Thursday, July 7, 2011

Final Update?

Hello friends,

Once again, I find myself asking for your forgiveness for taking so long to update.  I was hoping to have a handle on the next step before posting, but as it is, that part of the journey has yet to be revealed, so I will tarry no longer.

Before leaving Greece, I had the opportunity to help disseminate the shoes for the Roma children brought from the States.  The children were very excited to receive these shoes and some of the boys who were wearing women's slip-on's were definitely in need of more appropriate shoes.  It was such a blessing to see that initiative come to pass from inception to fruition.  My friend Nikola's compassionate thought, lead to a comment, that led to a posting on the web, that would bring a duffle bag full of shoes across the ocean to children in need.  To those that made financial contributions, here is Yana's note to me:

"[I] bought some things for classes, medicines for some kids and there are still some left which I will use in time of need. It is so great when you don't need to think about the money.  
You just have it and use it. I like it. God bless those people who give and you for your heart."

Again, thank you so much to those that helped make that possible.  I wish I could put these kids right in front of you, so that you could see and touch their smiling faces.  Words and photos will have to suffice until the age to come.

The team of interns from Dwelling Place in Virginia did a fantastic job.  They didn't back down from loving people and preaching Jesus on the university campus and in downtown Peraia.  One of the young girls they talked to admitted to being "afraid" of them because they were "so close to God."  Amanda shared a word with her and she responded, "God sent you all the way over here to tell me that, didn't He?"  The gospel is certainly constantly bearing fruit and increasing in all the world (Col 1:6).

I returned with the team on June 2nd.  I've returned to work at the UPS Store, as I prayerfully consider the next step.  I have presently decided not to return to Greece in the fall.  I am taking steps to secure housing and roommates in the Christiansburg area, as I explore opportunities to integrate my desire to do the work of missions in a more financially sustainable way, perhaps vocationally.  I am researching graduate school in my spare time.  We shall see where the Lord leads.  I love the mission field!

Lastly, I would just like to thank everyone that has supported me prayerfully, financially, and emotionally, in both word and deed.  I could not have done it without your support.  My time in Greece remains as an everlasting testimony of the Lord's faithfulness.  I am so abundantly blessed to have had this opportunity to see the Lord work miracles before my very eyes over the past six months.  Know that through your partnership, you have released the kingdom of God throughout the nations.

Although this chapter of Ben In The Balkans appears to be closing, I don't doubt that I will return to the Balkans again in the future.  Until then, check back periodically, as I may continue to update this blog with news and thoughts, as they develop in the future.

As always, much love.

Thankfully His,


Feel free to contact me with thoughts, comments, questions, or hello's!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Hey friends,

I know it's been a while since I've posted an update.  I last wrote before returning to the States for a few days to see my brother graduate and commission, and since then I have been busy with the team of interns from my home church in VA, Dwelling Place.

Mihaniona Homegroup

It has been great having this team of four here who have come to add fuel to fire as part of their year-end short-term mission trip.  We first travelled once again to the island of Thasos, where we have continued to strengthen our relationship with the body of Christ there.

Me and Nikola
My friend Nikola, who moved there a little over a month ago, is now working full-time with a group of Russian artisan/construction workers.  It's a much better environment for him than the Pizzeria and he has the opportunity to master masonry skills, giving him the potential for entrepreneurship in the future.  He typically works 12-14 hour days; however, it rained one morning while we were there and he texted me saying, "My God arange the rain for today" (no work!).  Needless to say, he was really encouraged by seeing everyone from Thessaloniki again.  It was great to see him enduring and persevering both in work and faith.  I'm really proud of him.

The team of interns collaborated with a team of Swedish Bible students who were on mission in Thasos with the church there.  They performed the famous Lifehouse Everything Skit together one night on the boardwalk.  Alex, one of the interns, shared his testimony and Tommie shared a short, sweet, and simple, gospel message.  Two 12-year old girls that we talked to afterward prayed to accept Jesus.  They sincerely said, "We want that."

Swedish & USA Mission Teams performing Lifehouse Everything Skit

Fresh fruit for all the kids
 Last Tuesday we had the opportunity to travel to the local Roma (Gypsy) village once again.  It can be challenging with the language barrier at times; however, I truly believe our presence and our prayers change the atmosphere of that place.  The kids may not always do what I say, but they will certainly imitate what I do.  The way that our team interacts with each other and the way we emphasize fairness, respect, sharing, and kindness in our interaction with them in games, lessons, and provision, speak loudly to them.

Next Tuesday the team will bring the shoes donated and supplied from the States and additional financial donations will go towards meeting the childrens' most immediate needs.  I'm looking forward to seeing their smiling faces.  Photos to come!
Worship and Lesson in the Gypsy village church

Since then, we have been back in Thessaloniki pressing the university campus almost every day with our coffee outreach, maximizing our manpower, and fellowshipping with many of the young people we have developed a relationship with so far.  Tonight we go for an outreach locally at the waterfront in Peraia.  Tomorrow we will target the same area with an open-air drama and an illustration of the gospel through our friend Eva's sketchboard.

Thank you for praying for us.  Continue to pray that God will continue to draw all men unto Himself.  Pray that God would pour out His Spirit on this nation.  Pray for the salvation of our unbelieving friends.  Pray that young believers would grow into mature sons and daughters of God.

I will be returning to the States on June 2nd.  Prayers concerning the next step for me are much appreciated.  I hope to have the opportunity to visit with you in person when I return!

