Monday, January 31, 2011

Go, now!!!!

I’ve got an extra dose of the “go, goes” on my brain today. You see, the first “official” Red Page Mission trip is actually in Romania (and I’m not on it). Second, deadlines are fast approaching for our summer trips and we at Red Page are at full steam Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging, emailing, speaking, hosting, and whatever else is necessary to spread the word of our 2011 trips. This is where I put the sale job on you and direct you to our website to follow their trip this week!

As much as I’m on the go now you would think I’ve always been on the go. Honestly that is not the case. I grew up in a small rural town in West Texas. We left town to go to stock shows and Six Flags once a year! I was way outside the norm when I decided to move seven hours away to College Station for college. Outside of one ill advised trip to Mexico for Spring Break I had never left the US until I turned 25. When my dad invited me to Romania and Russia I had to find Romania on the map! Now I’m on my second passport with extra pages added in the back. God has blessed me and my family with wonderful opportunities to see the world.

My hope is not that Red Page will afford me more opportunities to travel to Romania or anywhere else for that matter. I love being in Romania but I still love being at home. I guess I’ve got the best of both worlds! My hope is that Red Page will provide hundreds if not thousands of Americans the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. I know there are needs in our back yard and I challenge each of you to be just as involved in local and domestic ministries as you are international. But, I do hope you will go. Go somewhere. Go now.

Sure the temptation is to write your check and let someone else go. Don’t get me wrong, we will take the check! However, there is so much more to offer by going. Don’t lose sight of the fact that it will be a blessing for you as well. David Platt says, “…when God chose to bring salvation to you and me, he did not send gold or silver, cash or check. He sent himself –the Son. If we are going to accomplish the global purpose of God it will not be primarily through giving our money, as important as that is. It will happen primarily through giving ourselves. This is what the gospel represents, and it’s what the gospel requires.”

I’ve read through the Bible numerous times, and I know I’ve taken note, but for some reason this time through it really resonated with me how difficult Moses was to accept God’s call. Moses came up with multiple excuses.

  1. Who Am I? (Exodus 3:11)
  2. But they will not know who sent me. (Exodus 4:1)
  3. But I’m afraid to speak in public. (Exodus 4:10)
  4. I cannot do this, send someone else. (Exodus 4:3)

How many times do we come up with excuses when He calls us? That’s to say we were even paying attention in the first place to hear His call! Think of our responses:

  1. I’m sorry Lord, I didn’t hear you.
  2. But I’m scared.
  3. I would, but I’m too busy right now.
  4. But I’m not qualified.
  5. We cannot afford for me to go.
  6. My family comes first.
  7. I give money to the missionaries for that.
No doubt the list could continue much, much longer. However, we should find comfort in God’s response to Moses. “Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” Exodus 4:12. Author Gene Getz puts it this way, “God has provided each of us with certain capabilities and opportunities. He is aware, of course, of our environmental obstacles and roadblocks – for example, the problems we have faced in our family life. He knows our inherent weaknesses and the circumstances that are beyond our control. But at the same time, God wants us to use what we have at our disposal. He wants us to develop our capacities and use them to the fullest.”

Maybe our biggest issue is not the list above. Maybe our issue is sitting around waiting on our “burning bush experience.” We sit on our hands waiting for God to “call” us. However, as Platt puts it, “If there are a billion people who have never heard the gospel and billions of others who still have not received the gospel, then we have an obligation to go to them. This is not an option. This is a command, not a calling.” (You know that Great Commission thing! Matthew 28:19 - Therefore GO and…)

This is not a pitch for Red Page Ministries (though we’d love to have you go with us). I will save that sales pitch for another website! However, I do hope you will take it as a challenge to go somewhere in 2011. You will be blessed. Aspire to new heights.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Run for Jesus

I always love posting blogs from my friend Ovidiu. One reason is that my blog is planned for the week. Considering this is conference championship week, that is a good thing. But, more than that Ovidiu always inspires and encourages me. I'm honored to call him a friend and blessed that he is a part of Red Page Ministries. He is the heart of Red Page. I learn something from Ovidiu all the time. He has a huge heart and the ministry he and Adina are striving to build is being built on a solid foundation. Ovidiu loves sports. He also realizes the impact sports could have on Romania if that energy is captured for God. I'll let him tell you the rest of his idea; don't want to spoil it!

Recently I was writing an article on sports for a highly respected news website in Romania I was thrilled to learn they liked the article and they published it. This article was on re-launching sports in Romania based on the American pattern of implementing organized sports. This pattern consists of entry level sports, to grade school to high-school, college and even on to professional. During my visit to America I was extremely impressed how many people went to a high school football game in Texas. It is impressive the semi-self sustaining system through the tickets they sell and the commercials and the whole thing involved in the phenomenon. It is impressive to see the recruiting system: the college recruits from high school and the professionals from the college. I expressed the fact that in this unique sport system in America everybody has something to gain, values, morals, competitive drive, and sportsmanship. Everybody is a winner.

