A “prayer guide” for the BTS Spring ‘19 trips
(the prayer guide for the 2nd trip will be available after the first trip concludes)
Here are the dates & destinations of the 2 trips (to view/print the prayer guide, simply click on the location!)
*March 31-April 11: A two-country trip (with 2 refreshment retreats) to Moldova & Ukraine
*April 22-May 13: A two-country trip (with 3-4 refreshment retreats) to Kenya & Ethiopia
An exciting update as 2019 begins…
(Some breaking news with more to come soon)
If you have been waiting to hear how God has been answering prayer by guiding BTS to the ‘doors of opportunity’ He desires us to walk through, there is some recent news to follow-up from the October post (beneath this one)…
+On the domestic front, God has guided Steve to walk alongside a significant number of new connections (in addition to established ones) and he has appreciated your prayers for him and those he is serving. These new opportunities to walk beside brothers & sisters in their ministries have increased steadily since early fall of 2018.
+On the foreign-soil front, the next spiritual refreshment retreats have been scheduled and tickets have been purchased! (Before reading on, if you have not yet read the “trip report” from the October post below, it may be helpful to scroll down and read it before reading the rest of this section.) Although we will describe these opportunities in more detail through a video update in the weeks ahead, here are the recently confirmed “double-header” trips:
*March 31-April 11: A two-country trip (with 2 refreshment retreats) to Moldova & Ukraine
*April 22-May 13: A two-country trip (with 3-4 refreshment retreats) to Kenya & Ethiopia
It has been nothing short of amazing how our heavenly Father has guided us to these unique opportunities. Please continue to pray in the weeks ahead as the ministry schedules for these 2 trips are finalized! And we will look forward to going into more detail when we send out the link to a video in the weeks ahead (or when you talk to us in person). God clearly responded to those praying specifically for His guidance…thank you for praying that way in the past, present, and future!
Grateful, still again, for your prayerful involvement!
First, if you have been praying with us since July that God would guide BTS to walk through the ‘doors of opportunity’ that He desires for us, THANK YOU. (With one of those opportunities now behind us, there are still several on foreign soil being considered for the coming months.) Your continued prayers would be deeply appreciated between now and the end of the year that our Father would guide us in this planning. If you would also join us in praying for the ‘domestic side’ of BTS during November and December, we would be extremely grateful (this will include a regional trip or two).
Secondly, if you prayed along the lines of what Steve described before he left for the island, he has done his best to “sum up” how he saw God respond to your prayers (and as always, feel free to ask Steve because he would be delighted to be more specific!). Here are some of Steve’s reflections in the 3 areas he expressed before leaving on the trip…
+Travel while there: Although the return flight to the U.S. did not go smoothly, that was by far the least important leg of the trip! There were no accidents involving the rental car and it endured many “off road” miles…especially in the mountains! (And if you saw the conditions of the roads as well as the number of bicycles, pedestrians, and animals using them, it is a miracle that there were no incidents!) Steve slept well—particularly before days that included the most ministry opportunities. And yes, the hurricane did ‘brush by’ the western end of the island but the trip itinerary found him on the eastern end when it did!
+Time with pastors & wives: These connections, according to the pastors & wives, did turn out to be rich, encouraging, and refreshing for these dear couples. Steve was also able to have 1-on-1 conversations with the pastors (and sometimes family members) related to their individual challenges as they strive to grow personally & to lead their churches well.
+Theme of our times of reflection together: According to reliable sources, God used the themes from James 1 and Hebrews 12 in a unique way in each context. And according to the same sources, our Father gave Steve the ability and mental stamina to be able to communicate clearly in a foreign language without a translator! Even though he led most of the gatherings without reading the notes he had prepared (and translated in advance), the pastors expressed that these conversations were used by God in a timely way in the heart of each person. (If you were not able to see some of the photos from the trip because you are not on the BTS email list, get in touch with Steve and he will send you that email…)
Praying for the BTS Retreat on Wheels
September 29, 2018
For those of you who have been praying with us since July that God would guide BTS to walk through the ‘doors of opportunity’ that He desires for us, THANK YOU. And we are delighted to let you know that He has been responding in some unique ways. The first door of this next “BTS travel season” will be a return trip to the Caribbean to provide spiritual refreshment for a number of pastors & wives there. As you read the 3 main ways you can pray for the trip below (and you can hear more details on the short video you can link to at the end of this post), thank you for investing your time in prayer for this next opportunity…
+Travel while there: For restful sleep, safety, hurricane-free weather, and that nothing related to transportation would hinder the ministry God has in store for Steve as he serves those who serve.
+Time with pastors & wives: That these connections would be rich, encouraging, and refreshing for these dear couples.
+Theme of our times of reflection together: That it would not be ‘lost in translation’ (Steve will not be able to use any English!) and that it would be used by God in a timely way in the heart of each person.
To hear how to pray specifically in these 3 areas, there is a short video (just over 4 minutes long) you can watch if you click here!
Praying beside BTS during the Summer of '18...
July 9, 2018
We would be deeply grateful to have you pray beside us this summer in these 3 areas...
1) Thanking our Father for how He provided through the 'May matching opportunity'
Whether or not you were able to give in May toward this special purpose, so many of you let us know you were praying along with us during this year's opportunity to set aside funds for BTS foreign-soil ministry during the next 12 months. In May of 2017, $10,015 was matched by a family so that $20,015 was available last year to use for BTS trips & retreats to encourage those serving on foreign soil. During the May of 2018 matching period, $11,030 was matched by two families and $22,060 will be available for this purpose in the coming year! Our board not only wants to thank you for praying (and for giving if you were able) but we also want to invite you to thank our Father together for how He continues to guide BTS through how He provides.
