Friday, March 8, 2013

CHALLENGED by a Cousin?

Have you ever listened to someone telling their story and say to yourself, "Wow, I like what I'm hearing, but I don't measure up. They have gone WAY beyond my level of surrender. I'm humbled to be in that person's presence."

John the Baptist said that when he saw Jesus walk up and ask to be baptized by John. Jesus and John were cousins - remember? Cousins. You know, the kids that play together at family gatherings—and get in trouble because they hid the real soda (not the store-brand knock-off stuff), or ate the pie that was supposed to be Aunt Hilda's feature on the potluck dessert table.


"You want me to baptize you? You want to give me the honor of introducing you into public ministry? I don't think so, Cuz. I shouldn't even be undoing your sandal buckles. WHAT are you trying to do here?"

In Jesus' inimitable style, he told him to just do it! "Come on John, don't waste time. This is what HAS to happen, let's get it done." And John did. And God's Spirit showed up in form of a dove and a voice was heard saying, "THIS is my beloved Son. And he REALLY pleases me!"

Everybody heard the Voice, and they all got silent. 

Two weeks ago I had the honor of leading a group of men and women representing Native Nations as well as just Americans in a strategic plan designed to help reset the Vision and Mission and Goals of Western Indian Ministries (WIM) out of Window Rock, AZ. Some two dozen leaders gathered together just south of Gallup at the Broken Arrow Bible Camp, and worked for two full days of dialogue, prayer, and careful listening to each other, as they crafted the essential elements of a strategic plan. Some of the attendees weren't members of the leadership team, but were invitees of those who were. This was an eclectic group: retired people, missionaries from foreign assignments, pastors, local church leaders, ministry staff members, and even spouses who had to get baby sitters to watch the kids while they helped CRAFT THE FUTURE for WIM.

My Voice Moment came towards the end of the second day when one of the invitees stood and shared his testimony. After apologizing for his broken English (which is better than he thinks), he told us his story of being raised by Christian parents in Moldova during the 1960's - in the USSR; and how he came to live in the Four Corners now, because of his BURNING DESIRE to "minister to Indians".

Daniel Solyuk's Story

My parents and grandparents were Christians - a part of the Independent Baptist movement in my country. That movement grew to 50,000 - 80,000 strong believers before the KGB said "In this decade we will eradicate Christians from USSR. In 1965 we will show you last Christian on TV before he dies. Then Christianity will be gone in our country." And then they began to infiltrate our church. KGB agents got baptized, and became pastors, and then we couldn't meet in our churches anymore. We had to meet underground - in the woods - at night. My father and my grandparents were harmed by the KGB. We were persecuted for our faith in Jesus. Finally my parents fled to the USA to live in Sacramento, California.

For 25 years I have prayed "LORD, someday I want to minister to Indians. I want to go where You have Indians so I can share Jesus with them." I thought, some day I will go to Africa where there are Indians, so I can minister to them. But for now, I live in USA, and have to work. So I drove a truck. Across country. 

When my load made me drive east through Arizona and New Mexico I saw signs: "INDIAN RESERVATION". I pulled my truck over and jumped out of the cab onto my knees and said THANK YOU GOD! You brought me to Indians. And God said, "Yes, and you will minister to them here!" I delivered my load as quickly as I could, and drove home as fast as I could and told everyone, 

They all said to me, "Daniel, there are no Indians in USA."

"YES! I found them - look!" (as I opened my Atlas to the map) "HERE! HERE THERE ARE INDIANS!!!"

It took three years, but now eight months ago my wife and 8 children moved here. We live in the house Sigi Notah built. Sigi was Navajo interpreter for Grandpa Clark as he taught the Navajo people of Jesus' love for them over 100 years ago. Today, we don't think it is hard to live in Sigi's one-bedroom house. That's not hard for us! 

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS of PRAYER are answered. And more Russian families are coming to visit and to minister with us. We are praying for great revival in this reservation because God brought us here.

My Voice Moment came when Daniel said,

We love American church, and we love Indians so much. Because in our land EVERYONE loves Indians. But the American church needs something . . . . 

The American church needs to learn that suffering is good. . .  

Persecution helps you grow strong. . . .

That was my moment to be silent. I looked at the people sitting around the table, and no one was speaking. Daniel's words were settling in.

