Come join us in welcoming our 2016-2017 SEND Team!
All are welcome, we’d love to see you there!
When I look back to last September when this team’s session of SEND began, I really had no idea what was in store. Yes, I had a calendar (I don’t do anything without that thing!) and an idea of where God would take us geographically, but I had no clue where God would take us spiritually over the course of 10 months. As this team’s final week of SEND training just passed, I want to share an invaluable lesson that God touched my heart with through the journey of SEND North America. I pray that the stories of these SEND young adults inspire you as much as they have me.
When you open yourself up to God, He reveals Himself to you.
When I met Quinn, Sarah, and Ze for the first time, it was like the idea of SEND instantly “clicked” with them. They shared with me the desire to know God deeper, see where He is leading them, and make some new friends. Basically, they were open to an adventure, even one where the destination was unclear! Because of this willingness to go where God led them, they were able, maybe for the first time in their lives, to hear what God was saying — to listen to His voice. I watched countless times as all three of them encountered God, in different, yet powerful ways.
As Christians, we know that God is speaking into our lives, always communicating with us, but the question I learned to ask is: Am I listening to what He has to say? Am I willing to open my life up to the Creator of the universe and give Him the reins to do whatever He wants? When I put it like that, it sounds absurd that I might even consider saying no! Yet, isn’t that what we do? We keep our lives as just that, our lives, and forget that they really aren’t ours to begin with!
I am totally inspired by these SEND young adults who chose to give 10 months to discovering God’s purpose and plan for their lives. I watched God unfold plans that none of them could have imagined! When Quinn applied to SEND, he thought he might be called to military chaplaincy. After watching him engage with teens and kids throughout the last year, it is more obvious than any calling I’ve ever seen that he is meant for youth ministry! Sarah, who originally thought she may become a Christian counselor, will be training as a SEND leader next year as she explores her calling to inspire young adults to take the same leap of faith she did. Ze, also known as Elisee Jean, will be discipling others through pastoral ministry in Belize and discerning next steps to start SEND Central America. Patrick, a young adult who recently reconnected with SEND, feels called to young adult ministry and wants to see revival in his generation.
What beautiful horizons lay ahead for these young adults! The future is truly limitless for them, not because we believe in some cliché, but because our God is the author of all and is bigger than any dream you or I could come up with. The journey for this team of young adults began with them opening their hearts to God’s plans and being willing to take the adventure God laid out for them. They taught me that when we are willing to let God take His rightful place in the driver’s seat, He will take us down roads we didn’t even know existed. There will still be bumps (and maybe even some moments of carsickness along the way!), but God is truly the best navigator. He knows the right path, every time. Willingness to hand over the keys — and accept that we are just the copilot — is a life lesson worth learning early on.
It was my honor and privilege to watch as this team of SEND young adults lived out this lesson, and it is one I will never forget. I am forever grateful for the journey that God sent three young adults on over the last 10 months, and I am thankful to have been part of this journey with them, as their leader, mentor, confidant, and friend. As I said, the SEND young adults on this team were open to an adventure. And because of this, I watched them experience the adventure of a lifetime. And, it’s only just beginning.
Mackenzie (Kenzie) Ritchie
Leader, S.E.N.D. North America
Destiny Family of Faith, our partner church and SEND training center, designated SEND’s Nehemiah Missionary House as their local mission outreach for the summer. We are so excited and blessed by the renovation they did to the house June 16-18, 2016. See the pictures!
SEND Leader, Kenzie Ritchie, shared this message with Destiny Family Faith:
“Destiny Family, I cannot express in words how grateful I am for the work you have done to help us remodel our Nehemiah Missionary House. I’m praying you get this message before church tomorrow morning so that you can publicly share this post with your congregation. You may never know the full extent that your generosity and hard work have blessed future generations of young adults, but know that God has done an amazing thing through this tangible expression of your service and love. Young adults will be using this Missionary House as a place of spiritual growth, learning, laughter, and friendship for years to come and I cannot personally thank you enough, or express enough gratitude from our entire staff, board of directors, and SEND young adults. We are so grateful to have friends in mission and ministry like your church, and we pray that you have been as blessed by this project as we have. We love you guys. P.S. The house looks AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~Kenzie & the SEND North America – Servants Equipping New Disciples Family.”
Church Doctor Ministries Leader, Tracee Swank, shared this message on Facebook:
“Friends, you need to see this! We have been blessed beyond anything I could have possibly imagined. This house has been on my “Please God, help me figure out how to fix this,” list for a while. Thanks to Destiny Family of Faith for their work and this great blessing to SEND North America – Servants Equipping New Disciples! We still have a bit to go — please pray about supporting this important project.”
The cost of repairs is $26,800. We have been blessed by Destiny’s provision of labor and expertise and with other financial contributions totaling $4,600. Now is your chance to get involved, and help us finish this project! Here’s how YOU can make an impact today:
Thank you in advance!
Church Doctor Ministries is a member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Contributions are solicited with the understanding that Church Doctor Ministries has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds.
What do all these things have in common? These are just a few things that the young adults in SEND North America, the 10-month discipleship training experience, experienced while in Belize, Central America, last month on our international mission excursion. With a partner ministry, CALMS, God revealed Himself in many ways and put countless people in our path to change our lives and hearts forever during our time in Belize!
The population of the country of Belize is about 300,000 — which is about the population of Fort Wayne, Indiana! Because of the compact size of the country, we were able to travel to nearly every region during our time there! We spent most of our days meeting with pastors and leaders in villages learning about their communities, resources, needs, and how God is working there. I watched as the young adults in SEND were able to apply the skills they’ve been learning over the last nine months in a different country while engaging with people of all different walks of life. Some trip highlights included:
It was a blessed trip, and we can’t thank CALMS enough for continuing to partner with our ministry and equip us in strategic and effective cross-cultural missions. A huge thank you to all who supported us in prayer and financially on this trip; your efforts were a blessing to us and to those we served! It’s not a surprise, but the importance of relationship was highlighted again and again on this trip and over the past nine months. As this season of SEND comes to a close very soon, we thank God for our many relationships made, lessons learned, and lives changed.
Mackenzie “Kenzie” Ritchie
Leader, S.E.N.D. North America
P.S. Our new favorite phrases include… “You better BELIZE it!” and “That’s unBELIZEable!”
When most people hear the word “missionary” they immediately think of traveling to a faraway country to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. While this is accurate, it’s just as true that you and I are missionaries for Jesus, even if we never leave our own country, state, city, or neighborhood! God has called each of us to share the hope of salvation with all people, especially those we already have relationships with and are connected to in our lives.
Since last September, the young adults in SEND North America, the 10-month discipleship training experience, have been learning what it means to be disciples who make disciples. Their training has taken us to many cities in the Midwest to learn and serve, but a constant focus throughout has been our own “backyard.” SEND’s home base is Kendallville, Indiana, and each Thursday throughout SEND training, Sarah, Quinn, and Ze have experienced a local mission excursion. From serving the homeless at The Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne, to raking leaves and building relationships in Kendallville, to worshiping and praying with seniors at Sacred Heart Assisted Living in Avilla, the SEND team has been learning how God uses us, in our own communities, to be His missionary.
As we are now in the final weeks of this team’s discipleship training, we challenged Sarah, Quinn, and Ze to take what they’ve been learning themselves one step further — for their final domestic mission excursion weekend, their challenge was to not just experience a mission excursion but to plan one in their local community! The SEND team hosted Ignite 72, an evening event where teens and youth in northeast Indiana came to learn about mission outreach to their friends. This was an inspirational evening at St. John Lutheran Church in Kendallville, as our SEND young adults led games, served a meal, worshiped, and gave a message to more than 30 teens about igniting the passion for sharing the gospel with friends and classmates. This event gave our SEND team the opportunity to experience leading mission training for others, and it was largely impactful for the teens and youth that attended.
It is a huge blessing and learning experience for our young adults to travel to many ministry sites throughout the U.S. and internationally while in SEND, but it is also invaluable to learn how to serve our great God right in our own circles of relationships, in our own neighborhoods and families. This is one of the most important lessons of all — we are ALL missionaries for Jesus Christ, and sharing the gospel is closer than we think! This past month, I’ve been so grateful to watch how God is transforming the lives of these young adults to not just be disciples, but to be disciple-makers for the rest of their lives, beginning with their own friends, families, and neighbors.
Mackenzie (Kenzie) RItchie
Leader, S.E.N.D. North America