[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] Build Bridges

BUILD BRIDGES

Bridge building is a spiritual mandate that followers of Jesus are called to pursue. Hezekiah, in 2 Chronicles 28-30, with his great faith and radical ”all-in” obedience, and his people were preserved and experienced a great revival in his generation. At this key time, we are called to be the human bridge that connects the power of God to people that don’t yet know Him.

“The destinies of societies are shaped by great men and women who act boldly at key times.” -Thomas Carlyle

This past week my parents and brother’s family were able to spend a few days with us in Seattle. While here, I showed them around our city and opened their eyes to the realities in which we live. For lunch one day, I took them to eat at a Hong Kong style Dim-sum restaurant in Chinatown. It’s one of our favorite places to eat and was sure to be a cultural experience for them. This was as close to China as I’ve ever been able to get my brother. As he fumbled his chop sticks in the middle of this bustling authentic Chinese experience, he asked me, “How are you going to reach all these people?” It was a great question that I’ve wrestled with for the better part of 10 years. I told him that we have to build bridges into their lives. For me personally, this specific bridge is knowing their culture and language. In just a sentence or two, I can step into the Chinese world and make a new friend. We don’t always have that obvious or clear bridge, but we are called to find one and stand in the gap. Standing in awe of how God saved us from destruction. Interceding for the lost souls around us. A missionary in China once said,

“I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second, and third places and teaching the fourth.”

Please pray for bridges in your own life and in the lives of missionaries around the world.

This past month, Kathy’s 44 year old brother passed away. In the thickness of shock and grief, we are still processing this great loss. In some ways, it’s as if our family table is now without one of it’s legs. The remaining legs wobble and teeter as we learn how to imagine life without him. I’m thankful that Kathy could spend a week in Georgia with her family during this time. In the strength of Jesus, she spoke at the funeral and reflected on her relationship with Danny and the joy he created around him. We ask for continued prayer for our family as we grieve his loss.

As our vision expands for The Landing Church and Awakening Church, I invested several days visiting some of The Landing Church partnering churches in Tennessee and Arkansas. Each pastor I met gave me such encouragement and support for our God-given vision and their future support. Planting churches continues to expand our hearts and deepen our faith to complete dependence of Jesus. We know that nothing on earth is more powerful than the Holy Spirit flowing through the faith of a devoted disciple of Jesus. 

The church planter/pastor assignment is a key role, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Under the surface of the water we find the most significant 90+% which certainly includes partners that prop us up, encourage, fund, serve, and pray for the work of God. Without the underlying support, planters tend to isolate and burn out. We are beyond grateful for our partners (you) that stand with us for the sake of the gospel. We pray that your care for our emotional and spiritual health will result in a long and faithful ministry.

God’s will done God’s way and in God’s time will never lack God’s favor. 

Missions teams also play a strategic part of starting a church. They break ground through prayer walking. They provide the needed hands and help for outreach events that reach greater numbers in a community. They encourage us by their helping hands and hearts. This past week a team of 17 from a partnering church in Arkansas came to serve along side of us. They came with servant hearts and helped us further develop relationships in our community by serving an elementary school, assisting with our homeless ministry, after school programs and multiple other projects. It’s amazing how doors open as we love and serve our community. Thank you CBC Jonesboro, for your surrendered hearts willing to serve tirelessly for the advancement of the gospel. We certainly welcome other partners to prayerfully consider similar short-term mission trips to help us “bridge the gap” in Seattle.

We thank God for your continual support

The Daily Habit of Every Missionary

Daily habit with love

For church planters like us, we face what seems to be a sea of endless challenges. As we approach our 9th month on the field, on a weekly basis, we face challenges that could easily deter our faith. These aren’t the challenges of physical suffering, persecution, or even the cultural challenges we faced in China. In some way, those challenges almost seem as if they would be more acceptable. No, these are the small sufferings of every church planter or missionary…the challenges of unmet expectations, frustrating new processes to learn, the absence of deep friendships and support systems, and other complications that seemed to be simple tasks in our last season.

Church planter training is both helpful and necessary, but nothing could completely prepare us for all of the details involved in planting a church in a new culture. Without Christ, we could easily become overwhelmed by our transition and be consumed by trivial tasks. Some days it seems like it would be easier to sacrifice our time with God and spend more time figuring it out ourselves. But in the midst of these difficulties, we seek refuge in God’s Word and find hope in Him alone…even if we sometimes enter His presence with more complaints than thanksgiving.

We are continually convinced that abiding in Christ is the only way we can survive. When we venture outside of our comfort zone into a life of obedience and faith, we begin to realize how our daily time with Jesus is critical for our spiritual health.

Even though Kathy and I share the same transitional experience to Seattle, we have processed it uniquely. We are two people living in the same house and walking through this together (with three little people), yet leaning into Christ with unique personal needs and desires.

Kathy is an amazing wife and mother with a seemingly endless job. From packing lunches, getting kids ready, driving to and from schools and appointments, leading a weekly ESL Bible study, teaching fitness classes, building relationships in the community, serving in and through our church(s), and putting up with me…I don’t know how she does it all.

Meanwhile, I am in my element in some ways, but trying to “figure it out” in so many others. No office to administrate, no late-night calls to the hospital, and no staff to lead…I find myself in some ways robbed of an identity (…an unhealthy identity I might add). The expectations I had in place were (and are being) quickly replaced by the reality of planting a church in the Pacific North West. 

We have no way of knowing what doors God is going to open for us. However, when He opens them, He expects us to walk through them…trusting Him throughout the journey. Over the past couple months, God has opened a door for us to step into The Landing Church, a five-year old church plant in need of an interim pastor. Each week, we see the positive results of that obedient step.  We are praying that God would give us clarity for the long-term vision and direction for The Landing Church as we work to plant Awakening Church later this year.

Never has our daily time with Jesus been more critical for our spiritual well-being.

In this season, we are rediscovering what we already knew as truth. We cannot live without feasting daily on God’s Word, abiding in Jesus, and spending focused time in prayer. Attending a gospel-centered church does not adequately strengthen us for everyday challenges. Simply being part of a team of Great Commission focused people is not enough to calm our anxious hearts. Instead, the assurance of the presence of God and the God-breathed wisdom of Scripture protect us from being immobilized by the challenges of the mission field. One day at a time, one relationship at a time, one gospel conversation at a time…God’s plan is unfolding for us. We rest and abide in him.

Thank you for partnering with us for the sake of the gospel. God is at work! 

Please join us in praying for the following things:

  1. Our family and the daily challenges of living on the mission field.
  2. The time-line and relationships as we move toward planting Awakening Church later this year.
  3. The long-term vision and direction for The Landing Church.

[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] 3 ways to live because of Easter

3

It’s Easter week and we are excited about all the opportunities that this season naturally opens. Over the past several weeks, we have dedicated time in our ESL class discussions to the Easter story. At the conclusion of class, we ask how many people have ever heard the Easter story before. So far, we’ve only had two people that had heard about the victory found in the Easter story! We are so thankful for the opportunity to share the life-changing gospel with people in Bellevue.

Over the past several months, God has given me several opportunities to preach at many churches in western Washington. The Landing Church in Bothell, WA is one of those churches. The pastor, Andy Brown, and I have formed a great relationship over the past months as we have relocated to the area. Andy planted The Landing Church about five years ago.  They have done a great job connecting and serving the east side of Seattle in the name of Jesus Christ. They have seen over 70 people come to know Jesus and have made great strides in making multiplying disciples. They have had a significant impact on this community and the Kingdom of God.

About a month ago, Andy asked me to pray for their family as God was leading them to transition to Alabama to care for his father-in-law. After many conversations and prayer, The Landing Church has asked me to step in as their interim pastor during this season of transition. As we continue with our vision to plant Awakening Church in Bellevue, we sensed God open this door for us to expand our reach. This Easter weekend will be my first weekend as the interim pastor at The Landing Church.

As Easter quickly approaches, we are drawn to 1 Corinthians 15 where we find one of the most detailed descriptions of the resurrection of Jesus. At the end of the chapter, Paul thanks God for the victory of Easter and immediately follows it up with three ways to live. As our vision is expanded, we’re focusing on these three ways to live!

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58

3 WAYS TO LIVE BECAUSE OF EASTER

1. With Abnormal Stability

Steadfast and immovable are the words that Paul uses. Is my life a picture of abnormal stability? Is my life anchored in the good news of Jesus and His victory at Easter… or am I shifting with the winds of challenging circumstances, relationships, and realities of our fallen world?