In Romania there are some sports that are popular, but people in general are not practicing sports as they do in United States. People are running for something. Some are running for their health, some for money, some for fun, and some even for glory.

We want to see the kids in Romania running for Jesus. In May we will build a basketball court on the House of Joy property. Hundreds of children will be able to use it and play on it. They will be practicing sports while they learn the scriptures. The House of Joy will be a place for Sports and Scriptures! They can learn them together. Many kids will start running for Jesus because of this awesome opportunity they will find in Susani. We will organize sports camps to improve their skills, both with the Bible and the sport. We will also work to organize competitions with the public schools in our area right on this basketball court. Our hope is to model these competitions after the Upward Basketball programs in the US. Kids will come from all 31 villages in our ministry area to learn the skills of basketball, and other sports as well. These sports will give us an audience with the children and their parents so that we can share about Jesus. In addition, we will have concerts, revivals, and festivals on our court. What a perfect place to interact with the children and youth. Everybody loves sports. Everybody likes to run.

Adina and I personally ask you to consider joining us in this marathon to finish the basketball court project. Start running with us and many people will be blessed because of that. There are two ways you can join us in this cause. You may choose to contribute financially to the construction of the basketball court or you may choose to travel to Susani personally in May to help build the court and host our first sport camp!

Let’s run for Jesus together. Until HE comes. Ovidiu and Adina<><

For more information on this trip, visit our website at or shoot me a message. The deadline for application is February 7. If you are interested in giving financially to help build the basketball court you can give on-line as well. Thank you in advance for helping us start something that will surely change the life of hundreds of children. Aspire to new heights.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

To Do List

Shelby Felton will begin her stint January 29 as Red Page Ministries’ first intern. Shelby will serve in Lugoj, Romania as Ministry Coordinator during which time she will assist with mission trip coordination, the development of an after-school program, creating family plans and case studies, orphan team development, and ministry communication. Please add Shelby to your prayer list. Watch Facebook, Twitter, and our website for weekly updates from Shelby. I wanted to post her first blog on my personal blog to give her some additional exposure. She will be a wonderful addition to our team. We are proud to have you Shelby. Aspire to new heights – Jon.

I love to make to-do lists, and even more so to cross off the tasks when done, thus building a nice record of my accomplishments. But what am I really accomplishing? While the daily or weekly lists are full of things that "need" to be done, most of the items center around household chores and errands to run. We all know there is more to life than floors to clean, groceries to buy, oil to be changed and tires rotated. Are the significant things of eternal value anywhere on the list? I admit that my list comes up shy at times, but I am reminded that there is a master list, created by the Master Himself.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

This verse is becoming more and more evident to me every day. It is with a future focus that my mind tries to conceive this concept, and struggles, but it is with hindsight that I find I truly comprehend.

When I was 17 years old God ignited a spark in my heart for missions and reaching the nations. That spark grew into a flame, but I couldn't wrap my mind around the vocational missionary concept, so after college I pursued a traditional marketplace career and filled my vacation time with mission trips and ministry activities. This seemed to be a pretty good alternative, but deep inside I wondered if I "missed" my calling. Well, I don't think I missed it; I just took the long way around. And God has used every experience up to this point to teach me, grow me, and shape me for what is now before me. And I am more aware than ever, that I am not the one making the to-do list.

Most people aren't all that happy with the recession we've recently experienced, but for me it was a catalyst. It got me off the outside track, that long-way-around path. I don't know that I would have ever mustered the guts to leave the so called "security" of my job with a steady paycheck, benefits, etc., but God worked it out through the vehicle of "workforce reduction". Along with many others I lost my job, but more than that I was released ... yes, released to pursue that calling deep within.

I still don't know how it is all going to work, and again I'm sure it will be in hindsight that I see what God has prepared for my future. I didn't know Romania was on my to-do list, let alone a 6 month assignment. My most recent mission trip had been to Venezuela and I absolutely loved it. I thought for sure that was where I'd be headed again for my 2011 mission trip.

As I sought God for my next steps, He began to weave in Romania. As a member of the Missions Committee at my church I felt compelled to attend an informational meeting in early October for an upcoming trip to Romania that was planned for Summer 2011. And only a few weeks after that the Romania partnership between FBC Euless and Red Page Ministries was again brought front and center. Within this new partnership was an opportunity for someone from my church to serve six months in Romania in an effort to plant seeds and pave the way for our summer trip. At the announcement of this significantly longer opportunity my heart leapt, literally! And as the details were further revealed I saw it as a perfect fit; my passion and my abilities were about to collide. And before I knew it, God had pulled it all together and confirmed this was the next step for me.

As a Susani based Ministry Coordinator for Red Page, I will draw on skills cultivated throughout my career as well as my experiences in youth ministry and on international mission trips. I am looking forward to working with Ovidiu and Adina Patrick, founders of the House of Joy, to invest in the lives of the children and families of Susani and the surrounding areas as they strive to end rural poverty in the 30 plus villages within their reach.

