Counting the days

June 9th 1:30pm BST / 10:30pm EST

It’s only 9 days now until Ruth and I tie the knot here in Berkhamsted, England. We’re both super excited and thankful we can count the days on our fingers now. Everything seems to be coming together quite well for us as far as wedding planning and preparing for the future.

We will be broadcasting the wedding live over the internet from our church streaming channel:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/northchurch-baptist-broadcast
Note that this is not going to be a television worthy production, but you will be able to see and hear all the essentials if you want to stay up till 10:30pm EST. You can see another wedding has been recorded as ours will be to get an idea of the quality of coverage – though our ceremony will be quite different!

Ruth and I have been going through The Marriage Preparation Course by the makers of Alpha with our pastor and would happily recommend the course to new couples. http://relationshipcentral.org/marriage-preparation-course

Our first couple of months in Carlisle seem to be shaping up as well. We have both been selected to be involved in TeenStreet - a huge Christian event challenging teenagers to live for Christ – in July and we have both been recruited for the Go conference – where new missionaries come to be equipped before going out into the world. I will be doing audio visual and Ruth will be looking after kids and consulting with families entering the mission field.

We can hardly wait for our new life to begin. We are seeing God’s provision for us every day in having enough money to buy food and bus tickets, to the big things like wedding rings and houses. Ruth’s monthly support income is almost at 100% – we are just seeking God for another £100 – £200. She is also looking for part time teaching work to give us enough to live on. If she is unable to find enough work, my monthly support will need to increase by up to $600 per month to give us spending money for things like groceries and public transport. Please continue to pray that the rest of the figures add up and we can begin serving God without being a burden to the organisation we go with.

Ground work

Having spent another week in Carlisle – this time on my own – what do I have to show for it? I have been working on a project which will allow people to easily give monthly to the ship Logos Hope. There are many people out there – some Christians and some not – who would like to make regular contributions, and the technology needs to catch up. Over the week I have made enough progress for other people to take on the job of testing and implementing it. It feels good to have achieved something in the time that I’ve spent there. Others really appreciated the work I did.

I also had the chance to visit another church in Carlisle, which I really enjoyed. Carlisle Christian Fellowship is a small church that grew up out of house churches. They are fairly modern and charismatic and I’ve seen at least one thing in the news sheet about a kindness evangelism outreach this month. I had the pleasure of going to a men’s dinner at the church and connecting with some of the blokes there. I’m still not sure if this will be where Ruth and I settle, but it’s nice to experience fellowship with believers in a totally different place.

Ruth and I have also been looking at houses, and we think we may have found one close to the city center with all the furniture included. It’s a two bedroom terraced house – very typical English home. Whatever we decide on, OM will take care of all the rental agreements, which is very helpful for us.

 

Men’s Conference

“It’s such a relief that you could come to help out today Chris, you were a big help” a member of the OMNIvision crew remarked as he dropped me home late Saturday night. I was just thankful to God for the opportunity to be a part of the event.

Last Wednesday I left my lovely fiancee in Berkhamsted and caught a train to Carlisle to work on a software project for OM ships. I had wanted to spend some more time in Carlisle connecting and getting accustomed to the area, and OM had kindly paid my way up here for a week and a half. On Friday morning in devotions, a member of OMNIvision approached me and asked me if I’d like to go to Manchester with them for the weekend Northern Men’s Conference. I agreed without delay and was whisked off to the bus as soon as I could tell people where I was going.

One crew member had fallen ill and I was needed to help with setup, packdown and camera. I had operated a camera many times before on the ship, but this was a step up from that. Bigger cameras, more professional crew, and an audience that expect quality.

The Northern Men’s Conference was a one day Christian conference with keynote speaker Dr David Cook from Australia encouraging men from all around Northern England how to be the man God designed them to be. As I operated the camera, it struck me that he was saying some key stuff that mattered to me at this point in my life. I am moving from being a single man under my parents to being a husband and head of the household. Whilst I won’t repeat his talks, I especially like that he said God designed us in his image – to work as He does, to rest as He does and to Love as he does. This and many other truths washed over me as I operated the camera – I felt doubly blessed hearing this instruction and doing what I love doing.

The Audio/Visual side of things ran very smoothly and everyone was thankful that I could come along and fill in for the other camera operator. I am looking forward to the big events like Teen Street that I’ll be involved with this summer. I thank God for the surprise adventure, the blessing of growing relationships with the crew and the instruction I received on being a man of God.

Connecting

Following our week in Carlisle nailing down the details of our future, this week has been spent connecting (or re-connecting in Ruth’s case) with the community of Ruth’s Home Church, Northchurch Baptist. I’ve been staying with two lovely families that live near Ruth. It’s been great to get to know them better by living in their homes and sharing a little in their lives. Ruth and I have been doing our best to share with others what God has called us to do in Carlisle. (you can read it here: Chris|Ruth) A big part of this has been participating in home groups. We’ve also had penty of time to spend on wedding planning – which as you could imagine, turns out to be quite a bit of work when you want to stick to a budget!