2) Asking our Father for His clear guidance as we plan future BTS foreign trips
As you probably already know, BTS has been invited to come alongside those serving in foreign countries more often than we are able to actually go. In some cases, there are other ministries that are better suited to encourage those who have invited BTS (and we actually strive to connect them with those other ministries). At this point, the BTS board senses it is wise to devote 1/3 of our ministry focus on foreign soil ministry (which also means that approximately 1/3 of Steve's time and 1/3 of what is given annually to BTS is used in this area). Please join us in asking God to guide us to walk through the "doors of opportunity" which He desires for us. (A 3rd trip to the Caribbean island has been tentatively set for early October and Steve is having conversations with 2 different ministries in the Middle East about a potential team trip to serve those serving refugees there...yes, we will keep you posted as trips are scheduled so you can join us in praying!!!)
3) Praying for continued wisdom as we continue to come alongside those who serve
With 2/3 of Steve's time & energy being devoted to those who serve our Savior in our own country, we would continue to be grateful as you pray with us for our efforts in this main focus of our ministry. (Steve's next domestic trip is July 9-11 which will find him striving to encourage a number of BTS connections in Indiana.) Over the past several months, Steve has sensed God guiding him to pray along the lines of James 1:4-5 for those Christian leaders he serves. This prayer emphasis has developed as Steve has recently connected with so many dear brothers & sisters who are facing challenges that are very difficult to endure. He and the board are also praying for YOU as you come alongside leaders in your own sphere who are facing their own individual challenges...that our Father will touch them deeply as you personally encourage them.
Praying for BTS during the upcoming April Adventure
We would be deeply grateful to have you pray beside us in the coming weeks as described below...
April 1-8: BTS Southern Road Trip and Retreat Preparation
On Easter Sunday, Steve will begin a BTS road trip during which he will be connecting with Christian leaders in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Please ask our Father to provide timely encouragement through Steve as he meets with those who serve our Savior so faithfully. At the end of this week, please also pray for Steve as he spends several days preparing for 2 spiritual refreshment retreats in April...
April 9-14: Spiritual Refreshment Retreat in the Caribbean
On Monday the 9th, Steve will be flying from Miami to facilitate 2 small retreats for pastors & wives (similar to the one he led last September but in a different location). This time, however, he will be leading the retreats in Spanish without an interpreter. Please pray with this in mind! Also join us in praying that the couples will be spiritually refreshed (and that their children, who will be staying home with relatives, will do well while their parents are away for several days).
April 15-17: Return trip 'North-bound'
After flying back to Miami on the 14th, Steve will make his way north while making several BTS connections on his way home.
April 25-May 2: Spiritual Refreshment Retreat in Eastern Europe
Steve and Mark Morsehead (a BTS board member) will be traveling to Moldova to lead a spiritual refreshment retreat for 20 English-speaking leaders of various Christian ministries there. Although these men are from different English speaking countries around the world, they have formed an informal network built around their common purpose of proclaiming the gospel in Moldova. In addition to praying for the weekend retreat itself, please also join us in asking God to give Mark and Steve grace-filled wisdom as they come alongside leaders before & after the retreat.
After reading how you can be praying in the days ahead, here are a couple of links you may be interested in as well...
*If you would like to listen to the message I recently gave related to a theme that has been surfacing in many of my conversations (and you might need to listen to it in 'sections' because of its length), you can click here and then scroll down to March 4, 2018.
*And if you would like to see an 'announcement' related to the delivery of the many collected items to northern Virginia (which will be shipped to Christian leaders in the Middle East in the near future), then click here.
Praying beside BTS during the Winter of '18
January 15, 2018
Here are 3 ways we would really appreciate you praying beside BTS in the weeks ahead...
1) For the "Delivery Trip" to Virginia January 18/19 and the East Coast "BTS Road Trip" beginning Jan. 19
Two dear brothers (who have remarkable behind-the-scenes ministries of their own) will be helping me transport the LARGE shipment of refugee donations to Virginia on the 18/19th. BTS will be renting a cargo van and using the Adriansen's '02 minivan to transport this "Load of Love" to Virginia. Thank you to ALL of you who donated, collected, boxed, and/or helped load all of these items. Please pray for our vehicles to reach the destination smoothly, for the 2 brothers as they drive the cargo van back to Michigan on 1/19, and for Steve as he goes on from Virginia to make some BTS connections on the East Coast.
2) For the next BTS Foreign-soil trip: February 10-17 to Honduras
We will be visiting 3 different ministries in Honduras and exploring the possibility of a future 'spiritual refreshment retreat' for those serving there. Who is the 'we' you ask? Because it was wise to invite a travel companion (who is familiar with bus travel in Latin America) and ideal to have a skilled interpreter (even though God answered your prayers in strengthening my Spanish on my previous trip), I have invited my son Dan to join me as we make our way around this Central American country. Please pray for wisdom, 'smooth' travel, 'non-distracting' health, and that we will be an encouragement to those we will be spending time with!
3) For the BTS planning calendar as 2018 continues
The BTS board members and I would appreciate your continued prayers as we seek God's guidance on which 'opportunity doors' of ministry we should walk through in the months ahead. With the number of invitations continuing to grow, we are seeking our Father's wisdom on which ones we should walk through (and in what sequence).
