14 December 2012

Emma Update

The "Reward"
A quick update on Emma. The surgery went incredibly well. It lasted around two hours, much less time than expected.

She's doing great. The family is doing great. Now the recuperation period begins.

Prayer does work. Thanks everyone for keeping this incredible young lady in your prayers. Don't stop now. We're believing for an equally fast recovery. 

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

11 December 2012

Prayers for Emma

A close family friend of mine that needs of your prayers this Thursday, 13 December.

Emma is a 14 year old teenager that is having major spinal cord untethering surgery for spina bifada. If you knew Emma's history, you would see that she is a living example of God's miracle power and love. This will be the third time in her short lifetime that she has needed to have this surgery.

Her mother Michelle describes the surgical procedure best.
"When she was born her spinal cord was sticking up out of her back and they went in and tethered it down, or sewed it is... so now it is in scar tissue. So they have to release the spinal cord that is in the scar tissue. It is a long process that goes millimeter by millimeter... so they test the nerves before the cut and release them."

Michelle goes on to say, "Please specifically pray that she will gain function. The doctor said there is a 30% risk of loss of function and there is a 30% chance of gain in function. We are believing for the 30% gain. God is in total control. We have peace. Knowing that it is all OK."

After 4 or 5 days of recovery in the hospital, there is an extensive 5 to 7 day recovery period at  home. The family could use your prayers for the friends and family that will help provide after-care for Emma. This family also provides care to a number of foster children that are in residence at their house. 

Pray that the surgery goes without problems, the doctors and the operating room staff have the mind of Christ as they perform this very lengthy and delicate surgery. Also pray for the close friends and family that will be providing care and support for Emma's during her home recovery period.

Emma's family and I thank you for your prayers.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe  

23 October 2012

New International Church - Biel, Switzerland

Retracing Steps
The trip continues as I finished the Time of Refreshing Conference in Leysin., It was a short drive down the mountain from Leysin to Biel, at least that was the plan. At about half way to Biel, I pulled over at a rest stop to stretch my legs, looked back in the back seat of my car to realize I left my hangup bag in the closet of my hotel room back in Leysin. Amazing... How did I do that?  I wasn't in a rush. No pressure to get on the road. Just plain forgot to check the closet before I went out the door with the rest of my bags.

So now it's time to turn around and backtrack the already traveled 100 km, (66 miles) back up the mountain. I tried to call a couple of friends hoping that they were still at the hotel and could just bring the hangup bag down with them and we'd connect some where. Not happening this time. Everybody is off the hill and heading their own directions. There's no other choice than to retrace that part of the trip.

The ride back up and down the mountain was as uneventful as the original trip so I retrieved the bag and retraced my steps. When you're paying over $7.50+ / gallon for gas, it really makes you think twice, even in my little fuel efficient car.

Really Mom, I Wasn't Lost.
Arriving in Biel, brought back some interesting memories. The very first time I had ever been in Biel was as an eight year old. My mom had brought my older sister and I there for a summer vacation. I still have some incredible memories of being in the city as a child. I played in a small playground near the river that flows through the city. Walked the streets bored as my mom and sister shopped for girl stuff. I got really bored one

day and decided that I was going to go back to the park and play while they shopped for lace table clothes.

The  problem was I was eight years old. BUT I had a great sense of direction and no fear. I walked away without saying a word. I headed back to the park to play, watched as milk wagons from the countryside come into town to drop off their fresh milk for processing. It was a happy day for me. It was a little kid's adventure.

Unfortunately not for my mom. She clearly and understandably panicked, started searching and back tracking. She eventually found me sitting on the hallway floor outside our hotel room. She would have killed me if she could but was too happy to find me okay, to carry out the deed right then and there. (I didn't do take any unauthorized adventures the rest of the summer.)  I also remember getting sick from eating too many fresh cherries. Frustrating my mom because I had to put my hands in every water fountain as we pass in France, Switzerland and Italy. (I am a "waterbaby".) It was a memorable trip for an eight year old boy.

Big "Kid's" Adventure
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
It was interesting to realize that those many years ago, I would return to this city to preach in a church in Biel, but God did. Kinda amazing.

