workin’ on the weekend (Oct newsletter)

Remember when we asked you to pray for James (middle) when he was the only one serving in technology here? Now, we have a team of 3!  Josh, on the left, is a part-time programmer who joined us in the spring.
Remember when we asked you to pray for James (middle) when he was the only one serving in technology here? Now, we have a team of 3! Josh, on the left, is a part-time programmer who joined us in the spring.

“Well, here I go.”

I’m (Scott) on my bike headed to a local electronics store down the street. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon that I had set aside to do some work on our computer systems at the office.

In a bind, I needed 5 specialized cables that just “happened” to randomly catch my eye the last time I was in this store. God reminded me that I could find them here. So that’s where I’m biking. I love it when He does that!

Back at the office, I take off my bike helmet, grab the purchased cables out of my backpack and sit down at my desk.

It’s incredibly quiet here since the work I’m doing has to be done when my fellow missionaries aren’t in. Thus, the Saturday. It’s not the norm for me to work a weekend like this, but I actually really enjoy serving today.

The cables are for a project to assure our systems can be recovered in case our building suddenly has a power surge or outage. Our systems are at risk of this at least once a year.

There are definitely chunks of today when I’ve gotten sucked into the pure tech part of the project (“geeking out,” you might say). But there’s also been other chunks of the day when I’m talking with God, acutely aware of my need for Him to direct me in how to best problem-solve. And other times today, I stop as God reminds me of the big picture. I get excited, remembering why I’m doing what I’m doing.

I want — my tech team (above) wants — people to hear about the incredible life Jesus offers.

The part I play is doing stuff like this, like helping to safeguard our ministry’s computer systems from disaster. The hope is for our missionaries and ministry to save time and energy that can be used to help tell people about Jesus.

Gotta run. Angie, the kids and the delicious smell of pizza just arrived. My family brought takeaway (take out) for us to enjoy dinner together since I’m working a little later than planned.

It’s been a good day.

Pray for Scott on Friday night?

I (Scott) recently heard a statistic that 70% of small to medium businesses don’t recover when a disaster wipes out most of their computer systems and data.  This could be from a lightning strike, power outage, flood, fire, etc.

Being in ministry makes us no different.

So, this Saturday afternoon (which is Friday late night in the U.S.), I’m coming into the office and working on a project to assure our systems can be recovered in case our building suddenly has a power surge or outage.

Our systems are at risk of this at least once a year.

I’ll also be doing some other work on Saturday to increase our network security (gotta keep the bad guys out, right?)

Can you please pray that God’s Hand will be in all of this and the system changes/upgrades go smoothly?

Thanks, friends! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Outreach using a short film :: God’s pursuit of college students

Lat night, Scott and I prepped our backpacks and downloaded the 6-minute film. This morning, the kids and I bought headphones at Big W (Aussie version of WalMart), swung by the office to pick up Scott, then drove the handful of minutes to Monash University*.

Our Cru friend and filmmaker, Chris, produced “The Parting Gift,” a few months ago and today we were hoping to show it to college students to launch into spiritual conversation. (Read about the film in a previous newsletter.)

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 2.04.29 PM
Bean bags and iPhones everywhere in the student union today on campus. Can I be a college student now instead?

Scott: I was feeling less anxious than I normally do when doing an outreach. The bubbly 4-year-old holding my hand probably helped.

The only student who allowed me to share the film with him was Bruce, who is already involved with Cru’s international student ministry. Everybody else politely declined saying something like, “It’s not for me” or “No thanks, mate.”

I talked with one of our other missionaries afterward and he seemed to indicate this is typical. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to engage with more students, but grateful for the sobering affirmation of how spiritually hard most hearts are in Australia.

Angie: The 6 of us prayed for our time and broke up into pairs to go talk with students. Scott took Lizzy, I took Joshua and two other Cru friends went together. I was excited but the nervousness kicked in as my 2-year-old buddy, our pram (stroller) and I navigated through the crowded student union.

Coffee for me and babychino (baby coffee…really milk) for Joshua, we sat down in a student-run cafe called WholeFoods (“For the people, not for profit”) that had a fun earthy/grunge feel that can only happen when you have students from all over the world, they way you do here.

A senior from Russia named Vlad sat caddy-corner from us. I’d overheard him talking to someone about a stock market game he was playing on the computer and asked him about that, and started a conversation. The international business/geo-sciences/philosophy major agreed to watch the film and rated his interest in Jesus before the film a 3 on a 10-point scale (10=very interested). When I asked his thoughts afterwards, he said it was good, artistically, but he was still a 3. A nice guy, easy to talk to. We talked a bit more, I thanked him and we left the table.