The Empty Tomb teaches us that God is powerful, faithful, and willing. We no longer need to live in fear and doubt; we can stand on the Rock…He is stable.

2. With Long-term Activism

Because of Easter, we should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” This should push us to be hopeful, courageous, and motivated. If we actually believe that Jesus defeated death, and that He reigns in power, what should we fear?

Because of Easter, we believe in victory, transformation, deliverance, and abundant life.

3. With Real Hope

We must interpret life by looking through the lens of the empty tomb of Jesus. Because of the victory of Easter, we believe that our present work that God calls us to “is not in vain.” Paul tells us to root our heart in that truth.

In the darkest of circumstances, when God seems to be silent or even absent, we can have hope! May our celebration of Easter not be limited to a weekend. Instead, let our confidence in the Risen Christ shape our everyday lives.

Thank you for partnering with us as we pursue a life of obedience and faithfulness, dedicated to making the name of Jesus known around the world.

Please join us in praying for…

  1. Our developing vision as God expands our ministry platform and reach.
  2. The development of our new life rhythms as I step into leadership at The Landing Church in Bothell, WA.
  3. For God to continue raising up partnerships and core team members willing to journey along side our vision to plant Awakening Church in Bellevue.

[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] Come Sail Away

I’m not a big hiker and I’ve never sailed before. But there are principles of hiking and sailing that directly apply to the way we live our lives.  In my church planting orientation, trainings, books, and cohorts there has been a great deal of emphasis put on planning and strategizing. While planning has helped us develop and clarify our vision, we’ve learned to plan in pencil recalling, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

We do like to make plans…but planning assumes predictable and unchanging pathways similar to a hikers dependance on a map to navigate. In the planning process, there are fixed points that can be anticipated because the paths and landmarks don’t change much over time. Their presence is predictable.

But imagine the context of a sailor on the open water. There are few landmarks or fixed points that provide an ever-present constant. Storms, shifting winds, and changing currents require an entirely different set of skills to navigate. Similar to navigating the seas, observing and adapting to our ever-changing environment is essential.

We are reminded everyday that North America is the largest English-speaking mission field in the world (although 40+% of Bellevue, WA speaks another language at home). As Will Mancini urges…

The Church can no longer think and act like club members; we must think and act like missionaries.”

As we live as missionaries on the east side of Seattle, God continues to open new relational doors.  In my regular routine of hair cuts, I’ve developed good relationships at a local barber shop.  Most of the workers in the shop are from the middle-east and they refer to me as “Preacher man.”  My regular barber, Michael, and I have had some great gospel conversations over the past few months.  The door opens a little more each time I’m there. When I first met Michael, I added him to a prayer list of people I regularly pray for.  A couple weeks ago I mentioned to Michael that I prayed for him each week and asked him how I could pray for him specifically.  With tear filled eyes, he shared how grateful he was and how I could pray.  I let him know that I’d be preaching at three different churches in November and I invited him to come when he could.  This past Sunday, after a 20+ year hiatus from any church, he showed up to hear me preach. After the service, he sent me a text message that read…

Jonah, I really enjoyed the service. Felt like Jesus was talking to me face-to-face. Thanks for the invite and the prayers. I’m excited because I know that He who began a good work in me is faithful to see it through.

I’m so thankful that God brought us together and how He is working in Michael’s life.  I look forward to my next haircut!

For Thanksgiving, we invited 7 new friends to our house for dinner.  Most of those that came had never had a traditional Thanksgiving meal before. We got to express our gratitude to God for his son, Jesus, and for bringing us new friendships. We then prayed together and had a great time teaching them about Thanksgiving traditions and what we are thankful for.

Holidays provide such great opportunities to share the good news with people all around us. This week we began Christmas conversations in our ESL class.  We read and explained the Christmas story in the book of Luke, sang Christmas songs, and talked about Christmas traditions.  Our ESL class turned into a special time of discovering Jesus. I could see faces light up as we read the Word of God. Jesus showed up to Talk Time!

I hope these few stories help paint the picture of what God is doing in, around, and through us.  We have a great focus these days on our preparation. While planning relies on predictability, our preparation helps us stay focused during times of uncertainty and seize the opportunities God gives us. We continue looking for ways to bless and serve our community.