Also on the to-do list is to establish an after school program where I can offer free English lessons, build relationships with a local orphanage in hope of sharing the love of Christ through Vacation Bible School programs hosted by short term mission teams, and helping to facilitate future phases of the House of Joy construction project.

I am looking forward to accomplishing the things God has placed on my to-do list. How about you? Have you asked God lately what it is He would have you to do? We’ve got a place for you at Red Page. Hope you will join us.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fresh Start

Why is it we see a New Year as a chance for a “new” beginning or fresh start when God’s grace gives us that opportunity daily?

Each year we make resolutions as to how we will do better; to which we always start January 1. We resolve to eat less, work-out, go to church, read our Bible, clean-up our language, stop drinking, or stop smoking, all in an effort to have a new start. lists the following as the most popular New Year’s Resolutions:
  1. Spend more time with family and friends
  2. Get fit
  3. Lose weight
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Enjoy life more
  6. Quit drinking
  7. Get out of debt
  8. Learn something new
  9. Help others
  10. Get organized

The funny thing is that we usually make these resolutions, and many more, in advance. However, we choose to hold off until January 1 for implementation. We usually even go so far as to gorge ourselves with food the last few days, smoke an extra pack of cigarettes, go on a spending spree, or knock back the bottle just before we quit cold turkey (or is it start eating turkey?). My father-in-law has an interesting theory. He believes that if text messaging would have come before a voice cell phone that everyone would want to talk on the cell phone now! In the same way, if New Year’s was August 12 we would wait until the 12th day of August to resolve for change.

What a joy it is to have a Savior that will save us and forgive us any day of the year. I remember a few years back when we visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This beautiful church has “Holy Doors” that are only opened during a Holy Year (Jubilee), which occur every 25 years. On the first day of this holy year the doors are opened. It is believed that God shows mercy and forgiveness to those that enter through these doors. New beginnings are not reserved for the first day of each year and they are not reserved for a Jubilee by which we receive via entering a door. No, new beginnings are provided daily, hourly, even by the second through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are not reserved for someone of a certain status. They are not even reserved for someone that strives to earn them. They are reserved for ALL of US if we so desire to ask.

This is a very difficult task for us to understand and/or accept. “Most of us believe in God’s grace – in theory,” says Brennan Manning, “But somehow we can’t seem to apply it in our daily lives.” Paul writes in Ephesians, “Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit” (2:8-9).

“Through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son. This is the Good News, the gospel of grace.”

Brennan Manning

Good luck on your resolutions (if you haven’t already quit them) or fresh new start. Just remember who gave it to you! Aspire to new heights! Grace be with you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Joyful Christmas in Susani

Over my 35 years on this Earth I've been blessed to spend Christmas in Romania on two different occassions. Between the snow, caroling, spending time with the fatherless, and relationship building these memories rank right up at the top of some of my greatest. I hate I missed this Christmas but I'm honored to pass on the stories and pictures to you from my good friend Ovidiu and his wife Adina. I hope you enjoy his reflection and pray you will join Red Page Ministries and the House of Joy as we strive to reach even more families next Christmas. - Jon

The white snow that covered Romania during Christmas made things look better. It gave us a feeling of purity. This Christmas the children in 7 villages were blessed with the joy of receiving a gift. Christmas is about the gifts, actually about the greatest GIFT of all: God’s gift for the lost humanity. God came in the world to show us the way to heaven. That is the greatest gift a person can receive.

Samaritan’s Purse gifts reached our villages, too and 160 children were blessed to receive a gift in the shoe box. These are the children that the House of Joy is working with in the last 6 years. House of Joy exists since 2009 but our work in the area started in 2004. The kids that live in these villages are loved by God and it was great we were able to show them His love through a little gift. The number of all these 160 kids is from 6 villages that have a bigger village over them where they also have a city hall to administrate them. We wish we had 1,600 boxes for 10 large villages and distribute them during December.

The children were brought to Susani for a Christmas program. We brought them by the vans of our ministry. When they arrived to Susani they sang about Jesus, they prayed, they heard about Jesus’ birth in our world. There were also lots of parents that came with their children. They were able to see what God is doing and hear the good news about His coming in the world.

Adina, my wife and the team of our disciples, around 15 people, helped with the distribution of the gifts from Samaritan’s Purse. They help the children learn verses about Christ’s birth, taught them new Christmas songs. The whole program was great and afterwards they received their Christmas presents. At the end everybody went home very excited. This was a great experience for the House of Joy team that we did not have before giving that many shoe boxes to so many kids.

By God’s willing we’ll give more presents this year in 2011 and the greatest thing that can happen during a program like this is to see the children and their parents receiving the GIFT that is eternal, that is a person, who’s name is JESUS.

Many Blessings for a wonderful New Year. Ovidiu and Adina Patrick