May grace and love abound,


Monday, May 9, 2011

'He and All His Household'

Hey friends,

God continues to move and demonstrate his faithfulness to answer our prayers here in Greece.

A couple weeks ago, I spent a few days on the island of Thasos, helping my Serbian friend look for a job.  I found out last week that he secured work at a pizzeria/cafe/bar restaurant on the island.  This is a huge victory for everyone, especially Nikola, and a major answer to prayer.  Thank you, Jesus!  Initially, the owner was only going to pay him 35 Euros per day for 12 hours of work, which is very little and hardly enough to survive on.  However, we prayed and believed that God would increase his pay and He has!  The owner agreed to pay him 25+ Euros for only a few hours of work in the evening.  This frees Nikola's morning to do part-time painting, construction, handyman work with a crew of guys, one of whom is a brother in the church.  Thank you, Jesus!

He is also in good fellowship with the church of Dimitris Peledis and our Swedish missionary friends, with whom we continue to grow closer.  While I was there, we all believed that Nikola wasn't there just for work.  That's just a part of the package.  Nikola is really there for that island.  God continues to work alongside him, giving him great grace to love those around him.  He encourages everyone with his giftings and testimony.  God is so good.

Continue to pray for Nikola that he would be protected by the power of God; that he would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that God would supply him with ample provision for every need.

An entire family of six recently got saved - Acts 16:34 style!  A man that Tommie and Gunilla have maintained a friendship with for some years (who was even miraculously healed several years ago) had been experiencing the darker side of the supernatural.  From what I understand, the father invited Tommie to his home and together with their family, they asked questions, conversed, and sincerely wanted to become Christians.  They told Tommie, "That's why you're here."  So, we have been thanking God for their salvation and continue to pray for wisdom and opportunities to come alongside them in their walk with the Lord.

I will be returning to the States on Wednesday, May 11 to see my brother graduate from VMI and commission into the US Air Force - go Chaz!  I will return with a team of four interns from Dwelling Place for their short-term mission trip on Monday, May 16 and then head back to the States June 2nd.

Pray that we would be made of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Pray that the team's time here would be powerful, effective, and full of good fruit.

I'm looking forward to seeing family and being back in the States for a few days; as well as, the privilege of joining the DP team on their journey to and from Thessaloniki.

See you soon.  May great grace be upon you all!  Love,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lebanon, Macedonia, Greece

Hey friends,

It's been a whirlwind tour over the last week and a half.  As stated in my previous post, our beloved Rick Sizemore was with us in Lebanon.  After we returned, I traveled with him to Macedonia for several days where he preached and counseled in Veles and Skopje.  It was great to be with Rick and run around with him, observing how he preaches, teaches, and counsels.  I've been around him for a few years now, but the Lord always teaches me something new.  He's a great brother and a great example.  I had several opportunities to pray for and speak with people throughout the trip.  I even got to mow grass!

On Thursday night a group of young people met for prayer at Phil and Anna Evan's home where we were staying (Congrats on the birth of their son, Oscar!).  Igor shared that a friend of his had been in the hospital for some time with fluid in her lungs; drain-tube and all.  We prayed for her that night and when we saw Igor the following day, he said the fluid had almost completely dried up.  Praise God!  Jesus heals!  It was great to spend time fellowshipping, encouraging, praying for and alongside one another in Macedonia.  One girl gave her life to Jesus in a home we stopped in briefly, while another three gave their lives to Jesus Sunday afternoon.  God is saving people!  He is transferring them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son.

After returning from Macedonia we rested for a day.  Then a group of 15 from the Network Community, together with Rick, and Danielle from Serbia, traveled to the island of Thasos to spend time with our brothers and sisters there.  Dimitris and his wife Mario, along with Swedish missionaries, Kenneth and Lena are doing a fantastic, persevering work there.  It was a great time of bonding and relationship building amongst ourselves; as well as, with the church in Thasos.  Rick preached on the heart of the Holy Spirit and I believe many were touched by the power and word of God through prayer and the ministry of the Spirit.  You can't begin to talk about that Guy without things happening.

It's good to be back in Thessaloniki.  Rick and Danielle returned to their respective nations today.  Victor, Tommie's son is here for spring break and Tommie's wife Gunilla will visit for a week next Thursday.

We're believing for a job for our friend, Nikola, potentially on the island of Thasos; as well as, for God to break in on the hearts of many of the others he has given us relationships with - For those that don't know Him, to have a revelation of Jesus and for those that do, to continue to have life-changing encounters with His love.

The motherlands of the gospel will give birth again.

I've been sick for the past several days and I would appreciate your prayers.  I want to be back full swing, meeting guys on the basketball court and campus.

Below are some photos from Lebanon - Click on this link to see more.

Love you all,


Emil (Syria), Craig Westhoff, Myself, Christine Westhoff, Hassan (Syria)

Tommie Naumann, George (Syria), and Joseph Zorob (Lebanon)

Mazin (Lebanon) and Rick Sizemore

Monday, April 11, 2011

1 Chronicles 14:11

"God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like the breakthrough of waters."

Lebanon was amazing.  The power of God was so strong.  Tommie hosted a conference on spiritual breakthrough among some of the local churches that he has developed a relationship with in Beirut.  Craig and Christine Westoff, Nancy Devito, Hans Joachim, Rick Sizemore and many others shared the word of God and ministered over the course of five days.

