Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

You’re going WHERE?!

My first foreign mission trip was to Kenya, East Africa in the summer of 1986.  I was in college and I went with Campus Crusade for Christ to show the Jesus film in the remote town of Wajir, near the Somali border.  After ~8 weeks of being virtually the only white faces and the only voice for Jesus in the area at that time, we didn’t see anyone get saved.  I was discouraged.  I thought that, although it was a fun experience, I would not want to do that with the rest of my life.  Funny how things work out.

In 1988 I went on another mission trip, this time to Belize, Central America.  This trip was very different as we saw many people get saved and it was on this trip that I realized that missions was something that “normal Christians” do.  I realized it was something that I could do.  It was the first time that I really wanted to do it again.  I began to pray and ask God if that could be something in my future.

In 1990 I went to the Philippines and by then I was hooked!  I so enjoyed the experience that I asked my pastor if I could just stay there.  In his wisdom, he said no.  The timing was not right.  But God was working, and the more I saw and experienced the thrill of sharing the gospel with people who have had little to no chance to hear it before, the more I wanted to give my life to that.

In 1992 I went to Albania.  albania-map(In case you’re wondering, I did not plan to go on a trip every 2 years – it just worked out that way.)  By now I had been praying specifically for God to use me in foreign missions.  I had completed our church’s Bible Institute training.  I had gotten myself out of debt.  I intentionally continued to rent rather than buy a home, as I wanted to be able to leave whenever God might call me to go.  It all came together in July of that year and for the next 14 years, I would call Albania my home.

This week our church is sending one of our pastors, Rich VanArsdalen, on his first foreign mission trip.  Another pastor, Ryan Ervin is going with him.  But for Rich, this will be his first opportunity to see, smell, taste and experience serving God in another culture.  I have no idea what God will do in Rich’s life this week, but I for one will be praying for him regularly.  Ryan has travelled and seen many different countries while ministering the gospel.  Still, each trip has its own unique lessons to learn.

Please pray with me that God will use the Bible conference (Oct. 16-18) in the lives of the Albanian believers.  Pray that God will use the lives of the Albanian believers in the lives of pastors Rich and Ryan.  Pray that we all get a greater burden for reaching a lost world with the gospel while there is still time.  Rich and Ryan should arrive in Albania around 6:00 pm Wednesday evening (EDT).  They will return back here next Tuesday.  I can’t wait to hear all the things God will do in and through them on this trip.

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