Everyone has a story….Kingdom Builders!

Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for July 2010

Hello all,
 
It is a beautiful day in Zug, Switzerland, 11:00 a.m. and I’m sitting in the Starbucks at Metalli with Jesus and you (via my keyboard) trying to put into words some stories of amazing people the Lord has allowed me to cross paths with.  In continuation of “other people’s stories” as the theme in 2010 for me with these Live It and Give It (LIFT) updates. This time around it is a collection of 5 encounters with church planters/missionaries around Europe.
 
My work life at an International company takes me to all sorts of places and this year in particular I’ve been intentional to seek out and connect with Kingdom influencers whenever possible.  Aside of the all too brief words about meeting with each of these men (although they all are blessed with wives, one of them getting married today!), for me there has been a back story behind each meeting of simply being amazed at watching God orchestrate these divine encounters.  12 months ago, I knew none of them and one by one, from one mutual friend or connection we were “introduced” via e-mail (or Facebook), then my work travel schedule sent me to their country, then my local schedule allowed an open night free from work commitments to meet, while at the same time their schedules aligned just the same…….yes, God scripted the steps along the way! Over the next weeks, I’ll share more about their stories as today, it’s Horace from Belgium who is highlighted.
 
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Horace serves the Kingdom outside of Brussels in Flemish speaking  Leuven, a university city. Overall, their ministry work there over the last few years has been mainly based on “serving others”.  Their organization, Serve The City uses volunteer work forces to serve in countless ways across the city; from expected things like feeding and clothing the homeless, clean up projects, to other very personal and real things like spending time with elderly people in their homes who need tasks done or just need someone to talk and share stories with.  Horace’s organization also sends out teams abroad for short term service/mission trips to various places.  Interestingly, as they have a base of approx. 400 volunteers involved in serving others, the vast majority are NOT Christians, but care to serve others and give of their time, money and resources to make a difference, regardless of faith based or not.  Currently, they are now transitioning in creating more of a “church plant” with regular gatherings/worship services on Sundays for those who desire to grow in faith.  For a guy like me who studied countless church planting models and lived the LIFT experience over the last five years, the reality of what Horace has done is exceptional, especially since it’s somewhat “backwards” to the norm.  They first created a large movement and cause with hundreds involved, then transitioned those who desire a deeper relationship and purpose in life with Jesus to come together for “church”.  Some out there might think this is a “bait and switch”, but if you were to have the opportunity to meet Horace in person and hear his heart and story, then one will quickly get it that he’s for real and genuine with people, whether they go to “the church” or not, they are important to him and others and valued, regardless of their current faith beliefs.  His story: Horace was raised in a home far from relationship and knowing Jesus, but full of religion and practices.  Polo (yes, the sport on horses hitting the balls around large fields to score) was his early professional career, taking him from Belgium to South America and eventually Florida depending on which team he was contracted to play for.  Although polo’s fan base is not as big as soccer’s current World Cup, nor American football or basketball, he had a cool life of pro sports, traveling, money, cars and a bit of fame within the sport…..but deep down searching for purpose.  I pray someday, you can hear him share the full version of his powerful story directly from him, so I’ll just wind down the short version with him meeting Jesus personally nearing his mid-twenties as he was wrapping up his Polo career. Although having this new found relationship with Jesus, knowing God and having a purpose in life, it didn’t solve all of his life’s problems and issues at the time, in fact in some ways his circumstances even got more difficult.  Needless to say, faith is normally strengthened by circumstance and through perseverance and within a couple of years he found himself in another city serving God at a church in the States where he met Tina.  Another decade later, Horace, Tina and their kids are serving their city in Belgium and serving others, in a relevant and real way!  Horace is a man of vision and action to creating a reality of those visions…..that’s a man of faith indeed!
 
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: David serves the Kingdom in Stockholm.  We met in May and not only did we both have a passion in serving the Lord, we’ve both been blessed with God enhancing our family via adoption.  As much as my family saw God “work out” countless details, paperwork and bureaucracy with our Sarah, David’s story of his two adopted boys who are about Silas’ age (one a year older and the other a year younger) touched me more than his also amazing story of Kingdom work and ministry in both Sweden and the UK.  Sweden, like Switzerland, is very complicated and a long process when it comes to adoption, often 5 years or more are necessary, and yet David’s cases a decade ago were miraculous with both their infant sons coming into their family in less than two months (although two years apart) from starting the adoption process.  The connections of how David and I “met” (via another friend, Derek Webster, who’s never “met” David face 2 face either) is also beyond the realm of simple coincidence. 
 
DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Adaumir serves the Kingdom in Dusseldorf with Mosaic Dusseldorf.  A Brazilian national, who’s also a German citizen via his German wife, church planting there for approx. 5 years, but also has a “day job” to provide for his family. A father of 3 (two sons about Silas and Livia’s ages and a beautiful lil’ girl about 2 years old) and we’ve realized we’ve got a lot in common actually!  I first met Adaumir on the phone last October, then in person a few weeks later as I fly to Dusseldorf frequently since my company’s headquarters is nearby.  We last met two weeks ago and shared a meal at a Brazilian restaurant while watching a world cup game together and sharing what the Lord is doing in our lives and ministries.  More to come in the future, but Adaumir has been a huge encouragement for me personally as we really do have a lot in common although our ministry contexts are different…..we’ve connected well in mutual friendship and encouragement, as he says “we are of the same tribe!” 
 
DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Alan serves the Kingdom in Dusseldorf with Mosaic Dusseldorf as well.  I’ve shared a bit of his story before as he’s “the dancer” and choreographer that came to Germany last year from Los Angeles on faith and calling and not much else (financially, etc).  I love crazy adventurers who GO in faith…and not much more, so God can get the glory as He blesses faith with His faithfulness.  Alan not only had a place to live, enough food to survive and been able to connect and serve others, Alan found his life’s greatest blessing in Germany and is getting married, TODAY (actually even as I write, Veronica will be walking the aisle very soon!)  Last Monday while there on business, I had the opportunity to met Veronica and they took me to Mosaic’s new facility that the Lord has provided after years of meeting in Adaumir’s living room, then another weekly rented place, and now a full time place to encounter and grow faith every day of the week!
 
MILAN, ITALY: Jason serves the Kingdom in Milan, a city in a country full of Christian religion and history, but “somewhat empty” on relationship in knowing God personally through Jesus Christ!  Every time I talk with Jason, I smile as he’s got a bit of a Southern USA accent, but isn’t really from Arkansas because he was raised most of his live in Brazil on mission with his family.  Over the past 5 years he’s transitioned his Portuguese into Italian and connected especially since his passion is football (known as soccer to some). In fact, a side mission/opportunity for Jason has been coordinating the Atleti di Cristo (similar to Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in Italy in connecting pro players and community projects which often allow these famous athletes to share their faith as well.  After meeting last year while there on work, and some continued correspondence, Jason and I shared lunch and a couple hours together in downtown Milan last Saturday.  It was great to hear that their church plant is continuing to grow and they are now having Sunday gatherings at a rented venue alongside their meeting in their home where they’ve outgrown over the years.    
 
So there you have it…..just a glimpse into some areas around Europe where God has put His Kingdom influencers into these cities.   “Other people’s stories” for me has been an incredible experience in not just hearing, but seeing what the Lord is doing in the lives of these men and their families. Hard to believe that in just the last three months I met with each of these men in their cities and their stories of life, faith and seeing God work through their ministries are inspiring. These brief words about Horace and the others in the weeks ahead, truly don’t even begin to share their full stories………their journey and journeys continue! Take a moment and pray for them, their families, their ministries and their cities and may the Lord continue to bless His Kingdom in these places and across all the nations as we, the Followers of Jesus, continue to Live our Faith and Give it away….near and far! 
 
In His grip and grace,
 
Corey
 
PS- For those of you that are part of LIFT, interesting to note is part of our missions giving the past three years has been in part to the Mosaic Alliance, and the Serve the City in Brussels and Mosaic Dusseldorf have been two of the ministries that Mosiac had forwarded some of our missions giving to….another part of the back stories of God scripting these mutual serving the Kingdom encounters! 

LIFT “being” Mission!

Hello All,
 
If you’ve been to LIFT the past two weeks, then you’ve heard “live” what the Lord has been up to in blessing LIFT and LIFT being a part in blessing others across the Kingdom during this year in 2009 regarding missions! 

