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!
Hey friends. Mimi here. :)
As we’ve been preparing for this next season of “going” ahead, we’ve experienced a range of emotions. We are excited for how the Lord is leading us and simultaneously nervous about all of the unknown ahead. We’ve had our friends and family cheer us on and we’ve also heard the “rational” fears of those closest to us as well, urging us to stay.
In my quiet time the other morning (hardly “quiet” with three little boys around), God opened up a piece of scripture for me, as a reminder and encouragement for the path we are on. I wanted to share that with you in hopes that it would encourage you as well.
Numbers 14 tells the story of when Caleb and Joshua were sent with a group of spies to the Promised Land, to scout it out. When they came back to the people of Israel with their report the majority of the spies said “Go back! They’re too big! It’s too scary! There’s too much danger! We’ll never survive!”
Caleb and Joshua tried to remind the people…. the Lord was with them, He had given this land to them and they could trust Him, no matter how big the enemy seemed.
The people didn’t listen to the truth, instead they listened to logic, to fear and to the masses.
They forgot the call the Lord had placed on their lives, the promise, their inheritance and ALL of the blessing ahead. They said “no” to God because they were too afraid. God didn’t make them obey, He didn’t say “ok, I’ll wait until you are ready,” or strike them down on the spot (though it appears He considered it.)
Instead, he said “Ok, I’m going to re-route you. You are going to spend 40 years wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. Your children will suffer for your faithlessness while you wander and your little ones (who you were so protective of and worried about) THEY will inherit the land. They will see your foolishness in not trusting me, they will realize my promise.”
The people of Israel missed out on so much good, on the land flowing with milk and honey, on the blessings God had prepared for them because they were too afraid.
How easy it would be to decide based on fear, on logic or the mass opinion to keep our children “safe” here in the comfort of our home. How easy it would be to say “no” to all of the unknown, to hold our children tight and try our best to keep them from the dangers and “giants” lurking out there. How easy it would be to miss out on the GOOD that God has prepared for us and cause our children to needlessly suffer, because we are trying to do things our own way.
This concept and this call challenges me every day. I don’t feel super brave or feel like I have it all figured out.
In the midst of any fear and the uncertainty of the future… I choose to remember God’s faithfulness to us. He has never let us down. I choose to listen to that faint whisper of the call I once heard to missions. He continues to stir it up in our hearts in so many ways. I choose to believe that God IS with us, wherever we go. He makes us aware of His sweet presence everyday. I choose to trust that He knows what’s best, He knows what lies ahead, and His purposes are for GOOD. He is Good.
I’m praying that God would continue to solidify this whole-hearted trust in me, and in you as well. You may not be making any major life change right now, but everyday we have opportunities to listen to the world’s “wisdom” or that still, small voice of truth.
We covet your prayers and support as we embark on this new voyage! To journey with us, visit www.belllog.org
Well…. it’s official; not that it wasn’t officially official before, but now it’s really officially official, if you know what we mean. :)
We purchased our one way airline tickets to Kona, Hawaii, departing on September 25th, to start our new season serving with YWAM. (If YWAM is new news to you be sure to read more of the back story at www.belllog.org) We will be quite the crew with 3 adults, 2 crazy kids and one baby. Caleb’s sister, Tori will be joining us for the DTS to help out with the boys while we are in classes and to experience a gap year of sorts with YWAM. We are so excited to have her with us, she is such an amazing young lady; full of compassion, love and a heart after the Lord!
The boys are excited (mainly for the airplane rides) and are already asking about what toys they can pack.
As we are making the transition from our current ministry roles, we have been asking the Lord to raise up the right people to step in. Over the past month we have seen tremendous growth in the volunteers with Safe Families, and people who are interested in carrying the torch as we leave.
Please join with us in praying for the continued strengthening of the ministries we are a part of and the new people that will be involved!
