Panda (2014 Edition)

We had three extra teen’s with us this summer. Deb and I see part of our ministry in Moldova as opening up a doorway for young people to experience the mission field and serve. Moldova Missions for us is busy, and we need all the help we can get!

Levi Rodgers, or Panda, joined us this summer for the entire trip. This was Panda’s second year to Moldova. He and his dad (Danny) were with our team for three weeks last summer, and this year Panda felt the Lord tugging on him to serve for the entire summer. Matter of fact, he returned from Moldova last summer and immediately got about the business of saving his money for 2014.

It was a a blessing for us to have Panda on the team, to watch daily as the Lord molded him into a more Christ like young man. The rest of this post is some of the stories and perceptions I remember after reflecting on Panda’s involvement in 2014. NOTE, I don’t write this to pat Panda on the back for his good “deeds”. I write this so we can all rejoice in the Lord’s work in the life of this young man, and praise God together for using Panda in Moldova.

A part of ministry on the missions field is speaking. Each of the team is prepared to share their testimony or story about how Jesus has saved them and changed their lives. As the team leader, I call on people at different times to share, sometimes with advance notice, and other times on the fly. Panda shared his testimony many times this summer, and he became more confident as a speaker each time.The first and last times he shared were huge contrasts. At Emanuel church our first week, he had his notes with him and was tied to them. By the tenth time or so for the summer, at the church in Androsul, he left his paper tucked in his Bible and just stood up, leaned against the pulpit, and shared how Jesus has changed his life. No notes, no stammering or stutters, he just spoke to the people in the church, with Nicolae translating for him. I got to see how Jesus is working to make Panda an even better spokesmen for Him.

At Larga camp, every one on the team has either a morning or evening worship slot to share their testimony with the kids. After considering the schedule, Panda pulled me aside and asked if he could share his testimony on the last night, the day we spoke to the kids about baptism. He said that he had struggled with the need to be baptized, and wanted to share that with the kids. I was happy to oblige him and put him up on the last night.

This leads into the night when Panda spoke at Larga. He stood in front of the camp, sharing his testimony with the kids, and when he spoke about baptism, he began to “preach” it. He explained the significance of baptism, of dying under the water, and rising in Jesus to eternal life as you emerge. Chris Burnette and I did the preaching at Larga, and it was Chris’s turn to speak that night. He and I looked at each other, and agreed that Chris could stand up and say “Yep, what Panda said”, and then sit down. Panda had clearly articulated baptism and preached his first sermon in the process!

Panda grew as a leader this summer. We matched him up with the games station most of the summer, letting him setup the games and then play with the kids in the process. By the final VBS camps in Manda and Androsul, Panda chose the games on his own, organized all the supplies he needed, and all I had to do was point a group of kids to him and he did the rest. This is a huge blessing when running a camp to me as the organizer, to have team members execute their portion with limited oversight. For one game in Androsul, he needed a table and did not have one, since we were outside on a sports field. So, he crouched down and acted as the table.

Panda has a heart to reach the lost with the gospel. He befriended one of the kids at Larga camp named Vlad or “Panda 2”, named after a skit they did together. I encouraged Levi to build the friendship with Vlad, and to be on mission by spending time with him.

Panda and Daniel built a friendship this summer that I pray will last a lifetime. Our team was separated into two separate apartments this summer, which meant that Daniel, Panda, and I had our own apartment. Daniel and Levi were together almost 24/7. You cannot serve alongside some one in this way and not be connected with them. When I meet people that I’ve served with for even a week in Moldova, we have a bond.

I thank the Lord for Panda, and pray that Jesus will continue to mold Panda for His glory!

Manta and Androsul VBS’s

We were blessed as a team to host two VBS camps in local villages surrounding Cahul. There was a huge demand this summer for VBS from local churches. Emanuel Church is known as a place that sends teams out to support VBS, and we were honored to be one of the teams sent.

We visited the villages of Manta and Androsul to operate the VBS camps. The kids in the villages are different than those in the city of Cahul. The village children were more wound up and wild, and listened less than those in the city. Luckily, most of the team are martial artists who believe in order and discipline, and we have no problem applying those standards to the camps we run.

Our standard approach to VBS is to start with worship through songs, teach a Bible lesson, and then separate the kids into groups and rotate through stations. The stations are english, Bible memory verse, sports, games, and craft / coloring. We were able to use the same basic plan for each week of VBS.

In all, we saw about 75 children at each VBS, and as a team, were thrilled to be able to love on these kids for the week. It’s not strange for a random kid at these camps to run up and give you a hug. This is one of the joys of VBS!

The Manta VBS took place at the church building.

Manta VBS gallery on SmugMug

The Androsul VBS was outside in the school yard.

Androsul VBS gallery on SmugMug

Ninja Clowns Ride Again!

 The Ninja Clowns appeared for their second year at TKD VBS. This year the clown roster was entirely from our team, with Levi, Daniel, Ashley, and I (Chris) getting in on the fun. Lauren and Deb were our D.J.’s. Caity helped on the make-up front, and Acacia and Sarah were in charge of props (filling water guns with water, trash cans with paper, and bags of candy).

The point of the Ninja clowns is to have some fun and entertain the kids at VBS. We had a rough story idea each day, and much of what we do happens in an improv style. Our first day we introduced ourselves and setup a table scene (La Masa) (set by Daniel), and Levi arrives to share lunch with Daniel. I come along and decide to do a magic trick of pulling the tablecloth out from underneath all the set dishes, and hilarity ensues. Day 2 saw us looking for a lost Panda (Unde este Panda?, Where is Panda?). Day 3 introduced Barbie Clown, played by Ashley. Day 4 was “I am Batman”, or “Eu sunt Batman”, a battle between Daniel and I to determine the real Batman clown. Day 5 was our grand finale, with pies flying, water squirting, and a good time had by most. We threw some balloons down from the balcony which also caused a chaotic scene for a few minutes. There is a pattern, as you’ll see in the video. We make end up chasing each other around in circles, and the kids love it.

All in all, we had fun, were squirted with water, hit in the face with pies, and all to entertain and share the love of Jesus with these kids.

Looking forward to the return of the Nina clowns again next year!

Click on the image below to see the Ninja clown video for 2014. Feel free to jump around, as it’s 17 minutes long. I just couldn’t find enough stuff to cut out! This video is about Ninja Clowns 2014

Teen Camp 2014 End of Camp Movie

Each year at Teen Camp we have a tradition of creating a movie of pictures from the camp. This provides an opportunity for all of us to ponder where we’ve been and remember the funny things that happened.

For those that haven’t seen the video on Facebook, click on the picture to go to our SmugMug site to watch the movie.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The Way Home: 2014

As of this moment, our plane should be in the air and we should be on the way to Amsterdam, Atlanta, and Raleigh. It has been an incredible summer of ministry with this team, and I have one thousand things to share. We have been so busy that I haven’t had time to write as much as I wanted. I’ll keep writing for a few weeks until I run out of stories from 2014.

As for now, please pray for safe and peaceful travels, and stay tuned for all the videos from this trip.
Chris

The Kids Ran a VBS on Tuesday

On Monday night of this week, I started to feel sick. I woke up Tuesday morning afflicted by the same sickness that had hit many others on the team. I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the VBS. I prepped Daniel Monday night that I would not likely make the trip Tuesday. He had seen the water illustration I had used at the previous VBS. I told him he was going to have to run the show at the VBS and teach the lesson. He re-read the account of Jesus walking on water and was ready to go.

I am a proud team leader after Tuesday. The teenagers from our team ran a VBS on their own. This is their fourth week of VBS for the summer, so they knew what to do. They executed the event and proved that no one is mandatory for any given ministry. The Lord will use those who are present to execute His will on earth. Plain and simple.

Tuesday was not without challenges. They had a drunk village guy and his son show up at the camp. Alexandru was able to persuade the guy to leave, but his kid stayed behind to try to disrupt the camp. He climbed in the tree and threw walnuts at the campers while they were singing songs. He challenged some of the TKD sportsmen to fight. This is a kid crying out for any attention that he can get, whether negative or positive. The team invited him to join the camp many times, but he declined each one. Please pray for this boy and his family. He needs Jesus just as much as we do.

