Looking back on an amazing 2016

Going into this year, frankly, there was an apprehension.  We knew we had the call and the responsibility to travel to present how the Lord is calling us to missions, but we had no idea what to expect and so, so many questions.  How are the kids going to react?  Where are we going to stay?  How are we going to afford this?  How are we going to juggle EVERYTHING!  Suffice to say, we serve an AWESOME GOD.  Jehovah-Jireh provided for us at every step and we truly felt peace.

We met so many wonderful people who opened up their homes to us and shared meals with us.  People were not only kind, but generous.  The experience of a friendly handshake, coupled with a $20 bill is humbling and funny and wonderful and sweet and lots of other words I can’t think of!  We grew in our own walks in the Lord, having to rely so acutely on Him in this journey, and we are thankful to have been used of the Lord to encourage and to present the gospel!  Our family grew closer in many ways.  14,000 miles and several flights can do that!  But in between few moments of friction and frustration were mostly wonderfully sweet ones, seeing new places and faces.  WE JUST HAD SUCH A GREAT YEAR!

Hopefully 2017 brings pictures and news of packing and flying and beginning ministry!  Please continue to pray for us as we work towards that end!

Summer closing

Wow.  What an amazing summer.  I hope everyone has received our latest prayer letter, and if you haven’t, please go the the “Prayer Letter” page on this site and click for the latest.  There continues to be moments of frustration, but our busy summer left me more than encouraged.  First, we met so many wonderful people and visited so many wonderful churches who covered us in prayer and encouragement.  Second, we slowed down enough to realize the ministry opportunities we have in front of us every day and every stop and we focused on getting the gospel message our wherever we may have been.  Similarly, we realized that deputation is an opportunity to continue to be ministered to, as each visit adds new perspective in our walks and ministry.

We press on, looking to raise the support we need and we’re excited by the full schedule in front of us.  You can always keep tabs on that in the “Calendar” link above.  We are gaining momentum, passing 40% of our monthly financial need and we’re praying that it only continue to accelerate in the next several months.

Keep praying!


Summer Dawns

Summer dawns to many emotions.

Many days, I’m quite frustrated.  It’s hard for words to describe the bitter disappointment and rejection that comes with deputation without sounding resentful.  I’ve been in sales for 16 years now, have heard “no” more times than I could ever count and have thick skin.  I really don’t take it personal and even now, I don’t take it personally, yet the disappointment remains.  Many times I’m sad that churches are missing out on the blessing.  I feel bad for them.  I’ve been called, now I just need to be sent.  I need to get there and I’m anxious to get working, but it’s a real struggle to find church partnerships to finance the ministry.  With 100 calls and emails, only about 10 are answered in any way at all and 9 of them are to say that the church is not considering any new missionaries.  1 is a lead that may or may not develop into a partnership.  It is not the most effective use of time and resources.  There has to be a better way.  Many would say that partnering with more individuals and families is that way.  We’re fortunate to already about 15 of those, so thankful for their financial support and prayers.  I’ve made a conscious decision to target churches as a first priority, thinking there is a real biblical responsibility from churches to send and support, but perhaps I need to change my thinking.  We did have a picnic recently for the express purpose of inviting several families of amazing friends to partner.  We’ll see how that manifests itself in the next several weeks and months, but I pray that is was successful.

Many days are stressful.  In addition to deputation, I’m juggling work, church responsibilities, finishing seminary, studying and preparing for ordination, figuring out how and when to sell our house, what to keep and what to sell, all while being a dad and husband.  It’s a lot.  How can you make plans as a family when you can’t say for certain how long you’ll be around?  When is best?  What is best?  How is best? It’s hard to know, and we simply rely on God for guidance and provision and rejoice as He continues to show Himself faithful and present in our lives.

Many day are joyful.  You move where the Lord leads and speak what’s in your heart and people respond.  I thank God for using me as His instrument.  In the last several months, we’ve been able to present the ministry at several different churches, from the small, four-corner, country church, to a year or so old church plant, to a church healing from a split, to a medium healthy church.  They are each so amazing and filled with beautiful, loving people.  We’re so thankful for their prayers and in some cases, their financial support and we’re committed to transforming that investment into fruit through gospel work.  One recent church visit was with a church that God so obviously ordained and through a series of contacts and a Wednesday night presentation, they agreed to join us in financial partnership, praise the Lord!  The euphoria from days like those power me through the frustrating, stressful ones.

