Global Lutheran Outreach Missionary

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Walking on Water

One of my favorite singers is Garth Brooks and his most popular songs is about dreams entitled “The River.” It goes, “You know a dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows, and a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes.” I think that Garth was onto to something when he compared a dream to a river, but I think that dreams are much bigger than that. I believe that a dream is more like an ocean and to truly be a dreamer you must walk on that water, not just sit on the boat. When you conquer your dreams, you are stepping out into the unknown and with every step you are not just accomplishing your dreams but you are truly fulfilling the purpose God has written you for. As the devil sees this, though, he becomes the storms and will try to scare you into staying on the boat or sinking into the water. That is where the faith comes in, for if you want to live out your dreams you must walk on water with faith in Jesus with your eyes steady on Him.

This is something I truly have believed since I was a kid. When I was 10 years old, my dreams were what every 10 year old dreams about. I wanted to be in the NFL, be a famous actor, or even just become successful and wealthy with my own business. These are all great dreams but I could feel God called me for more. Then I took my first national mission trip. Everything in my life changed from that moment on. For the first time, I felt what it means to step out of the boat and onto the water. I didn’t know anyone my age on that trip and was terrified the whole week before we left. But I ended up loving the people, the travel, helping those in need, and pushing my faith and my spirituality to a whole new limit. After that, I knew in my heart that I had three dreams that I wanted more than anything in the world: to be a missionary, to be a husband to an amazing woman, and to be a father one day. A year past and on my second mission trip I met Amber and 6 months later I started dating her, the girl of my dreams. Later my mentor approached me to tell me about a month long internship in Haiti and that I should do it if I was serious about missions. At that point I had never even been out of the country yet spend a whole month away. I knew what I was called to do; this was the moment where I had to step out onto the water. The night before I left I told Amber that I believed with all my heart that God wanted me to move there. I fell in love with the people, the kids, and with the organization. As the trip ended, the founder of the organization asked me if I would move here for a year. I told him, “In a heartbeat.” Six months later, I moved to Haiti to work with visiting teams and to help the orphanage in any way I could. After three months there, we had a little boy, named Jacob, brought to us one Sunday. I held him for hours loving on him and singing him the songs my mom sang to me as a child. I later found out that he was abandoned and was coming to our orphanage. During that moment, I fulfilled another one of my dreams by being a father to this fatherless child. Even if it was just for a second, I knew that in that moment God had called me to be a father to many abandoned children. Yet near the end of my time there, I felt incomplete. I felt that there was one thing left that God wanted me to do. Amber and I made it through high school, my jobs after I graduated, her moving to Austin for college, and me moving to another country. We made it through 5 years! I knew that it was time to make it official by proposing. I counted down every day until the big day came. On August 19th 2016, I achieved another dream and married Amber; it was truly the best day of my life. Since then, we have accepted the call to become missionaries and move to Tanzania, Africa to help children and teens with albinism. We arranged a vision trip last month to meet the people there, see the programs, and see what life is like there. The trip was amazing and we immediately fell in love. We came back ready to move there and help in any way we can.

As we sat in Doha, Qatar fixing to board our last flight home from the vision trip, while holding my wife’s hand staring at the plane that I realized I was sitting on the edge of my boat ready to step out on the water with Jesus once again. But this time I truly get live out all three of my dreams: to be a missionary with my wife and to be a father to the fatherless in Tanzania. You would think that I am scared. The waves are huge and the water seems so scary yet my heart is truly at peace. I am ready to follow my God as he leads me with Amber and am so excited to see the ways that God will move in Tanzania. I tell you all of this because I want you to join me! Sail your boat wherever God is calling you but the second that He calls you off the boat step out on the water to join Him. Do it. Just step right out and soon you will be walking on water.

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Living in Paradox

As a season of life comes to a close and another begins, I am feeling a wide range of emotions. I am so excited about our next adventure yet at the same time I am very nervous and a little bit scared.

In a short couple days, I will graduate from Concordia University Texas and continue to prepare for my internship to work with the Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Africa. During my studies at CTX, we often discussed many different Biblical paradoxes such as “saint but sinner” or “in the world but not of the world.” But as I begin preparing myself to move across the globe, one in particular is constantly stuck in my mind–the paradox of being excited yet terrified. As Christians, we worship a resurrected God and are called to live life abundantly as well as to rejoice always which sounds so exciting. All the while, we are called to step out of our comfort zones into the great unknown trusting that God will provide abundant life all of which is utterly terrifying. This paradox always reminds me of the story of Peter walking on water. I can only imagine that he was so excited when he asks Jesus to call him out to the water. But once out of the comfort zone of his boat, he realizes the large, crashing waves all around him and the constant beating of the wind which was completely terrifying. He begins to sink in that moment because he takes his eyes off of Jesus, our Rock and Savior. This is the key to this paradox of being excited and terrified: keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus who will always be with us to keep us afloat.

There are so many things that I am excited for in this new season: to follow one of my long-time dreams to work with many precious children in Africa, to see the Gospel being revealed in big ways in Tanzania, to see how God will use Austin and I to help Him build His Kingdom throughout this beautiful world, and the list goes on. There also many things that I am terrified of: to live in country much different from this place I have called home for so many years, to move so far away from family and friends, and the many things the devil can do to hinder this ministry. But through it all I know that God “calls [me] back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant. For I have chosen you and have not rejected you. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand’” (Isaiah 41:9-10). As I look forward to this journey we are going on, through all the excitement and fear, I am at ease because I know that God is ever faithful!

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