Hello Friends and Family!
We pray that each of you are doing amazing and enjoying the summer thus far!
This is a two part update. Part 1: Family, Ministry and YWAM news - Part 2: our 79 cents on being All IN. We hope you enjoy!
We are all getting excited for this next chapter of life. The boys are constantly telling everyone about how they are going to Hawaii and that their next birthdays will be in another country.
Sailor is a chunk and non-stop smiles (except when he is in his car seat….at present he hates the car and lets us all know it!) Banyan and Sebastian are stepping in to their individual role as big brother and big “big” brother so well. It seriously melts our hearts to see them all together.
Recently Caleb, Banyan and Sebastian went to an air show that ended with the Blue Angels flight Demo….. it’s now Blue Angels Mania at our house and both boys have firmly decided that they want to be Blue Angel pilots when they grow up…..and cowboys!
Safe Families for Children
The ministry that we helped to launch in the Sarasota area about 3 years ago, we are now preparing to hand off to the next coordinator. Bethany Christian Services (the umbrella ministry for Safe Families) has officially posted Caleb’s role on the world wide web for people to apply. Please be in prayer that we find the right person, that not only has a passion for the work of SFFC, but also has the capacity to take the ministry to the next level. Caleb’s last official month with Safe Families will be August.
The ministry has seen a good deal of growth over the past few months and 2 days ago we were able to have over 30 of our volunteers together for a family-style potluck. Many of our host families have never met one another, they are spread out over two large counties and attend different churches. While this is helpful to spread a “safety net” for families in a crisis, sometimes it can make our volunteers feel like they are engaging in this effort alone. It was so beautiful to see the families getting connected, trading stories and resources and building new friendships!
The 180 House
One of our dear friends who helps run the 180 House with Caleb is jumping ALL IN….. and it’s awesome! Chris and Ashleigh Lorenz are taking a giant leap of faith and coming on as full time supported missionaries with YFC and the 180 House. Chris just finished his last day as a biology teacher at the nearby high school and is embarking on a crazy journey with the Lord, leaving a stable paycheck and benefits, to connect with youth in a very intentional capacity. We want to encourage you to visit their family’s ministry page and support them as they step out into the unknown - ALL IN! www.lifeoflorenz.com
Sept 25th is the official day that we step foot on the plane bound for YWAM. The quick recap of what we will be doing. 10 weeks of classroom training in Kona, HI followed by another 10-11 weeks of outreach in what is right now looking to be the Philippines or Africa. After the DTS (Discipleship Training School) is completed mid Feb we will be moving out internationally to serve with a YWAM team full time in another capacity. You can read more about that HERE.
We are about 1/3 of our way to financially being where we need to be to complete our YWAM training and are in need of about $23K more dollars.
We are blown away by the generosity that people have shown so far, and the faithfulness of the Lord.
We would like to ask you to pray about financially partnering with us as we embark on this new journey. There are different ways to donate HERE. One fun way that you can come alongside of us is to sponsor the “Thirty-five @ 35” challenge that Caleb is undertaking. You can read more about that HERE, but essentially Caleb will be running 360.2 miles over a certain time period and is currently needing 45 more people to commit to sponsoring $1 per mile to reach the goal. It’s a little crazy but it’s a lot of fun.
We want to thank all of you for your continual prayers and support, it means so much to us. We are so blessed to be walking alongside of you, serving the Lord together!
Love, The Bells
Caleb, Mimi, Banyan, Sebastian and Sailor
Keep Reading below for Part 2!
79 cents of ALL IN
In 1976 it would have been hard to imagine that two young guys building circuit boards in a garage were on the verge of creating the largest and most influential company of our modern age. Even if you’re not an Apple user, your everyday life has been affected by the impact of their designs to some degree or another.
Move further ahead to 1997….. how many of you invested in Amazon stock? ($18 in 1997, currently in 2018, sitting at $1640 a share) If you’re one of the many who didn’t give Amazon a second glance back then (or knew that they existed at all) your not alone, even Warren Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, opted not to invest in Amazon when he had the chance.
At Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting last May, the self-made billionaire said he didn't appreciate the value of tech stocks at first: "I was too dumb to realize. I did not think [Bezos] could succeed on the scale he has." Citing Amazon's massive success, Buffett went on to say he "really underestimated the brilliance" of Amazon's execution and called Bezos "the most remarkable business person of our age.” (Excerpt from CNBC.com)
A few weeks ago we learned that there were a couple of people who had fears about our upcoming season of moving internationally to serve as missionaries with YWAM.
Some were very normal and somewhat warranted fears; “Will it be safe?” What will your children be doing?”, “Will your kids have any friends?”, “What about illnesses?”….. while all valid things to consider as we move forward, they do not cause or should not cause a stop movement, in and of themselves.
One of their fears however, took us by surprise. They decided not to partner with us financially because they were not sure that we would have enough money to do what the Lord has called us to do. I guess it’s a catch 22 similar to getting a mortgage or applying for a credit card; you have to have something substantial for the banks to trust you with more.
It’s true, the odds from “our” perspective don’t seem to be in our favor. $33k is a lot of money to raise and it’s a constant struggle to rest in the calling that the Lord has given us. It’s so easy for us to say, ‘Lord what are you doing? This seems impossible.”
Over the past few years Mimi and I have primarily operated within ministries that require us to live on the support of the Church, friends & family and rest in the provision of the Lord. We have hit some very hard lows while at other times been moved to our knees in tears over the Lord’s faithfulness through the generosity of others.
One story that we have shared a few times happened within the first year of us living on support. On one particular day we had 79 cents to our name in the bank account, and we had rent and utility bills coming due the very next day. It was in that moment that I had a knock down, drag out toddler tantrum towards God. I was in our bedroom on my knees in tears looking up, whining to the Lord about why He had led us to this point. “You told us to come here, you told us to do this and now you are abandoning us….how could you do this?” I went to bed that night hurt and frustrated, determined to give up that “ministry thing” and look for a “real” job the next day.
The next morning I woke up, and with a pit in my stomach went online to take one last look at our wounded and dying bank account. The balance read…. $5,000.79. “What?…. thats not right.” I refreshed the page a few more times…it wasn’t a glitch, it was still there!
I went back to the Lord later that day with my tail between my legs. I was ashamed of the way I had acted out in frustration and anger and I was ashamed at my lack of faith.
(We never did figure out where that $5,000 came from or how it got into our account so quickly. There was no check or deposit info tied to the money at all….. the Lord didn’t leave us an option to say that “the money came from here or there", or was “donated by this person or that person” it was literally manna straight from the Lord.)
Historically throughout the Bible we see the Lord operating in this peculiar way. David appeared to have no chance at all, even with the most advanced weaponry (which he opted not to use) but surprisingly annihilated Goliath with a small rock and a sling. (1 Samuel 17) Gideon defeated thousands of enemy soldiers with 300 guys. (Not before the Lord tested and refined Gideon to get to that number- Judges 6-8). In 1 Corinthians 1:19 Paul reminds the audience that God “…will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning [He] will thwart.”
As I was reading through 1 Corinthians 3, I was challenged with the thought of how I want things to look successful before I jump in. I want to make sure things will pan out, that we will have the funds or resources needed to complete the task. And thats a normal thought, right? Otherwise we would have all invested in Apple and Amazon from the beginning….. but it didn’t look secure, it didn’t look safe.
More often than not when the Lord is nudging or calling me towards something, my initial tendency is to wait, to make sure it’s safe, like the Israelites at the threshold of the Promised Land or run the opposite direction like Jonah.
The odds seem to be stacked against me, I get scared like a deer in headlights or a person about to jump out of a plane for the first time. Why in the world would we do something or align ourselves with something that looked like it wouldn’t work out?… that's just foolishness…
….but it’s in foolishness (in our eyes) that the Lord operates, and if the Lord is operating there, thats exactly where we need to be.
A common theme throughout the Bible is that the Lord uses unlikely people and circumstances to do extraordinary things. Honestly, you could look at almost any person in scripture to see this.
Hebrews 11 (the heroes of faith chapter) is chock full of nobodies, the overlooked, outcasts, refugees and scoundrels of society, but Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us (in referencing Hebrews 11) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”
It’s not the circumstance or the people that we are to look to or to count on, it’s Jesus.
God calls us to do some pretty wacky and downright intimidating things, things that could cost us dearly…sometimes even unto death. On top of all of that He wants us all in, not just our big toe in the water.
Both feet…hands off the boat….eyes locked on Jesus…ALL IN.
1 Corinthians 3 goes on to talk about what we invest into what the Lord is calling us to. Do we give a little of our time and a little of our finances…. or do we give until it hurts? The exact verbiage is “…building on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw” and that fire will test the work (or investment) that we have made.
As we move out to YWAM and then into the unknown we were hit with the thought of our investment. We told the Lord that we are all in… and when we said that I don’t know that we fully knew what that meant (but thats probably the point). Through this process we are soberly reminded that the commitment of “all in” doesn’t just mean us (Mimi and I, that’s easy), but our 3 boys as well (and that’s hard). We are investing with the most precious things to us, and trusting that the Lord is a much better father than we could ever dream of being.
We don’t know what this next season will hold, there are so many things that are stacked against us….. but we are confident that we are answering the call that the Lord gave us. We are not valiantly running through the door, in fact at times it feels like we are clawing at the doorframe. But, He gave us the call, and if He gave us the call we know that He is with us, fighting for us; just like He was with David against Goliath, and Gideon and the 300 men against the Midian army, and how He was when we had 79 cents in our bank account.
In a society that rewards absolute protection and preparedness, from Life Insurance, 401(k)s, Brinks Home Security, gated communities within a gated community and mapped out life plans from Pre-K through 75 years of age… following the Lord is absolutely ludicrous.
1 Corinthians 3: 18 - 23 "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
Going “all in” with the Lord is something that has challenged me for years (and it continues to challenge me). But the truths presented in 1 Corinthians 3 and the examples from the heroes of scripture encourage me to step forward, and to step out in confidence into the unknown and into what at first, second or even third glance seem to be foolish.
Our hope is that it will do the same for you. Hopefully it will cause you to look at each day with a new and radical (or foolish) perspective and jump in, “all in”, with the Lord. Maybe thats as simple as sharing your faith with a co-worker, or buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line? Maybe thats becoming a little more committed at your home church….or maybe it’s committing to partner with someone going on a short term mission trip or moving overseas full-time…. or maybe the Lord is calling you to go (locally or abroad)? To drop your nets and to follow Him, sharing the wonderful and life giving news of Jesus Christ!