Sunday morning, the majority of us attended a church comprised almost entirely of Philippino women.  These women have left their homes in the Philippines in order to support their families back home.  You must understand that these women are like slaves.  They work all week, all day, for very little pay.  Many are mistreated and abused on multiple levels by their employers.  There must have been close to 70 women that packed out Joseph's church building, a relatively small two-room flat on the seventh floor of a downtown apartment building.  This Sunday morning service is their only breathing hole.  It's the only time during the week they are free from their employers.  After Chris preached about acknowledging and surrendering our pain to the Lord, we began to pray for people.  God displayed so much grace and healing power as He touched people through us.  I had the great pleasure of finding myself between a powerful, loving, jealous God and the beautiful people He wanted to encounter and heal.  Many wept and experienced freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit.

They were a truly inspiring group of women.  They worshiped God fervently in spite of their circumstances.  It was a testimony to me that He is most certainly, always good.

If there is one thing the Lord has been teaching me, especially on this trip, it's about being bold and taking steps of faith to express the impression He gives me - to speak out the words, thoughts, or questions He puts in my mind and on my heart.  Whether it be for my Syrian brother George, Pastor Joseph, our Greek taxi driver, or the Lebanese grad student in the airplane seat next to me.

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?" (1 Cor. 2:11)

These thoughts and impressions come for a reason and I'm learning to act on them; to give what I receive.  I don't know what step 2, 3, 4, and 5 are.  I can't take 5 steps at once anyway...  so, why do I try?!  He puts one step before me at a time.  Speak it, say it, do it.  We don't know where God will take us and lead us.  The end-harvest of salvation decisions, healing, deliverances, all begin with the planting of a seed - a decision to take a step, speak a word, extend a hand.

David asked the Lord if he should go up against the Philistines, and the Lord responds, promising David the victory.  Afterward, David declares that God broke through his enemies by his (David's) hand!  
God could breakthrough our enemies in a thousand different ways; but He has chosen to do it through our hands - alongside of us.  Thankful to be a part of it in Beirut last week!

Photos to come soon!

Oh, and watch this video.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

John 11:41-42

"Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me;"

Hello friends,

I just got back from our Thursday night home group in the city.  I'm so thankful for people like Elainie that worship God freely with their whole bodies, giving expression in dance and prophetic movement.  They spread a freedom and liberty that is infectious and permeates the spiritual atmosphere.  As a team, we felt like the Lord wanted us to facilitate an environment for the things God has placed within everyone to come out and be released.  With that said, we had a lively discussion of Philippians 3 - one of my favorite chapters.  It's cool to see people freely expressing what's on their heart and others responding with truth and honest, sincere testimonies.  The body loving the body is a beautiful thing. Grace comes in to fill, strengthen, saturate, and raise up places of weakness.   I need a strong brother and sister out there in the world doing damage in the kingdom of light. We all benefit from that. Not to mention we're family and we're here for one another, right?

Praise Report!  A precious member of our body, has been battling intestinal inflammation and recurring abdominal pain for nearly ten years.  Within the past ten days the pain was so severe that she was hospitalized.  After various tests she was scheduled for a surgical procedure that would remove a portion of her intestine, with a potentially complicated, lengthy recovery.  On Tuesday, a group of us fasted and anointed her with oil, agreeing once again with the many prayers that had been prayed, for the kingdom of God to come in power upon her body (And just so you know how holy I am, I had forgotten about the fast and ate a pizza for lunch, haha.  However, I repented and continued fasting ;).  When the doctors went to do the surgery today, they couldn't find anything to remove!  They just enlarged a slightly narrow passage and that was it.  Believing this good report is an answer to prayer - THANK YOU, JESUS!

The Breakthrough Conference in Lebanon is fast approaching. On Tuesday a handful of us from the Network Community will be depart, together with Rick Sizemore and others friends from the United States.  Things in southern Syria are a bit dicey in the world, but we're believing for God to make a way for our friends in the Damascus area to secure safe passage to Beruit.  Prayer is much appreciated.  Pray for protection and the peace of God in Syria.  Pray for the wisdom and revelation of God, for those leading and attending the conference. Let the Lord's will be done.  We depart Thessaloniki at 9:35pm April 5th and return at 8:45pm on Aptil 11th.  Here are just a few names of those participating for the purpose of prayer: Myself, Annika, Jen, Amy, Tommie, Yanna, Rick, Chris, Nancy, Emil, Rana, Hassan, and Joseph.

Much love.  See you soon,


Sunday, March 20, 2011

1 Corinthians 1:9

Hey friends,

Man, where to begin?  A lot has been happening..

First of all, it's awesome to see how God has pursued this Serbian guy that I met on the basketball court.  You can certainly run from God, but you can't hide, haha.  His lovingkindness is forever in hot pursuit (Psalm 23:6).  This guy met the Lord when he was 17, but fell back into the world and long-story-short, ended up in Thessaloniki.  He has dived right into fellowship and is loving on everyone.  It just wrecks me whenever I hear him pray - to hear this brother of mine that was lost and now is found.  I just want to weep and worship God.  It makes it all worth it.

