Bethel Fall 2017 Update

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Hey family and friends, thank you for praying during our most recent trip to Bethel! The class I taught this semester was Genesis, where we centered on laying a proper foundation for this foundational book in Scripture. Genesis is chalked full of lessons that are immensely applicable for our own day. In addition to the vital truths about creation in a world attacking the historicity of Scripture and parts of Genesis in particular, the book also covers the rising of God's people Israel. What stood out to me this time is the way God reveals the forming of this nation for us today. He doesn't skirt around issues or make their lives seem dainty and perfect, rather we read in vivid clarity the messiness in their lives.

It is this messiness and brokenness in life that stands out in my mind as we minister across our state. The Bethel and YK-Delta region is not immune to sin's destruction on the family, yet this is not something new. The brokenness of families is Satan's continual offensive strategy going all the way back to Genesis. As God's followers in our own day, it is our collective calling to pray and engage against this brokenness in bold faith.

Please continue praying for God's profound redeeming work in your own life and geography. As you do, recall our state--including the villages--and ask God to bring revival to broken families. Finally, pray with us as we are planning a marriage conference outreach out in Bethel with the seminary in the spring!

- Derek and Laura

 
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Bethel Fall 2017

Greetings to whomever may read this!

It's that time again over the next two weeks for us to embark for Bethel where the book of Genesis is this semester's task at hand. I last taught this book at the seminary about 3 years ago, so I'm excited to return to this foundational book. Genesis is packed full with so many critically important subjects; from God creating all things, to mankind being fashioned in God's image, to the fall into sin, to God's judgment on the world in Noah's day, to the expansion of humanity and cultures across the globe, to the selection and faith stretching of God's forming people, to the hardship of this newly formed people of God.

There seems to be an ever present battle that circles this first book of Scripture. It is at this battleground that we must see God's truth as that... His revealed truth. Like the rest of Scripture, we are left to accept it as such by faith or not.

As I frequently mention on these sporadic updates, please continue praying for the Alaska Bible Seminary in Bethel. I really believe this ministry finds itself at ground zero of an epic battle with spiritual forces unseen. Just as in the days of Ephesus, we must all remain alert to this epic unseen battle all around us (see Ephesians 6). Oh, we MUST see the weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual. Join with us in this spiritual battle through prayer... that God keeps the seminary going forward Biblically with momentum, that God provides godly leadership transitioning in the coming years, that God draws more to attend and be equipped, that more are drawn to Jesus for salvation across the YK-Delta, that more are revived into making disciples, that more pastors are placed where needed, that more churches are planted, and ultimately that wherever you live for God to move mightily in your own life and area!

Thanks! OH, yes one more EXCITING ministry thing to announce. Together with some friends from our church we've completely redone our Gospel outreach videos at our other site, thespreadofHisfame.com 

Check them out and please consider using them in your own outreach! Additionally, we have some outreach cards and tracts that we may be putting up on the site in the coming weeks for people to order. If this would interest you, reach out and let me know either on this gap stander site or the spreading fame site!

 

For the Spread of His Fame,

- Derek & fam

Hell is Real, Time is Short, Jesus Said Go

Akiachak

The Moravian church in Akiachak asked me to speak at their spring youth singspiration this weekend. While I taught a few months ago at the Bethel seminary, a student's friend from Akiachak up river attended class for a day. At the end of that day, she asked if I'd be willing to come speak at their upcoming youth gathering in May. Well, as time passed, I partially forgot and partially didn't know if she was actually serious. However, after receiving a call a couple weeks ago, I realized she indeed was serious.

Thus, I'm on my way to speak alongside Yup'ik church leaders at a youth gathering/singspiration May 19-20. Plus, I also get to bring along a friend who shares a passion for ministry in Alaska's villages. I'm praying for an effective time of ministry for both of us over the next few days! We will be leaving Thursday morning to drive to Anchorage, boarding an Alaska Airlines jet to Bethel, spending the night at the seminary and connecting with folks there, and then boating up river to the village.

I look forward to updating as we go likely on Facebook and as we return here!

- Derek

Bethel Winter 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017 at the Bethel Moravian Church

Sunday, February 19, 2017 at the Bethel Moravian Church

Currently, we are in the middle of our winter 2017 trip to Bethel where I teach at the Alaska Bible Seminary. Truly, it is a privilege to continue coming here as a family, and I pray that our boys are gaining a sense of what missions looks like as they tag along!

The seminary here is plodding forward, though we need more students! I know this seems like a continual request, but it indeed is necessary… even critical. My reasoning for this extends beyond filling seats in the new building. Rather, these villages across the YK-Delta NEED the Gospel and someone to faithfully teach the Scriptures! In other words, there are great needs for church planting! Furthermore, there are villages that have a building but no pastor. Some of the indigenous pastors out here have graduated to heaven or are retiring due to age/health reasons. Consequently, there is a growing gap in upcoming church leaders from this region. Please join us in collective pray for God to move among the Yup’ik people and call some not only to faith, but to pastoral service!

These two weeks we are studying the Pastoral Epistles and vividly seeing how Paul’s admonition to raise up more leaders is critically applicable today as well! Whether Paul to Timothy or Titus, the passion to pass the baton down to other raised up and equipped local leaders is clear. 

Everytime I’m out here the enemy’s attacking influence is obvious in some form. I liken it to Paul’s day when he saw confusion, compromise, and deceptive false teaching creeping into the churches. The YK-Delta of Alaska needs prayer for God to mightily move even through the spiritual warfare, religiousity, and deceptive false teaching that exists.

This past Sunday it was a privilege to preach at the flagship Moravian church for the area here in Bethel (the one we attended when we lived here previously). The text that burned within me was 1 John 3:1 where the apostle John emphasized the love of God. In the end of chapter 2 John connects the false teaching of his day to abiding in Christ. As he moves to chapter 3, John gives more evidence of a true believer… in this case being one whose motivation is the wondrous love of God. As we trace this concept through Scripture, we understand that God is perfectly holy and that our sin dooms us under His justified wrath. We remain cursed under the law and our sin. Yet, we also see that God sent His Son Jesus to become a curse and sin for us as He bore the Father’s wrath. Now in our faith in Jesus as His followers, we can stand apart from condemnation all because of God’s wondrous work of justification in His Son! THIS John writes is the awesome love of God that is to captivate us.

I pray that this glorious love of God penetrates hearts for salvation.

Furthermore, I pray that this glorious love of God continues penetrating my own heart and other believers’ hearts in such a way that propels us forward in devotion and mission.

While the boys are enjoying their time out here with Laura and I as they pass the time swimming at the local above ground pool (this is the frozen tundra after-all) and hanging out as a family fellowshipping with other families here in the evenings, I pray that God will uniquely grip their own hearts with the wondrous love of God. I pray that they will grow up to follow Jesus with their all and that God would even send them into missions of some form.

There are so many needs here, but alas that is true anywhere really. Whether in Soldotna or some place like Bethel, we as the church in Alaska (and anywhere) need to be faithful to the call and leading of God as we live in light of His wondrous love for us!

Lastly, it’s time for us as churches across Alaska to prayerfully discern how we can together play a more involved role in leadership development and church planting across our state. As Paul longed to see the church flourish in Ephesus and on Crete, so I pray for more pastors and church leaders to long to see the flourish across our state’s many villages!

For the Spread of His Fame,

- Derek

Bethel Update

So I realized I never added an update to our fall trip out to Bethel!

Our time out there went very well, and we especially enjoyed seeing the bustling activity around the seminary buildings! Ministry isn't about buildings, but it's exciting when you see buildings God provided filled with people.

The first week I co-taught a pastor/elder retreat the seminary hosts each year. Our focus centered on "Outliving Your Ministry" as a pastor or lay leader and how the role of discipleship and leader development remains critically important for the mission of church leaders. Discussion and receptivity went really well, and we pray for these pastors and other leaders to implement some practical changes back in their own villages!

The second week, I led a course on an Introduction to Biblical Counseling. I always enjoy this class, as we strive to begin instilling in the students a passion for the Word's immense applicability to the problems of life.

Please be in prayer for God to raise up more leaders out here though! While it is exciting to see people in the seminary, the classes handle many more students. Furthermore, it doesn't seem readily apparent that there are many future pastors attending. We are praying and patiently waiting for God to call more prospective leaders for equipping!

For the Spread of His Fame!

- Derek

Bethel Trip Fall 2016

In one week (Oct. 17-29) I embark with my family to Bethel once again for our ministry with the Alaska Bible Seminary. In addition to teaching my usual block course at the seminary (this semester on an Introduction to Biblical Counseling), we are also privileged to be a part of a unique opportunity to further encourage and equip pastors. 

Each fall the seminary hosts a retreat for the Moravian pastors and lay pastors/elders from the villages across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. This year after talking with another pastor friend of mine (Chris Kopp serving the interior village of Galena), I submitted an idea for us to lead the fall 2016 retreat. Next week (Tuesday - Thursday) we are leading this retreat on the theme, "Outliving Your Ministry" where we will be studying how the New Testament calls pastors to be looking toward the future by intentionally equipping/raising up more leaders.

The Moravian denomination in the Bethel region is facing some great needs; from lack of pastors, to youth deserting the faith, to older pastors retiring, to some threats of doctrinal compromise, to moral decay of society in general, to rampant problems with suicide, etc. It seems that never has there been such a time needing the wisdom, challenge, and strength from God's Word.

Will you please join our family in imploring God to build His church across Alaska's YK-Delta? It is our prayer that God raises up more men to herald the Word of God among their own people. At the end of the day, this is our collective passion as Jesus' church;  to see God's glory reign supreme (Phil. 2:10-11). Join us in praying in step with Philippians 1:12 because at the end of the day, our sole message can only be advancing the glorious gospel.

 

Advancing the Gospel,

- Derek & fam

Abkhazia Brief Update

Thank you so much for praying for the trip. All went well thus far. Currently I'm in the air still en-route back to Alaska.

While it is a very beautiful place, there are so many needs and opportunities for the Gospel still in Abkhazia and beyond. May we direct our prayers as Jesus instructed in Matthew 9 for God to send more workers into the harvest fields of the nations!

More in a few days...

For the Spread of His Fame,

Derek

 

UPDATE: All back safe and sound... for a complete update on the trip, head over to the blog update post HERE

Abkhazia Trip!!!

Hey all! I'm excited to announce that God opened an opportunity for me to serve on a short-term mission trip the end of June/beginning of July to the country of Abkhazia (June 28 - July 9).

God continues giving us a fresh passion for missions, and we are looking for opportunities to serve in short-term missions in addition to our Bethel, AK trips. Originally, we looked at going as a  family on a trip somewhere, but this opportunity kept "knocking" on our door. Due to the nature of this trip, it seems wise for me to go "alone" on this one.

Let me say that we do have reservations about short-term mission trips that actually do more harm than good to the targeted culture (a great resource on this here). Thus, we really try to look at ministries where we can legitimately partner together and see followup for continual discipleship efforts. As we considered all the missionaries our church (where I serve on staff) supports, one of my friends who serves at a local mission ministry to Russia (SOAR), told me about this Abkhazia trip. 

On a previous trip, God orchestrated contact with a local church pastor in Sochi, Russia. Well, this particular pastor also oversees several other area churches, including a small network of planted churches in the southerly bordering country of Abkhazia. This small country, about the size of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, is populated by a few hundred thousand. As far as our friends can tell, this small network of planted churches are the only Gospel-preaching churches in the country. 

In addition to wanting to start a Bible institute of some sort, these few pastors in Abkhazia face the war-torn history of their country and the harsh realities of financial, political, and spiritual struggles. We've learned that they stand in need of partnership, encouragement, and support as they seek to be faithful and persevere forward for the Gospel in their little region of the globe.

Thus, my trip will be partnering with our local ministry SOAR as an extension of our local church for the purpose of encouraging this network of pastors and exploring how we can further partner for the Gospel's advance in this region.

My expenses are largely for airfare ($2,550) as well as a few hundred dollars for local on the ground needs (lodging, food). If God places this trip on your heart, our family would greatly appreciate your Gospel partnership (Philippians 4:17)! We still use Central Missionary Clearinghouse for our missions funds. If you've never given to our ministry before, you can also choose donate directly through SOAR's site below. Your donation will go toward the Abkhazia trip regardless which link (CMC) or (SOAR) you give through. THANKS!

- Derek

 

for more info on Abkhazia...  LINK about the disputed country and JOSHUA PROJECT's page on the country

Prayerfully DONATE HERE (CMC)

 

or, if you'd rather donate through SOAR's website,

Donate HERE (SOAR)

if giving here through SOAR, select "Ministry Trip" designation and make a comment as "Abkhazia Trip"