Indonesian Youth Ministry

I recently took a trip to Indonesia (and Malaysia) to teach the final course in the Master’s in Youth Ministry course at the Jaffray Seminary in Jakarta. We were finishing up a program that started more than a few years ago with six students. Two of them made it to the end, having completed all of the requirements for graduation.

Nyoman and Mitchell persevered through many trials and did the hard work that was required of them to successfully complete the program, and they will be officially awarded their Master’s of Youth Ministry at the Seminary’s graduation this year.

While I was there, we had a celebration ceremony to honor them and their hard work as well as give them a certificate from Youth Ministry International. Nyoman’s words in this video (and the ones that both he and Mitchell expressed throughout the class) will stick with me for a long time.

I wanted to share a portion of what Nyoman said in this video:

I am excited about the future of youth ministry in Indonesia. These two guys and the rest of the team there (including David, the translator and program coordinator) are primed and ready to take youth ministry to the next level.

I am praying that they will continue to push through the obstacles and take the gospel to the next generation.


Last Doctoral Seminar

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I started my doctoral courses.

Last week I took my final (of six) seminar called “Foundations of Teaching.”

I’m a few steps away still from getting my doctorate, but the in-class portion is finished. Now I have some projects AND the BIG PROJECT to finish up and turn in, then I have to defend it, and then I will graduate (hopefully by December).

Thanks to all who have been praying for me during this time. It’s been a lot of reading, thinking, and writing. It’s also been a lot of fun and good relationships along the way.

Please pray that I can finish well and get the projects done in a timely manner.


Trip to Ecuador

I recently went on a trip to Ecuador for ministry. I was there to meet up with my former students, Edgar and Karyna, and to talk with a local Seminary about the possibility of starting a youth ministry program.

Here’s a video I made to document the trip.


Nuggets of Wisdom for our Kids

Have you ever heard the saying, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”? I’d honestly never thought of how to eat an elephant, mainly because it doesn’t sound too appetizing, but I understand the principle that to get something big done, you need to focus on a little bit at a time.

Parenting and teaching my children is one of the most overwhelming things I have to do in my life. I understand that the responsibility to train my children in the ways of the Lord rests on my shoulders as a parent, but sometimes it’s hard to find the consistent 20-30 minutes needed to have “family devotions.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one.
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When Your Plans Fail

We’ve had a few “failures” in our office lately, especially when it comes to getting visas. I was reflecting on that this morning and had a few thoughts, so I wanted to share them in audio form.

Hopefully they can encourage you.

If you can’t see the player above, you can click this link to listen on


2017 Ministry Video

We made a video for the YMI banquet this year, and this is the portion that covers Latin America and what God has continued to do there even since we moved back to the United States.

You may not know, but I’m still the director of YMI’s Latin American ministry, and I’m excited to see how God continues to work in Mexico and Cuba. He has raised up a generation of youth leaders who are training others and ministering effectively to young people.

Please continue to pray for the YMI ministry in Latin America.


Last Doctoral Seminar Books

I’ve entered in to the abyss that is the reading for a doctoral seminar. It usually feels like I have so many more pages to read than time…and that’s usually an accurate description of what actually happens.

The course I’m taking this time is called “Foundations of Teaching.” It’s all about learning and teaching and developing curriculum. I’m looking forward to the class. If only I can get the reading finished.

I’ve had the list for a few weeks now, and here’s it is:

The good news is…this is my last seminar.

The bad news is…I need to get reading.

Hope you have a great end of the year.


My Academic Writing Workflow

I was in a conversation the other day on Facebook about how difficult it is to write anything. The quote that started it all was by my friend Tommy.

He asked,

“How do you write a song/sermon/essay…etc? I have found that when you sit down to do those things, every time without fail, you haven’t the foggiest idea how to do it. Only when you are finished can you look back and say “That’s how I did it”, but no one really knows how to start anything. Every day you sit and try and learn it all over again.”

I really and truly agree. Most of the time, getting started is the most difficult part of getting anything done for me. Once I get the ball rolling, things flow. But up until that point, I often sit around and seem to have forgotten how I did it before, even though by this point in my life I have written many, many papers, blog posts, and other documents.

Last June, after a doctoral seminar I took, I jotted down what my process for academic writing. I did that so I could return to it when I needed to write something else. I thought this would be an appropriate time to share it here.

  1. Start in Scrivener with an outline (Sometimes I start with a mind map, but usually it’s an outline in Scrivener)
  2. Put research in Scrivener
  3. Get as far as I can by just “putting thoughts down” (Just spit it out already–at this point it’s definitely not very good)
  4. Transfer it to Word template (Templates are your friend)
  5. Keep writing until it’s almost ready
  6. Format footnotes and Bibliography (this site is helpful when using Turabian)
  7. Proofread and polish
  8. Send to editor/proofreader (Get an editor/proofreader!)
  9. Make edits/adjustments
  10. Turn in final product

That’s how I do most of my academic writing (so far).

What do you do?


“The Day I’ll Never Forget” – A Youth Pastor’s Account of the Earthquake in Mexico City

The earthquake in Mexico City was difficult to watch from afar. I love Mexico City. I have many loved ones there. It was an unforgettable experience watching the news from here.

But it was even more unforgettable for those directly involved. I asked one of my friends and students, Jonathan, to write down what he experienced during that day and in the aftermath.

Here are his thoughts.

It was 1:13 PM on September 19, a sunny day full of activity in the schools, offices, and streets of Mexico City. I was in Coyoacán just a little ways away from Ciudad Universitaria giving music classes as part of Punto de Encuentro (our student ministro) at Vida Nueva (New Life Baptist Church), when we felt it, without any warning, no alarm, no notification from the preventative applications, all of the earth began to move. It was a 7.1 earthquake with its epicenter in Morelos; it was short but very strong which caused a disaster in all of Mexico City, with around 3,000 buildings affected and uninhabitable, while Morelos and Puebla were also destroyed. Some minutes after the earthquake, there was terrified people running around trying to communicate with their families.

Many young people began to arrive at Punto de Encuentro, especially friends of mine from other student ministries at the University nearby because they were told to evacuate the University as a preventative measure, and in this moment we had put on the news and were communicating with our families since in Punto de Encuentro we still had internet and electricity. I took advantage of this moment and asked us to all join in prayer for what was happening. I think it was a good start because later we would need more than prayer—it would be time to participate and sacrifice for many of us.

It was impressive to see so many volunteers in the streets, volunteers in business suites or on bicycle—but there were many people participating—especially youth—youth who were more ready to help and prepared than ever.

After the earthquake a group of us started looking for the best way to help, communicating by WhatsApp. It was very difficult to move around in the city, so at the beginning each of the young people started looking for the best way in which we could help the places near where each one was, donating blood, taking food to the places where buildings had collapsed, looking for places where there were donation centers, or even one of my best friends who is an expert in social media strategies and creative editing was using her abilities to filter information on social media to be sure that the correct information was getting out (which was very necessary in that moment).

On September 20, I went to a donation center organized by the Baptist Convention, and 60-70% of the people who were there helping were young people from different churches, during this whole day the city was working to help, and this phrase went viral on social media: “Young people have taken the city, I hope they don’t give it up.” It was really inspiring and fascinating to see how the whole city began to help and see that young people, who had been criticized for being “millennials,” a selfish and superficial generation, was showing up; once again society was wrong about youth.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of that week, my pastor and others along with friends from the Seminary organized trips to help and take food to Tetela del Volcan in Morelos, one of the most affected areas. I had the opportunity to go on Friday with 4-5 other youth, and the place where we were helping clean up, they said there were more than 150 houses destroyed. Without a doubt this place needed help and many others, also.

These days were important for the church of Christ, because we needed to be light. We shouldn’t wait for more disasters to happen, but we need the grace that we live to be an daily attitude to love our neighbor.

Thanks of the youth of my church who not only that week but for years have been committed to demonstrate love and obey Christ, seeking the Kingdom of God here on earth.

I will not forget this day, not only because of the earthquake, but also because I saw thousands of young people offering help to others.

Please keep praying for Mexico City and the surrounding areas as they recover from this tragedy.


Earthquake in Mexico City! My thoughts

Yesterday was the anniversary of the big 1985 earthquake in Mexico City. And then they experienced another one. It was 7.1 on the richter scale and many of my friends were impacted. I wrote this on Facebook, but I wanted to put it on here to remember in the future.

It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. After spending so much time in Mexico and having so many friends there, what happened today is surreal.

I’m grateful that I’ve been in contact with most of my friends and they are ok. However, I feel a tremendous weight on me as if this happened to me personally. I can’t stop watching the news on social media.

My experience is nothing compared to everyone there, but I can’t help thinking of the people who can’t find their loved ones or whose children didn’t come home from school today or are trapped in a building. Mexico still has a place in my heart and that place is hurting tonight.

Please join me in praying for Mexico. Que Dios bendiga México.

Since I wrote that, I have found out that one of my friend’s mom’s building collapsed. She is okay, but his childhood home is destroyed. Many others are still trying to find loved ones.

Mexico will always be in my heart.