It never ceases to amaze me how often and how easy plans seem to change. On a trip to another country you get wrecked and feel the tugging of the Spirit telling to “GO” so you easily say “Yes.” Then for the next two years that’s all you prepare for; all of your focus is on getting back to that same place that you felt your heart melt for…that you felt your heart break for. Finally the day comes when you leave for that distant land with nothing but a blank canvas in front of you just waiting to be painted on by the Father, and oh does He paint. For three months you laugh, dance, sing, teach, travel, cry, climb mountains, hug, create, smell, and taste LIFE in all its glory. Then, after two years of planning, you leave that enchanting place and head back to the familiar.
Once you get “home” your find out that God has once again changed “your” plans. He basically says, “Nope, you’ve done what I called you to do there, I want you here. I want you to be a FATHER…” You find out your beautiful wife is pregnant with your second child. Mixed emotions run through your head and you don’t know whether to be excited and joyful at the thought of having another child or broken hearted and sad that this means you cannot go back to that place that has your heart…maybe just maybe you choose a little of both.
Coming to grips with the terms you embark on another challenge all on its own and learn a new set of skills that will eventually help and save people on their worst day. You learn a new set of skills that could possibly help change a community. You gain new friends and new brothers.
Life is happening all around you but in the back of your mind you cannot, you will not, stop thinking about that far off land that has your heart. Those special people that endure things you can’t possibly imagine every single day. You’ve been placed outside of your comfort zone having to rely on others and on your heavenly Father for a living almost detesting every moment of it but knowing deep down inside that this is what it means to be a SON…Only sons can become true fathers because if a father was not first a son how then will he know what a father is?
This has been my journey. I’ve been called to the HIGHEST calling…to be a Father. I hope that one day I might be able to go back to that place that has my heart buried in its soil next to those mountains. To go back and see the faces of all those children that are fatherless…I want to be a father.
The first time I spoke to Michael we hadn’t even met face to face. We spoke over the phone and somehow ended up talking about underwear, strange I know but hey, the guy had just finished traveling the world and knew what type of clothing worked best in third world countries. I ended up taking two pair of Exoficio’s to Kenya for four months and LOVED them. Thanks Michael. Now four years later we still communicate on a monthly if not weekly basis. He has been a groomsman in my wedding, an accountability brother, a brother, and somebody that I can always get a good laugh with. Just recently Michael has married Carmen, a beautiful young woman who I know, even though I have yet to meet her, is a righteous babe warrior who is probably just as crazy if not crazier than Michael.
I can always count on my brother finding some way to look for adventure, and not just any adventure, but Kingdom Adventure. Just a couple weeks ago Michael started running a 5K everyday to raise awareness and funds for a humanitarian group called Charity: Water. They help to bring clean water to places that have ZERO access and have an amazing idea that by allowing people to have access to clean water the community can be completely changed. I had a conversation with Michael about this endeavor about a week back and decided to ask him a few questions about why he is doing this…
(Kolby) So Michael tell us a little about yourself.
(Michael) I am 27, from Wisconsin, and most importantly, a newlywed! I love my wife and am absolutely enjoying the adventure that is our first year of marriage. We met in Spain; both of us were attending G42, a six-month leadership academy tucked away on the side of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean. We had our wedding date set and venue booked by the 28th day of our relationship. 10 months later we were married. New Years was our one-year anniversary of being together.
I love the outdoors, competitive sports, craft beer, and movies. I’ve recorded some spoken word films and recently written a book, which you can find on my website if interested.
(K) So, what is Charity: Water?
(M) They are a non-profit organization on a mission to bring clean drinking water to every person on the planet. They’ve funded 13,644 water projects in 22 countries. And yes I took that directly from their website.
Charity-Water does three things that I love. First, they have a 100% model. This means that all of your donations go straight to the field, while private donors fund their operating costs. Second, they have a high value for transparency. They show you exactly where your money goes, to the extent that they actually install GPS units on every water project. Finally, they work locally. They have strong local partnerships in each of the countries they work with, insuring that each water project will be maintained properly.