What a privilege to write and share about the core Element of LIFT that we call WIND which is Mission and Evangelism.  In this case of LIFT “being” mission, we are intentional (alongside our daily living and giving our faith around us locally) to be a blessing abroad “unto the nations” as the Lord has provided through the faithful giving of finances through our church congregation at LIFT. Back in March the approved budget set aside 12,500 CHF for missions giving with mention of 4 main mission entities that LIFT has partnered with over the years. In the past two weeks, those funds have been released and transferred to our mission partners. For those who have been around for a few years, you’ve been able to hear first hand of these missionary partners as all (but one entity) was able to preach and share at LIFT.  The following are these Kingdom partners of LIFT with a summary too brief to share what all the Lord is doing in their part of the Kingdom. Into the future we intend to continue to share more and more about these mission partners and their ministries, whether via the TV in the back at LIFT, letters or special opportunities of visiting together.
 
VARIOUS MISSION(S) THAT LIFT SUPPORTS:
• South Africa:  Drop in Centre in Pretoria: 3500 CHF- A ministry helping kids in poverty )often without parents due to HIV issues) get a good meal each day and have a place for help with studying.
• Belize: Kings Campus: 3500 CHF- A seminary campus training future national Belizean pastors/church leaders.
• India: Joseph P: 3500 CHF- A national Indian missionary and his family serving in India with Campus Crusade for Christ.
• Mosaic Alliance: 2000 CHF- An international network of churches and ministries serving the Kingdom. Lift gifts blessing 2 church plants in Germany.
 
What an wonderful testimony of “being” a mission minded church as part of the Kingdom of God, locally with our lives and unto the nations with our tithes!  In all things, let’s continue to pray for on another and those across the nations so others can know Jesus!
 
In His grip and grace,
Corey
 
WIND
(mission & evangelism)

Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 

Luke 10:1-4,8-9
10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road……….
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick* who are there AND TELL THEM, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.‘

TRIBES!

Hello All,

Revelation 7:9
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
 
It’s beautiful to imagine that someday in heaven believers from every nation, tribe, people and language will come together in worship in front of the Lamb, who is Jesus Christ!  It’s also beautiful to realize that numerous nations, tribes, people and languages come together in worship at LIFT each week as well! 
 
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a long zig-zag line in security at Heathrow airport’s terminal 2 (luckily the week before the unfortunate week of the chaotic terminal 5 opening)!  I found myself amazed at all the diversity of the people around me.  Perhaps 200 or 300 people, on all sides in a small space and with such variety.  Not just tall, short, skinny, heavy, young and old; but also dark skin, light skin, olive skin and everything in between.  I heard various languages left and right (as we were zig zagging within the roped rows) from Russian/Slavic, German, Asian and Arabic and some other Scandinavian sounding language.  As a nice American English accent passed by, I smiled inside until I noticed their passport was Canadian, and then smiled even more in that I was “fooled” by these fellow friendly North Americans, just a bit more north of the border than what I thought I had heard.  And of course, I did hear a bit of the Queen’s proper English as well! 
 
I couldn’t help but to just worship God at that moment! I recalled a favorite verse of one of Tanya’s best friends from the USA (via Costa Rica) that was about diverse people from every nation, tribe and tongue who would someday be in heaven praising God.  Checking back with Tanya later, she confirmed Revelation 7:9, but that day in Heathrow airport, I just praised God for the diversity as I compared it to what I have seen at LIFT- The International Church of Zug.  Although we don’t have 200-300 people each week at LIFT, we do have a broad variety of people with different citizenships, cultures, ethnicities, skin colors, and languages, and we come together to worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!  As I prayed for those around me in Heathrow, I also pray for those around me at LIFT, that God will continue to bless His people and draw them to Himself and that He may receive the praise and honor from LIFT and also from every nation, tribe, people and language!  We worship a great and mighty God who loves us!
 
Looking forward to gathering our many tribes together this Sunday at LIFT 

In His grip and grace,

Corey

"Belong"

Hello All,

As I was preparing for the message last week, regarding the first 2 verses of 1 Timothy 5, I was challenged by the Holy Spirit to “go deeper” than just contemplating on how we should treat older or younger men and women (and widows) with absolute purity.  I was reminded that as an International interdenominational church we have very different attributes as a church body that go beyond gender.  We have a mixture of nationalities, races, cultures, colors, eye shapes and passports.  We also have a mixture of church backgrounds, denominational backgrounds and at times (prayerfully much more often in the future) people that come to LIFT with no faith background and/or even another religious background such as Muslim, Hindu or other.  In the future, as we grow, so will the mixture!  THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THOUGHT!    In fact, to imagine this, is to imagine a bunch of colorful stones and glass fragments all broken and put together into an order with a greater purpose creating a beautiful picture. Such a picture is called a Mosaic!  