He has joined Jen and Yanna on Tuesdays as they minister to the Roma (Gypsy) people.  He was really moved by the children that lacked shoes and clothing, so I went with them last Tuesday.  The first little girl, no more than two years old, that walked up to me didn't have shoes or pants.  There are shards of glass and busted pieces of metal everywhere.  I posted about it on Facebook and had a good response so far.  Praise God, I received some financial contributions for shoes and clothing; as well as, interest in sending some via mail or with the short-term missions team from Dwelling Place in May.  The kids are so hungry for love, attention, and discipline.  It's tough not being able to speak their language, though many of them can't even read, write, or speak Greek.  I just sat there and scatched little Andrea's (below in blue) back while Yanna was teaching them.  He just looked at me and smiled.  I intend to go there every Tuesday.

I've become part of the leadership team for the Thursday night homegroup in the city.  Really pray that Femi, Annika, Natalie and I would lead the group well.  Pray that we would take the group where the Lord wants us to take it and full of His heart.  Pray that people would really be released, free to express themselves, to grow, to love and to really get to know one another.  We need wisdom and unity!

Next Friday we are having 24 hours of prayer at the church from 7:00pm Friday to 7:00pm Saturday.  Some of our friends from the churches in Macedonia will be coming down.  I'm really looking forward to an awesome time of worship, prayer, and fellowship with our brothers to the north.  Last year this event was a point of significant breakthrough in the church.

Speaking of breakthrough, this is the theme of the upcoming conference Tommie is planning together with fellow churches in Beirut, Lebanon.  It's not in my budget, but I believe it's God so I'm going anyway! Haha.  I just heard a sermon by Tim Keller in which he recounted a story about Alexander the Great.  Alexander was of course extremely wealthy due to his vast conquests.  He told his generals that if they needed anything, to just ask him.  So, one day, a general came to him and asked Alexander's treasurer for the funds for his daughter's wedding.  However, he asked for ten or twenty times above any reasonable amount needed for even the most extravagant wedding.  When the treasurer went to Alexander and told him the general's request, he expected Alexander to be shocked and to dismiss or even rebuke him.  But instead Alexander told the treasurer that this was excellent.  He said, 'This general of mine must believe that I am extremely wealthy and generous,' so he gave it to him!  Beloved, have we begun to believe the depth of God's abundance and generosity?  'How much more will He give what is good to those who ask Him' (Matt 7:11)!

I digress!  We are still reaching out to students on campus twice weekly.  I was reminded today that God has been faithful to answer our prayers.  When I got here in late November, there was little to none of the promises that He had spoken to me previously.  But He told me to prophesy to this city, to the valley of dry bones, that the motherlands of the gospel will give birth again.  And this brother sitting next to me in church tonight was a fulfillment of those promises - the fruit of those prayers and pioneering steps.  He is faithful!

With that said, pray that the Lord would give me grace, wisdom and vision to continue to reach outward as opportunities to serve the body have increased.  Pray also that I would see and hear where the Lord is leading me this summer and fall, so that I would prepare and order my way towards that end.

God bless - Love you all!


Monday, March 7, 2011

The White City

Hey friends,

Forgive me for taking so long to write again.  I've been in Belgrade, Serbia for the past week visiting with the other Balkan missionaries from Dwelling Place, and haven't had the opportunity to write until now.

Serbia was amazing.  I love Belgrade.  For whatever reason, I feel so strongly to just praise God whenever I am there.  I think there is so much power in it for that city.

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,

         And a two-edged sword in their hand,
    To execute vengeance on the nations
         And punishment on the peoples,
    To bind their kings with chains
         And their nobles with fetters of iron,
    To execute on them the judgment written;
         This is an honor for all His godly ones.
         Praise the LORD! - Psalm 149:6-9

Praise is warfare.

We attended the weekly prayer group meeting Thursday night.  I felt the presence of God so strongly when I first entered the apartment of this particular elder's family.  I became aware of the honor and privilege it was to know, be in the home of, and intercede alongside the real movers and shakers of Belgrade.  Only God could orchestrate such a course. He gives such abundant honor to earthen vessels.

We had the opportunity to pray for the pastor's wife among others.  The church there is definitely under attack, but the Lord gave me a word that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).  The body of Christ in Belgrade will overcome.  She said it really carried weight.  4,930 miles across the ocean to speak one word that causes life to be birthed in the body of Christ makes all the warfare worth it.  Bethany also received two words in visions that confirmed the very thing two others had prayed in Serbian.  There is one Spirit and He's awesome.

Leaving your city and diving into the body in another city always gives me fresh perspective when I return.  It's 1:55am here, so more on that later.  Ida ciao.

Much love,


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Revelation 19:10

"For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

Saturday night and Sunday night, Zoran Spasovski, one of the pastors at Christian Center 490 in Macedonia taught, preached, and ministered concerning the prophetic here in Thessaloniki.  I believe it was a very encouraging time for the entire body.

I don't think I fully understand Revelation 19:10, but I saw at least one aspect of how the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  The spirit of prophecy releases GRACE.  Paul said the Lord had given him authority for building up and not for tearing down (2 Cor. 13:10), and that's exactly what I saw take place in our body these past few nights.  As the spirit of prophecy was moving and ministering, people were lifted up to a level they couldn't attain on their own.  And that's what Jesus came to do from the Father.  He was full of grace and truth.  He was always lifting people up, calling them to come up higher, to live at a higher level, above the world, in Him.

Words started to fail me, so I sketched the image I had in my mind.  I felt like the Lord really lifted our body to another level through the spirit of prophecy this weekend.  Hope was birthed also with the seeding of His promises.

