Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Team Mongolia Documentary

While there is a Full-Length documentary in the making, we hope this will placate your hunger!


Mongolia 11 minute version from Frank Maldonado on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Put Your Finger Here, And See My Hands!

Out of the Furnace…                                        
      ‘…I have decided, to follow Jesus…’


Hello fellow captives!
 
            I say “fellow captives” because as I write this morning I am reminded of a picture that Paul paints for believers in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 – that of captives being led in the Roman “Triumphal Procession.” We, now, are paraded around by Christ Himself as His living plunder. He has stolen us back from the captivity of our flesh, which had kept us from His presence, and He has ushered us back into His courts – captives, bound in the cuffs of love for a most loving King.

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I want to give, what I believe is, a more concise and cumulative articulation of the workings of God during my summer. I wanted to write with a sensitive prose, in order that those who haven’t heard a word about this trip might be able to better comprehend exactly what has transpired. I don’t believe that this story is stirring in and of itself… Yet there is a motto that precedes even my deepest rooted pride, speaking in ineffable truth – so that whether I myself live as if I believed it or not, it yet remains as true. That motto is a watchword which has been whispered by great men over the ages, both in dark and lonely corners and in green pastures. And if I may, I would like to recite that motto in meekness… letting its simple words sound throughout my life, if only herein I might surrender to the power of its consequence, speaking it to myself under my breath every minute; saying, “In myself, nothing. In God everything.”

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            This summer I walked through the howling waste of what I can’t describe in any other way but with the word “furnace.” If God is The “All Consuming Fire,” then I felt the heat of His glory as He led me through the valley these past months. But He is a good God – tender to those who cry out for Him… those who turn their faces to the Son lifted up. And here I stand, having fixed my eyes on the Son for deliverance from the darkness of my flesh and the shame of my failures. And therein I hear the tender voice of God: “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
            This summer I followed the urging of the Holy Spirit to lead a team of  7 men into Mongolia’s nomadic countryside and least visited province to share the Gospel with those who will never have otherwise heard it. I had no idea what awaited me… what awaited us. After one week of in-country preparation, we set out for a wide-mouthed valley in search of the “forgotten” ones. 2 Horses, 7 Backpacks, 25 days, and 1 Holy Spirit. For a little over three weeks we experienced the throws of Nomadic Life. Drawn for me was the picture of faith that Abraham must have had when he responded to God’s call simply to pick up all that he owned and go to the land which God would show him. It was a faith-journey that took Him straight into the unknown. As for me, a faith-walk straight into the heart of God. And this walk, is seldom seen a sacrifice by those who walk it. It is the walk of the impoverished who, mocked by the world for their preference of poverty, tilts their fiery eyes heavenward and reminded themselves, “Oh yes, there my riches lie.”
            Intense river crossings, beating wind, broken tents, and broken expectations can’t compare to the breaking that God has done in my heart. Confronted with my pride, anger, and selfishness I have been put low before God. Humiliated in myself I sink low into the arms of the One who calls me “Beloved.” Though not of my own doing, my heart has been submitted into a more contrite posture before God. My only sorrow is that it took so much force from God to lead me to that place. But here I stand, on the solid ground of Calvary, encouraged by Christ to rise from my humiliation and see His hands and side.
            For 25 days we searched for Nomadic families. Once found, we lived on their land for several days, helping them morning, noon, and night with chores – probing every circumstance in search of a chance to share the Gospel, whether by word or deed. We milked their goats every morning, sheared sheep every day, and made constant trips in search for firewood and water. We castrated lambs, roped stallions, fought to tie down baby camels, and herded yaks… all in simple love for Jesus. Sickness, sores, blisters, bruises, tiredness, snow, hail, rain, and blaring sun taught us to be content with the comfort of Jesus, and to be laid out as living sacrifices for His use and glory. Our boots will never be the same, and neither will our attitudes.
            70 heard the Gospel. 60 heard the name of Jesus for the first time. 17 accepted Christ. What a small sacrifice for such a prodigious consequence… Where are those who will go? Where are those who have been captive-bound by Jesus who will stand and recite the old story with sincerity and boldness? And now I sit, filled with tears for a generation that would rather worship a La-Z-Boy than the Lord. My friends. I’ve no repute with you, but please hear me crying out: It’s just your life! Please, don’t walk away disappointed like the young rich man, who after being confronted with the prospect of the very Kingdom of God could not give up his silly toys.

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            I can be thankful for the furnace. Though painful, it is where God does His most dramatic and effective refining work on the human soul:

“Look! I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10

The contrite man and woman of faith will feel the heat of that refining furnace and through a wide and gritty smile say as Job once did: “When He has tried me, I will come out as gold!” And reserved for the man and woman of contrite and broken heart are the rewards of refinement; the dross consumed, the gold enduring. Praise God that he makes the proud humble! Only He can calm the storm of the human heart!
            I don’t want to insinuate that I’ve arrived. If anything, I’ve spent a summer hearing God say: “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord.” And that is my deepest longing and the truest desire of my heart - to be humbled before Him, my sins exposed, and my heart laying bare. Humiliated, yet whole in His presence. I would rather His approval than the approval of any other. I want to want Him… I desire to desire His presence.
A fire our team made in the Mongolian countryside
            As my team quickly learned in the Mongolian wilderness, the hottest fires cannot be created with wood and flame alone; not even the blowing of a human can bring a fire to its utmost. It is rather when a strong wind blows on the fire, sweeping through it so hard that the fire seems to be bent low, that the fire is hottest. So may the Holy Spirit blow His mighty rushing wind into to the recesses of my heart to fan the flame He kindled within it the day I first called upon His name… bending me low, igniting my soul, consuming my entire being.
            I wonder, what does it take to be consumed? It seems some have prayed and never received, and some have received yet never prayed. What is it we seek? We don’t seek the consuming itself… how meaningless… how… shallow. Instead, the desire to be “consumed,” is a God-lust that is so ravenously hungry it cannot get enough… It’s a craving that is both satisfied and intensified. The deepest longing of this thirsty heart is met by a God who says, “All who are thirsty, come to the water… and you’ll thirst no more!” And God Himself is the drink. He is the Ocean. And all at once He consumes us… mystifying us with His strength.
            What does it take to be consumed? What does it take to crest the hill of the Christian plateau… that stagnant milieu of “Christian living” that happens somewhere between daily devotion and Sunday School? I wish I could break the back of that “christian” regime of book-authors and pastors who say (innocently) that they’re devotional, book, tract, online sermon, or church is what you need to get over that sluggish and lackluster hill. While their wallets and/ or egos grow larger from hungry Christians who simply eat what they’re fed, we (the hungry Christians) grow more and more tired of having taken another dissatisfying Christian placebo. After having placated our hunger for the true experience of God for a short time, these placebos seem to work less and less; though they seem to be advertised with more and more hope.
            Who but Satan ever invented the idea that Christians could propel their own faith through reading the Bible or going to Church? A noble idea, but for the fact that “Christ” is suddenly left out of the “Christian” faith. And it was Christ who said, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Helper won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you…” (John 16:7). How was Christ able to say, “it is to your advantage that I go?!” What was it about the Helper that was so radically advantageous for believers rather than Christ Himself? It was this: that not only would the Helper be able to carry on the ministry of Jesus in more than one place at a time, He would do it by living in Believers – causing them to carry out the ministry of Jesus. We cannot do the Christian life… that is the “Christ” following life, without the Helper. So burn the devotionals and the study Bible if they are not accompanied by, nay submitted to the will and power of the Holy Spirit. If you believe that by your lone grit and Christian determination a devotional or spiritual discipline will mold your heart into the likeness of Christ’s heart, then why do you really need the Helper? Cross out the line on your personal Creed (whether written or unwritten) which speaks of a “Triune” God, and, I would suggest, you scribble in “Biune god” over top of it.
            But for those of us who would fight that poisonous tendency to live the “Self-Life” by the power of self rather than the Christian Life by the power of the Helper, I suggest a new prayer. It is a prayer for revelation. A prayer for fresh wind and fresh fire that comes from having seen the Crucified Lord and the glory of His Father. And if we lack longing to behold God with our spiritual eyes (and physical eyes), then we need only ask God – who will plant fresh thirst in the quenched heart with a smile on His face.
            “Our God is a Consuming Fire.” We don’t want to just be lit ablaze, we want to be consumed with the fury of God’s fire and love. We’ll be a generation consumed with passion for God because we have seen His holiness. Nothing but the revelation of God’s holiness will do when we are seeking to be set ablaze and consumed with passion for Him. Guilt will only bear a fruit that imitates passion for so long – eventually, as we grow weary of the game called “righteous living,” our flesh reminds us just how satisfying the feast of sin used to be… I believe that’s what they call a buzz kill (the 2nd week after most conferences). Tradition won’t do either (Rom. 10:2), since tradition has a way of developing resentment in the ones who follow it for the simple and brainless sake of following it – they’ll find that it was never a question of passion but only of duty to some well-meaning tradition developed by people who themselves had a real passion that can’t be imitated aside from the seasoned walk of the veteran saint. Riding on the passion of saints who have gone before just won’t do. 
Only the revelation of God’s holiness will do if being consumed with passion is the end we seek. Only the un-tinted, extra-biblical, soul-altering, paradigm-shifting, idol-breaking, slit-side and nail-pierced-hands-feeling experience with Jesus will do. And to the one who has truly placed his hands in Christ’s side, and to the one who has truly put his fingers in the holes of Christ’s hands belongs a revelation that will not fail Him… yet it will destroy him, stripping him of all he owns. For that one, the one to whom Christ has revealed Himself, the only response that person will manage to muster is “here am I, send me!” For the one who has met Jesus face-to-face, worldly pleasures will be forsaken for the pleasure of Christ’s presence. It is the revelation of God’s holiness that will drive a business major to forsake money, a nursing major to forsake health, a Bible major to forsake orthodoxy, a communication major to forsake attention, an ICS major to forsake control, or an American to forsake the calloused heart where self sits on the throne.
The revelation of God’s holiness is the only means by which a follower of Jesus will find themselves sustainably consumed with an unquenchable fire of passion for God. So we cry: “Rain down Your holiness God! Show Yourself to us! Wreck us and consume the dross and the chaff in our lives! We welcome the war of wrath you have stored up for our flesh – purify us in the furnace of affliction which engulfs our flesh and consumes our souls with passion for You!”
Where are the upright ones among us to whom God will call out with furious longing saying, “Ask me! Ask me to show you my glory!” And who will respond back, “Yes! Show me! Take it all!” Just a taste and we’ll be undone! Just a glimpse will consume us! One glimpse will refine us! He is not just the consuming fire, but the refining fire!

            Holy Spirit, I ask that you would breathe and blow your mighty wind into the flame of our hearts – consume us! Consume the dross of our flesh and consume our hearts with passion… with a zeal that does not betray us even when the flesh tries to whisper in our ear. And when the flesh does whisper in our ear seductively of how satisfying it was to have once been set at its feast, may You blow all the more into the flame you’ve set in our hearts through the blood of Christ! Breathe on us with a holy wind and so in consume us with a holy fire! Don’t relent – though it be like a tooth from the jaw we will embrace the pain of amputating the flesh with joy as you sweep through us with the satisfaction of your presence. Forsaking all other passions we embrace You… just you and nothing else… not your blessings, nor your works… just you, with full abandon – we abandon passion for the creation that we might pick up, afresh, a passion for the Creator.

Amen

Until the Whole World Hears!

Love and Peace to you,
Kyle

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Sacrifices of Our God


He Restores My Soul…
      ‘…Though He Lead Me Through The Furnace…’

A moment after my return to the states I walked a lonely corridor at Biola. My University sits silent these days in Southern California. The calm before the storm, I suppose, in a place that will soon flutter back to life with my friends and professors. Yet one man remained late into this night. An Artist. A Passionate Restorer. My University is home to “The Word;” a 30ft tall Mural of one man’s interpretation of Jesus. Over the years The Word has taken a beating. Vandalism and weather have worn and faded the once brilliant and bright colors used for Jesus’ robe and skin. And though the original artist has been ridiculed to some very real degree for his depiction of Jesus as a white-man, he sits late into the night, twenty-one years after his brush first touched that brick-wall, passionately restoring his masterpiece. In time, because of this man’s faithfulness, and because of his sure vision, the brokenness and stain of twenty-one years will hardly be a memory – the twenty-one year old “Word” will shine with the brilliance of her youth.
And here I am. Also a 21-year-old piece of God’s “workmanship” according to Ephesians 2:10. Flattered, I stand the art of the Master-Creator, spun up in His image… literally made with love. I am the living, walking, and talking extension of my Master’s creative mind, imprinted with a longing that is fulfilled by His touch only. And it is His loving touch that satisfies me to the uttermost, since it was for His touch that I was created. Just to sit and gaze upon Him, just to rest and listen to Him as He quiets me by His love, just to be still… and know that He is God.
And yet while I am the masterpiece of a Perfect Creator, I too am stained, vandalized, broken, and dirty. And since I am a living, breathing, talking piece of craftsmanship I may add: whored, self-mutilated, and ashamed. And as I sit thinking of this mural’s restorer, I am reminded of the faithfulness and strong hand of my Restorer. In love He sits, often waiting but never-tiring, sometimes late into the night, washing stains, blowing off dirt, and stripping gangrenous chips of the “old self” in order that He might paint the image of Himself more clearly over mine. The old self for the new self… disease for purity.
Yet the canvas of the human heart is not pressed into the contriteness demanded for the work restoration simply by stencil and brush. Rather, the tools used by the Original Maker are those of fire and a pruning blade. Though the poison of sin advances its death grip on the human soul, it is the contrite heart that allows the Vinedresser to commence the brutal work of restoration. And the contrite heart will notice the love in the eyes of God as He rips out that gangrenous flesh, since it is for our benefit. And once God has dealt with one part of the rebellious heart, it will be the contrite man and woman of faith who, after having once felt the healing pain of restoration, will look with a gritty smile into the face of The Holy God and say, “Don’t stop Lord, there’s more!”
While the academic will preach this on-going event using the word “sanctification”, I believe it’s important that we not remove ourselves too far from the words and ideas that Christ Himself used to express this concept… He remains the Vinedresser with a Winnowing Fork in His hand. Sanctifier, Yes – but may the religious and often snobbish connotations of the word never distract us from the fact that Christ deals in fire to refine us, and with a pruning blade to purge us of sin. It is a constant, life-long work… harsh and painful work… but a work of the Holy Spirit alone, and nothing less. May my heart welcome Him in with gladness as I find myself dirty, stained, vandalized, and whored. My gaze is upon Him, as He restores my soul.

Furnace. The only word I might be able to use to describe 6 weeks in Mongolia. Having come riding on the back of the most difficult semester of my life, I found myself in Mongolia… being asked to lead... completely ill-equipped in my spirit. Many journal entries read: “Lord… I made a mistake. Who am I to have led this team?” I admit in humiliation that I lost battles to my attitude every day. I admit in regret that I failed my team many times. I admit in sorrow that in many ways I feel more empty than when I left. Though He satisfies me, God seems distant… Like a forgotten word sitting on the tip of my tongue. I have been sustained by His goodness, but there must be more… a fullness that I haven’t felt for months. But I will not despise these valleys. I will not despise the furnace. For herein He satisfies my soul. And herein He restores its brokeness. My bent attitude will not stand in the way of His work, since He is faithful to finish what He has started.
I am reminded today… Today of all days, that it’s not about how I feel. Too little too late after a trip that gave me six weeks to surrender. But whatever the Lord is doing in me, it is a humbling work. I am reminded that “Faith,” though a gift from the Holy Spirit to saints, was not some supernatural “feeling.” Faith has NOTHING to do with feelings! Faith has to do with God, and while feelings change moment-by-moment, God is the same from eternity-to-eternity. And since I have put my faith in God, it ought be unshakable, save for the times that my flesh is on the prowl and tempts me to put my faith in feelings. Weren’t our brothers and sisters of faith commended for their obedience? By faith they… obeyed. When the way was blocked, when they were tired, persecuted, hungry, and lonely… they obeyed. No feeling, no hormone, no attitude could stop them from putting faith in God and pushing on past the hardship and their own fickle hearts.
My prayer is just for faith. A faith that transcends feeling and circumstance. A faith that drowns out the crowds and the dark parts of my heart which tempt me towards any other circumstantial response than worship. And I stand understanding that only the Holy Spirit can generate faith within me. The more He tries me, the more I will trust Him; and the more I trust Him, the more faith I will put in Him – realizing that He never fails me. So, though I am scared and anxious at the thought, may the Holy Spirit calm me as I welcome His trials and His furnace.

“Look! I have not refined you as silver, but I have refined you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10
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Six weeks. 17 souls. 1 Gospel.
I doubt I need to share more.
The adventure was wild.
The journey into the love of God… so much more-so!

The love of the Gospel is SO SIMPLE! If milking goats, shearing sheep, collecting firewood and water, and eating weird foods is all I have to do to win souls, then what on earth is keeping me from dropping out of school today and throwing my life away for the sake of the Gospel’s love? If we exist to be loved by God and share His love with others, then we are distracted beyond belief! If there is anything in our lives that steals passion from either of these endeavors, then may the Lord convict us deeply and strip us of the idol – whether or not we call that idol something noble like: “work,” or “ministry.” May work and ministry burn if it’s end is anything but the furtherance of the truths of the Gospel in our own hearts and the hearts of others. I am growing impatient with my games of minimum integrity and the indecisiveness of my heart. I hear the Lord calling: “I would rather your whole heart follow me!” And today I am calling back: “You have my whole heart!”

He has broken my heart. He has made me contrite. Maybe, with my heart in this new posture, the Lord will begin a new work of restoration. Time for the portrait of the old-self to go. So may He sand my heart down to the canvas and paint thickly, in vibrant and everlasting color, the portrait of His Son.

Come Lord Jesus. Come!
           -Kyle


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Road Less Traveled




 For The Wandering Heart.

     The road less traveled is a dear friend of anyone who says they have "faith." Consider when God counted Abraham's faith as righteousness... That faith took him through lands he had never been - a faith-walk on the road less traveled. It's not that these people are adventure-seekers, adrenalin-junkies, or masochists, but rather that there is a hunger... a longing for souls and for holiness that takes them anywhere and everywhere in search of the Kingdom - following whispers, clouds, and pillars of fire in search of the One by whom they were called and for whom they would lay down their very lives like drink-offerings. It's risky, dangerous, unexpected, and life-threatening... Those who take the road less traveled count the cost and march on. It's got nothing to do with self, but everything to do with laying aside self just to obey - having counted the cost of the end of having sought first the Kingdom of God. Whatever it takes they will give. "Every day they choose to lose that they might one day win the 'well done' of faithful sons and daughters." 
     Abandon. It's what we're starting to taste. Twenty-five days in the "howling waste" of the Mongolian wilderness - 'familiarity' is just an lofty idea with the exception of Christ and 'comfort' is whenever you're not sick. The silence is piercing. There is no background music, no buzz of electricity, no cars or kids, no morning birds or night owls. Silence... well reflecting what Christ may have felt when He often withdrew to pray... just Him and His Abba on the mountain-top. And as we hike through these mountains, somedays it feels likes it's just us and our Abba-Father and nothing else, just the endless Mongolian steppes, the harsh and unrelenting wind, and a river so cold that it hurts to bathe.
Yet despite the brutal distance between A and B (the variables are yours to imagine) I am reminded of the brave cloud of witnesses who surround me, they are in Cameroon, Ghana, Norway, The Ukraine, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Belize, Japan, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, The Phillipines, IndonĂ©sia, Oman, TunĂ­sia, Nepal, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Honduras, China - and there are the brave ones in the United States who have been praying dangerous and life-altering prayers for the nations... spending their money and their time with full abandon and faith that "surely He is coming soon!" 
2000 years after the life of Paul, Phillip, John, Peter, and countless other Saints of old, mission remains the family business. Though the hearts of some have grown cold to the urgent call of the Bridegroom, some are still set ablaze with hunger for the fulfillment of the Bridegroom's promise: "And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." 
     He said, "Seek first my Kingdom." And if we are to seek this Kingdom (even before the kingdom into which we were borne - in which our feet are still planted to varying degrees), then we must be concerned with the souls of the nations. When everything else fades away and only the Kingdom of our God remains, souls will be the only things proven to pass from this life to the next. So when we daydream about what the Kingdom will look like we must dream of two elements which we may control in this life: holiness and souls. Holiness - because Christ is returning for a pure Bride whom He will marry. Souls - because they will be the company by which God is most glorified for all eternity. So if we seek to glorify God maximally for eternity in the way His soul longs for most, then we ought respond to the breaking heart of God (for the worship of the nations) with a radical push in sharing the Gospel with full abandon. 

--- Could I just say (not prophetically, but in folly and as a brother) that God's call, especially for my home country, is that we stop living like Disney Land, McDonalds, CalKing mattresses, skinny jeans, vans shoes, hot cars, hot dates, diets, sports, and television are the reason for living... and that we start living as if the reason for this life is to prepare for the one to come; which will outsatisfy any pleasure that this life may seductively advertise. --- 


My friend Jordan and I once sat together in the grass on a cool SoCal spring morning... As we thought together of what the Kingdom costs a believer, Jordan's eyes widened and he began to pull his hair; "it's just your life!" he shouted. "Jesus bought it - it's His to use! Heaven will be better! Throw-it-AWAY! It is just your life!"

     Indeed... The day we start living like heaven is more than a fairy-tale is the day we'll start shouting,  "Whatever! It's just my life!" ... We spend this whole life trying to escape the sting of death - medications, cozy couches, good-looking cars, health insurance, safety-this, safety-that... and then we say something like, "it's not that I don't trust God, I'm just being 'responsible'." Or, "I would do it if I didn't have a wife and kids at home." But you won't find that verse anywhere in Acts, the book where the church grew despite the promise of death for their faith... They were sawed in two, crucified upside-down, thrown from buildings, shot with arrows, boiled alive, beheaded, and stoned... And Stephen looked up into heaven and said with wide eyes and a grin as the rocks continued to bring him closer to death: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Do not hold this sin against them." And if I may insert: "It was worth it!" The Kingdom is of so much more value than our earthly lives that if we suffer torture, persecution, loss, ostracizing, rejection, hatred, and the worst of deaths we may still look up into heaven with our final breath and say with all our hearts, "It was worth it... SO worth it... O death, where is your sting?!"

     Camel caravans, wolves, two fiendish horses; sheep testicles, liver, lung, intestines, heart, kidney, and colon; river crossings, wind, rain, snow, blaring sun, sickness, sunburns, cuts, bruises, 8 families and a Mosque with 5 Saudis... True blood, sweat, and tears. 
     - Blood: from bloody noses caused by chronic sickness... From ticks... From blisters won by the endless hiking... From chaffing (yes... Chaffing)... And from odds and ends of farm-life and hiking...
     - Sweat: from the heat of some days, where water and shade are as good as gold... from wrestling with young guys... From shearing sheep, collecting firewood, and herding the flocks... And from our sleeping bags whose ratings are good until the sun comes up in the morning and makes the "sleeping bag" into a "sleeping sauna."
     - Tears: from missing home so much... From growing hearts that are constantly breaking for this nation... And from joy of the 16 who have put their hope in Jesus and have joined the triumphal procession of Saints!
     I wish I could tell all of our stories. I would if I could, but time and strength would truly fail me if I started to speak of the 5 Muslim men from Saudi Arabia with whom we shared the Gospel for the first time in a small-town Mosque; of the Camel packing over 450 pounds of wood which, while roaring with an ear-shattering roar, nearly fell over and spit regurgitated grass all over our translator; of the midnight dance-competition we had with nearly 200 girl and boy scouts in the middle of nomadic lands; and of the personal and team victories we've had in Christ despite persecution, cultural miscommunication, sickness, and adversities of many kinds. The faithfulness of God is astounding... His grace is overwhelming... His favor is so undeserved. 

     My Friends, This has been a most challenging walk of faith... in every way. It's not quite the fairy tale that Papua New Guinea was... I'm not quite as enchanted or love-drunk as I once was... But then there’s God, who constantly whispers and breathes refinement into the chaos of my heart. He reminds me constantly that Mongolia is less than 1% Christian - who am I to complain when the task is so urgent? 
We hiked through the mountains for 25 days, stayed with 4 families, visited 12 others... We helped them milk their goats every morning, castrate and shear their sheep, collect firewood and water, and Geoff found himself graduated from nursing student to full-blown Doctor (“Kyle studies culture, Miles studies radio, Frank studies film, oh, and Geoff is a Doctor”). We took two horses with us, we named them Caster and Pollux from Acts 28 - the “twin gods” on the helm of Paul’s boat set out for Rome. We've ridden camels, crossed swift and deep rivers, seen a wolf attack a flock of sheep, we've eaten sheep testicles and all sorts of goat and sheep guts, and we hiked about 80 miles total. We’ve seen loss, we’ve felt heartache, we’ve shared joy and pain... our boots will never be the same, nor will our attitudes. During our trek we shared the Gospel with about 70 nomads who had never heard the story before. Unreached. Forgotten. Unscathed by the searing truth of a Gospel I have abused and perverted with disdain for years. We invested in their lives, spending several days with each family. 60 of those 70 nomads had never heard even the name of Jesus. All the same, we earned a name for ourselves, they called us the “Jesus People.” 16 accepted Christ and acknowledged that they had to break commitments to all of their other gods (many times for Polytheistic peoples, Jesus will just be added as another god on their list). Most nomads worship nature - the mountains, rivers, trees, and sky... even if they start out saying they are Buddhist or Muslim, their shamanistic and even pantheistic beliefs generally come out. We encouraged them to worship the Creator and not the creation.
     We made a most noble attempt at not imposing our own culture - walking as they walk, living as they live, eating as they eat, and talking as they talk. I believe that when someone accepts Jesus, the Gospel has the power to fit into their culture yet still address sin. We admit a God who is glorified by cultural diversity.
     So even though this trip wasn't easy or always enjoyable - the sicknesses, the disagreements, and the cultural challenges with our translator, I am reminding myself: "I'm not here for comfort. I'm here for the Gospel."

Please pray:
     • For the 5 Saudi Arabian Muslim men we shared the Gospel with - their names are Fahad, Muhammad, Abdullah, Achmed, and Selah.
     • For the 16 Nomad who have accepted the Gospel through our team - that they would read the Bibles we left them, that their faith would be genuine, and that they would be able to visit the church in Tarialan.
     • That The Holy Spirit would continue leading us where He wants us to go, even in the city - continuing to people in our paths whom He wishes to speak to.
     • For boldness in our team - there are many things that are tempting to fear - but perfect love casts out fear!

     Your prayers have been the fuel to our passion, and are driving us into deeper places with Jesus and darker parts of this earth.

With the strong love of our Savior,
Kyle & Team Mongolia 

Friday, June 24, 2011

But Thanks be to God, Who Always Leads Us...

Dear friends,

Can I just say how much we love you?
Your prayers have been falling fresh on us daily. The hand of our God is leading us, passionately, through this beautiful country. Your prayers have shifted the atmosphere in these steppes - whispers of the Holy Spirit flying in an out of these valleys and gers. The Lord hears you! Pray in bold faith for what God has planned, pray "Come Holy Spirit! Have your way!"

I sensed the Lord laughing two nights ago - we played a game of basketball against a team of 17-year-old guys in Ulaangom... All whom are outsiders of the faith. At the end of our time there, 3 boys asked to join us on our 25-day trek to the mountains. After talking to their parents and the Holy Spirit we have agreed to take one boy named Biliya, who is here with us now, sitting in a nomadic ger at the mouth of a massive valley. 

Here we will buy two pack horses. In the last town we bought hand-made saddles with all sorts of leather accessories for the horses. We also paid a woman in the market to make custom saddle bags (mongolians in this region don't seem to us saddle bags, and if they so, they are small. So we have 2 HUGE, custom-made canvas saddle bags... The woman slept for one hour that night in order to complete the task! Would you pray for blessing upon her? And for the revelation of Gods holiness to fall upon her and her family?

Our translator is a passionate and quirkey man named Maidar. The cultural differences between he and us have been challenging, but Maidar loves the Gospel with all his heart.
Please pray for unity between midair and our team - for cultural sensitivity on our part!

We love you and are encouraged by your prayers more than ever! Continue in the fire of prayer as we start our trek today. By tonight we will be camping in the valley, going as deep as we can in the next few days in order to find the least reached. (follow our SPOT device, as this will be our final update for 3 weeks or so) -  0OZMn2EmEpGWepM9o3iV7GQ9TaSWWAWLI

We are in a curious land. Turkish (khoton) and Kazakh Muslims and several Mongolian-buddhist tribes. It is a land where 200 Christians live amongst 230,000 non-believers. We've met some fierce missionaries whose names I ought not post on the Internet. They live on the edge, having lived in this open steppe-lands for over a dozen years, with children, braving the harshest and longest winters you can imagine, and plowing plowing plowing with such little fruit. Please remember the Mongolian church... Remember those God has called to Uvs province as missionaries. 

May He be Glorified as we surrender now! And may He bless His name as we step off of the throne of our hearts so that He might reign there unchallenged!

We love you with all of our hearts!
Thank you for your prayers!

Love, 
TeamMongolia

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fire and Faith

While we Walk…
      ‘…Passionate Dependence…’

 Tomorrow we head west. Tomorrow we follow the passionate call of Jesus to "Go." Tomorrow, the Holy Spirit leads. "And there's no real knowing where we are going;" but for the one who holds on tight to that ancient whisper of God, there comes a surity which accents that deep resolve of accepting those words: "I will never leave you or forsake you."
 
Sacred. Our travels have been sacred. Anointed and consecrated by and for God. We've walked into a city that has real character. The chipped paint, tangeled power lines, and rustic Soviet installments add a curiously sweet tincture to every street-corner and alley-way. The people, as diverse as any, are passionate, strong, and kind.
 
I don't have the time to enumerate the blessings of God in a way that is worthy of His grace, but know that He has set us in high places as His sons. And here we are, looking to grab hold of that sonship with a passionate and chain-breaking resolve of abandon to the Cross. And good sons obey - radically and without question. This is the power of the Cross in us - identifying us as sons, validating us as the Beloved, and establishing us as His own portion in dark streets where light flickers from every secret motive.
 
Tomorrow. I have no clue what tomorrow holds. But we've got maps, we've got tents, and we've got The Holy Spirit. I am reminded of when Abraham, in faith, left all he owned to follow the call of God to a land that he had never seen. He said, "Go, take all you have and go to the land that I will show you." Abraham never looked back, never questioned God - His obedience (the evidence of his faith) was accredited to him as righteousness. And we are chasing righteousness... the call to "go to the land that I will show you." It's not that we're masochists, thrill seekers, or Christian radicals, but it is a thirst for the Living God - the Consuming Fire, it is a simple grapsing of a simple message called "Good News" that contains so profound a message that it could bring the nations to their knees. For the love of God. For the love of those He imprinted with His own image. 
 
Please continue on in prayer. One month of faithfulness in this distinct way - as we are faithful to God in our hiking, talking, eating, sheep-shearing, and Gospel-living,  please also be faithful in prayer. Not for safety or for comfort - but for holiness and for souls. Pray that God be glorified in the way that most pleases Him. Pray that the harvest and sowing be great.

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot
 
 
We love you all and you also are in our prayers daily.

In the love of the Maker,
Team Mongolia
 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy!

A New Flame…
      ‘…Riding on the back of a fresh Revelation…’

I sit… near a snoring team mate of mine… reflecting…

            School is out for the summer; I’m about as poor as I ever was; life seems to be a lot more demanding yet a lot less complicated, and with Jesus I’ve walked through the most difficult and jaw-bone-breaking semester I have ever had.

            I don’t think I’ve prayed that Psalm 71 prayer more at any other point in life, “Lord, don’t forsake me when my strength is spent.” I’ve spent it all. I am moving forward to that howling Mongolian countryside in the arms of Jesus, abandoning my ability to do anything, with fire in my eyes.

            I suppose it’s about time I shared why I am going to Mongolia… or why I “go” anywhere for that matter… it’s this:

            I believe that if we saw the holiness of the living God – That all consuming fire whose eyes are ablaze with passion for His own glory, whose feet were like glowing bronze, whose voice is like the rushing of many waters, out of whose mouth comes a double edged sword, and whose face shines stronger than the sun… I believe that if we SAW that God, with our dinky, little, scale-covered, blind and human eyes… We would no longer be ashamed of the message of the Gospel… I think… if we SAW the glory of the coming of the Lord, we might stop cringing when we feel the Spirit churning within us to just tell the good story with the lost, and start speaking the old old story of Jesus and His blood to those one’s to whom we’ve given the title “Lost”. And they are LOST. To your left, to your right, in your work, in your homes, in your malls, in your churches, they – are – LOST… And if we REALLY believed that God possessed, infinitely, every divine and good attribute dreamed up in the sweetest and most righteous parts of our finite minds which might give us just the smallest taste of the idea that He is the reality of an idea we call “holy,” then we would STOP going place-to-place-to-place without never having needed to let the Gospel proceed from our lips to reach the ears of one who has NEVER even been given the opportunity to hear the message we have taken for granted.
            Do you believe that everyone in America has had the luxury of having heard the Gospel? Of knowing who Jesus really was? A month ago I shared the Gospel with a group of rowdy and loud High-school students… when I reached the climax of the News (“Jesus’ death in place of ours was what it cost for God to be satisfied…”), a young, petit girl nearly lost it… she widened her eyes, told her friends to quiet down… “this is important,” she shouted at them! I asked… “Have any of you ever actually heard this story?” “No… Never,” they replied as if to ask, “howd’ you expect that we’ve ever heard that story?” A generation, rising up, believing that they know Jesus, but not knowing that He died for them? What is the “Good News” if it doesn’t include the cross and the empty grave?
           
            God is looking for 2 Corinthians men and woman – those who will SPEAK with sincerity as if in the sight of God… commissioned by Him (2:17). Because there is no other way that people will hear – unless we speak! “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” – Romans 10:14. So in the most simple way that I can muster… in full knowledge of the sin that lurks behind every one of my good deeds and genuine prayers… I have decided “Lord, I will speak!” It is the most simple, and most desired response that we can give to God in light of His holiness and His breaking heart for a world walking by the millions and by the billions towards an eternity in torment.

God is Holy.
His heart is breaking.
I Will Speak.

“Most churches want to set up shop under their church bells. I want to set up a rescue center - a yard from the gates of Hell.”
William Carey said that.  A man who lost His life (and found it) while living and preaching the Good News in India… before anyone else had arrived with the message. He actually believed that this stuff (the Gospel) was such good news that it was worth telling other people.
If the Good News is THE Good News… then why haven’t I shared it with more people? So this is my stand – repenting of the broken promise to God of: “Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it Shine!” and I choose with unswerving resolve and an iron conviction to “carry my cross till I see Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”

Only the revelation of God’s holiness will do if being consumed with passion is the end we seek. Only the un-tinted, extra-biblical, soul-altering, paradigm-shifting, idol-breaking, slit-side and nail-pierced-hands-feeling experience with Jesus will do. And to the one who has truly placed his hands in Christ’s side, and to the one who has truly put his fingers in the holes of Christ’s hands belongs a revelation that will not fail Him… yet it will destroy him, stripping him of all he owns. For that one, the one to whom Christ has revealed Himself, the only response that person will manage to muster is “here am I, send me!” For the one who has met Jesus face-to-face, worldly pleasures will be forsaken for the pleasure of Christ’s presence. It is the revelation of God’s holiness that will drive a business major to forsake money, a nursing major to forsake health, a Bible major to forsake orthodoxy, a communication major to forsake attention, an ICS major to forsake control, or an American to forsake the calloused heart where self sits on the throne.
The revelation of God’s holiness is the only means by which a follower of Jesus will find themselves sustainably consumed with an unquenchable fire of passion for God. Guilt will not do… Christian tradition will not do… So we cry: “Rain down Your holiness God! Show Yourself to us! Wreck us and consume the dross and the chaff in our lives! We welcome the war of wrath you have stored up for our flesh – purify us in the furnace of affliction which engulfs our flesh and consumes our souls with passion for You!”
Where are the upright ones among us to whom God will call out with furious longing saying, “Ask me! Ask me to show you my glory!” And who will respond back, “Yes! Show me! Take it all!” Just a taste and we’ll be undone! Just a glimpse will consume us! One glimpse will refine us! He is not just the consuming fire, but the refining fire!

Holy Spirit, I ask that you would breathe and blow your mighty wind into the flame of our hearts – consume Team Mongolia with Passion for your name! Consume the dross of our flesh and consume our hearts with passion… with a zeal that does not betray us even when the flesh tries to whisper in our ear. And when the flesh does whisper in our ear seductively of how satisfying it was to have once been set at its feast, may You blow all the more into the flame you’ve set in our hearts through the blood of Christ! Breathe on us with a holy wind and so in consume us with a holy fire! Don’t relent – though it be like a tooth from the jaw we will embrace the pain of amputating the flesh with joy as you sweep through us with the satisfaction of your presence. Forsaking all other passions we embrace You… just you and nothing else… not your blessings, nor your works… just you, with full abandon – we abandon passion for the creation that we might pick up, afresh, a passion for the Creator. And may we find You, these six weeks, more perfectly completing the work You’ve begun for Your glory. Win those whom You will win – We will simply follow… we will speak Your Story, for we love to tell it – it never grows old, the depth of its waters never recede. Seat us at Your feast O God! The feast of Your very presence! We Cry out for ALL You are! Show us Your glory!

                                    Amen


So tomorrow we “go!” We go to Mongolia to take the Gospel to those who have never heard it... and never will unless someone goes. Wow… Just tomorrow! The work, the literal sweat and tears all for God’s glory now bearing fruit!
The call has been urgent and we have been eager. Your prayers, your money, your support, and your encouragement have carried with them the Spirit of Christ and we find ourselves equipped as those who have been called!

UPDATES!

    1. We DO have a translator - FINALLY! What a blessing! To have found an translator just a week before our trip was an outrageous act of God’s favor…
-     And if it weren’t enough, there was ONE plane ticket left when our translator came through! I can’t express the improbability of this situation through words on a blog… save to say that “God showed up.”
    
The Company from whom we bought our food!!! 
     2. We DO have food! -- there was some sort of hick-up with the first food company's ability to get us our food on time, but now we have ordered food through a hiking food company... this freeze-dried food will be much lighter and better-tasting! A HUGE “thank you” to that Company – “Enertia Trail Foods” for getting us some AWESOME food all the way from North Carolina to California in just a day's days notice!

    3. We have turned on our SPOT device a few times in the last week and it is working!
It will plot our coordinates on a map which you can see at: Click Here to Track Us!


May I share a picture!?
A few months ago I had a picture in my head as SMU staff prayed aloud for Miles and I (leaders of Team Mongolia) - The picture was of Christ, riding on a MASSIVE eagle. The Eagle was the Holy Spirit. And He was riding through a Valley in Mongolia proclaiming His own name - shouting of His resurrection and yelling "Waaaaake Uuuuup!!!!"
The Holy Spirit has gone ahead of us. Please pray for the harvest!


Together, For Our King and Until The Whole World Hears!

Bless you and may your summers bear the fruit of the Kingdom as you consider sharing the Gospels in your neighborhoods and workplaces!


Please be fervent in prayer for us sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, students, and disciples - and more-so for the Gospel to penetrate the darkness in Mongolia. 

Kyle, Miles, Geoff, Stefan, Frank, Blake, and Jeremy - Team Mongolia 2011



We Will: “Be strong, and use our strength for our people and for the
 cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him!"
                                                                                                1 Chronicles 19:13