(K) What made you decide to do this?
(M) I’ve traveled to over 20 countries myself. I have seen the effects of extreme poverty and witnessed firsthand all kinds of injustices around the world. Those experiences changed me and left me with an insatiable hunger to see life brought to the nations. I have seen so much, and become passionate about so many different causes, and for a long time I didn’t know how to move forward. There are people who need access to clean water, orphans who need a home and family, women and children who need freedom from the sex trade industry… how do you pick just one? At the same time, there are so many organizations out there that are already doing incredible work towards these causes… that is how I came up with the idea for Bloomworks.
(K) What is this “Bloomworks?”
(M) Bloomworks is an organization I’m starting. The mission is to empower people to move from apathy to engagement, and provide awareness and resources for organizations that are bringing life to the nations. The goal is to use social media, film, art, and creativity to inspire and challenge people to become part of a bigger story. As I said, I couldn’t pick just one cause, so this is my chance to support all kinds of different causes, one project at a time. The 5K for $50K is my first project.
(K) You’re running 5k a day, what keeps you going?
(M) Thinking about the people, who everyday have to walk three hours to fetch clean drinking water. The least I can do is run thirty minutes. I literally picture myself cheering them on, yelling that help is on the way, telling them to keep going. And when I get tired, I picture them cheering me on, yelling right back, “Keep going!”
(K) Where did the inspiration come from?
(M) The idea for the 5K for $50K came from a conversation at work. I can listen to podcasts at work, and one day stumbled across an interview of Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity-Water. I was so inspired by his story, and by the 100% model. I told my co-worker about it, and suggested we run 5K a day until we raised $5,000 for Charity-Water. Later, I bumped the number up to $50,000 and really got excited.
The inspiration for Bloomworks came after the 5K idea. This kind of work seems to be the intersection of my passions, talents, and desire to change the world. I love working with people, and I love using creativity to spread ideas. It became clear that there was a great opportunity to build something unique, and I am excited to see where this could go.
(K) Besides the obvious, why are YOU doing this?
(M) Someone has to do something. It might as well be me. Whether I get five, or five thousand people to join me, I will be satisfied. I believe all it really takes to change the world is one committed person. At the same time I know others will join and our influence will only multiply.
So there it is…Michael Sanders is a man on a mission. I have decided that I am going to join him on this adventure by running a 5K (almost) everyday. With two fulltime jobs and a baby at home life is crazy but oh is it worth it. Thus far almost 1K dollars has been raised which may not seem like much out of 50K but with Christ all things are possible and with two crazy people with a similar vision we are only limited to what we think can happen.
I had always believed that “god” was real; that there was a being that was higher than me, who controlled the universe, and had bigger things to do than worry about what I was up to. There were a few times that a friend of mine took me to church and on the way home he and his mom tried to tell me how Jesus loved me and died for my sins. At that point all I wanted to do was argue that we evolved from space dust and that the universe was created from a giant explosion. As I look back on this now I have mixed emotions of sadness and pride. Sadness for how I just didn’t care what they were trying to tell me and pride for how I stood by what I believed so strongly.
When I was thirteen I was challenged to tell my brothers youth pastor everything I knew about God, Jesus, and the bible. I had heard and knew about the birth of Jesus because of Christmas; I had heard and knew about the death and resurrection of Jesus because of Easter; I knew the Gospel in a nutshell. I think every American knows at least this much just from being an American citizen. I knew the stories; I knew about God, Jesus, and the Gospel. But when being confronted with telling a youth pastor everything I thought I knew about God, I was faced with a terrifying realization. Even though I KNEW God and the main points, I didn’t KNOW God. I didn’t KNOW Jesus. All I had was knowledge; the stories and stats.