We are about to hit the road this summer and fall, with visits in PA, WY, CO, GA, WV and SC, along with some training through the mission board in Georgia.  Pray for safety and patience and that our presentations yield to more church partnerships.  Our goal is to be fully funded and ready to go in January 2017.  Please pray that this can be accomplished.


Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. – Ecclesiastes 7:8

Financial update – Where We Stand:

We enter March officially at 31.2% of our monthly financial need committed to live and minister in South Africa.  There are four churches and two families however, that have promised to partner for an unknown amount, or are still formalizing the process for a known amount.  With those six, it should take us close to 50%.  It would be my goal to be 60% fully committed by the end of April.  To qualify for field preparation seminar, a training class our mission board conducts once per year in July and a requirement to take before leaving for the field, we need to be at 70% to plan.  Failing to meet this deadline would postpone our departure until 2017!  Pray these deadlines would be accomplished in the next several months, and let’s watch the Lord work.  If you’ve been contemplating or praying through partnering with us through a regular financial contribution, now would be a great time!

Dear Journal: My public ramblings…

As I’ve gone through this process of deputation and of preparation, I’ve wondered what to do with this blog/website.  In one regard, it requires a lot of effort to update regularly and when I update, I wonder if anyone will really read.  I was at a sales meeting this weekend and a speaker talked about many profitable things regarding sales, but one thing that struck me was about blogging and the point I carried from the lecture was an opportunity to express the best version of my self, taking the time to gather my thoughts and publish them in a coherent way.  There’s a thoughtfulness that is involved in that process that is personally beneficial and if that is all that occurs, well, that’s a good thing.  By sharing my thoughts and dreams and fears, if you’re impacted in some way, more the better!  So today is journal entry #1.

Deputation is hard.  Assuming I can carve the dedicated time, I make dozens of calls and send dozens more emails to typically get a response or two.  Many of the responses, if I’m fortunate to get one, is that the church is “missionary saturated” (a term one pastor used I quite appreciated) and in no position to partner with a new ministry.  It’s an exercise in futility.  I have been discouraged many days through this process, I must admit.  I’m not looking for your pity, but it is a reality.  Yet through all the attempts, the Lord opens just one door in 30 or 40 and there’s an elation as good as any sale I’ve made.  It’s not so exciting in that it justifies my effort, rather it’s an enthusiasm for a ministry partner, knowing that we will serve them and when our ministry bears fruit, it will be credited to this new partner’s account.  That and we’re one step closer to Africa!  I made contact with the pastor of a church near my hometown in Pennsylvania recently and he scheduled to bring us in, just through a series of emails!  Wow!  That’s when I know not to be discouraged, to just keep sending the emails and making the calls to figure out who the Lord has already ordained for us to partner with.  Churches like this one are already part of God’s plan and this one specifically should be a great opportunity to have many family and friends in Pennsylvania hear firsthand my testimony and hear me preach.

Side frustration: some churches require a very long application to complete.  It’s understandable for a church to want to ensure the best possible fit for partnership, but from a practical standpoint on my side, it is difficult to give the time those packets require.  Maybe if I was on full-time deputation, it might be different, but combining part-time deputation with working full-time, taking seminary courses, independent study preparing for ordination, serving my local church and trying to be a good dad and husband, the 12-pager doesn’t get the priority of attention.  I’m very thankful for those willing to explore partnership with my ministry without that burden, frankly.

I’m on the road today, five hours from home and found a great church for a Wednesday night service.  A nice woman was exceptionally gracious in making me feel welcome, ensuring I had everything I needed for the study and service and asked me great questions to ensure I had a church home, quite confident if I did not, that this church would provide it.  I’d love for you to join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for Judy for the encouragement she was to me tonight.  When I visit Wednesday night services, I’m not always recognized or greeted.  I don’t say that judgmentally, as I’ve failed to recognize visitors many times.  Geez, sometimes I forget the names of people I know in my own church.  Judy was a wonderful example tonight of exploring fellowship and greeting a new neighbor.   Pray also that a door might open to represent Judy and this church.  It would be wonderful to serve them!

So here I am.  I hope this glimpse of my journey is in some way beneficial and your comments always welcomed.  Thank you for praying for me and for our family.  We need them tremendously.  I will try to post again much sooner.

Love, Zane

A New (and wonderful) Experience

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to present our ministry at a nearby church at each of the morning services.  While singing hymns at the start of the second service, a man’s blood pressure dropped suddenly and he passed out, hitting his head on the brick wall beside him.  EMTs were called, arrived quickly and while they tended to the man, the congregation worshipped through silent prayers accompanied by subtle hymns from the piano.  The Lord directed me to James 4 during this time to remind the congregation less about our ministry in South Africa, but more that our lives are a vapor, a mist and that tomorrow is promised to no one.  We have to evangelize our neighbors, our families, our community and the uttermost parts of the world and there is an urgent need to do so!  I tied it to my own life, where I’ve wasted much time and resources, but no more.  I’m going to make a difference with my life.  The Lord obviously had plans for that message.  At the conclusion of the service, the senior pastor returned and asked if any were unsure where they would spend eternity and three responded with raised hands.  The invitation was then extended to pray the sinner’s prayer and one of these three, a first time visitor to that church, indicated that he responded in praying for forgiveness of his sins and inviting Jesus to be his Lord and Savior.  Pray for that man, and for all three as the local pastor meets with each to continue the work of evangelism and discipleship.

As Saul wrestled in his blindness in Damascus, Jesus visited Ananias and told him that Saul would be his vessel (Acts 9:15) or his instrument to bear the name of Christ before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel.  Saul/Paul is the vessel.  Jesus is the power.  It’s the same today.  That man responded not to me, but to Jesus and His power, through me as his instrument.  Jesus is the artist, we can merely be His paint brush.  Jesus is the author, we can merely be His pen.  Jesus is the musician, we can merely be His trumpet.  God can use us, through His power, should be only allow ourselves to be used.

The Lord’s lovingkindness towards us

I was overwhelmed this morning about the Lord’s lovingkindness towards our family.  Psalm 36:7 says, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”  God is so good to us.  As October closes, we can see what an amazing month it was.  God has opened numerous doors for us to present this ministry and people are responding to partner with us.  We are now at 22% of our monthly support and numerous one-time gifts were received this month, praise the Lord!  The wonderful support of our sending church continued as we attended our first missions conference.  Opportunities to present the gospel continue to be placed before Karie and me in our community and I ask that you pray for conversions as our witness continues.  November looks to continue to be a busy month.

There have been several special gifts that have occurred as well, amazing things the Lord has worked out on our behalf.  God cares about the details in our lives!  He hears our prayers.  We know that He cares for us.

South Africa is on the horizon!  How exciting!  We were encouraged to meet for the first time in person, Dave and Julie Rudolph, leaders of the church planting team in Knysna, RSA.  They have a wonderful testimony of service for 30 years in South Africa and have laid out a vision to reach Knysna for Christ over the next 15 years.  Visit our video page for a great 5-minute video that gives a snippet for where and why we are going.  Our families gelled quickly and we look forward to laboring with them and the gathered team on account of the gospel.


Psalm 117:2 – For his merciful kindness is great towards us: and the truth of the Lord endureth forever.  Praise ye the Lord.

Do you drink coffee?

Of course you do!  BMW has partnered with Twin Valley Coffee to support missionaries through the purchase of delicious coffee through http://www.coffeehelpingmissions.com.  Lots of flavors are available in single serve cups, ground bean, whole bean or frac pacs.  100% of profits go to missions.  Connect your order to our family and 50% of the profits go into our account.  The other 50% supports the Indonesia Project in spreading the gospel and through community development.  There’s a contest going on all year and the top five missionary families gaining the most support will receive an additional donation bonus.  So drink up!


As September comes to a close, we expect to be at 16% of our monthly need.  This doesn’t include several other churches and individuals that have verbally pledged support that should be coming in over the next several months.  We praise the Lord for these first supporters!  I treasure and echo Paul’s message to the Philippians from 4:17 – Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that might abound to your account.  Hopefully we can keep clipping at a 16%/month pace and 6 months from now, we can be packing our bags!

Now that we are really underway, our intention is to keep people who visit this website up to date on this ministry.  I’m still trying to figure out how to post pictures better.  I’ll get there.


Please pray for John

Pray for a man I witnessed to today, John.  He was a homeless person sitting outside a convenience store that the Lord would not let me pass by.  The Scripture he laid on my heart to pass along was 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  I shared it with him, as well as some other Scripture in a “Share Jesus without Fear” process, having him read from the New Testament I carry for just such an opportunity.  His heart was very hard.  His father was an Episcopalian minister.  He’s had access to God Word, but it hasn’t transformed his life to this point.  I learned he was 42, but seemed much older.  Pray today’s seed will later produce fruit.  Your prayers are appreciated.