First Mex Church Planting Trip of New Training Year

Tomorrow morning I will lead our church planting team into Northern Mexico for our first trip of this training year. This year will be different than last in that we will be based in Village CO* where we have an active church plant going. Our goal in Village CO will be to further encourage and equip the believers there. Another difference from last year is that we have a team of 7 missionary trainees plus families. We have a larger team because we will continue to minister in two nearby villages that we had teams in last year (Villages C and EZ). Village CO is kind of a hub village for the other two – CO has a secondary school and a small clinic that the other villages use.

I am also REALLY EXCITED because the whole family will come on this trip. We will only be gone M-W.

Please pray for:

  • Team Unity – The team is made up of mostly second year trainees that were on different teams last year. We have one first year trainee.
  • Boldness and clarity of the gospel going forth from our team in our evangelism and in our teaching of believers. We will be doing a VBS-type time with the children in Villages C and EZ on Tuesday and I will be teaching the church in CO on Tuesday night.
  • Strengthening of old relationships and building of new relationships in the villages.
  • Logistics – A team of this size serving multiple villages has a lot of moving parts and good communication is crucial as things in this area of Mexico can change rapidly. It is also supposed to rain everyday which makes moving about very difficult on the muddy roads.

*Village CO was referred to a CD in former posts. Also a reminder that we do not use specific names of villages for our safety and the safety of the villages we work in so as to not draw attention to them.

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What can missionaries learn from 1 Thessalonians

1-Thess bibleHave you ever spent significant time studying Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church? Most of us have not. It is often a forgotten letter lost in the pages between Colossians and 1 Timothy. However, this week in the Center for Pioneer Church Planting our missionary trainees discovered many of the riches of this letter as well as why it is important for pioneer missionaries to know.

As missionaries we can learn a lot from this letter. Some brief observations are listed below:

  1. A church can be established in a very short amount of time. It seems that Paul and his team were in Thessalonica for only 3 Sabbath days – 2-4 weeks (Acts 17:2-3).
  2. However, further teaching and instruction was needed. Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica not long after they left to “exhort and establish” them in their faith (1 Thess 3:2). Now Paul and his team are writing a letter to this newly planted church reminding them of the instruction they were previously given (1 Thes 4:1-5:28).
  3. Even in the face of persecution new believers can have a widely known gospel impact. The Word of God was going out from this new and persecuted church throughout Macedonia (the Roman province it was located in) all the way to Achaia (about 200 miles away) (1 Thess 7:8).
  4. Paul’s missionary team was very intentional about their motives and conduct among those whom they were planting a church. They are described in following ways: pure, “approved by God”, “entrusted with the gospel”, speaking to “please God”, did not use “words of flattery”, did not “seek glory from people”, did not “make demands”, labored and toiled, worked “night and day” so they were not a burden while they proclaimed the gospel, “holy and righteous and blameless” (1 Thess 2).
  5. We learned about the heart of a missionary team for churches the Lord has allowed them to plant. Paul describes this by using phases like, “being affectionately desirous of you”, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves”, “you are our glory and joy”, “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children”, “like a father with his children”.
  6. We also get a peek into Paul and his team’s teaching ministry among them. They proclaimed the gospel of God (1 Thess 2:9) as well as “exhorted and encouraged and charged” the Thessalonians to “walk in a manner worthy of God” (1 Thess 2:12). Furthermore, we discover some of the practical instruction that Paul’s team gave in their short time with Thessalonian believers (see 1 Thess 4:1-5:28).
  7. Finally, it is important to note that the overwhelming flavor of this letter is to encourage the Thessalonian believers to continue in the faith and love they are standing so steadfastly in and to grow in it. Paul clearly wrote this letter to encourage the new and heavily persecuted church. In fact, there are no corrections or rebukes of any kind in this letter – a good lesson for those who will most likely plant churches where persecution is expected.
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A Proposed Purpose Statement and Structure for 1 Thessalonians

1 thess manuscript picPurpose Statement: The Thessalonian church must continue to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord more and more in the midst of ongoing persecution.

 

 

 

To do this they must:

  1. Know (2:17-3:13)
    1. Paul loves them and wants to return to them (2:17-20)
    2. They are standing firm (3:1-13)
  2. Remember (1:1-2:16)
    1. God has chosen them (1:1-5)
    2. God is using them (1:6-10)
    3. Paul and his team’s conduct among them (2:1-10)
    4. The power of God among them (2:11-16)
  3. Advance (4:1-5:28) 2:12 and 4:1 drive purpose of the letter
    1. In purity (4:2-8)
    2. In love and proper conduct in the world (4:9-12)
    3. In hope (4:13-18)
    4. In anticipation (5:1-11)
    5. In their conduct in the church (5:12-28)
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2 Big Weeks: Burial Form Signing and Teaching Missionaries

Trevor Teach 2Privilege, pleasure, joy, and fun are the words that come to mind when I think about the opportunity I have had this week to teach a Bible exposition class on 1 Thessalonians at the Center for Pioneer Church Planting. Instead of lecturing, I have really sought to make it a hands-on learning experience where the missionary trainees are putting into practice some of the hermenuetical (fancy way of saying how to study the Bible) tools we talked about on Monday morning. We have really walked through this letter together and it has been exciting to see them learn how to discover and dig out deeper truths from God’s Word without relying on commentaries.

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We use verse-by-verse manuscripts so we have to go through the hard work yet helpful of seeing the structure for ourselves, looking for major themes, repeptition, connections, comparisons, etc. This method really forces us to read and work through the text dozens of times before we even start our teaching prep.

Last night, just as training was concluding I gave them text assignments from 1 Thessalonians which they had this morning to prepare into a 10-15 minute teaching which they will give either this afternoon or sometime tomorrow. They were not allowed to work on their preparation at home. I sprung this on them with short notice for two reasons: 1) If they had their assignments at the beginning of the week they would have probably missed the experience and practice in how to properly understand the larger context and purpose of Paul’s letter. 2) As we worked through the letter together they would have been tempted to figure out how the letter fits into the main point of their passage rather than how their passage fits into the main point of the letter.

So, in just about an hour they will each take a turn teaching through and assigned passage to our make-shift gathering of believers in a Mexican village that we will set up in the classroom. This will give them the experience of moving from study to and teaching to application. By the end of tomorrow as a class they will have taught expositionally (verse-by-verse) through every verse in 1 Thessalonians. It is such a privilege to lead/teach these missionary trainees through this valuable experience!

Below are photos from the annual To Every Tribe burial form signing ceremony that took place last week:

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To Every Tribe President and Pioneer Church Planter, David Sitton, addressing us before signing the burial form.

To Every Tribe President and Pioneer Church Planter, David Sitton, addressing us before signing the burial form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myself and David Sitton addressing these missionary trainees about counting the cost.

Myself and David Sitton addressing these missionary trainees about counting the cost.

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Betsy is the most amazing disciple of Jesus I know. She exemplifies what it means to die to self because living for Jesus is worth so much more.

2014 trainees burial form group pic

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Fun Photos of Our Summer Visiting Ministry Partners and Family

Whew! From June 26-August 10, we drove well over 3,000 miles, stayed in 5 different states, dinner in 14 different homes, slept/lived in 8 different places, went to 15 parks, 4 pools, and one wedding…It was a very busy, exhausting, yet energizing 6 weeks of visiting ministry partners and family! Below are some photos of some of the fun. A BIG thanks to all who hosted us for dinner, in your homes, etc. We are very blessed to have an amazing church in KC and GREAT friends and family in KC and IL!

