Friday, August 07, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Dear friends and supporters,
Greetings from sunny New England!
I wanted to give you a brief update on what's going on with us this summer, as well as fill you in on our support status. If you normally skim these letters, please go ahead and scroll down to read our financial report.
The amazing weather this summer (we haven't had to put in our window-unit air conditioner yet!) has provided our family with lots of time to spend together outside. Nadine, who just turned five on June 30th, is following in her mom's footsteps and has embraced her inner artist. She carries a notebook around with her outside and makes sketches of everything she sees. We can't believe it, but she will be starting kindergarten in the Fall. She is so ready, and so are we! Lucie (18 months) is taking her time learning how to walk, but she is definitely in full on "sponge" mode, curious about everything and wanting to do everything her big sister does. She is fascinated by shoes and could sit and try on mom and dad's shoes all day long if we let her.
In the summer, ministry slows down for us and takes a different form. We have been visiting family and taking time to reflect and be renewed in the gospel as a family. I went to the PCA General Assembly in Orlando in June, and then we spent a week in Memphis shuttling between our parents' homes and trying to visit friends and supporters as we could. And the last week of this month, I will be teaching 3rd year staff and interns at our RUF staff training in Atlanta. August 7th and 8th our student leaders will convene at our house to pray before the semester begins (we'll do a prayer walk around campus) and we'll also be planning our ministry for the Fall.
Important Support Update
As I'm sure you're aware, most ministries that are not internally self-supporting (like campus ministries) are really struggling financially right now. In my last update, I told you we were doing ok, but nearing a significant deficit in our account without a turn around in monthly giving.
This past month, while we saw an encouraging increase in the number of churches and individuals that have begun to partner with our ministry, our monthly giving has dropped to a level that is not sustainable for much longer.
I have set aside most of my planning and preparation work for this upcoming school year to focus on raising the money we need to continue ministering here at UConn.
We are now currently running a deficit of $10,000. You need to know that RUF has a policy that when a ministry account hits a $15,000 deficit, all programming expenses are frozen (that's the money we use to run our ministry).
Just so it's clear, if the deficit were to hit the $15K mark, my salary would not be frozen--we would still be able to put food on the table and pay our bills. But if the deficit were to grow beyond that mark, my salary would also be frozen. If that were to happen, the ministry wouldn't fold, but I would have to leave the field and focus entirely on raising support. Obviously that is not what we want to see happen, nor do we think it will reach that point.
One more important thing to keep in mind for a little perspective on all this is that major commitments from churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alabama and Tennessee have not wavered and in fact, have increased in response to what God has done in our ministry over the past five years. We have recently received a three year commitment of $6,000 per year from a PCA church plant in Connecticut, and our home church in Coventry, CT still gives us over $30,000 per year in support, which has not changed. It is our monthly giving from individuals that has taken a huge hit, falling from an average of $5K per month to $2K per month. We are hoping year end giving this coming December will be a big help, but without some of that being given now, we won't make it that far. Some of you know that Katie works part time from home as a graphic designer, which is a big help, but her salary pays for our yearly plane tickets to visit family and nothing more.
At one level, one that mostly reflects my sin and pride, it is difficult to write a message like this. My pride says how can I, especially during this difficult financial season, ask people to give so sacrificially? But I have to remind myself that this ministry has never been our family's property or our "business"--God will do with it what He wills, and He is in the business of advancing His kingdom through those who go (that's us) and those who send (that's you!). To keep silent, to in pride bear this burden alone, would be robbing God's people of your part in His kingdom work here. And He is certainly at work, with many of our graduates moving to towns and cities throughout New England and truly beginning to infuse life into churches and communities from Connecticut to Vermont!
If nothing else, would you join with us in earnest prayer that God would provide? Strangely (or maybe not so strangely), we are not in a panic about all this. There have been times when Katie or I have been frustrated or discouraged, hurt or disappointed, but to be completely honest, this isn't one of those times. God has led us to this point and has confirmed again and again our calling to this work among college students in Connecticut. And our time here has made abundantly clear to us that our gifts in ministry are best suited to serving His church in places where the gospel is rarely if ever heard. This is definitely one of those places!
So we would ask you, if you feel your heart inclined toward us and our ministry here, please take a few moments and either
1) Call RUF at (678) 825-1070 (please mention either our name or RUF at UConn with your gift). If you have stock you would like to give, RUF can help you arrange that as well. Or...
2) Go online to http://www.ruf.org/donate and give what you can.
Right now the most pressing need is for one time gifts, but if it's possible to give even $10 a month, that will be an enormous help. We know many of you are struggling too, but if many people give a little, we will be ok. Please don't put this off if you are intending to give. Our family and the students at UConn thank you!
Hiding in Christ's riches which abound to us,
Joey for Katie, Nadine and Lucie
Sunday, May 24, 2009
"His goal had been to show readers how to live a fulfilled, meaningful life. Wallace’s desire [was] to write 'morally passionate, passionately moral fiction.' The default for Wallace would have been irony - the prevailing tone of his generation. But, as Wallace saw it, irony could critique but it couldn’t nourish or redeem."The reason I post this is because I had a weird thing happen at summer conference this year that to me proves that irony is the "prevailing tone" of generation Y as well. Several of my students asked me if we could all get together and talk about the out of control irony and sarcasm that goes on among students in our group. A couple quotes that came out of our discussion: "We never really get to know each other because there are walls of irony separating us from each other"....and... "people coming into our group probably think 'these people love being together and know how to have fun but don't really know each other AT ALL.'" Of course it made my stomach turn because I feel like I have spoon fed sarcasm to our students, mostly because I'm scared to know them or be known by them.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
This one is for all the recently arrived freshmen on campus at UConn. I recently came across this tribute album to Automatic for the People (free to download). The band Bodies of Water covers "Everybody Hurts" (scroll down to the bottom of the page to download the song). Like me, you've probably heard that song so many times you're sick of it. Well, this tribute gives it new life. Here's Bodies of Water commenting on the song. I think this relates perfectly to the need for community and what sharing each other's burdens really feels like:
"Everybody hurts - Take comfort in your friends"
It could be that we're encouraged to take comfort in the fact that our friends are the most prevalent example of mankind living in pain (since they, like everybody else, hurt). Does being reminded of the unexceptional nature of our individual pain assuage it somehow? Maybe … at least if we appreciate the ubiquity of pain we can’t pity ourselves.
It could be that carousing with your friends (and knowing they’re available for carousing) is the most comforting thing about them.
In the end, I think "Don’t throw your hand" is the soundest advice in the song. As bad as you feel and as messed as you are, whatever you take comfort in or don't, just don't start throwing your hand around.
An interesting note: I thought this meant hurling your severed hand, while Meredith thought that it meant waving your hand around spastically, like a baby. Whatever. It's gross and weird.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Isaac Wardell at Bear Creek Studios, Seattle