We headed to leave and join the other teams, but as we passed a table of 3 girls, Joshua must have caught one of the girl’s eyes and she started talking to him. (I tell you, small kids and dogs are great for conversation start ups!)

Good conversation with Sasha and Shaunti, even as they were both a 3 for their interest in Jesus. Their friend, Linda was a 10, though! Turns out Linda is a relatively new believer. I had to smile, thinking this is likely the first time she’s told her secondary-education friends that she is a Christian. She seemed glad to hear about a Christian group on her campus.

I think my favorite part of the film — and the brief discussion afterwards — is God’s never-ending pursuit of us and how evidence of that is the very conversation I was having with those 4 students. Even if their “number” didn’t change, it’s great to know God put Himself on Vlad, Sasha, and Shaunti’s radar today.

P.S. I see how God answered prayer, specifically that our kids would be a blessing and not a distraction to the students we talk to. That happened! A 2-year-old is a potential running-off rocket coupled with potential in the area of meltdown-at-unexpected-times. He sat patiently and I almost couldn’t believe it until I remembered I’d asked people to pray.

Want to try?

*Monash is an incredibly international university and enrolls approximately 45,000 undergraduate and 17,000 graduate students, making it the university with the largest student body in Australia.

still smiling a week after the recruiting event

The recruiting event Saturday turned out really, really well for our first time. I told Scott it was one of my top 5 days from the 8-1/2 months of living here. I felt alive and living out who God made me, all in the context of God moving in the hearts of people.

Pray with me for the 13 who came and their next-step decisions before them! We’d sure love to have many of them join us here with Cru, but want — more than even that — that God would make it clear His purpose for them.

My very willing assistant loved helping me set up for the event.
My very willing assistant loved helping me set up for the event.
K-Mart is on a whole 'nother level here and I love that I never know what I'll find there. Scored these great chalkboard signs ($2.50 each!) and candles in what looked like lab beakers ($4 each) for centerpieces on tables.
K-Mart is on a whole ‘nother level here and I love that I never know what I’ll find there. Scored these great chalkboard signs ($2.50 each!) and candles in what looked like lab beakers ($4 each) for centerpieces on tables. All for the desire to transform our very large warehouse room into an inviting space for participants for the day.

The activity I created (out of sheer necessity when I couldn't find anything via friends, colleagues or online) was a fun success!

Everyone got a paper-clipped grouping of 3 different ingredients. Their job, as a group, was to come up with at least 30 different
A highlight for me was the post-lunch interactive activity I created (out of sheer necessity when I couldn’t find quite what I was looking for). I think it was a fun success! Everyone got a paper-clipped grouping of 3 different ingredients. Their job, as a group, was to come up with at least 30 different combinations in only 5 minutes. They could use any combination of the group’s ingredients–whether using a few or many.
They came up with amazing things I'd never thought of including volcanos and lots of various meringues (must be a big Aussie culture food item I didn't know about).
They came up with amazing things I’d never thought of including volcanos and lots of various meringues (must be a big Aussie culture food item I didn’t know about).

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 8.45.04 PMI ended by saying, “Today we’ve provided some space and time for you to consider how God has made you. Your life is like a mixture of various ‘ingredients.’ By ingredients I mean your experiences, personality, talents, etc. Did you notice that each ingredient can be used in various ways — not just one? Do you think you might have had a smaller brainstormed list had you not consulted anyone else about how your ingredients could be used?

“This exercise was to expose how we can potentially have a narrow view of how we think God might use how He’s wired/created us — and for how long. In your life, that means that there isn’t only one way to live out how God designed you.

“Sure, it could be for a 40-year career in accounting or social work or full-time ministry. Or, it could be for a shorter season. Baking soda on it’s own is just baking soda but, combined with other ingredients, synergy and chemistry happens and a delicious cake emerges. Similarly, we encourage you consider how God might have you invest your life, along with the lives of others, to be part of something much bigger — the Great Commission.

“There are so many opportunities and combinations before you. Now, the big question for you to ask is, ‘Lord, how would You have me steward my life in this next season?’”

how are you wired?

Yes, it's
Yes, it’s “bundle-up-it’s-May” Melbourne. Fall is here, leaves are falling and I’m loving a bus ride and subsequent brisk walk to the office.

It’s been a great day in the office, working on recruitment. Most of today was spent emailing our ministry leaders and other natural recruiter-type folks to ask what resources they use when they invite someone to consider joining with us. A big proponent of not reinventing the wheel, I’m excited to gather and refine the best of what I can find, and then help to find ways to make them more accessible to our missionaries. The connector in me has loved today!

And since I love connecting people to people and people to resources, I thought I’d post a some resources I just assembled to hand out during our big recruiting event on Sat, May 30th. (We have 16 people coming, as of today and we’re thrilled, not knowing the response since we’ve never done anything like this 6-hour event. We’re praying for at least 4 more to come, for a total of 20.)

Part of the event will be providing some “white space” for people to have time and resources to consider how God’s created them. I’d highly encourage you to check at least one out, or tell someone you know who could benefit.

Feel free to leave a comment with any assessments or books you’ve found really helpful!

Strengths assessment: Gallup Strength-Finder

  • Cost: $10
  • Details: The online assessment helps you discover your top 5 strengths (combination of skills, talents and knowledge) so you can learn and capitalize on how God’s “wired” you. Gallup research proves that people succeed when they focus on what they do best. 

Personality assessment: Keirsey Temperament Sorter

  • Cost: Free
  • Details: A 70-question online assessment that’s takes 10-30 minutes to take and results are immediate.

Whole-person assessment: SHAPE

  • Cost: $6.50 for e-book by Erik Rees (Kindle version but you don’t have to have a Kindle to read as you can download onto your phone or computer.)
  • Details: E-book with assessment questions in the back. SHAPE encompasses 5 aspects of your life (see below). This guidebook is based on the purpose of ministry outlined in The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren.
  1. Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given you to share His love and serve others.
  2. Heart: The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify Him on earth.
  3. Abilities: The set of talents God gave you when you were born, which He also wants you to use to make an impact for him.
  4. Personality: The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.
  5. Experiences: Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.

help me brainstorm for our big recruitment event?

Kids making homemade Runzas (no frozen bread to be found here, so I'm putting them to work helping me make fresh dough). Yum!
Kids making homemade Runzas (no frozen bread to be found here, so I’m putting them to work helping me make fresh dough). Yum! Baking is such a great picture of throwing together various ingredients you’d never eat separately, yet together, are delicious. Wish you could come for dinner!

I’m in the office today on a cool, fall day. (Life with flipped seasons still catches me off guard.) Today’s first priority is to continue to brainstorm a post-lunch (move body/don’t fall asleep) 20-minute vision and interactive event for our upcoming recruitment event on May 30.

The event is one in which we’re helping participants (college and non-college) think about God’s will for their lives and to encourage them to make decisions regarding their careers in a way that helps them to pursue God’s calling for them.

It’s a 6-hour event with white-space time for reflection amidst content. We’re actually calling it a matchmaking event because it’s not hard-sell on joining the ministry, but rather helping them consider how to match how God’s made them and available opportunities, including those to serve here with us.)

The goal for the portion of the day I’m leading:

  • 20 minutes
  • interactive (keep them awake after lunch)
  • cement the idea that their life is an investment (invest well, no “perfect” fit but be open for how God would lead, and invest intentionally)

Initially, I thought of something like everyone gets assigned an ingredient that goes into baking a cake (but they don’t know it because they only see their ingredient). Somehow it’s revealed that their ingredient matters and the recipe they put their ingredient it will be better as a result of what they have…and it’s needed. A cake isn’t a cake unless ____ is in it.

That wasn’t the best option, because it didn’t fit with our “there’s no one, perfect place for you to serve” as God could have one person invest their life in various places. Not just the idea that their ingredient can only be used to help make a cake.

Just a few minutes ago, I think God gave a new idea. Maybe you could help me flesh it out? What if I give people an ingredient, but have them brainstorm various ways it can be used? I first thought of baking soda. You can use it to make biscuits, cake, bread, use it to clean or…make a bottle rocket!

Then, maybe after each person brainstorms, I’d have them mix together (small or large groups) and combine their ingredients in different ways and see what they’d make.

What other ingredients could I assign to people that would have obvious…and less obvious uses? (I like the parallel of “less obvious uses” because, often, we can have a narrow view of how we think God might use how He’s wired/created us.)

Here’s my first go at the list. What would you add? Also, maybe think of household items that can have unique/surprising uses, when combined with other things?

  • baking soda
  • milk
  • lemon juice
  • flour
  • yogurt (or, yoghurt, as they say spell it here)
  • butter
  • vegetable oil
  • an egg
  • coffee
  • vinegar