Illinois (Betsy’s Family) 

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White Sox game with the cousins

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Nora was not a big fan of Southpaw

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Nora and Aunt Aimee

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Fun with Nani and Papi

me grace and ellie kids with grace and gwen reading action bible girls with grace and gwen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Photo-bombing” Uncle Eric…the kids think photo-bombing is just jumping into someone else’s picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open house for our partners in IL

Open house for our partners in IL including our FBCG prayer group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois (My Family)

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Kansas City (disclaimer: We were enjoying fellowshiping with with our church and friends there that we realized we failed to take almost any pictures!!! So if you’re not pictured just know that we had a great time catching up!)

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Betsy fellowshiping with missed sisters in Christ at a gathering of our church – Christ Fellowship KC. We could not love our KC church family more! We miss them everyday!

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Our church held a Bible and Basketball one day camp while we were there. It was great!!! The boys learned basketball skills with the friends they missed so much and heard a teen’s conversion story and a gospel presentation. Great day!

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At the fountains outside Crown Center.

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Best BBQ in the WORLD!!! At Oklahoma Joe’s with the Spoolstra family.

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Enjoying Kaleidoscope

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Everyone’s favorite train restaurant – Fritz’s

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Betsy and Nora at the zoo. Nora loves riding in the baby carrier

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Boys day a Chiefs training camp. They even met their two favorite players – Tamba Hali and Jamaal Charles.

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Lot’s of fun at the Compton’s farm!! We miss them so much so it was great to see them.

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A tribute to some of the most radical people we know…

Who is the most radical person you know? I once knew a man who was constantly trying to convince people that he and they should quit their jobs, sell everything they have, and just do evangelism all day, everyday. This was his idea of radical. This was his idea of what he thought Jesus meant when he told the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and follow Jesus (Matt 19:16-22). This was what he thought Jesus’ point was when he told the story of the rich fool who built new store houses to store up all his grain for himself to live on for years to come (Luke 12:13-20). My friend also believed the other way you could be radical for Jesus was to become a missionary.

Was my friend right? We would probably all answer “no”, however many of us may not realize it but we actually do think like this. Many believers only look at people like missionaries or others who have visibly given up a lot as living radical for Jesus. Over the last year as our family has made the huge transition to becoming missionaries we have constantly been reminded of what it means to live radically for Jesus. Believe it or not we have seen that many of the most radical Jesus followers we know are not on the mission field. Rather, from an outside view they look very “normal”. They own a house, car, have good jobs, etc.

What makes them radical? They rightly understand and live out the passages above. They understand that being radical does not mean having nothing; instead Jesus was communicating that we are to make the most of what He gives us for His Kingdom. Over the last two weeks we have been visiting family, friends, and ministry partners in IL and next we will move on to spend time with our home church and other ministry partners in KC. In all this will be a six week trip enjoying fellowship with loved ones and reporting on what God is doing through us and our team of ministry partners.

In this, Betsy and I are reminded that the most radical people we know are those that are being radical right where they are. They open their homes to various church gatherings each week, they work all day and do evangelism in nursing homes when they are done, they risk reprimand and ridicule by holding evangelistic Bible studies at work, they pour themselves into people and ministries in their local church, they work a few extra hours or give up the American dream so they can squeeze as much as possible out of their budget to financially partner with missionaries like us, etc.

In short, many of the most radical people we know live radically under the radar of those around them but certainly not under the radar of the King who delights in them. People often marvel at all we (and other missionaries) have given up but we marvel at the everyday Kingdom focus of our dear brothers and sisters who faithfully give up so much so that joyfully we can partner together to take the good news of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him.

So, this is a special tribute and recognition to the small but very committed people who partner with us – we thank God because YOU are RADICAL!!! Thank you for your inspiration and love!

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One more makes SIX…Pics of Eleanor Joy

I remember shortly after we had Ethan (via c-section due to a failed induction) the surgeon who performed the c-section said that any other children we had would need to be delivered via c-section as well. However, Betsy worked hard at educating herself, and me, and we soon realized that this was not true. What can I say, Betsy is amazing especially at overcoming odds. I can proudly say that Eleanor Joy was Betsy’s third V-BAC and second delivered with no medication. I so admire Betsy’s strength, determination and courage!

Now on to the pictures:
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