Ukraine

Ukraine

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Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Two weeks ago, the team rolled into Ukraine. Since we were going outside of the EU again, the truck crew spent around 7 hours at the border getting across. Since the crossing, we have played 9 shows across Ukraine. For most of these shows, we have been joined by our brothers in the band NUTEKI. It has been so much fun to play with them and minister alongside our brothers from Belarus. Along with NUTEKI, we have also been joined by a large group of Steiger Ukraine missionaries. I love seeing how God is moving in Ukraine-specifically in the young people here. They are so passionate about Jesus and really want to see God change the hearts of those in their country who don’t know Him.

 

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NUTEKI opening for NLM in Zhytomyr

We have seen God move in amazing ways during our tour here. Locals have shared with us that sometimes, really popular bands come through these cities and they don’t attract very large crowds. However, we have been drawing an average of 1,500-2,000 people at our shows. In the city of Zhytomyr, my translator and I spoke with several young women after the show. I shared my story with them about how Jesus saved me and changed my life. All of them started to break down in tears and when I asked them if they wanted to know Jesus like I did, they all said yes. So, I prayed with them all to receive Jesus as their savior. Praise God! I am so grateful that He truly is a loving father that really cares about the weary and brokenhearted.

Ukraine7Later, at the same show, I met a young man who had his hand in a cast. He explained that he broke it while riding his bike. We asked if we could pray for him, and he said yes. After we prayed, he was able to move his fingers, which he said he had not been able to before. So awesome! I asked if he had any pain still, and he said he still had a little  bit of pain. So, we prayed again for the pain to leave. When we finished, he was just overwhelmed and shocked. All pain was gone! He literally went home that night and cut off his cast because his hand was completely healed. God is good!

A few days later, a small group of us had the opportunity to have a morning television interview and share the gospel. David, Ben, and I were able to share Jesus with many people on live television while talking about our concert and tour. God has opened so many doors and given us so many opportunities to preach and love the lost.

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TV Interview in Poltava

Although there have been many great experiences in Ukraine, we have also been met by hardships. Sometimes smaller things, like my sustain pedal breaking, constant sound/tech issues when trying to get ready for the set, and sometimes more serious issues like a punk spraying some of our team with pepper spray when we are in the middle of a set. In the city of Poltava, I was driving the van in the city when the trailer detached from the van and slammed into a parked car. Although it was a very scary experience, we were thankful that nobody was hurt and only one other car was involved. Unfortunately, the driver of the other car was very angry and unreasonable, and when the police finally arrived-they were no help. They took my drivers license and our registration-as if to use it to write down information for the insurance report. Instead, they kept our documents and demanded that we pay the driver cash-which is extremely sketchy, or they would keep my license and our registration. Without our registration papers, we cannot cross over the border. So, after hours of dealing with some corrupt police and an angry driver, I realized I hadn’t even prayed about the situation. I prayed right then, and went to a nearby cafe to call my parents and ask them to pray and spread the word. As soon as I hung up, the manger of the cafe came over and asked if I was having problems with the police. He explained that his good friend, who was also at the cafe, was a layer and wanted to ‘be my advocate’. I told them what had happened and what the police were demanding from us, and they began to laugh and say, “Yes, that is bad. This is not happening. We are not going to let this happen to you.” The lawyer went outside and immediately began to take over the situation. He basically told me, “You can go relax and eat lunch, I will take care of it. I will get you in an hour or so.” A couple hours later, he had our registration papers returned to us, and is going to get my license back from them in a few weeks. He is actually going to go to the court for me, do all of the work to get my license back from them, and wants to do it all for free. I was so overwhelmed by God’s kindness and immediate response to my prayers that I was moved to tears. Even as I write this, I am deeply moved as I am reminded by how much He loves me and really does provide for me.

Ukraine5I love Ukraine, and I am blessed to be here. All the hardship and stress has been worth it, because Jesus is doing a good thing here. I am so honored to partner with Him in this.I can’t believe that He has brought me here.
In a few days, we will be driving to Moldova for a show, then back to Poland for a big show in Warsaw.

We are well past the halfway mark of the tour, and our heart is to continue running the race as if to win. We don’t want to slow down. We are ready for what God has in store for us in these next countries and want to see Him move in power.

