Friday, July 27, 2012

An Open Door at Bryce Canyon

Every year at Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, 1.5 million tourists are told that the remarkable geology was formed 13 million years ago.

What if there were a way to reach these people from all over the world, with the truthnot just about creationbut also about the good news of Jesus Christ?



Last I heard, $40,000 of the total $110,000 is still needed.  Donate to the "land purchase fund" here.
For more details on how you can help, contact my visionary colleague Rob Brannon at: robert (at) bryceoutreach.com

Summer Travels: Weeks 5 - 7

Let's play a game.  I'll show you photos I took in the last couple weeks, and you guess where I've been.  Ready?

#1  Fried green tomatoes.  Scrum-diddly-umptious!

#2  Turnip greens, flavored with Bruce's tabasco peppers in vinegar.  First and last time I order this.

#3  A Baptist church with an auditorium roughly the size of a football field.  The music reminded me of a Gaither homecoming, and the Bible preaching was fantastic.

#4  Police directing Sunday traffic.  There are so many people going to church services that this is a matter of routine.  I couldn't believe it.

By now, you should be zeroing in on the South: land of fried foods and a church on every corner.  But where in the South?  One more picture:

#5  The World of Coca-Cola.  I got to sightsee here and at Stone Mountain with my new friends, Nathan and Kristin.  We also managed to squeeze a visit to Chick-fil-A into this very full day, and a quick walk through Olympic Park.

That should give it away.  The answer is, of course: Atlanta, Georgia.

I was in Atlanta for two weeks of training at the international office of Biblical Ministries Worldwide.  There were 26 of us preparing for service in South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Vanuatu, and a creative access country (traditional missionaries are not allowed in a CAC, and they must enter as professionals in some trade like medicine or education).  And don't forget the U.S.Utah, to be exact!

Julie (left) and her husband joined the Utah/Idaho field.  Elaine (center) is the wife of our Area Director.  These ladies are not just my co-laborers, but also dear friends.

It was an encouraging and challenging time at BMW, made all the better when my dad flew in to participate for a couple days as my sending church's pastor.

Upon my return to Kansas, there was a commissioning service at Hoisington Bible Church.  Although they already sent me to Utah several years ago, I will now be working in a full-time ministry capacity, so this was a special service.  It was wonderful to be among these believers who have known me, prayed for me, and supported me for over half my life.

A rare reunion with old friends.

During my final few days in Kansas, two last-minute opportunities presented themselves.  The first was being "camp missionary" at Solid Rock Bible Camp.  Eight years ago, I was a counselor during the inaugural summer of Solid Rock; it was very special to return and share about ministry in Utah.  And the last evening I was in Kansas, I was given the chance to speak at the meeting of a church's missions committee in McPherson.

Now I'm back in Utah.  Looking back on all my summer travels, I'm deeply grateful to God for safety, unlooked-for opportunities, practical training, special reunions with friends, time with my parents, andbest of allseveral new daily prayer partners.  I'm sure those prayers have something to do with how energized I feel to tackle the piles of catch-up work and to implement some new ideas for ministry.  Onward and upward!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Travels: Weeks 3 & 4

Quick!  What am I naming here?  Cracker, shredder, chisel, probe, strainer, spear.

No, not names of WWF wrestlers.  Kitchen utensils?  Getting closer.  How about types of bird beaks?  Ding ding ding!

Yes, each and every bird species has a beak custom-fit for the type of food he eats, crafted by our endlessly creative God.  Birds and their beaks—a case in point of the amazing variety in nature.

Exhibit A: a handsome little screech owl at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.  He winked at me and I was smitten.
Exhibit B: a baby (grackle?) that was sitting on the sidewalk in front of my folks' house a few days ago.  There's a certain point when extreme ugliness becomes cute, no?
And Exhibit C: the chicken which lives in the backyard of my Provo duplex.  I call her... Fluffy Head.  I also think she looks like a "Veronica," but that's harder to explain.  I miss her.
Yes, the last several weeks have been curiously bird-filled.  I wasn't even surprised when I attended vacation Bible school at Newton Bible Church and the theme that day turned out to be... bird beaks.  They were using Answers in Genesis curriculum, which emphasizes the wonders of our Creator and His creation.  And that's how I learned the difference between a cracker and a shredder.

The night before, I taught NBC's kids' club about Jim Elliot (an inspiring true story—very much not "for the birds").  Then Thursday morning, it was my privilege to share with the 60-some VBS attendees a little about KEY Radio.  Their offerings all week were collected to assist me with promotion around the listening areas—how encouraging is that?  Thanks, kids!  You made me happy as a lark.  Uh... Clark.
Mrs. Unruh and her class at Newton Bible Church's VBS.

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Part of my purpose statement is "to share God's grace through radio, church planting and evangelism"—so how fitting it is that two of my supporting churches are named Grace.  Sunday, July 1, I spent with Grace Community Church; they are located in Great Bend, Kansas, and have been supporting me for four years.  I shared briefly in both their worship services, and taught the junior high Sunday school class.  Then about thirty people stayed afterwards to view the hour-long movie produced recently to show the progress and challenges of church planting in Utah.   It's a fantastic, engaging film, and if you haven't seen it yet, contact me for details.

Between all the hugs and the scrumptious sloppy joes and the ubiquitous "technical difficulties" and the questions about Mitt Romney—it was such a busy day that I failed to take a single photo.  Rats.  But special thanks to the GCC missions committee for all their work hosting me.

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What's a summer road trip without a little car trouble?  It's as unthinkable as Laurel without Hardy and roast beef without Arby's sauce.  If your trip goes by without being towed at least once, you have missed half the adventure.

This is the sort of pep talk I give myself while standing in knee-high grass by the highway, in 110' heat, waiting for someone to come tow my dead car.

But, really, I feel more like this:
I had spent part of the day in Hays, Kansas, visiting some churches and KPRD. On the way home, Bubbles suddenly died—right there at the intersection of two highways.


Thankfully, a kind man in a truck came along and pushed my car to the side of the road.  Thankfully, I had my cell phone and had just purchased a AAA membership.   Thankfully, the AAA dispatcher bumped up my status to "priority" due to "the location and extreme heat," so I had to wait less than an hour for help.  Thankfully, my mom came to wait for the tow truck with me and brought a bottle of ice water.  Thankfully, I was only a few miles from home and incurred no towing expense.


And the biggest "thankfully": my star of a father was able to get Bubbles running the next day!  A simple battery replacement was needed—and it was covered under warranty.  I am happy to report that Bubbles is still with us.  Long may she roll.

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Now I'm in Georgia, beginning Candidate Orientation with Biblical Ministries Worldwide.  Not that I'm a new candidate, but with my switcheroo from tentmaking to career missions, I was encouraged to attend these two weeks of assessments and training.  Some of the info is repeat.  Some is not applicable (I'm able to write this while everyone else is taking a "marriage assessment").  But it's good to be here among people I love.  I know I'll come away with new ideas and new friends.  Also, the food is amazing.  Tally ho.