***Now if you want to jump over to the 2-minute video related to the refugee shipment (and note the time & energy my wife Kathy invested in sorting, boxing, and organizing this project), then click here
Being grateful together to our Father for responding to our prayers...
NOVEMBER 23, 2017
He really does listen to His children when we ask Him to move in & through us. And He really does respond in ways beyond what we ask! Looking back on Behind the Scenes in 2017, our Father has displayed His involvement in more ways than can be listed. As we spend time this season expressing our thanks to Him in each area of our lives, we can also thank Him together for how He has moved in & through us to serve those who serve our Savior...
*We can thank Him that, in response to your prayers and support, He has touched the lives of a growing number of Christian leaders around the world. Even though many of your prayers have been 'nameless', our very-involved Father is listening and responding in rich ways. I deeply wish you could have been sitting beside me when our brothers & sisters shed tears of gratitude while hearing that folks they have never met are praying beside them (and have sent me & others to encourage them).
*We can thank Him for the growing number of you who have reached out to me to pray specifically for those serving on foreign soil. Some of you have been praying for the individuals mentioned in past prayer updates (like those servants described from the post on October 7 below). Others of you have joined small 'prayer teams' this year who receive periodic updates from me that are not posted on the website. And once again, God is responding by moving in significant ways.
*We can thank Him for working in 'obvious' ways that can only be explained by the fact that you are asking Him to move in the lives of others. One surprising way God has been working this past year is through bringing me/us alongside those who God is guiding into new areas of ministry. Again, I wish you could be a 'fly on the wall' to see how He is moving in this way!
*We can thank Him for how He continues to guide BTS through how He provides for BTS....through those who are able to give above & beyond what they are already giving to their churches and other ministries. There are more individuals/families involved in supporting BTS this year than ever before. And the couple who offered a 'matching gift' in May, combined with the generosity of many of you, has made 3-4 BTS foreign soil trips possible during this fall and the months ahead!
*We can thank Him for how He will work through many of us to encourage Christian leaders ministering to refugees in the Middle East! If you are interested in donating items to be shipped to those leading this ministry, you can click on the link below to read more about it. And yes, I will be in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana during December so I could potentially pick up your donated items at a location near you! For more information, click here!
Prayer matters because God responds & changes things!
october 7, 2017
Thank you again for your commitment to pray beside us on the recent foreign-soil trip I described in the video (you can click on the Your Sphere page if you have not yet seen the video which includes a brief overview of the trip). As I mentioned in that video, I wanted to pass 2 important things on to you. First, below you can read a brief summary of how I saw God respond to our prayers in specific areas we were praying for (and please call or email me if you would like a 'report' on how I saw God work in response to other ways you were praying). Second, you will see a short list of ways we can be praying for the pastors & wives I met on the trip in the days ahead. I hope you will take time to read both sections below...
Some ways God specifically responded to your prayers in different areas:
+Arriving & Departing 'without a hitch'...my host was quite surprised that I was asked no questions by officials on the way into the country nor were my bags searched...and he was also surprised that neither occurred when I left!
+For health & travel safety...not one sniffle or tummy ache (for me or my friend)...I was able to get 'enough' sleep...and 3 families who needed to travel over 17 hours by bus (to & from the retreat) made it safely & soundly with their young children!
+For the language barrier...in addition to my traveling friend being the best translator possible, God enabled me to speak the language 'as close to fluently' as I ever have...because of this, over 80% of the retreat ended up being in the 'native tongue'...and on Sunday I ended up leading a church service with no translator (your prayers were quite evident during those 2 hours!).
+For the effectiveness of the retreat...after deciding that we could all fit snugly in my hotel room, we were able to have our sessions there while a 22 year-old daughter of one of the couples flawlessly watched the younger children...the same sections of John 13-16 which we 'chewed on' during the spiritual refreshment evenings in our home this past summer were very encouraging to the 14 pastors & wives...several of the pastors will be converting the content from our retreat sessions into a 'sermon series' for their own congregations...for the 7 families, this was their first vacation-like experience ever and this really enhanced their overall experience of refreshment!
+For the other connections that took place before & after the retreat...not only did I have many opportunities to speak personally with each of the pastors & wives, but I also had multiple conversations with my host (the visionary leader of this growing church-planting effort) and others in his church family & community.
Several ways we can be praying beside these pastors and wives:
+For the pastor I traveled with...please pray that God would either make it possible for his wife & children to receive permission to legally join him in the US or that God would guide his family to another country where he can minister as a pastor.
+For one of the wives named Yarrlenis...this soft-hearted young mother, who is under 30 years old, is expecting her fourth child and there are complications related to her pregnancy. Her doctor has told her that she will die in child-birth due to the need for a C-section and he has urged her to abort the baby (she has a blood disorder that causes 'thin blood'). She and her husband are trusting God through this difficult situation. One way we can pray for her is that she will be able to give birth naturally.
+For one of the pastors in the 'network'...this dear brother, who was not at the retreat, was stabbed last week during an assault by a young man who did not seem to know that he is a pastor. We can pray for his recovery as he remains in the hospital.
+For ongoing 'refreshment'...let's ask our Father to continue to encourage and refresh these dear brothers and sisters as they take the Good News of what Christ has accomplished for us to the others in their country.
Praying Beside BTS: Summer Dates & Themes
June 6, 2017
Timely dates you can pray beside us this summer...
