4 Suitcases

IMG_3443 The big day is approaching.  In 12 more days we will say goodbye to America and adventure off to the Kingdom of Wonder (Cambodia) as missionaries with Agape International Missions.  Due to airline regulations, we get to take one 50 pound bag each and can pay an additional $100 for an extra bag.   So we have thus elected to take 4 suitcases.  We read David Platt’s Radical several years ago and always wondered what it would be like to sell it all and serve wherever He sent us.

Well, we’ve done it.   The house now echoes, we’re sleeping on blowups, eating all carryout, driving borrowed cars, the dog is sleeping inside our suitcases (that made us tear up) and saying hundreds of goodbyes.

Now we’re down to the last 4 suitcases to take with us.  I could wax all spiritual and eloquent, but instead have elected to share with you the” nitty gritty” of the important (not counting the 8 clothing sets we each took).    If you had to put everything you needed in 4 suitcases, what would you take “ o rich young ruler”? IMG_3439

I know you’re saying “what the heck”?  As a teenager my granddaddy gave me a cutting off his aloe plant and I faithfully planted it in 1970.  It is now one monster plant and has been given to a dear friend to babysit.  This little cutting of that plant is going in a baggy in my makeup case to be transplanted in our new Cambodian home.

IMG_3440If you know me I am a coffee freak and am taking a stash of Starbucks instant me with (thanks Laura).

I have been devouring this book on cross culture teaching- it has become my education “bible” while this feeble, can’t speak Khmer teacher tries to teach other teachers.  Pray for me. FullSizeRender

Have you ever thought of what you have to do with all your bills (US and Cambo), payments, receipts, the dreaded FASFA and US income taxes?  Well, all this is faithfully going with us in a specially organized notebook (I am after all Notebook Queen).  Man we lose this and we’re sunk!

IMG_3442We got rid of thousands of books (that was hard) and have it pared down to those super special to us.  I have been holding this one aside as my airplane read.  Yes, I already saw the movie.  And I always tell my students NEVER SEE THE MOVIE FIRST!

Well, that’s the first 5…the next 5 to come. FullSizeRender_1

Every gift is special, but some are very moving.

The receiving of donations is new to me.  As we have worked to tell the story of the cause that has so drawn us in, we have found the most interesting patchwork of people connecting with our work to Prevent|Rescue|Restore|Reintegrate children from sex trafficking.  Family, friends, fellow Christ followers, strangers and age disparity is significant.  Every gift is very special.  Each one says to us that the donor gets the significance of this work which is an earthly example of the redeeming work of Jesus.  Each intervention becomes an opportunity to speak the one name of the one God that can really change a life.

Special giftBut there was one recent gift that just really was touching.  A young girl, about the age of those we will work with, offered a gift.  She sent it in a note.  But before writing the note she asked her dad about the paper bills she was offering.  She wanted to know how much they were worth.  When he answered she was convinced it was a large sum and was pleased she could give that much to the cause.  Her joy in having something significant to help was evident to her dad.  Her joy makes the gift enormous to us.

As we continue our commitment to speak about the abolition of child sex trafficking and the Power of the Gospel to bring real change, we thank all of those who have given gifts to our work.  Without each gift we would be sidelined.  Without your prayers we would feel alone. Without the Lord we would be weak.  With all these, we will see lives, families, communities and the nations changed.

Thank you.  Each and every one.  Every gift IS special.

I didn’t set out to be a missionary

As young boy, I set out to be a great athlete.  In my school, football was the big sport so I played football, but actually I was a much better runner.  And I loved to run.  I dreamed I would be the fastest ½ miler in the country and actually, I was one year when I won my first race of the season and it turned out to be the first official track meet of the year in the nation.  By the end of the first couple weeks I dropped off the leader board.  But I dreamed of that kind of success.  Being a missionary was not on my mind.

As a young adult, I set out to be the best sales representative my multi-national pharmaceutical company had ever had.  I planned to rise to heights in the company at a great rate and one day run the company.  I did quite well, rose pretty quickly but I never did run that company.  Being a missionary was not on my mind.

