Month: October 2008

Bright Lights Local Group/Bright Lights Office

Reports from Home

We are making progress on the new Bright Lights office / ministry building! Changes have been slow because it keeps getting put “on hold” while we are out of town, but we have seen the Lord provide and answer prayer in countless ways. Here’s what it looks like right now.

We are excited about our carpet tiles, which will be installed soon!

No, it’s not a big pizza party…

We’re so grateful for our good friend, Dave Fuller, who will be laying our carpet.

Here’s Toni (one of our most faithful helpers 🙂 ) sanding the floor after we hammered down hundreds of staples that were left from the previous carpet and tile.

Stephen and my dad, fixing pipes.

The other day Stephen installed 30 outlets and light switches.

After arriving home from Singapore, we were grateful for chance to catch up with correspondence, organization, sleep, etc. To be honest, we’re still not caught up with everything that got neglected during the busy summer and fall. We’re grateful for the help of many who volunteer for Bright Lights, especially Nickie, who spends two days a week at the Bright Lights office–otherwise it would be difficult to stay on top of things.

We were excited to receive 10 Bright Lights Leaders applications when we arrived home from SE Asia–raising the number of Bright Lights groups to 277. Two more groups have also recently started in Malaysia. PTL!

At our local Bright Lights group here in Cedar Rapids last week, the older girls watched a “Rebelution” video upstairs while Sarah taught a lesson to the younger girls about “by their fruits ye shall know them.” She talked about the importance of bearing true fruit with a desire to please the Lord, not impress other people. Sarah did an activity where she had volunteers close their eyes and guess what kind of fruit they were tasting.

Her volunteers don’t look too excited…. lol… (Sarah used some rather unusual fruits)

But it was sure funny for everyone else!

On a more personal note…here I am with my cousin making supper at our grandparents’ house. Stephanie and I have quite a bit in common, and unfortunately that includes being messy cooks. (It got worse than what you see here…) By the time we were finished, my grandpa commented that in the 40 some years he’s lived there, he had never seen his kitchen so messy. We assured him we’d clean up. 🙂

Family News

More Reports

Normally, we do just about everything as a family. Not last month!

While we were in the jungle, Stephen was on the mountains…

Since Stephen was in Colorado for a photography job, he decided to climb Flat Top mountain again while he was there.

When he was 1/4 mile from the top a snow/thunder storm hit the mountain. But you know how photographers are — they always have to stick around long enough to get a few more good pictures.

Stephen made it to the top, and in much less time than when we climbed it as a family 10 years ago!

And this is my favorite picture. I don’t know how he got those elk to line up like that. 🙂

Witnessing Stories

Adventures on the Plane

A new Japanese friend of ours was amazingly scheduled to be on the same flight as us from Singapore to Japan. Since he had just returned from a trip to China (working with house churches) we were anxious to hear about it and see pictures. Unfortunately, the plane was packed and his seat was in the front while we were sitting in the way back. So I prayed that somehow we’d still be able to see his pictures…

…and we found a creative solution. 🙂 I sat on Danielle’s lap, he took my seat, and we were all be able to enjoy the slide show. We were encouraged and educated by his detailed report.

God didn’t answer our prayer of missing our next flight so we could tour Tokyo 🙂 ….but that’s ok. Maybe another time.

We boarded our next plane from Tokyo to Minnesota. We were a little disappointed that our seats were split up.

I’m often surprised by the person the Lord provides to witness to on the plane. This time it was a young Asian guy with spiky hair and tattoos. He had the window seat, I had the aisle seat, and my friend Nickie was in between us.
He probably doesn’t even speak English, I thought.
“Hello” Nickie said as we sat down.
“Hello” he said.
“Where are you from?” she asked.

After talking with him for a while we found out that he lives in Minnesota, works a nightshift at Target, is a UFC fighter, and his parents attend a Baptist Church.

We talked with him for about 30 minutes or so, just getting acquainted.

“So I have a question,” I said, trying to bring the conversation to something more substantial, “In schools in the Philippines, do they teach evolution, creation, or both?”

“I went to a Christian school, so they kind of taught Creation but then basically let you choose for yourself what you want to believe. I don’t really think or worry about it,” he said.

“Well, I don’t worry about it either,” I replied, “in the sense of ‘trying to figure it out’ because I already know what I believe; but I do think the topic is very important. For one thing, it helps us to understand why people act the way they do. If people believe there’s no God, then there’s no right and wrong, and no accountability. People can do whatever they want! For example, what’s wrong with abortion, if we’re just animals anyway?”

He responded with interest, and began to ask questions.

“So, how do you know the difference between all the religions?” he asked.

We smiled.
“Well, there’s many people today who say that it doesn’t matter which religion you follow—we’re all worshipping the same god,” we said, “But there’s no way that could be true. Christianity is so different from all the other religions. For one thing, it’s the only one with a risen Savior. Mohammed, Buddha, and other leaders died and were buried, but Jesus rose from the dead and is alive now.”

Nickie added, “And it’s the only religion that even has a Savior. Other religions just have leaders.”

“Christianity is also the only religion that has a cure for sin,” I continued, and explained how Jesus took our punishment on the cross. “And it’s also the only religion that’s not a ‘do it yourself’ religion,” I emphasized. “Most people in this world are trying to be good enough to go to Heaven.”
Gelix agreed.
“But” I said, “Christianity is the only religion that says ‘hey, we can’t do this on our own. There’s no way we could meet up to God’s perfect standard.’ So the only way we know we’re going to Heaven is because God made a way to save us.”

He seemed both surprised and interested in our answers.

Side Note: Just one week earlier I had read a little gospel tract entitled, “Are All Religions Really the Same?” That tract provided me with the fresh thoughts I needed to share with Gelix at that moment. Isn’t it neat how God equips us? He doesn’t lead us into a situation without providing the words for us to say. He’s so good.

Gelix continued to ask questions. We discussed many things including life purpose, the power of spiritual warfare in this world and the danger of polluting influences in our lives.

Then he said, “I think I should start going to church again.”

We supported that idea 🙂 and since I have some friends who live near him, I got his e-mail and I’m going to try to hook him up with a good church in his area.

Gelix had lots of questions. Maybe he didn’t feel comfortable talking to his friends or family about them. However, “strangers” on a plane whom he’d never see again were a different story. I’m so glad we became friends with him and were able to have this talk. Please pray that he’d run from darkness into the Light.

It seems that often when I’m witnessing to someone, they tell me about a Christian relative they have. It causes me to wonder, Could it be that our conversation is an answer to the prayers of their Christian relative?

About 8 rows behind me my dad had been talking with a young couple about Creation Science and homeschooling. Although they weren’t Christians, they seemed very interested in what he was saying.

After a while he switched places with Sarah (who was in another part of the plane). Continuing the conversation, Sarah learned that they run a T-shirt shop on the beach together, call themselves non-religious, and love to surf. One had grown up Mennonite, and the other Mormon. Both had turned away because of hypocritical people they knew in the faith.

I joined the conversation about this time and stood next to their row, enjoying my little stretch break.

“So what do you believe happens when you die?” Sarah asked.
“I don’t like to think about death,” the girl said, “it’s sad.”
“I think you just die and that’s it” the guy said. “But I think religion is a really good thing,” he continued, “It can draw people together and cause them to develop good morals…”

“Well, it can be a good thing or a bad thing,” Sarah responded. “People do good things because of religion, but religion also has caused divisions, wars, and people have done horrible things over the years– all in the name of religion.”

He probably wasn’t expecting that response. Sarah explained, “I don’t call what I have a ‘religion’ but rather, a relationship with the Creator. Many who say they are Christians don’t really know God—they are just following rules.”

“It seems like you guys are really living for what you believe,” he said.

“Well, if you truly believe in life after death then it makes sense to live with that in view,” Sarah said.
He could see that.
“My philosophy,” he told us, “is to do as much good as I can in my life and if I come to the end and it wasn’t good enough—well, at least it was a good system.”

I went back and sat down but noticed that Sarah continued to talk with them for about an hour or so. I hear that it was a really good talk. It’s fun meeting new friends. They like to travel so we are hoping they’ll come visit us sometime when they come through Iowa.

I fell asleep and was awakened by a girl holding a sleeping baby. It was Nickie. “Grace, can you move over so I can sit down?” she asked. Apparently a young mother from Korea was having trouble keeping her 5-month-old quiet and was grateful for Nickie’s help.

Nickie mentioned what an open door it was to be holding a baby. As she stood rocking the baby, people would just walk up and start talking to her.

My mom also made a friend on the plane. She got acquainted with the Chinese mother sitting next to her and learned that she had 2 young kids. We gave her a Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends book and 2 Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends Coloring Books for her kids. She was so appreciative and began reading the book right away.

We got off the plane with lots of new friends — and we were grateful to God for splitting up our seats on the flight.

The mother of the baby was a Christian and since she had a 9 hour layover in Minneapolis with nothing to do, we invited her to stick with us for the 5 hours that we would be there. We enjoyed getting to know her and learning more about Korea.


Fireproof Movie

Our family saw the movie FireProof this week, and we highly recommend it — for teens as well as adults. If you’ve already seen it, I’d recommend babysitting for other parents so that they can see it too.

Not only is “Fireproof” making a huge impact in the Christian community, it is also capturing the attention of the secular world. ABC World News gave a report this evening on the amazing success of this low-budget Christian film made in no-where Georgia. (And what a great day for it to be highlighted on ABC! So many people were watching the news today because of everything else that’s going on in this country.)

ABC News states,
“You can almost picture the Hollywood studio execs scratching their heads. A film that was made for $500,000, relied more on word of mouth than television and print ads, and is headlined by an actor best known for a 1980s television show, opens at No. 4 in the country and rakes in $6.8 million in ticket sales.”

The world marvels at how such a low budget film could be making such a huge impact, but it’s no surprise to us as Christians. We know that it’s the way our God works! He loves to take the efforts of the small and unlikely and use them in amazing ways for His purposes. This way, He gets all the glory.

Paul said to the Corinthians,
“…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)

We’re also encouraged by the great testimony Kirk Cameron displayed by upholding his commitment to not kiss anyone but his wife—even in acting. (His real wife, Chelsea, was a stand-in during the kiss.) See the story here.

Radiant Purity Conferences/Singapore and Malaysia

Singapore Radiant Purity Conference

…Our last conference here in Singapore and Malaysia! The conference went smooth (PTL!), and we were encouraged by the response of the attendees. The whole idea of an alternative to dating was new to many.

These are the girls in my discussion group. We discussed many topics such as the importance of saving your whole heart for one man, how to keep your mind pure, accepting the way God created you, honoring/communicating with parents, modesty, how to deal with crushes in the right way, etc.

We all enjoyed a time of sharing Saturday evening after the conference. Each leader shared encouraging reports from the discussional group she led. And, of course, we had many laughs…

We are so grateful for our “team” in SE Asia. Pictured above are some of the girls (and moms) who helped lead the conferences this year. It’s not possible to do Bright Lights conferneces without young ladies to lead the small group times, but God provided this team of godly young ladies in SE Asia who filled this role. They rose to each challenge that was thrown at them and did a wonderful job.

Guess what? We are HOME now! It feels wonderful. More reports and pictures from the trip coming soon!