At this point it was obvious to Pastor Thomas and me that I needed to KNOW God and his son Jesus. Anyone can believe in God; even demons believe in God, but not everyone KNOWS God. You can know Michael Jordan’s stats, the stories of his amazing games, and everything there is to know about his career…but do you really KNOW him? I realized it was the same with me and God. Right there I asked Jesus to allow me to live for him, I received forgiveness for my sins and now I am living in victory and peace knowing that I am living for a purpose.
I have a beautiful wife, adorable daughter, and am about to go on the biggest adventure of my life. I have been all around the world and seen the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. I have been able to minister to prisoners, hospital patients, and orphans. I have smuggled bibles to people that have no access to the Word, and sent food to people fleeing war torn areas. All of this would have been in vain if I had not given my life to Jesus. It’s because of Him that I am alive. It’s because of Him that I am free. It’s because of Him that I have purpose.
It’s because of Him.
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So, I don’t have anything super awesomely “spiritual” to say in this blog. I know it’s been almost two months since we last updated and for those of you that are still reading I’m sending out a high five in your honor. Thank you!
As for the past two months Anna and I have been busy with worship leading at First AG in Gladewater. I have also had the opportunity to preach a week ago and am currently getting ready to preach this Wednesday and Sunday evening. While I was at CFNI one of my professors prophesied that God would put me in leadership very quickly, I had no idea that it would be where we are at. It’s pretty funny when you get a word like, “…you will be in a line like this one, only instead of being prayed for you will be the one praying for others…you will be places in leadership very quickly…” because if your mind works anything like mine you automatically think of something HUGE. Like being in leadership at a church of 3,000 people or leading a crusade and seeing an entire city turn to Jesus OR being the first family to pioneer a colony on the moon…or not. I have found that although big things like this take place too many people it’s because they have been given responsibility in the small things and have shown faithfulness in those small things.
God has given Anna and I many “small” things lately and I believe it is to get us ready for the “big” things He will be having us do one day. I want a large family so that we can take over the world but if I can’t take care of and raise one child the way that I need to and know I should then why should God bless us with more children? I pray that God would see me as faithful in the small things.
In other news, I ate WAY too much food for Thanksgiving…
Lying on a bamboo floor; a thatch roof above me, chickens and rooster below me, I could hear the soft patter of the rain on the dried leaves, and the slow rumble of the thunder in the distance. The candle we had lit that evening was causing shadows to jump and dance on the walls around me. Lying there under my mosquito net I lay thinking of the previous day; a day full of travel up, around, and down mountains, jokes Leslie and Jillian told in the van, seeing the children run up and down the dirt road as we pulled up, putting on a puppet show and feeling like my arm was going to fall off at the shoulder (you don’t know what a real workout is until you try operating puppet for 10 minutes), making a piñata and seeing the kids faces as candy fell from it, and all of the joyful smiles and laughter not just from the children but from the adults. I remember playing follow the leader with a group of boys and somehow (it always comes to this in some way) ended up throwing the boys into the air and by the time I felt my arms could take no more, got tackled and piled on by all them. All of the laughing, laughing, laughing.
Who am I? Who am I to get to bring joy to the hurting, depressed, and lonely? Who am I to get to bring the love of Jesus to those who have never heard His name? Who am I to hold the hand and love on a baby that will never know his/her earthly father? Who am I to lead a man to Jesus while his wife is dying in the hospital bed next to us? Who am I to pray for the sick and see them healed? Who am I?!
All of these thoughts racing through my mind as I lay there on the floor and God decided to speak to my heart. He didn’t say much, but it was enough to pierce my heart to its core, to change the course of my life…again. He said five simple yet profound words, “This is where you belong…”
Sometimes in life everything seems completely, utterly, and totally impossible. Your circumstances seem to be like a thick black blanket surrounding you, suffocating you from catching a single breath. You cant seem to find the light at the end of that seemingly never ending tunnel. Its in these times that I always think of the countless stories in the Word where God’s people found themselves in impossible situations. The odds stacked up and with no way out the only place they could turn was Father God. So many times King David was surrounded by his enemies, at one point hiding in a cave, and every time God gave David a way to prevail. He (God) never left David hanging and always came to his rescue. In all circumstances David also knew who could save him, he never tried out of his own wit to get himself out of a bind. In ALL circumstances acknowledge the One who can bring you out of the darkness and give you a way to victory.