*Sunday, June 4: Guest-speaking at a Hispanic church in Ohio (on the theme of prayer)
*Sunday, June 11: Second of 7 'spiritual refreshment evenings' in our home (from John 14-16)
*June 19-July 5: Board member Dan Gregory with wife and 2 sons on family mission trip to Poland
*Sunday, June 25: Third of 7 'spiritual refreshment evenings' in our home (from John 14-16)
*June 26-29: Guest-speaking in Georgia to camp full of 13-15 year-olds (and serving the staff there)
*Sept-Dec: Potential 'spiritual refreshment retreats' for church leaders "around the world"
Timely themes you can pray for BTS this summer...
+Please pray with us that God would guide the planning of these potential retreats in the months ahead...
+Please pray for our fellow Christ-followers in the Middle East as they strive to spread the Good News despite persecution.
+Please pray for the growing number of leaders Steve is striving to encourage as they transition into new ministry roles.
+Please pray for those leaders in Your life whom God has worked through to impact You and your family!!!
BTS 2017 Spring/Summer "Prayer Calendar"
Timely ways you can pray beside us in April and May...
*Sunday, April 9: Guest-speaking at a church in Central Ohio (from John 15:9-13)
*Sunday, April 30: Guest-speaking at a church in SE Michigan (also from John 15:9-13)
*Sunday, May 21: First of 7 'spiritual refreshment evenings' in our home (from John 13:1-17)
*Sunday, June 4: Guest-speaking at a Hispanic church in Ohio (on the theme of prayer)
*Aug/Sept: Potential 'spiritual refreshment retreat' for church leaders "off the continent"
+Please pray with us that God would guide the planning of this potential trip as He provides the resources...
Praying beside the BTS ministry as 2017 begins...
january 16, 2017
Specific ways you can pray beside us in the coming months...
+Saturday, January 21: A personal evangelism workshop Steve will be facilitating in Metro Detroit
+January 22-29: A BTS week in Central Ohio & Way Down in Dixie--making many BTS connections
+February 10-12: A small, relational men's retreat Steve will be facilitating in Northeast Ohio
+February 21-28: A BTS "road trip" beginning in Dallas--including serving at a missions conference in Birmingham
+Sometime in the Spring: A possible "spiritual-refreshment retreat" for leaders in Eastern Europe
And if you are able to join several others in praying...
As you have probably noticed during the past year, God has uniquely connected BTS to a "missions movement" among our Arabic brothers and sisters in Egypt. Because this movement is "organic" and not related to any one organization or denomination, there is an amazing opportunity for BTS to encourage those Egyptians God is guiding into missions. Most of these missionaries-in-training are in their 20's and 30's and are thirsty to be mentored, prayed for, and encouraged. (To this point, not one of them has asked me for financial support!)
Early last year, a church in Michigan invited me to an after-service potluck dinner where I was asked how they could pray for these dear believers in Egypt. Just before the potluck, I had made the offer to a sweet, single young lady in Egypt that I could find some folks here in the U.S. to pray for her as she considers where God was guiding her to serve. A number of people at this potluck jumped on that opportunity and have been praying for her this past year. This month, that young lady begins a year-long mission endeavor in Turkey!
For a year and a half, I have been staying in touch (via email and Skype) with a young man who is in his 2nd year of college who is also desiring God's guidance for his future. As 2017 began, I offered him what I had offered the young lady last year and he enthusiastically accepted! So if you would like to join several others in praying specifically for this college student, all you need to do is send me a personal email at email@example.com. Then I will add you to the email list of those who I will send periodic updates of how you can pray (and for a few reasons, I use the "blind-copy" feature so all those receiving my update remain anonymous). Thank you for considering being an "anonymous behind-the-scenes" prayer partner!
Praying for BTS as we head into 2017...
November 27, 2016
Here are several upcoming opportunities we would be grateful for you to be praying for...
+December 9-18: A 10-day BTS "road trip" to Akron, Boston, Philadelphia, and Columbus
+Before December 31: That God would guide as He provides through year-end giving to BTS
+January 21: A personal evangelism workshop Steve will be facilitating in Metro Detroit
+In 2017: The scheduling and planning of spiritual refreshment retreat(s) for those on foreign soil
Timely ways to be praying for BTS...
October 16, 2016
Thank you again for your commitment to pray beside us as we come down the home stretch of 2016. You may have just come from the Your Sphere page on this website where you read the ways our Father has been responding to your prayers since July. The other Board members and I would appreciate your continued prayers in those 4 areas. Here are several timely, specific ways we would also be grateful for you to be praying beside us with some details below...
+That God would give us wisdom as we continue to seek to deeply encourage missionaries
As you have probably noticed over the past few years, God has been opening more opportunities for me/us to come alongside and encourage those serving in missions. Even though it would be 'easy' to focus 100% of my time on those in missions, at this point we are allotting 1/3 of my time and focus on those serving in this way. So the question becomes, 'How do we wisely and efficiently use 1/3 of the BTS ministry focus on missionaries?' Following my 2nd trip to Egypt in January, it seems that God may be guiding us to build this part of the BTS ministry around "spiritual refreshment retreats" for groups of those serving in foreign countries. Of the 5 formal invitations we have received to minister to those who serve in 3 foreign countries, the 2 that we accepted were both opportunities to serve a group of Christian leaders in Egypt. Moving forward in this area is related to another way you can be praying beside us...