Living in Switzerland, or basically anywhere in Europe for that matter, we see Mosaic art all over the place.  Often, it blends in as just something “religious”, but when one looks deeper, one can see the greater beauty made up of all the individual pieces and one realizes that it took time and a master’s skill to put together. With this in mind, I am finally understanding the word BELONG, one of our three “words” that we summarize LIFT with; BELONG, BELIEVE and BECOME*.  (*Origins via Mosaic Church- Los Angeles)

As I shared last week in the message, I would like for “everybody” in Zug (and beyond) to be welcome at LIFT and to be able to find a place to BELONG!  Like individual pieces coming together and belonging together, like a mosaic! As International foreigners living here (and Swiss too), people need a place to BELONG, and LIFT is a place where they are welcome, no matter what!  Yes, we will share about Jesus (BELIEVE) and together as individual “pieces” we can BECOME something much greater.  But for many, just BELONGing somewhere is a starting place.  As all of us BELIEVErs are living our faith as genuine followers of Jesus and His words are made true in our lives and our church, where “you will know my disciples by their love for one another”, then the BECOMING something greater is bound to happen for all of us, and for God’s glory!  

Below is our longer than three words purpose statement for LIFT which you are part of and to which you BELONG!  
 
We are “people”, with many different backgrounds, nationalities and even languages – though English is our common language – that come together
to seek to worship and glorify God through our lives, fellowship with each other, grow in our own personal faith, serve Him and each other,
and share our faith with others around us, – all for the kingdom of God in the area of Zug, Switzerland!
 
It is an honor to journey together with each of you individually and as a church together!  Great things are ahead as many are stepping up and serving one another so that together we can grow forward, and not just in the size of our facilities, but in the size of our love!

In His grip and grace,

Corey  
 
(*Origins via Mosaic Church- Los Angeles) 

Lift The International Church of Zug – For SUNDAY Sept 16th, 2007!

The fish are out there!

Hello All,

Ever wonder why Christians often have a fish on their cars? It is my understanding that the symbol of the fish originated back in the early centuries while Christians were being severely persecuted.  It was a secret way for Christians to signal to one another that they too are a Christian without necessarily exposing themselves to being arrested for being a Christian. The “Jesus fish” is derived from the ancient Greek language and the word Ichthys (or ἰχθύς) which is an acronym of Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” (Sorry if the fonts don’t come through correctly) 

Ok, so much for the long intro, but even today, it can happen that, while we are living in the world whether at or near our homes, our work places, schools or play places, there are Christians around us and we don’t know it.  Although for us in Switzerland and most Western countries, it is not illegal and punishable by law to be a Christian, it isn’t always promoted or tolerated to be so open about it in public, at school or at work. At the same time, it is such a blessing when we “reveal” ourselves and/or another Christian “reveals” themselves and experience the joy and blessing of knowing we have encountered another Christ follower, kind of like when the first and second century Christians communicated with the “fish” to each other.  

I had a great “fish” experience two weeks ago while visiting my company’s business partner company in Finland.  Although the owner is not a man of faith (my previous fishing hooks came back empty) another man from the same company, who I found out is labeled, “the priest”, turned out to be a wonderful fellow tent making pastor.  Furthermore, this “fish” conversation revealed another team member who I had met a year earlier who is also a very strong man of faith and the son of a pastor.  Just the night before, I had my doubts about this second man who had spent a couple of years in Nepal and returned to Finland with a wife from there. My wrong stereo type of him was that he was most likely irreligious and she was probably Muslim. I was completely wrong and shame on me for assuming it!  To my heart’s delight, the night before I left, she gave an amazing testimony of faith, including the fact that she was baptized about 3 weeks before.  With her simple English she said, “Before in life I didn’t know Jesus in Nepal, but today I know Jesus and am very happy!”  So simple, but so profound! 

To be honest, I am not too much into real fishing and can’t stand putting the worms on the hook, but when it comes to fishing as Jesus did and seeking fishers of men, women and children, it is a wonderful feeling to be blessed with such encouragement through encounters of other true “fish” followers!  I hope you are having your “fish” encounters as well!  
 
In His grip and grace,

Corey