03 November 2011

Last Month's Activities

October was a busy ministry month with a lot going on in many areas. Two annual meetings that I look forward to attending were the "Time of Refreshing" Conference in Leysin, Switzerland and the "Fellowship of International Churches Pastor's Summit near Vienna, Austria. Sandwiched in between these meetings was my Europe Advance, Church Planters Roundtable in Zurich. 

Time of Refreshing

The TOR "Class" of 2011
The "Time of Refreshing" Conference was attended by American missionaries living and ministering in Europe. Attendance was a bit down from previous years because of the economy. Many missionaries have left Europe this past year because of the loss or serious reduction of support to keep them on the mission field. I have experienced this challenge first hand this year. This was an on-going topic of discussion at the meeting together this year.

This conference is an annual blessing to American missionaries by providing a few days of "R & R" at no cost to them. Their room & board is paid by gracious donors from America. The only financial responsibility the missionaries have is to pay for their transportation to and from Leysin. Sometimes you just need a break in the middle of the battle. The Time of Refreshing Conference in Leysin provides one of those times.

Europe Advance / Church Planters Roundtable
Pastor Joe Champion
TOR ended on Friday morning and I drove to down from the Swiss Alps to Zurich to get the Europe Advance, Church Planters Roundtable (CPR) meeting ready. I transitioned from "attendee" to "Lead Team Member" as I helped get the CPR meeting ready to welcome Europe's future church planters.

Pastor Joe Champion, from Celebration Church, in Austin, Texas, was our guest speaker for the weekend meetings. Pastor Joe spoke extensively on the spiritual preparation aspect of church planting. He gave some great insights into what he found had to be done in order to have a successful church plant. We had 20+ potential church planters attend, who came from Germany, Switzerland, France, Netherlands and even a pastor from St. Petersburg, Russia.

FEIC Pastor's Summit
With the CPR finished, next up was a short flight from Zurich to Vienna for the Fellowship of European International Churches, Pastor's Summit. The ride from the Vienna airport to the Gutenstein, in the Austrian Alps was less than a two hours. Once you get off the autobahn and into the mountain roads, the scenery  turns incredible. The Fall colors were showing at the higher elevations. It was just beautiful driving through some of the small Austrian villages surrounded by the brilliantly colored leaves and pastoral meadows. God's creation is just amazing.

We had just under 50 missionary pastors attend representing their international churches all over Europe. International churches are defined as churches that have individual church services not only in the local language but other languages also. They use the same facilities at other times and days to reach those specific people groups in their own mother tongue. Most of the pastors are from the Assembly of God missions group but FEIC is open to connecting with anyone building God's Kingdom in Europe.

This was my third year to attend and every year there is a different "texture" to the meetings. This year it seems that many were in transition and saw the transition as completing the next step in God's plan for their lives and ministries. We had two worship teams come and bless us, one from Louisiana and the other from Florida. Both were "dialed-in" to the Holy Spirit and led us in tremendous praise and worship. Our prayer times were intense and so were the fun times. It was a great meeting. It was great to build new relationships inside this group every year.
Lawrence Blakeslee sharing at FEIC

Pastor Terry Hoggard asked me to share with the group about the goals of Europe Advance had for building the Kingdom. Plus, I was able to share about my new project that God has been "percolating" in my heart for the children's pastors and children's workers in Europe. I'll share more about it soon.

Overall, the trip was intense, effective, beneficial and worth the lack of sleep until I got back home and slept in my own bed. (We all understand this one don't we.)

The Upcoming New Year
It's hard to believe that we are at the threshold of a new year. Amazing to realize how fast time flies for all of us.It is going to be an exciting time for the Body of Christ to rise up in 2012. As people and nations recognize the fragility of countries, governments, economic systems and the easy loss of individual freedom. God is there, stable and available to get all of us through every test and trial, if we ask Him.