 

Prayer Requests:

  1. The situation with the Ukrainian court having my license-that it would be returned to my lawyer quickly.
  2. We will be crossing borders in a few days-that all the paperwork will be in order and that we will not get stuck there for hours or rejected.
  3. For many people to come to our show in Moldova and in Warsaw so they can hear the gospel.
  4. Overall heath of the team. A couple months on the road has been causing a bit of fatigue.
  5. One of the Steiger vans was stolen during their outreach in Amsterdam. Please pray that God would provide in a supernatural way.
  6. ‘Post-tour life’ for myself and others on the team. Pray that God will give clear direction on what steps to take next.
  7. All of the people who prayed to receive Jesus at our shows-that they would get connected with the church and continue to seek Him.
  8. We are still waiting for confirmation for shows in Italy and France. Pray that the city councils would give us favor and allow us to come and preach the gospel.
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Albania

Albania

Albania1Albania is a beautiful country. The mountain ranges are complimented by picturesque winding rivers, valleys, and scenic towns. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this country in the Balkans, yet I knew that there are many here who are searching for the truth and need to hear about Jesus. The team had high hopes that God was going to use us to do big things in a country that is primarily Muslim.

Our fist show was in the town of Gjirokastër. Immediately, I felt the difference from setting up in Poland and Albania. Albania is typically in the high 90’s, often flirting with 100 degrees. On top of the heat, it seemed as if nobody was going to come to our show. All through setup, we had some local police watching and a small handful of youth. Even so, we knew that God had brought us there for a reason. As we started to play, it seemed as if people just kept filling the area. Tens turned into hundreds as people were drawn to the music. That evening, many heard a clear presentation of the gospel message and responded-praise God!

Berat1We have played 9 shows the last nine days, and have 4 left over the next several days. We have consistently had hundreds and hundreds of people show up to the shows, and I have had the opportunity to personally preach the gospel to young Muslims at every show. As I talk with them about the show, many feel power when we show the resurrection of Jesus. I have told them the reason they feel power like that is because they are hearing and seeing the truth for the first time. My heart breaks for all these young men and women who are taught that God is somewhere far away, and there is no possibility for a personal relationship. What an privilege it is to tell them how much God loves them and sent Jesus to die for them so that we could be close to Him! Truly, there is power in the name of Jesus and the gospel message.

Albania2At a show in Berat, I spoke with several young women after the show. One was so moved by the show and repeated over and over how amazing everything was. When I asked her what she thought of the message, she said she had never heard a message like that before. She said she felt something inside of her-something inexplicable. When trying to find words to describe it, she said, “I feel like Jesus is inside of me. When life is hard, I will look back to this moment and remember what God did.”  Praise God! It is so exciting to see lives changed as people accept Jesus as their savior.

Barat3There are many other stories like mine with the young woman. Many are being added to the Kingdom daily. The gospel of Jesus Christ is advancing in Albania. We had a show fall through one of the days, and we picked up another one in a small city that same afternoon. When we arrived that very evening, a crowd of around 800 came to watch the show. Around 80 people responded to the gospel, and now they are trying to plant a church there! I honestly can’t express how grateful and privileged I am to be a part of what God is doing in this country and through No Longer Music. Also, I am so thankful for all of those who sent me and remember us in their prayers. If you have partnered with me, I hope you are encouraged reading the updates. My conversations are your conversations. Thank you for helping us spread the good news of Christ to the lost and broken.

 

Prayer Requests:

1.*As I was writing this blog, I was informed by our videographer, Miko, that his dad just had a heart attack and is in the hospital. Please pray for healing and peace.

2. Pray that the many young Muslims that I have shared the gospel with would continue to seek the truth and see Jesus as who He is-the King of Kings.

3. Our dancers often experience high levels of fatigue and dizziness after our shows, please pray that they would be able to dance to the fullest of their ability and minster to those who come to the show afterward.

4. Continue praying for doors to be opened in Italy and Turkey.

5. David’s father passed away recently, so he flew back to the US to be with his family and to say goodbye to his dad. Please pray for comfort for the Pierce family.

6. We are seeing some breakthrough in Jacob’s headaches, but please continue to pray for complete healing.

7. Boldness, courage, and strength for the team. We are starting to feel the exhaustion of the many shows in the heat, but we want to continue fighting the good fight!

One Month in Europe

The team has spent the last week in Poland, and have been met by rain at every venue. As I wrote before, rain is bad news for outdoor venues. It can limit our ability to use all of the equipment, and it prevents people from coming to the show. However, Luke 8:25 tells us that when Jesus commands the winds and water, they obey Him. Every show, it has either been raining on the way to the venue, or while we are setting up at some point. We have also experienced sudden thunderstorms that seem to come out of nowhere. Even so, we have continually prayed for the Lord to clear the skies, and He does. Every time. In fact, what once looked like a gloomy, rain-filled day, turned into a beautiful evening where hundreds of people can come and listen. Czestochowa