"This is my beloved son, he pleases me."

"Persecution is good for the church - it makes us strong."

Before we walked out of that room, we sang the chorus together—
      I surrender all
           I surrender all
      All to Thee my precious Savior,
           I surrender all.

Google maps says that it's 6114 miles from the capitol city of Moldova to Albuquerque New Mexico, and this brother is DELIGHTED to do whatever it takes to minister to the people God called him to. Called him all the way from Moldova to California to a little one-room house outside of Window Rock, Arizona.

CHALLENGED?                Me too. 



On a Very Personal Note:
My great-grandparents fled Germany in the mid-1800's to be able to worship God freely. They stopped in Ukraine, living in communities along the Volga River for years, and then again (because of Czars' demands) they resolved to move again—this time to America where they could have religious freedom. In the 1860's members of the Jantzen Clan migrated from Ukraine to Kansas, and eventually my grandfather and his wife and children settled in Paso Robles, California.

In a one-on-one chat with Daniel, I asked him 'exactly where is Moldova?' (My ignorance didn't seem to bother him.)

"Moldova is between Russia and Ukraine. In USSR we were all neighbors."

Cousins? Don't know. 


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Graduation Ceremonies, Talents, and Stewardship

We attended a graduation ceremony of sorts last night—our friend Joan Douglas was saying goodbye to the Care Net Family after 10 years of service with them in the Albuquerque area. Joan is off to the next iteration of life on her God-journey of faith. And she will be missed!

And it was fun for us to reminisce a bit about all that can happen in a decade—both in a life, and a ministry.

While there we got to reconnect with several friends of 30 60 100 MINISTRIES, and one of them asked a question we hear from time to time, "What are you guys doing now that you're not running the retreat center?" (After 20 months in this new iteration of ministry we get to explain this more often than we might expect.)
Now instead of combining 'bed and breakfast' kind of work with the training, coaching, strategic planning, preaching, and encouraging leaders that we do on a more global plane, we focus on everything we were called to do without having a retreat center to run. And maintain. And fund-raise for. And clean. And steward. And. . . .

Explaining the transition isn't too hard, especially when I tell them about a conversation the Lord and I had March 26, 2010. I remember well because it was the seventh anniversary of our move onto the property. Seven years is enough time for patterns of behavior to become habits.

"Dalton, let's talk about TALENTS. What are you doing with your talents?" 

I  leapt to my defense, "Lord—you know I have to cut firewood in the summer so we can burn it in the winter; and whack weeds, and haul water, and fundraise, and prep the place, and help Vicki when guests are here, and when they leave, and— and . . . ."

"Yes. Again, what about your talents? What about the things that I put in you that others (that can do all those things you just mentioned) don't do—or maybe can't do?"

"But I'm very busy!"

"OK. If you were standing in front of me today—as in: having assumed room temperature, you no longer run a retreat center ministry because that assignment is over. What do you say when I ask you, 'What did you do with the talents I gave you—specifically: 

  • the ability to speak into peoples' lives 
  • the ability to teach and pray and encourage and provoke to Godliness—
  • —all those special things I put in you? 

What did you do with them?'"

Matthew 25:14-30 was becoming all too clear to me.
Talents can be inside us, but unused! Or, underused.... And whether we were busy doing GOOD THINGS or not has no bearing on the way it looks to the One who gave us the talent.

Me, looking at myself: I was too busy working in the ministry to do the REAL WORK of the ministry— that I was called to do—the work that was God's assignment.

God looked at my explanation from a different point of view:
I have given this guy a lot of stuff to use for eternal purposes. Where is all that stuff? Why's he burying it? He needs to get after doing the important things all the time, and stop doing the unimportant things most of his time. 

That launched me into a soul-searching process that I highly recommend. And, it meant laying down some things that I really didn't want to see go away. And picking up some things that meant more work, and uncomfortable conversations, and challenging tasks, and invigorating opportunities....

Today, we are preparing for new adventures way beyond the scope of the 25 acres that we stewarded for 8 years or so. In the New Year 30 60 100 MINISTRIES is expanding its outreach into Central America, twice. We had an hour-long conversation this week with a sister in Canada asking for help with a ministry leader-couple she ministers to in South Africa.

