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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ground Crews and Flight Crews

I'm leading a team of five to the Philippines in March. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity! My wife and I were there in 2005 when I presented a couple seminars to train pastors and church leaders. As a result of that trip, we sent an Alpha "starter kit" with a few books and a set of videos to one of our friends there. He has been leading Alpha ever since, and asked us to come and train people there to lead Alpha more effectively.

So five of us from Central, from our Alpha leadership team, are planning a ten or eleven day trip. We'll be presenting Alpha to almost five hundred people in three different venues. Each of us will be speaking and leading various parts of the seminar, plus we'll have opportunities to interact with church leaders from that part of the Philippines for the whole time we're on the ground there. I can't wait to see what grows out of this trip!

For example, we have almost five hundred people coming from a wide variety of churches in the central Philippines. The people at Alpha USA say that on average, each training (they call them "GAT" for Global Alpha Training) gives birth to 23 new Alpha courses. Let's say each of those Alpha courses, on average, has 30 participants in the next year. Statistically, about half the people who come on Alpha make either a first-time commitment or a recommitment to Jesus Christ. Do the math, and we're talking about over a thousand people in the first year coming to know Jesus in a way they hadn't before. Then they start talking with their friends and family, and ... Wow!

One of the things I've realized in preparing for this trip is that every mission trip requires not just people who are willing to get on the airplane and go, but also those who are willing to stay behind and support that "flight crew." If we don't have a good "ground crew" who are helping us prepare, praying with us and for us, and supporting us financially, this trip will have a lot less impact.

Would you consider being part of our ground crew? We will be finding ways to communicate specifics of the trip, prayer requests, and sharing what God is doing as we go. If you're willing to be part of the prayer team, please email me -- -- and let me know that. I'll make sure you receive the communications about prayer needs for this trip, as well as some of the triumphs along the way. Some of that information, no doubt, will be shared on this blog, but there will also be more detailed information that we'll only share in our prayer request emails.

Also, this trip will require significant dollars to make it happen. Each person on the team is putting forward a large sum of money just to cover air fares, etc. The pastors and church leaders in the Philippines are often living in very difficult conditions. Many, in fact, have to choose between paying for transportation to our seminar and paying for food that day. So as part of the training, we are also providing a simple lunch. Because so many church leaders will be coming, and two of the three seminars we're offering are two-day affairs that involve two lunches, total cost for the participants' lunches will add up to nearly $3,000. (That averages a little under $3 per lunch.) That is just one of the expenses we'll need to cover to provide this training. Others include the cost of ferries from island to island, lodging in the various areas where we'll be presenting, and meals. We'll be working hard while we're there, and we are hoping to maximize the impact we have on this trip.

If you're able to donate toward this mission, please visit the online giving page of Central's website. You can donate online by choosing the "other" category on this page, and filling in "Philippines" to the right of the amount you want to give. These donations are tax deductible. Any amount, small or large, will help us make a significant impact on the lives of people in the central Philippines.

I hope it goes without saying that if you donate, or if you sign up to pray for us, that is the only way your information will be used. You won't receive other emails and that information is kept totally confidential.

Thank you so much for considering being part of our ground crew! Your prayers and your financial support are incredibly important as we get ready to fly out in March.

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