Thursday, January 02, 2014

West Africa Missions Trip

Thank you for your prayers and support while our team was in Africa.  There is so much to tell that I am not sure its possible in one note.  So, I thought I would start unpacking what happened by telling a few quick little stories of what happened there.

When we got there, the rice harvest was in full swing.  It is so serious some people sleep in the fields after working all day.  Because of all this harvesting, there were not many people in the town.  So, we went to the fields to work them and meet the people.  Ever seen white people working a field in the middle of Africa?  Neither had anyone there and it wasn’t long until there was a buzz about us in the fields.  We got to speak with over 30 people in 3 hours of working the fields.  The analogy Jesus uses in Luke 10:2 is better understood when you see how countries harvest which is so different than how we harvest with machinery.  If the rice is not harvested fast enough, the rice dries out or it is weighed down enough for the field mice to get it.  When they harvest, they cut each individual stem by hand with a small but very sharp paring knife.  So, harvesting takes close attention to each stem and has to be done at the right time.  Working in the fields with the people helped us better understand their culture and helped emphasize to the people in the fields that we aren’t tourists, we are there for them.

The workers being out in the harvest also let us spend more time with the church pastor there then we have ever been able to spend before.  We learned his story, his passions, his plans for church planting in the region, the struggles that his people face, and how we can help.  When we arrived he was a bit discouraged and by the end he was very encouraged, loved, and ready to continue a push for the Gospel to be declared while being persecuted.  With every trip we take to West Africa, the pastor and church members become stronger and bolder.  We were able to have the church memorize four stories, Jesus’s birth, Jesus’s baptism, assurance of salvation, and the miraculous healing of a blind man.  Several people in the church will share them with friends and we saw that even within the week we were there.

God is sovereign.  I knew this before, but God really strengthened my understanding on this trip.  God was sovereign to help us successfully and easily get to the town we are going to.  None of us had ever been to Africa, but we found the way to be easy and uneventful.  God helped us understand what we were doing there and happily led us to the places we needed to be.  God protected us and kept us healthy when we went outside the box on what we were “supposed” to do and did what was needed to be able to talk with and be with people.  And finally, when all of our plans fell through to get home, God gave me this verse: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9, 10 ESV).  We were surrounded by Christians who wanted the best for us and helped us change travel plans, figure out how to get home, and one great man who took 5 hours of the toughest part of the trip with us to help us.  God is indeed sovereign and we learned to live by that more than ever.

God is great! Thanks for your support and prayers throughout this journey. 

In Christ,


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year! 2013 in review

It is New Year's day when I am writing this (perhaps not when you are reading it).  I find New Year's day as a great day for reflection on the past year and looking forward to what is happening in the next year.

I will start my review with work since it will be quick since earlier in the year I had described my first year at PointSource.  We continue to grow at PointSource and will be over 40 employees in Raleigh by the end of January.  We have been so blessed, we have over doubled employees and revenues year-to-year.  Since my letter above, we have hired an incredible sales leader in Luke Langford which has further accelerated our business.  We also have shifted towards certain strategic investments which we believe will fuel our company in the out years.  More to come in various launches throughout the first half of 2014.

Personally, I have grown a good bit.  The largest change has come through the constant internal battle I have between workaholism and family I have learned to balance even better and be humble enough to be told when I am screwing up and being a workaholic by my wife, family, and friends.  Although IBM required hours to get the job done and that was an easy place to retreat, my work life at PointSource has become a part of my life.  Small business ownership shifts from a career as part of your life to a career as part of your identity pretty easily.  I have learned to maintain first my identity in Christ, second my identity as a husband, father and friends, and third the CTO/Partner in PointSource.  That sounds simple when said, but the better part of 2014 was God teaching me that.  Meanwhile, Heather has been steady and faithful throughout by my side and loving me every moment.  I can't ask more of her and she gives so much of herself that she daily shows me Christ's love for me.

2013 was not only my first full year at PointSource, but it was Heather and I's first year of zone defense as parents of 3.  We survived.  Ava is a beautiful and active 1 year old who listens well and brings us great joy.  Meanwhile, Anna started first grade and Maddie started kindergarten, both at North Raleigh Christian Academy.  Anna started piano and this year played soccer.  Anna and Maddie both did ballet.  Anna and I also started Indian Princesses this year.  Overall, a very active and exciting year for our girls.  They constantly amaze us with their faith, understanding, and smarts.

We decided since we have such sweet girls and life seems to easy, we'd mix it up in 2013 for 2014. We have a boy to be born in 2014 due February 14th.  A boy!  Many people believe we were trying for a boy but that truly isn't true this time.  Anna and Maddie are 18 months apart and we hoped for Ava to have a little friend like Anna and Maddie do.  God choose to bless us with a baby boy and we have no idea what that will be like.  We wouldn't have planned on it ourselves because a baby girl would have been more comfortable.  But we are thrilled and excited about a little boy coming into our lives!

God has blessed us greatly in 2013.  Some other things God has done:  Heather became the Children's Director at our church, Harvest Bible Chapel North Raleigh.  We had a great Babymoon in Chicago a day before we attended our first Harvest University.  God took me to West Africa (another blog post will be coming about that soon) for a missions trip that changed lives- at very least mine.  And so much more.  We are thankful for our friends and family in our lives and if it is God's will, we pray for a 2014 together of continued growth and learning for God's glory.