Learning to Love Island Storms

The rain is pouring down as I write this…the kind of island storm that comes up  seemingly out of nowhere, then within about fifteen minutes leaves.  The island storms used to surprise me because many of them would start with a clear blue sky outside then stop two-minutes later.  However I’ve gotten used to them so now whenever leaving the house I try to bring an umbrella just in case 🙂


In a way I believe these island storms illustrate the unique challenge of  those serving the Lord (missions, pastor, Believers committed to Christ) because the attack of Satan can come at any time.  The purpose of these attacks or “ministry storms” is to discourage us from doing the work of God because a difference isn’t really being made.  An emotion that’s strengthened because in that moment all you can see is rain (discouraging things).

Island storms of life focus us on the heaviness of our hearts in the moment as the rain pours down.  However that emphasis on our present pain causes us to forget Gods future deliverance.

In other words, God takes great glory in delivering us when we cannot deliver ourselves.

Satan wants us to believe the island storms of life come because there is something wrong with us

  1. You aren’t working hard enough!
  2. Your just going to fail again (like last time)!
  3.  Make sure nobody finds out you feel this way because they certainly don’t!

But when we view the island storms from the perspective of God’s sovereignty it changes everything.

“That which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God. Our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good.” Jerry Bridges, “Trusting God;  even when life hurts”

So instead of “whats wrong with me?” our question should be

  1. What is God trying to teach me in this storm?
  2. How can I draw closer to Him in this storm?
  3. And how this storm helping me rest in Him instead of relying on my own strength?

It’s absolutely amazing what an impact this different perspective can make…

Last week I started going through an island storm ministry-wise because the end of School meant shutting down weekday Bible clubs.  During the year large groups would come by after school to attend Bible club and the Lord truly blessed.  But as you can imagine the more random summer schedule meant nobody showed up at the regular time.  This was definitely frustrating since the Lord had allowed me to develop a close relationship with many of those children, and I loved teaching them the Gospel.

However as the storms raindrops subsided earlier this week the Lord helped me realize Summer Bible Club (now called “Bible School”) allows me to create a ministry focused more on the teaching of Scripture one on one.  At this point only one boy comes by in the mornings so he can sing bible songs, read a book, listen to a Bible story, and review memory verses (he did bring a friend today) but that is a much deeper teaching ministry than I had with ten to twelve children in the afternoon.

The rain will fall sometimes in ministry and it will break our hearts.  But we can be thankful that eventually that island storm will end, and in that moment God will give us something much greater for His Glory.

Controlling the Chaos of a Children’s Ministry


Editors Note:  As a general rule I don’t share pictures displaying the faces of chldren in my blog posts.  However because this post is about a Bible club that these children attend and it celebrates their maturity,  I’ve included the unedited photos.  I apologize to anyone who may be offended by my doing this.

Yesterday afternoon one of my missionary co-workers came by for a visit and since it was almost time for my Bible club, decided to stay and watch.  I began these clubs at the Church in January after school so kids could meet there before going home, but wasn’t able to start them again till last week since I wasn’t living in town.  The Lord blessed yesterday with a decent group (10-12 I believe) and they worked very hard for me.

My co-worker later told me he was impressed with how hard I was on them (was tougher than he expected me to be) and their obedience.  I’m grateful for the compliment but couldn’t help but smile because in the earlier days Bible Club was much more chaotic.

The truth is in the beginning my ministry with the children was far less structured…it started with glasses of water on the porch, and soon became glasses of juice (koolaid) with Bible stories



Now I’ve worked with children long enough to know if you offer something they want for free lots of them would come, but to be honest I was surprised at how quickly as many as seventeen children started coming to the house after school.  Editors note:  Let me clarify only four to six glasses of juice were given to the best behaved children, I  wasn’t giving out seventeen glasses.

Large Group

As you can imagine having this many children in a small space meant things didn’t go as well as yesterday in the early days, in fact often it could be described as “chaotic.”  In order to combat this I made some big changes to the children’s ministry after returning from a two-week break in the States during Christmas 2015.  The biggest change was moving everything to the Church, but there were smaller ones that I honestly believe did more to help keep things under control, and hold chaotic days to a minimum.

  1. Let them be silly

One of the biggest challenges for children’s ministries (particularly those right after school) is the kids have way too much energy stored up. Most of them have been asked to sit down and be quiet all day long during school, so asking them to do the same thing in a Bible club is almost impossible if you don’t give them an outlet for energy.  I do this by allowing the kids to have five-minutes of “silly time” which just allows them to be active and loud children.

After this we always have a game…their favorite is “good morning mr. frog” where one sits in a chair with their back to us, then children sneak up and say “good morning mr. frog” in a disguised voice.  If the person guesses correctly then they get to stay in the chair, if they’re wrong the person who tricked them sits in the chair.  On days when they are particularly rowdy we also play simon-says, or red light-green light but I’ve learned from experience taking 10 to 15 minutes for fun and games makes them a much calmer bunch.

  1.  CONSTANTLY recognize and reward the right behavior

I’ll admit it took me a while to figure out a system for positive reinforcement for the right behavior, but finally started using the back of a cereal box for a “tick sheet”.  The idea was after someone got twenty good ticks they got to play with my tablet for 30 minutes, since returning we have turned into a monthly contest with extra ticks for people who come to Church.


The tick sheet has really helped in a number of ways

  1. I don’t have to raise my voice in order to get kids to calm down, instead I just get the sheet and start giving ticks for those who are doing the right thing
  2. It allows me to personally call out children who are working especially hard (Samuel you are being really good today, I’m giving you two ticks!”)
  3. It adds a positive competitiveness since they all want to get the most ticks (so they listen and answer questions)
  4. This kind of reinforcement is done constantly and every time the children are reminded about their responsibility to listen and obey

The best part about the tick sheet is it makes the end absolutely painless.  Getting the kids to leave can be incredibly difficult because their having lots of fun.  In the past this may turn out into a game as they tried to get me to chase them around the building, now I just say “okay if you leave right now you get a tick.”

  1.  You must have a lesson/story that keeps their attention


One of the worst things that can possibly happen during a Bible club is for a child to get bored during the Bible lesson.  All it takes is one person to say “this is boring” and suddenly you’ve lost everybody!  This is why a lesson needs to be short (10 minutes max) and have pictures that capture attention.

I absolutely love using the “Jesus Storybook Bible” for clubs and the kids really enjoy it because of the pictures.  Unfortunately holding the book up so the kids can see the pictures means I have to read upside down (harder than it looks) but its worth the effort because not only the words but the pictures capture their attention.  This also helps because I’m able to constantly move the book and no children can say they didn’t see the pictures.


Todays the last day of school in Barrouallie so tomorrow we are starting on a totally new adventure in Summer Bible club!!!  With the summer days I’m sure we will experience new challenges, problems, and forms of chaos but that’s okay.  Because with a bit of work that chaos can be controlled for the Glory of God.

The God Who Provides Luxuries

IMG_0027While preparing to move into my new rental property I made a list of things that were needed, and with the Lords help I’ve been able to check most of those off [1]. Part of preparing that list was thinking about things that I would like to have in my home, and then deciding which ones were legitimate needs.

During the brainstorming process air-conditioning came to mind, but I didn’t even list it as a possibility since;

  1. Fans and sea-breeze can keep a person cool
  2. The air-conditioning units you can buy here are WAY too expensive, and cost a lot to run
  3. And to be honest this was something I could just do without (along with Krispie Kreme donuts and Pepsi)

Thankfully the fact that I could live without air-conditioning didn’t keep God from providing it 🙂

While visiting my missionary partners in town last Friday they showed me an ad in the paper selling a window unit air-conditioner for less than $250 US dollars. At first I thought it was a mistake, but a phone call to the man selling it confirmed that was the price!

The reason it’s so cheap is he had bought it from the States so the voltage is different from SVG (they use 220) and hardly anybody here uses US appliances. After the man realized that air-conditioning unit wasn’t big enough for his house, he was forced to sell it for a low price.

The fact that I will soon have an air-conditioning unit (perhaps as early as tomorrow afternoon) is a reminder that God knows all of my needs…even the ones that I can live without.

Each of us have had to take give up on things we really wanted because those were “luxuries”- Something that would definitely bring happiness but isn’t absolutely necessary.  Most of the times we do without the luxuries of life.   In a sense this is a good thing because it teaches us many of the things we desire are luxuries, and can be lived without. At the same time giving up these things can make us believe God doesn’t want us to be comfortable.

When giving up luxuries (particularly ones important to us) we must remember God sees all of our needs….even the ones we can live without. This doesn’t mean that He will provide for all of them of course [2] but we can know God takes great joy in providing things that make us comfortable as we follow Him faithfully.

sometimes it’s frustrating being away from the comforts of home, but I’m so grateful that on those days I’ll be able to stand in an air-conditioned room, and know God loves me enough to provide the things I can live without.

  1. currently working on a car, which is the last big expense  ↩
  2. God’s goal is my spiritual growth instead of comfort  ↩

A Bachelors Hospitality


Editors note: this post was originally written on June 1, 2016

According to my watch it’s 1:24 Wednesday afternoon, which means in just over three and a half hours Lord Willing, I’ll be officially moving into my new rental property in Barrouallie.

It was two-weeks ago today (Wednesday) when I signed a contract for the home and since then I’ve been very busy.

  1. Buying a stove and refrigerator then having it delivered
  2. Purchasing furniture and a mattress
  3. Getting internet hooked up
  4. And bringing over things from the other rental a little at a time, then one of my large barrels last Monday

When setting up a new home people always have a choice; they can either set it up in a bachelor [1] or family style (which has more comforts). The truth is because of the large amount of expenses (and the fact that I have to buy a car soon) I chose to begin setting my home up in a bachelor style, then raise it to family a little bit at a time over the next year.

Now to be honest keeping my home set up for a bachelor isn’t a very bad thing because I am one! However it’s meant to be a ministry tool for things like discipleship, counseling sessions, fellowships, and bible clubs for children. Unfortunately those things are kind of hard to do with cheap furniture :-), But at the same time I remember that hospitality speaks louder than comfy chairs.

the word “hospitality” makes us think of elaborate meals served on the finest china and desserts amazing enough to make everybody in town jealous. But it can also be a kind word, glass of water, bible story, snack, or glass of koolaid (if your lucky). The reason a culinary masterpiece and a glass of water can both be an act of hospitality is hospitality itself emphasizes acts of kindness.

Seeing hospitality as acts of kindness instead of world-class cuisine is hugely important for me since as a missionary (1) I don’t have the money to create these kinds of meals and (2) I definitely don’t have the cooking skill to do it! But anybody can give out glasses of water and jolly ranchers.

So with God’s help my new house will become known as a place where people can receive hospitality; it may not have the most comfortable furniture, delicious food, or surround sound system. But it will have an attitude of love that won’t turn people away…and in the end that’s what matters.

  1. very basic with small amounts of furniture and cheapest items  ↩

The Curse of My American Weight


Tuesday night marked its being two-weeks since I returned to St. Vincent and I’ve been incredibly busy getting my barrels unpacked, signing a contract on a rental home in Barrouallie, and purchasing furniture along with appliances. Thankfully a Church member has allowed me to stay at her rental property for a few weeks in a nearby area pronounced “Curtain” while the house is getting set up…looking forward to moving in next Wednesday.

The only problem with the Curtain property is it happens to be a fifteen minute walk from Barrouallie and has no internet. So checking an email or sending updates meant I would arrive in town soaked with sweat and totally out of breath 🙂

**Though the walk from Curtain to Barrouallie wasn’t always fun, after doing it for two-weeks I can see how God is using it for His Glory,

While in the States I went out of my way to indulge in junk food, going as far as to instagram Krispie Creme donuts that went along with my pepperoni pizza the day before flying back. This is partly because you can’t get Krispie Creme or a Little Ceaser’s five-dollar pizza in St. Vincent, however I also knew it wouldn’t take long to lose all those pounds I packed on.

While the weight is coming off fast my being out of shape because of over-indulgence has affected the ministry in another unexpected way.

It hasn’t affected my relationships with the people though they greatly enjoy making fun of my added weight [1]and agreeing that America had made me fat. Instead those extra pounds kept me from having the self-discipline in other areas that are necessary for ministry.

It’s easy to forget that missions is a very active type of ministry with a long list of needs to meet, people to care for, and projects to complete. The need for physical fitness is even greater in SVG where you experience a tropical climate, and people normally walk from one place to another [2].

However this isn’t too serious of an issue because most of that extra weights lost within a month (I’ve already lost most of mine). The real issue is my American weight (indulging in junk food) got me out of the practice of self-discipline

Jerry Bridges in his classic book “A Pursuit of Holiness” says this about our connection with physical discipline and Holiness in other areas of life.

”As we become soft and lazy in our bodies, we tend to become soft and lazy spiritually. When Paul talked about making his body his slave, so that after having preached to others he himself would not be disqualified, he was not thinking about physical disqualification, but spiritual. He knew well that physical softness inevitably leads to spiritual softness. When the body is pampered and indulged, the instincts and passions of the body tend to get the upper hand and dominate our thoughts and actions. “ Bridges, Jerry (2014–02–01). The Pursuit of Holiness: Run in Such a Way as to Get the Prize 1 Corinthians 9:24 (Kindle Locations 1069–1073). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

To explain it another way every time I’m not able to turn down a Krispie Creme donut it makes choosing God’s way instead of my own in other areas more difficult. And if indulging in donuts becomes a habit (particularly in certain situations like when I’m emotional or frustrated) then it will be easier to develop habits of laziness or pampering myself in other ways.

Please understand I’m not saying eating a donut is a sin (I love them)! But I’m noticing a habit of physical indulgence I took part in during April is not just affecting me in physical ways.

Suddenly disciplining myself to do things like writing, Bible memorization, and reading Christian books that used to be easy require a lot more work and determination. It’s as if allowing one part of my life to become soft and undisciplined affected all the others!

Will I eat donuts again? You better believe it! And I can guarantee you the first thing I’ll want after seeing my family in the States is a Little Caesars pizza! But at the same time I know my American weight will be a lot less next time since with the Lord’s help I’ll use a lot more self-discipline when it comes to eating. Because it takes a lot longer than two-weeks to rebuild habits of self-discipline.

  1. a friend meeting me at the airport told me your overweight! At first I thought he was talking about my baggage…but he wasn’t  ↩
  2. there are vehicles in Barrouallie of course, but because its small most people just walk from place to place  ↩