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:

Prayer Requests:


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.


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.

Does disagreement mean hate?

In this nation, we have gotten to the point where we call out the other side for hate when they disagree with our position.  Unfortunately, when we do that, we only breed more hate.  We actually create hate where it never was, nurture it to grow and thrive.

A lot of this is used for political gain.  People pushing an agenda, gaining votes, stirring the pot to make money.

Nobody wants to be called a hatemonger so we throw the hate word out there in order to keep the other side quiet.  We bully them into being scared to open their mouth.  Usually, it's pretty effective but sometimes it just backs a person into a corner where the next words to come out of their mouth are fighting words.  Hate begets hate.

Unfortunately, those who are normally the loudest for calling others out for hatred usually have the most hatred in their own heart.  It's a sad and destructive place for our nation to be in.  Maybe that is just human nature, though.

God has called us to be so much more than that, so much better than that.  Granted, so much of our nation has turned its back on God.  But for those who have not, how about we try and love our enemies as God commanded?  That means loving those who disagree with us.  Even if they bring hatred, we must bring love.

That certainly doesn't mean we can't disagree, though.  We must remember that disagreement does not have to mean there is an absence of love.  Where there is disagreement, love must abound that much more.  Disagreement brings a canyon that love must fill in order for us to continue to connect.  The bigger the gap, the more love that is needed to fill it.  Whether you believe in Christ or not, we must all make a great effort to live this concept.  If not, our friendships, our relationships, and even our nation will eventually crumble.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christian Challenge November 2014 Update!

     Happy Thanksgiving!  This month we want to give thanks for what God is doing through the ministry!  We also want to give thanks to God for all of our friends and family who are behind us and the ministry!

     With the ministry things are going awesome!  Challenge is going well.  We’ve been studying “why we should help the needy?”  We ran two events with this in mind to help put faith into action.  The first was an event called Homeless and Hungry.  We first ran this event many years ago and it was very successful.  We camped out on campus for 24 hours and raised money/canned foods for the soup kitchen.  We thought, “Hey, why not do it again?”  Unfortunately, the campus police never gave us the okay to camp this time around but we were still able to set up a table.  And again, it was really successful.  We even met a lot of new students.  Many students ended up giving money and food towards the cause.  (Most of it organic, of course, being in Durango.)  It was awesome to see.

     We followed that event with filling up boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  In the past, we’ve done this for Dinosaur, CO, a very poor community in Northwest Colorado but unfortunately, our connection up there moved out of the area.  So this year, we went with the official OCC.  Next year, we hope to focus more locally, maybe at the women’s shelter in town.  Like last year, we ended up filling up a lot of shoeboxes with our students.  It’s always great to see how excited our students get for the event every year.

     FCA went great as well.  We had it out at the new house.  We’re so excited to be able to use it for ministry!  About half of our regulars weren’t there due to their teams traveling but we ended up having just as many as normal with all the new students who came.  We studied a topic that really hit home for the students.  There was a lot of “That spoke to exactly where I’m at!” and “Wow, mind blown!” from the students.  It was an awesome time with all of them.  Rachel and I always feel so blessed coming away from those nights.

     So I’ve been wanting to give you a look at the kinds of students coming this year but I’ve kept putting it off due to not wanting to make these updates too long.  But I think that’s always going to be an issue so now’s as good of a time as ever.  As always, we certainly have a wide spectrum of students.

     One of our students that comes is a strong atheist who is really searching for truth.  When he first started coming, we’d ask what he thought about Christianity and he’d say basically that he thought it was a “load of crap.”  Then he’d follow it up with “But I’ll see you tonight.”  He definitely doesn’t pull any punches with what he thinks.  The awesome thing is that he has a ton of great questions that we get to work through with him.  Keep him in your prayers because the Holy Spirit is working on him.

     There is another guy who is a Mormon I’ve been meeting with for three years.  We’ve always been able to talk about spiritual things but finally, after all that time (and a lot of prayer), he has opened up to going through scripture with me.  We are currently working our way through Romans verse by verse.  It’s been really great!  It’s really a picture of why we’re here: to do our best to keep anyone from falling through the cracks.  We’re not going to move on or stop walking with them because God works in His own timing.  We want to make sure we’re there for when He opens that door.

     Another student we have comes from the Midwest.  He wants to be a church planter or missionary someday.  It seems like there was a lot of pressure for him to go to Bible college but he ended up at Fort Lewis.  Kind of different ends of the spectrum to say the least.  Recently, he said something to the effect that he thinks he’s grown more with Challenge at the Fort in the short time he’s been here than if he’d gone to Bible college for a full year.  At FLC with Challenge, he’s able to be on the front lines in the trenches applying what he learns spiritually immediately.  It’s awesome to see his heart for the Lord and how much he’s grown in such a short time.

     I could really talk forever about all of our students but I’ll leave you with this last student.  He’s one of our international students.  He’s not a Christian but really has a heart to serve the needy.  He’s actually already done work with that overseas.  He’s seems to be intrigued by what we talk about and how we live as Christians.  He’s tried to come to just about everything that we do.  He’s even been going to church.  Now, he doesn’t understand everything due to the language barrier but he’s very interested and God’s definitely working.

     I really want to share about all of our students but I’ll stop for now.  Just know that we have a great group of them this year.

     Lastly, I just want to remind our friends and family who do end of the year giving, that the time is coming soon if you’re wanting to get it in for 2014 tax purposes.  Know that we definitely appreciate that support!  Here's a quick link to our giving options:

     Thanks for all the support and encouragement already given!  We are super thankful for that!  Again, hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

Prayer Requests:

Housing Praises-

     We praise God for providing us this house.  We also praise Him for the supporters who really helped us get into a house so that we could do more ministry, not just outside of our home but inside it as well.

     We finally found our septic tank and had that pumped after three days of digging so we’re thankful for that.  We can actually have students over and not scare them away with a sewage smell.

     We’re also very thankful that we finally have phone service after not having it for a month.  There are too many other things to list but we certainly praise God for each step He takes in preparing this place better for us and the ministry.

Housing Needs-

     There are some things we definitely are praying God provides.  It’s looking like we may need a new well.  Those aren’t cheap at all but it’s hard to do ministry here if we don’t have water.  So we’re praying for a new deeper well where we know there is plenty of water or that God would miraculously bring water back to our existing one.

     We are also praying for a heavy duty snow blower or 4-wheeler we can put a snow plow on.    We will need a way of clearing our long driveway so we can get out and students can get in when we get big snows.  In looking at used ones online, everything is still pretty pricey so we pray we can find a good deal somewhere soon.  Thankfully, God has held off the big snows so far.  (Goodness, I never thought I’d ever say that.)

     Lastly, we are hoping to install a wood stove in.  Clearly, this is not a dire need as we do have propane heat.  But we do have all these downed trees on the property.  That’s free heating when you have a wood stove…and free is much cheaper than expensive propane which the house currently runs on.  If we installed a wood stove, we’d still run on propane sometimes at least to keep the pipes from freezing but we’d save a lot because a small place like ours can pretty much be fully heated by only a small wood stove.


     Keep them in your prayers as they go into their finals.  Also pray for their safe travels as roads in our area can get pretty sketchy during their drives home.

Rachel and Mike-

     Pray that our marriage would stay strong keeping God always at the center of it.  Also pray that we get some much needed rest over this Thanksgiving break.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Christian Challenge October Update 2014!

Hello team!  Yes, we are still alive.  It’s been a busy time for us.  Sorry we haven’t gotten a newsletter out since early September, I think.  It feels like it’s been forever and there is so much to catch up on.  So this might be a little longer than normal.

First off, my computer is finally working again, hence, being able to finally write a newsletter.  I ended up upgrading my operating system which then caused more problems but those were eventually worked out.  I now have a working computer!  The only problem was that then, we didn’t have working internet.

That leads into the next thing.  We've moved!  Our old landlords finally sold our place and the new landlords were going to significantly increase rent.  So with that, we decided it was time to move on.  We found a place for under what our new landlords were wanting to charge and cheaper than anything else we could find.

It’s a great place but it’s smaller and a bit farther away from campus.  It’s definitely more rustic and we’ll be roughing it a bit more.  Its water well doesn’t always produce and has a distinct smell at times.  Hopefully, that’s something that can be remedied.  There’s pest problems which can be taken care of eventually, too.  Oh, and the snow.  We’ll get much more of that (maybe even over 200 inches this year if El Nino actually develops) come winter with sketchier roads.  We definitely feel like God provided this place for us but it’s not going to be easy.

With the move, it’s been really stressful.  Having to pull it off during our busiest time of the year has been trying.  I’ll spare you guys of most of the details.  But I guess I should tell you why we didn’t have internet.  We’ll, after moving in and switching over all of our new mail to the new address, we found out our new address doesn’t actually exist according to the postal service.  After talking with them, we finally got that straightened out but not before a lot of our mail went into limbo…including our internet router which was being sent to an address that didn’t exist.

Our cell phone service at the house is also in limbo as we had to order a signal booster but it couldn’t be delivered to an address that didn’t exist.  So that on top of everything else has made things fairly difficult.  Thankfully, the Lord is working things out step by step so we won’t have to learn how to use smoke signals and carrier pigeons.  Still, be praying that things would go smoothly with the housing transition.

Ministry-wise, things are great.  Our numbers for our Tuesday night discussions on campus have slimmed down a bit but our small group family dinners in town continue to be consistent and if you combined them, bigger than they were last year.

With FCA, we have cut that back to meeting once a month.  Rachel and I have the student-athletes over for dinner and Bible study.  With their crazy schedules, this seems to be much more successful with a good mix of old and new students coming.  They are more committed to making it this year now that it’s only once a month.

Exchange, our ministry to international students has gone really well too.  The group this year has been very open to what we’re doing.  They’ve come on our retreats, camping trips, and other adventures where we’ve not only been able to help them with their conversational English, but we’ve also had great discussions with them about Jesus.  They end up having a lot of good questions that we get to work through with them.  They are a very adventurous group this year and not afraid to step out of their comfort zones in life and spiritually too.

Speaking of adventure, we’ve had probably one of our busiest starts of the semester with events ever.  We’ve pretty much had an event every weekend since the start of the semester.  I think my favorite so far has been the camping trip we did.  We camped and had some rain move in overnight.  The storms dropped about 4-5 inches of rain on us.  Most had a couple of inches of water in their tents by morning.  Thankfully, we had a roaring campfire and hot chocolate to warm us up.

With the storm, our hiking plans ended up getting snowed out in the high elevations so we ended up making snowmen and having a snowball fight instead.  The best part was watching two of our freshmen lead devotionals for the group.  It was awesome seeing them passionate about their faith, willing to step up and share about Christ with their peers.  It’s something we’ve really been praying for.

With discipleship, we’re seeing a lot of growth in the students we’re meeting one-on-one with.  It’s been very cool to see.  It’s encouraging for us to be able to be a part of what God’s doing in their lives.

It's been such an awesome semester with the ministry so far.  We love that at Fort Lewis, we can reach Jerusalem (Durango), Judea (Colorado), Samaria (the rest of America from Alaska to Florida) and the ends of the earth (Japan) all in one place...and we're thankful that you guys can be part of that too!

Prayer Requests:

-That the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts of our students.

-We praise God that He has answered our prayers and brought us some solid student leaders.

-That our housing transition would go smoothly.

-That God would help us not neglect our marriage.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meditating on John 1:1 and John 1:14...and more!

Just after I finished my run yesterday, I was meditating on some scripture while going through my cool-down regiment.  The cool-down is always my favorite part of my workout.  Most of the time, it gives me some peaceful moments to process the podcast sermons I've just listened to on my Ipod while I run.

Yesterday though, my mind drifted.  I began thinking about John 1:1 and John 1:14 for some reason.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  John 1:1

Here, we see that God and the Word are synonymous.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14

Here, when we look at the context of the verse, we see that the Word and Jesus are synonymous. 

So as I was thinking about these verses, four things came to mind:

1.  If you don't respect God's Word, you don't respect Jesus.

2.  If you don't give God's Word authority in your life, then you don't give Jesus authority in your life.

3.  You can't know Jesus if you don't know the Word.

4.  You can't follow Jesus if you don't follow the Word.

When I look at America, I see a nation heading downhill very quickly.  I see a nation that has left Christ for the most part.  The nation has left biblical principles for selfish desires.  We have redefined right and wrong as if we know better than the God who has been here for all of eternity.  Do we actually think we are going to change His mind?  Maybe we're saying He made a mistake.  When we call ourselves Christians and then redefine the laws of right and wrong He put in place, it certainly sounds like we are telling Him He was wrong on this matter or that matter.

Is it rebellion or just plain ignorance?  Probably a lot of both and neither are okay...especially when we have the Word right at our fingertips.

This nation doesn't know biblical principles anymore because God's Word isn't present in most people's daily lives.  A lot of churches barely preach it and most Christians don't read the Bible even once a week outside of church.  That makes for a lot of people who claim they are following Jesus but don't even know what He taught.  How does that even work?  How do you follow a teacher if you never go to class or read the assigned reading?  The answer don't.  You fail the class.  The simple application here is that you shouldn't call yourself a follower of Christ if you don't even try and learn what He taught.  In being a follower, application of teachings is important as well and it's hard to apply things that you refuse to learn.

It all reminds me of Matthew 7:21-23...

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Those are some scary verses when I look around at what I see in this nation.  I don't want anyone to fall into that...but how many that call themselves Christians in this nation will?  They call themselves followers but there is no evidence of it.  My heart breaks for that.

In Revelation 3:1-6, it talks about the church in Sardis:

1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

To me, that sounds a lot like the American Church and America as a nation.  These verses should be a wake up call.  We have God's Word so easily obtainable.  Ignorance is no excuse in this nation.  It's time to wake up and dedicate ourselves to learning what the Word actually says and applying it.  Not only is there a great danger to this nation if we don't but more importantly, there is greater danger on the personal level with eternal consequences.  Nations will come and go but what we do personally with God affects our whole eternity.  There is nothing that will ever be more important.

Lastly, if you are going to follow Christ (and I pray that you will), truly follow Him.  Seek Him and actually be a follower.  Sure, you may make mistakes along the way.  I know I'm certainly not perfect and have made plenty.  Just don't be deceived into thinking simply calling yourself a Christian is really being a Christ follower.  There is so much more you miss out on when being deceived like that.  God has such a better plan for your life when you truly follow Him.

Friday, September 5, 2014

C4C Mission: Peru 2014...Version 2

This is the second version of the Peru mission video, the "director's cut" so to speak.  This one is a little longer and a bit more artistic musically to paraphrase my wife.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christian Challenge Late Aug./Early Sept. Update 2014!

Hello Team! Sorry for the delay in updates. We’ve been trying to switch over our updates to Mail Chimp but are having a lot of technical difficulties in the process. It was supposed to be a much easier system to use but we haven’t seen that so far. So for now, Mail Chimp will have to wait.

Anyway, we are already deep into ministry. It’s going fantastic. We have certainly had our bumps so far like Josh taking a fall, getting a concussion, and having to go to the ER the night before the new semester’s craziness began. Thankfully, he is good now and the rest of the team seems to be healthy. This is the first time we haven’t had anything major health-wise or family-wise happen during the first of the semester. We are praising God for that and praying it continues!

So far, we feel like we are having the most successful semester ever. We have had to change our strategy quite a bit to meet freshmen with the campus not allowing ministries to help out with the freshmen move-in. Instead of moving people in, we focussed on prayer walking around campus and getting up flyers wherever we could.

We also held tables at Walmart and the visitor’s center in town to meet freshmen. These, though, weren’t as successful as we had hoped. We at least tried and can learn from it for next year. We held a table on campus also during freshmen orientation last week which was much more successful. Normally, parents get excited but their student maybe not so much. This year, we had less parents but a ton of freshmen coming up on their own interested.

Saturday night, we held our international dinner. We had over half of the Japanese students come. It was great to see and connect with them. Sunday, we had our block party on campus. We served up 60 large pizzas to the students who came. Our numbers were down from last year due to there being something like 400 less freshmen this year but we ended up making more contacts this year than ever before. We’re stoked for that and praise God for it! We just pray that those contacts turn out to be fruitful.

Now onto prayer requests and upcoming events:

-Tuesday nights, we have our conversational English class called Exchange at 5 p.m. We have Christian Challenge on campus for the first time at 7 p.m. We really don’t know how that will affect things moving it from in town to campus but with the extremely close proximity to the dorms, we hope it will help bring in more students.

-Wednesdays, we’ll be having Commuter Christian Challenge during the day on campus for those who commute to campus and can’t make it to night stuff.

-This Thursday, we have another table for the club fair.

-On Thursday nights at leaders’ houses, we’ll have our family dinners where we feed students dinner.

-Event-wise this month, we have our night hike, rafting trip, fall retreat, camp/climb, and many other things.

-Pray for open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis.

-Pray that we can raise a bigger ministry budget.

-Pray that God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel