Thoughts on Ralph Winter and His Life

“Of the three faculty members and those who would join them, Winter was the person most involved in new initiatives during his time at SWM. His ideas rarely sparked interest in or involvement from the greater Fuller community. There were just too many of them (ideas)!” (The Ralph Winter Story; location 1322; by Harold Fickett)

I still recall when Andy Andrews said, “Read as many biographies as possible.” What he meant, or what I interpreted from that, was how much you learn from history. In reading, The Ralph Winter Story, I am encouraged as a ministry leader with WorldVenture.

Ralph Winter used his creativity to make massive changes to global missions. He didn’t find his calling until late in life (like me!). While I don’t compare myself with someone of his stature, I do find encouragement in reading his life story. He is quoted a lot in the Perspectives course.

In trying to carve new roads to missions, I felt I needed to understand Ralph Winter’s life story.

A quote from his friend, Trotman is now on my Facebook profile:

“Don’t do what others can do or will do if there are things to be done that other can’t do or won’t do.” 

Winter’s struggles to establish new thought processes in missionary work wasn’t always welcome. In one situation, his wife, Roberta clashed with a fellow nurse, Ruth, in Guatamala. Ruth insisted that medically trained missionaries, “…should decide what medical work should include.” Winter and Roberta studied the culture and noticed how the tribal people went to Shaman’s for medical and spiritual advice. To this people group it was strange to separate medical advice from spiritual advice, and Winter or Roberta had observed how often they came to the medical clinic to get marriage advice. However, the author states that Ruth was more traditional and fought them. The book asserts Winter found a way around that obstacle.

Winter had so many ideas and this meant that his creativity had him serving in many different kinds of projects at the same time. In fact, the book suggests his parents may have worried about his constant so-called “lack of focus.”

Tony, my husband, worried for a time about this. Since becoming a believer in 2002, I wrote skits for Solid Rock Christian Fellowship, directed dramas from the stage, ran a women’s tea and coffee for four years (randomly inviting people from the directory to my house which oftentimes meant women meeting other women they didn’t know attended SRCF), a prayer ministry, and helping in set up and take downs of SRCF’s third service. I also had author aspirations and wrote two novels during this time. One received a partial manuscript request from an agent and the other wasn’t fully ready before it was submitted by request to a small publisher. All of this was training for where I am now. Winter had a weakness, too.

With so many ideas, he didn’t fully commit to learning the language the mission board asked him to learn. The downside to having so much creativity is spreading yourself too thin. Winter didn’t really have a job. He got his education through the GI Bill, lived at home, got married, served as a missionary, and had odd jobs. Again, I am not finished reading it yet so I have not learned his whole story. Steady employment may have come later. 

With a full time day job and working active online ministries, I am always careful not to do so much that the ministries I have worked hard to build fail due to lack of attention. This is why I read books about people from the past so I can learn from their mistakes and find encouragement in their struggles.

Would you consider financially partnering with me as I serve to empower the church to do more than market their programs, but reach their communities, even on a global scale? Click here to learn more. 


What Did You Learn This Morning?

Even though my hours have changed, I still get up at 5:30 a.m. to make time to read a chapter in the Bible. My body is already used to rising early after 11 years as a church secretary with Solid Rock Christian Fellowship that continuing this habit wasn’t so difficult. The hours at my former employer were too early for morning devotionals, but my new job allows me an extra half hour Monday through Wednesday that I can get in some quality time with the Lord. In thinking about this, I recall what my friend shared with me the other day.

Her pastor asked her, “What did you learn in your morning devotions?” This challenges her to think about what she is reading in context. I challenge myself the same way. Reading the Bible should not be a check mark on your day, but an immersing experience. It’s quality time with my Father before the day gets crazy. I read the chapter and work all day on focusing on what I read. How can I apply it to myself? What is God trying to teach me this morning? What does it mean? Are there rabbit trails to discover? Sometimes, I’m dead tired from a week that never ends or raising support leaves me barely able to think.

“In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)” 

Spending time with God is more than just a feel-good exercise, but a desire to stay, “…consistent with God’s will.” I love what He is doing in my life, though it can be painful at times. This life has not left me bereft of joy from all the effort, but excited for what God has planned for my future. It does have its challenges, but I know when to rest. I know when to step away and stop doing and just be.

Continue to pray with me as I raise 100% support. My desire is for the church to reawaken from its slumber and become intentional with its social media uses and understand what God is doing in the world with technology. 


3 Ways to Really Listen

15039714_10208878571213823_5551806829554199270_oA new book arrived in the mail from a publicist company. I had been looking forward to it. Listen Love Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman. Part way through chapter one I am both ecstatic and defensive.  How do we really listen online and serve in this other world?

Listen Love Repeat talks about heart drops:

“A heart drop is a concept my husband and I learned from our small group leader, Michael. It’s when a person, either directly or indirectly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or her heart.” (page 15)

This is what I’ve been trying to practice way before this book was published. Heart drops happen online, too. If you want to know what to get someone for Christmas, a birthday, or even a wedding, friend them or follow them on social media. You can discover a whole world about your  new friend by closely following their likes, dislikes, photos, and statuses. The book made me defensive, too. Shortly into it, I am already slapping my forehead in exasperation. On page 17, the book says:

“Our culture is obsessed with self,” it says, and this is true. All one has to do is see the countless amounts of bathroom photos of ourselves. It continues, “We post pictures of ourselves online. What we’re eating. What we’re doing. We’re focused on our schedules, our relationships. At every turn we seem to care about only one thing: ‘What’s in it for me?'” 

Sure, I’m only a bit into this book. The book may point out what I am going to point out now: Those pictures of ourselves, what we eat, what we’re doing, our schedule, and our relationships are bridges to conversation, especially with others who don’t believe in Isa. In our face-to-face world, we are constantly talking about this: our books, our life, what we’re eating, what we’re quilting, etc. Online community is the same way. However, we can get self-absorbed just as we can offline. Technology is just the mirror reflecting how we are in private. So how do we do other-centered living in our new culture since the online world is here to stay and constantly evolving?

There are three ways you can listen to those “heart drops” online:

  • Let them know you are praying for them in private message, text, or comment when you see a status online that is a cry for help, a prayer request, or someone struggling with something. Silently lurking online and praying for them is like someone asking you a question on the phone and you nod in answer. They can’t see that nod. If you want to build relationships with people online and be other-centered, let them know you are praying for them. It shows you care.
  • Live Out Loud. If you spend anytime in the Bible, you know that we aren’t to live in a bubble, ever fearful of letting people into our social media. On the other hand, we should still be discerning. There are real dangers online especially for teenagers. Let your social media reflect who you are in private. Let people see how you live to illustrate what you believe. Go ahead and post what you eat, about your relationships, your favorite books or movies, etc. I would suggest every other status be a question to ask of others on your social media, like what are you having for dinner? If we didn’t talk about our favorite books, books like this one would not sell. Our messages in ministry would not circulate. Show, and sometimes tell, how you are living out your faith.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to what people post about what they like or don’t like, what they read, favorite places to go, bucket lists, and favorite restaurants, etc. Gift them with something they would like from listening to their online “heart drops.”

My final review will be posted on another website.

Do Not Grow Weary

Mornings are a welcome respite to recent tense weeks. The cat jumps on to the couch and curls up on my lap. I can feel his heart beating through my pajamas. The sky begins to show ribbons of color just on the edge of the horizon. The coffee is hot and fresh.

Moving from this spot stirs the air too much, and stirs up reminders of a day I have yet to meet. If I sit here long enough maybe I could avoid the day, and all its problems can walk past without noticing me in the shadows. Discouragement never gets us anywhere. It’s a dead end.

The cat jumps off to stalk a cockroach. I stand and pick up my now empty coffee cup. It’s time to meet the day. I don’t know how people who don’t believe in God can meet days like this all alone. Human praise and encouragement only last so long, and more often than not, you can’t get enough of it. Without faith, the day can become as dark as night without the glimmer of God’s promises on the horizon. Me and God have these long conversations in the morning.

This morning, it’s me whining.

His response is always the same, “Wait.”

He speaks through the Bible. Like how He used last Sunday’s sermon and a PDX appointment to speak Galatians 6 to me. Those things aren’t coincidences.

“Let’s not get tired of doing good…,” It says in verse 9.

I walk into the bedroom and get dressed in the shadows. I’ve never been great at hiding. In this time of transition, God’s vision to me is still unchanged. I must live it. I must walk the walk. My heart has a passion for nothing else.

I am the wierdo on the block; the person who does things differently. There’s so much to look forward to and so much God has me doing now that life is not boring.

My next newsletter goes out Saturday. Don’t miss it.

Night Thoughts

When it’s dark and quiet as your head rests on the pillow, and gone are the nagging day-to-day to-do-isms that have kept your feet moving, your mind awakens.

Another ministry leader falls. Scandal shows up on your newsfeed from another person who claimed to be Christian. Our kingdoms on earth are built on foundations of sand instead of Stone. Or on normal nights, noting the comments online or thinking about the people who can’t see clearly how their words can build up or tear down; it’s their right to say and do as they please publicly regardless of the consequences. And how I pull back my fingers from the keyboard, choosing to walk this walk upright as best as possible.

Then, there’s the diaspora.

With so little time during the week, how do I reach them? How do I connect?

To connect, I need to learn about their culture which requires a whole lot of listening first and asking a lot of questions. To make connections online, you have to invest the time.

So as I think about walking the walk and my own deficiencies, I think of these verses always:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

– 1 Corinthians 13