It was spring 1973 when I happened to catch a little announcement in my home church bulletin that would change my life.  It was an invitation to “Mission 73” – a youth choir trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia, for anyone who had completed the ninth grade.

To say the trip was life-changing is to cheapen the phrase, and the memory of the trip.  You can read more about that here.

In the wisdom and economy of God, He decided that the best way to grow me up, call me out, expose my weaknesses, and reveal my gifts was to put me on a bus or plane with a group of people for a short-term trip, where the mission was serve Him well or fail terribly.  It started with that one trip, continued on through my high school and college years, including a couple of individual or personal partner trips for extended periods, then later internationally to places like the Ukraine, Prague, Vienna, and Thailand.

Now this year we are pleased and excited to announce the launch of a ministry that provides that opportunity to others. After months of talking, praying, planning, and waiting,  LifeVesting International will officially open its doors sometime near June 1 of this year, for the purpose of supporting the work of Christian pastors or other Christian leaders worldwide by providing assistance in the form of volunteer labor, consultation, and/or training.

We recognize that there are many different organizations, large and small, whose purpose is to fill Christ’s Great Commission.   What does the world need with another one?  Why are we doing this?  Aside from simple obedience God (the ultimate consideration), here are seven reasons. [click to continue…]

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So Send I WHO?

by Andy Wood on November 18, 2009

in Executing Your Plan, LV Cycle, Tense Truths

map and time

(Tense Truth:  The perfect truth of the gospel was placed into the hands of a group of people whose lives were a complete mess.  Jesus knew this, but commissioned them anyway.)

Picture the scene in that upper room on the day of the Resurrection.  Rumors and testimonies are flying!  A strange mixture of fear, joy, and disbelief.  Suddenly, according to John’s account, the Lord Jesus appears and says, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent me, so I’m sending you” (John 20:21). 

Hello and head out!  Victory and a vision.  A Conqueror with a commission.  And now these disciples would duplicate on earth what was first transacted in heaven.  “The Father sent me.  In the same way, I am sending you.” 

But wait a minute.  Before we glory in our visions of Pentecost, it would do us good to remember who it was the Lord was talking to.  So send I . . . WHO?  [click to continue…]

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Seven or eight years ago, I was taking a shuttle from the Founders Inn Hotel on the edge of Regent University down to the shoreline in Virginia Beach.  It was just the driver and me, and to make conversation, I asked him, “Do you know where London Bridge Baptist Church is?”

“Sure,” he said.  It’s not far from here.  You know somebody there?

“No.  But I went there on my very first mission trip.”

“Why would anybody,” he wanted to know, “come to Virginia Beach on a mission trip?”

That night I didn’t know how to answer him – this man who lives in the shadow of Pat Robertson and CBN, Rock Church, and a host of other citadels of Evangelicalism.  Today I think I do.  It was the Perfect Form.

The Proposition

“Mission ‘73” it was called.  I caught a glimpse of an announcement in our church bulletin.  A youth choir mission trip to Virginia Beach, VA, for students who had completed the ninth grade or older.  Hey, I loved to travel and barely made the age cutoff, so I was sold!  I was still a spiritual newbie, and didn’t really know very many people.  But I was undeterred.

Mark Stone, the pastor of London Bridge at the time, was an old friend of my pastor.  We would go to this crossroads of vacationers, military personnel, and growing suburbanites and conduct Backyard Bible Clubs, help lead out in a church revival, and witness along the Boardwalk and beach along the Atlantic.

The Cast

I was among the youngest – and spiritually greenest –of the 64 or so to go on this adventure.  I was surrounded by people who were older, more established, and way more sure of themselves.  I certainly can’t remember them all, but the list included: [click to continue…]

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I expected to learn some things and be reminded of some things when I made my first trip to Thailand.  I was not disappointed.  To put an exclamation point on our trip, here are some things I learned along the way…

humidityYou may think you know what humidity is, but you’re wrong.

My wife had one unending childhood adventure.

Churches everywhere are made up of humans, with human needs, human potential, and human flaws.

Pastors may not speak the same language, but the leadership issues they face are the same worldwide.

smilesIt’s amazing the trust you can gain with a sincere smile. [click to continue…]

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dscf1780There’s an old colloquial saying in Thailand that has become something of a joke.  Makes for a great t-shirt, too.  When foreigners would travel to the Land of Smiles, and ask if this whatever was the same as the whatever where they came from, or the whatever from another part of the country or town, the standard reply was, “Same same, but different.”

Why do they have the same two kinds of markets sitting right next to each other?  Same same, but different.

Are the people on the southern coast the same as the people in Chiang Mai or Bangkok?  Same same, but different.

Do the cooks turn out that Thai cuisine they way their grandmothers did it?  Same same, but different.

Today those who deal with the realities of change in this, the only nation in Asia never colonized, face great challenges and great opportunities.  And yet, they hold on to a culture that is the friendliest form of fierce independence I have ever met.  Same same, but different. [click to continue…]

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The Home Church

by Andy Wood on July 6, 2009

in Life Currency, LV Stories, Money, Photos

Have a dream?  A vision of what could be, if only…?  Do you have a vision of something greater to come, which you passionately long for?  This past Saturday  night, on what was as much a holiday weekend in Thailand as it was in the U.S., a visionary, passionate Christian leader taught me a priceless lesson about how God brings vision to reality.  Here’s how I described it, straight out of my journal.

gift-and-duiSaturday night Dui and his wife Gift invited us to join them for what he called a home Bible study.  Pastor Preecha and Nit joined us as well.  When the van came to pick us up, it was already loaded with an army of others – Dui’s father and stepmother, brother and sister-in-law, and a couple of kids.  As we made our way, we stopped at a roadside chicken roaster’s stand, where a woman had five cooked chickens on a rotissarie.  Gift picked the best looking one, the middle one, and the lady whacked it off and gave it to her.  That, Dui said, was going to be our dinner. [click to continue…]

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by Andy Wood on July 29, 2008

in LV Stories

DeChristo“I am created for His kingdom and purpose.  I want to fulfill what I was created for.”  That was Connie Holloway’s firm belief and determination.  Little did she know where that would take her.

Four years ago, Connie was in a marriage that ended in a head-on collision.  A believer in Christ, she carries no anger toward her former husband.  He’s a brother in Christ, she says, and she means it. She has seen her share of hurts, but Connie is the second-happiest person I have ever known.  I’ve about decided that Molly Brown would have nothing on her.  Connie’s unsinkable.  She has that crazy idea that abundant life is available here and now – not just when we die.  What a concept.

One of Connie’s major breakthroughs happened a couple of years ago.  “We were in worship, singing ‘Enough,’ and God asked me, ‘Am I more than enough for you?’”

“Yes!” she said with joy.

On that day, Connie was set free from believing that a relationship with a man could heal her.  She learned – not just in her head, but in her heart – that our completeness is in Him, not in a marriage or the things she thought she needed in a spouse.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.  Connie was enjoying a movie with Kaylee, her daughter.  The credits were rolling, and Connie saw someone’s name and thought how beautiful it was.  There she was seized with a thought:  It’s time for a new name.  For four years she’d carried a stranger’s name, and it was time for a change.

She mentioned it to Kaylee, who just seemed to get it.  Kaylee always seems to get her mother.  So there they stood – credits still running – and they started having fun, practicing new names based on the running list.

But how do you pick your own new name?  What would you do if you had that kind of freedom?

[click to continue…]

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Bill HydeI never knew Bill Hyde.

I will one day.

Bill was a church planter.  I know a little about that; I planted a church five years ago.  Bill planted six hundred, and just before he died, he hosted a then-record 3,700 participants in a Pioneer Evangelism conference.  His vision:  to plant 3,000 churches.  He took what people were adding in the Philippines, and began multiplying their efforts ten-fold.

I never heard Bill’s deep bass voice, singing or otherwise.

I will one day.

Bill gave up a career in music or teaching because, as one person put it, he wasn’t content leading a quiet, happy life teaching music.  Instead, he and Lyn, his wife, chose the frontlines of the battle.  They were appointed as missionaries in 1978.

I never hung out, played golf, argued, or even shook hands with Bill.  I sure hope I can one day.

Jim Cox, his former co-worker, said that Bill was a big guy:

Big in stature, big smile, big laugh, big hands, big heart. Bill was a musician, a teacher, a planner, an organizer and a doer. He had strong opinions, enjoyed a good argument and a game of dominoes. Bill and I played golf together weekly. He was my perfect golfing companion because he was as bad a golfer as I—not that we kept score anyway.

Bill and I have met in one way.  [click to continue…]

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