Chris

TKD VBS

The TKD VBS was once again a big hit with the kids. Some things stayed the same this year, and some things were different. The Ninja clowns made another surprise, week long visit to the VBS. I’ll cover their antics in a separate post. We were blessed to have Pastor Gelu from Emanuel join us this camp. He delivered all the Bible lessons for us. We have found over the years that the younger kids especially do better with a native Romanian speaker teaching the Bible lessons. The younger the kids are, the less patience or focus they have for listening through a translator. We were happy to have Gelu with us on the team this year, as he brings a love for the Lord and years of youth ministry to the table.

Our focus this year was on Christ. Our Bible lessons included Jesus feeds the 5000, Jesus walks on water, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Jesus the good shepherd, and Jesus death on the cross. We incorporated the Bible lessons as closely as possible with the other stations that make up the camp. For example, at the English station, Caity taught using words from the Bible story, and re-stated the BIble story in English. This way the kids heard the Bible lesson a second time, from a different perspective.

At the TKD VBS, the kids have a chance to train for 90 minutes with their TKD leaders. During this time, Caity taught a group of kids in the Krav Maga system. She also included many of our kids who were in need of something to do during this time. She had a few young girls in this class with laser focus and they hit HARD. This was a great experience for them, and we hope that they learned some defense that they could apply in the future if needed.

The stations that we had each day are Bible memory, English, Games, and Crafts.

Bible memory station

This kid owed Deb money. 🙂 Just kidding, this is little Denis, and he was a handful all week!
Caity teaching English.
Craft time.

This camp is a great opportunity for the American team to work alongside the TKD leaders and leaders to be from Club Dinamic. We had a great experience working together to serve the Lord in Cahul.

To see all the pictures from TKD camp, visit the TKD VBS smugmug gallery.

Androsul Part 2: Preaching and Prep for VBS

We were back in Androsul today at the regular church meeting. We wanted to spend some time with the church family their and also walk around to hand out invitations to the VBS that starts tomorrow. I preached my second James sermon this morning, James 1:19-27.