As sailors on the open seas, we are continually praying, learning, and discerning what God is doing. As each day unfolds, we are beginning to discover God’s unique vision for us and the planting of Awakening Church.

I am continually reminded that my Kingdom vision really isn’t about me at all. And “It’s actually not really about [Awakening Church]. It is about the Kingdom assignment of unleashing a wave of God’s reign across [the east side of Seattle]— and way beyond.” -Jeff Christopherson, Kingdom First

Please join us in praying specifically this month for:

1. The development of our core team.

2. Partnering churches and individuals to help support the launch of Awakening Church.

3. Our ESL classes and the developing relationships God is beginning.

When God Calls – Kathy Easley

This past month my wife, Kathy, was asked to write a blog post for By Faith She.  I’m honored to share life with this amazing woman/wife/mother who lives in daily pursuit of God. Whatever God is calling you to today, I hope her story inspires you to say YES Lord!

One of my favorite things is to hear a testimony from someone who said “Yes!” to God’s calling on their life. In elementary school, I was in a group called GA’s (Girls in Action), a church program for girls to learn about, pray for, give to, and get involved in missions. It was exciting for me anytime a missionary would come and speak to us about what their life was like on their mission field. Little did I know that one day God would call me to a foreign mission field.

I distinctly remember the day I knew that my husband and I would be moving overseas. My husband was a high school pastor and had recently returned from leading his second mission trip to China. I came home from work one Monday and it was clear he had been deeply burdened about China and sensed God leading us there. Through much prayer and fasting, we felt certain God was calling us to China. And to the shock of my husband, without hesitation, I said yes! I had traveled abroad to seven different countries, but had never been to China. The Lord had been preparing my heart and mind for this well before this day. God has a way of confirming His will through other people, through His Word, and through the alignment of circumstances that cannot be coincidence. I couldn’t see what the whole picture looked like, but He showed me what step to take at that time. That was my role in all of this – to take that step. It required faith and trust in a God who knows what He’s doing and who has it all figured out even when I don’t. This is how I can partner with Him in making an impact for His kingdom! He leads and I follow with complete trust in the God who sees the end from the beginning. Beautiful submission!

As excited as I was to get to China, it was quite a daunting task to prepare to move our entire lives to a foreign country. There were less than five months from the time we were sure of God’s calling to China until we actually landed there. God had opened a door for us to teach English, but we didn’t know what ministry would look like. Even though God didn’t show us a blueprint of His plans before we got there, He went before us each step of the way. Moving to China was a big step of obedience, but it was only the first step. Being submersed into a new culture drove us to complete dependence and obedience for every part of our journey. We’ve been back in America for a few years now, and I love reflecting on our four years in China. I could never have imagined all God had planned for us there. When we arrived, we felt unqualified and unprepared in many ways. However, looking back, I can see how God had prepared us for ministry in China well before we moved there. And while in China, God was preparing us for church planting in the Chinese populated city of Bellevue, Washington, where we currently serve.

M. David Sills, in his book The Missionary Call, shares one of the best quotes I’ve heard about God’s calling. He writes, “His call is for life, but the ways and places where we fulfill it and live it out will change throughout our lives as He guides.” It is vital that we understand that as believers and followers of Jesus, we are all called to live our lives on mission. Sharing Jesus with the world is not reserved only for those with seminary degrees or years of ministry training. The Great Commission Matthew 28:19-20 is for all believers. While God did call us specifically to a foreign mission field for a season, we are called to live our lives on mission wherever we are. Every believer is called to leverage their life for the spread of the Gospel. This means that your home, school, work, social media, with your friends, at a coffee shop, are your mission field. God may never call you to a foreign land, but know that He has called you, as follower of Christ, to join Him in His mission every day of your life.

Obeying God’s call on your life is the best and wisest decision you can make. It brings blessing because God honors those who honor Him. Obedience to God’s calling also involves submission to His authority and plans over your own. Remember that when you submit to God, you are submitting to One who is good, loving, and never changing. He is all-powerful. He makes possible the impossible. Obeying God demonstrates trust in His goodness and control over all things.

Is there something you have sensed the Lord calling you to do? Whatever that looks like for you, becourageous! You don’t have to see the entire picture to be obedient. Be obedient in taking the first step. It can happen right now. He who called you is faithful.

[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] Movement

We desire a movement of God. Period. We came to the Northwest with this desire but didn’t assume that we would be the catalyst for such movement. A movement of God  is the work of God. Therefore it cannot be planned, but it can be prepared for.

With that understanding, we stay on our face before God pleading with Him to draw the hearts of our city to Him.  In our context, we feel certain that constructing a building and opening the doors with the expectation of people showing up will make little to no impact on the Kingdom of God. The work that God has called us to is purely relational. One relationship at a time. One disciple of Jesus…making another disciple of Jesus… that makes other disciples of Jesus…and so on. This means that we must be willing to meet people where they are, invest in and develop healthy relationships, and be willing to walk alongside them as they discover who Jesus is.

I’ve discovered something that you probably already know. It’s easy for me to meet people when I spend time out and about in my city…looking for people! But it’s easier for me to live my life for myself and my family with no concern or care for those around me. God continues to open my eyes to see more of how he sees the world…with a genuine love and concern for the hearts of all people.

A few weeks ago, we began an ESL ministry with a group of Chinese adults looking for
community and conversational English practice.  In our opening remarks, I shared about our love for China and Chinese people which sparked some credibility and curiosity. When it came time for questions, we were asked, “Why would you leave America to move to China?” This question coming from a group that worked as hard as they could to get to America. “Thanks for the softball,” I thought to myself! This opened the door for me to share about my relationship with Jesus and my desire to share the life-changing gospel with the people of China.  As I finished with my response, many were smiling and they began clapping. What a response! Most of them are not believers, but were moved by our sacrifice, willingness, and our love for their people and nation.  Relationships have begun to grow with several of the participants over the past few weeks since the beginning of our Talk Time class.

In my last post, I mentioned meeting a woman named Coco. In our third conversation, she mentioned that someone had given her a Bible.  She opened it for the first time and closed it almost immediately feeling overwhelmed.  I asked her if she would like to read it together.  Her eyes lit up as she responded, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that.” Two weeks ago we began reading the book of John together. Please join me in praying for Coco, her husband Jack, and her 2 children as we help them discover Jesus.

Each week we are meeting new people and deepening relationships with the people that we have already met (I keep a running spreadsheet to keep them organized and pray for on a regular basis).  Additionally, God continues to open new doors for us in our city.  Serving in Evan’s elementary school, multiple opportunities for conversational English classes, YMCA partnerships, and other opportunities are bringing new people into our lives. We need your prayers as we continue tilling the ground and sowing seeds. Another current need is for 40 Chinese English Bibles ESV/Union 中英对照圣经. We would like to give them as gifts to our Talk Time students for Christmas this year.  If you are able, please help us bless our new friends with their first Bible. They can be sent directly to:

Awakening Church, 15225 SE 49th St, Bellevue, WA 98006

This past week I attended the North American Mission Board Church Planter Basic Training. It was a great and challenging week as we unpacked many thought provoking topics that helped to both confirm and refine the vision that God has given us. Additionally, beginning this week, I will be a part of a NAMB church planting cohort with four other planters.  We will meet monthly for the next five months as we discuss leadership competencies including calling & character, vision, missional engagement, and multiplication.  I’m thankful for this great opportunity.

Even with our desire for a movement of God, ONLY God can create one. It requires His divine and sovereign work.  But, based on observations of history and things taking place around the world, there are patterns relating to movements (Lifeway research). Here are 3 of them…

Unreasonable people. The comfortable do not create movements. Instead, they originate with those who are desperate, demanding something different.  When people allow their faith to be tamed by the world, they end up with a “nice religion” uninterested in the big issues like global evangelization, world poverty, and injustice. Christianity needs unreasonable people who are uncomfortable with the status quo and unwilling to be content with the current mode of life and church.

Churches that are willing to sacrifice. Seeing the Kingdom as more important than an individual church will take sacrifice, but that’s what a movement is about. For so many churches that are simply trying to survive. A movement takes churches that so believe in their mission and cause that they are willing to sacrifice for it— financially, individually, and corporately. They are willing to give and go.  Everyone loves a movement, as long as it looks great but costs them little. A true movement will have a steep price, but those who are a part of it will recognize the immeasurable value.

