Dear Wifi…

















Dear Wifi,

A week ago today I moved out of the missionaries house that I’ve been staying in for five-months for a rental with no internet whatsoever.  To be perfectly honest that morning was kind of sad for me because your such a huge part of my life.

  1. You allow me to check favorite websites while I drink that first cup of coffee
  2. Inform me of news and current events after devotions every morning
  3. Update the all important “to-do list” as I plan out the day
  4. Provide websites that help me wrestle with difficult Bible passages during sermon preparation
  5. You let me text my mom and dad every morning after sermon prep so that its (almost) like I’m still at home
  6. Its with you I’m able to communicate all over the world using Social Media and email while eating breakfast
  7. Offer a library of digital books that are vital to the development of discipleship material every morning 
  8. Help me compile articles, videos, and photos from the Internet in one place (Evernote) so that can be easily found for future lesson plans
  9. Fill my mind with music, podcasts, or audiobooks while getting ready, and organizing the house
  10. Let me message people in town so they can know I’m on the way
  11. After morning visits the latest tv programs are a mouse click away as I make lunch
  12. You give me applications that teach the Bible to children, a HUGE help with Bible clubs
  13. I have time to sit on the porch and read a good book because you downloaded it
  14. You deliver pictures, praises, and randomly awesome moments around the world every afternoon
  15. Children in Bible club are on their best behavior because of the games and videos you provided
  16. You allow me to quickly check email while changing out of my Bible club clothes into a t-shirt and shorts so I can play with kids
  17. Netflix is always there so technically I’m not eating dinner alone 🙂
  18. Sitting on the porch after dinner you collect my random thoughts online, and help me organize them into a story
  19. As the day starts to wind down I’m able to further my education, communicate with family and friends, or read articles and books (sometimes all at once)!
  20. And every night before sleep I watch episodes of my favorite tv programs

The thing is I didn’t realize just how big a part of my life you where until I did have you anymore, so these unplugged days are a blessing because they’ve shown my over-dependency on wifi.  Of course you will always be part of my life, but it’s a good thing to know I can actually survive without you.  Having said that, I look forward to being with you again 🙂


Enjoying the Long Walk Home

This morning I sat on the front porch with my cup of coffee as usual but something was different. There were no children walking by on their way to school and shouting greetings of “Mr. John!” or asking if we were having Bible cub that day. The reason for this strange quietness wasn’t a school holiday, but the fact that I moved to a new house Wednesday morning.

Thursday night after being away for five-months the veteran missionaries whose house I was living in returned to the field. This is a HUGE praise since the church has been praying for their return, and looking forward to it. Thankfully the Lord provided a church members rental property that wasn’t too far away so they’ve been able to enjoy the privacy of their own home.

Being at the rental is quite relaxing;

– It’s beyond the city
– The house is actually separated from the road by steps
– And people don’t know where I am (yet)

But parts of the rental aren’t as enjoyable

– Being away from people meant less interaction with friends
– Living without Internet for my last three weeks on the island (think I will live)
– And it was symbolic of a changed ministry role till my trip home on March 8th

With the return of the missionaries my focus has changed

  • Instead of interacting with others in Barrouallie most of my time is spent at the rental house (twelve-minute walk from town)
  • Instead of sermon prep my time is spent on reading and research for future discipleship sessions
  • Instead of nightly Bible studies I focus on writing, and brainstorming for future ministry opportunities
  • So instead of centering on action the Lord has brought me into a season of ministry that centers on planning, behind the scenes work, and lots of study

Now to be honest I’m the kind of person who loves being around people and being active (Bible studies, bible clubs, discipleship) so part of me was “less than thrilled” about entering this season of ministry. But after being here for three days the Lord is beginning to teach me a very important lesson…knowledge of Scripture is better than action.

We live in an activity obsessed culture where success (particularly with men) is decided by how many things were accomplished that day. This definitely isn’t a bad thing, however if we allow that love of activity to affect a philosophy of ministry then certain things are viewed as unimportant.

