Typhoon Haiyan – Philippines

This was posted by the Director of ReachGlobal Crisis Response, Mark Lewis on his recent trip to the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan – Philippines14NOVOne of the many families now homeless from the destruction of Haiyan.‘Nothing…’  No contact as of yet with the five Evangelical Free Churches (of the Philippines – EFCP) located on the east coast of the island of Samar, reported P. Prisco, EFCP president, as we met in his office this morning. And still no news as the day ended. Facing the Pacific, this side of the island sustained a direct hit from the storm. And getting there to assess this area is nearly impossible still, as the ‘normal’ route entails a boat ride to the now damaged Ormoc, a drive across Leyte on roads compromised by bandits and the rebel group NPA to the devastated Tacloban, across a bridge to Samar, then around the island on a shore road that in parts doesn’t exist.  We’re hoping that flights to Tacloban open up Monday and that P. Sam, who leads ministry in the region can find a way across Samar to meet us, and get us into his impacted region. Today was otherwise very busy, with the pressing reality of hundreds of thousands living out in the open with dwindling food resources. This morning, we got supplies in the hands of a pastor heading to Ormoc and Tacloban with a loaded van. This afternoon, we mobilized supplies and transportation for our 2am departure for a 2 day trip to N. Cebu island and Batayan Island. Both of these places have suffered greatly.  P. Chris a church planter with the EFCP, who has a vision to see a new church planted on Batayan. We’ll be delivering the supplies, helping him assess the response needs as well as the church planting potential, and exploring long term recovery ideas, including converting some of the downed trees into building materials.Pray for:    -God’s supply of immediate relief for thousands needing food, water and shelter;-The Church to be the primary agent of that provision;-Resulting in an effective Gospel witness, and Gospel Transformation of people and those communities affected.-Pray for Tom Shook (RG Asia), Denny Amin (an Indonesian partner, Caleb and I as we help, assess, and seek partners and to discern God’s direction for our response efforts. Give:  click here to the ongoing typhoon response…. or send a check payable to EFCA, referencing

via Typhoon Haiyan – Philippines.



I’ve always wanted to see fall in New England.  I am NOT a fall person.  I like Spring with the Crocuses and tulips, the robins and blue birds and the fresh smell of a spring day.  Rob is a Fall person.  He likes the leaves turning, ducks and geese flying and the crisp smell of an early morning in a deer stand with his bow hanging from a branch.  But I have always heard about Autumn in New England and I was not disappointed.  We had the blessing of being in New Hampshire this last week for a conference.  The conference was at a camp on a beautiful lake with what us midwesterner’s would call mountains all around us.  The colors were amazing!  I was not prepared though for the painting that God created on Friday morning for us.  We came around the corner by the lake and the early morning sun was hitting the mountain side just right.  The trees literally glowed in the morning sun. The lake sparkled and I wondered how God could have created all of this splendor in just 6 days!

New Hampshire Fall morning

Then I thought of something else…God RESTED on the 7th day!  God, the God of the universe that created all things, rested and I wondered why I thought that I didn’t need to rest.  Why I thought I needed to go day in day out, sun up to sun down and not rest.  To put my feet up and relax, enjoy the Fall leaves and everything that God has created.  To glorify Him by being obedient and taking a Sabbath Day.  I think one of the reasons that Rob likes Fall so much is that it has historically been a time where he spends a lot of time admiring God’s handiwork.  He has taken time to rest and take it all in and glorify God. Maybe I need to take a page from Rob’s playbook and enjoy the Fall.

Fall afternoon

The old has gone the new has come!

Welcome to our NEW blog!