+That God would continue to "guide BTS through how He provides for BTS"
One reason we have accepted only 2 of the 5 invitations to encourage those abroad is based on our desire to focus on the retreat-type-ministry described above. A second reason involves finances. In addition to covering my travel expenses (and potentially the expenses of a small team accompanying me), there are costs involved in providing lodging and food for the retreat (which most of those we desire to serve would not be able to cover on their own). Since shifting to full-time BTS-focus in July 2015, giving to the BTS Fund has covered most of my 'normal' ministry expenses. However, there is not currently enough in the fund to schedule retreats like these. During the past year, I have become convinced that God will guide us by providing the money He chooses to provide and, in turn, that will show us what level of ministry He desires BTS to have! Please pray for us in this way and if you have any questions about any part of this, please feel free to get in touch with me!
+That God would give the Board members a productive and clarifying annual meeting on October 29
Although I regularly meet with the other board members individually throughout the year (either in person or via email), we have one annual meeting where all of us are present. This will be our 6th annual meeting since BTS was launched as a "non-profit organization" in 2011. And this will be the first annual meeting we have had that we will be able to evaluate an entire year in which I devoted my full-time focus to BTS. We would deeply appreciate your prayers as we seek God's guidance together!
Praying for BTS as the summer of '16 continues...
July 16, 2016
Your willingness to pray beside me during my travel-filled months of May & June (see the entry from May 5 for more details) was quite evident. As in the past, God responded! Time after time our Father displayed His involvement through His guidance, strength, wisdom, and timing. If you desire to know some specific ways He answered your prayers, please call me, send me an email, or stop me if our paths cross and it would be a delight to describe it to you personally. As I mentioned in the email letting you know of the updates to this BTS website page, here are some more details describing the 4 ways we can pray beside each other in the weeks ahead....
*wisdom in discerning which 'doors of opportunity' to walk through during the 2nd half of 2016: Since last July when I began focusing full-time on BTS, I have been able to 'say yes' to many more ministry opportunities but still have not been able to walk through every "open door." For example, after my trip to Egypt in early January, I have received several invitations to return there to come alongside various missionaries and serve in different ways. Although I was honored to be invited each time, I have sensed God guiding me (through various means) to wait for future open doors which would maximize the kind of ministry He wants me to have to the missionaries and leaders there. So instead of traveling to the missions conference as I did last summer, I will probably be driving to Wisconsin to help prepare a small team to oversee the student-track that I coordinated last year. As you might guess, this need to discern which open doors to pursue applies to other areas as well. Please join me in seeking God's wisdom and guidance in this way!
*for the increasing "band of brothers & sisters" reaching out to serve those who serve: You may have already read on the Your Sphere page on this site about 3 recent examples that have been quite encouraging. What is even more encouraging is the fact that I could have described MANY more! Whether relationally "putting their arms around" a local (or distant) Christian leader or investing a weekend to help that leader in some concrete way, it has been a thrill to witness a growing number of folks come alongside those who are serving our Savior. Please join me in praying that even more people will trust God and be confident that He can work through them!
*for God's guidance and wisdom in assisting those in 'ministry transition': The number of "transitions" which God has allowed me to come alongside has honestly been surprising. Whether our Father is guiding those in 'secular' careers to 'ministry' careers, or vice versa, it seems to me that God is really on the move in this way. In addition, I have been involved with several brothers who God has guided from their former ministries into their future ministries. Even though I have a great deal of empathy for those in transition due to my own journey during the past few years, please ask God to give me large doses of wisdom and insight into how to best encourage them!
*for God to continue to guide and provide for BTS as He has during the past year: When the other BTS board members and I met last summer, we invited God to uniquely guide as I began my full-time focus on BTS. Then we invited you to pray beside us as well. Through your prayers and ours, and the generosity of those who have been able to give to the BTS ministry, I look back over the past 12 months with a deeply grateful heart. God has guided me into even more serving opportunities than I could have anticipated and the donations to BTS have been ample to cover 2 trips to Egypt, several longer trips outside the Midwest, many shorter trips within the Midwest, administrative expenses, countless meals with those who serve, one-time financial gifts of encouragement for several leaders in need, and a modest salary for me that has made it possible for me to devote my full focus to BTS ministry! Thank you for your encouragement, support, and your prayers...please continue to pray beside us in this area as we continue to trust God's guiding hand.
Ways you can pray for me as summer approaches...
May 5, 2016
Thank you for your willingness to pray beside me as I continue to strive to serve those who serve! And even though it may have been better "weather-wise" to be in Dixie during the winter, many of the opportunities to come alongside brothers & sisters living "further south" will take place during the next 2 months. If you are one to jot down dates in your planner (or hand-held device!), here is a brief description of some of the open doors to encourage that are on the BTS horizon....
+May 5-8: Central Ohio (will include time with a pastor from Cuba, at least 2 pastors from Columbus, and a young couple preparing to move to Cairo to minister there...Yes, there were a lot of C's in that summary!)
+May 11-18: Dixie Trip I (will include time with several dear brothers serving in Atlanta, a pastor in northern Florida, a missionary couple stationed in Tampa, visiting my daughter, and a BTS connection in Charlotte, NC)
+May 25-June 12: Lower Michigan "Blitz" (will include a wedding with a long-time ministering family, 'filling the pulpit' on 5/29, two chances to encourage ministry teams who are serving those in ministry, and a summer Bible study in our home!)
+June 18-22: Trek to Texas (will include spending Father's day with my son, time with BTS supporters in Dallas, and a potential/important connection with a missionary couple focusing on medical ministry in Central America)
+June 25-30: Birmingham-bound (an opportunity to guide a church ministry team from Michigan to Alabama where they will be serving those who serve on an inner-city ministry staff there)
Final thoughts on your specific prayers for Egypt
March 7TH, 2016
If you have not yet read the posts on the Your Sphere page from the "blog stream" entitled Answered Prayer (dated 1/16/16), you may want to jump over to the Your Sphere page to read those comments and my responses! In order to make it easier to read, I am responding to the final comment on that "blog stream" here on the Praying page. Expressing what others also expressed to me, a good brother wrote:
"I prayed that you would be able to accomplish ALL that God desired for you to accomplish while you were in Egypt."
With what he expressed also being my prayerful desire, I think you will thank our Father with me when you read below....
+The spiritual refreshment retreat for 50+ North Africans involved in missions in the Middle East was incredibly encouraging. Not surprisingly, God caused the impact of the retreat to exceed what I had prayerfully pictured it to be! Because most of my 4 days spent with these dear folks involved personal/pastoral conversations flowing out of my guiding the group through John 15, I cannot go into much detail. The conversations were quite varied, to say the least, and included...helping a 30 year-old single woman discern if God was guiding her to a different country than the one she has been preparing to move to...counseling a couple who is struggling with infertility...thinking with a 40 year-old missionary how to discern what his wife's role in ministry could/should be...encouraging a young lady in her 20's to trust God for wisdom and courage as she wrestled with being "unequally yoked" in a relationship that began before she had trusted Christ as her Savior...and I could go on for a while with other examples. From this retreat alone, I came home with more than 30 brothers & sisters on my long-term prayer list who I had the chance to talk to, counsel, and pray for.
+The 3 days I was able to spend teaching/counseling the 24 Sudanese young men who are training to become church-planters was even a richer time of fellowship than I anticipated. Their hearts for the people they will be reaching (beginning later this year) are amazingly soft and compassionate. It was a privilege to guide them in thinking about how they can deepen their ministries to those they will lead to Christ in the years ahead. Even though they did not speak English as fluently as those at the retreat, we were still able to have meaningful conversations through translators.
+In addition to the retreat and my time at the training school, God opened other opportunities for me to encourage, counsel, and teach other ministry leaders while in Cairo. Speaking to a larger gathering of college-aged students and a smaller gathering of parents were 2 unexpected highlights, especially the conversations that followed those speaking opportunities.
+Finally, you may be among those who told me after I returned that you were praying for other areas such as my family, my new leg brace, and for the continued transition to me devoting my full focus to BTS. Here are some ways God answered your prayers in those areas:
*After having an enjoyable Christmas season (including long visits with Dan & Rachel), God once again blessed and protected my family while I was abroad. There were no 'unexpected developments' until the day I returned from Egypt! (Some of you know that my father was hospitalized the day I flew home and you have been praying for him during these past 2 months...he is very grateful for your prayers.)
*Some of you have been aware that my transition to a new leg brace (beginning several weeks prior to leaving for Egypt) has been a rough one. God intervened and prevented it from being a distraction, or even painful, during my time overseas. I am so grateful that He protected me from the pain & resulting drain of energy while in Egypt. (Since returning, the issues have escalated and I am now receiving treatment for some damage to my leg that the new brace has caused...and I would appreciate you continuing to pray that this would not limit my ministry in the weeks ahead.)
*A growing number of brothers & sisters invested their prayers, their time, and their financial support during 2015. Through increased praying and giving, God made this trip to Egypt possible--including covering most of the expenses for the missionaries to be able to attend the retreat described above. (And God continues to work through the prayerful support of a growing number of folks like you to make it possible for me to continue my "full-time focus" on BTS as 2016 begins...Thank you for your commitment to serving those who serve our Savior!)
Prayer Update from Steve
January 5th, 2016
Thank you for asking our Father to move in the hearts of those missionaries who were able to attend the refreshment retreat. To say He responded would be an understatement! God gave us a rich, rewarding and refreshing time together as I guided their hearts to our Father through some Bible passages which helped renew and soften their weary hearts. God also gave me opportunity to have many conversations with those who attended the retreat and those who attended were eager to approach me for counsel and encouragement. These are dear brothers and sisters who are facing an assortment of challenges, most of which are personal, and God gave me the strength and wisdom through your prayers to respond to each of the many I talked with. Below you will see a few examples of how God used this retreat in their hearts...
A Sudanese pastor flew in from South Sudan and, according to Philip, the whole retreat would have been worthwhile if he were the only missionary able to attend! He experienced God's closeness and the encouragement of others in a VERY deep way...2 missionary couples who are my age attended and we spent personal time together talking and praying about where God is guiding them as they trust Him during the 2nd Half of their lives...A young Egyptian woman, who is preparing to move to Spain where she will be working with Campus Crusade to reach arabic unbelievers living there was strengthened and encouraged in a variety of ways...A single missionary to Sudan who serves at an orphanage for girls there was moved as she considered the way Jesus patiently pursued Martha and prepares to return to Sudan with a renewed spirit soon (she is accompanying the young girl with cancer from Sudan you read about during the previous update)...and I could go on and on. Thank you again for joining me in asking God to move. During the concluding sharing time this morning at the retreat, it was VERY obvious that you were earnestly praying for the hearts of these very dear folks.
Moving forward, I will have several appointments with those who attended the retreat today and tomorrow, on Thursday I will be celebrating Christmas (for a 2nd time!) with Philip's family, and on Friday I will begin a 3-day time of teaching and encouragement at the training school for 25 Sudanese young men. Please ask God to continue to give me strength, health and most importantly, a soft heart that He can love others through. There are no words to express how deeply I appreciate your prayers, encouragement, and support that have made this trip BOTH possible AND impacting!!!
Steve ( 4:30pm Cairo time/9:30am EST on Tuesday)
Prayer Update from Steve
January 4th, 2016
It is 3:00 pm on Sunday here and we have already finished the first day of the retreat for missionaries that I am speaking at and doing some counseling. Please pray that our Father would meet each person at the retreat in a personal way. The retreat will last until Tuesday.
Several of the attenders are missionaries from different countries -- most are young men and women -- who are at different stages of preparation to go on to the field. There are also ministry leaders from missionary training schools at the retreat. Each of them has come to the retreat with different needs such as rest, guidance, and encouragement. Please pray specifically for a young single woman who is sensing God guiding her to change countries where she will eventually serve. Also please pray for a young man who is a very mature eighteen year old who is experiencing being bullied during the end of his senior year and who has a physical challenge that is making it difficult to pass his drivers test.
Gods presence has been uniquely felt to this point. Please pray that I would be sensitive to His guidance as I teach, counsel, and encourage. There are many other conversations that I have had but have not asked permission to put on the website. I think it would be ok to ask you to pray for Christine who is sitting next to me as I type this email update. She is a sweet eight year old Sudanese girl who is singing as I write this. She is wearing a winter knit hat due to her recent chemo treatment for her cancer. I am told her body is responding to the treatments but please join me in asking God to heal her. The song she is singing is about Jesus...Who she was introduced to by a team of missionaries in Sudan.
Thank you for praying!!!
Christmas 2015 Prayer Update Video
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS, IN ADVANCE!
Please pray for these opportunities in whatever ways our Father guides you. I would especially appreciate you praying for my health including the strength of my voice...for discernment as I strive to encourage these dear brothers & sisters...for wisdom as I teach...and for sensitivity to God's leading in each of my interactions. Here is my itinerary at this point:
December 31: My flight is scheduled to arrive in Egypt
January 1: Speaking opportunities to college students, high school students, and parents of teens
Jan. 2-6: Facilitating/Speaking/Counseling at Spiritual Refreshment Retreat for arabic missionaries
Jan. 7: Celebration of Christmas with other believers in the Middle East!
Jan. 8-10: Teaching at Sudanese training school for soon-to-be church-planting pastors
January 11: Currently scheduled return flight home from Egypt
AND AS I MENTIONED IN THE VIDEO, WE WILL TRY TO UPDATE WAYS YOU CAN BE PRAYING AS I SEND BACK BRIEF UPDATES FROM THE TRIP IN THE SPACE BELOW...
Giving Thanks for your personal involvement in BTS in 2015...
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
As the others on the BTS Board and I look back on the BTS ministry during 2015, there is so much to be grateful for as we give thanks to our amazing God. As our Savior reminded us, we can do nothing of lasting worth or value unless He is working in us and through us (John 15:4-5). And as we reflect on how He moved through BTS this past year, so much of our gratitude centers on the deepening involvement of so many of you who have joined us in the mission "to serve those who serve". We are deeply grateful to our heavenly Father for your involvement in this ministry AND for...
Your Caring Hearts
Your caring heart for those who serve our Savior has been evident in a variety of ways. Just the fact you are reading this shows how deeply you care for those who sacrificially serve our Savior and how you want to be God's 'hands & feet' to encourage them!
Your Praying Hearts
The faithfulness you have displayed in praying for me and for those on BTS team trips has been obvious. We have keenly experienced what Paul expressed in Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory..." The increasing number of "open doors" and opportunities to serve those who serve can only be explained by you and others continually praying for BTS. Your continued prayers are vital...
*I would appreciate your prayers for my upcoming travels to Ohio and Pennsylvania (Nov. 11-16) and for a small team 'mini-trip' to Alabama (Nov. 17-19) where 2 servant-hearted brothers will be joining me as we spend 3 days in Dixie.
*The other board members and I would also invite you to continue to be praying with us for God's guidance as we consider whether I can continue my "full-time focus" on BTS as we head into 2016.
Your Giving Hearts
The growing number of people investing in BTS has made it possible for me to be involved in the BTS ministry full-time during August, September, and October. Not only has it been a joy to devote my full focus to this ministry, but we have also seen a large increase in the number of my serving opportunities including...
+A 2-week BTS trip to Egypt where God opened the door for me to serve 3 different ministries there in 3 unique ways (and you can read more about that on this page in the posts below!)
+Multiple conversations with brothers and sisters who are being guided by our Father to begin OR expand ministries God desires to accomplish through them (some are 'younger' while most are 'older' and desire to finish thier journeys strongly!)
+More regional travel in this part of the U.S., both on 'day trips' and for 2-3 day visits (we have found it is so helpful to those who serve to spend time with them in their homes and their communities...and it is much more personal than calling/Skyping them)
+Being more available to "relationally engineer" work projects that assist Christian leaders with their specific needs (house projects, auto repair, etc.) and this includes inviting BTS-minded volunteers to come alongside!
Your Pursuing Hearts
It has been incredibly encouraging to hear from a growing number of you how you are pursuing the hearts of Christian leaders in your own "personal spheres". Some of you have let me know the ways God has used you to encourage those who serve in a timely way. Others have told me how they have formed "encouragement plans" for those leaders experiencing particular needs. And with my recent full-time availability, I have had the privilege of joining some of you in meeting with the leaders together!
How you can pray for BTS...