– Like reading Christian books
– Or studying Theology and Doctrine
– Meditation on Scripture
– Taking long prayer walks
– Mapping out our ideas and plans on paper, then actually thinking through them
– And Memorization of Scripture

The thing is these items are definitely important but they don’t give the immediate sense of satisfaction that may come from checking something off your to-do list. So they and other spiritual disciplines are relegated to the “things we will do when we have more time pile” which unfortunately never gets any smaller. The Lord knows deepening our knowledge of Scripture isn’t one of the fun or easy things to do in life, so occasionally He puts us in a place where it has to happen. The funny thing as we pursue those spiritual disciplines it fills not only our minds but our hearts and lives with a renewed passion for Christ. So that when we leave the planning season of ministry for one that’s centered on ministry those actions are more purposeful and have a deeper impact for Him.

Walking up main street of Barrouallie towards my rental last night was kind of difficult because I was leaving behind wonderful doors that God had opened. But at the same time I do it willingly because I know that knowledge will give more purpose as I walk back down the hill.

Driving to Town and Living to Tell About It














During my six-months on the island many challenges were faced and conquered; whether it was going spearfishing (I manned the boat), learning to live without air conditioning, or walking everywhere instead of driving. But there was always one challenge that kept me up at night…driving into town.

For those of you who don’t know “town”is short for Kingstown, the biggest city in SVG, and the place where you can get pretty much anything. It’s also where you will experience some of the craziest driving on the island.

Though I am getting better at driving (no longer hold my breath while cars pass by) driving into town wasn’t high on my list of things to do because it stressed me out, and this made my driving slow or passive. Trust me when I say being passive is one thing you DON’T want to be while driving in town!

Of course there were moments when I needed to go into town for one reason or another. In those situations I would take what Vincentians call a “van” or public transport. These are eighteen passenger vans that for the fee of $4 will transfer you from where you are into the city. Thats the good news…the bad news is they somehow succeed putting twenty people in the van, rap music is constantly blaring, and they are known to be the most dangerous drivers in the city.

  1. So instead of taking my own van I chose to pay $8 ($4 both ways)
  2. Get crammed into a small space
  3. And listen to rap music while putting my life in danger 🙂

The thing is I was willing to go through that discomfort and annoyance to escape the stress of driving in town. But at the same time part of me wondered if a comfortable ride was worth the stress. Yet I wouldn’t act on that idea myself, God would have to force me.

A few weeks ago a large delivery of medicine was delivered to the Kingstown pharmacy for a medical team coming later this month. As you can imagine this delivery came in very large boxes that couldn’t possibly fit onto public transport.  So for the third time in six-months I drove into town.

For the first fifteen minutes or so I was incredibly nervous, but eventually started talking with a Church member who came along about Christian camps, the “friend zone”, and my return to the States. Before you knew it we were there and actually survived! The interesting thing about that trip was it showed me I COULD drive into town…not only that but I actually enjoyed it since there wasn’t rap music blaring and someones elbow in my ribs!

This week I drove to town three times and each ones been more comfortable than the last. I’m not sure if going to Kingstown will ever really feel like a Sunday drive to me, but I do know facing our fears (whatever they are) makes us realize they weren’t so scary after all.

Why Leaving the House is a Ministry Goal

Over a two-week break in the States over Christmas, I prayed about some changes the Lord wanted me to take during my last two months in Barrouallie.  Some were huge (doing Bible clubs at Church instead of home) some had to do with taking better care of myself (drinking purified water) but out of them all a seemingly insignificant one had the greatest impact….making time for small talk.
Now to be perfectly honest I’m not very good at making small talk with people, actually I am terrible at it.  Some of this has to do with my being an introvert at heart so it takes a while to get from the basic “good morning” to longer conversations.  But I’m also task-oriented so success is evaluated by how many things I was able to accomplish, so having a long talk with someone seems like a waste of time (even when it isn’t).
This view of small talk as an interruption to productivity actually created a deeper problem that the Lord convicted me about late last month.  People almost never saw me outside of the house until Bible clubs started at 3:00 in the afternoon.  In a way staying inside the house was a good thing because it allowed me to focus on research for sermons or discipleship studies, communication, writing, and education.  All of these things are important parts of being a pastor. But at the same time this kept me from interacting from Church members and unsaved in the community.
There were times I left the house but usually there was a specific reason for it.  Anyone who saw my quick purposeful stride (they call it my American walk) and lack of eye contact would know I wasn’t interested in chatting.  And without meaning to I created an idea in their mind that Pastor John wasn’t interested in talking to them.
This revelation led me to make some small but significant changes in my daily schedule:
  1. At least once a day I take a walk of 30 minutes at least that emphasizes stopping and talking with people
  2. During those walks I take the initiative in communicating with people (even if I make myself look like a moron)
  3. Two hours a day will be spent working in the Church building instead of home with the door open so anyone can come by and say hello
  4. At 5:00 every day I change into shorts and play with kids at a playground near home (good chance to chat with their parents)
As I began to leave the house more the Lord allowed me to connect with people in a deeper way
  1. Like a woman who sits out in front of her house almost every afternoon shelling peas, and keeps an eye on the Church for me
  2. A five year old boy who excitedly starts saying “Pastor!” as he sees me walk by his mothers shop and gives me a fist-bump
  3. A mother who brings her little girls to Bible club and sits in so she can hear the story too
  4. Ladies who gather to unlock the playground for the children
  5. Church members who gather at a local shop every afternoon
  6. And teachers at a local school
Its strange but since I’ve begun my morning and afternoon walks more and more people have started greeting me…I even got a “hey man whats up!” last week which is much better than “white man.”  There’s definitely a time and place for privacy so that hard work can be accomplished.  In my case this means the house is an impenetrable fortress from 7:00 am till my morning walk at 11:00.  But after that (particularly around 1:00) my focus turns to interacting with others and building bridges into their lives.
This morning about 11:30 I sat on the front porch of a shop and talked with a lady for about five-minutes.  Our conversation was filled with jokes, good-natured ribbing, and loud laughter.  While this may not be the most “productive” use of my time, it’s definitely the most important.

Why I May Not Come to The Door

Three days after coming to the States for a Christmas break I opened a new document on Evernote and typed in the words “how did I get here?”  The word “here” in that question referred to a place of physical and emotional exhaustion.  All of us have to come to the point where we are just drained and find it hard to be motivated, this is especially true for those in ministry, and Missionaries deal with it more often than most since we are on the front lines spiritually.

Getting to the point of exhaustion isn’t a sin (it happens to everybody) but it’s important that we take time to step back and think about how we got to that point of exhaustion.  Often this evaluation will reveal habits or choices that led towards our being exhausted.

As the list of reasons for my weariness grew I noticed that most of the struggles began in late November….right around the time that kids were out of school on break.

Because this is a Presidential election year on the island schools closed down in early December (the teachers would be connected to the winning political group).  This along with some school holidays because of testing meant the kids spent a lot more time at my house than before.

In the past they would come by after school at 3:00 and our Bible club would run for an hour.  After that I would do some computer tutoring with some of them for another hour, and maybe take a walk.  It was a good system…but take school out of the equation and suddenly they are showing up at 7:00 or 8:00 🙂

At first I tried ministering to all of them but didn’t have the energy so instead I began:

  1. Ignoring them
  2. Telling them to only come at certain times
  3. Sending them away
  4. And  finally shutting everything down so they got nothing

The thing that really bothered me was this change in scheduling (Christmas break) took my normal system and turned into chaos.  Even worse I adapted myself to the chaos by trying to minister to everyone who came on my porch!

Staring at that document three weeks ago the Lord helped me realize how I’ve been called not to adapt myself to the chaos of island life, but create a place of structure within it.  A place where there are rules that must be enforced…and its okay to say no

Around noon yesterday I got extremely nauseous and spent most of the afternoon in bed.  Personally feel this is my bodies way of welcoming me back to the islands heat and thankfully feel much better after getting medication this morning.  Knowing I didn’t have the energy or stamina to teach kids yesterday a note was put on the door informing them that Mr. John was sick so there would be no Bible Club.

I laid in bed at 2:55 as children loudly ran up on the porch and read the letter.  Of course they didn’t just go away 🙂

  • They rang the bell
  • Ran around the house screaming my name
  • Knocked on windows
  • and came back about every half-hour to do it again

Other than one time for some particularly persistent ringers I never came to the door (may have had something to do with the room spinning).

This morning two kids stopped by on the way to school and asked where I was yesterday, after learning in bed they were shocked “but we rang the bell and shouted your name” the boy said.   I explained to him that I was sick and didn’t want to give something to all of them, but in a deeper sense taught him a very important lesson.

Sometimes Mr. John won’t come to the door

so that when he does it will be in the best way possible.