Blessings from Bonn,
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe & Asia

For More Information:

Europe Advance / European Church Planting
Fellowship of European International Churches
Pastor Joe Champion / Celebration Church
Power House Church

11 October 2011

Meeting in Malmo

Last month, I ministered at International Christian Fellowship Church in Malmo, Sweden. The City of Malmo is located just 10 miles or 14 km from Copenhagen, Denmark. While in Malmo, At the same time, I was invited to do a couple of radio shows on a Christian radio station in Malmo. This FM station broadcasts programs in English is also heard  in Copenhagen and streamed on the Internet.

It was a quick, busy and powerful weekend. It started at 3:00a.m Saturday morning with an hour plus drive from home to Dusseldorf airport. In the European Union no flights depart before 06:30a.m.. As I entered the airport terminal it was a real surprise to see literally a thousand people standing in two lines approaching the first security checkpoint. The line moved along okay as they checked tickets before the detailed screening. It's only a little over an hour flight to Copenhagen. Upon arrival it was down to the train platform for the short ride to Malmo. One of the best things about traveling in Europe is the combined inter-connected transportation modes at every airport.

Producer Mats Jonsson (L)and Larry Blakeslee (R)
My friend Mats Jonsson picked me up and drove me to the hotel to check-in and then off to the radio station to record the programs. Being at Europorten FM 89.2 radio station brought back old memories when I worked in broadcasting years ago in Arizona. I met Producer Juliene Munts who was going to interview me for the first show. The interview show was a mix of talk and music. We discussed how parents can leave a legacy for their children if they will train their children on how to have a relationship with God.

After the first show, Juliene and Mats, who is also producer asked me to do an unplanned third show. The second and third shows were just me sharing more about a legacy and my heart about the potential God has placed in our children. We arrived at the radio station at 11:00a.m. and left at 4:00p.m.. It was a long day for me since it started at 3:00a.m.. I needed a nap and needed to get some quiet time to prepare for the day's Sunday service.

International Christian Fellowship Church, Malmo, Sweden
Sunday was another great day. The English and Filipino churches decided to have a combined service. The Filipino's did worship and I spoke. For a couple of years now, God has kept my messages focused on parents being proactively engaged in the spiritual training of their children. When I am doing a men's meeting it really becomes focused on a dad's responsibilities to be the spiritual head of the house. I covered both of these topics in this service and prayed for the sick at the end.

After church, Mats and his family and then Juliene and her family hung out with me until it was time to reverse the travel process and then fly back to Dusseldorf. I finally got back home at 12:30a.m. Monday morning. It was long and productive weekend.

As busy as it was for me, I really enjoyed all of it. The people at International Christian Fellowship Church were incredible. I am always thankful when the Holy Spirit shows up either at a church service or at a radio station. My hope is some children's lives will be changed because their parents recognizing the need to step up in this area of their children's lives.

It's great to see good parents taking care of the natural needs of their children but also important to provide "spiritual nutrition" also.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe and Asia

Additional Info:
International Christian Fellowship Church  
Europorten Radio FM 89.2

11 September 2011

911 Ten Years Ago

Today all of us remember the precise place we were at and what we were doing when we heard about the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

My parents often recalled the attack of Pearl Harbor with vivid detail. I can recall the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and now like many others, 911.

For me, the event six years and a few minutes ago, found me in the middle of a second day of teaching business strategy and organization at a ministry called Christian Adventures International in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Most of the small C.A.I. staff were gathered in the conference room, when I think, the bookkeeper ran in and interrupted the meeting to tell us that a plane had hit the WTC. Some how in my heart I knew this was not an aircraft accident.

We quickly found a small black & white television, pulled up the rabbit ears antenna, plugged it in and set it up to see if we could get more info. While watching, we saw the second plane hit the second tower and I then really knew that this was no accident but a terrorist attack.

The entire staff of C.A.I. gathered around the conference room and we began to pray and intercede for the victims. Lesley McNulty, the co-founder of the ministry, shared with us a story that had happened a few weeks earlier. She and her husband Kevin were returning on an overseas flight to land at Atlanta Hartsfield airport. Just before reaching the coastline of America, she had a vision of a dark cloud covering the eastern seaboard of the U.S.. It now seems that we were seeing, in real time, the prophetic vision The Lord had given her. It all made sense now.

At that time I was still working for DHL Worldwide Express and knew we had a facility in the WTC. I wanted to check on a very close work friend Debbie Sweeney who worked right across the Hudson River at one of the DHL facilities located in New Jersey.

Later in the day, I called her and found out she was okay. I will never forget the fear and terror I heard in her voice, as she described what she had seen from the New Jersey side of the Hudson river.

Debbie related to watching the fire and smoke rise across the Hudson River and ultimately seeing the buildings fall. Dealing with the masses of people that were evacuating the New York City on foot across any bridge or tunnel that would get take them.

She also mentioned that the DHL office at WTC was okay with no loss of life since the office was located in a side building on the WTC complex, not in the twin towers.

Being caught on the other side of the country from my home in Arizona, I didn't know what to really do. Flights were all cancelled for days. The westbound train was already booked for the next two weeks. They were not selling tickets even on a "standing room only" basis. Rental cars were not available to drive from Florida to Arizona without and incredible drop-off penalty. Or they not allowed to leave the Florida entirely. I was to sit still.

That night at the McNulty's home we watched the replay of the planes crashing into to buildings, them falling and the people fleeing from the falling debris. It felt like a never ending nightmare. We were all just numb.

By Saturday, Southwest Airlines announced they would have limited flights available. I decided it was time to try to get a flight back to Phoenix. One of my problems was that I had flown out to Florida on an Interline ticket from DHL. This was like a "Buddy Pass" but for airline employees. I would be the last one to be able to get on the flight after all the paying passengers had been accommodated.

To be honest, it was with some in trepidation that I wanted to fly anywhere. But it was time to return home and I believed the Holy Spirit would guide my steps. If I wasn't to be on that particular flight, I wouldn't board it.

The only way to explain the atmosphere in Orlando International airport was tense or nervous. Absolutely everyone was looking at everyone else with fear and suspicion. The ticket agents and the boarding personnel watched the waiting passengers for anything out of the ordinary. We watched each other.

Since this was one of the first flights of Southwest Airlines moving from the east coast to the west, no one really knew when it was actually going to arrive. It had only been earlier in the morning that SWA knew that they were going to be able to have any limited repositioning flights.

We all waited patiently in the boarding area for what would end up being about four hours. We had no choice. No one was going to say complain about anything. The atmosphere was much to tense to want to cause someone to "notice" you.

The plane arrived from it's point of origin about ninety minutes late but no one complained. Everyone just wanted to get home. The SWA ticket agents began the process of finally handing out our plastic colored and numbered boarding passes. They had withheld them until they were absolutely sure we had flight was going out.

Amazingly, I was able to board nearly at the beginning of the loading process. I'll never forget the looks of concern from the flight attendants at the jet's door. Since I was one of the first, the plane was virtually empty when I started down the aisle to pick my seat.

I went about a third of the way down the aisle and picked a row of seats on the plane's left side. I sat down in the aisle seat and immediately jumped back up. It seemed as soon as I my butt hit the seat, I knew I was not to sit there. My reaction was so quick and startling to me, that I noticed even the flight attendant become startled at my action. Remember, everyone was nervous and on edge for anything unusual. What I did was clearly unusual and hard to explain.

Yet, I grabbed my bag from the overhead locker and slowly moved down the aisle. When I got to the back third of the plane, I took a seat on the plane's right side and the aisle seat again.

The plane loaded uneventfully. The plane was nearly full but no one had joined me in my row. I had two empty seats next to me. A married couple were nearly the last to enter the plane an naturally, they wanted to sit together on this flight. Their hope of sitting together wained as they walked down the aisle. Strangely, every seat was taken, except for the two next to me. They couldn't believe their eyes when they saw these two open seats together.

The plane was eerily quiet even fully loaded. No one was speaking. If they did it was in muted tones or whispers. My guess was that everyone thought there was a possibility that they might die on this flight.

I got up from my seat to allow the couple to enter the row and we all settled down, buckled up and waited for the push back and engine start. It was very still on the plane. No babies crying, no restless children, no noise.

As we taxied to the active runway, we were cleared for take-off immediately. After all, there was very little traffic on the airport or in the air. We were only one of a handful of flights in the area.

As the pilot ran up the engines to full power for take-off, I noticed the woman next to me tightly holding her husband's hand. I also "knew" or sensed that she was praying even though you couldn't hear her. Probably many people were praying even if they had never done so before.

We were airborne and the flight attendants started to pass out snacks and drinks. Still, the normal humor and easy going style of the SWA flight attendants was missing. The passengers also were still subdued.

As we made progress across the country, I noticed that the lady sitting next to me was reading a Dr. Dobson newsletter. Yes, she was obviously a Christian. Yes, she was praying during take-off. I mentioned the newsletter and she engaged me in conversation. We established that we were all Christians. She mentioned that it was amazing to find two seats together for her and her husband.

I told her my side of the story on how it came to be. We agreed that God had a plan for us. This row of seats were "reserved" for us.

The couple departed the flight at Austin, Texas, our only stop on the way to Phoenix. During the flight we talked about things Christians all talk about. Just before they left, we exchanged business cards with the promise to keep in touch. And although it has been a little more time in between contacts, we still stay in touch and they receive my First Step Ministry newsletter. In fact she is part of the First Step Ministries prayer team.

Over time, everyone on the flight seemed to loosen up a bit and relax. My continued flight and arrival in Phoenix was uneventful. It was good to be home and back to normal. But it seemed to me that fear and sadness from this event, hit everyone on the east coast much more than the west coast.

For me this event will be one of those times in my life that I will never forget.

And today, as in every year since I have been in Germany, on the anniversary of 911, my American flag flies from my balcony here in Germany.

Never Forget

Rev. Larry Blakeslee

02 August 2011

Christian: Proud & Available

The below is an article I just wrote for the August issue of the Finnish Christian Men's magazine, Tosimies. I think it has relevance not only in Finland but the Western culture here in Europe and America.


Christian: Proud & Available
By Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee

Recently, a Christian organization in America that works on university campuses announced that it was going to remove the word “Christ” from their organization’s name. The reason given was that it would be easier to reach out to non-Believers if “Christ” was not part of their name. Of course I do not agree with that thinking and I do not think the Bible does either.

Matthew 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. NIV

Jesus tells us not to deny Him but He was not afraid to challenge someone either. There is a fine line between being offensive and standing on what you believe. If we are embarrassed to admit we are a Christian, we are in trouble. If you purpose to hide your faith for the sake of being politically correct, you are also in trouble.

“Political Correctness” has taken a dominant role in Western culture. The “PC” culture does not allow you to express any strong beliefs or convictions of any kind that could remotely offend anyone else. It does not matter that your belief or view point might be in the majority. In the “politically correct world” those in the minority seem to have more “rights” than you do.

Is it politically correct to be Christian? Do people know that you are a Christian? Can they tell by the way you live your life? I am not talking about being offensive. I am talking about how you live your private and public life? How you treat your children and wife? How you get along with your co-workers? How do you handle a crisis in your life?

Everyone has challenging times in their lives whether they are a Christian or not. When people see that you handle it with God given peace in your heart, people can see it. They may not understand it but they see it the results of it. Some non-Believers might ask and based on the following scripture, God wants you to be ready to share it with them.

It reads: 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… NIV

More than confronting or condemning someone about their life style, we can effectively evangelize our small part of the world by being an ambassador for Christ on this earth. We can be available to help others, offer prayer or support them in their crisis. Be ready to tell them how a personal relationship with Jesus has helped and changed you.

Just the other day, a new Believer, who had been completely “unchurched” all of their lives, told me how they became a Christian because a co-worker had seen the deep depression they were suffering because of the death of her mother. The Christian co-worker simply gathered up the courage to ask them to attend church with them just one time. The non-Believer did and she and the Holy Spirit seized that moment to help her. It was all God needed to make a permanent change in that person’s life. Eighteen months later, the new Believer’s family saw the change in her life and asked about going to church with the new Believer. Do not hide but be ready to share the hope that God has freely given to you, with others in their time of need. Besides how are people going to know that there are solutions to life’s problems? How are they going to hear about the promise of eternal salvation in heaven?

And finally, as parents, do our children see us living our Christian life openly? Do they see us reach out to our friends and neighbors who are in crisis and stand by them during their challenges? Do our children see us praying and asking our Heavenly Father for direction when we have challenges in life?

Someone you currently know or might meet in the future might see the hope and peace that God has freely given you. Be ready to tell them. And do not worry about what to say to them. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and He will. Also do not be afraid to allow your children or grand children see you live it and share it. It will bring great rewards for you.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

Information Links
Tosimies Magazine

07 June 2011

Favor In Finland

Espoo Pentecostal Church
A couple of weeks ago I returned to Bonn from ministering in the Metro Helsinki area of Finland. I was there for ten days and had the opportunity to minister at seven different meetings. This was my third trip to Finland in a twelve months. Each trip has been more and more productive. God clearly has given me favor with the Finnish people. My meetings ranged from house church meetings, Christian Businessmen Meetings to Sunday morning services.

One of my scheduled "free days" from preaching was spent in a four hour meeting with a couple of local Pentecostal pastors who are considered pretty influential in the Pentecostal circles. They are great guys. We found out that we had mutual friends though out the world which proves again what a small world it really is.

Larry and translator Kalevi Pohjalaat, at the Espoo Church
What's interesting to me is that I minister in as many Lutheran churches as Pentecostal churches and I love it. God has given me favor in both camps.

"Roman Bapti-Costal"
All of my Christian "walk" I've been able to cross denominational "boundaries" and I count it a great blessing. Guess it might be because I am a "Roman Bapti-Costal". Let me explain, I grew up Roman Catholic, got my foundation in a Baptist church and became a Pentecostal. I don't care how it happens. What's important is finding the common denominator Jesus and the Bible, no matter what Christian denomination.

I probably ought to correct my "Roman Bapti-Costal" to read something different. When I was chatting with one of the pastors in Finland, we were talking about our backgrounds. As I was talking about mine, I realized that the first actual Protestant church I regularly attended was a Swedish Lutheran church on Bel-Red Road in Redmond, Washington. So would that make me a "Roman Swedi-Luther-Bapti-Costal"? I guess so but what a mouthful.

3,000 of My Closest Biker Friends
Once in while God blesses us with a really fun ministry thing to do. On this trip it was to ride with the Espoo Chapter of the Gospel Riders of Finland to the unofficial motorcycle season opening rally in Turku, Finland.

During my time in Finland last September 2010, I used a translator named Mika Saarinen, who also happened to be the National President of the Gospel Riders of Finland. We started talking about motorcycles and I mentioned that years ago I used to ride a BMW when I lived in America. He suggested that I come back to Finland in May 2011 and go on a national ride. I already knew I was coming back for some already scheduled meetings during that same time but I didn't have a motorcycle to ride. He offered his BMW immediately and arranged for me to borrow some riding stuff. So not wanting to "hurt his feelings", I "accepted immediately". After all it was the only "polite" thing to do. Anyway, I had no idea what I had agreed to.
Literally 3,000 riders at the Turku Sports Center

Mika mentioned that riders from all over Finland would ride to Turku and gather at the local Sports Center. Then they would ride as a parade to Lieto, a small town nearby and attend a Drive-In Church Service at a local Lutheran Church. Sounds like fun. He mentioned that we would pass out tracts and "Biker Bibles" to those who wanted them. Sounds great.

Just a few days before I was to depart for Helsinki on this trip, I emailed Mika and asked him for some details on the motorcycle ride. He replied that it would involve about a 185 mile round trip ride and that they were expecting about 1,000 bikes to show up. I thought the number in his email was a typo. He confirmed it again. WoW! As it turned out the local news reported 2,000 bikes, 3,000 riders and about 1,000 spectators that lined the highway from the city of Turku to Lieto, 8 miles.

The 31st Year of the Drive-In Church Service
The Turku Rally and Drive-In Church service originated 31 years ago. Not all riders are Believer's but nearly all of them rode to the church for the outdoor service. It took about 90 minutes to get all 3,000 bikes moved from the Turku Sports Center to the church.

Praise & Worship filled the air of the parking lot as all the bikes filed in to park. Once everyone arrived, the service began. We heard a sermon, some scriptures and it ended with Communion being served to anyone that wanted to partake.

About 200 of the 1,000 members of the Gospel Riders of Finland came to the event. We passed out tracts and the Biker Bibles as we engaged in casual conversation usually centered around our common bond, motorcycles.

Communion being served both inside and the parking lot.
It was an incredible, once in a lifetime event to attend. I will never forget seeing so many bikes in a parking lot, all wheel to wheel and handlebar to handlebar. It was amazing. The Gospel Riders started 30 years ago and now have country chapters in Estonia, Switzerland, Spain and in Jerusalem.

This ride turned out to be the beginning of a terrific ten days in Finland. Fortunately or unfortunately it also re-awakened my love for motorcycles.

God continues to amaze me as He uses me to speak for Him to these people and country that loves Him. It is truly a blessing.

I continue to write my magazine articles for the Finnish Christian Men's magazine, Tosimies. The series on Leaving a Legacy has been published for 18 months now. The June issue will also include a two page article written and photographed by me on Turku motorcycle ride.

The patch says it all.

This translates to "Lord, help me to choose the right road."

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe & Asia

For Additional Info:

Finnish Christian Men's Magazine


05 June 2011

Nine Years

On 3 June, I celebrated my ninth year in Europe. I arrived at Bonn/Cologne Airport with luggage and extra baggage that was not shipped over earlier. "My goal" was to be overseas about two or three years. Guess I passed that goal. It's actually kind of amazing when I think of it. "Who wudda thunk it!"

After living nine years in Europe, somethings are easier and somethings are harder. Either way, I am glad that I did it and have no regrets. Yes, there were times that I wished my family was a bit closer. When I left Phoenix my oldest granddaughter was still a baby, now she's 10 1/2 years old. I didn't even have the other two yet that came a little over three years ago and two years ago.

The obvious question is "What's next?". I don't know exactly but my Heavenly Father does. Yes, I have some ideas and plans for the next few years. I am always dreaming or thinking about things. I never lack ideas just sometimes the money to implement them.

Without a doubt there is one over arching thing I have found out while serving God as a missionary. God is faithful. The list is too long to cite the many ways God has provided for me during this time. Yes, there were and are times that I wondered "if & when" but in one way or another, He always either provided, showed me that it wasn't necessary or my timing was off. For now, I'll just keep going forward, listening for direction from the Holy Spirit for His next steps for me.

It's been an adventure and I am pretty sure that it will continue to be so serving The Lord. 

In The Mean Time
As many of you know, Face Book is my quick & easy way to let you know what's been going on in my life and travels. You can "Friend" and find me as "Larry Blakeslee". Since it's been awhile since I've actually posted on my blog I thought I would take the time to catch you up.

Christmas "Turkey"
Not what you think. Actually I had "Christmas Chicken" in Turkey. Someone blessed me with airfare to visit some friends and fellow Americans in Turkey. They pastor a church there. Other than a short stop years ago with the military, this was my first real time in that country.

It was great to get out of the snow and cold in Germany and to wear shorts and t-shirts at least part of my time there. Although it did get "chilly" a few days in Turkey too.

I love history and that kind of stuff. One of the most incredible things I got to do was to spend the entire day touring Ephesus and other historic sites on the drive there. It really makes the Bible in more alive when you know that you are walking where our spiritual forefathers walked and talked. It was amazing. Every Christian should try and go there sometime.

In the pic above it had been sprinkling on and off all day. Then it finally started to really rain when I got in front of the Library of Celsus. It was built in 117 A.D. We all ran for shelter as it began to become a down pour.

Back in Bonn
With my mini vacation complete and refreshed, it was time to get back to my admin project for the ministry. The first quarter of the year was spent updating stuff. Doing some praying, planning and brain storming for the ministry in 2011 and beyond.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe and Asia