As young parent, I dreamed of an amazing family.  This dream has come true.  I am blessed with an amazing bride and amazing children and grandchildren.  This is a dream that has already come true.  Still, being a missionary was not on my mind but I was intrigued by those who were.

Later in my business career, I dreamed of moving an emerging company out of difficult circumstances and advancing it as a public company.  That dream ended a bit flat as after reaching the goal of “going public” the shareholders wanted something very different than what I expected.  I departed.  Short-term missions was inviting and now seemed a worthy work for which I had time.

I took what was to be a two year sabbatical from the business world to engage in the development of a new movement in churches, Family Ministries.  In 18 months I realized this was my niche.  Still, permanent mission work seemed unlikely although I did begin to have new dreams.

I found what I thought would be my role for the rest of my life when the universe of church ministry began to see business executives with  training and skills as useful in church work.  Being and Executive Pastor seemed to bring together years of experience in management with years of experience in ministry.  It seemed I had been prepared for this throughout my life.  Being a missionary now seemed unlikely.

traffickedThen came a short-term trip to an Asian country known as an epicenter for some of the deepest and most vile sins of mankind – adults preying upon children for sex.  Selling them, trading them, trapping them, abusing them.  Suddenly, I wanted to be a missionary.  Someone had to go and I knew in an instant that the someone God was tapping was me.

I did not set out to be a missionary but now I find I am embarking on the greatest challenge of my life, to fulfill perhaps the greatest purpose of my life.  I have eight grandchildren and someone has to engage in changing the world they will grow in to.  Why not me?

Now I am setting out to be a missionary.  From where I see things today, I think God set me on this course long ago.  He just let me see it a little bit at a time.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord……

I hate waiting!

I hate to wait.

Waiting, waiting, waiting…..
Ever since the Lord told us to move to our beloved Cambodia to work restoring children from the evils of sex trafficking, our primary ministry has been waiting.

Did I say, I hate waiting?

Remember when you were a kid and you counted the days until Christmas or until that last agonizing day of school? Or as a teenager you anxiously waited for that driver’s license, your first boyfriend and college freedom? Then as an adult, your first job, then your first child, then your first home and the list goes on and on. As now as we prepare to live overseas and the next grand adventure of our lives, what do we run into? Waiting, waiting, waiting….. Waiting to be accepted for the job, waiting to tell our church, waiting to raise the seemingly impossible funds, waiting to sell our house, and the list continues (big sigh inserted here).

If most of life is an exercise of patience and is strengthened through waiting, why do I still get so anxious, discouraged or frustrated? Maybe I should look at waiting as a GIFT from God.



Pastor Charles Stanley says, “ To wait for the Lord means to remain in your present circumstances or environment until He gives further instruction. Far from encouraging passivity, this verse calls for an active choice to be at rest, trusting in God and His timing. It’s not a cessation of daily activities but an internal stillness of spirit that accompanies you throughout the day”.

Oh, so now I get it. Lord, help me to wait patiently for your further instruction and glorify you! I can wait on You.

Bring on the waiting!

Our Vision

When I left the business world for a “short-term” assignment in ministry now 15 years ago, my goals became more eternal, less financial and far more personal. The goals became life and death, generation changing, family restoring, God glorifying. Intentionality has always been at the forefront of my motivation but during this now long-term “short-term” assignment ETERNAL things have overtaken all other motivation. My constant quest is to do something with the life time I have been given that changes the eternity of another person(s) for God’s glory and pleasure. I thought I’d found it in ministry in general but I know now that the move to ministry was an entry point not the focal point.

Very young girlsWhat lies before Debbie and I seems at this point to be the most life-changing, eternity-redirecting, God-glorifying, captive-freeing work we have ever engaged in. Prevention|Rescue|Restoration|Reintegration of defenseless, hopeless, captive children just seems to us to be the most redemptive work we can find. It is the next step in our quest to do something that changes the life of another person for God’s glory and pleasure.

Money. It does take money to do the work we are embarking on. In my business career I raised a lot of money to develop start-up business operations largely owned by others, venture capitalists. I never asked for funds for something I did not believe strongly would be successful, but we were not each time successful. We did however always make notable progress. We always moved closer to our goal.

