Denver Christmas Conference 2010

Wow, we just got back from a whirlwind trip to Colorado. We enjoyed some great, but quick, time with Michelle’s family up in Greeley and then headed quickly down to Denver for our first ever Denver Christmas Conference, now that we are officially staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.

You might be asking what the Denver Christmas Conference is (better known as DCC). Well, we weren’t quite sure what it was either. But we found out first-hand that it is a great – although exhausting with two very young munchkins – experience! But rather than me trying to explain it, here are the words direct from the godcc.com website’s “What” page:

We want to see your life changed. We want to see the world changed.

Every year at the Denver Christmas Conference (DCC) college students from all over the Midwest come to grow closer to Jesus Christ through prayer, powerful worship, passionate bible teaching, and community. You will have many opportunities to be equipped with life and ministry skills, to connect and network with other students, and to reach out locally and globally. We are excited to announce that this year we will be assembling at least 100,000 meals for on-going relief efforts in Haiti in partnership with Kids Against Hunger on Dec 29.

This year you can look forward to a film festival, multiple dance parties, fun on the 16th street mall, and possibly the biggest New Year’s party you’ve ever been to.

GO DCC and GET FREE this winter break!

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A snapshot of just a portion of the room during one of the main sessions.

As mentioned above, part of this year’s DCC included a time where staff and students participated in a meals for Haiti even that allowed us to package over 104,000 meals to be sent to those in need as a result of the Haiti earthquakes that happened just one short year ago this week. See the video below for the story that Denver’s local Fox news channel did (you can even see me – Nate – in the video at about 1:41 or so – at least my back as I loaded boxes onto pallets). It was one of the many Faith Building events that students and staff participated in while at this years conference.

 

Another faith building experience you might have seen or heard snippets about if you follow me on Facebook, was a Freeze Flash Mob that both students and staff participated in on Denver’s popular 16th Street Mall New Year’s Eve. For those that don’t know what that means, it basically means this: the total group of people at this event (around 1200 students and a few hundred more staff on top of that – so lets say 1500 to be easy) went out to Denver’s 16th Street Mall (which is an outside pedestrian street with shops, restaurants, etc – where they were holding New Years parties along with fireworks at 9:00 PM and Midnight) and acted like they were just normal people out mingling or shopping or doing whatever all up and down the entire 8 blocks of the mall. Well, at a pre-planned time of 8:15 PM, everyone that was part of the Denver Christmas Conference froze in place no matter what they were doing for 5 complete minutes. Once that 5 minutes was up, they “went back to being normal”… well, that is usually where Freeze Flash Mobs end, but not this one. As part of the faith building experience, the staff and students used the attention this flash mob produced to strike up conversations with bi-standers along the mall… all in the hopes of guiding them through a survey that leads to a spiritual conversation. It was quite the event, especially with the very cold temperatures in Denver that night.

After DCC, we headed back up north to Greeley and spent another full week meeting with friends, family and some newly introduced friends to share more about the ministry God has called us to and what it is He is doing with and through us. If we haven’t had a chance to share with you yet, just let us know – we are striving to connect with everyone personally so that you can hear first hand what is going on with our new Patrick Family Adventure.

Now that we have made it home after a decently long journey for us and our kids, we are recovering and giving thanks for all God did in the “short” two and a half weeks we were in Colorado. Thank you to all who helped us out on this trip, we are grateful!

Samuel wishes you a Happy New Year!

Well, we’re here in at the Denver Christmas Conference and it’s New Year’s Eve.  I decided to sneak away and borrow mommy and daddy’s laptop to post my review of 2010.  I hope you all enjoy my perspective on a year of changes for the Patrick family!

Me and Baby Eyi on Christmas Eve

It’s been another busy year for the Patricks.  One of the biggest changes for me has been the arrival of my little brother, baby Eyi (mommy and daddy call him Elias Ray, or Eli for short).  When mommy’s tummy was really round I didn’t understand what a baby was.  But then Eyi was botn on May 14th and now I know that a baby is a little person that makes a lot of noise and takes a lot of attention, but is also very cute and fun to help take care of.  I love my little brother Eyi and now I can hardly remember what life was like before he was a part of our family.  One of my favorite games is when daddy runs around holding Eyi and chasing me…it almost feels like Eyi and I are playing tag already.  I know we will have lots of fun as soon as he starts walking and running himself!

Actually, that makes me think of all the changes baby Eyi has been going through. He just started crawling this month!  And he’s been doing lots of new things lately, like eating solid foods and sitting up too.  And the best part for mommy and daddy is that he has started sleeping through the night and napping better, which also makes Eyi a happy baby.  Baby Eyi has a really cute smile and a great laugh.  I love to laugh and play with him, and he tries to crawl and follow me everywhere I go and play with all my toys.  I’m just learning to share with him and mommy says I do a pretty good job.  I’m sure it will take lots of practice.
Santa brought me new cars for my collection

My favorite things right now are cars and choo choo trains.  I especially love my growing collection of Hot Wheels and Disney/Pixar Cars.  I also really like playing with balls and riding my bike.  And I love dancing and singing to songs on the radio, especially the Christmas music daddy and mommy have been playing lately.

Daddy and mommy have been talking about another big change for our family too.  During daddy’s recent unemployment, daddy and mommy have been feeling an increasing desire and calling to serve God full-time. They tell me that they spent a lot of time praying and asking God what He wanted for our family.  Sensing God’s calling, daddy and mommy have joined as full-time staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is very exciting to me.
I didn’t know this before, but Campus Crusade is a worldwide organization that is committed to making an eternal difference in people’s lives by giving every person in the world the opportunity to say “yes” to Jesus.  Daddy and mommy will be focusing on reaching the 8,000 student interns from 52 different countries that participate in the Walt Disney World College Program.  Daddy and mommy actually participated in this program in 2003 and they say they saw the need for ministry to these students first-hand.  God has been arranging circumstances in really neat ways to send our family to Florida to minister to these students, and daddy and mommy are really excited to see God’s calling so clearly in their lives.  They say that the opportunity to reach student leaders from 52 different countries all in one place, at one time, speaking one language was just too enticing to ignore.
Here at the Denver Christmas Conference I’ve gotten to meet some of the students who have been impacted by the ministry at Walt Disney World through the 2010 Summer Project, including a student from China!  I’m not really sure where that is, but mommy and daddy say it is really far away and that it is a big deal to have a chinese student from Walt Disney World all the way here in Denver for the Campus Crusade student conference, which is kind of like a spiritual growth retreat for over 1,000 college students.  Mommy and daddy say that being at this conference has only confirmed their sense of being called by God to reach the students on the Disney College Program in Florida.

Before our family can actually move to Florida to begin our ministry, daddy and mommy have to raise our support.  They tell me that like many other missions organizations, Campus Crusade staff members have the responsibility to develop a team of financial partners who provide the necessary finances for their outreach, including their salary and ministry-related expenses.

So I’ve been seeing many friends and meeting a lot of new people as daddy and mommy have been sharing their calling to reach the student interns in Florida over the past couple months.  I hope I’ll get the chance to meet many more people like you this spring as daddy and mommy continue to share with more people until we are ready to follow God to Florida. 
God has really blessed our family in 2010.  I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit from me about how God is leading our family.  We would love to hear how God has been moving in your family too.  We are trusting God for another great year in 2011, and we wish you a blessed New Year!
With love on New Year’s Eve,
Samuel Thomas Patrick
(mommy, daddy and Eli too)

In the Holiday Spirit

Holidays are a special time for most people, but for Disney interns, holidays typically mean working hard while everyone else enjoys their vacation.  Most Disney interns work long hours on the holiday shifts when the full-time cast members don’t want to work.  So getting an opportunity to celebrate holidays is special for a Disney intern.
 
Our ministry team members in Florida have begun hosting holiday outreach activities at times when the interns can attend to provide opportunities for Disney interns to get to celebrate holidays together while hearing the gospel.

For many American interns who are away from family and friends, this is the only time they will get to celebrate holidays.  For many international interns, this is one of their only experiences of American culture and may be the only time they are invited into an American home.

