In August of 1995, I had been to two foreign counties: Canada on vacation with my family when I was 16, and Mexico mission trips with my youth ministry since 1986. I had no thoughts of doing more than that. I was content in where I was and happy with my missions commitment at the time. One day in a staff meeting my Senior Pastor, James Lair, told us we were going to Colombia to preach at a pastors conference. As memory serves me, I was not asked if I wanted to go, I was told I was going.
Now that is not a bad thing as I have discovered since then that my Pastor was just echoing the words of Jesus, Go…
While there, the Lord spoke to me and gave me a command.
Put young people on airplanes,
take them around the world,
and let me make missionaries out of them.
My initial response was, what? Who me?
No way, I’ve never done that before.
I spent the next eight months trying to discourage God and let him know He had made a huge mistake. I had no experience, and definitely had no idea of how to even start.
I am so glad God does not depend on our knowledge.
That next August, by the grace and mercy of God, I took 26 high school students to China on our first overseas mission trip. It all came into focus as I watched God use my kids to make a difference in China and then bring that passion home, beginning to do missions in our own backyard. Reaching out to the homeless, inviting their friends to youth group, creating outreach opportunities and seeing people come to know Christ. Our youth group exploded and our churches missions’ involvement increased substantially.
OK, now I get it.
I began to see what the Lord was talking about. We turned on the afterburners and got after it. Doing more mission trips and involving students in a variety of ministry opportunities both within and outside the Church. Asking the Lord what’s next? How can I be of more use to You and the Kingdom?
I’m glad you asked, said the Lord.
Get ready your life is never going to be the same.
I left Ojai as a youth pastor in September of 1999 and went to work for a large missions organization. The knowledge I did not possess when I started was fed to me through a firehose. Fast and furious. In my first year, there I went to nine different countries and 39 different states. Travel became my middle name! As I began my second year in missions, things at the ministry took a dark turn. Failure in leadership led to the ministry closing in August of 2001.
For the first time in 20 years, I was unemployed. Ok, Lord, what’s next?
You brought me here and told me to do this missions thing.
What the heck is going on? I have not changed my mind, He said.
Nothing has changed in what I told you to do.
So, we waited and prayed.
I sat in the office of the then NorCal/Nevada Assemblies of God District Youth Director, Bret Allen, in a meeting about youth convention. After we were done talking about youth convention, he asked me a question that would set the tone for the next two decades of my life. With this organization closing, who is going to do missions for young people in our district? Looking around the room, I slowly raised my hand. Even though there was only one other person in the room.
Me, I said, I think I am supposed to send young people on missions trips. We began to talk about hearing a call from God and pursuing His will.“I’m not sure what to do,” I said. Bret asked me, “what’s the last thing God told you to do?”Put young people on airplanes and let God make missionaries out of them. Do that, he said until God tells you something else.
So, I left the district office and went to the attorney’s office and incorporated Global Passion Ministries.
October 14, 2001
That summer we took 154 people on four mission trips: Ireland, Poland, Romania, and Fiji. GPM was off and running.
To date, we have seen thousands of young people respond to the call of God. Some that traveled that first year are now full-time missionaries around the world. For the past 19 years, we have remained true to what the Lord spoke on that platform in Bogota, Colombia.
And there is no slowing down.
This year we have been asked to help in villages in Alaska where there is no church to hear the good news of Jesus. We have been asked by the National Assemblies of God youth department to lead the REACH Orlando National AIM outreach. We are partnering with a great ministry in Europe to invade France with young people following Jesus’ word to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Each year, we partner with Medical Ministries International to take health care and eyeglasses to Fijian villages where they don’t have access. We are partnering with missionaries in Panama doing as they lead a conference for young people in horrible situations. We have a church going to Colombia to work with orphans. We are taking kids from a children’s ministry in North Dakota to California to do a VBS for a small church.
In all of this, I am as committed to the words God spoke in 1995 today as I was then.
We are just getting started, there is still so much to do. Jesus told us in Matthew 9:35 “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers…”
That is what we do.
We send workers.
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.