Multiplying disciples. That’s so basic it is easy to miss, but it cannot be more essential. The fact is, no one will be willing to be unreasonable and no churches are willing to sacrifice unless deeply committed disciples are involved. Making disciple-making disciples is the basic building block of anything Jesus calls us to do, which is why it is central to the mission of God.  In the Great Commission, Jesus indicated you are not making real disciples if they are not disciple makers.

As you journey with us in this endeavor, we urge you to be unreasonable…willing to sacrifice…and be personally challenged to multiply disciples in your context. I pray that our passion for the lost will create a sense of urgency and relentless pursuit of storing up our treasures in heaven. Glory to God.

Please join us in praying for:

  1. Partnering churches and individuals to help support this work.
  2. Developing relationships that open doors to gospel conversations.
  3. Our planning and mentee opportunities in the coming months.

[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] Living out the DNA


Since our arrival in Seattle, God has continued to show us that we are exactly where He wants us to be. On a weekly basis, we are meeting new people and making new connections in the community.  Visiting parks seems to be a prime place to meet new people in spite of the reputation of the Seattle freeze.  This refers to a belief that it is especially difficult to make new friends (particularly for transplants from other cities) in Seattle.  While I can see the realities of the freeze, our experience has been a little different so far.

 

I met Coco and her 5 year-old son at Downtown Park in Bellevue two weeks ago.  She moved here from Beijing the same week we did.  Her husband works and spends most of his time in China while she is here with her two kids. We have continued dialogue and they plan to come to our house for dinner this week.  While our conversations have been brief up until this point, she has shown an openness and excitement about our new friendship.

When we met Amy, a real estate agent in Bellevue, she shared her story of how she was introduced to Jesus.  In an effort to improve her English, she began meeting with a small group of people for an “English Corner.” Through that experience, she was exposed to the gospel and followed Christ as a result. Because of that experience, she has a passion for reaching people in similar ways.  Having done that type of ministry in China, we share a similar passion with Amy.  We have teamed up with her and will begin teaching an ESL class for 37 professional Chinese women on October 13!

This past Saturday we spent some quality family time in downtown Seattle. We took the kids for a ride on the Seattle Center Monorail and played at a nearby playground. After dinner, we took a walk through the marina on Lake Union. The kids really enjoyed looking at the seaplanes, floating homes, and yachts. While walking along, we passed by a sign for boat rentals. I grabbed a brochure and we kept walking.  Within 10 minutes, Kathy had convinced me that we should go back and rent a boat for an hour. So in an adventurous spirit of spontaneity, we did.  As I was filling out the waivers, the employee asked, “This might seem random, but did you used to live in Virginia?” I told him I had lived there for a couple years. He then asked, “Did you live in Newport News?” “Yes,” I replied…getting a little wierded out. He continued, “Were you the student pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church?” In fact I was! He let out a big sigh and said, “I knew it was you the moment I heard your voice! I was in your youth group!” Are you kidding me right now? My jaw was on the ground.  He said, “It’s so weird that you are here right now. I think about you guys all the time and wonder where you are. I just want you to know how big of an impact you made on my life and wanted to say thank you.” I’m excited to see God work through this relationship. We are meeting him for coffee this week!

As we move toward our calling to plant a church in Seattle, we daily live out the DNA of the church we desire to be.  Our vision is to see people transformed and be obedient to the Great Commission for God’s glory. Our uniqueness revolves around who God called us to be as His children and our genuine heart for the nations.

MISSIONS IS THE MISSION  With the gospel of Jesus at our core, we are committed to being on mission in our city to make, grow, and send disciples.  What happens inside the walls is designed to prepare people to go outside the walls.

FOCUSED OUTWARD  A healthy question to ask is, “What do my time and money say about my priorities?” Jesus spent the majority of his time with sinners, even to the point that the disciples became concerned. He calls us to join Him in the effort of reaching the lost.

BUILD UP TO SEND OUT  Becoming a disciple of Jesus involves much more than the transformation of our character.  It’s also about carrying out His mission. He wants us to follow Him to make us fishers of men!