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Watching from afar

Each night as the ReachGlobal Crisis Response Colorado assessment team posts their pictures and updates their blogs I am blown away by the devastation in one of the most beautiful places in the USA. The picture below is what used to be main street in Glen Haven, CO.

glen haven

Rivers and creeks have literally been rerouted and are now running through homes, main streets and even under a church in Lyons.  Yes, you read that right! The River Church of Lyons, CO now has a river running directly underneath it.  But this church, with half of it’s congregation sheltered in Longmont and half camped out in Lyons, is in the midst of formulating a plan with the ReachGlobal Crisis Response team of how they can be a light in the midst of all the devastation to those from the community!  They are asking how they can help their neighbor’s family who lost a loved one in the floods and how they can help with mud removal and winterization of neighboring homes before the snow flies.

Many of the congregants of the 5 EFCA churches that the assessment team have major damage to their homes, yet they are excited to be able help their neighbors and show the love of Christ to those in need.  The body of Christ is at work in these communities.

But here is the reality of our ReachGlobal Crisis Response team.  There are not enough staff people to go around. With sites running in New Orleans, New Jersey, New York and Haiti and teams scheduled to arrive from now until Thanksgiving in these locations, staff is needed to facilitate these volunteer teams. Someone needs to be there to arrange the work to be done, get materials, building permits and tools arranged.  To host and feed them all and to help them understand that they need to put down the hammer or shovel and spend time with the homeowner or a neighbor and listen to their stories.  Adding another location has spread our team thin.

If you are considering donating to a disaster relief agency in response to the flooding in Colorado, please consider doing a monthly support gift.  Monthly gifts will get us into the field to be able to share the love of Christ in times of need following crisis and add two more workers for the kingdom to the ReachGlobal Crisis Response Team.  Go to the “Ways to Partner With Us” page for giving options.

It’s happening again.  The same feeling I had in August of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the flood waters rushed in to inundate the city.  The same feeling I had in 2010 when the earthquake devastated Haiti and the same feeling as last October when Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast.  A ache in the pit of my stomach and a breaking heart for those affected by yet another natural disaster.  Each time I have watched the news coverage and scoured the internet for news articles, maps of the area and pictures.  I have prayed for the people, prayed for the relief workers and prayed for the private and public servants that rescue people from roof tops and cars.  I have mourned those who have lost their lives and have prayed for the families that have lost loved ones.  And I have cried.

But tonight was different.  The ache was still in the pit of my stomach and my heart was still breaking but my prayers became much more specific.  Father, give the workers the strength to carry Your Gospel to the broken hearted.  Father, give ME the strength to carry Your message to the broken hearted. Reality hit.  Soon we will be one of those workers.  We will be carrying the message of hope and redemption.  Of love and compassion to those that have lost all their worldly possessions.

The song by Brandon Heath, “Follow You” is ringing in my ears.  Several months ago a friend of ours said he thought this was “Our Song” and sent us the You Tube video to post on our blog. I truly want to “Follow You into the homes of the broken.”  We have a biblical mandate to meet the needs of the poor and needy.  Please click on the link to the right and listen to this song.  This is what it’s all about.

Storing up treasures

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:19-20

Yesterday after church and a sermon by our pastor on stewardship, Rob and I went to a store that buys old record albums to sell about 100 records that we had.  How many of us have these old things laying around that we just can’t get rid of and think…”Boy, these are gonna be worth a fortune someday, so I better hang on to them!”  Well as we have been packing up our home we have found a few of these “treasures” and the records were in that category for us.  I’m not sure what we thought they were going to be worth but we expected to get “a pretty penny for them”.  