Much love,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ezekiel 37:3,10

"He said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' And I answered, 'O Lord GOD, You know.'
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army."

I wanted to add these photos of the university campus as a reference for prayer.  Pray that we would have favor, open doors, and divine appointments in this place.  Pray that the love, joy and presence of God would fill and surround us, attracting people to the abundant life found in Christ Jesus.

1 John 3:1

"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God"

Man, what can I say?  Seeing people being pursued and touched by the living God, Himself is breathtaking.  To be a conduit for someone to know and be transformed by God is such an indescribable privilege.  What honor He has bestowed upon us.  What manner of love this is.

I met a guy playing basketball a couple of weeks ago.  He came to church.  Then he wanted to come to Tuesday night prayer.  He came.  We prayed for Him.  The next day he texts me and wants to hang out and pray.  I invited him to Thursday night homegroup.  He came and he's coming to the Friday night group in Michaniona.  He's hungry for God and he needs Him - like we all do.  He wants me to bring him back a Bible and some Christian books from Serbia (where I will be visiting in a little over a week).

God certainly gives such beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  Tommie, the pastor here, was a self-proclaimed blasphemer before he met the Lord, some 30+ years ago.  Now he has worked throughout Europe, planting churches in the Balkans, fathering men and women in the Lord.  Zoran was once a heavy-drinker with a propensity for fighting.  Now he is pastoring a growing church in Macedonia and ministers to the body of Christ around the world, serving with a strong prophetic gifting.

God takes blasphemers and violent aggressors, and transforms them into beautiful reflections of Himself (1 Tim. 1:13).  And it is not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6).  So, continue to pray for us and for the people of this city.  The Father always hears us (John 11:42).  The bowls of incense in heaven are the prayers of the saints and they will be poured out upon the earth (
Rev. 5:8, Matt. 6:10).

Pray that we would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9-10).

The pastors, teachers, prophets, apostles, and evangelists of the next generation are in this city.  The Balkans are pregnant with the children of God.  The whole of creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  It longs anxiously, eagerly awaiting the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:19-22).  Pray that God's will would be done in our lives; that His plans and purposes would be established, and that we would partner together with Him, fulfilling the works that He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10).  Please also pray for an abundance of financial provision for all the He desires to do!

God bless - Love you all!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Exodus 30:29

"You shall also consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them shall be holy."

I've met a handful of guys here so far.  Most of them I have met on my own, through tennis or basketball.  Some of them want to bring me into their world.  I want to bring them into mine.

In an effort to facilitate this, I wanted to gather some of our guys from church to go see a movie Monday night and invite my friend, Tasos.  After talking with the guys at church, it looked like getting everyone together to see a movie that night wasn't going to happen (though there would be other opportunities for my new friends to get to know my brothers in the body in other ways).  I let it go.

Our coffee outreach on the university campus went really well on Monday.  At first, it seemed like we were going to be taking home 3 thermoses full of coffee.  It didn't seem like anyone wanted free coffee!  We were there at least an hour or more without having much conversation with anyone.  We discussed giving the rest of it away to the homeless.  Then all of a sudden we struck up a conversation with a group of students nearby and a bunch of people started coming.  Coffee and conversation started flowing.

It was so awesome to see our crew interacting with their crew.  I could see everyone's unique personalities and giftings flowing together in our group.  I just stood there thinking, "I'm so glad Jen is here!  And Amy!  And Tiffany!"  Jen was making everyone laugh.  Tiffany was talking to some med students about doctors in Florida.  It was so awesome.  It felt so safe and it took such a burden off.  We exchanged numbers and are looking forward to hanging out with these guys soon.

After seeing the Lord move so much in our corporate work together, I had thought perhaps that my solo efforts to meet guys may have been in vain, fleshly or illegitimate.  That night I was feeling a little anxious so I sat down at the kitchen table, took a deep breath and said, 'Lord, what are
You saying?'  Within a few seconds, I get a text from Tasos: 'Hey! Do you like to watch movies? Would you like to go to cinema?'  I hadn't said anything to him about my thoughts to go see a movie with him Monday night and here he is texting me!

I heard the Lord say, 'Don't forget about Tasos.'

Only Jesus.  His timing is impeccable.  He can redeem anything.

Please continue to pray for me.  I can become easily distracted by the 'unknowns' of the future and lose focus of the call and purpose of this season and today.  Pray that I would be filled with the 
knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Love you all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

1 Corinthians 13:5

Hello friends,

This past Tuesday we did our weekly coffee outreach on the university campus.  It went really well.  We talked for some time with a few girls that were part of the socialist club on campus.

First of all, I have learned so much about evangelism.  The Lord really impressed upon me that love is 'no strings attached,' and I think that giving away free coffee really expresses this facet of love.  You want free coffee?  Take it.  Enjoy it.  Be loved.  Love doesn't force itself on anyone.  Jesus doesn't force His love on anyone.  What good does it do me to try to force my beliefs on someone else?  Not much, I don't think and that never feels too good on the receiving end.  There is only one Author and Finisher of faith, and I just want to stick really close to that Man of love.

After telling one of the socialist girls that we were working with a church, she said that was good and all, but society is what can/should really help people.  I felt the urge to challenge her statement begin to rise up in me, but I felt like I should just let it go.  You can be "right," but quickly become "wrong," speaking the right thing in the wrong spirit.  "Debating theology" for me has historically been a one-way ticket to the Division Station - especially here.  Titus 3:5 is a good one to keep close: "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless."