Psalm 91 (MSG)
You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
This past week has been a whirlwind. Accepting the position of worship leaders at our church (didn’t plan on this one!), getting a new set of tires on our car only to come out of the store and see that one of them had gone flat (then the spare donut tire was flat too!). We ended up spending another $80 that we didn’t have but Anna and I know that it could have been a lot worse, like if it happened the next morning when we took a trip to Dallas to meet with our Missions agency to finalize our approval with them. On a happy note, I am happy to announce that we are official World Missions Advance Missionaries! Then we get home late Saturday night and start finalizing things for our first worship service the next morning and we find that our only computer is acting up and doesn’t want to work right. And last but not least our car (other than the tires) needs new tie rods! BAM!!! The good news is we get our vacation in a week! And if I feel like being a “super Christian” then the MAIN good news is that JESUS IS ALIVE! #truth
All honesty though sometimes in our lives our circumstances seem to be WAY bigger than they actually are. They tend to pile up on top of one another and get to a point that we feel we can’t do a whole lot about it; we become nostalgic. But as I was washing the dishes today Father God taught me a lesson. What seemed like a TON of dishes in our sink really were just a few big pots and pans with a few small things. When I began to take out the big things the rest of the job went by fast and it turned out that the job really wasn’t as big as I thought it was.
In your life when things seem bigger than you can handle and circumstances seem to pile on top of you step back and ask God to put things back in perspective for you. See things for what they really are; not based upon your feelings but based upon how small they really are compared to the Lord.
Sometimes there are needs that need to be met and most of the time you are able to meet those needs. It may be meeting another person’s need of food, water, shelter, or clothing. It may be a need to make a change in our society; maybe you see that the local government needs to change and you are just the person to do it. There are times in our lives when we see things…when we know that something needs to be done…but how many times do we believe we can make a change? How many times do we step up and step out of our comfort zones? If you read the story of David and Goliath you’ll read of a young boy who killed a giant, who took his (the giants) sword and cut his head off with it. But something you won’t read is where God told David to go and do it. God never told David, “I want you to go and take care of that giant Goliath and when you kill him I want you to cut his head off so that all the Philistines know that I am the Lord.” Never did God say that to David. The young shepherd boy saw an issue that wasn’t being taken care of and decided to do something about it. He decided to step up and step out to show the world how big his God is, David said to Goliath and all the Philistines, “I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me.” I believe that God is waiting for many of us to step up and out of our places of comfort and break out of the everyday “ordinary”. I believe that when we make a choice to do something to make a difference that God will honor that. I believe that God will work on our behalf when we have faith that it’s through Him that we can make a difference in our world. So I want to ask you this question…
“What are you doing to step up and step out to change our world and impact it for the Kingdom?”
So, here I sit in the darkness of our new apartment Anna and I have just moved into and I am thinking to myself, “Man, I should really take a shower, brush my teeth and get to bed because I’ve gotta get up at 6:30am for work!” But alas, everything in me wants to write this first blog so I can figure out how to set up this “web page”…Southeast Asia is on my mind. I know that in a very short while my family and I will be taking the biggest step of our lives together. Moving to Asia has been on my heart and mind for over a year now and finally we are making preparations to go! Anna and I plan on using this blog page as a way for y’all to keep up with whats going on in our lives as well as how the preparations are coming. We will also be using this page as a way to post things that we make, ie. videos, photos, music videos, and the like. So please subscribe to receive an email every time we make a post! THANKS!!!
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