Pastor Appreciation Month


Don’t put your pastor on a pedestal where he can be knocked off.

Put your pastor on a prayer list where he can be lifted up. 

October is pastor appreciation month. And it is a wonderful reminder for us to express our gratitude to the shepherds of our congregations. But I would challenge all of us to take make it a point to pass on our thanks to the person ordained by God to lead, preach or teach the flock regularly throughout the year.

pulpit.jpegMore often than not, our feedback from this side of the pulpit is on the critical side rather than complimentary. And while challenging a pastor where they may have strayed from the Word of God is necessary, I submit that doing so in the back of church while they greet fellow congregants, only moments after the sermon, is likely not the time or the place.

No. A better time and place would be somewhere less conspicuous and after you have spent some time in the Word and in prayer about the issue. A wise elder, pastor and dear friend once gave me similar counsel. Those words were indelibly left on my heart.

And then there is the other side of the coin. There are also times when we feel so incredibly blessed because of the way the Holy Spirit is working through our pastor. It is times like these when it is not uncommon to lift the pastor up on a pedestal. While our pastor may very well belong at the pulpit, a pedestal is a precarious spot to put them.

Keep your pastor or pastors in your prayers. Pray that the Holy Spirit continues to use them in ways that open up God’s word to us. That their preaching is from the Word of God and true to that Word.

Yes. Certainly encourage, lift up, and thank your pastor. But most of all pray!

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.  (1 Timothy 5:17 ESV)

Fall Scripture Celebration

We’d like to invite you to join us at this year’s fall Scripture Celebration on October 18 at 2 p.m. EST. The event will be about an hour long and will be exciting and moving. You can stream the event, or if you’re in Orlando, you could attend in person. It is expected that this year’s event will sell out (although tickets are free, you’ll need to reserve a spot at, because our venue has limited seating).


Let’s celebrate with 30 different communities who have received God’s life-changing Word in their own language. We’ll worship with Dove award-winning songwriter Aaron Shust, see the Scripture Impact Award presentation and be encouraged by the stories of God’s faithfulness.

Linked to Missions

Before “Missionary” became our job title, I held a number of positions and in those roles it was often my responsibility to hire to replace staff or to fill new positions. In the last decade or so, I became an avid user of LinkedIn, a professional social networking site. I used this site in recruiting, following up on paper resumes that I received or even for my own job searches.

Besides the hiring process, it provides an abundance of work related resources, insights into trends and new business concepts. LinkedIn allows you to connect with your work friends, old colleagues and you can see where they work and where they have been. LinkedIn is like an online Resume or CV.  It can showcase your abilities and recommendations. LinkedInLogo1

God can use anything to get to us. Of course his word is our primary source of calling. But in my case, he even used this professional social networking site to be a vital part of the call. Click on the link in the LinkedIn image above to read the whole article of how this came to be.

Intercultural Communications Course

What a journey. For those of you keeping up with our prayer/newsletters, know that in June and July we were in Waxhaw, North Carolina at the JAARS headquarters to attend an Intercultural Communications Course (ICC). This month long course is designed to help prepare participants for success in future ministries.  The staff at ICC supports and encourages missionaries in their strengths and gives input for areas of specific growth.

Below, I’ve listed a few of the course objectives. Over the next few months, I’ll try to publish a few of the highlights. Needless to say, it was a month of challenges as well as rewards.

Spiritual Vitality

  • Authority Issues
  • Counting the Cost and Theology of Suffering
  • Emotional Hardiness
  • Forgiveness
  • Idols of the Heart
  • Inductive Bible Study of Ephesians
  • Life Messages/Testimonies
  • Memorization of Philippians 2:1-11
  • Moral Purity
  • Sovereignty of God
  • Spiritual Retreat
  • Spiritual Warfare

Partnering/Interpersonal Skills

  • Conflict Resolution/Dealing with Conflict Biblically
  • Community Building
  • Crisis Management, Security Issues and Contingency Planning
  • Cross-Cultural Servanthood Book Review
  • Field-proofing Your Marriage
  • Gallup Strengthsfinder
  • Missionary Kid Issues
  • Multi-Cultural Team Dynamics

Language and Culture Acquisition 

  • International Church Assignment
  • Language and Cultural Acquisition Attitudes and Skills
  • Language Partnerships (for those with GIAL training)
  • Personal Perspectives: Increasing Self-Awareness
  • Transitions and Culture Stress

World View

  • Biblical Absolutes vs. Cultural Applications
  • Biblical Principles
  • Biblical, Animistic, Modern and Postmodern World Views
  • Bounded/Centered Focused Thinking
  • Core Values of Culture
  • Honor/Shame Cultures


Gary’s Calling

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Our Home Town

Hull, Iowa is a small, midwestern town devoted mostly to agriculture. This is the hometown where Ellie and I were born and raised. We were both raised in Christian homes and throughout our lives we have been exposed to solid, Biblical training in the home, school and church.

I have thought about and even at times, felt called to be a missionary. But who was I? What were my qualifications to be a missionary? After all, I wasn’t a preacher and didn’t feel drawn to that. I wasn’t a pilot. Becoming a doctor certainly wasn’t on my horizon. I ended up paying little attention to those ideas of being called except for the occasional passing thought.


Hull, Iowa First Christian Reformed Church

Eventually, I went on a few short-term mission trips. The first was to Zimbabwe with three others. Having spent some time in Africa while during my career in the US Army, the thought of returning to the continent was compelling. I felt a strong call to go. My co-travelers were a pastor, a physician’s assistant, and a social worker. Each of them had plans for what they would do, but when I was asked what I would do, I just said that I’d help the others out when and where I could to support whatever they were planning.

During the “get to know you” session, our host found out that I had some technology experience. After that, each person who came in to meet with us would eventually ask, “Which one of you is the IT guy?” I suddenly became everyone’s best friend.

That first experience with missions was an eye opener to me. I realized that my preconceived notion of what a missionary was supposed to look like was extremely limiting. My heart for and call to missions was growing. There were a few other opportunities to go on short term mission trips and they were all wonderful experiences. But there was more.

Then, to bring the point home to me, in 2016 God began closing doors to employment opportunities. A position that was closed. Consultant work and full time opportunities were all closed off. Responses like, “We decided not to fill that position or you are overqualified”. All I could see was a long hallway of closed doors.


But way down the dark hallway was a stream of light from a single open door. A post from Wycliffe Bible Translators caught my attention (More about this in another blog entitled: Linked to Missions).

We prayed. We sought God’s wisdom, discernment, and leading. We asked other believers to pray with us to do the same. The sense of calling was greater and greater. Then, while attending our church in Sioux Falls, we heard a sermon from Judges 6. This was Gabriel’s call. When Pastor Kyle stopped and declared that someone in the congregation was hearing the call, but coming up with a resume of excuses why not to go.


Fleece Not Required

God’s plan for reaching the Bibleless people of the world is using us, all of us. It was the last thing that he told the disciples before going to Heaven. In Matthew 28, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

God desires our participation. He wants to act through us. Not around us. He could certainly do it without us, but He didn’t want to. God calls every believer to be a servant and equips each one with spiritual gifts to serve others. In whatever role we do, we do it to the glory of God.

Welcome to Our Blog


Since 2017, we have been members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. In May, 2018, through an agreement between Wycliffe Bible Translators and Resonate Global Mission, we also became partner members of Resonate.

We set up this blog as a way to keep our mission partners, family and friends informed on how our partnership development and our mission is progressing.

We ask that you prayerfully consider subscribing to this blog and also partnering with us in our ministry. We pray for your partnership.

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