2016 saw many changes to Joel’s ministry with Communications. It started out projecting to be a busy year, with more travel than previous years, as he was a part of a collaborative team of leaders’ working in several disciplines beyond Communications. But that role shifted quickly as big change came to the structure of the whole communications, development and mobilization teams. He then found himself in a much more stationary, but very much needed role of Business Administrator for the Communications team. And while he was content to serve in that role, it was not one he was passionate about. God gives us awesome blessings in His time and at the end of the year, he transitioned into a role he is truly passionate about, using Social Media to advance NTM’s vision of seeing thriving churches for every people group.
Social Media is the widest spoken “language” in the USA and yet it’s one where we, as an organization, have much to learn in order to be fluent and able to communicate effectively. He’s beyond excited to direct these efforts!
Bethany’s year was one of much growth and much trial. She was given the chance to learn a lot about herself and her need for more stillness and less activity. She recognized her misplaced desire to simply satisfy her “need” to be busy. It was a year of growing to be less “Martha” like (Luke 10:38-42), as her body physically shut down several times, forcing her to confront this. She had some intentional time in March to get away from life at home and contemplate this lesson the Father has been trying to teach her.
In conjunction with starting to truly grasp what stillness and rest look like from a spiritual standpoint, she also came to some conclusions about the need to get clarity on some persistent and draining health issues. And so we started a 9 month journey at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. This pursuit did yield some answers and a treatment plan. For this, we are so thankful.
While all of these personal journeys took place here in Florida, because of your partnership with us, God allowed us all (you and ourselves) to be a part of other things happening around the world through those serving with NTM!
- 8 People Groups received the New Testament in their heart language!
- 114 Bible translation projects are in progress
- 260 active church planting works are in progress
- Church planting began in 9 new unreached people groups (as of the end of 2015)
- 21 people groups were scheduled for Church Planting in 2016
- Right now, several unreached people groups are hearing the Creation to Christ story for the very first time—ever!
Your ministry partnership with us makes all this possible. Those numbers mean lives saved, families redeemed, people able to feed themselves from God’s Word and a Church that is ever growing and reaching out beyond its current edges! Ultimately, everything we do supports this goal.
We are grateful for the blessing extended to our family and ministry through your faithful prayers and financial support.
Other updates in our home and life:
We’re plugged in and serving at/with LifePoint Christian Church. Bethany’s compassionate heart finds chances to serve through the small groups we’ve been a part of. Joel was recently ordained as an Elder and continues to enjoy being a part of the worship arts in the church.
All three of our kids are attending the same public charter school just a few miles from our home. We’re SO grateful that God led us to this school, as it has so well suited to the needs of our kids. We continue to work hard to understand each of their individual and varying needs. Jack is enjoying being in the middle school youth group at our church and Owen and Kate are in their third year of AWANA at another local church. Kate and Owen are both high-output kids and keeping them contained is enjoyably challenging. For that reason, Kate, has been enjoying some basic dance, tumbling and gymnastics classes. Owen will play at whatever you put in front of him and is waiting for the spring soccer league to start!
Bethany’s mom, Lynn continues to serve part time with NTM in our Personnel Office, processing missionary letters from our partners around the world. She enjoys this so much as she is able to pray for and encourage those missionaries and feels very connected to how God is working in many people groups. She just completed a 2 year research study for an antibody that is working to stop the progression of dementia and is hoping to be included in the fourth and final phase of this study soon.
2017 and Beyond:
NTM celebrates 75 years in ministry this year. The Communications Team is coordinating nation-wide events and promotions to share what God has done through this ministry. Social media will play a big role in this celebration and Joel will have his work cut out for him.
As part of the Anniversary, NTM is also planning a new look and brand update. Rolling this out will require delicacy and creativity and Joel will be working to see this done well across five different social media platforms. In addition to that, he’s planning to work with team members across all of NTM USA’s ministry locations in their social media plans.
Projects and plans we are considering for this year (or next):
Please pray with us as we seek His wisdom and discernment in these decisions!
Travel: Just the two of us will be travelling up to Billings MT (thanks to Delta Skymiles) in a little over a week to visit Joel’s sister Rebekah and her husband Steve along with their new daughter, Abby. Being in Montana means we rarely get to spend time with them.
We are also going to take a few weeks to spend over in the nearby area of St. Petersburg FL, where Joel grew up and we have an extensive group of friends and several churches we would like to connect with. That time will be exclusively devoted to raising awareness about NTM’s ministry and our part in it.
House repairs: We will soon need to replace the aging wooden security fence around our back yard. 12 years of Florida weather leave it at risk for collapse in the next tropical storm to pass over us.
Continuing Ed: Joel has a desire to pursue more education to assist him in his role as a communicator and may begin some distance ed. classes to work towards an additional degree in the communications field. Would you pray for clarity on whether to pursue this or not, at this time?
So, this is a lot of information and yet so much has been left out in order to not overwhelm. If you desire any additional information, or have a question about any of the information provided, please do not hesitate to call or email us.
Again, thank you for your prayers and support throughout 2016. We are excited to continue to be “your hands and feet” as we serve with NTM to see a Thriving Church for Every People.