I find I am again asking for money. This time intentionally focused on the eternity of children and changing the culture. The goals are clear – Prevention|Rescue|Restoration|Reintegration.

Simply stated, we need financial partners who share the vision of changing lives for the glory and honor of God. We need folks who share the vision to SHARE THE VISION with others. We need an uprising of those who see the eternal significance of rescuing kids from the world of sex-trafficking. We need lots of people telling lots of other people. If you “get it” please share it! It is an eternal investment.

Thank you for your support.

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Remembering Missing Stuff

I was asked the other day as someone walked out of my house with some tables and other “stuff” if it was hard to see it go. The bag of feelings is not as mixed as I would have expected. No question, there are a lot of memories. No question some of those memories have not been embraced in many many years.

soldSomebody walked away with my yard tennis game and it made me think of the hours of fun in our home in Edmond, Oklahoma that I had playing with my kids for the “family championship”. The number of last points that turned to best two out of three, the number of times we would be called for dinner and have to play “next point wins”, and the number of times I lost to my incredibly gifted children who were so delighted to beat dad; now those were the days. Interestingly, while the equipment is now gone, I still have the memories. In fact, they are fresher for having pulled the equipment out and looked it over. I even remember the last time it was put away and one of my kids was keeping score on a little yellow sticky that was still in the bag. They were winning by one point and I am sure that is why the little yellow sticky was left behind.

The balls were crusty and cracked, the rackets were still good and the net seemed just fine. I threw in the little hammer that we used to put the stakes in the ground. But, while all the stuff went out the door, the memories lingered freshly new in my mind.

God has given me a good family. Not perfect but then they didn’t get a perfect dad either. But what we had was a chance to grow, learn and develop together. What those years mean to my soul is nothing short of amazing. The memories did not go out the door. I still have them. They are the precious thing.

And now, we are using the resources of sold stuff to go help children who do not have such fond memories. Children who do not know families exist in God’s design for their good. Young girls and boys who long for a chance to experience real love as their hearts cry for something they do not know. We are selling it all to be “Imitators of God (Ephes. 5:1)” who gave all that he held on this earth for the lost ones of his creation – including me.

Missing stuff. Not really, I still have the memories. Come on by and buy some stuff or donate for the cause of going.

traffickedIn case you don’t know, Debbie and I are entering a new stage of work. We are moving to Cambodia as soon as we can sell our stuff and raise our support so that we can engage in the work of Prevention|Rescue|Restoration|Reintegration of children from the world of sex-trafficking. This is work that may dwarf any other work of our lives. We hope and pray we will be part of a great new movement of our day that sweeps the world. Be a part of this with us.


Kids just get it!

Kids just get it, don’t they?

They just cut through all the fluff and tell it like it is. I love to hear my grand-kids pray- they get close to the ears of God.

The same is true of missions. Twice this week God has shown me the power of kids when they get on fire for the cause of kingdom around the world.

Many of you know, we are moving to Cambodia at year end to work with Agape International Missions, a Christian organization rescuing and restoring children ravaged by the evil of sex trafficking. In an age appropriate manner we have shared with young ones around us God’s burden to rescue these children and bring them into the kingdom of God.

We feel so strongly about this cause, we are selling everything and are raising our own support. Thinking we were directing our fund raising efforts to adults, we have almost missed seeing the beauty of kids totally sold out for God.

ToysOur grands have rounded up all they had to offer God (toys) and are offering them for sale so Memaw and Poppy can go to the mission field (sniff, sniff) What a picture of sacrifice to the 3-7 year old mind.

One of my homeschool friends has her children studying Cambodia and praying daily for “those people going to rescue kids from the bad guys.” Wow! Wonder woman and Superman for the cause of Christ. Kids letter to GodHer little 4 year old son was adamant about writing a letter to God praying for Him to provide for the children. Man, those scribbles are precious to me and to God!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

To my precious grandchildren and all the little ones in my life, keep it up- be missionaries for the kingdom of God. Maybe one of them will be the next Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael, or Adoniram Judson! Show us big folks the simplicity of faith and the pure gift of giving out of everything you have.

