Monday, April 30, 2018

Let the Numbers tell the Story!

Let the numbers tell the story!

Every now and then, numbers can tell a great story.  The numbers below tell the story of the expanding impact of Discipling Marketplace Leaders in the first quarter of 2018 and I'm excited to share them with you!

First Quarter Statistics for Discipling Marketplace Leaders
  • 6 countries, 22 cities, and 24 denominations participating with DML
  • 375 business leaders trained and commissioned as Marketplace Leaders
  • 27 DML workshops, training 665 pastors and church leaders
  • 5 courses taught in 5 countries, with 133 pastors and leaders taught by the DML team in colleges/seminaries 
  • 63 visits with 123 pastors to discuss next steps with DML

Praise the Lord!  That is just in three months – January, February, and March!  We are advancing in six countries, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and, come July, Cameroon.  Our strategy is to see DML rooted and growing in these seven countries in the next two years.

We are equipping pastors to train and equip every member to impact every corner of the marketplace and community. God is moving in and through DML to reclaim the marketplace God has redeemed.  We are seeing pastors equipped, church members discipled and societies impacted.  We can’t do this without you!  Please keep praying!

The God of “just-in-time” has blessed us with an amazing opportunity. As we expand, the need for funds expands. With the growth comes the challenge of raising $4,000 per month to fuel the growth in these six countries.  We thank God for a partner who has committed to a matching grant of up to $2,000!  We are happy to report that we now have $1,500 out of the needed $2,000 for the match.  We are looking for DML partners to help with the last $500/month of the challenge grant.

Would you prayerfully consider joining us with a monthly gift of $10, $25, or $50 per month (or any other number!) to help us reach this match? If so, please go to ICM at, select Discipling Marketplace Leaders" in the dropdown, and include "match" in the comment line. 

Thank you for your partnership, prayers, and support!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Earth Day 2018 - Giving Up Straws

It's time to get serious about plastic.  I've been passionate about this for some time - my daughter for even longer.  But we need this concern to grow and action to be taken based on that concern. One million plastic bottles are bought every minute - that is 20,000 per second!  And less than 50% actually goes to recycling.

A recent study looked at 250 bottles of water from nine countries, including international brands such as Dasani, Aquafina, and Nestle Pure Life, found plastic parts in 93% of the water.  This is in bottled water, folks; that is water that we expect to be clean and clear.

When I travel, I always take my water bottle and water filter with me, as many of the countries I work in do not have the current capacity to recycle.  When we do workshops, it saddens me to know that the bottles and bottles of plastic water bottles that are used will likely end up in a landfill and eventually in our water.  It's not always convenient or easy (especially when teaching for eight hours in very hot conditions and drinking lots of water is a must!), but I do my best to stay away from plastic bottles on my trips. 

We teach all pastors and business people to have a quadruple bottom line, including environmental, reminding them that Christians should be the leaders in being stewards of creation!

But my new enemy is straws.

Straws really aren't necessary for the majority of us, the majority of time.  They often do not get recycled.  What takes us about fifteen minutes to consume will then stay in the environment for many, many years.  And we go through millions of straws globally every single day.  Some estimates say 150 million straws every day.

That's crazy.

And it's easy to "just say no."

When I go to a restaurant and order a drink, I say "No straw, please."

If they put it on the table I ask them to take it away just in case they are tempted to throw it away later when they clean the table.

My goal is to ask places that I frequent to put straws in a jar on each table so that people can choose to have a straw.  Or better yet, only give a straw when people ask for one, rather than the opposite.

Will you join me in this?  If so, send me an email so that I can know who is joining me in this endeavor (  It's not a big sacrifice in terms of quality of life, but it can make a difference.  And if people ask you why you are not using a straw, you can tell them and invite them to join as well.

If you are really attached to straws, there are many types of reusable straws that you use, if you wish.

There are some restaurants who are already trying to change things up.  For example, Brick Road Pizza on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids uses paper straws.  If you know of others, feel free to email me to let me know!

We are doing all sorts of things to the planet we live on without even asking what the side effects and interactions might be.  I think that part of our calling as citizens of this world is to be curious about the impact of our decisions, and the impact of what we use and what we choose to do on the beautiful creation.  We have been commissioned to be a manager in trust of God's estate.  We are invited to share in the income, without invading the principle of the trust.  We are to be faithful, wise, and effective stewards of that estate.

It feels like a big job and a battle that often feels like we are losing, but we can start with our own small decisions at a personal or family level.

By the way, if you live in Grand Rapids, we use a service called Organicycle which allows us to recycle paper towels and pizza boxes, bones and all organic waste.  Since we have winter for half the year (or longer it feels like), composting is more difficult.  But Organicycle picks up this type of waste every other week, using compostable bags for this waste.  It takes a bit more effort but that, plus recycling, has reduced our trash significantly.  Check it out!

One more thing: my daughter reminded me that while recycling is good, it would be even better if we don't buy plastic bottles to begin with.  The process of making plastic bottles takes a great amount of water and energy; recycling just means more plastic will be made.  Just more to think about!

Monday, April 9, 2018

What can I say?

What can I say at the end of a trip that spanned four countries for the DML team?

Workshop ready to start. TV cameras for the evangelical channel capture the event.
What can I say after teaching more than seventy hours in two different theological institutions, giving two two-day workshops, several shorter workshops, countless interviews and meetings across these four countries?

What can I say that can convey to you, the faithful blog reader, faithful prayer partner, faithful encourager and supporter of the Discipling Marketplace Leaders ministry, of the impact in dialogue and discussions that we had in this last trip?
Addressing the Environmental Bottom line.  

Some of these trip reports can begin to sound the same.  Pictures of people in a workshop.  Class pictures.  Pictures of people in their business.  It is so tough to capture and convey the work that this blog describes.

Fifty-six pastors and church leaders in Tanzania; 42 pastors and church leaders in Uganda; 105 pastors and church leaders in Kenya; 91 pastors and church leaders in Ethiopia. 

As we head home, we are weary.  But we are also blessed and encouraged.  The ongoing work of support, follow-up, and discipling continues in each place as God continues to call forth His people to lead this work. 

Yoseph (next to me) and his beautiful family.
In Ethiopia, we have Yoseph (pictured with his beautiful family) who is the Business as Mission Coordinator for the Kale Heywet Church, the largest evangelical church in Ethiopia.  With over 6000 churches and more than 10 million members, we were so privileged to have the Deputy Secretary for the Denomination join us for the two day workshop.  Additionally, we had key leaders who oversee over 1000 churches also in attendance, and who are now asking for us to come back and start the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders in their region.  In fact, nine of the eleven regions of Ethiopia were represented in this workshop.

Let me share with you some of the feedback we heard this past week:

From the Deputy Secretary of the Kale Heywet Church: "This is where we need to be.  This is relevant for the Church of today."

From an SIM missionary, who was in marketing and advertising in the US for ten years:  "This is the most comprehensive storyboard of Business as Mission that I have heard yet."

From a pastor who oversees 1500 churches:  "The lights have come on.  I feel guilty for not having taught this in the church before.  This is so necessary for our people."

From a successful business man who had grown up in the church:  "I haven't been preached to until today.  You came for me to hear this message."

From a church leader who's husband is a business person: "I had told him that what he was doing was not godly, that he was spending too much time in his business.  I now realize that I need to support him in his ministry."

Amazing church leaders in this class at the Evangelical Theological College - such great debates, discussions, as well as laughter!
I had a number of key leaders from several denominations in my class, which lead to many debates about integrity and finance, as well as the role of the Church in these changing times.
God is good.  I'm sending this now from Amsterdam on a brief layover on my way home.  Looking forward to being home for a bit!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Tidings

I have been receiving Easter tidings from students, friends, and colleagues from across Africa and North America, yet Ethiopia is on a different calendar, celebrating Easter (and Christmas) one week later. [They are also on a thirteen month calendar, and their time is also different - 7 am is 1 am - the day starts when the sun rises...but I digress.]  I miss these holy days with family, as well as any opportunity for quiet in preparation, but my appreciation for what God has done for me grows so deep in a place like Ethiopia that I rejoice in a different way.

I feel like words other than reflections on Easter are busy words at this time, so I go to my favorite prayer book, Guerillas of Grace by Ted Loder for his words on Good Friday:

Holy One,
shock and save me with the terrible goodness of this Friday,
and drive me deep into my longing for your kingdom,
until I seek it first --

yet not first for myself.

but for the hungry
and the sick 
and the poor of your children,
for prisoners of conscience around the world,
for those I have wasted
with my racism
and sexism
and ageism
and nationalism
and religionism,

for those around this earth and in this city who, this Friday, know far more of terror than of goodness;

that, in my seeking first the kingdom,
for them as well as for myself,
all these things may be mine as well:

things like a coat and courage
and something like comfort,
a few lilies of the field,
the sight of birds soaring on the wind,
a song in the night,
and gladness of heart,
the sense of your presence
and the realization of your promise
that nothing in life or death
will be able to separate me or those I love,
from your love

in the crucified one who is our Lord,
and in whose name and Spirit I pray


I leave for home on Ethiopian Easter and will arrive home next Monday.  I appreciate your prayers for strength yet for this last week and safe travel back home.