Saturday, March 26, 2011

Religion on its way to extinction in Austria?

We were shocked to read about a recent study (by the American Physical Society) that religion may become extinct in 9 different countries. The nations on their list? Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and...Austria. According to an article from BBC news, the group used a mathematical model that takes into account the social and utilitarian reasons that people affiliate themselves with a religion. In these 9 countries, the trends towards people identifying themselves as "non-religious" were pointing towards eventual extinction. According to the article, "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion."

Nate and I know that ministry is going to be challenging and slow moving in Austria. This study confirms what we already knew, which is that God, church and spirituality are increasingly considered irrelevant by many Austrians. Our prayer is that our lives and our witness would break through those perceptions, displaying who God is and showing that the gospel is always relevant. Seeing more Austrians come to Christ may not be "statistically probably", but nothing is impossible with God. And we know that any progress we make in Austria will be because of God working and not because of us!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thoughts on fundraising...

For most missionaries, fund raising can be pretty intimidating. Even if you're raising money for something you care a lot about, it can be a vulnerable experience to lay your heart on the table and ask someone to partner with you financially. You face fears of rejection and when someone says no, it can be easy to take it personally or fear going out again to ask someone else. No matter how much you trust God to provide, the experience can be difficult and sometimes scary.

At our last training at WorldVenture, they talked about the danger of looking at raising financial support as "subtractional", seeing someone else's giving as the act of subtracting from what they have to fund our ministry. Instead, partnering with us in ministry should not be subtractional, but transformational, allowing both us and our support team to be transformed as we partner in sharing the gospel in Austria.

We are about a month in to the process of building our support team and so far, it has been a great blessing. I know we will have ups and down, but 4 weeks in, I am enjoying it. My favorite parts of raising support have been...
  • Meeting with friends gives us a chance to educate people we know and love about the need in Austria - something that many people are not aware of and that we are passionate about!
  • We have an excuse to get together with and catch up with everyone we know!
  • We are building a team of prayer warriors. Seeing friends reminds me that we will be well supported in prayer
  • I have been challenged and blessed by the experience of supporting missionaries over the years. I truly believe that it is something God calls us to. It is exciting to see friends make the decision to support a missionary for the first time after meeting with us!
  • Sharing our story has allowed us to clear up many unanswered questions related to our plans and our timeline. It is helpful to have people we know be up-to-date on our goals and when we hope to depart for Austria, as well as our long term commitment.
  • The more we share our hearts for Austria, the more my heart grows for the this country in need. The statistics and stories become more real to me every time I share them with someone else.
  • We have been blessed by the support already pouring in and I am completely humbled by the response we've received already. God is using this to remind of us of the wonderful community he has surrounded us with, a community that loves the Lord and is eager to enable us to serve Him.
I am thankful for the experience we've already had and look forward to the coming months of sharing our story!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why I'm Thankful for One Smooth Stone...

Today was my last official day of full-time employment at One Smooth Stone. Wow! When I started here back on May 2, 2005, I never would have imagined how much of an impact this place would have on my life and who I have become as a person. I'm so thankful for every person and each experience I've had over these last 6 years.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I am thankful for One Smooth Stone
(Dave Letterman style…please insert drum rolls and breaking glass sound effects at your own discretion):

I’m thankful for…

10. The delicious (and sometimes expensive) foods I’ve been able to try when out on events or at client dinners. I’ve discovered some of my favorite restaurants and foods because of this job!

9. The chance to travel all over the country and the world. Favorite places have included Switzerland, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Hawaii.

8. The ways I’ve become even more “type A” in my ability to plan things (didn’t think it was possible, huh?) and I can now manage a detailed project from start to finish.

7. Learning how to mentor and coach a new employee, which reinvigorated my love for counseling and mentorship and taught me about how to best guide and encourage someone on their journey

6. Financial provision for my life up to this point. Especially through the financial crisis, I’m thankful I’ve had a steady and dependable job to allow me to do everything else I do in life!

5. A challenging job that has pushed me out of my comfort zones and forced me to learn new skills.

4. The opportunity to take on leadership roles right out of college, which allowed me to discover news gifts and skills I didn’t know I had.

3. The experience I’ve gained as a communicator and marketer, which I now look forward to putting to use in our ministry.

2. Spending 6 years at a company that is built on a biblical foundation, where everyone treats each other with respect and where prayer and giving back is an integral part of the culture.

1. The lifelong friendships I have made with my co-workers, with whom I’ve endured fun times, late nights and memorable experiences. I'll miss you guys!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Austria in April!

Big news today...

Our Vision Trip to Vienna, Austria is fully funded!

We were able to raise $3,000 towards our two week Vision Trip, which will take place April 14 -28, 2011. Thank you for your generosity! We are thrilled to have reached our goal already. Our visit to Austria will be our first time there together and will be a crucial time of laying the groundwork for our future ministry...casting a vision, meeting with church leaders, discussing church planting plans, etc.

Praise God for his provision in making this trip possible!