To donate to support our mission work in Cambodia, Click Donate

It was the Hindu floating village

Hindu floating villageIt was the Hindu floating village in Thailand that did it.

Many years ago, on our first overseas mission trip to Southeast Asia, we took an afternoon off to get in a Thai flatboat and go visit a floating village. Out in the middle of the Andaman Sea were hundreds of wood fishing shacks on floating platforms lashed together, hundreds of them. There was even a school, post office and Hindu temple.

I’ll be honest, I was creeped out by this place and I begged God on the boat ride to shore to NEVER, NEVER CALL ME TO MINISTER TO THAT PLACE!!

Boy, never say never to God.

In 2004, when the Indian Ocean super tsunami hit the Asian mainland caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, 250,000 were swept away into eternity, most without God.

I was shocked, broken, ashamed and grieved for years over my selfishness and my telling God what he could and could not do with my life. I was brokenhearted for those souls lost in southeast Asia. In repentance, I embraced the fact that my life , “was not my own, I was bought with a price. Therefore, I was to honor God with my body.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20) And so, I laid down my life in submission to WHATEVER God called me to do.

Fast forward, March 2014.

In a hotel room in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the only English speaking tv channel was broadcasting the CNN Freedom Project (http://youtu.be/3oQX1DT71x4) . They related the modern day holocaust of child sex trafficking right there in Cambodia. Scenes of that Hindu floating village and its lost souls came to mind, as Pete and I submitted to a new radical call with Agape International Missions in Svay Pak, Cambodia assisting in the restoration and reintegration of these precious children rescued from the evil of sex trafficking.

God called me with this verse, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners… (Isaiah 61:1)”

Do you bargain with God?

Lord, I can’t stay in this marriage any longer?
Lord, don’t make me go to the jungles of Africa?
Lord, we can’t live on this salary ?
Lord, I can’t parent this rebellious teenager any longer?
Lord, never, never, never give me cancer?

Repent and submit to God’s radical yet often difficult plan for your life. Embrace the cross, He paid the price and gets to call the shots with your life.

“ Roll your works upon the Lord, and He shall make His thoughts become your thoughts, and THEN your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

We need your help to go. Please support the work. Donate

Hearts captured – Incurably

As Debbie and I tell the story of our trip to Cambodia last March, the trip that is setting our lives in a wildly new direction, the most frequent words I hear are these “no way, not little kids!”

Sadly, it is true, yes, little kids. That is why we cannot pretend we do not know, we cannot pretend we have something more significant to do, we cannot pretend that because it is over there it is not our job to step in, we cannot pretend that God has not called believers to open their eyes to the lostness of the world and step in. We cannot pretend he has not asked us to obey him and go.

In March, when we had just returned from a long prayer walk in Phnom Penh, we returned to our hotel and flipped on the TV. It was just a week or so after the Malaysian Air flight had gone down somewhere in the Indian Ocean, we wanted to see if there was news of the search. What we found was this CNN Freedom Project video. It is nearly an hour documentary so find a spot where you can watch at least 10 minutes and determine if you want to see the rest.

This is the scenario that has shaken our lives.

The Decision to Go

LuggageThe decision to go to Cambodia actually began many years ago for me (Pete). Honestly, my decision was a series of decisions. Unrelated in many ways but quite entangled in critical ways. While it was not actually a decision to go to Cambodia, in 1986 I made the decision to do whatever God required of me even if it seemed crazy. I was just going to obey. So, there have been many decisions since that time that bring me to this time of choosing to go to Cambodia. I changed my life priorities because God showed me in the Bible that I had things wrong. He became first, my wife became second and our children third, work fourth. That is what obedience looked like to me.

Then came my career. Spending close to 20 years in business with a very good track record of success, God pointed me into ministry. I changed because God showed me through the Bible that I need to turn to eternal “building” instead of earthly building.

There are many decisions. Many. All bringing us to this time in my life when many men are considering retirement and God has shown us a need in Cambodia that appears to be a match for the life experience God has given me. There is a companion match for the life experience God has given Debbie. How can I ask God to send workers into the field and then ignore when the need over seas is for someone like me? I can’t. I won’t. I must go.

It really is about obeying Him in all things.