James 1:19–27 (ESV)
Hearing and Doing the Word
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Hook: Anger management from National Health in UK
Recognize your anger signs
Your heart beats faster and you breathe more quickly, preparing you for action. You might also notice other signs, such as tension in your shoulders or clenching your fists. “If you notice these signs, get out of the situation if you’ve got a history of losing control,” says Isabel.
Count to 10
Counting to 10 gives you time to cool down so you can think more clearly and overcome the impulse to lash out.
Breathe slowly
Breathe out for longer than you breathe in, and relax as you breathe out. “You automatically breathe in more than out when you’re feeling angry, and the trick is to breathe out more than in,” says Isabel. “This will calm you down effectively and help you think more clearly.”
TRANSITION: Let’s put the anger management techniques of the world behind us and open God’s Word and see what it says about anger.
Point 1: Quick and Double Slow (19-21)
Quick to listen to the Word of God
Slow to speak and slow to anger — both of these things get in the way of listening
Illustrate: When a child breaks something priceless…
My standard response = quick to speak and anger, slow to listen
Bible is clear for a purpose and full of wisdom from God; listen, then be slow to speak and and slow to anger
Picture of patience, fruit of the Spirit
BECAUSE the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God; produces a sinful response!
BECAUSE of the result of the anger of man, we are to put away all filthiness and wickedness, and INSTEAD receive the implanted word
If you are a believer, the word is already implanted on your heart
Is something holding it back from within you, or does it guide you as it should?
What produces the righteousness of God?
Faith in Jesus Christ, bestowed upon us by God —> Romans 4:22-24
Romans 4:22–24 (ESV) 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
“implanted word” —> put there by the Holy Spirit
The Word of God lives inside of us through the Holy Spirit
Spirit guides us
John 14:26 (ESV) 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Word of God is able to save our souls!!!! —> the preaching of Jesus Christ; the good news of Jesus Christ
Word of God is how we grow closer to Christ
The implanted Word, giving ourselves to Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit, results in the relationship that we have with God
Celebration of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
If you do not know Jesus, why not?
    Point 2: Doers, not just hearers (22-25)
The Word = the good news about Christ
A Hearer of the Word
First, deceives themselves —> believes something that is not true
The Bible is not just a book to read and put back on the shelf
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Illustration of a someone who is only a hearer:
A man wishes to build a house
he knows that to build a house he will need to buy a piece of property for the house
Buy all the materials required
Hire people that can help him complete the construction
If the man goes to the market each morning and stands around listening to the men who build houses, but never buys property or materials or signs up friends to help him build, he is a hearer of construction, but not a doer!
This man deceives himself when he says he builds a house.
A Doer of the Word
Puts God’s Word into action by doing something
Examples of being a doer of the Word
1. Believe in what the Bible says (faith)
2. Follow what the Bible commands
Command as a way of life
Romans 6:11 Romans 6:11 (ESV) 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Command as a call to action —> Matthew 28 says to go to all the world and preach the gospel; if we never leave our house and never share the gospel with a non-believer, we are but a hearer of this instruction
Illustration of a someone who is a doer:
A man wishes to build a house
If the man goes to the market each morning and learns where property is available, and buys the property, he is a doer
If the man buys the materials and brings them to the property, he is a doer
If the man hires men to help him build the house, and begins the construction, he is a doer
This man deceives no one; he is building a house.
Bible gives the example of the hearer looking at his own face attentively (great detail), and then forgetting what he looks like
Hearer and not a doer, you quickly forget what the Word tells you to do; to truly understand God’s Word, you must put it to action
Blessings for those who do, who look into the perfect law of God’s Word and put it to action
    Point 3: Live the Christian Life (26-27)
Religion without action and follow-through is worthless; it’s a sham
As people, we can spot a hypocrite a kilometer away
If a man claims to be a Christian, but lives with a woman he is not married to, commits crimes for money, and never comes near the church, he is not likely a Christian
Evidence of fruit defines the life of the true believer
Care for the orphans and widows and avoid sinful desires
Live the Christian Life —> The person whose religious experience is genuine will put spiritual truth into practice, and his life will be marked by love for others and holiness before God.
Application:
5 Suggestions to be a doer of the Word
1. Must be IN the Word!!! Bible study and meditation
2. Act upon what the Word says, to act upon our faith.
3. Under the preaching and teaching of faithful men of God, who struggle over the Scriptures each week and preach God’s Word faithfully
4. Prayer
5. Community with other Christians; accountability
Conclusion: Let us strive through the power of God, together, to be doer’s and not just hearers of God’s Word in our Christian lives.

The Picture Game

At teen camp in Larga we played the picture game. The point of this game is for the kids to work together within their own team, coming up with a creative picture based on the subject matter.

We gave each team the same five categories. Action movie, stone age, the future, super hero, and “all for one, and one for all”. Each team staged a picture using the props available around the camp. We show the pictures at the evening worship, and choose a winner for each category. I’m convinced that it is more fun to create the pictures than to judge the results. We started with a one hour time limit, but quickly threw that out the window. One team spent three hours creating their five pictures.

Here are the contestants:

1. Action Movie — the kids were told to create a scene from an action movie, using all members of their team.

2. Stone age — recreate a scene from the stone age.

3. The Future — some scene or reality about the future.

4. All for one and one for all

5. Super hero

 

Emanuel VBS

The Emanuel VBS was our first camp event of this season. This is one of my favorite camps, because our job is to assist the leadership from Emanuel Church in delivering the VBS activities. The leadership team from Emanuel has ten years of experience executing VBS, and I’ve learned many things from watching them execute.

They are very creative, and build a story into each VBS. This year they modified the story of Pinnochio to provide spiritual lessons for the children.

Costel and Maria, they run the VBS and star in the show!

Each day we sing songs that worship Jesus.

After the morning story and worship time, we split the camp into five separate groups. There are five different stations that occur: Bible memory verse, English, table games, games of sport, and crafts. Each of our kids was distributed to one of the stations as a helper. This prepared them to run later VBS camps in the summer. We all learned from the year of experience at Emanuel.

To see the hundreds of pictures from this event, please visit our Emanuel VBS gallery on smugmug.

Gallery is here