Journey Services Update (20170630)

100 inch telescope dome at Mt Wilson

Mt Wilson Observatory

We were all over the country in June as this Journey Services Update (20170630) will demonstrate.The first weekend saw us flying to Los Angeles, California for a consultation at Frontier Ventures. I got to visit the offices of William Carey Library and talk with the staff who were editing and finalizing my book’s manuscript when we walked in the door. It was exciting to see my project on the whiteboard with all of their other book projects nearing completion. In fact, a week later, Christian Barriers to Jesus went to the printers.

While there we took a tour of the William Carey International University and their library. Our friend HL Richard took us to see the archives collections of Ralph Winter and Donald McGavran. He opened a trunk, pulled out a book, and handed it to me. It was the very first copy of McGavran’s germinal work, Bridges of God, dedicated to his wife and partner in service.


When the meetings were over, Margaret and I decided to take a spontaneous drive into the San Gabriel mountains above Pasadena. We have agreed to do these spontaneous adventures when we can. As we drove, I saw a sign for Mt. Wilson (that’s all it said, nothing more). Since childhood I have had a deep love for astronomy, and immediately knew this to be the site of the Mt. Wilson Observatory. Sure enough, a few miles further, we found a sign pointing to it. It was closing time when we got there, but I got to at least stand at a spot I’ve dreamed of seeing since I was a young boy looking at the African night sky through my telescope fifty years ago.


American Society of Missiology

We got back from California in time to wash clothes, quickly see the grandkids, and then start the next trip. Paul dropped Margaret off in Indianapolis to spend the weekend with the five grandkids there. Paul drove on to Wheaton, Illinois for the American Society of Missiology. He spent the weekend networking with professors and scholars, collaborating with colleagues on several upcoming projects, and passing out information cards about Christian Barriers to Jesus to anyone who would take them.

Invitation to Yangon, Myanmar

Margaret made a Facebook connection with a missionary kid she taught 40 years ago in Chiangmai, Thailand. This lady and her husband, now retired business people, happened to be coming through Cincinnati and asked if we could meet for breakfast. We had a delightful time catching up and learning about their lives. The husband told us of a connection he has made with Opportunities Now Myanmar  [for more info check this ONM link] where they provide entrepreneurship training for people who want to start a livelihood. Before the conversation was finished, he invited me to join a teaching team in August and see the program first hand. This will provide an opportunity to discuss a similar program or expansion with our colleagues in India who want to do similar things to alleviate poverty and significantly reduce dependence on Western funding. The couple decided they would pay my way, so this was a hard trip to turn down, even though we originally thought there would be no international travel this year.

Rethinking Forum – Houston

A week later, we hit the road for our looooonnnnnnng trip to Houston, Texas for the Rethinking Forum. [see MARG Network information here]. We got to spend a few days with Margaret’s sister and family and her brother in Houston. Then we spent four days interacting with sixty people who share a passion and concern for walking alongside Hindus in respectful ways so that some can meet and follow Jesus. This conference was organized by the MARG Network [see], a resource service for people who care about and want to build respectful relationships with Hindu people in the US.

We interacted with people who have differing levels of experience. Paul presented some of the core ideas for Christian Barriers to Jesus. We made a number of connections that have led to further collaboration and will be making follow up visits with some of these folks during our fall travels.

God seems to be leading us to be shepherds and counselors to a variety of people across multiple traditions who are seeking to live for and serve Jesus incarnationally here in the US and globally. This gathering was a sweet time of fellowship with some folks who have become dear friends the past few years. And it opened up new friendships that are going to develop and be important in the future.

Time with Family

Peggy Pennington reading

Mom reading pictures from the grandchildren

After the rich fellowship in Houston, we drove across the Gulf states and went to St. Petersburg, Florida to spend a week with my mother and to also visit my sister and her husband who live near her. Mom turned 90 this year, so we wanted to get down and see here at the retirement community where she lives. We had a great visit and got to meet many of her friends and neighbors.

We also surprised her sister with a visit and some old church friends who we don’t get to see often any more.

Until recently, Mom played the piano for their choir and then sang in the choir. She has had some health concerns recently and had to slow down a bit while they got medications and routines under control.

We try to get Gigi (as the grandkids know her) up here as often as we can so that our grandkids can have some time with her. She so enjoys seeing them and they enjoy her love and affection. Mom tells us that the folks down there comment on how rejuvenated she seems when she gets back.

Mom and Margaret in the dining room

Margaret and Mom at the dining hall

Don’t get the wrong impression. Mom still lives in her own 2 bedroom flat and takes care of herself. When she goes over to the dining hall to eat, the view on the right is what she gets to see every day.

At the end of the week, we drove from St. Petersburg straight through back to Cincinnati. We were glad to be home, even though the two travel weeks were full of wonderful relational times.

Information about Christian Barriers to Jesus

Now that the book has gone to the printer, it won’t be long before it is released. If you want to be updated about the book’s progress and availability, click this link and you will be taken to a signup form for the CB2J (Christian Barriers to Jesus) mailing list. When you sign up you will get a free sample chapter and will be able to learn about the book and further resources as we develop them.

Prayer Requests

  • Thanksgiving for safe travels over 3,000 miles
  • Pray for wisdom and focus as we regroup from our last round of travels and prepare for an extensive schedule this summer and fall.
  • Pray for wisdom as Paul seeks to get the word out about the release of Christian Barriers to Jesus
  • Pray for the growing network of people who ask us for help and encouragement as they seek new, innovative ways to be faithful to Jesus but respond in appropriate ways to very different cultures and contexts in the US and around the world.