Disney Interns at Halloween Outreach

Recently, the team hosted a Halloween Party Outreach where interns were invited to dress up, carve pumpkins, go “trunk-or-treating” and have a discussion about ghosts, God and the Bible.  More than 30 interns came and here is what one student from Morocco had to say about the experience:

 “I do not have words to express how I felt last night.  As soon as I walked into your apartment I knew I was glad I was there.  I really liked the trick-or-treating and the questions you asked in the group discussion.  It was one of the best moments of my life.”  – A Disney intern from Morocco

Thanksgiving Feast

And just two weeks ago the team hosted a Thanksgiving Feast Outreach where more than 50 interns representing 15 different countries on 5 continents attended.  They cooked four turkeys and all the trimmings, shared the story of Thanksgiving, and had an intern named Jenne Lee from South Africa share her testimony.  It was the first time she had ever shared in front of a group.  There were also some amazing responses from the interns at that event:

“From the moment I walked into the door I felt loved.”  – A Disney intern from Mexico

“I’ve been in the US 9 months and this is the first time I’ve been in an American home.  I wasn’t sure I would ever been in an American home while I was here, until tonight.”   – A Disney intern from Morocco

Interns from Mexico

“My friends asked me, ‘Don’t you think that this is weird that they are hosting an event like this for all the interns?’ and I answered, ‘Well, don’t you think it’s a little weird that people stand in front of our housing at night and hand out free alcoholic drink coupons to get on a Party Bus?  But at least the people hosting the Thanksgiving Feast are trying to do something good and loving.'”   – A Disney intern from Mexico

A girl who Jenne Lee invited from Uganda had said that she had been hurt by Christians before and now refers to herself as a Muslim.  Despite these hurts, she decided to come to Thanksgiving and had a great night.

With such a large response to the Halloween and Thanksgiving outreach activities, the team is searching for a larger venue for their Christmas outreach.  Please pray that God would lead them to the perfect location to serve the interns and host a wonderful outreach event to celebrate Christ in Christmas.  It is obvious to see that God is moving at Walt Disney World, and we feel so blessed to be a part of it!

He deserves our treasures…

Matthew 2:11 – On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.


This is hopefully my first of many ponderings on scripture to come as I go through a New Testament Survey course. Reading through Matthew this week, this verse above struck me. It made me think, do I bring my treasures to Christ? Not only that, but do I drop whatever I’m doing when I hear God’s call in order to bring those treasures to Him?

Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi

We do not know a lot about the Magi – or Wise Men – that brought these gifts to Jesus when they were shown “his star in the east” and came to worship him, but thinking about these men as real people makes you realize some things: most people have things to do with their time, especially in this time that we live now. I don’t think that is new to people though, so one can assume that these Magi had full schedules with responsibilities and things they needed to do. But when they hear of the “king of the Jews” being born and are led by God to go and worship Him and bring Him treasures – not only do they do just that, but they stop whatever else they were doing in order to do so. 

When I do hear God’s call, (if I even end up listening to it at all), I have a tendency to finish whatever things I have already on my “to do” list before doing what it is that God has called me to. Especially when I feel God’s call to bring Him “my” treasures (as if they are really mine to begin with, but that’s another story for another time), I pause when the star is pointing the way and think “well, lets look at this month’s budget…” (since God must not be big enough to provide for whatever it is He has called me to give to), and “let me be sure I pay all the other ‘important’ things first” – yikes, doesn’t He ask for our first fruits?


Going through what God has led me through over the past few years, I have been (slowly) learning this lesson of giving to God. It is somewhat “ironic” that I have been learning that lesson and am now depending on the generosity of others and how God leads them to give in order to provide for our needs. But through this lesson, it has been coming more clear to me about the truth behind God’s word when He says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We know where the hearts of the wise men were at this time… And even more so, we know where God’s heart is – after all, he sent the greatest treasure of all to pay our debts to Him. That fact alone should cause us (me heavily included) to desire to easily be open to wherever it is that God is calling us to give.

In God’s Timing…

Chuck with the “Neighbor kids”.
We received a very encouraging message in the most recent newsletter from one of the missionaries that we support from our church.  Chuck McDonald and his wife Tammy have an amazing story, and God has given them an amazing heart for outreach to the impoverished and orphaned children of Kenya – I highly encourage anyone reading our blog to go check out their website (www.savedbygodsgrace.org) to learn more about how God is using them to reach these children and even to pray about how God could use you to help the McDonalds in their ministry. 

Michelle and I have often been encouraged by not just the words of Chuck and Tammy, but of the evidence of how God has been working in and through their lives – at times I have felt like I was looking in a mirror when I hear them talk of how God has changed their hearts and opened them up to the mission field that God has called them into full-time.  Even though we are both in different life places and will be serving God in different ways, the change that has taken place to lead each of us to where we are is very much similar.

This month was another example of how encouraged we have been through the McDonalds and what God is teaching them.  In the newsletter, Chuck talks about “God’s timing…why does He seem to wait until the last minute?…for our good!”  Right out of the gate one can assume where this lesson is going, but something that was stated later really hit home for me especially with the process that Michelle and I are currently going through of building our team of ministry partners.  I think that this can apply to most anyone, because I know it isn’t the first time I have had a struggle with my timing vs. God’s timing.  This is not the first time I have heard something on this topic either, and I am sure it won’t be the last, but for some reason the way Chuck worded it in this letter really struck me in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

The statement that really struck me was this: “What I have found out is the plans He has take time, He is working in people’s lives we don’t even know will be involved, but the waiting is for our benefit and for others He is calling to be a part of His plan…”  What an amazing thought!  What an amazing perspective of clarification to have on the whole “waiting on God’s timing” point of view we are to have.  Of course we want to get down to Florida to start reaching the students on the Walt Disney World College Program, but there is more to our ministry than that… not to belittle the incredible opportunity that the WDW ministry holds, because it is an AWESOME opportunity, but we shouldn’t rush out of what potential God has for us in reaching a ministry partner that He maybe hasn’t even introduced us to yet.  Reading through Chuck’s current example of how well God’s timing worked out for them in their urgent situation, it is amazing to think that if they would have had things happen a little faster – in their timing – then they might not have had the incredible work that has happened happen.  I won’t go into too much detail on their specifics, so that you can go to their site and find out for yourself, but it just made me excited to know that whatever God’s timing is for the process we are currently in of raising our support, it is for His glory that things will work out the way they will…  And thankfully, it is also for our good, and by our I don’t just mean the Patrick family – although of course it includes us – but I mean our as in what it says in Romans 8:28: 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

He is working in “our” timing for the good of all of us who love him and have been called according to his purpose.  I guess that again I need to remember that everything isn’t just about me and mine… but there is a bigger picture going on that we amazingly get to be a part of.

If you are curious to learn more about the amazing work Chuck and Tammy are doing to build a sustainable source of food and water for the orphans in Kenya, click here to read about their special project and consider making a Christmas gift to help buy farmland and drill a well for clean water.  God is blessing their ministry in Kenya and we know you will be blessed when you read more about it just like we have been.

When I am weak…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

      James 1:2-4
God is teaching me patience and perseverance.  And he’s using my 5-month-old to do it.   
My first son, Samuel, began sleeping through the night at a very young age, so I wasn’t prepared for the many months of sleep-deprivation I’ve faced with Elias.  He consistently wakes up every two or three hours throughout the night.  I swear I feel like a mommy-zombie!  Only parents who have experienced their own long-term sleepless babies and hours of brain-splitting screaming can truly understand how exhausting and demoralizing it is to have a baby who refuses to sleep.
I think it’s partially his temperament and partially my coping techniques, but together we’ve set up some pretty bad sleep habits that are proving to be very difficult to break.  Every time I think we are making progress, it’s like taking two steps forward and one step back.
This weekend was particularly frustrating.  With family activities scheduled Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, we were very busy.  And Eli became very over-stimulated by the noise and craziness of his cousin’s birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese on Saturday, causing him to have two of the worst days and nights of sleeping that he has had in months.  I feel like I am starting over at square one all over again.
I feel discouraged.  I feel weary.  I feel weak.  But maybe feeling weak is part of God’s plan for me right now.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
      2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I confess.  I am so easily tempted to rely on my own strength, my own thoughts, my own abilities and talents as I go through life.  For one of the first times in my life I feel completely and totally incapable.  For someone who thrives on accomplishing things, feeling incapable is not a fun place to be.   
I know that God cares more about my character than my circumstances.  He is teaching me through this challenge to rely more and more on Him.  As Nate and I prepare for full-time ministry to the students on the Disney College Program, I know I will need to rely fully on God and not my own abilities.  And even though it is not fun, I’m sure that’s why I’m having to learn this lesson now.
I just pray that I can learn quickly.  And I am clinging to the promise that Jesus made that He will give rest.  
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
      Matthew 11:28-30 
Lord Jesus, I come to you broken and exhausted and incapable of doing anything to change my situation.  I confess that I have tried everything in my power to change my circumstances and have not truly relied on your power.  Fill my heart, Holy Spirit, and lead me.  And please Lord, grant me the rest and peace that you promise in your word.  In your name, AMEN.

Amazing Backstory: Chilean Miner T-shirts

Last week the world held its breath as 33 men emerged from their underground entrapment.  Against all odds, the Chilean government, along with help from many countries, mounted a creative and successful rescue of the trapped miners and we all celebrated together. One headline read: “The Entire World is Joyful”.  Joy.  I think that one word captures the essence of the experience for much of the world.

In our joy and celebration, many noticed the matching t-shirts worn by the miners over their coveralls as they emerged from the mine.  But not many know the story behind the t-shirts.  That they represent the true Joy found in our savior Jesus Christ.

On the front, the shirts read “Gracias Senor – Thank you Lord”.  On the back was Psalm 95:4 in Spanish, translated as “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.”  See pictures of the shirts in the CNN coverage of this amazing t-shirt story here.

So how did the miners get these matching t-shirts, displaying the true joy of the world?  

“The T-shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ Chile,” said Berry Fiess, director of field information services for The Jesus Film Project.  Christian Maureira, Country Director for Campus Crusade for Christ in Chile, explains the process they went through to help the miners spiritually during their time underground.

As Campus Crusade, God guided us to think about how we could help these men and this was how we took the initiative to contact some churches in the north, leaders and authorities about sending the JESUS audio into the mine. It wasn’t easy in the beginning because a lack of a sense of urgency, together with the restrictive control of the rescue team but, God in His sovereignty provided that we were able to gain contact with the daughter and the brother of one of the Christians that were trapped there. 

During several weeks, I was in contact with them and I explored the possibility of sending them audio material. Finally, I traveled to the mine with 33 MP3’s containing the JESUS audio version and an ample portion of the Bible. I was there for 2 days and we sent the MP3’s through each of the family members that were there.

Jose Samuel, my contact in the mine, is an extraordinary man who has really surprised me. The psychologists that are giving help from the surface have recognized that he has been a tremendous emotional and spiritual support for the rest of his co-workers.

In return, miner #24, Jose Samuel Henriquez, wrote a letter to Maureira including these quotes:
  • “I want to express my appreciation for this great blessing for me and my co-workers, it will be very good for our edification” (He is talking about the MP3’s)
  • “I am well because Christ lives in me”
  • “We have prayer services at 12 a.m. and 6 p.m.”
  • “I ask all of you for pray not only for us here, but for all the lost people in the world”
  • At the end of the letter he signed off with Psalm 95:4, “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and mountain peaks belong to him.”

A few days later, Jose Henriquez contacted Maureira again and asked that the special t-shirts be created for the miners to wear as they came out of the mine, and the whole world got to see the shirts as the miners were rescued one by one. 
After the rescue Maureira recaps the experience with this thought, “Chile is a grateful country that has reminded the world to set its eyes on the things of God, who sustains the universe.”  Truly Joy to the World.

Missed Opportunities and Open Doors

While at Campus Crusade New Staff Training for a week in September, we met a sweet girl named Lauren who had actually spent time working with students in East Asia a couple years ago as a Campus Crusade Intern.  As we talked about our new ministry to the students on the Walt Disney World College Program, her face lit up with recognition.  She told us that she actually knew seven students from her campus in East Asia that left their country to participate in the Walt Disney World internship program and work in EPCOT representing their country as cultural ambassadors. 

“I was excited for them and thought that surely there are Americans there who love Jesus who will reach out to them,” she shared. “I was so disappointed when they returned and said that they really didn’t get to interact with many Americans and that they were mostly surrounded by other international students.”
How sad that there have been so many missed opportunities in the past to reach international students on the program like the ones Lauren knew from East Asia.  But how exciting that God has now opened this new opportunity for there to be people intentionally reaching out to these international students with the truth of God’s love!
This story opened a new dimension in our minds with the possibilities for this ministry as we considered the idea of connecting and communicating with Crusade staff at campuses around the world as they send students to Walt Disney World and as we send students back to their home countries so that they can connect to a community of believers.  We hope to pursue this idea further once we join the ministry team in Florida.
Meeting Lauren and hearing her story just reaffirmed to Nate and I the need for ministry to these students, and increased our desire to work diligently to get to Florida as quickly as possible.  Please be praying that God would continue to open doors and lead us in the way we should go, and that we would keep trusting in His perfect timing for our family as we prepare our hearts to go, hopefully in the next year.

If you would like to join our team of partners and help us get to these students in Florida as soon as possible, you can see our giving page here.