27 July 2010

Tosimies / Finnish Christian Men's Magazine

A few posting back I mentioned a surprise that I wanted to share with you. Some of you may have seen this on my Facebook Wall so it is a repeat for you.

It is always interesting to see how God can really surprise and bless us in some interesting or unexpected ways.

Since December 2009, I have been writing articles for a Christian Men's magazine in Finland called Tosimies. ("Tosimies" translates as "Real Men".)  The series of articles are called "Leaving a Legacy". Each article offers step-by-step ideas of how men can minister to and encourage their children.

Every writer wants to see his work published. It helps validate the time you spend working at your craft. When this opportunity came I was understandably excited and knew that God had arranged it. I also understood that it came with a responsibility.

First, to pray and seek God on how and what He wanted me to write. Second, to write with clarity since they are translated into the Finnish language. Cliches and idioms in American English do not translate well in other languages. And third, the ultimate goal was to be a blessing to the Finnish people so they and their children can have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

My First Time
I was excited to visit Finland for the first time this past April. A couple of other guys and I went there to minister. Two of the meetings were for men only and the third was a regular Sunday service. For the first time, I was going to meet the very people that I had been writing the articles for and it was exciting. The meetings went great. The Finnish people were wonderful.

After I returned to Bonn, the publisher of Tosimies, Kimmo Janas, emailed me the June issue of the magazine cover. To my surprise I was on it. Kimmo has a sense of humor and I thought it was just a mock up or a joke. But having fun with it I sent it off to my sons Shawn and William with a funny comment from me. William emailed me back asking if it was real. I actually did not know. I really thought it was joke. But I decided to email Kimmo and ask him if it was or not. Kimmo quickly replied that if I gave him permission, it would be the real cover for the June issue. WOW! Honestly I was shocked and pleased and surprised and... I didn't know what to think. I gave Kimmo permission and emailed Shawn and William that the cover was real.The boys seemed to think it was cool too.

The Finnish Parliament
It has been a blessing to write these articles. But if that was not enough, I had another unexpected surprise. Kimmo told me that copies of magazine are sent to all 200 members of the Finnish Parliament. My hope is that they will read it and bless their children too. 

The Cover Pic
A few weeks ago my hard copy of the magazine came in the mail. Kimmo had done a story about the ministry that happened that April weekend. It featured the team and the churches that we visited.
It reconfirms that God can really do some interesting things for us. He can get things done instantly, when we may struggle with for years trying to accomplish.

This also did something else. For Shawn, William, my grand kids and my close friends in America, it helped confirm the last eight years as a missionary living 5,000 miles away from them

The Story Behind the Cover Picture
In the picture, at the very bottom you see a little girl with her hands up. This happened during my last meeting. I was nearly at the end of my message when this little girl and her little brother ran up the center aisle from the very back of the church and started dancing around in the front.

The little boy quickly jumped on the "kneeler" and then up on the stage. I was caught off guard but was more surprised because after about five minutes nobody did anything to come and get them. Okay seizing the moment, I mentioned again, to the congregation, about  our responsibility to cultivate the "gifts and callings" in our children. I told the audience that obviously the little boy was a future preacher and the little girl a worship leader.The congregation enjoyed that comment. Eventually the kids were retrieved by the parents and the service finished. God sometimes works in mysterious ways. And God is always for us.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe and Asia

More Info:
Tosimies Magazine  www.tosimies-lehti.fi

15 July 2010

You're Gonna Do WHAT?

Today I am going to share with you a non-ministry story that is dedicated to my sons, Shawn and William and grand kids, Antonella, Bradley and Hailey. This story is meant to encourage them and you, to have dreams that are beyond your age and imagined limitations.

Many years ago, on today date, July 14, and at the age of 17 years old, the Federal Aviation Agency check pilot climbed out of my plane and congratulated me on passing my flight test and earning my Private Pilots Certificate. What an achievement. The quest started around May when a high school buddy told me that he had recently started flying lessons at the airport.

We talked about it but I had not considered it even though I lived near the airport. In fact, small planes flew over my house constantly as they entered the traffic pattern to land. Flying a plane? Never really gave them a thought. I wonder if I could do that too. The seed had been planted. Many times after school he and I went to the airport and I watched him take his lessons in a little two place Cessna 150.

The Hurdle
If he can do this so can I. We both came from average middle class families with no extra money for this kind of activity. But a bigger hurdle than the lack of money loomed on my horizon, it was my Italian mother.

Nearly every Friday night my family had a tradition of going to my dad's Elks Club for the Friday Night Fish Fry. I can't tell you the date that I sprung the big question but the event is still vivid in my memory. If the building still existed, I could show you the exact place we were seated.

It Was Time
I can remember the "pin drop" silence that surrounded our table when I announced that I wanted to take flying lessons.

Mind you, I hadn't been a problem kid for my parents. So I earned a lot of freedom at an early age. I also started earning money in the eighth grade collecting money as a parking lot attendant during the always hot Phoenix summers. My drivers license test was passed on my 16th birthday. My already old, all black 1939 Chevrolet two door "Martin Deluxe" was paid for and so was it's gas and insurance. I was a pretty responsible kid.

Back at the dinner table and for the first time in my life that I could remember, my mom was speechless.  I realized that I had stretched the "apron strings" far beyond their limit. Her first response was "You're gonna do WHAT?" Quickly followed by an empathic "NO!". Followed by a third rapid fire declaration, "You can die in those little planes."

The First One to Talk
Then there was the silence. It was another "pin drop" silence time at the table. My dad and sister had the wisdom to stay out of this discussion. The battle was between the typical Italian mother, always favored to win, and the impetuous "you are my only son" teenager. You really have to be Italian, Jewish or come from an other traditional family to understand the dynamics here. With unknown and unearned wisdom on my part, I stayed silent. It was what all good negotiators and sales people know, the first one to talk, looses.

Mom spoke first. She stated what she thought would be the final "death blow" to this idea. And a 16 year old teenager's "not completely thought out" fantasy. She said, "I'm not going to  pay for it." My retort was "You won't have to. I will and I will never ask you for any money." Her response was "If I allow you do this, I am not going to put one dime into it." She knew that this achievement, even in those days, was serious money my family didn't have. My desire overwhelmed logic and I told her, "You won't have too. I will do it all."

Later I realized her refusal to fund the lessons released her from any "blood money guilt" if something really did happen to me. It's Italian mom thinking.

Various odd jobs put money in my pocket for my very first lesson on July 4. Chief Flight Instructor Les Taylor from Saguaro Aviation at Sky Harbor Airport gave me my first lesson in a Cessna 150 which was registered as N1135Y. Funny the things you can remember.

By August 29 and in less than 7 flight hours, I soloed in another Cessna 150, N4219U. One year and ten days later on 14 July I had the first in a series of aviation licenses and ratings. By the way, I just checked the FAA registration and both planes are currently registered and I assume flying. I hope they are not "hanger queens."

My mom never put a dime into any of my flight training. Nobody did. Only the geeky, teenage kid with a strong desire to put the "surely bonds of the earth" below him as often as possible, made it happen. Something that I can always be proud of accomplishing.

My strong willed Italian mom became my biggest fan.To help me build flight time, every now and then, she would gather up her girl friends and arrange to have what pilots call is a $100 hamburger somewhere a couple of flying hours away. They got an expensive burger and I got the flying time. They also could brag about riding in one of those "little airplanes". My dad, on the other hand, was scared to death of flying in anything big or small. He actually went with me on a few local flights but it was not fun for him. But he at least tried doing it a couple of times.

If our desire is strong enough, we can really do anything. It might take longer than we think or hope. It might be in God's timing instead of ours. But it can be done. It CAN happen but we must have the dream to dream.


Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe & Asia

PS. I haven't forgotten my promise to surprise you. It will be in the next posting. It too is a dream fulfilled. This time God fulfilled it.

06 July 2010

The Near Future

The last blog post was too long to add all this info. Here's a quick look at my upcoming schedule.

The month of July, I'm not planning on traveling. I have a ton of "catch up" writing and planning to do, plus just normal stuff that has been delayed.

The month of August I will probably take a short trip to Switzerland to minister there.

In September I'm looking forward to returning to Finland for a week of preaching around the country and at couple of men's meetings. My friend, who is also my publisher, Kimmo Janas, is doing the planning for that trip. It will be great to be back in Finland again.

For October it looks like I'll be in Vienna, Austria for the Fellowship of European International Churches (FEIC) Summit meeting (Assembly of God) www.feic.org again and in Leysin, Switzerland for a few days at the Time of Refreshing Conference with American missionaries.

Also in October, the Europe Advance Team will host another Church Planters Roundtable (CPR) meeting in Germany. I and the other Europe Advance Lead Team members have already started working on that event.

For November, I'm praying and believing God for the finances to attend a Leadership meeting with a couple of German pastors at Pastor Bill Johnson's Bethel Church in Redding, California. www.iBethel.org I'm really looking forward to visiting this church for the first time. Everyone I know that has gone has been blessed.

Since I would be in the U.S. already I might be able to have a early Thanksgiving with my sons and their families. This would be the first Thanksgiving we would have together in many years.

I recently received an interesting blessing that only God could do. I'll share it with you in the next blog posting.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe & Asia

Further Info:

Fellowship of European International Churches

Europe Advance

Bethel Church

Travel, Travel, Travel

Travel, travel, travel but I'm not complaining. I am fulfilling my promise to update you on some of what has happened since my last impromptu blog posting in the McDonalds in Malmo, Sweden.

At the International Church in Malmo, I shared about every adult's responsibility to spiritually minister and nurture all of our children. It was well received and I look forward to being able to return and share more. I almost had an impromptu chance to record a radio show that the church sponsors on a local Malmo station but the timing just didn't work with the producer's schedule. We talked about doing it sometime in the future.

Since we were not going to record the radio program and I was so tired from all the travel the previous months, it was time to head home after church. The trip only took 10 hours but it was still a long day but at least I was home. I arrived just a little past midnight Sunday.

Christian Men's Network Meeting / Delft, Holland
By Friday I was on my way to a two day CMN meeting in Delft. Honestly, I really didn't want to leave town again after only being home for four days from Sweden, even if it was only a 3 hour drive. But I needed to attend if I wanted to be able to be part of leading the same type "Maximized Manhood" meeting in the future.

My Indonesian/Dutch friends and I had lunch with Indonesian, Pastor Eddy Leo. Pastor Eddy led the meetings. This man has a heart of gold and pastors a mega church in Jakarta. www.abbalove.org He strongly believes in and demonstrates the importance of church "Life Groups" and marketplace ministry. Because of the political and religious situation in Indonesia, his church is completely dependent on both of these ministry opportunities to reach the people of Indonesia.

Since this meeting was a Indonesian men's meeting in The Netherlands, the translations got interesting. Pastor Eddy preached in Indonesian, which was translated into Dutch, which was then translated into to English, by a South African guy. Talk about an "international" meeting.

It was great to participate in these meetings. The Holy Spirit really ministered to all the men including me. This was one rare time that I didn't take any pictures of really anything and it was okay. For me, it was a time to sit and receive.

Sunday morning I headed to Hilversum, The Netherlands and Pastor Sebastiaan Van Wessem's, 1000 Hills Church. www.thousandhills.cc Sebastiaan is part of the Europe Advance Church Planting Lead Team. www.europeadvance.org. Sebastiaan has a terrific church of about 300. The people are alive, joyful and seem to love life. Of course the day before, Holland unexpectedly won their soccer game and moved through to the next round of the World Cup Soccer tournament, that didn't hurt the environment.

After the Sunday service, I met with Dr. Edmae Chandoe. Edmae has offered to help the Europe Advance team in the administrative area. She is clearly "over qualified" for the job. Edmae leads her own strategy and planning company in The Netherlands. www.sbi.nl We discussed her future role and defined some areas of immediate need for the EA Team. It will be great working with her.

After the previous 15 & 10 hour road trips, the short 3 hour trip back home seemed too short. I just barely got "settled" in before arriving back at my apartment. There was one big benefit I failed to mention in the long road trips, I got caught up on listening to a backlog of teaching CD's I've wanted to hear to for a year. A long road trip does have it's benefits.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe & Asia

Further Info:

Pastor Eddy Lou

Pastor Sebastiaan van Wessem

Europe Advance

Dr. Edmae Chandoe