Our Training in Portland OR
This past month Layne and I had the opportunity to go to Portland Oregon for a required live training session through the Missionary Service Corps (MSC). For those that might not know what that is. . .
“The MSC is a North American Mission Board resource that provides an endorsed missionary the opportunity to raise funds that his or her local church voluntarily distributes for the mission and ministry of that missionary.” -NAMB's Website
It is how Layne and I get our funding and keep track of our partnerships. Through being appointed through North American Mission Board (NAMB), we had to complete the MSC requirements to get the give button for my profile on the NAMB's website. Those requirements included many online training courses and one live training session.
I am so thankful for this opportunity and want to take a moment to express our gratitude towards the Cape Girardeau Baptist Association for paying for our plane tickets to and from Portland. Plus thank you to NAMB for the food and hotel. NAMB does offer the course in multiple cities across the US but the closest one to us had already passed by the time I needed it, and any others were way past the date we intend on moving to Calgary. But I am so grateful that we were able to attend the Portland training because we met some amazing missionaries.
For me a live training session is way more beneficial than any amount of online training. I am a visual and audible learner, videos are ok but I can’t ask a video questions as they come to mind. So Layne and I packed our backpacks, dropped our son off at grandma’s and took off at 2o’clock in the morning. We missed Thaddeus like crazy, I have only been away from him one other time but still I was an emotional wreck the whole way there and couldn’t wait to get home. But I will be honest it was really nice just being with my hubby for a weekend, and we can definitely travel a lot lighter and quicker without a 1 year old. I would say that it was nice being able to get a full night’s rest but with how much sleep we lost traveling all night that one full nights rest was well deserved.
So our plane left St. Louis around 6:00am, then we landed in Seattle for a two hour layover. The plane ride between Seattle and Portland was short but the views outside our window were absolutely gorgeous. Growing up in the Midwest, I’m used to everything being flat, mountains are exciting to see for us. So when we saw the tops of mountains poking through the clouds from outside out plane window we were blown away by God’s handiwork. It blows my mind to think that people live here, seeing that every day, but don’t believe in our wonderful Creator.
Finally getting to Portland around 11:00 am Pacific time (they are two hours behind us) we hopped onto the subway downtown. Portland is another one of NAMB’s send cities, with a population close to 2.3 million there is only one Southern Baptist church for every 27,532 people. NAMB missionaries have currently planted 20 churches, and we met at one of those locations for our training. Walking around the city, you can almost feel the spiritual depravity, with their extreme liberal views very evident. It was awesome to see how God was working in that city in a very similar way to Calgary. But at the same time I am very thankful that God has called us to Calgary instead of Portland.
The first training session started at 2pm with Steve Kersh. Steve began his career with his father starting their own construction company. He used this experience to assist missionaries like us, because we are essentially starting a business just not in a traditional since. We are asking for investors to have faith in our business of ministry, except our investors return will not be here on earth and we are not in this to make money. Steve has now worked for NAMB for ten year as head of the MSC department.
Through this training, Steve taught us the importance of finding partnerships not donors. He assigned homework before we arrived. Layne being the good student, did the homework, I on the other hand did not. But I started it on the way up there. We were supposed to read a book called the The God Ask: A Fresh, Biblical Approach to Personal Support Raisinby Steve Shadrack. The little bits I read of this so far are fantastic but also made me realize I have been approaching fundraising all the wrong way. There was one quote in it that book asking,
“Are you viewing funding as a means to the end or the end itself?”
This shook me down because the way I have been treating funding I have been acting as if that is why I am going to Calgary. When I know that its just a necessary means to get me to a city that I LOVE! I definitely have not forgotten, but maybe I wasn’t showing it. But when asking you to join our ministry I am really asking you to fall in love with this city like Layne and I have. When you love something that much you don’t want to see it suffer, but if the Lord came back tomorrow, 95% of 1.6 million people would be left behind.
When Layne and I first visited Calgary is when we truly fell in love with the city. We talked to many church planting team members and their love for Calgary was contagious so much so that Layne and I were ready to move immediately. But Bob Shelton (the send city head missionary for Calgary) advised that we go home and let the excitement die down before making any decision. Sorry Bob but we didn’t do that, because the excitement to see change in Calgary is still there and as strong as ever! So we have devoted to live our lives on mission in Calgary, by forming relationships with them and loving them because Jesus first loved us.
Another part that I was super thankful for the live training was our peer coaching group. So at the end of the live training session, Steve made us group together with other missionaries for future peer coaching. We will meet with this is a group of people via video chat to share our progress, struggles, and success and help each other improve. I loved that we are teamed up with other people that are going through the same thing we are going through, and Layne and I both are excited about the families that we have been partnered with
The first family was Ana Lauran and her parents, we only met her dad, Adrian, because her mom couldn’t make it. The Lauran family are from Romania who moved to Portland to become Church Planters for the Romanian community. Years ago, Romania was a communist country, many Christians left to escape the oppression and be able to worship the one true God freely in America. That group of people are what they call the First Generation, but now the second and third generation of Romanians living in the US have strayed away from the faith of their parents and grandparents and conformed to the culture they grew up in, the city of Portland. So the Lauran family have started a church with a target for the second and third generation Romanians.
The second family we are partnered with are James and Linda Maze. The Mazes felt God calling them to a small town near Seattle. Horse arenas are surprisingly very popular in King County, Washington. I don’t remember the exact number but there are more arenas in that one county than there are in the entire state of Kentucky. So James and Linda, and their dog Snicker Doodle, took that as an opportunity to start a cowboy church in Darrington, Washington. They have a special opportunity to reach people through the common interest in horses. They work on forming relationships with their neighbors as well as showing Gods love to strangers through simple acts of kindness. Plus the location they get to work in is like straight out of a Hallmark movie, they showed us photos and it is beautiful!
When the training ended Layne and I had about 4 hours before we needed to be back to the airport. So we killed time by going to some of the things that make Portland weird. The Saturday Market was interesting to walk through to see probably hundreds of local artisans selling all sorts of different things. Next we went to a famous donut shop called, Voodoo Donuts which was, well very weird, but the donuts were good. Then we visited the iconic Keep Portland Weird wall.
Saturday night we started back home and traveled all night to finally snuggle our baby boy, then started vacation bible school the next day at Millersville. The kids helped out with the Walk ministry by raising $268 for which in return they got to pie us in the face. It was fun, messy, painful, and delicious! As I closed the VBS this year it made me already miss my students at Millersville. I haven’t gotten to teach them very much lately because we have been going to different churches on Sunday mornings to share our ministry and gain partnerships. I will be sad to leave our current church family but know that they will be our biggest supporters as we go on mission.
Speaking of going out to speak at other churches, we want to thank New Bethel, New Madrid First Baptist, and Standfield Missionary Church for allowing Layne and I to take up your sunday morning service to share about our ministry. I am glad to have each one of those terrific church members join the walk through prayer and financial partnerships.
Just from reading this post you can tell there are a lot of areas for which you can pray.
1. I would like to invite you to pray for Portland, our new friends and their ministry there, especially for the Lauran family.
2. Pray for the Maze family and their ministry in Washington.
3. Pray that God will continue to shape us into the missionaries He wants us to be.
4. Always keep Calgary and the current missionaries in your prayers.
5. And pray that God will continue to provide partnerships. We are at about 28% of our monthly funding goal.