I played tennis today with a group of 19 year-old guys from the military university.  It was great tennis, especially with this guy, Bobis.  He is a really fiesty little player.  I really liked his intensity.  I think the Lord likes it too.  We exchanged numbers, so hopefully we will play again.  I've thought a lot lately about the turning point in my life when I really began to follow Jesus after hearing a campus pastor speak back in '05.  The Lord probably called that dude and I'm sure it wasn't always easy, but because he was obedient to the call, the course of my life was altered for Jesus forever.  I'm not as fiesty as Bobis, but in a way, Bobis is like me, circa 2005.  Being thankful for so many of the men and women of God who were faithful to their call and persevered in it, I'm encouraged to keep that in perspective myself.  Perhaps Bobis is the next campus pastor or evangelist to the nations?  Thank God for an abundance of grace and mercy.

Please continue to pray for our body, that we would put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Pray that we would clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, and that we would be merciful, just as our Father is merciful.

Please continue to pray for favor and open doors for all of us, as we seek to partner with the Lord in establishing kingdom relationships.  Pray also for wisdom and discernment as we steward the relationships we have been entrusted with thus far.

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

Love you all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hebrews 1:2

Hello friends,

I apologize that it has been so long since I have written.  The last week or so has been a battle, personally, and I had allowed that to prevent me from writing.  Please forgive me!

I experienced breakthrough yesterday, just before we went on campus for an outreach.  It's hard sometimes for me to put into words what it's like when God breaks in on your heart.  I just remember in the midst of the heaviness saying, 'No, Jesus is alive,' and my heart began to believe in the Son again.  It's amazing how God comes running with grace, mercy, and a love that brings freedom at even the slightest turn of our hearts towards Him.

It was then in prayer that morning that I felt the Father speaking over us that we were glorious.  Our faith in His Son was so glorious in His eyes.  Our little crew of young missionaries, our tiny body of believers here in Thessaloniki, the leadership and body of our church back home, along with many others that are believing in His Son, are so glorious in the eyes of the Father.  I could feel His pleasure and delight.

Yesterday was the second time we had done a coffee outreach on campus.  Basically, every Tuesday we set-up a table on the campus of the university and give out free coffee.  People are intrigued by a handful of Americans giving away free Starbucks.  I honestly don't know how to describe it because I think we are all learning how to be genuine, sincere, effective and loving evangelists.

I believe our heart is 2 Cor. 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

We have already started to develop a history of relationship among some students after only two weeks.  I was talking with Amy about how there is such a unique mix of people that we meet.  Some just want free coffee.  Some are really inquisitive and perhaps, a little suspicious.  Some are sarcastic.  Some are genuinely interested in who we are and what we're doing.  I believe the Lord is drawing people to Himself through us, and it's cool to see that already.  I think even those that are at first suspicious, sarcastic, and just want free coffee, may begin to find themselves drawn aswell.

Thank you so much for praying for me.  I cannot emphasize enough how much of an effect your prayers are having.  Please continue to pray for our body here; that we would continually love one another and dwell together in unity.  Please pray especially for the outreaches on campus.  I really believe that the Lord is blessing and moving in the midst of our corporate work.

I have to get ready to leave for a short trip to Macedonia now (pray for that aswell).  I'm looking forward to fellowshipping with our sister church there.  They are a lot of fun!  We hope to return around mid-day Friday.

I intend to take photos of the university campus when I return so that you have an idea of what it looks like there.

I love you all!  Skype me!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

John 6:44

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."

Last Sunday I was praying about how to spend my day before service in the city at 7:30pm.  It was one of those prayer times that feels like you're just talking to yourself.  Feeling as though, 'I got nothin,' I decided to take my basketball and hit the courts in Kalmaria, one of the sea-side municipalities downtown.

To my surprise, there were quite a few people playing on the two, caged-in, full-courts.  I walked in through the chain link gate and sat down on a bench as I watched a 2-on-2 game between a group of twenty to thirty-something guys.

I just sat there.  I honestly wasn't sure what to do or say, so I just waited.  After a minute or two they finished their game and one of them sat down beside me.  I ask him if he spoke English.  He did, so I introduced myself.  He was a Serb.  He asked me what I was doing here.  I told him I was working with a church in the city.  He said that he went to a Pentecostal church (which is pretty unusual) when he lived in Novi Sad.  I asked him if he was attending a church in Thessaloniki.  He wasn't and he asked me to text him the address of the Network Community, so that he could come check it out.  We exchanged numbers.  His buddies then beckoned him from the bench for another game, so we shook hands and parted ways.  

That was easy.  I didn't have to do... anything, really.

I was shooting around by myself on the far goal when a group of three college-aged guys and girls walked on to the adjacent court.  I told them that if they needed a fourth man... hmm, fourth man (Dan. 3:25), to let me know.  After they warmed up, another guy showed up, so they called me over for a game of 3-on-2.  We played a pretty friendly, uneventful, fun game.  I figured that was all it was purposed to be.  After the game, we shook hands and three of the four departed.  However, I noticed the fourth had a tennis racquet in his backpack.  I asked him if he played (as if you would carry around a tennis racquet just for kicks...).  Of course he did and asked me if I had someone to play with.  I definitely don't and I love playing tennis.  We exchanged numbers.  He also inquired about my business in Thessaloniki, so I told him.  He didn't quite understand my description of the church, so he thought he might check it out sometime.  We exchanged numbers with a pending tennis engagement for next Sunday.

That was easy.  Again, I didn't really have to do... anything; except perhaps, make myself available, be myself, and let the Holy Spirit do what He wants to do.

The Lord really reminded me that He is absolutely in love with the people of this city.  He is really jealous for them and He is doing so much more work than I am likely aware of, drawing many of them unto Himself.  I don't need to save them.  I can't save them.  They don't need Ben Bradford.  They need Jesus, the only One who can Author and Perfect their faith.

"What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." - 1 Cor. 3:5-7

Please pray specifically:

- That Jesus would continue to have first place in everything (Col. 1:18).

- That I would be diligent to fulfill what I believe the Lord is calling me to do personally.
- That Amy, Jen, Kim, and I would be united in fulfilling our corporate call to reach young people.
- That our relationships within the body would be ordered and develop according to the will of God.

- That I would be effective in my communication to those interested in my life and work here.

With this in view:

I intend to update this blog on a weekly basis, at a minimum, for those interested in more frequent, detailed updates.

I intend to disseminate a newsletter via email on a monthly basis, for those that prefer a more concise, less-frequent update, in that medium.

Please send me your email if you would like to subscribe to the monthly newsletter.  My email address is located in the About Me page.

Much love.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Last Thursday, Kim, Annika, and I were invited to Peggy and Argiris' home in Galatista.  As far as I understand (which isn't very far when it comes to Greek holidays), January 6th is the national celebration of Epiphany, the visitation of the Magi, and the baptism of Jesus.  However, in Galatista, they celebrate the 6th of January a little differently...

It goes something like this:  Turkish soldiers kidnapped a beautiful young Greek woman from Galatista.  In response, the Greeks planned a rescue.  They disguised a donkey as a camel and upon arriving at the Turkish outpost, they proceeded to get the soldiers completely drunk with wine.  Given their level of intoxication and the ingenious 'trojan' camel, the Greeks were able to smuggle the young Galatistan woman safely home.  She then marries her fiancĂ©e and they lives happily ever after.

In celebration of this momentous victory, every 6th of January, there is free food in the village square, along with hours of traditional music, dress, and dancing, as the conquering camel is paraded through the streets.  This felt like my first real cultural experience in Greece.  It was as if I were living one of those exotic Travel Channel shows.  I really felt like a foreigner.

I also found myself really absorbed in shooting the festivities with my Canon DSLR, which was a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed it, which is something I haven't felt shooting in some time.  Click here to see more photos.

Following the celebration, we returned to Peggy and Argiris' home.  Due to the challenging financial situation that is quite pervasive in Greece presently, they had to leave their apartment and constructed temporary living quarters in the workshop below his parents' home.  I share that just to give you a small idea of what the economic situation is like in Greece.

Argi also showed me his workshop.  It's a large metal hangar, a short drive for his parents' home, full of heavy machining equipment, welders, and massive metal lathes from the '50s, built in former-Czechoslovakia.  Argiris is somewhat of a machinist by trade, skilled in custom metal fabrication and repair.  You see another side of a man when you see him operating masterfully in the element of his profession.  You enter into his joy as you watch him do what he loves to do.  Argiris may end up selling his shop, tools, and machines, as he and Peggy continue to pray about God's will for them concerning opportunities for financial provision.

Annika and Argiris

It's been a little over a month that I've been here now and I'm starting to see that the focus of this time has been more about developing relationships with brothers and sisters in the body; and not so much diving into my own ministry.  Having real, growing relationships within the body is so necessary to growth and is a conduit for experiencing the love, safety, and security of God through His family.

'And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all - Ephesians 1:22-23'

'...holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.' - Col 2:19

I've come to realize a certain level of subconscious pride or superiority as an American, especially in things pertaining to God.  The Lord has been really good in helping me overcome this.

'For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?' - 1 Cor. 4:7

'Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,' - 2 Cor. 3:5

'For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren' - Heb. 2:11

I can't really say it any better than those verses.  They release so much grace and peace, as they neutralize striving and disarm a spirit of competition.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  Please continue praying.  It is having a dramatic effect.  Also, feel free to message or video chat with me via Skype, as we have the opportunity.  My Skype account information is available on the About Me page.

I love you all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Tasos.  I met this guy in little souvlaki restaurant about a week ago.  He's a 27-year old guy.  He lives in Kalamaria (a municipality of Thessaloniki), which is one of the places I play basketball to meet people in the city.  He works in this souvlaki place in Peraia for a relative of the family, as I understand it.  He's fan of the NBA, or at least, the glory days of American basketball.  I believe he also told me that he studied to be a priest when he was younger.  He speaks enough English for us to communicate relatively well.  In prayer this morning, I felt like I was supposed to buy him one of the NBA action figures I had seen in a store a week or so ago, so I did.  I'm not sure yet when I will give it to him.

I played basketball for the first time in the city today.  There wasn't anyone on the courts, as it was perhaps too cold, but it was worth the investment.  I prayed for the sons and daughters of Thessaloniki to be born again.  I'm looking forward to meeting my new brothers and sisters.

I met two guys at the bus stop after leaving the courts.  One was Canadian and the other was South Korean.  The Canadian had a big back-pack on, so it was pretty clear they weren't from Greece.  They're exchange students at a university near Zurich in Switzerland.  All the European students at their university left to be with family during the holidays, so these two decided to take a backpacking tour of eastern Europe.  They asked what I was doing, so I told them I was a missionary here (I think it's safe to say that openly to South Korean and Canadian travelers).  I can't say for sure they weren't believers, but I didn't receive the response of a kindred spirit.  They seemed pretty lost actually, and I was struck pretty sober by the contrast.  Here these guys are looking for a family and I don't think they've been adopted into God's family yet.  It made me realize the treasure of the Holy Spirit and Christ in me, the hope of glory.  As soon as I got on the bus, I regretted doing so, so quickly.  I felt as though I had cut short a God-opportunity, and for what?  What am I in a hurry to return to?  Oh, well.  I prayed, confessed, and repented.  There will be more.

Mike.  I decided to ask this dread-locked 25-year old dude that sat next to me on the bus if he spoke English.  It turns out, he did, so we had a conversation!  He went to cooking school and lives in Peraia aswell, with his parents and younger brothers.  He lived in Germany for three years and prefers living there, although his dream is to go to the US.  He likes to cook, play soccer, and create hip-hop and electronic music.  I told him that I liked electronic music too.  He asked me if I liked to listen to trance and go to clubs.  I told him that I wasn't big on the club scene, but that I liked Christian electronic music.  "What's that?"  "Electronic music created under the influence of the Holy Spirit," I told him, "It's the best."  "Ok," as he nodded his head.  I think he understood me.

Please pray for all of these guys and continue to pray for us!  Pray for wisdom, open doors, and divine appointments.  Pray for love, boldness, and sensitivity to the leading of His Spirit.  May lots and lots of them come to know Jesus Christ through our love.  Most of all, may Jesus have first place in our hearts.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vision 2011

3rd Gear.

Tonight the girls and I attended a New Year's Eve party at the home of Tanya and Stefan.  And I just have to say for the record, I feel straight-up loved by this precious, German missionary couple.

About 45 minutes before midnight, we broke up into small groups.  We each shared something that we were thankful for from the past year; as well as, something that we were believing God for in the upcoming year.  Then we prayed for one another.

One of the young ladies in our group was really honest about how she was feeling towards God and people.  She said she was starting to feel like she didn't want anything to do with God and like she didn't belong in our fellowship. (Oh, how often have I felt like this?  And I'm thankful that God is not shocked by our religious fears) -  But as she was vulnerable and brought to light what was in her heart, the Spirit of Truth and the love of God just overwhelmed me.  I say the Spirit of Truth because it was so crystal clear to me that a spirit of religion was destroying this woman.

'For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.' - 2 Corinthians 3:6

Only a religious, false view of God would cause you to believe that you would want nothing to do with God and that you don't belong in the body.  But the true, living God... now that's another story.

Jesus, the exact image of the invisible God, the expression of the Father and God, Himself; this Man, this King, He is glorious!  His eyes burn with flames of fire.  He is full of jealous love.  Tender mercies and grace flow from Him.  His love shatters fear.  It covers and fills every broken and hurting place.  He gave Himself to forgiveness and His love never fails.  He never fails.  This Man, and only this Man, Christ Jesus, completes us.  He fills all in all.

I felt the power of the love of God as I prayed for this woman.  The love of God is so strong.  It is so incredibly powerful.  It is like a flood of great waters.  What can stand against the power of this love?  Nothing.  It is the great equalizer.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and it never fails.  His love levels everything.  Insurmountable mountains are brought low and valleys are raised high.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” - Isaiah 40:3-5

Hmm, 'Comfort my people, says your God,' 'her sin has been paid for'
'in the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord,' 
'Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'  Interesting...

Downshift into 2nd gear.

I've been praying for vision as I try to find my purpose here.  I believe I'm here for young people.  Especially, brothers.

Down again, into 1st.

His word that sent me here was, Song of Solomon 1:8, 'Go forth on the trail of the flock and pasture your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.'

Back in to 2nd.

Since I've been here, I've been struggling to find my place.  I've been searching for the trail, the flock, the young goats, and the shepherds, but they're not here!

I think the girls from Dwelling Place and I are the only consistent church members under the age of 30 - no 'young' goats to pasture, and need I say, no bro's?  Part of our flock is out of the country and one of the shepherds is in Sweden with a whirlwind tour abroad in the weeks to come.  And concerning the trail, Tommie's words to me were, 'Back in the States, the roads are already dug and paved.  Here, you have to make your own road.'

Hmm, this sounds like a wilderness, or a desert, or a valley of dry bones...

And I hear Him say, 'Son of man, can these bones live?'

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones...
Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.'
"Thus says the Lord God to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.  And I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.'"
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. - Ezekiel 37: 1,3-6, 10

So we will prophesy the word of the Lord to this valley of dry bones.  'The motherlands of the gospel shall give birth again.'  They shall give birth by the Spirit, for the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. - Galatians 4:26

Redlining 2nd. Hit 3rd gear.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died - 2 Corinthians 5:14 
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. - John 12:32

I don't know if anyone has ever been theologically debated into the kingdom of God.  I know I wasn't.  People manifested the love of God to me and led me to the Man that manifested the love of God to the world.  Then I began to manifest the love of God to people.

And so armed with the Spirit and the power of the love of God, we will clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.  Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low.  Let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley.  Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Pray for us as we prophesy to the rising army in this land and live to love people into the kingdom of God through His Spirit.