The definition of success

Success. It is a dirty word in missions.

And it is so because it is incredibly difficult to define what success is in the work we do. Is it the number of people who leave their faith and begin to follow Jesus? Is it the number of churches planted? Is it the number of miracles that happen? Is it the number of buildings that are built or purchased that produce great pictures of people of different cultures and skin colours smiling together?

In public, most of us in missions are really good at trying to convince our friends, churches and supporters that we are successful. Look at our pictures! Listen to our stories! We are doing well so PLEASE don’t stop supporting us. There is an incredible push to find the next tale of a miracle or of a Muslim that hears a story of Jesus and wants to know more. In private though? Many of us battle doubts about our effectiveness. Are we truly cut out for this work? Why did God call us to the field when it is painfully obvious that we are failures. Especially compared to other missionaries whose stories are seemingly so much more powerful and exciting than what we have to offer.

Looking back over our almost seven years here in Houston, I have felt like a failure many times. And especially with the upcoming transition where GFM Houston is finishing operations this upcoming summer, the thoughts have crept in a few times that if we were only better at our jobs then we would not have to do this. If only I had prayed more, shared the Gospel more, spent more hours with people inviting them to get involved then the work could continue.

But that’s foolish. Thankfully Michelle and I are surrounded by a great team of workers and advisers who have helped us reject all of these lies. And while it is still difficult we are able to rest knowing a few truths.

God places us where He wants us, for what He wants us to do. So the Lord brought us to Houston, and placed us in our neighbourhood working with the people we work with so that His plans are accomplished. And those plans are much more extensive and involved then we can ever dream of. The ripples of our small interactions with people, the prayers shared and the Gospel preached may take a while to show up, but they will show up. Perhaps not even when we are still in Houston, in ministry or even alive, but they will eventually show up. That is what we all have to put our confidence in.

For example, the Diks family buys a house in a nice neighbourhood in Sugar Land. We aren’t sure why it took so long and then aren’t even positive we bought the right house. But there is a house next door that is a rental property. The first couple of years there is an Indian family that we pray for regularly as they are nominal Hindus but want nothing to do with Jesus. Then the husband of the family hurts his foot and asks for prayer. He is healed in the name of Jesus but still rejects the idea of following Christ. Over time they move out but they take with them a knowledge of the living God’s power as well as a Bible in their native language and a Jesus film.

The next neighbour is a Muslim family and they also want nothing to do with Jesus. But we keep praying and letting them know that we care for them. Our children are friends and many times we exchange food. (although to be honest, their gifts to us FAR outweighed what we sent to them) There are a few conversations about the Bible but it is clear they want nothing to do with a faith they have been tought is evil. Eventually they have to move back to their country, but they leave with a Jesus film, a Bible in their language and a reminder that we are praying for them.

Neither family ever began to follow Jesus that we know of, or even showed an interest. So did we fail?

If we measure by human standards, then yes. We probably did since neither of those families professed a desire to follow Jesus. But this work is not human and the timelines are not what we think they are. One day, we trust that the steps we took in obedience to God’s command will show fruit and if we do not see the fruit of those actions until the day we are gathered in heaven, then ok. It’s all for God’s glory anyways, not ours.

And there is the true definition of success in our work and Christian lives. Obedience. Did we obey God in the situations He placed us in with the resources He gave us? If so, then we are successful. Obedience almost always isn’t flashy or something that we would consider “newsletter worthy”, but it is so worth it when you can go to bed in peace knowing that this work isn’t all about you. In fact, it has very little to do with you!

Thanks for listening.

It’s a van raising!

  • Making turns at slow speeds causes creaking and clunking
  • Occasionally when it rains hard, water leaks into the passenger seat
  • The air conditioning doesn’t get as cold as it should due to an indiscernable leak
  • The left turn signal doesn’t return automatically
  • When you try to accelerate up a mountain highway it laughs at you
  • The keyless entry randomly stops working

At first, this started to sound like a list of everything Ryan goes through when he wakes up in the morning! But this is the summary of the repairs and issues that our family mini-van has. And it is not unexpected, it’s old! It sounds funny to look at an 11 year old vehicle as old and worn out, but that is the reality.

300,000K and still looks pretty good!
300,000KM and still looks pretty good!

A big part of that fact is how much we have depended on that van in the last 8 years. Since we wrote this last post, we added on a two month road trip from Texas to Alberta to British Columbia to Washington and back to Texas as well as regular miles around the city of Houston. That’s what family vehicles do! And ours has been amazing and we know that God’s favour has been with us. In spite of the almost 300,000 kms (190,000 miles) the van has only truly broken down once. And it was a dead battery in our parent’s driveway.

There have been some incidents though.
There have been some incidents though.

But now it is time to work to replace this van with another vehicle that we can use for eight or more years. And to do that, we need to fund raise. Or as we are calling it here, van-raising.

“Hold on a second. I can already see that you’re asking for money. Why don’t you go get a job and stop begging for hand outs?”

We get it, there are many people that look at the work that we do here in Texas as not a real job and how we get paid as begging. But you know what? We look at it as the most real job that we can do. We raise up Christians and teach them how to effectively make new disciples in areas of the world that have no churches and little knowledge of Jesus. As Christians, we see this as very important. This video explains more:

And as far as how we get paid? It’s not a hand out. We work. We pay taxes. In fact, we believe that when people partner with us in finances, they are making an investment in a business that will pay dividends into eternity. Any business needs financial investors to provide the capital to grow. Giving to missions is very similar to investing in a company that produces a product that you believe in.

All of that to say, we are asking individuals and churches to help us to reach our goal of purchasing a new (to us) family mini-van.

The goal: Purchase a mini-van with less than 60,000km (40,000 miles) and is 2-3 years (2-3 years) old

The budget: $20,000 (Canadian) or $17,000 (US)

  • The reason for the difference in amounts is that the equivalent vehicle in Houston or Alberta is actually the same price in USD or CAD. We are currently researching and praying on the decision of buying in Canada and importing into the USA, or spending a little more but not having the work and cost of traveling to Canada and dealing with customs
  • November 2016 UPDATE – We are now only $7,000 CAD away from completing the goal!
  • December 2016 UPDATE – Only about $3000 left to go!

The timeline: End of 2016. But we won’t start looking to purchase until we have the entire budget since we won’t finance.

How you can partner with us:

  1. Visit to join our partnership team. Both Canadians and Americans can use this link for a tax deductible gift.
  2. Contact us to let us know that your gift is to be used for the new van goal. We will then ensure that your gift is set aside for that purpose.
  3. Pray that others will join in this project
  4. Invite others to join in this project by sharing this page and having them contact us.

Like a barn raising, this is a project that gets done quickly when everyone works together!

The community comes together
The community comes together