Fixing Your Eyes

focusHeb. 12:2 (NIV)

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

It all starts and ends with Jesus.  It’s that simple.  He is the only one that deserves the consistent focus of our eyes.  That seems more and more critical these days for us.  During this season of support raising and running in multiple directions at once, for work, ministry and all the other family circumstances we have going on, fixing our eyes on any one thing seems impossible sometimes.

We are tempted to focus on our support numbers; or on the waiting or other times we want to focus on our family and friends that we’re around here in Pittsburgh for at least another 7 months.  However this verse… this verse… reminds my heart to come back home.  Jesus wants my eyes.  Jesus deserves my eyes.  He wants me to set my heart focus on him as my true north in the midst of other competing circumstances.  Ironically though, He is the ONLY ONE worthy of that kind of focus in my life and when I do that, I find that the other things that I was so concerned about, he takes care of anyway. The true test is whether or not I am willing to trust Him to handle all those other things for me as I learn to fix my eyes on Him.

Refreshed by Friendship!

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Philemon 1:7

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”
Allow me to introduce you all to some of our friends from Brazil or I mean Chicago, well actually both. You see the Lopes Family were our downstairs neighbors for 4 years while we were in Seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and we couldn’t have had better.  Just recently they began their trip East to sight-see and they made our place the first stop.  How blessed and refreshed we were by their visit. We love these guys so much and they are precious to our family.  Cesar, Amanda and their daughters Louisa and Giovanna were great friends with our boys and they share many memories together. Cesar is completing his Doctorates this Fall and then the family will be moving back to South America in December.  His focus has largely been on Missions and appropriately so. Over the years, we have learned so much from our friends and we expect to keep learning from them.  We praise God for this family and we’re thankful to have been encouraged by them as we work and pray toward going to Latin America ourselves
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Pittsburgh had an effect on our friends as well! (:

A Quick Praise!

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Well we are now up to (59% of Start-Up & 42% of On-Going) but the coolest part about our recent praise is about how we see God writing this story for us!  

I can honestly say, that through my eleven years of youth ministry at my two churches in Pittsburgh and Chicago, I never imagined that several of our former students would end up being some of the supporters that God would gather around us to send us out to the mission field!  What a cool and peculiar testimony of God’s grace!

God is marshaling His people to support us from a variety of places and each one of them has been a precious blessing to us in unique ways.   If only we could tell you what it does to our spirits every time we see one more behind us as a part of Team Fowler. What a solemn joy it is to be carried and cradled in the hollow of His hands! – Glory to God!

 Compelled & Convinced (2 Cor. 5:14-15), 

– Jon Fowler

She’s MY Sister!

Two of the women that God has used most to shape me into a clearer reflection of his Son, Jesus!
Two women God has used regularly in my life to shape me into a more clear reflection of Christ, for His Glory! – Jon Fowler

Typically you get permission to write something public about someone other than yourself but I figure bragging about your sister serves as an exception to the rule and besides, I’ve been in trouble with her before – it’s not so bad! (:

Let me start by saying, my sister Esther (Fowler) Theonugraha and I are almost 2 years apart in age. Most of our lives people have assumed she is older than me because of how much more mature she often acts but in fact I am the oldest – don’t be easily fooled (: For reasons like this and because of our close ages I will admit that for many years we have had a somewhat “turbulent” relationship at times, (I.E. we haven’t always gotten along!).

It hasn’t been until our adult years that I have really begun to appreciate who my sister is and who she is becoming. Our families living near each other in Chicago and attending the same great church for our 4 years of seminary greatly helped with this. I had the chance to observe the capable, loving wife and mother that she is. I watched her be a leader in our church full of passion for the Word of God and developing others with a similar passion. I also personally benefitted, tremendously from her help and insights through my Seminary class work since she was my best proofreader and academic advisor without question. I can say with absolute confidence that Jesus Christ is using her and will continue to use her to do powerful things for the Kingdom of God.

Most recently Esther was one of just a few people asked to help with a Theology conference held just for women at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I am not surprised that they would ask her to play a part in this but I am glad that others had the chance to see and hear for themselves how much she has to offer the Body of Christ with all that she has learned and lived for the Lord. I am not writing this to embarrass her or to call undue attention to my sister, although I know she will probably read (or proofread) this eventually and want to kill me!  I just want to acknowledge the work that I see the Lord accomplishing in and through her because what she does is valuable and critical for the Church. Praise the Lord.

Esther on the Panel at the Women's Theology Conference...clearly in thought (:
Esther on the Panel at the Women’s Theology Conference…clearly in thought (:

As Bianca and I get closer and closer to serving the Lord again in a full-time ministry capacity with every bit of support that comes in to get us to Panama, I see the Lord doing a lot of other great things all around us and often even inside our own family. The glory is God’s and it’s always worth pointing out the good things He does!  AMEN.

– Jon Fowler

Just Sayin’!

Thank You

We are so thankful for all of you and we just felt this was overdue!  We are so thankful for all your prayers and your sacrifices and gifts.  It is difficult to express how grateful we are to the churches and people who have gotten behind us so far and encouraged us. We could not do all that we are doing now or hope to do in the future without each of you holding us up and being wiling to invest Kingdom resources to make this happen.  It is an honor to have you all as partners in this.  – Jon & Bianca

PHIL. 1:3-4

3 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy”

Brothers

A few years ago Bianca and I made our two oldest boys memorize Psalm 133:1 which says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” We have made them recite it at times when they were fighting each other in the hope that they would someday understand that they can be more than brothers, but they can be friends as well. This video reminded us of the kind of powerful love that is possible between two brothers! Check It Out.

Times & Dates

Acts 1:7

“He told them ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”

It’s sure nice to know we’re not the first to wonder about God’s timing?  We are so eager to know when things will happen and many of you have asked us similar type questions.   While we can’t know specific dates yet, we can summarize some of the benchmarks that we know are coming:

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In dollar facts, this means we need approx. $6000 more per month for our On-Going and approx. $23,000 more to finish our Start-Up fund.  If you wonder where the numbers come from or what they represent please see our Support FAQ’s Here.  The bottom line is that all of us should always give only as the Lord leads us to and for no other reason (2 Cor. 9:7).  Our giving amounts may be different in size but the blessing is the same for all of us when we obey God.   In the end we know it’s all from the Lord anyway and we are just amazed that he chooses to use us in His Grand Plan.

Right now at 35% of our On-Going and 56% of our Start-Up, we are so encouraged but when we reach 50% for our On-Going fund it will be a new level of excitement because of the big things that happen.  If you are interested in helping us get there, here are some ways you may want to help:

  1. Pray for us to be patient and for God to bring in the support as we wait.
  2. Connect us to people or churches that might be interested in talking with us.
  3. Host get-togethers that could give us a chance to share with groups about our vision.
  4. Pray about committing to give personally to our On-Going fund.  If you’ve already given but you think you may give again next year, then you would be included in our On-Going supporters, if you simply let us know of your intentions.

Whatever may happen and whenever, thank you for walking with us on this amazing journey! – The Fowlers

A Face Like Flint

ISAIAH 50:7

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.


Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.” Image

Wow! Where are the Isaiah’s today?  This Old Testament prophet that lived near 700 B.C. has something to teach us about commitment andresolve!  I am talking about when things get tough, God’s people STAY IN THE STRUGGLE because God stays IN THE STRUGGLE!   It’s not about arrogance but about the confidence that God will help you do what he has called you to do, and we need only the faith to stay in it.   

I love the picture of a “Face Like Flint” because flint is a stone with properties so tough that people have used it to make other tools for thousands of years.  It is so tough that you can scrape it against metal and start fires with the sparks it makes. Could you imagine that you are so committed to the job or calling that God has given to you that someone could make a fire off your face?  Or maybe you could get the picture of God using your toughness to make other tools for him!  I know it sounds extreme and I’m kinda being silly – but only sorta.  In ministry, as in life we desperately need to see more of the kind of resolve and stern faced commitment that Isaiah was talking about here.  Not because of how tough we are but how true our God is to us!  As for the Fowler Family, we are in it but what has God called you to?

What If We Had Asked For More?

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Our son Ethan demonstrating his trust in Dad’s work about 3 years ago!

So I was thinking about building something but before I tell you what it is, I have to tell the story and forgive me if this makes this post a little longer.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking, “How does Jon have the time to build anything, when he is working part-time, raising support for the mission field and doing life as a family?” or you might just be thinking, “Is Bianca ok with this?” Both are understandable, if that’s the case and I will admit up front that my building inspirations haven’t always had the best timing, which Bianca can attest to.  (:

Anyway, There’s this problem that I’ve been noticing lately and recently it occurred to me…I could probably just build something to help fix it though I would need resources.   This happened to me before when we lived at Trinity and I built a small bridge in front of our apartment to get over a gully that kept flooding with water.  It bothered me for almost 2 years before I actually built the bridge to literally “get over it”.  I built it during the week of finals and I used money I’d been given for my birthday to get the wood and as far as I know, its still there.

Now normally I’m not that ambitious unless I just can’t take it anymore, like with the bridge story. Usually if I just wait long enough, common sense will grab me and talk me out of it because of all the time, money and energy it will require or I just put it on my “someday” list; which is practically the same thing as forgetting about it.  With this new thing I wanted to build I didn’t have the chance to do either.

Before the inspiration fizzled, I ran into a guy that I know who doesn’t live too far from me.  We were making small talk and in the process I mentioned what I was thinking about building.  To my surprise the same problem was bugging him.  In fact he agreed it was such an issue that he even offered to help!  He promised right then to supply me with the resources I needed and even to have them delivered directly!  I was shocked and had no words.  If you know me, you know that that is a shock in itself!  All I could say was “Thanks and that would be great!” Looking back now, I wish I would’ve said a little more but I think I was still just wondering if he was really serious! Even though he never acted like he was joking.  When I walked away I remember thinking that that was either the coolest thing that’s happened in a long time or a really sick joke and all he asked for was a list of what I still needed.

I didn’t wait. When I got to my car I started typing out on my phone what I still needed to actually go forward with the plans.  I was trying to be conservative though cause I didn’t want to push his generosity too far, so I tried to stay basic.   I emailed my list to him quickly because I wanted him to know that I was taking him serious.  He fired back right away and said that he would get it to me ASAP!!!  I couldn’t believe this guy was actually helping me out like this.  Who does that sorta thing?

The stuff showed up just a little while later exactly like I’d asked for it and I realized that I had just enough to do what I had planned.  I got working and things were actually wrapped up even faster than I’d expected.  Yet even after I finished, I was still so blown away by what had happened that I decided to stop by and thank my friend for his help.  When I got to his place, he came out to say Hi.  As we talked we walked around to his back yard.  That was when I noticed that he actually had several, unusually large barns in back; so I couldn’t resist asking him what he kept in them.  Instead of telling me, he just took me to the closest one.  When he opened the door, I got my next big shock, because from wall to wall, he had tons of stockpiled building supplies and the other barns had more of the same!  No wonder he could get what I needed so easily.

My gratitude turned into mild self-disappointment.  My little request must’ve been nothing to him.  Here I was trying to conserve because I thought I would stretch him but it probably didn’t even make a dent in one corner of one barn.  The longer we stood there talking, I started thinking of how nice it would’ve been if I had had a few extra pieces to work with or how much more I could have made If I had no concern of running out.   Finally I couldn’t take it any longer, I just asked, trying not to sound ungrateful, why he only had delivered what he did if he had had so much in his barns.  He just smiled kindly and said, “It was all you asked for.”

OK, I know by now that you probably figured out that I’m not talking about an actual structure.   I’m talking about the Church–His Church made up of His people, which Christ wants to build through people like you and I.

The scenario above haunts me.  Though this story didn’t actually take place, I have a personal real fear of getting to the end of my life and finding out that if I had just trusted God a little bit more or if I had only had the courage to dream bigger dreams for Him or if I had dared to believe His Word for what it actually says then we would have built many greater things with our short lives here on this earth.  Yet, we continue to doubt his ability, or imagine his resources to be limited or suppose that He’s not concerned with our affairs for some reason.  Yet we have less of a reason to do so, than anyone because we know He owns it all.   May we refuse to get to heaven someday and say to ourselves “What if we had only ___?” or “If only we had truly believed everything he said.”

With that in mind Bianca and I have started dreaming.

Our personal dreams and prayers are that God will send us all that we need in people, money and other resources to build up His church in Panama from his eternal supply.  We’re asking Him to make Panama the future Missionary-sending center of Latin America because of the sheer overwhelming numbers of healthy, biblical churches that will someday be there by His Grace working through us.   We invite you to pray that with us too but may you also consider how God could build up his Church through you wherever you are and remember – ask for much because He has that and more.