We walked into the record shop and were shown to exactly who I pictured would be buying our “vinyl”.  A 60 something guy with long graying hair and a rock concert t-shirt on.  He was a super nice guy and talked a lot about the music business and how with the onset of digital media, record sales have dropped off.  He flipped through our records and began to separate out some that we thought, “wow, those must really be worth something if he is pulling them out!”  He then looked at the condition of the ones he pulled out and divided them out even more.   The whole “appraisal” process took about 20 minutes…20 minutes to flip through our “treasures” that we had bought for anywhere from $7.99 and $20.99 when we were in our younger years.  20 minutes to tell us that he would offer us…$32.00 for all of the records he had separated out and an additional $3.00 for the other 75 in the boxes we had brought them to him in.  $35.00 for our “treasures”, $35.00 for our memories, $35.00 for what we thought was some pretty good old stuff!  We took the $35.00 he offered us because we are trying to reduce our “treasures” before we move and this was 3 more boxes gone but we left there thinking wow, did we get ripped off or what?  We had seen the prices they charged for “vinyl” and they were going to make a ton of money from those records!  Then I wondered if Jesus feels like that when we offer him such a small portion of our “profits”.  When we give Him pennies on the dollar for His treasures instead of what He deserves.

So then I  asked, what are Jesus’ treasures?  People.  People are His treasures. I have looked many times at how I steward the resources that God has given us.  Do I waste it on earthly treasures?  Absolutely I do.  I think as Americans we all spend more money on earthly treasures than is necessary.  We have hobbies and interests, we travel, we eat out and most of us have closets full of clothes and shoes.  Each time this slaps me in the face, which that’s what this was, I get a little better about how I steward those resources.  My prayer is that when I think about spending money on a non-necessity I think…how many souls could be won if I gave this money to our church, a missionary or an organization that helps to evangelize and disciple Jesus’ treasures.  I want this to be my prayer for all of the resources we have been blessed with each day.  

We have also had people send unexpected gifts in for our ministry when God gave them an unexpected treasure.  Well, we have an unexpected treasure, $35.00, that we have to think about now.  Will it be spent on a meal, some fishing lures or at the quilt shop or will it be stored up in heaven as an unexpected gift to a fellow missionary or disciple of God?  Hmmm…seems like a no brainer to me.

Multplying Churches Globally

What do a Czech church planter, two Chilean church planters, 2 Canadian church planters planting churches in Ukraine, 1 American church planter planting churches in Canada, a gentleman planting churches in Spain, a Peruvian husband and American wife planting churches in Peru and a bunch of new ReachGlobal and SEND missionaries have in common?  We were all together this last week in Apple Valley for church planting training!

Church planting and Compassion Ministries Training

It was a blessing to get to know these godly people and listen to them share about their trials and triumphs in church planting.  Kind of like life isn’t it?  We all walk through trials and triumphs.  The storms and wildernesses when we wonder where God is and what He is trying to teach us.  And then the incredible triumphs when we see the splendor of the King of King’s at work.  It’s hard to thank God for the trials but the trials make us realize just how amazing the triumphs are and help us to grow in our love for Christ and our faith.

New and seasoned church planters

Towards week’s end, a suggestion was made that we take some of our brothers in Christ to a Twins game!  It was a truly multi-cultural experience!  Chilean’s, Canadian’s, American’s and even a group of Brazilian’s sitting behind us. I thought to myself, this is what it’s all about.  Doing life with other believers around the world…even at a baseball game!

Americans and Chileans

Americans and Canadians

Rob and Jackie

And even a group of Brazilians!

Partnerships and Partners

Back in 2011, shortly after we started the application process with ReachGlobal, Crisis Response, a tornado hit in North Minneapolis. Our thoughts went immediately to how we could get our home church, Maple Grove Evangelical Free Church (MGEFC), involved in the relief and recovery work.  First we looked for ministries in the affected area for us to come along side.  One of those ministries was Urban Homeworks, a non-profit, Christian organization that had been working in North Minneapolis for several years and knew the area well. A partnership was soon formed and MGEFC started to send people in to clean up yards, tear down garages and remove trees that had come down on people’s homes, garages and yards. God was using this crisis as a new mission field.

But this partnership didn’t end when the trees were cleaned up and people lives had returned to normal. MGEFC has continued to serve alongside of Urban Homeworks and this last Saturday we found ourselves once again in that neighborhood working on a home that will soon be sold to a family in need of affordable housing. What a blessing it was for us to work with some of the underprivileged guys that Urban Homeworks employs and hear them talk about what Jesus means to them.  How he has redeemed them and how they cannot believe that some of their friends deny the existence of God.

Another huge blessing to us was being able to work with people who have blessed us by partnering with us in our ministry.  We consider it such a privilege to be able to pray with, laugh with and do life with our ministry partners.  To us, this is what our ministry with ReachGlobal, Crisis Response is all about. Growing partnerships to be able to help those affected by crisis and bringing our personal ministry partners along with us to minister to those in need.  Does it get any better than that here on this earth? We think not.

Enjoy the pictures below of us working together to bring glory to God by helping His people.

Nate, Gayle and Keith working on footings for a deck.
Gayle digging holes for footings
Jackie shoveling cement for footings
Keith cleaning up the mess!
And Shari cleaning up everything including the kitchen sink!
Shari painting 
Nolan, Rob and Jason taping drywall.
Mark, Rob, Nolan and Jason hanging drywall.

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10

Why long term missionaries in Crisis Response locations?

We often get questions about why we are needed in these crisis locations, what we will be doing and how we will do it.  Those are all great questions!  So we thought we’d try to answer some of them.

First of all we are needed on site at the crisis/disaster locations to help the local church respond to the great needs of their community following a major storm, hurricane or other crisis.  In many cases the local church has sustained damage to it’s own building, the pastor(s), elders and congregation may have sustained damage to their homes, many people may be without work because businesses and industry may have been damaged or destroyed and there is no place for some of these people to go to “get out of the disaster”.  People come to the church for help and we are there to come alongside of that church to provide some of that help through prayer, a hot meal, a shoulder to cry on and help in restoring their home.  This gives the body of the partner church another resource when their own resources are at their limit.

Another major part of our role in Crisis Response will be to facilitate Short Term Mission teams from churches around the country/world that want to help out in response to these crises.  Our ministry gets tons of calls from churches of every denomination from places as far away as the Czech Republic whenever a disaster hits.  People want to help!  And people need help.  We are the conduit to bring the help people want to give to those that need it.

Rob will be working with homeowners and government and non-government organizations to find resources for the homeowners to restore or rebuild their homes.  He will meet with the homeowners to see what needs to be done, coordinate materials, building permits, and the financial resources the homeowner has available to them so that when volunteer teams come they have work to do.  I will work with him to let him know who is coming and when and what kinds of skills the team(s) coming in any given week have.  That way he knows who he has coming and can line up work accordingly. He will then work with the volunteers during the week they are there.  He will remind the workers that it’s not all about the task at hand but about the relationship with the homeowner, neighbor or local people that they are working with.  A common question from Rob may be “have you put down your hammer today to talk to the homeowner?”  American’s are very task oriented so we have to be reminded that the relationship is the most important part of the work they will be doing that week.

Someone also needs to host the teams in the ministry center of that crisis location.  That will be part of my job.  Many times the local partner church will have provided help for cooking, cleaning and other household chores but sometimes as in Haiti, we hire locals for this work.  I will be helping to facilitate the household staff/volunteers, making sure everyone has a spot to sleep, food in their bellies and helping with orientation and team debrief upon team arrival and departure.  I am also hoping to encourage the women of the local partner church through bible studies and maybe a hobby based ministry to bring women together in fellowship.

On Staten Island, NY we have a staff of 3-4 for the summer that are running a site that can house 70-80 volunteers at a time.  In August, 2 of these people will complete their time with ReachGlobal Crisis Response.  This site is actually set up for 5-7 staff people.  It takes a team this large to be able to make sure that 70-80 volunteers have work to do with materials and tools available to them.  For building permits to be obtained, homeowners to be consulted and meals to be prepared. This is where we will be going upon reaching our support goal.  We are so excited to be able to go help those that need help and witness to the mission field that was created in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
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