Our horizons are much bigger than they were just 20 months ago when we said our last goodbye to the retreat center property, and laid down one 'package' to turn and pick the other that had become so comfortably wrapped in a napkin—buried too much of the time.


From experience I can recommend having this conversation when you can still do something about its content.

The results have been exhilarating for us—and we're only beginning to see what is going to happen as we faithfully steward HIS talents in us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Testify World 2012 Mixer—I meet David Wood - a MULTIPLIED IMPACT-kind of guy!

Working with Jerry Chavez (the founder and president of the Ark Organization—see Jerry's LinkedIn profile) I've found you have to keep up!

Several months ago when Jerry asked Vicki and me to join his Board of Directors, we talked about what he was looking for in a board member, and what we might do to help him as he pioneers the first year of the Acts of Random Kindness Organization.
He said something about how 'a little mentoring would be a big help'. We didn't know what kind of a Jesus-energized guy he was. But as we've gotten to know Jerry, we've found that he wants to see BIG THINGS happen in GOD'S KINGDOM, and he is a CONNECTOR.

Yesterday was the first day of the TESTIFY WORLD 2012 event. Jerry has coordinated a TED talks type spinoff, only this is more like TED on Jesus-strength power. Last night was the mixer— a chance for attendees to mingle with the speakers, chat, and get to know them personally. Tonight, these speakers will present their TESTIFY talks at the Albuquerque Museum. (Tickets at the door still available—6 PM tonight.)

Doing setup and behind the scenes stuff at the venue yesterday morning was the normal-to be expected kind of stuff, but I got to do the coolest thing: pick up one of the speakers at the airport and chauffeur David Wood to his hotel. Traffic was bad on the freeway, and being David's first trip to Albuquerque, he was game to take 4th Street, so we had some time to chat. David was not my stereotypical Hollywood producer-type guy: instead my first impression was 'this guy is down to earth, loves God above all else, and is focused on doing something that will unite the Body of Christ GLOBALLY!' He's an awesome, God's Kingdom-focused, and easy to know guy.

David is creating the perfect sequel to Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, a movie called The Resurrection. You can read all about it at the Resurrection Project website here. Beyond telling the story that puts the power of God to work in every believing heart, the big deal about this movie is this: it won't just release in theaters in 2014—but it will release online WORLDWIDE! When it comes out, you will be able to see the same movie on your device: desktop, laptop, iPad, Kindle, TV, or church big-screen ANYWHERE, ALL AROUND THE WORLD!

The movie tells the story that believers in Jesus EVERYWHERE will be able to understand, and share with their family and friends.

At a time when so many Christians are spending their energy bemoaning their economic situation, the political situation, or their country's deteriorating relationship with the rest of the world, here is an example of something ANOINTED, POSITIVE, and EMPOWERING that is happening behind the scenes - but that will CHANGE the scene! Take a look for yourself. This is not just another 'Jesus' movie, it's a game changer that will mark a turning point in history. 

Thanks for the chance to meet David, Jerry. I'm pumped to meet another believer in the importance of MULTIPLIED IMPACT, and someone who's not just looking on and moaning, but is investing all they are to do something that will change the world!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life in the Back 40 — Life's Challenges and their Solutions

"Extending into the Back 40" doesn't just mean Go. Teach. Leave.

It means become aware, learn, and care.

Click here to learn more about the 30 60 100 and the Back 40

Last week the news carried a tiny blip about an earthquake in Guatemala. We read that news, and thought of the families in La Esperanza, the village outside of Quetzaltanango, three hours northwest of the capital, Guatemala City. Then we received an email from Mildred Plumley, our beloved friend and sister in Jesus, telling her story of what it's like to experience an earthquake in a remote place like theirs.

I invite you to read it and listen to your responses. We'd love to hear your comments after you finish reading.

To all of my dear contacts:  Greetings

Several of you have written emails asking about the earthquake that happened this morning.

First of all, we are all fine, and we only lost a few little glass items, like flower vases and knickknacks, albeit, some of our furniture moved around, framed pictures were all askew, but still on the walls.  Hilda and I were waiting in Quetzaltenango for commencement exercises to begin.  More than half of the crowd was still outside, but when it was realized that it was indeed an earthquake, those of us inside got up and made for the door.  Hilda HAULED me out, leaving my crutches inside. Screams and anxiety reigned while the very excellent marimba band played on.  But nothing bad happened. Hilda, like many, many others, was trembling pretty hard, but, am I stoic, or what? I don´t enjoy quakes, but they don´t scare me. Folks waited for an aftershock which never came. We entered the building again and enjoyed the graduation. There is a 48 hour ¨red alert¨ which means that the next 48 hours after the initial shock could bring another quake, so be prepared.  That means, have flashlights, drinking water, food, etc.

When we reached our street after the graduation, we were shocked to see our neighbor´s house right across the street from us in shambles. I hadn´t realized the house was of adobe, but plastered over, and the folks had put two rows of cement blocks on top of the adobe wall on the street side, and all of the blocks fell on the street. Many houses are at the street, ours is back a little ways. A relative of this family lives next door to them and Hilda´s sister Blanca, who lives next door to us, have taken into their homes the furniture; the ruined house is empty. All of the family minus papa was in the house, but at the back, so no one was even injured. There are 7 children, from 18 down to 2 years. 

Hilda served supper to the whole family here in our home. 3 of the boys are staying with us, the parents plus the little girls and one boy are with Blanca, and the 10 year old girl is with Hilda´s cousin who has girls near her age.  Relatives and neighbors have been over there ever since the quake, and help is getting to them, praise the Lord.  They will now have to build a block home.

This family is extremely poor, the mother and children are salt of the earth folks.  Papa hasn´t always worked, I guess he just wasn´t ambitious and he drank a lot to boot.  But, for about 2 years now he has held a job and is really a dad to his kids.  The mother has trained her kids to be very polite, here we say, translated, ¨well educated.¨ Hilda and Amilcar have hired the boys to do garden and yard work, and they are excellent, eating at our table on the days they work here.  All of the boys know how to work, and that has boosted greatly the income for the family.  And when we want a good quantity of tortillas, or other Guatemalan foods made of corn, Mama Odelia will do that for us, well made, and that helps her financially, too.  She is a very sweet patient lady.

So this is how things are here. Friends from the department of San Marcos called to say that they were OK, just shaken up. But the city of San Marcos has 30 collapsed homes and about 40 dead plus 100s injured. The epicenter was offshore from the port city of Champerico on the Pacific coast, the quake was 20 miles deep, without tsunami.

With love to each and every one of you,


Learn more about 30 60 100 MINISTRIES work in the Back 40.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 60 100 MINISTRIES is EXPANDING into the BACK 40!


After much prayer and dialogue with the Board of Directors and several advisory team members, 30 60 100 MINISTRIES is expanding into the Back 40!

Over the years this ministry has made forays into foreign locations to work with everyday people—missionaries, local church leaders, nationals, recently-converted local Christians, expatriates—who have a distinctive hunger for opportunities to grow spiritually. Now, we sense God's Hand directing us to make purposeful and regular efforts to go, encourage, and help them grow spiritually. 

Over the coming weeks this is what we'll be talking about on our blog, but if you're interested in more NOW, just CLICK HERE to see our website pages about the Back 40!

Friday, October 26, 2012

What's the Back 40?

Landowners refer to their undeveloped land as their “Back 40.”  It’s the remote area of their property which is last to be cultivated.

In the same way, tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ are living the “Back 40” spiritually, limited by a lack of finances, resources, and geographical remoteness.  They are eager to cultivate their “fields.” Investing in these hungry Christians with training, coaching, and discipleship equips them to cultivate their “Back 40” for Christ.

In the jungle, sometimes the Back 40 was in danger of being burned up.

And we'd have to take our oxen to the fields to create protection lines to keep the fires from destroying everything.
The Back 40 was important to us then — and it is to God now!

Watch for more coming soon about how we want to help those living in spiritual "Back 40" locations around the world.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

About the Back 40

Neglected.                Isolated.               Underdeveloped.

Christian leaders in the Back 40 seek spiritual cultivation.
This was what the Back 40 looked like in the Colombian jungle where we lived and worked for 16 years.
When you live in remote and isolated places, you don't get the attention you deserve—and at 30 60 100 MINISTRIES God has been "bothering" us about that. Can't rest, need to do something about it.

Stay tuned to find out more about 30 60 100's expansion into the Back 40.