We also wanted to thank all of you who have sown into what we are doing through prayers and finances. We cannot begin to tell you how encouraging that is to us. You are equal parts to the work that the Lord has called us to. Your partnership has literally changed the lives of so many children and families in southwest Florida. We are eager to bring you along as fellow laborers as we venture into a cross cultural setting in the coming months…. it’s going to be an exciting journey for the lot of us!
If you having been praying about partnering with us please follow this link www.belllog.org/connectdonate
We wanted to sign off this update with a song that was penned by Frances R. Havergal back in the 1870s. This song was performed at our wedding and was (and continues to be) our anthem. We hope that it is an encouragement to you as well!
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
We would love to introduce the newest member of the Bell Family. The son of two very proud parents and brother of two, extremely excited older brothers! Born 30 Dec 2018... Sailor Makai Bell!
In our last ministry update we promised you some big news…. and……(drum roll) we’re moving!
More on that in a bit, first we want to update you on family and ministry from the past few months.
The boys are so much fun to be with this Christmas season (they are always fun) but this is the first year that both of the boys are collectively super amped for this season and the month of celebration leading up to the 25th. On top of that they can’t wait for their Christmas baby brother to get here soon!
Mimi and the newest Bell baby are doing incredible as we inch our way to the Dec 29th due date. Mimi is an ultra athlete; continuing to take care of two crazy boys, coordinate the nursery program at Oasis, help out with Safe Families, and run a household….. seriously, she is one amazing woman! Please continue to pray for them as this pregnancy comes to a close and we welcome our little boy into the world!
The 180 House is continuing to grow and attract more area Youth each week. It’s exciting to see kids come alongside of their peers with a passion for Christ and a zeal to tell their friends about the hope thats inside of them. This past week we had our inaugural Christmas party where the highlight (for me) was having 25 kids around the fire and reading the story of the Baby King from Luke 2. Reading the Christmas story has been a tradition in my family since I can remember (something we have continued with our boys) and it was so special to read this with teenagers, some of whom were hearing about the birth of the Savior from scripture for the first time.
The month of November has been exciting and encouraging for the ministry of Safe Families. We want to thank everyone who attended our 2nd Annual Gala and for supporting and surrounding this ministry with prayer, finances and your time. We have seen a surge in volunteers and churches wanting to plug in and we were also blessed to see a mom make a decision to choose life. This was a new situation for us, as we primarily work with parents who are trying to avoid their children having to enter the welfare system, or just need a helping hand to get back on their feet. The Lord completely touched this young mother and she agreed to cancel the appointment that had been set for the following morning to end her child’s life. Not having been in this situation before proved to be an exercise of emotions, ending with joy, hope and life. God is absolutely incredible and it was a massive blessing to see Him work!
Okay, the big news… Yes, we are moving, but not until September 2018.
So, what are we doing?
Well, we will be leaving for YWAM (Youth With A Mission) www.ywam.org to attend an 11 week discipleship training course in Kona, Hawaii and then immediately leaving for a 10 week outreach somewhere globally. (We are not sure where that is yet, but in past DTS’ they have partnered with folks in the Philippines, Mexico and Uganda. So there is a good chance that we will be going to one of those spots.) Once we are finished with the outreach we will be joining a YWAM team/base somewhere globally. Again, the specifics of that are unknown and totally up to where the Lord leads. We can tell you that we feel the Lord urging us to help in the refugee crisis in the EU and ME; possibly partnering with the YWAM Refugee Circle longterm. www.ywamrefugeecircle.com
We would covet your prayers as we prepare to leave, for us and the boys. It’s a big undertaking, physically, financially and emotionally but in the midst of it we are eager to see the Lord move in confidence, endurance, provision and wisdom.
Please share our updates with any friends or family who you feel might like to hear about missions, YWAM and refugees and direct them to our page at www.belllog.org where they can subscribe for future updates and to track with us.
If you would like to partner with us financially, specifically for this new journey with YWAM, please click here for info on how to do that. PARTNER YWAM
If you would like to sow into to what we are doing on a monthly basis, you can learn more on how to do that here. Partner Monthly
Again, we cannot tell you how much your friendship, encouragement and prayers means to us; it is humbling and a true blessing!
The Bell Family
This past September was one that will for sure go down in the record books. Massive hurricanes, widespread tornadoes, earthquakes, Bali volcanoes, political unrest, military offensives and a growing number of worldwide refugees…. it’s overwhelming and frightening at times. But there is one thing that has given us strength and hope through all of this.
Each month our boys work on a memory verse at church and for the month of September their verse happened to be from Deuteronomy 31:6. This verse takes place when the Israelites were preparing to finally cross over the Jordan to the promised land. Moses is stepping back and Joshua is being commissioned to take the lead. There is a great deal of change and uncertainty that is taking place. They have been waiting/preparing to enter this land for so long and the time has finally come…you can just imagine the nerves from the years of built up anticipation!
Moses encourages them in this moment in verse 6, and says “ Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave or forsake you.”
I love that this verse was our anthem of sorts for this past month…reminding us that no matter the circumstance or situation, the Lord will always be with us and because of this we can be strong and courageous. This doesn’t mean that everything will always work out the way we hope or envision…. sad, difficult and overwhelming things will happen, but Jesus will be there to give us the strength we need.
We live in an older, wood frame home and seeing a category 5 hurricane heading our way was unsettling. We landed on the decision to drive north to spend time with family in Chicago. It was weird packing things up, driving away and not knowing if we would be homeless in a few days….. this feeling was shared by many people and social media was abuzz with anxiety, fear and doubt (with the occasional “Lt. Dan” machismo-ism of being a Floridian sprinkled in there as well).
Driving north we started talking about all of the millions and millions of refugees around the globe. Many of those families were displaced because they were running for their lives, not from of a giant storm, but because another group of people wanted to kill them.
The storm that we were running from (in many cases) actually brought out the best in people. Neighbors and strangers alike came together to care for the people who were evacuating. Globally, many refugees don’t experience this warm greeting but rather, are met with resentment and closed doors. I can’t imagine the feeling of losing everything because someone wants you, your wife and your children dead only to be met with anger and resentment on the other side…… what a terribly isolated and lonely position to be in.
In light of the slight discomfort we experienced we had a massive burden to share some amazing ministry partners with you … we have dear friends around the world who do incredible work with refugees and displaced people groups. They are in constant need for more resources and volunteers to continue doing what they do. We want to encourage you to take some time to visit the links below and connect on some level.
Frontier Alliance International (FAI) - “Is a company of people committed to exalt the worth of Jesus Christ among the unreached and unengaged. At the end of the age and through: Local (Evangelism and discipleship) Regional (training and mobilization) and International (recruitment and advocacy)” www.faimission.org
The Refuge Initiative - “Building camps of refuge, restoring dignity and hope, and providing pathways back to independent living for those running from persecution.”
YWAM Refugee Circle - “Besides the biblical command to love the stranger and foreigner amongst us, we believe God has greater purposes for those who are displaced and seeking refuge.
In a time where mass migration is mostly associated with fear, and responded to from a place of self-preservation, we believe God has called the global Church to step forward - to not only receive the foreigner amongst us with dignity and love, but to also go - at the cost of self - to serve those who are seeking safe passage.
The YWAM Refugee Circle is a platform for teams and individuals that desire to serve in this time of crisis, as well as a place of connection point with long-term partners in the field who need committed workers, willing to lend strength in ministry”
In our next ministry update we will share more about the happenings of Safe Families for Children, the 180 house and the happenings of the Bells. We will be announcing some big and exciting news! (not the new baby…. that is exciting but thats not the news. Little dude is doing awesome, growing strong and is due Dec 29th.) So be on the lookout for our next update!
We love all of you guys and covet your prayers and partnership. We can do what we do because of your support! To sow into the Bell family and the ministries in which we serve please visit the donate page here
Caleb, Mimi, Banyan, Sebastian and soon to be, baby Sailor
Hey Family and Friends,