Europe

GoLife Church Launch

img_0845.jpg

On Sunday, September 2, 2012, GoLife Church was launched in Gothenburg, Sweden! With nearly 100 people showing up to the Bio Capitol Theatre for the launch, it was a huge success!

Thomas and Ann-Margreth Jonsson have been dreaming about reaching Gothenburg City through a new vibrant and relevant Local church for a couple of years. After 10 months of vision nights, prayer meetings and putting together a committed launch team, that has now come into reality!

Gothenburg City will forever be changed by the tidal wave that has begun in and through this church that was launched in a strategic location in Scandinavia. The possibilities of the far-reaching impact of GoLife Church are beyond what any of us can hope for or imagine!

Please keep Thomas and Ann-Margreth, their core team and GoLife Church in your prayers! The Kingdom of Heaven is advancing across Europe!

Persevering and Overcoming

france-framed.jpg

I am now home from a fabulous two-week trip with my mom to London and France! And France far exceeded all my expectations! :) The people were so warm, the food was phenomenal, the smells of spring were incredible and it was simply beautiful.  We were able to visit Calais and Arras with two friends of ours and had such a wonderful time.  I look forward to being able to go back some day! ;) And London was London. How can you not love London?!  Even though it literally rained every day we  were there, London did not disappoint.  The Colour Conference was fantastic! It was so inspiring to worship with more than 5,000 women in a nearly packed out Wimbley Arena, listen to dynamic speakers from around the world and hear stories of how countless lives are being impacted all over the globe by people who value the life of "the other".

After arriving home Friday evening and having dinner with dad to catch him up on all our travels, I woke up early Saturday morning for the Strides for Sara 5+K that a handful of us had organized in memory of Sara and to continue to raise support for the Tiedeman Recovery Fund.  The event could not have been more successful! Despite the gloomy weather (it must have followed me home from London), we had nearly 200 participants and had a surprise visitor: Chris!

Three weeks ago, I saw Chris sitting in a wheel chair only being able to walk about 20 feet down a hallway with assistance.  Now, just three weeks later, I watched him walk all over the race grounds that we were at!

There's also a great short video on my facebook wall of him actually walking! Check it out if you have time.

It still takes a lot of concentration for Chris to be able to walk and he has to keep his mind focused on it.  There will come a day soon though when it will be as natural again as breathing.  The perseverance that he has shown blows my mind.  For what once was a natural thing that he never had to really think about doing, is now something he's having to intentionally re-learn how to do in the midst of a time of grieving.  Every day he puts his mind to practicing walking so that he can get stronger and overcome this current obstacle.

It's not unlike life.  Suddenly, circumstances change, tragedies occur, bad decisions were made, and what we were once able to do without much thought is suddenly a challenge.  And unless we face the challenge with perseverance and decide to intentionally work at it and set our mind to it, we could be overcome by it.  But when we allow that to happen, we lose, and not just us, but those around us, and really the world in which we live.  When we aren't fully alive, everyone loses.  It doesn't have to be that way though.  While it may take setting our mind to it and persevering, we too can be overcomers, especially with the help of God.  Our Maker and Creator longs to see each of us living out our full potential, despite the obstacles that we face in this very imperfect world where evil, hurt and disappointment all too often get the best of us because we allow them to.  Until that day, may we persevere just like Chris!

Don't Stop Dreaming

A dream come true.  For those of us who grew up in the U.S., we all began studying a second language by 7th grade.  For me, that was French.  And ever since we sang the French version of "Singing in the Fain" during French class, I've wanted to go to France.  Now why that song made me want to go to France, I have no idea.  But, it did.  Perhaps it was the actions that went along with the song. :) Today, my mom and I are getting on a plane bound for London!  It's been almost 10 years since we were there last.  The last time we were there was part of our family vacation of tracing our roots.  We went to Sweden to visit some of my dad's cousins who still live there (his grandpa came to Minnesota and started a farm in the Alexandria area, and his grandpa's  brother stayed home in Sweden).  Then it was off to the UK to visit Sterling, Scotland, where my mom's grandma was from.  And while in the UK, we stopped in London as well.

So, we are off again to return to London.  This time to attend Hillsong's Colour Conference with thousands of other women at Wembley Arena.  AND to travel to France with some dear friends of ours!  Finally, after dreaming of going to France for the past 20 years, I will get to go. :)

Dreams are a funny thing.  It wasn't until a trip to France was an option during this trip to London, that I remembered that I'd wanted to go to France since I was 12.  I had just kind of forgotten about it and hadn't done anything to pursue it.  Then suddenly, a door opened up and I was able to go, just like that. :)

I remember when I was freshman in college and I had come to the place where I was able to forgive my biological father and finally love him after a life-time of hating him (he was an angry drunk and an absent father).  I remember wanting to visit him before he died, for by then, he was homeless and living on the streets of Houston, TX (somehow I just knew he would die young).  A couple of years went by and I had forgotten about this dream.  Then, one night when I got a call from my mom telling me he was in the hospital and not doing well.  The next day, I was sitting at his bedside telling him all the things I'd dreamed of being able to say to him.  He passed away later that week, but not before my dream came true.

I wonder what other dreams I have forgotten about?  I'm sure there will be more that will come to pass without me having to seemingly do anything about them.  But what if I was more intentional about pursuing my dreams?  What if instead of just letting them be a thought that comes and goes, I wrote more of them down, and prayed about them, and started doing something about them?  What if dreaming became more of a part of my daily thinking?  What if there's more to life than just waiting for it to happen to us?  Here's to more dreaming!  And more dreams coming true!  See you the other side of France! :)

Headin' South

img_0006.jpg

And I'm leavin’ on a jet plane (any other closet PPM fans out there?).  The day has finally arrived.  Today, I am off to Dallas, TX for ARC’s AllAccess2012 (and to spend some time with one of my favorite aunts)!  There is much excitement and anticipation amongst the EA team and our church planters for all that is going to unfold this week!  We are looking forward to spending time with some of our church partners, and excited to make new connections in the crowd of 3,000+ that will be gathering at Gateway Church this week.  I even made a video in anticipation of it all. Check it out! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxRZ5HnrG0I]

At AllAccess, we are going to launch my baby:  the Internship Xchange Program.  While I traveled across Europe this past Christmas and New Years, I kept thinking about how we have so many resources in churches across the U.S. that could potentially be really beneficial to share with churches in Europe.  One of the main resources I kept thinking about was people.  In the U.S., there are so many more Christians than there are in Europe, not too mention trained Christian leaders.  At Substance Church alone, we are currently training up 37 interns through the Excelerate Intern Program.  The majority of churches in Europe have 37 people.  So, why not invite some of these up and coming leaders to intern at our EA churches, where Christian leaders are still sparse?  Okay, we will!

Things in the US office are also coming along.  This past week we re- launched our website (www.europeadvance.org)

(we are especially grateful to Gina, from Sebastiaan’s church in Hilversum, Netherlands, who spent many many hours helping to design the new site!).  And we got a few packages in the mail:  our new business cards and Internship Xchange promo postcards!

Personally, I want to thank many of you for your prayers and support for my friends that have experienced quite the traumas in the past few weeks.  Yesterday, we launched a Tiedeman Recovery Fund website to begin to help raise support for Chris and Sara (the two that were in the awful car accident 3 weeks ago):  www.TiedemanRecoveryFund.com.  Chris will be having surgery tomorrow at the U of M and Sara remains at HCMC in critical condition.  The road to recovery is going to be a long one, but it's a road nonetheless.  Last week, I started the Couch to 5K in honor of Sara – if she could run a half-marathon last fall, the least I can do is run a 5K (I ran one before, but this time I’m actually going to train so I don’t hate the experience quite as much afterwards).

I've begun to read a fascinating book about the affects of WWI and WWII on European culture, but I will leave those interesting findings until next time.  Plus, I'm sure I will learn more as I read on the plane this afternoon.  I'm off to the homeland!

The Every Day Battle Field

alicia-davis-black-background.jpg

These past couple of weeks have been filled with preparations for the ARC AllAccess Conference (Gateway Church, Dallas, TX), which will be at the end of March.  Over 3,000 pastors and church leaders are already registered!  At the conference, there will be lots of opportunities to network with tons of outstanding pastors, hear some of my favorite speakers (including Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, and Craig Groeschel) and worship with thousands of others who are passionate about reaching our communities in real and relevant ways.  And, EuropeAdvance will be launching its new internship Xchange program!  Needless to say, we’re excited and gearing up for the great things ahead! In the midst of all these preparations, these past few weeks I have also been reminded of all the depravity in this world that my eyes have personally seen:  alcoholism, divorce, robbery, death, suicide, starvation and malnutrition in less developing countries, AIDS orphans, adult invalids left for the dead, the destruction caused by hurricanes and tornadoes, cancer, malaria, the aftermath of wars, racism, sexism, and most recently the horrors caused by drunk driving.  If you’ve ever wondered if we lived in an every day battle field, I assure you we do.  :)

I admit that there are times when the outcomes of the battle feel all together like too much to bear.  Every casualty takes a little more air out of my lungs…

But thankfully, thankfully, the darkness has not overcome the light!  Every day, there is a reminder that the Remedy has already come, and is here.  Last Thursday night at a prayer vigil for friends who had been hit by a drunk driver, I looked out at a sea of faces to see a community filled with people who had truly laid down their lives to care for and love our friends, and who will continue to do so day in and day out.  Yesterday, I joined good friends as they launched their new church in a community that longs to see the love of God revealed in tangible ways.  330 people attended the service and 31 people gave their lives to Christ yesterday morning!  Talk about a win!

I have decided not to try and understand God, nor our Maker’s ways.  What I do know though is that our Lord and Savior has sent us into this dark world to live out the Good News that hope and salvation is here, today.  I long for the day when heaven truly is a reality here on earth.  Until then, may each one of us, together, live out our God-given mandate to reveal the God of life, love, hope and redemption to a world desperately in need.