How our Father responded to your prayers during my time in the Middle East...
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
I genuinely wish that I could sit down with each of you to hear how you specifically prayed for the BTS Middle East trip. Then I could let each of you personally know how God responded! Short of that, there is no way I can adequately summarize all of the ways I saw God move. Nevertheless, I will try to express some of the specific ways I saw Him working...
For those Christian leaders I hoped to serve...
Our Father gave me many more opportunities than I could have pictured to spend time with and to encourage the 3 primary leaders who I went to visit. God also allowed me to serve beside each of them (within their ministry spheres) in unique ways while I was there. And along the way, I also had multiple conversations with members of their "leadership teams" while we were serving together or following times when I was invited to teach.
For those who traveled to and attended the Missions Conference...
To say "God is on the move" in the Middle East, based on what I witnessed at the conference, would be an understatement. And our protecting Father showed His presence in some very noticeable ways: each of the participants and leaders traveled safely to the event...the temperature was not as hot as the week before or the week after the conference...the translators did an amazing job...and the team of leaders I oversaw for the "student track" of the conference were amazingly servant-hearted and we had a rich times as we led/taught/interacted with the more than 100 students at the conference. And if you were asking God to guide more participants to this annual gathering, I want you to know that the number of attenders doubled between last year and this year! More significantly, many young adults (as well as some older ones) are responding to the opportunity to carry the Great News into the world by taking the "next steps" in moving toward becoming missionaries. If you would like to read the recently published "conference update", keeping in mind that 'living streams' = missions, you can read more by clicking here. Click Here
For my personal health, safety and stamina...
Even though I am not as young as I used to be, God responded to your prayers and gave me enough strength, enough sleep, and enough voice during the 15-day trip! Being especially careful not to drink the water, God protected me from any tummy sickness which is quite unusual for me! Because I used my voice so much to lead, teach, and counsel during the conference, I did end up losing my voice but not until my leadership responsibilities were complete on the final day. Being escorted continually by my newly-met Arabic brothers & sisters, transportation during my visit was never an issue and there was never a moment when I felt unsafe.
For how God worked in me as He worked through me...
There is no way I can adequately put this into words, and if I could, it would be much longer than you would want to read! When my responsibilities at the conference were behind me, I was able to spend some private time in prayer and reflection. What God brought to my mind and heart during that time was quite significant. Shortly after returning from the trip, I was invited to be a guest speaker at church in Michigan and the pastor gave me the freedom to speak on any theme I prayerfully desired. A large portion of that message includes some of the personal reflections during that private time at the end of the conference. And because the sermon I gave on September 20 is so aligned with the vision of Behind the Scenes, we have included the recording on the Your Sphere page of the website. If you choose to listen to it, I trust you will find it helpful and practical as you reflect on your personal role in extending the Great News to a needy world.
An Update from Steve from the Middle East...
Monday, August 31, 2015
Thanks to everyone who has been praying for Steve's trip. We received a brief report that God has given him many opportunities to minister and teach -- including the chance to coordinate the youth portion of the conference!
Steve also sent along a prayer update from Philip, who is the leader of the conference. You can download it by clicking here.
We thank God for this encouraging report!
Because it is appropriate for us to be sensitive to the 'privacy' of those we serve and to their ministries, you have probably noticed that the names of the Christian leaders we hope to encourage are usually not included in our emails. Nor are the names of the ministries through which they are serving. At times, when it is appropriate, we do communicate the area where the servant is currently ministering and the "type" of ministry we are coming alongside.
Here are some of the current ways you can be praying with us as we strive to serve those who serve....
*If you were not able to view the video above (put together by Me, Tarzan), here are the 3 main ways we on the BTS Board of Directors want to invite you to pray beside us....
1) For God to give me discernment to know how to encourage each of the 3 ministry leaders (and their ministry teams) I will be coming alongside and serving while in the Middle East. Each of the 3 has a very unique ministry and all 3 have a unique burden and opportunity to minister to believers who have been forced to leave their countries due to religious persecution. As I have become acquainted with these 3 men, it has been amazing to learn how God is moving through them to reach, disciple, and train those they are leading. All three are faithful servants of our Savior.
2) For God to protect the missions conference and each individual participant that I will be serving at while I am there. Many young people from across North Africa will be attending this 5-day conference where they will be encouraged to consider how God might spread the Good News through them! I have been invited to assist the director of the conference to help in organization of the daily sessions and to perhaps "fill-in" as a host/speaker where needed. Please pray for the safety of the attenders as they travel many miles and that the seasonal heat will not be a distraction. And I would appreciate you asking our Father to give me strength & stamina during the conference and the rest of my trip!
3) For God to guide us as board members to discern if this is a wise time for me to shift from my current "part-time" level of involvement to a "fuller-time" level. A large part of this decision will be based on how much money is available in the BTS Fund. If you are among those who have only recently begun to receive updates about BTS, you may not be aware what giving to the BTS Fund has covered during the past 4 years. As BTS supporters have generously given above & beyond what they already give to their churches and to other ministries, the BTS fund has been able to cover all of the travel expenses of each of the BTS Team trips, most of my personal BTS travel expenses, all of the administrative and legal fees for BTS, all of the meals and "customized" encouragement offered to those who serve, and a part-time salary that has freed me to be available to come alongside these Christian leaders. With an ever-growing number of opportunities to serve those who serve coming our way, we will be watching the balance of the BTS Fund in the weeks ahead to gauge if I will be able to devote "fuller" time to this ministry.