Friday, October 21, 2011

21 October 2011 Update!

Hello world!

Thank you so much to all of you who are praying for us.  We are deeply grateful for your investment in our lives.

October has been busy with all kinds of things happening:

  • Mississippi College.  We are having fun being a part of all that is going on at Mississippi College.  Of course, our favorite part is spending time hearing what God is doing in the lives of students.  We are blessed to have this assignment during our time in the USA.  And, the Baptist Student Union at Mississippi College have plans to come to Southern Mexico in the Spring to minister among the unreached people groups of Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • Oct 4. Second Baptist Springfield, Missouri.  Jeff traveled to Springfield, Missouri to meet with their mission team about working in Southern Mexico in the future.  It was a tremendous time and Second Baptist is committed to embracing an unreached people group in Southern Mexico.  They'll begin their ministry in 2012.
  • Jacinda Melson.  Jacinda is a wonderful part of our family with whom we worked in Peru and Bolivia.  Jacinda is beginning a new ministry assignment and we are so thankful that we were able to spend time with her for a few days.
  • The Pennington Family.  Our dear friends from language school and Peru came to Mississippi to visit.  It is always a fun time when Brian, Jen, Jordan, and Trevor are around.  We are hoping to be able to get together with them before we all head down the paths God has for our families in the future.
  • The State Fair of Mississippi.  Good friends. Funnel cakes.  Pronto pups.  Deep fried Oreos.  Biscuits filled with molasses. It was a good time.  Thanks Ken Hall for taking us to lunch at the fair and buying us foot-long corn dogs.
  • Mistie and Bubba Robinson made a visit to our home here in Brandon and it was so good getting to spend some time with them.  We love and miss our Oxford family mucho!
  • Haylee's choir at Brandon High had a Fall Concert and Jackson's football team had a road game at Pearl High School (Eat dirt!).  Both of our kiddos performed spectacularly!
We have some busy days coming up:
  • Mississippi College.  On Tuesdays we have been meeting with a group of international students who are interested in learning about Christianity.  We're planning a 'Thanksgiving Meal' with them next week and will continue to answer their questions about our faith.  We'll also be meeting with MC students who are pursuing ministry-related careers to answer their questions.
  • We'll be headed to the Baptist Global Response Training Conference in Nashville.  We're looking forward to learning about new ways to help those affected by natural and man-made disasters.
  • We'll be spending a weekend with Sharon Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN to prepare them for their work in Southern Mexico in the coming years.  We're looking forward to spending time with our friend Chad Williams for a couple of days.
  • The Mississippi Baptist Convention is coming up and if you're in the exhibit hall during the convention look for us at the International Mission Board area.  We're hoping to see many of you there!
  • Liesa's birthday is November 3!  Party time.
  • RA Day at Mississippi College is coming up on Nov 5.  We'll be there along with a guy with snakes. We'll have to be on top of our game to compete with a guy with snakes.
We'll be speaking at several churches during the coming weeks.  Here's where we'll be:
  • Oct 30.  Sharon Baptist Church, Knoxville, TN
  • Nov 6.  First Baptist Madison, MS
  • Nov 13.  First Baptist Yazoo City, MS
  • Nov 27.  Cato Baptist Church, Brandon, MS. /  First Baptist Clinton, MS
  • Dec 4.  Center Grove Baptist Church, Maben, MS   /   Petal Harvey Baptist Church, Petal, MS
  • Dec 18.  First Baptist Church, Oxford, MS.
Blessings to you all!
Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A blessing.

There are so many blessings that come from being involved in student ministry.  Kellie Burnham Berry is one of those blessings.  Kellie was a part of the youth group at First Baptist Kosciusko, MS when we arrived there back in 1994.  It has been such a joy to keep up with Kellie through the years, through the boyfriends, through her time on the mission field, and now as she and her husband, Ryan, raise their kids.  Kellie stopped for a visit today and we are so thankful for our friendship.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reproducing Disciples That Are Obedient to Jesus.

When making disciples we teach what we know but we reproduce who we are.  A couple of weeks ago David Jett, pastor of Crossgates Baptist Church, made that statement in a sermon.  It's not an original quote to David but one that has been made by others.  Our family Bible studies for the past few days has been in the book of Amos.  One of the conversations that Amos had with God refers to God using a 'plumb line' to examine His people.  Brother David's teaching and the principles from God's Word that I am learning are challenges to examine what kind disciples are being produced through my life.  Am I helping to produce disciples who obey Jesus?

The whole idea of disciple-making has been something I have continued to learn about over the years.  I certainly consider myself a better 'disciple-maker' now than back in 1987 when I had my first 'job' as a student minister.  I'm pretty sure my primary goal as a disciple-maker back then was simply to give people 'information' about how to be be a disciple when my goal now is to 'show' others how to be a disciple.  Years ago I was concerned about my students obeying me whereas now it is much more important that those in my circle of influence simply obey Jesus.  I tried early in ministry to make students obey Jesus, to talk them into it, even manipulating in positive ways if I had to.  I don't have any desire now to force people to obey Jesus.  Sure, I really do desire that they obey Him, especially my children and family and friends, but forcing them to obey Jesus is not on my agenda nowadays.  The experience of being involved in disciple-making has caused these shifts.

God gives me the task of making disciples who are obedient to Jesus  (Matt 28:18-20).  Unfortunately many disciples are not obedient to Jesus but are simply religious reproductions of the discipler.  This is not necessarily an indictment on the discipler but an animadversion on the methods the discipler is using.  The discipler who focuses simply on pouring out information instead of investing in the life of the disciple runs the risk of producing a follower of the knowledge about Jesus.  The goal of our disciple-making effort is to produce followers who are obedient to Jesus.  Too many alleged disciple-makers define success when all the information is given instead of how their disciples are obeying.

As a cross-cultural missionary I have had to hold my tongue as mission volunteers proclaim great success at discipling when I know their so-called disciples are not equipped for long-term obedience to Jesus.  These disciple-makers have given their disciples a ton of information but have not invested time in understanding their world-view, their heart language, and their motivation for wanting to be a follower of Christ.  South America is full of 'informed' followers of Christ.  We need 'equipped' followers of Jesus.  Jesus gave His disciples much more than information.  He shared life with them so they could know who He was.  He invested.  Everything.

Many of you who read these words are disciple-makers.  Have you examined the quality of the disciples you are making?  Are they obedient to Jesus?  I spent years teaching what I knew instead of reproducing who I am.  When I teach what I know I look for better material but when I reproduce who I am I look for a better me.  The only way I can be better is to be more surrendered, more obedient to Jesus.  The disciples of Jesus carried on His mission.  I want my disciples to carry on His mission, too.

Information about following Jesus is good.  However, to produce disciples who are obedient to Jesus requires that they see someone who is obedient to Jesus.  That takes an investment on the part of the disciple-maker.  Get out of the classroom or small group setting.  Find out what makes this person who is the focus of your disciple-making task tick.  Which words open the heart?  Have they seen how you handle failure?  Have you washed their feet?

As you are going into all the world make disciples.  Baptize.  Teach them to obey.  ALL that He commanded.  That's a huge time investment.   And He is with us.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Missionary Family Weekend!

We have had a wonderful few days with the Pennington family and Jacinda Melson.  Jacinda worked with us in Peru and the Pennington's are our friends from language school days and we also served with them in Peru.  We had a great weekend together.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Play of the Week.

Jackson is #33 in the video.  He makes the bone-crushing tackle at the top of the screen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

4 October 2011 Update!

Hello amigos!

Thank you for your prayers for our family.  We are so grateful for so many who are investing in this interesting life that God has called us to.  It is amazing how God continues to teach us new things all the time and also continue to show us His faithfulness in so many ways.

We've had a busy September!
  • Our ministry assignment as Missionaries In Residence at Mississippi College continues to bring huge blessings.  We've met some amazing students who God is using now and will use in the future in amazing ways.  Liesa and Jeff were responsible for putting together 'Global Opportunity Week' on September 18 to 24.  We had a lot of help (Dr. Rankin, Fish, and Jennifer) in making the week a great success as we wanted MC students to consider how they can be involved in disciple-making.  We will spend the next couple of weeks following up with students who are trying to understand how they fit into God's plan for making disciples of all nations.  We also have some opportunities coming up to lead some of the classes in the Department of Christian Studies that we know will be great.  And, please continue to pray every Tuesday at 4 pm as we meet with a group of students from Asia who are interested in learning about Christianity.  This is a priority time for us each week and we love what God is doing in the group.
  • We have been heavily involved in work on behalf of the IMB.  On September 7 we were a part of a conference in Atlanta, GA where over 500 church leaders gathered to learn how they can work among the 3500+ unengaged, unreached people groups around the world.  We were able to meet some wonderful folks interested in working in Mexico and we were blessed to see so many of our REAP NORTH partners who are ready to begin new assignments wherever God is leading.  We were also a part of the leadership for the Mississippi Missionary Parents' Fellowship.  Jeff's mom and Liesa's parents were able to participate this year and it was fun being around so many missionary families.  It was good to be able to spend time with some of our wonderful missionary friends who serve in a very challenging place.
  • Jeff has been busy speaking at several churches around Mississippi.  He's been able to travel all over the state speaking to student groups and meeting with pastors and missions leaders who are interested in joining God in His work around the world.  On a recent trip to West Heights Baptist in Pontotoc, Jeff was able to meet some new friends who are from Oaxaca, Mexico where we might be moving to in January 2012.  We've enjoyed Skype meetings with future ministry partners and Jeff is looking forward to traveling to Second Baptist Springfield, Missouri on October 5 to meet with their church staff about future work in Southern Mexico.
  • Liesa has been busy with duties at Mississippi College and other ministry assignments.  She was able to serve at our state WMU camp during a mother/daughter retreat this month.  She and Haylee were able to serve together in teaching moms and daughters about the work of missionaries in South America.
  • Haylee and Jackson are enjoying life here in Mississippi.  Haylee is making new friends and had a good time at Brandon High's homecoming dance.  She's got this boy that is calling and texting all the time, too. Jackson is having fun with the youth group at Crossgates Baptist and is learning how to mix it up on the football field.  Both are bringing home good grades and are the funnest kids around.
  • We have been having a blast at Ole Miss Football games.  There's not much good football to see but we have enjoyed being back 'home' in Oxford when we are able.  We are grateful to the Morgan's for always having room for us on Saturdays.  Jeff went to the Maroon People/LSU game in Starkville a few weeks back with Louis Zinc and it was good to see some good SEC football action and to once again experience the aroma of the Maroon campus.
  • Living in the Jackson area has been a blessing.  We're able to spend some good times with our families and to catch up with former students who are now dear friends...Jennifer, Kelsey, Lyndsey, Jeremy, Karen, Seth, and the list is endless.  We are blessed to have so many friends and family so close to us.
  • October will be busy with some really fun stuff going on.  The Pennington family is coming to Mississippi to spend a few days with us.  We're so looking forward to having them here with us.  We've got a date with the Ole Miss BSU this month and we are always happy to spend time with Ole Miss students.  The State Fair is kicking off this weekend and we are ready to take in that redneck action.  Speaking of rednecks, our Arkansas Razorback friend Jacinda Melson is coming to visit us and we're excited about sharing our indoor plumbing with her.  We are traveling to Nashville to the Baptist Global Response conference and we're hoping to learn some new ways to lead our USA partners in ministry.  And, we'll be heading up to Knoxville, TN to spend some time with the one and only Chad Williams at Sharon Baptist Church.  Sharon Baptist is considering coming to work in Southern Mexico.  And the month ends up with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and we'll have a great time representing the IMB amongst the biggest supporters of missions on the planet.  And, the Rebels play Alabama, Arkansas, and Auburn this month so it'll be a while before we celebrate a win.
Well, that's about it for us.  If you're in central Mississippi please come see us.

Jackson, Haylee, Liesa and Jeff Holeman

Found this restaurant in Ecru, Mississippi.

My friend Shawn found this restaurant owned by some fine folks from Oaxaca, Mexico.  I was able to talk with them and will be spending a little more time with them in the future.  Small world.