SOBE

I’ve just been through a 6-week business intensive that we call the SOBE, School of Business and Entrepreneurship.  Technically I was staffing the course, but the truth is that I was there to learn.  We had 13 students from around the world, who each gave a 10-minute presentation of their business plan to a “shark tank” as their final exam.

We had phenomenal speakers every week; a collection of local businessmen who are embracing missions alongside us, as well as speakers from around the world who are very connected to the missional aspect of their businesses.  They were all brilliant, and gave generously of their time and expertise.

I heard so many things I don’t ever want to forget.  Here are a few of them.

As Christians, we usually divide our work and activities into sacred or secular.  We think a missionary or a pastor does sacred work, while a lawyer or business owner does secular work.  What if we are all called, as believers, to full-time ministry in our field?  It might be farming land, trading stocks or representing clients in a courtroom.  When God made Adam in the Garden of Eden, He “took the man and put him into the garden to cultivate it and to keep it.”  Genesis 2:15  We were created to work; what if this is our daily worship?  It reminded me of a quote I read a long time ago, when I was first introduced to the idea that God did not set up a secular/sacred divide in our work.  If money and trade and business were His idea, why would He not be right in the middle of it?

Peeling potatoes was more essential for Brother Lawrence’s spiritual growth than attending the evening prayer service because Brother Lawrence recognized that God was there in the kitchen as much as he was in the chapel.  -Andrew Spencer

I was especially delighted with the thought that when God made mankind on earth and gave us the mandate to cultivate it, He had hidden in the earth all the raw materials we need to create boats and cars and computers and fidget spinners.  Not only that, He hid in humans the intelligence to figure out how to make this stuff, trade it, ship it, and then how to manage it.  The business of creating products and services was all God’s brilliant idea to help us thrive on the earth.

I learned about what BAM (Business as Mission) is, and what it is not.  It is not business for missions, nor is it business to cover up the mission, as in restricted-access countries.  BAM refers to for-profit, sustainable businesses reflecting the kingdom of God in their mission and values, including these four bottom lines:

  1. Economic Profitability
  2. Social Impact
  3. Environmental Impact
  4. Spiritual Transformation

I believe Jesus is the answer to our soul’s greatest needs, but suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?  James 2

Lots of kind-hearted people have been touched by the plight of the poor in developing countries, and were moved to give from their abundance.  When I lived abroad, I was on the receiving end of containers from the USA, filled with clothes, shoes, food, all manner of donated items to help the poor.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that this creates a cycle of dependency that hurts the local economy, besides the psychological and spiritual difficulties this dependence creates in a society.

I now see that BAM brings beautiful answers to the problems of the poverty cycle.  One of our teachers in the SOBE has started a business in a country where desperate poverty has caused many women and children to be sold into the sex industry.  His business supplies a living wage for men and women to provide for their families with dignity, in an environment that champions them as valuable children of God.

In the past, Hj and I worked with several ministries that were fighting sex trafficking and prostitution.  The biggest struggle these ministries faced was trying to find viable jobs for women who sincerely wanted to leave, but felt that prostitution was the only means by which they could afford a house and food for their families.  BAM addresses these needs, through spiritual discipleship as well as restoring hope and dignity through jobs.

This isn’t just for developing nations.  As a school, we took a field trip to Denver to visit several businesses practicing BAM.  We saw a coffee roasting company that employs homeless young people, as well as a connected coffee shop that does the same.  We visited a discount building supply store and cabinet shop that employs men and women transitioning out of homelessness or prison.  In traditional business, I’m sure these are the people you don’t employ, but that’s the beauty and irony of the upside-down kingdom Jesus taught.  I asked the owner how hard it is to employ people that the rest of the world tends to marginalize, and his answer really surprised me.  “It’s really not hard at all.  They’re motivated to work!”  We joined them in a lunchtime Bible study the day we were there. I found it so inspiring to see firsthand the way God is transforming individual lives and society through these businesses.

 

So, that’s [some of] what I learned in the SOBE.

“There is no understanding of any domain or dominion without understanding its design and purpose before sin and the fall. We were not made for sin. Sin happened, so God must and we must deal with it. But we do not have governance, science, education, family, business, beauty and the arts, communication because we are fallen from God’s ideal. We do not have nations and cultures because, after sin, there was no other way we could be ruled. We have all of these arenas of life because we are created in the image of God and they are all part of revealing Him. They are all ways in which we know, see and worship God. Our work, creating communities that reflect who God is, is our worship now and forever.”  Landa L. Cope

 

 

 

 

Packing peanut

It’s about time for us to be responsible and tell you what is up.

We seem busy, and that is an easy thing to do around here. We recently realized that we have been in YWAM for more than a year and we still feel like we are the new people. We are finally getting to the place that we call this place home and it feels that way. One thing that really helped was ripping off our ugly old wallpaper. We got some guy to restructure our walls and I put a beautiful Polar Bear White on the wall. All of the sudden it made sense to put something on the wall and it looked good. Our two hotel rooms became a little less hotel and a little bit more a part of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things at Kairos are going good; we are breaking sales records like crazy. After having some problems with dying fridges and other things breaking down it is good to see that we are moving forward. Our shift manager has quit her job, so me and Ryan are doing everything. We are praying for someone else from YWAM to join our team and bring some new vision in. We are still training lots of people to run their own coffee business all over the world. We had a pastor from New Mexico come and join us for a little while to teach him how to start a cafe at his church. Right now we have Lisa with us who possibly wants to open a cafe in Nepal where she runs a hair salon. Ryan is going to visit a couple that went through training at Kairos and just opened a coffee house in Zanzibar, Tanzania. In April we will get 3 more interns through the School of Business and Entrepreneurship and train them to open their own coffee shop or cafe.

Joy will be staffing that school and I am so excited about it. It is a great opportunity for her to be more involved and help out our BAM team.

Not too long ago me and Joy went to a marriage conference in CA. We had such a good time working on our marriage and learning some valuable tools. I had been feeling a little bit down when it came to my relationship with God and was praying for breakthrough. We spent a lot of the week during the marriage conference listening to God and praying for other people. God spoke to me in some powerful ways. But the real fun came when we came back home and God kept on speaking to me. On the radio, I won 8 tickets to a worship concert and felt quite clearly who to take with. The current DTS was having giving night and I felt to give a certain amount of money to a boy, but I didn’t even know his name. The next day he came to me saying that his outreach fees increased and the money I gave was the exact amount he had to pay extra.
Those are small little things but they help me so much to know that God cares about us.

 

‘Business as Missions’ at work

Next week is the last week in the SOBE (School of Business and Entrepreneurship). The SOBE is a school that our Business as Mission teams pulls off every year starting in April. The school gets a lot of teachers in and they talk about all aspects of business as missions. At the end of the school the students are expected to present their business plan to a shark tank and hopefully start a business to advance the kingdom. This year 2 of the students in the school are from Honduras. Joy is the mentor of one of them and meets with her every week.

Two other students, a couple from the Ukraine interns at Kairos. We are teaching them how to run a coffee business so they can start one in the Ukraine and employ orphans.
They will stay here in the Springs with us for two more months after they finish up the school.

latte art
The fun part about running Kairos is that we train people to do business as mission but at the same time we ARE doing business as mission. Our barista Brad, 20 years old, started working at Kairos a little over half a year ago. He claims that if he had known that we were a Christian business he would have never applied. He grew up in a Mormon family and hated everything that has to do with religion, claiming he is an atheist. He loves working for us and he gained friends quickly. Now he is applying to do the DTS (Bible School) here on base. It is amazing what a healthy work environment can do!

Go with the flow

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We had lots of snow

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part of the art display

Easter Art Gallery
Day by day we are feeling more at home and part of the community here at the YWAM base. Last week on Good Friday we organized an Easter Art Gallery. We first heard about this idea at our church in The Hague. The base here in Colorado normally does a big Easter party but it got canceled this year. We thought it would be a great idea to do an Easter Art Gallery here with all the base staff. We asked people to bring art that reflected who they are and what Jesus did for them. It was great to see so many people submitting art to be displayed and to see how diverse the body of Christ is.

Prayer on the Steps
Next week we will be spending a few days in Washington, DC and we would love to have you join us on Saturday, April 9.
Our mission is three-fold: 1. To pray about abortion at the Supreme Court; anyone is welcome to join us Saturday, (April 9) at noon.
2. The same day, we will also join United Cry DC16 for a day of praying for our nation at the Lincoln Memorial.
3. Last but not least, Saturday night we will be at David’s Tent DC to worship on the streets, taking a turn in leading a 10,000 “love song to Jesus.”
When you think about it, please pray for us as we go.

Saying Goodbye
One part of YWAM that is always bittersweet… saying goodbye.
We have waved goodbye to some of our good friends here and blessed them as they go out into the mission field. Ellie lost her friend down the hallway who is now “far away”.
We are praying for her that she will gain a friend here her age.

Thank you so much for supporting us!
The Fouserts

Colorado might not be heaven, but it must be on the way.

It already has been one week since I arrived in Colorado Springs.
Me and Mocha (not his real name) (he got that name for his love for downtown coffee shops) (actually he got it from autocorrect) drove out Friday morning and arrived Saturday evening. We unloaded our stuff in our empty new home. Monday morning I dropped off Mocha at the airport and then I went for IKEA. I always liked IKEA but this time I was lost in the Swedish maze of oddly named furniture. Most of the time I went into the wrong direction, walking in circles. I caught on to my lostness when I passed the RANARP floor reading lamp for the 6th time. Finally I spotted the BOSNÄS footstool (which was on my list) on display.  It should be easy to find the box now, I thought.  I looked around and even went back a little bit. No BOSNÄS anywhere in sight. In my best Swedish, I asked someone for help. The lady pointed at the other side of the room at least 15 miles away from where I saw the BOSNÄS on display. This scenario repeated itself and now I am fluent in Swedish.
In the middle of it all I decided I should go check out the “as is” section, the part of IKEA where they sell stuff that was damaged. It took me only 45 minutes to find it. I saw a day-bed, still in the box. It used to be $269, now $49.99. After googling an image of the product, I decided we needed a day-bed. I was aware of the money we saved up and I wanted to spent $500. While I was checking out, I texted my wife and said I was probably spending $600 at IKEA, wondering if I was crazy or not.  Starting over just costs a lot of money, I thought.  Joy texted back and said that Jack (not his real name) had just pushed $500 in her hands, because he had so much extra. God always provides for us, even for a BOSNÄS footstool. The bill at IKEA ended up being $501.46. Now I know for sure that those dollar hotdogs at IKEA are not God’s will.
Now, I started writing this blog to point out that we updated our “missions” page.
It explains how you can support us and make it tax deductible.  Whoot, Whoot!

We did need a hitch!

We did need a hitch!


All the important stuff goes.

All the important stuff goes.

The monkey on his back is the latest trend.

The monkey on his back is the latest trend.

We saw some pretty sights.

We saw some pretty sights.

Colorado at last!

Colorado at last!

What Hj has been doing

My adventurous husband is packing up for 6 days in a village 8 hours from here.  I’m so excited that Hj gets this opportunity to go share the Gospel in the remoter parts of the island.  The kids and I will stay here at the YWAM base.  So far, I’m keeping my tears under control, but we will all miss him like crazy!

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Hj and Jessie did art therapy with the kids from the orphanage.  The kids each drew their heart on a paper, and then colored it in with different colors.  Each color represented an emotion; for example, yellow = happy.  They chose how much of their heart is happy, or which percentage to color yellow.  After they were done, some of them presented their hearts and talked about the different emotions they were feeling.IMG_4535

Another day they sent the kids outdoors to find something in nature that represents a part of who they are, and then everyone shared what they chose and why.

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Jessie spent a long while praying individually with the girls.  They are really amazing kids! We have seen a little glimpse of their hearts and it has impacted us so much.  They are grateful for the family God has given them, even though many of them have suffered great loss and sadness.  No bitterness can grow in a thankful heart.

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Hj also taught on personalities and identity to the local YWAM staff.  They did the My-Briggs test, which is no small feat when every word needs to be translated.  Besides the Europeans, there is one other introvert.  Aha!  Everything makes sense now.

Hj is a very engaging teacher, and got his students to draw a picture together on the whiteboard….. without talking.  A great exercise for a roomful of extroverts, wouldn’t you say?

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They divided into two groups, and had to illustrate the perfect vacation.  Pictured below are the P’s (Perceiving): they like to keep their plans loose and casual.  The J’s (Judging), on the other hand, had a well-organized, step by step plan for their vacation.  It’s a very revealing exercise to do in a group, and I had fun watching them draw.  Two people did most of the drawing on this one, even though there are 5 in the group.  One person waited until their time was almost up, and then just added details.

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During Ramadan, we visited a huge mosque.  In case you wondered, I’m pretty sure we were the only white people for days.  A little wrinkly man who spoke English told us everything we wanted to know (and more) about the mosque and its history, but all I understood was “Willem Alexander.”  Anyway, we were whispering prayers and uttering declarations under our breaths.  It was sobering to be there, even wrapped up in Hello Kitty.

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The slum kids are back from holiday, so Hj and the rest of the team have gone there a few times. The kids like learning new songs and games.

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Meanwhile, our kids are starved for attention. (haha)  Actually, they are loving it here and thriving.  They quickly adapted to all the new people and developed some special friendships here at the base.  I am so thankful for young people who take time to invest in our kids and teach them new things.  Adam and Ellie bring lots of joy!
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Indonesia as we see it

The city of Surabaya, from a prayer tower

The city of Surabaya, from the prayer tower

We are loving Indonesia.
It is such a blessing to be here and give our best to be a blessing.
Now, it happens to be a holiday here and even the slum kids are taking a time off so we have been doing a lot of teaching and sharing here on the base and in churches, but not so much ministry outside the base.

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Åsa, my school leader, teaching about the heart chart to the local YWAM staff

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YWAM base from the outside

YWAM base from the inside (our room is the first door on the right)

YWAM base from the inside (our room is the first door on the right)

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Orphanage

We did go visit a orphanage which is part of YWAM in the east of Surabaya.
We divided up in groups and since I am the only guy I got to entertain 20+ boys all by my self. In broken English I tried to ask them questions and they asked me questions. I suggested they play me a song on the guitar. The kids sang as loud as they could and worshiped God. It was an amazing experience to feel God’s presence on these orphan kids. I prayed for them and we parted ways. We will be coming back to these kids and bless them in every which way we can.

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English service

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We prayed in a prayer tower that has been going nonstop for 10 years. They have seen amazing answers to prayer!

The base leader, Jeffrey, is also one of the pastors at a local church and he sent us out to an English service Sunday night. Happy to make some new contacts, I tried to start some conversations. It didn’t go so well. I wondered why they had the English service so I asked one of the guys and his answer was yes its all in English! So I said no, WHY? do you have an English service? Yes, only English, every Sunday. Then I started to really wonder so I asked someone else. Q: Did you enjoy the English service? A: What? Q: Did you understand the English service? A: Sorry I don’t understand.
We didn’t have much more luck with the children in Sunday school. I told the kids to think of a dream they have and write it down on a paper. I clearly said a couple of times that I am not talking about the dream you get when you sleep. After a little bit of quiet one of the boys said: Did you know when you drink cow’s milk before you sleep, it takes your dreams away?

Undercover prayer walking

Undercover prayer walking

God will provide a lamb

It is 5:41 AM right now, Adam just cried and I am rocking him back to sleep.
Today is the day we are going to fly to Indonesia, first Tokyo then Jakarta and then Surabaya, our final destination. It is amazing the journey God took us on. When we decided to come here and step out in faith we sold our business along with some other stuff. It was enough for us to pay the lecture part of the school. Going on outreach, however, is also part of the school and for me to complete the school I have to complete the outreach. We went back and forth whether we were supposed to go to Indonesia or not.
When you do a secondary school in YWAM the outreach part is much more flexible and you can go wherever you want to. Also in YWAM, you have to raise your own support and that’s where our faith was tested like Job in the pig’s pen. (Did you know the prodigal son’s name was also Job… or was it Bob?) To start our faith-test journey we asked many people about raising support.  They told us it’s not easy to ask people money but that’s just how it’s done. We disagreed. Surely God will provide for us if we are in His will; but if we ask for money we provide for our will, we argued.

One day the base announced a “giving” day. During the corporate worship time everyone would ask God who to give to. They wrote people’s name on a big white board and behind their names were a couple of numbers followed by a $ sign. As the day went on, the amount decreased and at the end they gave us about a 1000$. Amazing if you consider that everyone in that room is living by faith and does not have any money. We decided to go ahead and book the tickets, we almost had enough now. Then we discovered a bunch of costs we hadn’t heard about before and guess what? We got discouraged. Now we were struggling with the fact if it was Gods will or not for us to go. We came to the point that we called the airline and asked if we could cancel the tickets to Indonesia, but the answer was no. We asked God to confirm to us if it was His will and He did. So we stood on the truth and said to God: we know it is Your will, so you will provide. I was actually in the middle of writing a blog post declaring that God would provide when all of the sudden 4000$ came in, one day before the ground fees were due. Now we still need a little towards the tickets, but you can imagine we are not worried in the least. Gloria A Dios.

PS: we will keep you up to date about our trip!

Living on the Edge

This week the money for our outreach to Indonesia was due. At the beginning of the week we had a Big Conversation about this. (“We” meaning the responsible adults in our family, of course)  While it was far from a fight, it did include lots of healthy tension, as we struggled to find out what in the world our life is supposed to look like right now!  It’s one thing to live completely by faith as an adventurous single person, but it’s quite another to have the Wind blow you hither and yon as a family of four: diapers, strollers and all.  This is the most challenging part of our new lifestyle, by a long shot.
We still don’t know what we believe about missions and money, but we have been asking lots of questions at the dinner table and also on our knees.  We finally decided to just ask God to make a way where there is none and believe that He will give us the resources we need to do His will.
This requires some faith. Not only faith that God will provide, but somewhere, somehow people need to have faith in us too. We are always astounded when people give us money. Like, they believe enough in us to let us use their money in whatever way we choose? It’s kind of stupid.
Last week our Korean neighbors from room 310 begged to babysit for us, so Hj and I could go on a date. As if that wasn’t enough, they handed us an envelope full of money, and commanded we go somewhere really nice. We hardly know these people, and we were just astounded by their generosity.  We cried, they cried, basically everybody cried. They are missionaries, and they know what it means to give until it hurts. We know what it feels like to receive until it hurts. We laid aside the temptation to feel guilty, and Hj planned a marvelous date for the two of us.
This week we have seen foretastes of provision every single day.  A generous gift on the cash app, money mysteriously appearing in our bank account, a package in the mail, an envelope slipped under our door, chocolates and dollars from the Germans– so many promises that we have friends who do indeed believe in us and hear from God for us.  We are so grateful!
Is it just me, or does it seem that in our wrestling with these age-old questions, we are one blog post nearer to asking for money?  Just kidding, we would never do that.

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Seven nations represented in Hj’s class: Finland, Germany, China, Cambodia, Switzerland, USA, the Netherlands

Intercessors, unite.

We are looking for dedicated intercessors to help us complete our next assignment in our desire to bring redemption and hope to prostitutes.  It isn’t a dream we dreamed ourselves, but when we asked God what we can do to help stop prostitution before it starts…. He gave us a very clear answer.  We are making steps toward fulfilling the tasks we’ve been given, but there is so much more than we can carry out ourselves.
If you are a woman with a gift or calling to intercession, we joyfully invite you along for a week abroad in March 2013.  If you are a woman with passion and a strong spirit and don’t know your gift or calling, you are welcome too.  We are open to anyone who’s willing to travel, willing to stand in the gap for others, and who is female.  🙂  Don’t worry if you have no money, five kids, or a full-time job.  Consider them carefully, but don’t worry.  Does God ever call us to the impossible?  All the time!
If you’re interested, email us at merryjoyous@gmail.com and we will spill the details.

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