Next stop was at Pastor John Sagoe's New International Church in Biel, Switzerland. My schedule included talking about children's ministry and my Kids Ministry Network on Saturday at the School of Ministry. The ministry students were very excited to hear about the Kids Ministry Network and how they and their respective churches will be able to participate in the network.

Pastor John Sagoe
The Sunday service was a Family Service. My message was about parents becoming actively involved in their own children's spiritual development. They had some of the kids singing with the Praise and Worship Team at the beginning of the service. This was a moment the kids won't forget and could also mark a time in their lives that gifts and anointing get revealed in a public setting for the first time.

Kids involved in worship.
We need to allow our children to show these talents God has placed in them. I am passionate about children's ministry and even more passionate about children reaching their full spiritual potential. Children need the direct involvement of their parents, especially their fathers, in their own children's spiritual development.

 After preaching the Sunday service, I met with the churches' children's workers for some informal training, sharing and brainstorming.

Pastor John Sagoe has an incredible heart for children. Not only the children in Biel but in Ghana, Africa also. He runs a number of orphanages there. He has invited me to go to Ghana with him and minister to the children and the workers. I am seriously praying about it.

It was great to be at New International Church in Biel and look forward to returning.

Next stop, a flight from Zurich to Vienna to participate in the annual Fellowship of European International Churches, Pastor's Summit meeting held in the Austrian Alps at Gutenstein, Austria.

More to come.

First Step Ministries, Net

New International Church, Biel, Switzerland

Fellowship of European International Churches

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

18 October 2012

Time of Refreshing Conference

It's been a busy few weeks. Went to my annual Time of Refreshing Conference of American Missionaries in Leysin, Switzerland a last week. It is always good to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. For some reason, this year, I paid much closer attention to the long term missionaries that have been serving God and fulfilling their "Call" for 20+ years. There were a number of them.

Some missionaries have been in the field for over 30 years. It is amazing to hear their stories. It should not be a surprise that the same challenges I have faced in 10+ years in the field are re-occurring events they faced years ago. It also seems that they "survived" them and grew stronger in their walk with The Lord because of them. I am not saying that God sent them these challenges. I am saying that their spiritual growth became deeper because of them. Their and my understanding of God's faithfulness grew because of walking through these challenges.

This year's theme was the Gifts of  God. We had a "mass" Birthday Celebration for everyone.

This year we only had one clear day and it was beautiful.
Never too young to worship God.
Take the challenges of the day in stride, walk them out, don't quit and get victory over them. In the long run, the  pain of those challenges will fade but the internal spiritual strength you gain will stay and serve you well in future challenges. Yes, their will be future challenges until we enter heaven.

Blessings from Leysin,

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe.

02 October 2012

A Thread

Thought this was the coolest video to share with you. It's called "The Thread". If you can't see the embedded video below here is the link:

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

18 September 2012

Update: Praying for Fellow Missionary

On 11 September blog, I asked you to prayer for a fellow missionary, Melinda Henderson. Melinda was facing biopsies for possible live cancer. She had already beat cancer before when this new "challenge" raised it's ugly head again.

I am more than happy to report that she got her lab reports back today... VICTORY! (in Jesus)

Here's what Melinda wrote:
The liver biopsy came back only as liver tissue and the breast biopsy came back that we are looking at two precancerous lesions. They suggest that I have those removed but it will not be any invasive surgery. We will follow up on that one step at a time.

Thank you Father for your healing and protective power over all of us.

There's not much more I can say or add to this great report, so I won't. Except, thank you to those that prayed for her and her family during this test.

Blessings from Bonn,
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

11 September 2012

Standing & Praying for Fellow Missionary

It recently came to my attention that a fellow missionary Melinda Henderson has been confronted with another possible attack of cancer. Melinda and Larry Henderson pastor a large church in Vienna, Austria. They and their children have been Assembly of God missionaries for years. 

Here is what a mutual friend recently wrote:

Melinda has battled cancer in the past and we've seen the Lord miraculously intervene in her life. During a recent checkup Melinda was told by her doctor that he has seen three new tumors which he believes are cancerous. The one in her liver is believed to have metastasized from the colon cancer she had two years ago. Melinda is scheduled to undergo two biopsies of the areas on September 12th.
Melinda recently wrote: "I don´t know the reason to walk through this again but I know WHO has the answer and I am confident of His great plan! We will not accept this first diagnosis until God says it is settled. We will take this step by step and follow the necessary procedures but our prayer is that the tumors be dissolved before I go in on the 12th or that they are confirmed to be benign."
Melinda clearly knows the power of God in her life and her previous healing. Stand with me as I stand with them knowing who our Healer is in our lives. 
Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe.  

Never Forget

We must never forget the tragedy that struck our country, America 11 years ago today. Most importantly, we need to share our personal testimonies with our children and grandchildren so they have a clear understanding of the actual history of this day as it unfolded. If we do this, it will help prevent the re-writing of history to fit the the possibly "politically correct" future they will live in.

Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

28 August 2012

Reinvention and Re-Direction

First Step Ministries History
This past April 26 I celebrated my 10th year in full-time ministry. From then to now, First Step Ministries, Inc. has gone through a number of changes and directions in ministry. At about the five year mark in Germany, I seemed to be led back into more direct involvement with children's ministry.

This evolved into ministry to men and fathers in a unique way. As a dad, grandfather and a children's pastor, I realized that most kids do not receive any spiritual training at home. In my message, I asked the men to commit to training and praying with their children on a regular basis. It was important to encourage the men and let them know that they did not have to be in "full-time ministry" before they could do it. And if they did it, it would be the most important legacy they could leave for their children.

The Next Step
During one of those meetings I met a Finnish man who publishes a bi-monthly Christian Men's Magazine in Finland called Tosimes Lehti. I emailed him and asked if he would be interested in publishing an article about this concept. He immediately replied asking if I could have an article ready for his next issue. He also asked how many would I like to write. I was excited. Without having anything really ready, I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity. I said yes and we agreed that I would write for a year and decide if we both wanted to continue. This December 2012 will be three years of writing for Tosimies Lehti.

As I traveled throughout Europe and Asia, I saw many churches who actually "babysit" their children instead of teaching them during the main service. Teaching young children the Gospel seems to be more a little more accepted in America than Europe. There are many reasons for this situation.

Some did not have curriculum available to them in their language. Others just didn't have the basic training needed to teach the children and some it was a cultural issue. No doubt people that work with children love them. It is hard enough to get volunteers. But many of them have not been shown the potential their children have to learn both basic and deep spiritual principles.    

The Solution = Reinvention and Re-Direction of First Step Ministries
Recognizing this problem, led me to think about how the European children's workers could receive in-service training. How could they also modify or create culturally and context relevant curriculum for their children.

The idea struck me to try and network the "those that have" with "those that didn't". I know some incredible children's ministry teachers. And I have met those that have a heart but no training. This can work!

Free Mainstream Christian Kids Curriculum
Here's the goal:

  • Adapt existing, copyright free curriculum could be done at a regional or language level
  • Create context and culturally relevant curriculum 
  • Train children's workers how to develop their own curriculum
  • Receive free or very inexpensive in-service training in their own language 
  • Provide open access to translated curriculum and training into their mother tongue available to everyone
  • Create a pool of peer-to-peer trainers based regionally that would provide cost effective training

For two years, I've thought about how to get this done. Everyone agrees it is a great idea. I wrote a basic business plan including a vision and mission statement. It has become the foundation for what is now an incredible concept.

Fresh Eyes = Fresh Ideas
Recently, I lunch with some of my past DHL friends. I shared my concept about the network. They loved it. When they heard the details, it was like an "idea bomb" went off at our table. They started contributing tremendous ideas on how to expand the concept. It was exciting. Fresh eyes with fresh ideas can really made an impact.

We have solidified the ideas into an action plan. A volunteer team is forming based on their skills. Everyone has some part to contribute but many more skills are needed.

Need a Website Developer
The biggest project is to find someone or a team that can build an extensive website. We already know the various functions it will need. 
  • Translated pages in every common European language
  • Forums where everyone can connect to share problems and solutions. 
  • A page to download translated printed curriculum in the various European languages. 
  • Eventually the ability to download audio and video training available in various languages. All of this based on translated pages in common European languages.
  • Moderators to help users in their mother tongue. 
If you know of someone that would like to volunteer their time and expertise in this or any area, please let me know.  You can Facebook me "Larry Blakeslee" or email me at Larry@FirstStepMinistries.net  

God's Ideas Coming Together
This is going to be much bigger and involved than I first thought. But the impact on ministering the Gospel to the children in Europe is going to be incredible.

Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

02 August 2012

Short & Sweet Update

 I won't begin to make excuses for how long it's been since I've blogged. There are plenty of them and all very "legitimate". Rather, I've been feeling guilty about having a "season" where this blog has not been a top priority.

Last weekend I was with some new Finnish missionaries sharing my thoughts about what it takes to be a full-time missionary. The topic of communications came up. How and when do we send out newsletter, blog, Tweet, etc. As I spoke to them, I felt "guilt or conviction" about my own lack of communication. So it's time to "recommit" and get consistent with updating you on all that is going on and has been going on in my life and ministry. There really is plenty to tell. Since we're all busy, I'm going to try to do this in bullet points.

The Update

  • End of 2011: Happy to see 2011 go away. It was the clearly toughest year I've had in ministry. Everyone in the U.S. is having a tough time and it understandably reflected on their giving to overseas missionaries. (Including me.)
  • Start of 2012: Off to a little rocky start but God did some incredible financial miracles. 
  • January - March: God confirmed and re-confirmed my idea to network children's workers in Europe. He would NOT let me walk away from this idea. More info and details to come on that topic.
  • April: Great God directed connections to people that could help build the network.
  • May: Finally after not being able to return to the U.S. for two years, I get back. No attempt to minister anywhere in the U.S. I needed the time personally. In Phoenix, nearly every hour was dedicated to getting personal tasks done. Work on my rental house, major dental work, new glasses and I passed my next level up test of Amateur Radio License.
  • June: Off to the East Coast to visit my two sons and three grand kids. One in North Carolina and the other in Florida. Again, no ministry time, just much needed family time. Two years is too long for me not to see and hug them. We had soooo much fun together. They needed their dad and grandpa. I needed them to remember what's important in life. 
  • July: Back to Bonn. Refreshed, good attitude adjustment and ready to jump on the kids network project with maximum energy. 
  • August: Recommitted to blogging and communicating more. Team building for the kids ministry network. Prep time for promotional media for the kids network and two conferences in October. Still writing a series of articles for the Finnish Christian Mens magazine called Tosimes.  
Proud dad Shawn and new 7th grader Antonella

William, Hailey & Bradley

Blessings from Bonn,
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

09 May 2012

In The States

In Phoenix
I arrived back in the States last Monday evening after being gone two years. (At least one year too long.) Currently I'm in Phoenix getting some things done on my house here and major dental work. I'll be here for about a month before heading to the East Coast to see my sons and grand kids. Really looking forward to that time with them. We're all excited to be reconnecting after a two year absence. We're blessed with the technology, like Skype, webcam and emails but still... it doesn't take the place of face to face contact, read hugs here.

A couple of previous posts ago, I briefly mentioned that I was going to give you some incredible news about First Step Ministries, next step. I am working on it but there is so much to share I want to get it all correct. I can give you a hint that it continues with ministering to children in Europe in a much bigger and more dynamic way. (Is that enough of a tease?)

In a couple of hours I'm heading to the dentist for some major work. Never looked forward to going to the dentist but there is a time, now, which I am looking forward to taking care of some much needed work. 

Tomorrow and for the next few days I'll be working on my house. The first couple of weeks clearly are going to be very busy with practical stuff. The "blanks" in my schedule are filled with meeting old and making new friends both in and out of the ministry.

Blessings from Phoenix,
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe

17 April 2012

New Mailing Address

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here. That doesn't mean that there isn't a lot going on in the background. I'll catch everyone up later.

Most importantly I wanted to let everyone know about First Step Ministries new mailing address in Arizona. 

Effective Immediately

The New Mailing Address:
First Step Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 1061
Glendale, AZ  85311-1061

The Old Address
First Step Ministries, Inc.
POB 56603
Phoenix, Arizona 85079

The Post Office will forward mail to the new address for a number of weeks but please update your records.
Keep those "cards & letters" coming. Everything else remains the same. Only the post office box has changed to make it easier on my administrator, David Fyke.

Thanks again for your continued support during these challenging times for everyone.

Blessings from Bonn,
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe