OctoberUpdate

Autumn 2017

Dear friends and family,

Greetings from Charlotte!  We still aren’t quite used to the way fall begins here, with no MN State Fair to mark the end of summer.  We are starting to see some fall colors now, and enjoying slightly cooler weather. But, as Minnesota natives, we are looking forward to experiencing some “real” fall weather at the end of this month!  Continue reading

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International Student Ministries

A week ago, SIM USA hosted the Lausanne Movement’s Global Leadership Forum for International Student Ministries (ISM).  Nearly one hundred leaders gathered at our Global Mission Center here in Charlotte for the purpose of connecting influencers and ideas for global mission.

Then at the end of that week, last Saturday, the world lost a special young man by the name of Nabeel Qureshi.  Cancer led him into the arms of Jesus at the age of 34, but it’s the years preceding cancer that make this story so compelling.

These two stories tie together in a significant way.

Continue reading

What is SIM?

We love this video of our International Director, Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko, expressing the vision of SIM. Many of you have prayed for us and encouraged us over the many years we have been privileged to serve with SIM, and we hope this video will refresh your vision and encourage you too!

Life in Storm

These past few weeks, hurricanes have made a dramatic and terrifying presence into the lives of many. The destruction of Harvey and the potential of Irma have been all over the news. If we’re in the risk areas, we need to prepare and plan wisely and PRAY for God’s protection, and His provision in the aftermath.

For families experiencing a situation of harm to their children, it may be similar to life in a hurricane. Emotions surge like the wind and the waves in a storm. Despite all the preparations made, the storm can strike and cause much damage.   Sometimes, all we can do is keep our eyes on Jesus as the storm rages around us.  (Matthew 13:22-33)

This prayer from Scotty Smith, with the title Hurricane Watching Anxiety  was a huge blessing to me today.  “We own our fears, state our worries, and run to you, Father, on this angst-producing Friday. Thank you for promising to catch every care we cast in your direction. Thank you for speaking the “good word” we need when anxieties weigh our hearts down. Thank you for giving us consolation when anxiety is great within us, like it is right now.”

Praying in the path of these hurricanes.

SIM Vision and Child Safety

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:4)

The vision of SIM is “to see a witness to Christ’s love where He is least known, disciples of Jesus expressing God’s love in their communities, and Christ-centered churches among all peoples.” This vision includes the recognition that God cares for and calls others to care for those who often cannot care for themselves, the vulnerable (Psalm 68:5). Continue reading

DeckerUpdate August 2017

Gifts!

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8, NIV)

We are thankful for the opportunities God has given us to use the gifts He’s given us in His service over the past few months, and are excited to share more about it with you! Continue reading

Memorial Day weekend 2017: Memphis!

We love it when we get to visit with our own kids, and with special MK friends we’ve known and loved over the years. Memorial Day weekend was a special combination of people: as one of our MK friends from Dakar Academy was married in Memphis, Jacob and Katie were there for the wedding, and we got to spend time adventuring with the Martin family! (You may remember Sam Martin was one of our boarding home kids in our first term in Liberia– it’s been a joy and a privilege to spend time with his family over the years!)  I loved seeing the giraffes and the baby hippo at the zoo, and the kids told use we HAD to see the Lego sculptures– they were amazing too! The weekend was HOT, and a storm knocked out the power for over 20 hours, but it just reminded us all of life in West Africa! It was fun to see Jessica, Hilary and Massaly– all part of the D.A. Class of 2010 with whom we spend many hours as their sponsors! Much joy, and much love, and we are thankful for the time!

California visit!

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Joey’s current assignment with the U.S. Navy is in California, and we got to spend some vacation time visiting him! He met us in San Francisco, and we had a several-days whirlwind tour of many California sights. We loved what we saw, and most of all loved spending time with Joey in his current home. Family is important, and time together is precious, and a little bit harder to come by these days!

If you’d like to see some of Dave’s photos from our California trip, here you go!

SIM Leader Development: Malta, May 2017

Image 8-20-17 at 11.57 AMSIM needs competent, godly leaders, and is committed to equipping them for the task.  We’re a few years into a Leader Development program that matches leaders with mentors in a two-year process, with the aim of reaching leadership at all levels throughout the SIM world.  Leaders together with their mentors select a series of growth areas to be pursued over the two-year mentoring period.

Research has shown that stand-alone leadership training events are unlikely to have lasting impact.  “Developmental Job Assignments” (aka throwing into the deep end!) are found to be much more effective.  But the greatest impact comes when these two methods are combined with intentional mentoring that gives consistent support, challenge, and assessment.

To that end, I (Dave) was invited to join with a group of about fifty SIM leaders and mentors from all around the world to kick off a new two-year cycle. I’m off to a great start with my mentor, looking forward to much growth as a leader, and looking ahead to the day when I can serve other leaders as a mentor myself.

Malta is perhaps best known as the site of Paul’s shipwreck as recorded in Acts 28.  Besides its relatively central location to SIM staff worldwide, this rich history provided the backdrop for the kickoff event.  A local pastor brought the group into the present by sharing stories of God at work in building the church there today.

Please pray for me and the others as we walk through life together over the next two years.

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You can view Dave’s photos from Malta here!

how do we respond?

Scripture is filled with references to God as Defender of the vulnerable. But sometimes, the responses from churches when someone asks for help in an abuse situation do not seem to reflect His character.

Almost every week I spend some time reading articles on this blog. It’s eye-opening, and it’s also very painful. It’s hard to think about these things! But we really need to if we are going to understand some of the dynamics, and step up to truly protect those who are vulnerable.

The focus is broader than the safety of children, but it seems that many of the dynamics are the same in situations involving children.

A Cry For Justice

SPOTLIGHT

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Have you seen the movie “Spotlight“? It won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015. And  here’s a link to some articles talking about the story behind the movie.

Although this is not a pleasant topic, vulnerable children need the adults who care about them to educate ourselves about the reality that children may be harmed by Christians.  Watching this movie  is one good way to take a look at the bigger picture, and recognize that churches have enabled and protected “well-respected” adults who are in fact abusing children.

Child safety: protecting children from harm and abuse

Have you noticed the references to children in the Bible?  There are many!  One example is when Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)  He demonstrates His heart for them, and similar references occur throughout the Scriptures. And as I seek to grow in my life of faith, I want to value what the Scriptures tell me God values.

After a couple of years working in the area of child safety, I’ve learned that there are many who haven’t understood (or don’t believe) that abuse could occur in a Christian environment.  I didn’t know much about it before entering into my current ministry role, either. Many of us are so busy keeping up with our daily lives and responsibilities that we don’t have time for much else, and this is not a pleasant topic.  Though few in number, the situations I’ve worked on where an adult has harmed (or is alleged to have harmed) children have been overwhelming, all-consuming, and devastating for all involved.

We may need to learn more as adults, if we want to be effective in protecting children.  As you read this, if you’re not familiar with these concerns, I  hope and pray that you will begin to read and learn.  And I hope and pray that each of you reading this will add your voice and your strength to improve the protection of children.

I’m going to share some links  that will offer you more information.  And please let me know if you have questions, or more resources you’d like to share.

Darkness to Light is an organization that provides excellent training in child abuse prevention. They summarize five ways adults can protect children:

1. Learn the Facts

2. Minimize Opportunity

3. Talk About It

4. Recognize the Signs

5. React Responsibly.

 

 

He gives strength to the weary…

Weariness
“Weariness is what I am seeing in so many colleagues. A chronic weariness. As we serve others, we will certainly tire . But is chronic weariness a proper, Christ-like way to live and serve?

We know better than to let ourselves get so run down, so why do we do  it?”

“It is possible  to live a life where our steps are directed by the Father.  Jesus’ life was not a frenetic, exhausting drive to meet hoards of needs. Ours is not to be either.”

These quotes are from an article recently shared by a friend of mine, and it’s really worth reading if you are a cross-cultural worker, or if you are a friend of one!  It’s part of a series on themes recognized by a pastor in the role of shepherding cross-cultural workers.

5 Themes: Theme #2 Total Exhaustion