Tuesday, September 16, 2014

August Ministry Update

STUDENT MINISTRY 
Our Student Ministry has officially begun and we have been very busy but having so much fun working with these students, their families and our community here at the TX-Mex border.  In the month of August, we had our "Parent's Meeting", took the kids to a Christian music concert, had our first "Man Cave" (a guys-only time of fellowship) and "Shine" (a girls-only time of fellowship), held our first "5th Quarter" after the first home football game for our town and we are holding a Contemporary Worship service each Sunday morning geared toward our students.
 

TEACHING & DISCIPLESHIP

One of our main goals in working with these students is that they get a good Biblical foundation, understand what being a Christian means, and fully equip them to be able to share their faith with others.  To help accomplish these goals, are using "Explore the Bible" on Sunday mornings and are leading them on a book-by-book journey through scripture so that they understand each book of the Bible, the context in which it was written, and what they can learn from it.  Wednesday nights their class is "Biblical Foundations" focused on teaching them the essential truths of the Christian faith in a simple and life-changing way.  We also have 9 students who are currently taking a 13-week Discipleship program for students every Sunday afternoon.  It is our desire that the students that come through our ministry, be firm in their beliefs, equipped to share the gospel with others, and ready to be disciplemakers wherever God leads them in the world.  

Partner With Us

We appreciate the cards, texts, and emails you send our way.  Your prayers, encouragement, and support mean so very much to our family.  It is so refreshing and encouraging to go to the mailbox and find a card or care package.  We truly appreciate each of you who remember us.

We are still partially funded by missionary support. We appreciate those of you who so generously give to help support our family.  If you would like to help support our family as we continue serving in ministry and missions here at the Tex-Mex border, you may send your support to:  
First Baptist Church
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Los Fresnos, TX 78566
You can either write on the check that it is for our family or attach a note to let them know the money is designated for us.
 

Prayer Requests:

  •  Please continue to pray for our students and their families.  Many of our students come from homes where they are the only believer. Pray for open doors for us to be able to witness to these families and for our students to be bold in sharing their faith with their families.
  • Please continue to pray for us as we minister here in Los Fresnos that the Lord will lead and guide our every action.  
  •  Pray that the Lord will continue to supply our needs as we continue mission work and ministry here at the TX-Mex border.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

June Update

Vacation Bible School 

June 16 - 20 our church hosted "Weird Animals VBS" for kids ages Kindergarten - 5th grade.  We had over 100 kids attend VBS this year and we had a great time with them throughout the week.  We taught in the "Imagination Station" again this year and since this year's theme was about animals, we were zany zookeepers!  Each night, we introduced the kids to some weird and amazing animals God has created (like a panda ant and a blobfish), taught them weird animal facts (for example, polar bears are left-handed), and did a hands-on Science experiment that taught the kids a Bible lesson and a Bible point to remember.  We had so much fun with the kids and loved teaching them about Jesus and the Bible using fun, hands-on methods.  

Camp Zephyr - Youth Camp


Last week we were blessed to be able to be sponsors (chaperones) for a week of church camp at Camp Zephyr in Sandia, Texas.  Our church took 38 kids (grades 7-12) to camp for a week where they learned about identity found in Christ, being a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), what being the "bride of Christ" looks like and much more.  They had high-energy recreation games each day, Bible study sessions, afternoon free time of ropes course, waterfront activities, paintball games, church group time, late night activities and more.  It was incredible to see God working in the lives of the youth this week and 9 of the youth came to know the Lord as their Savior!  Camp is not a mountain high....it is a launch pad and we are excited to see these kids come back home excited about reaching their families, friends and community with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Pray for boldness and strength for them to endure the fiery darts of temptation as they impact others for Christ and continue to grow closer to Christ each day. 

Partner With Us


We are very excited to report that we are at 76% of our monthly support needs!  We appreciate each of you who so generously give to help support our family each month.

We would love to be at 100% by the end of July.  If you would like to help support our family as we continue serving in ministry and missions here at the Tex-Mex border, you may send your monthly support to:

First Baptist Church
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Los Fresnos, TX 78566

You can either write on the check that it is for our family or attach a note to let them know the money is designated for us.
 

Prayer Requests:

  • We are taking 19 kids (3rd - 6th grades) to Camp Zephyr July 21 - 25 for their week of church camp.  Pray for safe travels, lots of fun and most of all, for the kids to grow spiritually throughout the week.  
  • Pray for us as we continue to develop the Student Ministry (kindergarten - college age) within our church.  Pray that the Lord will continue to give us wisdom and insight as we plan and prepare and that in everything we do the kids will be drawn closer to the Lord and grow spiritually.  
  • After much prayer, we have decided to continue homeschooling our children.  Pray for Gretta as she begins to plan and prepare for the kids new school year.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We Graduated & Our Future Plans

WE GRADUATED

On May 29, 2014 we officially graduated from The Center for Pioneer Church Planting at To Every Tribe!  During "Graduation Week" we had the opportunity to share what these past 2 years have meant to us.  We thank the Lord for all He has done in our lives over the last 2 years and also thank each of you who faithfully pray for us, financially support us and have loved and encouraged us throughout this journey.

 

Pray for the Graduates



Pictured above is our graduating class! Please pray for all our fellow graduates as we will be spread out all over the US and the world taking the gospel to the nations.  Some of them are going to Canada, South Asia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and some will remain in the US serving as the Lord directs.  

Our Future


We are excited to share with you that the Lord has opened a door of opportunity for us to continue His mission right here in Los Fresnos.  I (David) have been called as the Student Minister of First Baptist Church of Los Fresnos and will begin August 1.  Our desire is to continue serving God faithfully where He has placed us and we are excited to reach students and their families here in the Rio Grande Valley with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  We also plan to continue our language acquisition and further our Spanish language communication and I will also continue education toward a seminary degree.

As of July 31st, we will no longer be able to receive support through To Every Tribe since we have graduated from The Center for Pioneer Church Planting.  First Baptist Church has graciously offered us $1,700 a month in salary and also are allowing us to remain in the church's missionary housing.  Our monthly budget is $2,500 so we will still have a need of $800 a month.

If you would like to continue to help support our family, you may begin sending your funds to the following address:

First Baptist Church of Los Fresnos
RE:  David & Gretta Johns
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Los Fresnos, TX 78566

We thank each of you for your continued partnership in our mission work and for keeping us lifted up
to the Lord in prayers.
 

 

"Go where you're sent.
Stay where you're put.
Give what you've got."

~ quote by Jill Briscoe

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Graduation Thoughts


During "Graduation Week", we had the opportunity to sit before our fellow missionary trainees, the staff, and visiting family and friends and share (in 5 minutes) what the past 2 years have meant to us. While it is almost impossible to fully communicate what the past 2 years have meant for us, how we have been stretched, grown, learned, been challenged, strengthened, etc. we tried to put it into words that would somewhat communicate how blessed we have been by the opportunity to be at To Every Tribe and complete the 2 year Center for Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP) program.  Here is what we shared:

The privilege of coming to To Every Tribe and the CPCP and being blessed to spend the past 2 years here has been an amazing journey.  It has been one that is filled with mountaintops and valleys and while the "mountainpeaks" were awesome, some of the greatest lessons we learned came in the valleys.  We left Alabama, a place where we were born, raised, married, and had our family and moved over 1,100 miles away to come to South Texas - a place we had never visited before we arrived here to live. We truly knew the Lord had called us here and we stepped out on complete faith to follow Him in this calling.  We left North Alabama with only 3% support and much, much encouragement from David & Tommi Sitton to not let our lack of finances stop us from coming but to simply move down here and watch what God was going to do in our lives.
Having left behind our family and friends and not knowing anyone here at To Every Tribe, we were so amazed at how quickly we gained a new "family".  It's amazing how the bond of Christ can quickly unite people and in no time flat, we felt like we had known our campus family for years.  Friendships were quickly formed, our kids easily made new friends and sweet times of fellowship and praying together began.  As the song says "blest be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love".  

We got to experience God at work in our lives in ways we had never done before. We learned to fully depend upon Him and trust Him for everything in our lives. Even though we had always known God is the source of all our blessings, making this step of faith made it even more clear that the God we read about in the Bible and the promises of God are still true and at work today.  He provided for us in ways we could never imagine and in ways that only He could orchestrate.  We saw His hand of faithfulness and provision and we learned to depend on Him and trust Him in every aspect of our lives.  Our support stayed very, very low the majority of the first year we were here but God always came through and provided and while we might not have had all our "wants", we never did without what we needed!  

Let me share one example that stands out in our minds.  When David left to go to Oaxaca, Mexico on Spring trip last year we had 63 cents in our checking account.  He was going to be gone about 2 weeks and we were not going to get our monthly check from supporters until 4 days after he returned. We had no source of income and no idea what we were going to do for food while he was gone.  As soon as we realized how little we would have left, we began praying as a family.  You see, we have always been honest with our children about things because we want them to get to see God at work too.  All 5 of us were praying for the Lord to provide for us while David was gone.  2 days after he left, we went to the mailbox and had a letter from a friend back home (mind you, this is someone who is not a monthly supporter) and there was a post-it note that read "The Lord has really laid your family on my heart lately and I have been praying for you.  I am sending you a small gift to hopefully bless your family.  Keep on keeping on!"  Enclosed was a $150 check which sustained us the entire time David was gone to Oaxaca and got us through to the end of the month when we got our monthly support check.  In God's wonderful, divine timing, the check had been written 4 days before David was scheduled to leave for his trip!

We have also had a lot of fun over the past 2 years.  Being extroverted people from the South we love to have fun and to entertain.  We enjoyed hosting "jam sessions" where everyone would bring their musical instruments over, or maybe just their voices and some would come just to listen and fellowship and we would sing and worship together.  Sometimes we even played crazy music like "Laser Beams IceCream" or invite our friend Berger over to rap for us.  We also played a few pranks throughout the years such as completely tin-foiling a staff member's office for their birthday, initiating a "Save Monica" campaign when word began to spread that our Mexico team might lose our precious translator Monica to another team, and decorating the single girls apartment until it looked like Christmas had thrown-up in there after one of them posted a video of "Where are you Christmas?" on their Facebook page.  We've also learned that there actually are a few other sports and even different sports teams out there other than Alabama Crimson Tide football......although we will always bleed Crimson and shout "Roll Tide" every chance we get!  

Another huge blessing has been the opportunity to serve the community of Los Fresnos.  We thank God daily for the wonderful church He provided for us here at First Baptist Church of Los Fresnos.  This church quickly embraced our family, began praying for us, supporting us, and allowed us to come alongside them and serve in various ministries within the church.  With the encouragement and support of To Every Tribe, we have been able to be on the worship team, teach RA's & GA's, chaperone youth events, and this year we served in a volunteer capacity as the Children's Ministry Directors at church.  Because of our involvement with the church here we have been able to make many wonderful friends right here in the Rio Grande Valley and had numerous opportunities to serve the people right here in our own community.  The kids and I go with a few friends from church to the Atrium Nursing home each Thursday and sing praise/worship songs for the residents there.  Our family enjoys going to the local skate park and letting the kids play while David & I walk around and talk to teenagers and families there at the park and we often have the opportunity to share the gospel with someone before we leave.  We have served meals to people at a homeless shelter in Harlingen and have a very busy summer planned as we continue to serve here through Vacation Bible School, chaperoning the youth to Camp Zephyr and then we are taking 19 kids from our children's ministry to Camp Zephyr for a week in July.  The need for missions here in the Rio Grande Valley is great and we praise God that He has given us many opportunities over the past 2 years to not only serve in Mexico but also reach the people of this community with the gospel as well. 

We are so thankful for To Every Tribe and for all the staff who have poured into our lives, invested in our spiritual and personal growth, and helped prepare us to be better missionaries no matter where we end up in the world.  We are thankful for each person here on campus who we are now blessed to call not only our brother or sister in Christ but also our friend.  While time and distance may separate us soon, the goodbyes we will share this week only make heaven a little more sweeter.  We are thankful that God can still use imperfect sinners and especially ones with a thick Southern accent and "redneck ways" to accomplish His will and purpose as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission.  It is only because of God that we have been able to stay here and finish this wonderful training and we give Him all the praise and glory for what He has done in our lives the past 2 years.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Papua New Guinea Trip Video

A Note from David....

Every moment is an opportunity to display Christ. The challenge is being intentional, Gospel-driven, with a church-planting mindset.  You are someone's direct answer to prayer.  The question remains "Will you be obedient to Christ's command to go to your neighbor, your friend, your community, your country, the world?"  Are you being intentional and making choices in your life that fulfill the Great Commission to share the Gospel to all the world and to be a witness to all people?  

It was an honor and a humbling experience to be part of a team that traveled to serve in Papua New Guinea and come alongside Alex & Kelley Sisson (missionaries from Birmingham, AL who serve with To Every Tribe).  For over 25 years, these men in Papua New Guinea have prayed for someone to come and teach them the Bible. This is the 4th year God has answered that prayer and allowed the Sisson's along with teams from To Every Tribe to equip these pastors with the necessary skills to share the Gospel and plant churches among their own people.  I am excited to be able to show you a small taste of what I experienced in the 26 days I was blessed to be there.




PRAISE & PRAYER

  • PRAISE:  Sidney's surgery was a success as they were able to fix the problem and take away the pain she was experiencing.  She did lose all hearing in the right ear from the surgery but we still give God the glory for His hand of protection.  
  • PRAISE:  All 3 kids did great on their first time flying in an airplane and Gretta and the kids successfully navigated all the airports and made their flights without any problems!  
  • PRAISE:  Thankful that God provided and took care of us all while I was in Papua New Guinea and Gretta and the kids were back in Alabama for Sidney's surgery.
  • PRAYER:  We have 8 weeks of school left until we graduate. Pray for us as we end this training program and begin making plans for our transition to the field.
  • PRAYER:  For more people who are willing to join our monthly support team as we prepare to move into a foreign country and take the gospel to people there. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

PNG Trip Update & a Praise!

David is currently in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the middle of his mission trip.  I have been blessed to receive a text a day with an update from him.  Some of the highlights from his trip so far include:  several days of construction at the missions station, cutting down trees with machetes, enjoying the unique sights and sounds of life in PNG, the beautiful landscape, a week of training pastors to teach the Gospel, eating tacos made with crocodile meat, seeing a bat with a 6 foot wingspan and more!  David is now gone to a village to live for a week. He will be "off the grid" for the next 6 days while he is in the village.  He was blessed to meet the pastor he will be living with before the pastor's training conference and David said they have hit it off well so far. Please continue to keep him in prayers!  He is having a wonderful time being His hands and feet in PNG and wanted me to convey his thanks to all of you for your prayers while he is gone.  Lord willing, he will be back home in Texas March 13th and he said he can't wait to share pictures and videos from his trip with all of you.  

OUR PRAISE:  4 days before David was scheduled to leave for PNG, we took Sidney to the pediatrician for what we thought was a possible ear infection.  She was having pretty constant pain in her right ear and said she could not hear out of that ear at all.  The pediatrician informed us that her ear was clear and not infected but she did notice an abnormality in her right ear.  Sidney has a history of cholesteatoma's (cysts) in her right ear and all signs indicated she might have another one.  In 2010, she had a cholesteatoma and by the time they found it, it had eroded away her mastoid bone and they had to put a cartilage plate and a titanium piece in that ear so she could hear again. Due to her extensive history of ear problems and surgeries, we called her pediatric ENT in Birmingham, AL who has taken care of her since she was little, done all her previous surgeries and explained the current problem to him to see what he would advise regarding her treatment. He tried to refer us to a colleague of his in San Antonio (about 4 1/2 hours north of us) but that did not work out.  So after much consultation with her doctor and prayer, we made the decision for the kids and I to come back to Alabama while David was in Papua New Guinea for Sidney to see her pediatric ENT since surgery would be the only option if it was a cholesteatoma.  
So, we saw David and the team off for Papua New Guinea on Tuesday afternoon and the kids and I were blessed to be able to fly back to Alabama very early Wednesday morning.  We arrived in Birmingham around 10AM Wednesday morning and my parents picked us up to take us to their house. This trip was the kids first flying experience and they all 3 loved it as you can see by the pictures above.  
We saw Sidney's doctor at Children's Hospital on Monday morning and after a very thorough exam and a CT scan it was determined she did not have a cholesteatoma which was a huge praise!  We had so many people praying for Sidney so we know that this news was nothing but answered prayers.  However, Dr. Hill informed us that her ears did in fact still need surgery.  He said he could look in her ears and tell she was hurting pretty bad so he scheduled surgery for the next morning at 7:30AM.  
Sidney did great with his surgery (above is a picture of her not too long after surgery).  The Dr. said he is hopeful she will regain her hearing in the right ear and that this surgery will be a success for her.  The earliest he would see her for a post-op visit is March 14 and if all goes well we will be flying back home to Texas on March 19th.  It is truly amazing the grace, comfort, peace and strength that the Lord can give you when you need it most. I know we had tons of prayer warriors faithfully praying on our behalf on Monday & Tuesday and I can honestly say I especially felt them during those 2 days.  Having David on the other side of the world, Sidney having surgery, Abbey and Wyatt to still be there for because they were sad David was gone, and trying to balance it all was only possible because of prayer, our loving and gracious God, and much help and encouragement from my parents.  Sidney is doing well post surgery and already back to her usual sweet and sassy self!  We are so thankful for her wonderful doctor in Birmingham, how the Lord used him to help get her well, and for each of you who prayed for us throughout all of this.  

PRAYER REQUESTS:
  • For more people who are willing to join our monthly support team.  We are currently at 33% of our monthly living goal. To join our team, visit this link and choose our names:  Johns, David & Gretta.
  • That we would trust God's direction for our lives and for patience as we continue to wait to hear from our application for a possible missions opportunity after graduation.
  • Pray for David while he continues to serve in Papua New Guinea.  Lord willing, he is scheduled to arrive back home in Texas on March 13.  
  • Pray for Sidney as she continues to heal from her surgery and that her hearing will be restored in her right ear as well.  






Saturday, February 15, 2014

Papau New Guinea Prayer Guide

On Tuesday Feb. 18, I will be leaving for my trip to Papau New Guinea. I am very excited to have this opportunity.  I will be serving in the Eastern Highlands of Papau New Guinea and will be gone for 24 days.  Lord willing, I will be back home in Texas on March 13. I would appreciate your prayers for me, the team, as well as Gretta and the kids while they are home.

Want to know how you can pray specifically each day of my trip? Click here for my PNG Prayer Guide.  Thank you for all your prayers and support that make this trip possible.  I look forward to sharing a full report with you including pictures and videos after I return.