We are both really excited about continnuing work with OM, and sometimes I feel like I’d like to be there right now serving God with my skills and giftings – but He is encouraging me each day that building my relationship with Ruth and connecting with people in her life – laying down a good foundation for the future is the best use of my time right now.

This Wednesday I’m headed to Carlisle for 1.5 weeks to work on an urgent project, then I’m back here in Berkhamsted until the wedding on June 9th. We’ll disappear until our Australian blessing and reception on June 26th, and after that we’ll return to Carlisle to set up home and start work on July 2nd.

We’ve been really encouraged so far by generous gifts and pledges of financial support. it’s still early days as far as Ruth’s levels are concerned. I’m still resting at 70%. We can’t help but testify that God has suppplied all of our needs up to this point and we Trust he will continue to surprise us in the future.

A week in Carlisle

Ruth and I recently spent the week in the northern border city of Carlisle nestled at the foothills of the Scottish highlands. Though it was a little colder up there we had a lovely time and we feel like we have a little more assurance of the future. We visited the OM International Coordinating Team (ICT) office and met some of the team who work there. ICT’s purpose is to come alongside missionaries at all levels and in all countries and provide the support and organisation that they need to do the work God has given them to do. Whilst the roles here feel a little bit corporate, the focus and outworking is in equipping, praying for and ministering to missionaries around the world.

Ruth spent some time with those she will be working with and the person that she will be replacing. She was able to get a good handle on what the job involves and get her hands on some resources that she can get familiar with in the coming months. The team seem very keen to have her working there as soon as we can – which will absolutely be after our wedding and honeymoon in June!

I spent some time with the team who run IT (Information Technology) on Logos Hope. They are putting together a donation system for the ships ministry that I am helping to construct. This is something I’ll be working on in the coming weeks alongside wedding plans and support raising. I also got to visit OMNIvision again and connect with the crew there. I will be based at OMNIvision (which is in a separate studio a few miles from ICT). I got to see the events that are coming up this summer and I’m very excited about the possibilities.

We were delighted to spend time with the Ingham family who let me stay with them for the week and often had Ruth and I around for dinner. It was very encouraging to be welcomed so warmly, especially when we don’t really know anyone in Carlisle. We were able to see a house that we could possibly move into in July, but there are no guarantees. We like the house so we are praying it will work out – if not they will find us another place.

It’s all very daunting moving to the UK, moving away from Ruth’s hometown, getting married and changing jobs – but we keep bringing it back to God and He keeps reassuring us we are doing the right thing. We are continually encouraged by the way that our lives seem to have been building towards this place and time – that God has been working behind the scenes in our lives in the good times and the bad to prepare us for ministry.

My desk at OMNIvision

My desk at OMNIvision

Time to go

Well the day is finally here. Tonight at 6:45pm I’m hopping on a plane that takes me to the other side of the world. I’m heading to the UK where I will first meet up with my fiancee Ruth and stay with friends of hers while I get over jetlag. Then we’re off to Carlisle to connect with the missions organization we feel led to be a part of. We will have lots of meetings and get to see the house where we will live when we get married (I’ll be staying somewhere else for now). Then we are headed back down to Berkhamsted where Ruth is living to help raise awareness and funding there – whilst making wedding plans. Likely we will make more visits up to Carlisle before we marry but plans are just forming now. In June we will get married, honeymoon and return to Australia for a second ceremony before returning to the UK to start with OM officially on July 2nd.

What are we actually doing? If you’re not familiar with our plans to join OMNIvision and OM Education then please read this post about OMNivision:
Young family: OMNIvision
Ruth will be volunteering as the educational adviser for OM international including the ship ministry – supporting and resourcing the ship’s school, advising parents entering the mission field and recruiting teachers. She will also probably teach part time in some way to keep up with the education system in the UK.

Over the last week I’ve had lots of good times with friends from all different walks of life and with my family. I’ve had to say goodbye to the people I know and love, but I know it is worthwhile to follow the path that God has set before me and before Ruth also. We are both stepping out in faith that God will provide for our need while we respond to his call. I have had my share of doubts over the last few months regarding finances – but God has never let me down yet! Through a number of recent contributions, I now have nearly 70% of my half of our expenses pledged by generous people, and if Ruth is able to find part time work as she plans (definitely pray for this!) then I have almost exactly half right now. See how God is faithful? Yet He rarely provides it well in advance – He provides it at just the right time. The very good news is that for the short term our organisation will help us to make up any shortfall, but we still need our income to increase. Ruth is just in the beginnings of her support raising and we would appreciate your prayers for us in that.

We are delighted to go into this field of ministry with the prayers and best wishes of so many people who I consider friends or family. Regardless of if you give or if you even share our beliefs, we are glad to share with you what God is doing in us and through us as we follow this path.

Love & Blessings,
Ruth & Chris

Independence: What does the bible say?

Independence seems like the ultimate confirmation of being a ‘real man’ or for that matter a ‘real woman’. Something inside us wants to prove that we can make it on our own, to pay our own way, to not need anybody. Perhaps that’s why some people move out of home when they turn 18 (or sometimes younger!) Perhaps we were taught from early on that being independent from our parents and those around us should be our goal. Birds will push their young chicks out of the nest so that they will learn to fly – if they didn’t push them, the little birds would never try something that strange. Maybe you’ve also been pushed out of the nest.

But more and more I’m starting to see how this mindset develops into a lonely and isolated existence. Going it alone – either as a single person or as a family unit – has some romantic notions and promises to never be a burden on anyone, but it can’t be healthy. God designed us to live in relationship with each other, to be a community. Listen to this verse from 1 Corinthians 12:

14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. […]  20But now there are many members, but one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” […]  26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

I love that part ‘If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it’. It’s not that I want to bring everyone down all the time – but have you ever suffered something in silence? Have you ever pretended that everything was OK, because you were afraid you would be rejected or be a burden – or you weren’t even sure what you were afraid of? As Christians we are supposed to be the body of Christ, and there are no independent parts in that body. Each part needs every other part in order to function, and God has designed us to work together in unity and harmony.

I have been wrestling with God today over finances. He has repeatedly reminded me to trust him to provide for me, but there’s that part of me that keeps rising up and saying “I want to do this in my strength. I want to provide for my own needs and in the future for my wife.” But that’s not how God is leading Ruth and I to live. He is asking us to be fully dependent on Him, and on our fellow Christians for all our needs. Even though things don’t look promising now, He knows our needs and He will provide for us. We have to let go of that part of us that wants to be independent.

I also think about Romans 12:10 – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Was that only talking about honoring the pastor above yourselves? No. It applies to everyone in the church. To often, the person sitting next to me in Church is suffering emotionally or financially or in their health, but I’m not at all interested in listening, praying for and helping them. My prayer is that I am more sensitive to the needs of my brothers and sisters in Christ – and have the guts to ask them how things are really going for them.

Engagement

It’s official, Ruth Spencer and I (Chris Young) are engaged! Now we can say that not only will we spend the rest of our lives together, but also that we will respond together to God’s call to mission. We were both already headed the same direction in life – now we can walk side by side.

Ruth and I met each other on board the M.V. Logos Hope – a ship that sails through God’s waiting world bringing knowledge through the good literature in it’s on-board bookstore, help for those in need, and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ to people in every port city it visits. I was the Audio/Visual team leader, Ruth was the head teacher. We successfully ignored each other for 18 months of our time, our hearts set on serving God. Ruth has a passion for seeing kids of missionaries develop into healthy adults, and I have the passion to see technology and multimedia draw people to the heart of God.

In the beginning of 2011 we were in the same group of friends, and when by circumstance all of our other friends left for two weeks, we became good friends. God fostered a healthy friendship between us in a group of four, and at the right time both our feelings developed and I invited her to start a relationship. Of course in doing so I’m sure I barely managed to string a sentence together – I was so nervous, and Ruth hadn’t really seen our friendship in that light before – but after praying about it we decided to ‘go for it’.

We spent three months together as a couple on the ship, then a month apart, then a week together, then two-and-a-half months apart, then two months together in Australia. We’ve had the fun days, the exciting days, the romantic days, the boring days, the stressful days, the hard days and the sad days – and whilst we are neither of us perfect, we believe God put us together for good reasons, some of which we have discovered, and some we have yet to see.

Last Thursday we went to see Somersby falls – because of all the rain recently the waterfalls were in full swing. And when we had gazed a while on the falls and when we were left alone I asked her to marry me. Of course she said yes. I gave her a nice ring which I almost dropped in a puddle!

Ruth will be volunteering as the educational adviser for OM international including the ship ministry – supporting and resourcing the ship’s school, advising parents entering the mission field and recruiting teachers. She will also probably teach part time in some way to keep up with the education system in the UK. I will be joining the OMNIvision team – creating prayer resources featuring the unreached peoples of the world and providing the Audio Visual coverage of evangelistic and missional events across Europe.

It’s a little strange for us to consider starting a life together when neither of us have full time employment. It would be much easier for us to both go and get jobs, but we believe that God is calling us to be a part of the worldwide mission movement, enabling others to go and tell the good news about Jesus. Sometimes I am sad that I can’t accept engagement presents or take any of my furniture or appliances with me into our new life, but we see following God’s plan and purpose for our lives as more important, and ultimately more rewarding. Of course if you would like to bless us in our marriage and our mission, monthly sponsorships of as little as $5 are what we need most. Please contact me if you feel you would like to partner with us.

Chris and Ruth

OMNIvision

In April this year I am planning to move to the UK. “but why?” you might ask. The answer has to do with where God is leading me next in his plan for me. I know I wouldn’t have experienced the wonders that I did whilst traveling on the M.V. Logos Hope if I’d ignored God’s call – and now here I am again ready to head off.

You see, since I became a Christian (in my mid teens) I have had this focus. I want to use technology to help people draw closer to God. I want to get the technology out of the way of what He is saying to the Christian, and to the everyman. Have you ever been in a church service where the words never seem to come up on time? Or the microphone is never switched on at the start? Well I have, and I’ve made those mistakes too. Ultimately while we need the microphone and the screen in a large gathering, we don’t want to think about them instead of God and his purposes.

I’ve been looking for and praying for a way that I can use this passion in a more evangelistic sense. Whilst I love ministering to the saints – I feel a pull to be involved in some way in ministries that reach out to the unsaved. I am drawn to the big evangelistic events and the christian conferences that spur young Christians on to great things for God. I want to use what God has given me to enable others to reach the masses with the good news. I want to be a part of mobilising Christians to share their faith with their fellow students, their co workers, their families and even with people in other countries.

OMNIvision is a UK based division of Operation Mobilisation – an international mission orginisation with over 6100 full time missionaries in more than 110 countries. Whilst OMNIvision’s role in the wider organisation is small and unglorified, it is vital all the same, aiming  to fulfil psalm 96:3 – “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples”. It’s headquarters and studio is in Carlisle – on the Border of England and Scotland. Whilst they are involved in may of these large events across Europe, their core vision is achieved by creating 5-10 minute documentary videos.

Imagine if Christians around the world were aware of what God is doing in some of the most unreached places in the world. Imagine if they knew what to pray for, how to give and where they could go. OMNIvision’s professional camera crew travel to the places where the gospel is starting to take root and capture on video what is happening. Back at the studio, editors put together a short programme that transports the regular Christian from a cell group setting to the mission field – Seeing the faces, hearing the voices of the people who need Christ’s love. They are given key points to pray for. I will be involved in maintaining the OMNItube website where the videos are available to watch and download. Helping them to reach more people. OMNIvision are keen to have a developer like myself on the team.

I will be going there mid April 2012 and initially staying for 2 years, though I could possibly stay longer. I will be a volunteer, so I will need to provide $1800 per month to cover my accommodation, food, transport, insurance, superannuation and travel home. Of course without an income I need to depend on God to provide the funds for this call, and He does that through faithful sponsors who donate monthly anything from $12 to $100 and higher. If you would like to sponsor me for this amazing call, please contact me.

An update

Isn’t it amazing how time flies? It’s been over three months since I returned to Australia and it seems like only a few weeks. January has been a busy month in a sense, and yet there hasn’t been any big moments to write about, so please allow me to share with you what God has been doing with me in January

By far the most exciting part about January is that my girlfriend Ruth has come to visit me (and for February too!). For those who don’t know, Ruth and I met on the ship and started dating three months before we left to return home. She is a primary school teacher, loves God and is committed to missions. We have enjoyed a sprinkling of sightseeing amongst the very normal days of going to work and going to church. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to share meals with people who’ve prayed for me over the two years, and if you’d like to the the same, we’d be delighted.

One of the key projects I took on when returning home was to re-build the aging grace community website to cope with our ever expanding ministry. Whilst there’s still plenty to be done, I’ve been making steady progress and can now include a screen-shot for you. I hope to launch it early next month.

OM International (based in the UK) have asked me to put together a payment gateway for them allowing people to donate to the ship ministry directly from the website. It’s quite fun playing with credit card transactions and gateways and I’m learning a lot in the process.

Whilst the AV side has eased off this month, I’ve been able to install a more permanent system for the amplifiers at Grace Wamberal so to reduce wear and tear and setup time. I’m working on documenting every part of the AV system so nobody ever needs to be confused.

I am now in the process of applying for a UK visa. I went to Sydney recently to have my fingers and face scanned, and I’ll be sending in my application form next week. Please be in prayer that the application would all go well. I have my new brochures which I’ll be handing out, and I have a confirmed monthly support target and a breakdown of the costs involved.

I’ll be sharing at Grace Wamberal on February 12th and Erina Baptist on February 19th.

Please continue to be in prayer about my wrist injury. I have something called intersection syndrome which causes pain when twisting things (say, opening a jar) and using a computer – not good for a computer programmer! Progress has been made and prayer has helped, but there is still a journey to full recovery.