.  It's a great conference where our student this year got to hear speakers like Dr. Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism.  Though this is where Rachel and I eventually got sick, it was an awesome time for our students.  It was great getting to see them grow throughout the week.  I think it was also very encouraging for them getting to be around almost 350 other students looking to grow in their faith.


     After Life Impact, Rachel and I stayed on the Front Range for a couple of more days.  I had some doctor appointments up in Denver I needed to take care of.  Over the past few years, I've been getting dizzy more and more.  My doctor in Durango thought it was because of all the concussions I've had throughout my life.  The visit to the doctor in Denver was supposed to test for all of that.  In the end, they didn't test for what we went up there for and the specialist didn't seem to really care.  It was disappointing to say the least.

     When we returned to Durango, the new semester was upon us.  Though it's still early in the semester, things are going well.  We've been tackling a lot of taboo topics within the church, things like pornography and homosexuality.  We've had some great discussions with our students about such topics.  Having students from all walks of life (including the head of the LGBT club on campus) and belief systems attending, it makes for really interesting discussions.  Being that these are topics that a lot of our students haven't studied out in scripture, I think it was eye opening for many of them and really made them think.

     With those that we are discipling, it's going well.  It's always tough at the beginning of the semester to catch a rhythm, trying to make schedules match up and such but it's starting to come together.  It seems like God is really giving our students a thirst to grow right now.  It's really awesome to see.

     With our events, those have gone well also.  Our biggest was a skiing/sledding/ice skating day up in Silverton.  We had around 20 students throughout the day.  That's pretty good for this early in the winter/spring semester.  During the trip, I was able to reconnect with one of our students we haven't seen much of this past year due to his work schedule.  It was really good.  Looking to the near future, we have a lot of great events planned that we're looking forward to.


     Looking into the more distant future, our summer plans are starting to come together.  After all of our end of the year staff meetings, Rachel and I will probably hit the road to do some more support raising.  We're still not where we're supposed to be for support and with the recent loss of a couple of supporters, we'll need to at least make that up.  We're looking at possibly going to Louisiana so if anyone might be able to open some doors for us there, that would be awesome.  Now is the time where we need to be setting all of that up.

    Our next big summer event will be, Lord willing, taking students on another mission trip back to Peru to follow up with those we met last time and to reach new areas.  Our last trip was such a huge success that I can't wait to take students back there.

     Thanks for all the support and encouragement you give!  We are super thankful for that!  Keep FLC in your prayers!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to some different options:
http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Prayer Requests:

Housing-

Turns out our well is completely dry.  Looks like we'll be hauling in our water for the time being.  Pray that God would give us wisdom on how to proceed with that.

We did end up getting a great deal on a snow blower.  It was a great deal because it didn't run.  We fixed it though, and it worked great for our first storm...but it is now broken again.  Just need to replace a belt but we're thankful we at least have the blower.  Hopefully, we can keep it running this time.

We're having a retreat at the house in February.  We're excited to use the house!  Just pray that the house holds up to having everyone here...and that our septic which is already having issues survives.

Students-

Pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to grow them in their faith and that they'd stay strong in it throughout the semester.

Pray that God would continue to reveal Himself to the students who have not yet put their trust in Him.

Rachel and Mike-

Pray that we would get positive answers concerning our medical concerns.

Pray that we would make time to rest and not get burnt out by the busy nature of ministry.

Pray that our marriage would stay strong, keeping God always at the center of it.