How Do We Occupy Ourselves?

Last summer brought us some wonderful evenings for things such as a hamburger cookout in the back yard with our Hope House guys.Last summer brought us some wonderful evenings for things such as a hamburger cookout in the back yard with our Hope House guys.

March 2009


It's a question we're often asked, but not always with the same intent.  When supporters or potential supporters ask it, I want to believe they are concerned with getting a good value out of their ministry investment, getting their money's worth, getting the most bang for their buck.  Ministry life can be so consuming, that it's a great question for us to ponder regularly, to ensure we?re staying focused on the reason we were called. 


We have a corporate sponsor who annually asks us to report on the work and always phrases that question in some form.  This year they ask, 'What have you seen God do through your work this year?'  Perhaps it's a better question, and to an extent a different question altogether. 


But, I think often people want to simply better understand what occupies our time.  And that's the question I?ll answer here.  In Russian the same question, 'What do you do?', literally translated means, 'How do you occupy yourself?'  Here's the short list of the principle ways we occupy ourselves.


  1. First and foremost, we are daily engaged in a personal, passionate, persistent pursuit of Christ and His centrality in our lives and work.
  2. leading, mentoring, equipping a ministry team of eleven, not including ourselves
  3. providing accountability up the organizational structure of the ministry and down, serving as chief stewards ? accounting - budgeting - reporting
  4. serving as house-parents for 8-12 guys, 8 of whom live with us full-time here in the Hope House part of the ministry, training them in life-skills, imprinting life-on-life as we do life together, work together, serve together, eat together, play together, and pray together
  5. managing a small business, training in skills of the trade, as well as business practices
  6. developing support, connecting resources with the work, both funds and people, networking with ministry partners and partnering organizations
  7. serving as supply clerks and chief logisticians to daily ministry operations and all its facets
  8. supporting the local Russian church and its leadership, encouraging the growth of compassion ministry in partnership with East-West's church planting and pastor training focus


All of these roles are part of our daily routine, with the possible exception of number eight.


However, if we can't also answer the question regarding how we've seen God work, then perhaps all our busy-ness is in vain.  God forbid that to be the case!  Here's how we answered that question.


'Over the past year, what did God do through this ministry?'


  1. Continued provision and direction for the Young Life style project He led us to establish here in 2004, the 'You Are Not Alone Club'.  He has used this club project as the doorway for new kids to discover the various ministry facets of GAP, to discover Him, to discover His word, His word in practical application, and the fellowship of believers.  In addition to providing spiritual food, it also provides physical food and fellowship around the table.  It is also a vital laboratory of ministry for our young leadership team who are being raised up and equipped as leaders in the Body of Christ.


  1. We saw God double the size of our ministry team this year.  We now have four staff leaders including us, and nine volunteers.  Not only is He growing us in number, but He is growing the team in spiritual maturity, ministry passion, and Christian community.


  1. We began to see Him work in the residential ministry of GAP we now call Hope House, now in its second year, to directly impact the lives of about a dozen young men, eight of whom live with us full-time, and are being transformed through day-to-day discipleship.  God has also begun to use our involvement as 'house-parents', in spite of ourselves, to train them in life-skills they desperately need.  (Yes, maybe one of the most miraculous accomplishments of all!)



  1. God has enabled us to set up a small business this year and employ two of our guys.  It's a video business that has the advantages of a low overhead, takes advantage of inherent skill sets (both mine and theirs) and built-in motivation in our guys, as well as serves as a great ministry opportunity, as we've been able to serve other ministries and churches with our product.


  1. We have seen God bring about a half-dozen new kids under the influence of this ministry this year, most of them already having put their trust in Christ at one of our orphan camps or orphanage outreaches.  After years of trying to live as Christians in a complete void of fellowship, they are now growing in Christ and discovering what a life in Christ can look like, as their roots are beginning to grow and take in the nourishment they have so desperately needed. 



  1. God led many of the kids who are being discipled through this ministry, to serve this past year on outreach teams at summer and winter camps as well as orphanage outreaches, where several hundred kids were exposed to the Gospel.


  1. Despite our poor Russian language skills, we continue to see God use our relationships with the kids, particularly the guys who live with us, to deepen and enrich their walk with Christ, as we walk alongside them.



  1. Additionally, God is using this walk, to grow us up in Him, daily depending all the more desperately on Him, as He sustains us, empowers us by His Spirit, and grows our roots deeper.  He used the trials of this past year, to make us painfully aware of how desperately we need Him, and the seriousness of our need for Sabbath in our lives.


The Kids Then & Now Photos