All of this is a means to one end…the glory of God.  Apart from Christ, we once lived to glorify lesser things.  But in Christ, correct worship of God is restored and we are empowered by His Spirit to glorify Him and join Him where He is at work.

Please continue praying specifically for…

– Our transition as we settle into our new routines and schedules

– Our new relationships to develop and lead to gospel conversations.

– The development of our core team – That God would call people (and that they would be obedient) to join us in Seattle.

– Partnerships with churches and individuals that would join us in prayer, financially, and on the field.

[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] 5 Essentials to Accomplish the Impossible

It’s been two weeks since we arrived in Seattle.  Moving cross country to an unfamiliar place where all things are new has it’s challenges and plenty of opportunity. Isaiah 43:19 seems to echo daily through my mind saying, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” We can’t help but perceive it! It’s been challenging, stressful, exhausting, and exciting as we’ve been unpacking our house, getting kids registered for school, attending school tours and open houses, and finding our new rhythms. But in the midst of the chaos, God keeps giving us reminders of why here, why us, and why now.

It was great to have my mom here for a week to help us get situated…and take us to the zoo!

Unlike our loved ones in South Texas, the weather over the past couple weeks has been beautiful in Seattle. We have been making an intentional effort to take walks though the nearby hiking trails, parks, and playgrounds to help break up the day. The kids have done great considering the complete overhaul on their “normal” life. One afternoon this past week, Evan and I walked to a nearby park where we spotted a Chinese woman doing tai-chi.  She saw us out of the corner of her eye and turned to us.  As she did, I said hello to her in Chinese… “你好.”  Her eyes lit up and we began a 20 minute conversation in her native language while Evan played on the playground.  As we visited, I got to tell her about my life in China and she told me about her life in America.  She has been teaching Chinese in a local elementary school for the past 20 years.  When she asked why we moved here, I told her about our vision to start a church and reach Seattle for Jesus.  Her eyes lit up again! She went on to tell me that she was a believer but had struggled finding a church and wanted to join us! We exchanged information and have been in contact since that introduction.  As we find our new rhythms, such as visiting parks, God reminded me that He can and will work through the everyday stuff of life.

As God has led us to Seattle to plant a church, people have often asked me about a building as if the church was a program housed at a specific location. Unfortunately, that’s what the culture has created in so many ways.  Over the next year, our goals revolve around living our lives on mission in the everyday stuff of life.  I will be working with a local church that will help us get acclimated and prepared to launch next year.  However, we are missionaries before we are church planters.  In the northwest, there isn’t an “if you build it, they will come” ministry approach that is effective or successful. The seemingly most effective approach is relational investment in peoples lives as we help them discover who Jesus really is and what He desires for them.  In many ways, this approach takes more time and effort. God has been teaching and showing us that this plan to do the impossible is only possible through Him. Our brokenness and dependence on Him is paramount. As He uses us as His instruments in this endeavor, He has shown me 5 essentials that are involved to accomplish the impossible…

  1. VISION – God’s vision is for us to share His message of hope with Seattle and the world (Luke 24:47). The Lord said what would be impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27). Once we obey in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’ll be amazed at what God will do through us.
  1. PEOPLE WHO INVEST & BELIEVE IN US – Being missionaries and church planters is impossible without the calling of God and the partnerships and support from the body of Christ. The prayers, financial support, and partnerships are critical to accomplishing the vision.
  1. WILLINGNESS TO FAIL – Yes, it’s risky…but we are willing to follow God’s path with an understanding of the reality of challenges church planting in Seattle.  We remain obedient and we trust God with the results.
  1. UNYIELDING COMMITMENT TO THE VISION – Our commitment to the vision is rooted in the urgency of the gospel, our passion for the lost, and our relentless pursuit to live surrendered and obedient lives to Christ.
  1. FAITH TO TAKE MASSIVE RISKS – The size of the dream = The size of our faith. Our God has the ability to fulfill His vision through us as we surrender to Him. He is increasingly growing our faith.

Please continue to pray for us as we get acclimated to our new life in Seattle.  We are excited about the days and years ahead as we launch AWAKENING CHURCH to reach people with the gospel.  Your love, support, and prayer means the world to us!

Jonah, Kathy, Evan, Adele, and Elijah Easley

God of the Nations – China 2017

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We arrived in China on Chinese New Years Eve after a 29 hour travel day.  We were excited yet uncertain of the journey that lay before us.  All preparations had been made to the fullest extent possible, yet there was so much that was unknown.  Would the couples be receptive?  Will the kids be excited?  How will the multi-cultural aspect influence the marriage conference with 6 different nationalities represented?  These questions weighed on our minds?  We say we believe that God can do anything…But can He really move in a group so diverse and speak across so many cultures?  Is this just a marriage conference where people will just feel good and walk away without a significant spiritual movement? We placed all of these concerns in the hands of God and trusted Him with the results.

We had three days to prepare and recover from jet-lag. Our team bonded together while experiencing the beautiful sights and culture of China.  Seeing the rush of people flocking to this city for Chinese New year was unlike any other that I have experienced.  When we lived in Dongguan 东莞 for several years and it would became a ghost town during this significant Chinese holiday. However, Yángshuò 阳朔 is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, just south of Guilin, Guangxi. This small city is surrounded by unique karst mountains, winding rivers and breathtaking scenery.  A hot-spot for Chinese New Year! As we look around over the sea of people that have gathered here, we see them through the eyes of Jesus with love, compassion and fields ripe for harvest.  As families began trickling in for the conference, relationships began to form between them and our team.  A foundation was being laid for the work that only God could do.

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Final preparations were made on Monday before the conference kicked off that afternoon.  From getting guest rooms ready, cooking, and last minute conference and VBS details. Kavanah House seemed to be ready for the largest crowd it has ever hosted. God has been orchestrating who would attend this conference for months. It’s been incredible to see who (and how) He as assembled them. The families range from Chinese church leaders, pastors from Shanghai, to a Ukrainian family that has lived here locally for six months who are not yet believers.  God has gathered these families from around the world for a special purpose!  Our God is the God of the nations!  As the sessions began, we saw Him come among us and minister to the hearts of all these couples. The lost are being drawn to the heart of God, relationships are being restored, and healing is taking place as they hear God’s Design for Marriage.

We stand in awe of God’s sovereignty as we consider the potential impact in and through these families as return to their homes next week. We see the Holy Spirit drawing families to Himself as they experience Him moment by moment. Come, God of the Nations….move, work, breath on us for Your glory!

China Update 6 – His work continues

When Hezekiah was king, Israel was in a very dark place spiritually.  He called the Levites and Priests together and told them to be diligent to cleanse the House of the Lord from all of its uncleanness.  We find eight Levites and a few priests who commit themselves to the task.  It took them 16 days to remove all the idols and cleanse the temple.  Cleaning up the temple wasn’t a glamorous or appealing job, yet it laid the foundation for the work God was going to do.  This week 10 people felt compelled by our King and Savior Jesus Christ to go to the people of China.  We’ve truly seen the movement and activity of God all around us.  The work that God has done through our team is the foundation for what He has in store.  God is still mightily working in all of the students, translators, house church pastors and us too.  We pray God will harvest these souls for his Kingdom! Please pray for them.  The nations won’t be won by Mega-Churches and programs.  The nations will be won one heart at a time.  As these seeds come to bear fruit, their families and friends will be impacted!  The kingdom of God should grow by multiplication not addition.  These lives will touch others.  The Chinese Christians we have met are the first believers in their families.  God is using them to bring their families to Him!  What a great reminder for the church around the world to get back to sharing the life-changing gospel.

In China, I’ve found that most people are either hot or cold.  I rarely see a lukewarm follower.  So when God is at work it’s clearly observable.  In America, the church as a whole feels lukewarm and it is oftentimes challenging to identify the activity of God.  The church of America is so rich in resources, programs, and business, they often operate outside of the Holy Spirit’s power.  Our prayer life is often the true indicator of our dependence on the living God.  For the Christians in China, God is all they have and they are in absolute dependence on him.  One of our students is a believer.  With a sense of loneliness, he told us that the closest church is 2 hours away.  He has had no support system that the body of Christ provides…until now. Kavanah is now that place!

It’s been evident that God has been working in our team as well as those we have been able to serve.  This trip has changed each of our lives and how we see the world.  More importantly we have come to see how God sees the world!  The work of God is alive and active around the globe….Join the movement.  Thank you for your continued prayer for our team and those God has allowed us to impact.