So far, we have played 8 shows in the last month. With the exception of the first one, each show has drawn hundreds of people. I love how God is able to bring people to us. We have had countless stories of people who were ‘in the area by mistake’, and came to watch our show and had their lives changed by the gospel . At the show in Częstochowa (Pictured above), I spoke with a young woman who had grown up in the church, but had decided it wasn’t for her about 4 years ago. In her words, she explained that she had been living in rebellion the last several years, and said she didn’t believe that God even existed. “But, after seeing your show,” she said, “now I am thinking, ‘maybe, maybe God actually is real.’ I don’t know, but I think maybe He does exist.” Although this might not jump out as a huge interaction, it truly is. This young woman, who just a few hours ago would have said there is no God, is now saying that she is thinking that perhaps there is. The main reason for this was because she saw us demonstrate the crucifixion, resurrection, and the  love and power that God has. She was moved to tears when we told her that God is a kind and gracious Father who loves her and longs for her to come back to Him. It has been so encouraging to see how God touches the hurting, and how His love overwhelms those who are broken and searching for Him. He is actually listening when we cry out to Him. We truly can put all our hope in Jesus, even when circumstances seem impossible.
Katowice

I long to have more of an eternal perspective. God is so much bigger than my confined thought processes or ideas. More often than I’d like to admit, I start to doubt God’s ability to move in a specific city because of what I see with my eyes, not His. Sometimes, I hear a terrible, nagging voice say to me, “What are we even doing? These kids don’t care about hearing the gospel. They aren’t going to respond to seeing the death and resurrection of Jesus. They’re just going to lose interest after the songs and leave.” On top of that, there have been quite a few shows where people are openly mocking us while we are on stage. They joke and laugh and curse when we invite people to accept Jesus as their Savior and friend. The voices that mock tend to be substantially louder than the voices that are saying a small, simple prayer for the first time. Even so, God is doing good things and is being glorified. I have to remind myself that we were all enemies of God at one point. We were all living in rebellion, and Jesus still died for me even while I was still in my sin. Jesus wants even those who mock us to be at the shows to hear the gospel. Again, even if they are laughing and jeering, they are still hearing the gospel! We should expect opposition as we bring the Good News to the world, but also know that nobody is ever ‘too far gone’ for the saving grace that Jesus freely offers. We who were once dead in sin are now made alive in Christ. Praise God!

The team is about to head to Albania for the next couple weeks to play roughly 14 shows there. I have loved watching God move in Poland, and am expectant to see Him do even more in the future!

Prayer Requests:

1. Safety in Albania and ease in crossing the borders into Slovakia, Hungary, and several other countries en route to Albania.

2. The girl I met in Częstochowa, Dominique, would come back to Jesus.

3. One of our dancers, Jacob, has frequent, severe migraines.

4. Doors would stay open in Italy and Turkey, so that we can share the gospel there this summer as well.

5. The team would be able to have personal time with Jesus on the trip and not be completely overwhelmed by the work involved in tour.

6. We want to see more people healed at the shows-physically and emotionally. Please pray that God would release His power.

7. Good rest for the team. A busy schedule means limited sleep. Pray for a supernatural rest while we are in the vans as well as in our host homes for the evenings.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4

 

Hope, Healing, and Hot Dogs

Hope, Healing, and Hot Dogs

This past weekend was filled with excitement. NLM released the music video for What Are We Dying For, which I had the privilege of being a part of. The video depicts a ‘post-apocalyptic Sodom and Gomorrah”, and how God’s light is able to reach those who feel trapped in a culture and lifestyle of sin, and can bring true freedom. If you are interested, you can watch the video here.

Saturday was also NLM’s first show for the Summer 2017 tour! As I have shared before, the team has put a lot of work into preparing for the show, so this was a big deal for us. Before we arrived to the city of Cieszyn, Poland, the forecast showed that there was an 80-90% chance of rain all day. Rain can cause some problems for us, since it prevents us from using some of the lighting and electronics we need for the show, and it prevents people from wanting to come to the show. Honestly, who really wants to stand outside in the rain for a couple hours to watch a show? Anyway, I think you get the picture. Rain can literally put a damper on things.

Even though we had this potentially bad news, we knew that we serve a living God who actually responds to prayer. So, there was a strong, tangible hope that our team carried that we would not be rained out. Andrew reminded me of James 5:17, which talks about the prophet Elijah being a man just like us, yet when he prayed and asked for it to not rain, it did not rain for three and a half years! We also met with some of the local church members, and I was so encouraged by their faith and their hearts. They passionately want to see the name of Jesus lifted up in their community, and want to see many come to salvation. When Saturday came, there were scattered showers throughout the day. While we were setting up the stage, we held onto the hope that God would come through.

When it came time for the show to start, the rain had stopped. There was some light drizzle through some of the first couple songs, yet the people who were there stayed. When we gave the crowd the opportunity to respond to the gospel, there were several who raised their hands and prayed with us. One of them was a young man who was drunk and said he felt as though he was ‘getting cleaned’ and that he suddenly had a new part of his heart opened up. I am so encouraged that God is able to reach people, even when we feel discouraged ourselves and we don’t have our own ‘ideal conditions’. We can have a firm hope in this, that God truly is in control and desires the best for us.

The day after the show, we had an after party at a really cool, underground venue. Literally. It was an old cellar beneath the streets of the town center. The people at the concert were invited to join us and hear more about Jesus, ask questions, and get connected with some of the local church members. During the gathering, a young man with a cast on his wrist had come down with his dad. He told a couple of us that he had a certain condition that messed with the muscles in his arm/wrist. He was unable to lift anything over 15 kilograms (33 lbs). We prayed for him, and when we finished, he told us that he had felt a ‘hot energy moving through his arm, wrist, and hand. My Aussie friend, Sass, said, “I reckon you’re healed, bro. I believe the Lord healed you just now, just like we asked. Lets test it out.” So, we found a guitar amp in the room that was about 22 kilos (48 lbs). He began to lift it, almost effortlessly, and was doing repetitions. He said that he could not have done that before, and that there was no pain. Praise God! Again, how INCREDIBLE is it that God listens to us when we talk to Him?!

We left in high spirits. We had a five hour drive home back to Krögis, so we knew it was going to be a long night. Unfortunately, there was miles and miles of backed up traffic on the highway-which spilled over to the side roads as well. Our truck crew took about 15 hours to get back home. It ended up taking us about 8 hours to get home ourselves. Even though that may sound really terrible, we actually had a really fun time bonding. Our van was really filled with joy and just enjoying each others company. I was introduced to what the boys call a ‘sleeve dog’, which is basically a pretty sketchy Polish gas station hot dog that wrapped in bread, not too different than pigs in a blanket. Surprisingly, it was actually very satisfying!
SleeveDog

I am excited for our show tomorrow night here in Krögis and our upcoming shows in Poland all next week. I want to have a heart that is expectant for the Holy Spirit to show up and for God to do huge things. We want to see many saved and touched by Jesus.

Prayer requests:

  1. One of our team members, Ge, has Cellulitis. His leg is slowly healing, but we want the Lord to bring complete healing!
  2. Another team member, Jacob, has had really bad headaches for much of his life. Pray that they will also cease.
  3. We always want prayer for doors to stay open for the shows we have lined up, and for many to come to hear the gospel.
  4. I have some equipment that I’ve been waiting on for some time now, and I’m still unsure of when it will arrive here. Please pray that it would arrive soon.
  5. Continue to pray for boldness for the team as we talk to people about Jesus.

 

“..and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

 

Change and Challenges

Change and Challenges

Greetings from Krögis, Germany! 

Since graduating from IHOPU on the 20th of May, life has been full of excitement and adventure. The day following graduation, I drove up to Minneapolis to meet up with some of the dudes in the band I’ll be joining for the summer, No Longer Music (NLM) to begin rehearsal for tour. Originally, we had been planning on flying to Germany on June 6th, but this date was quickly moved up to May 28th-so I arrived in Germany more than a week than I had originally planned. Although this was a surprise, I wasn’t upset by this sudden change. A huge part of this was due to my absolute love for travel and excitement to get to Germany. However, I know that many sudden changes in life are not enjoyable, and can often be upsetting. Change is usually uncomfortable. Even so, there is hope in knowing that the Lord is very intentional with His timing, and it is perfect. I am reminded daily here that in the area of ministry, we need to be flexible and willing to follow His lead.

 


I am currently working with a team of over 20 young adults from 6 different countries. I absolutely LOVE seeing the diversity of His Bride and am so thankful for those pioneers who took the gospel to countries like Poland, Finland, Brazil, Columbia, and Australia. I can’t imagine what this tour would be like without my brother sisters from the corners of the earth. What an honor and a privilege it is to join with them in advancing the gospel and sharing the love of Jesus with the lost and broken! 

Each day, we meet in the mornings for a quick breakfast followed by a time of reading through Scripture and prayer.

I’ve really come to appreciate this morning routine, having prayer and fellowship being the platform that you launch off of into your day. We then have rehearsal for about 2 and 1/2 hours before lunch, then continue rehearsal for another 4 hours until dinner. As you can imagine, it is definitely a bit draining. (Note: I thought I was in decent shape. I was wrong. Very wrong.) Although it is tiring, it is so encouraging to see progress with the band and to see the show coming together. I was talking with David Pierce, the founder of Steiger International, earlier this week and he said to me, “You didn’t come here to not be challenged. If you’re not challenged, then what’s the point?”

I have been with most of the group for a little over two weeks, and some of them for just over a week. Even in this short amount of time, they feel like family. I have enjoyed hearing their stories and how God has touched them and given them a passion to share the love of Christ with young people throughout the world. In the words of my new friend Tommi from Finland this evening, ‘our time here is a gift’. I am so grateful to be here and am so thankful for all of those who gave much for me to be here. You are a blessing, and I appreciate your partnership with me.



‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen’