Scenes from Summer 2015

Summer seemed to fly by. But, of course, it always does when your life revolves around the school year. This summer was no exception! Following are some highlights from those few brief months…

May 2015.  Anna graduated from Asbury University!

May 2015.
Anna graduated from Asbury University!

June 2015. Len sharing about our ministry at WGM's International Celebration of Mission.

June 2015.
Len shared about our ministry at WGM’s International Celebration of Mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reunited with Miguel and Vivian Rodriguez from Honduras.

Reunited with Miguel and Vivian Rodriguez from Honduras.

 

Phillips and Olsens together at last!

 

 

 

 

 

 

At World Gospel Mission’s International Celebration of Missions (Huntington University, IN), we were reunited with a special couple from Honduras. Miguel and Vivian were an integral part of the church we attended after first arriving in Honduras in 1996. We ministered to young married couples together and spent many hours together with our families. They are now pastoring a church in McAllen, Texas, and their youngest son is a student at Taylor University with our middle daughter, Abigail. What a blessing to see them again!

We also connected with another friend from Honduras while there. Angela Olsen served as a Volunteer in Action through WGM two separate times in Honduras, the second time actually living in our house with us for a few months. We’ve kept in touch over the years and are so excited to see how God has led Angela and her husband, Pete, along with their two beautiful children, to serve with WGM in Kenya! Abby and Luke were about the same ages of Angela’s children now (Ella and Sam) when she first came to Honduras! What fun for them to meet one another!

July found us traveling to Mount Vernon, Ohio, to be a part of Camp Sychar, a thriving holiness camp. We were able to be a part of the festivities on Missionary Day, as well as to share more about our passion for Christian school education, both locally and globally.

Missionary Day selfie at Camp Sychar

Missionary Day selfie at Camp Sychar

Donuts - a missionary day tradition!

Donuts – a missionary day tradition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Len chatting with John and Trish Fraser (OMS, Hungary) and John and Beth Neihof (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS)

Len chatting with John and Trish Fraser (OMS, Hungary) and John and Beth Neihof (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS)

The yearly auction raises money for missions.

The yearly auction raises money for missions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great summer, all in all! Be looking for our September newsletter with info about the fall!

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What Color is Your Heart?

“Color My Heart Holy” was the theme for Elementary Spiritual Emphasis Week at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center in April. I was so blessed to have been invited to return once again to lead this week of special chapels. As I prayed and sought God’s direction for the week, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to help these precious students understand that everything we do or say or think comes from our heart…and that’s where transformation has to happen. We have to change from the inside out. But we can’t do it by ourselves. We have to surrender our lives to Jesus and ask Him to change our hearts.       DSC_3943

holy heart 2sinful heart 2

holy heartSo we began the first day by asking the question, “What color is my heart?” Just as a physician often looks at outward and visible signs of illness to diagnose a problem with our heart, so too can others look at us, our actions and our words, to determine the condition of our heart. As we read from Matthew 22, the verses known as “The Great Commandment”, we saw that God wants our hearts to be holy, or in other words, to be hearts that love God and love our neighbor.

We began the next morning by looking at the contrast between a fearful heart and a courageous, or brave, heart. Many of the students had colored their own versions of what these types of hearts might look like. As I shared the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), we learned that God wants us to be brave enough to love our neighbor. In the context of a school day, that could mean standing up and defending those who are being victimized in some way. Being brave isn’t easy when you are in elementary school. Actually, it’s not easy at any age.

fearful heart brave heart

Chapels continued the following day with a look at angry and humble hearts. Examples of both can be found in Scripture…Cain attacking Abel, Balaam beating his donkey, Jonah complaining to God, but also Naaman submitting to the prophet’s command to bathe in the Jordan River. Our refrain for the day was repeated often through our chapel service: “Oh no! Watch out! Don’t shout and scream! Don’t let being mad make you be mean!”

angry heart humble heart

Finally, we closed with a return to the idea of loving God and loving our neighbor as evidence of a holy heart. And we admitted we have a problem. We try to be good and to love, but we just can’t. But when we can’t, God can. We can pray like David in Psalm 51 and offer ourselves as living sacrifices as in Romans 12. I shared that doing so can keep our hearts spiritually healthy, just like daily exercise can keep our hearts physically healthy. As about half of the students came forward to pray, I read a paraphrase of the following verses: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13.
“May the Lord make your love grow. May it be like a rising flood. May your love for one another increase. May it be just like our love for you, Jesus. May the Lord give you strength in your hearts to always love Him. Then you will be holy in His eyes. Then your hearts will be like His. Amen.”

sinful heart holy heart 3

I am still praying those words for the elementary students at SCCLC. I am praying that as they wear the tie-dye t-shirts they made in art class – colorfully decorated to represent our hearts filled with God’s beautiful grace and gifts – they will remember to daily surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus. Won’t you pray that with me – for those students and for each of us? After all, we all need to be asking the question, what color is my heart?

t-shirts DSC_4005 holy heart 4

Posted in Education, International Christian School education, Ministry news | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Takeaways

As we all know, a takeaway is a point (or more than one) that we remember after hearing a message, reading a book, listening to a podcast, or arising from a discussion. It’s the idea we remember. Granted, it’s easy to come away from any form of communication with no takeaway at all! Just ask pastors how many members of their congregation can tell them what they preached the preceding week! I hate to think how many chapel messages I shared with elementary students that were forgotten by the time they got through recess. 🙂

But today I wanted to share with you a “takeaway” I wrote about recently. This is my takeaway from the past 18 months as we’ve transitioned to this season of life and ministry in the USA. We’ve not made a perfectly seamless transition nor have we perfectly defined how our current Special Assignment with the Global Resource Team of The Mission Society will work. But we are exceedingly grateful for the doors God has opened for ministry and look forward to all He has in store for 2015 as we continue serving through educational ministry opportunities.

So here’s a link to my article on the Seedbed website. Let me know what your takeaway was from my takeaway! Feel free to comment here or send me an email at len.phillips@wgm.org. I would love to hear from you!

http://seedbed.com/feed/how-to-survive-coming-home-from-the-mission-field/

 

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A Weekend in Mexico

That’s right. Len recently spent a weekend in Mexico. But it wasn’t to escape the winter weather and head to a resort or vacation spot. No, he traveled south of the border to spend eight hours on a Saturday teaching church leaders a course on Wesleyan theology. As part of our ministry through the Global Resource Team of The Mission Society, we want to support the educational ministries of missionaries currently serving on various fields. Mark and Serena Dunbar are World Gospel Mission missionaries living and ministering in Saltillo, Mexico. Part of their work involves coordinating several centers of theological education for the national church. It was a blessing for Len to be invited to be a part of this ministry, to spend time with the Dunbars (friends and fellow missionaries we served with during our time in Honduras), and to see how God is raising up godly leaders for the church in Mexico. You can read more about Mark and Serena’s ministry here – http://missionscentral.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/discipling-others/

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Another Celebration of Missions

The end of October we made a trip to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. No, we weren’t heading to the UGA vs. Florida game! We were spending the weekend at World Gospel Mission’s Southeast Celebration of Missions.

It was a small crowd, but represented in those numbers were years of faithful prayers and generous support of missionaries around the world. Many drove for hours to share this time together hearing of God’s call and His work transforming lives both here and abroad. We were blessed as we heard fellow missionaries share how God is moving in their countries and heard their heart for the people they serve. We were encouraged as we chatted with longtime supporters of missions and heard their heart for reaching the world for Christ. We were filled with joy to share a meal and memories with co-laborers from our years in Honduras. And we were so glad to spend this weekend with Len’s parents who have been a part of this missions conference for a number of years.

Below are a few glimpses of the weekend…

Honduras

With fellow missionaries to Honduras (thanks for the photo, Sharon!)

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Speakers Tommy and LaVern Anderson of Ireland. They hadn’t seen Luke since he was an infant!

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Luke’s new friends, the Bowen boys from Paraguay!

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It was a great weekend with Len’s parents.

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I learn, therefore I change.

Have you ever said, “I don’t like change.” I know I have. Probably every time we have had to move. Or every time someone we loved has had to move. Both of which seem to happen a lot. But my aversion to change is somewhat selective.

photo credit Luke Phillips

photo credit Luke Phillips

For instance, I do love the change of seasons. Last weekend  as I traveled from Georgia through Kentucky to Indiana, the change of seasons became more and more obvious with each mile northward. Here in Georgia we are still enjoying 80 degree days, but a couple hundred miles north, the cooler weather announced the arrival of fall, as did the golden, red, and orange hues of the leaves on the trees lining the interstate. Beautiful!

Seriously, what would life be without change? What would we be like without change? Change is inevitable. Sometimes change is thrust upon us. Sometimes we choose it ourselves. Sometimes we strive for it. Sometimes we do our utmost to avoid it.

How about when we think of education? Especially Christian education? Len and I have tossed around the term “transformational education” quite a bit this year as we’ve traveled and shared with our ministry partners. But what does that really mean? I want to be sure that Inigo Montoya (i.e. The Princess Bride) can’t say to me, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I know there exists something called transformative learning theory, referring primarily to adult learning, to a sort of paradigm shift that happens as someone has new experiences, critically reflects on those experiences and changes their frame of reference or perspective in some way. That’s a pretty simplistic version of a much-debated and complex theory. But obviously, transformation means change. So applying that to education…learning leads to change…or it should, right?

In Christian education…whether that is in homeschool, a Christian school, a Sunday school class or a small group…it appears that transformational education is learning that leads students, and teachers (because we are still learners), to adopt a thoroughly Biblical worldview as the frame of reference though which all of life is filtered and which affects our every action, thought, desire, and relationship. Christian thinking. Christian living.

So how do we do this? Beyond, or maybe in spite of, curriculum choice and methodology, how do we inspire and encourage true Biblical transformation in those students God has entrusted to us? Len and I certainly don’t have all the answers. But we are both studying and thinking and reading and reflecting on our years in educational endeavors to get a better handle on it. Len, of course, is pursuing his masters in education. That’s a little more formal pursuit of answers than my own reading.

Right now I am re-reading an old classic, Teaching to Change Lives, by Howard Hendricks. In it, the author describes seven”laws” pertaining to teaching…the law of the teacher, the law of education, the law of activity, the law of communication, the law of the heart, the law of encouragement, and the law of readiness. Much of the book is likely familiar territory to experienced teachers. For me, it’s a needed reminder, from chapter one on, that I can only teach from who I am and what I know. And if I myself am not continuing to learn and to grow and to be transformed by my own relationship with Jesus Christ, seeing such transformation in my students will be impossible.

How do you pursue a vision of transformational education? What does that look like in your home or your classroom? How do you know when it’s actually happening? How do you make room for it in the midst of lesson plans and curriculum and testing and discipline and just getting through a day at school? And what are you doing to continue transformation in your own life as a teacher? I would love to know.

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Time for a Celebration

Our first Global Impact Celebration

Our first Global Impact Celebration

This weekend we attended our first ever Global Impact Celebration. It was held at the Washington, Georgia FUMC. What a warm welcome this congregation gave us! We were hosted and loved and blessed through a wonderful weekend of celebrating the mission and ministry of this local church!

 

 

Settling in to a beautiful guest apartment, a Friday night banquet and Q&A with missionaries followed by prayer was a hospitable and refreshing beginning to the weekend.

Opening Banquet

Opening Banquet

Q&A with the missionaries

Q&A with the missionaries

Sunday school class

Sunday school class

Breakfast on Saturday, a ladies’ luncheon, and cottage meetings in the evening allowed so many opportunities to really get to know the heart of people at this church and to share ours with them. The guys enjoyed an afternoon of fishing and archery, a highlight for Luke. Then on Sunday, Len and I split up to share with Sunday school classes and were blessed by their words of encouragement. The worship service was a fitting end to a three days of joyful commitment to reach outside the walls of the church in love and labor for His Kingdom.

An amazing missions committee!

An amazing missions committee!

An extra bonus blessing was finding that so many in the congregation were somehow involved in education. I can’t wait to see how God will bring us together again and give us opportunities to work together in missions and education in the future!

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