Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Change...Growth Takes Place

Wow. Can’t believe how long it has been since I posted (and now by saying that I’ve just become like most who attempt to blog…returning to it after a hiatus). Seems like only days since November when I last posted, but I guess “CHANGE” has pushed us along leaving little opportunity to look back.

December found us traveling all up and down the West Coast. We began by visiting the Master’s College in Santa Clarita for work then made some family visits in San Diego, Fresno, and San Francisco. By the end of the month we were up in Oregon speaking at a Leadership Retreat for high school and college students. It was a great way to finish out the year…and finish my time serving as Director of Student Mobilization for ABWE.

This year has begun with much excitement as I’ve begun a new venture by joining the staff at our church, LCBC (www.lcbcchurch.com) and oversee the young adult ministries (www.saturateonline.com). Whitney’s doing great as she continues to oversee the student mobilization at ABWE.

But these job changes and the excitement they bring pale in comparison to the excitement we’ve experienced as we await the birth of our daughter. She’s due Feburary 26th, so to find ourselves inside the 10day window is crazy. It’s something that we’ve been waiting for and now just can’t wait to meet her. I surprised Whitney by having a friend of ours come over and do a quick photo shoot to help us capture this special time.

You can check out some preview pictures on his blog http://bit.ly/bl2r6P Keep us in your thoughts and prayers over these next week days. We’ll keep you posted…and hope to have some new pictures of our little daughter up soon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Next Steps at Liberty University

A few weeks ago, Whitney and I had the opportunity to participate in a Next Steps Weekend at Liberty University. Next Steps is a missions discipleship weekend where students interested in going into career missions are paired up one-on-one with a representative from a missions agency for mentorship. The weekend evaluates several different key areas important to consider when thinking about career missions and helps the students become intentional about making progress towards that goal. Spiritual Life, Local Church, Equipping, Getting There, and Mobilization are large group sessions that shed new light on areas of a college student's weekly routine. After the sessions, students break out with their mentor for some honest, straightforward Q&A...&A. Questions are asked. Answers are given. And an opportunity for APPLICATION is provided. Next Steps is one of the most intentional forward-thinking missions activities that I've been able to be a part of and its been exciting to it actually make a difference in student's lives as they prepare and make steps towards overseas service.

Missions, like many things or careers, can seem like this overwhelming thing. Where do I go, how do I get started, what should I study, what does all this mean?...are all normal questions that I get on college campuses each week. And while alone, these seem like huge questions. But with the help of someone that has a bit (or alot) of experience, answers to these questions quickly come making involvement in missions a lot less daunting. It's just another example of how incredible things take place in the presence of community. And community definitely takes place at Next Steps.

Thanks to all the people at CrossWorld who have been intentional in making disciples...and special thanks to Tom Nylander and John Puig from Light Ministries at Liberty University who allow us to be a part in what God is doing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

11 New Posts...Check em Out

To say that life has crazy busy over the past 2 months would be an understatement. We've lived out of a suitcase for most of that time and have traveled all across the East Coast. We've joked (although it's true) that by the time our little girl is born in February, she will have already visited over half of the United States.

We hope you enjoy reading below and checking out video and pictures from our last few weeks. There are 11 New Posts so keep scrolling down...keep scrolling...keep scrolling or click the October links on the left side of your page. Stuff at the top is the most recent...things lower down take you back to the beginning of September.

Changes Continue: LCBC Young Adults - Saturate

Whitney and I are excited to share some more good news! After months of discussion and prayer, I will be joining Lives Changed By Christ (LCBC - our home church) in January and will be serving on staff as their Young Adults Pastor. For the full story on how this developed, email me at pkatkinson@abwe.org and I can send you the details. Whitney will continue to serve at ABWE in the Student Mobilization Department and we're really excited about that. Thank you to all of the ABWE family who have been supportive and encouraging during this transition. I'm thankful we will be staying in the same area, serve through our local church, and continue to encourage missions efforts in the lives of young adults. LCBC put together a quick video to introduce me to the Saturate Community (Young Adult Ministry at LCBC) Check it out.

Meet Paul... from SaturateOnline on Vimeo.

New Life Baptist Church: the TOOL

This past Sunday, I was able to speak to the youth at New Life Baptist Church in New Cumberland, PA. I took them through a modified version of the TOOL which is a session designed for them to evaluate their lives and where they are with responding to God's Word, God's World, and God's Work. It was an encouraging morning with the youth and with Matt and Vicki Riggins. Excited to see what happens this year as their group heads out to several different places.

Moody Bible Institute: Divine Mosaic

From Connecticut, Whitney drove back to Harrisburg and I jumped a plane to the Windy City for Moody's Missions Conference. Chicago was great to visit and it was a wonderful week of ministering on their campus. I was joined by several colleagues: Dan Branda, Debbie Branda, Aurora Branda, George Collins, Ben Collins, Jack Shiflett, and Ron Barnes. Jack and Ron did a great job teaching seminars throughout the week. I met with students interested in short-term opportunities and internships. It turned out to be a busy and productive week. Folks from the Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) were there and shared about what is going on with Dalit's in India. It was great to see them again as our local church is partnering with DFN to help see change produced through the advancement of education, economic development, social awareness, and of course, the Gospel.

Douglas-Neeb Wedding: Connecticut

The following weekend brought just as much traveling. We headed north up to Connecticut for the wedding of Matt Douglas and Jen Neeb...two of our great friends! It was such a privilege to support them as they begin their marriage. It was cool for me too cause it was my first wedding to officiate. The ceremony took place without me messing anything up! Whitney sang with Jason Peaks accompanying on the piano. It was great. We're stoked for you guys, Matt and Jen!

New York City: Brooklyn Tabernacle

From Tennessee we flew to NYC to meet Whitney's mom and dad (Dan and Karin Baker). They were at the Brooklyn Tabernacle for a weekend music conference. We were thrilled to be there and watch Dan's choir from ALCF in California have the opportunity to worship on-stage with the Brooklyn Tab choir. It was a great finish to a busy weekend and it's always good to visit with family...especially when they live on the other Coast. We jumped the train from NYC back to Harrisburg, which was fun, and completed the weekend of planes, trains, and automobiles.

Tennessee Temple University: Next Steps

From Hotlanta, we ventured north up to TTU. We've been visiting the campus for a few years now and enjoy the fellowship we have with their faculty and students. This fall we were able to help them begin their first Next Steps Weekend (modeled from CrossWorld and LU). Next Steps is a missions-oriented discipleship weekend for students going into career missions. The weekend focuses on areas like spiritual formation, local church involvement, equipping and preparation, and mobilizing others. It was great to aid in the start-up of this kind of program fro their university. Excited to see how it aids in impacting the nations. Great job Dr. Owens!

The Claret Jug: Stewart Cink - 2009 British Open Champion

On one of our trips down south we were able to visit with our good friends, the Creasman family. We love them and are grateful for their friendship. After meeting for dinner, they arranged for us to meet Stewart and Lisa Cink and gave me the chance to lay my hands on the Claret Jug: the oldest trophy in sports history (dating back to 1872). Stewart won the Claret Jug at this year's British Open in dramatic style by winning a 4-hole playoff with Tom Watson. The Cink's are an incredible family and make you feel right at home. Thanks Stewart and Lisa for making us feel so welcome...and to Holly for hookin us up!

Liberty University: They're Ready, Are We Willing?

Towards the end of September we were able to travel back to our alma mater: LU for their Fall Missions Conference. The week was great as we were busy each day meeting with students who are either heading out overseas, returning from overseas, or making plans to serve overseas full-time. We enjoy partnering with the folks at Light Ministries and are looking forward to them joining us this year in Thailand, India, and the Middle East. Liberty’s short-term mission department is doing some incredible things and is extremely intentional in their missions coaching and placement for internships. Great to see so many students being helped so that they can follow where God’s leading.

Also got to check out their new year-round ski slope. Not too shabby...especially for the first one in the continental US. Pretty cool.

We're continually grateful for LU and the investment it made in our lives. Always great to go back and see how God is working in new ways as more lives are changed by Christ. I pray LU will always be an incredible place that is set on training Champions for Christ. RIP JF.

Swine FLU: Negative

After Labor Day we headed up to Cedarville, OH to spend a few days at Cedarville University. However, due to an outbreak of the H1N1 Virus, our plans were altered. I was still able to spend some time connecting with Brian Nester, Director of Missions Involvement Services, but Whitney had to remain far from the campus. No need to take any chances with a baby on the way. But we're excited to partner with Cedarville this year as they join us in Albania, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Togo, and the Middle East.

Judah Wise Safstrom

Over Labor Day weekend, I was able to meet my new nephew: Judah Wise Safstrom. Crazy to think that now I’m an uncle. And even crazier to think that in a few months Whitney and I will be parents. But seeing Judah makes us long for February. So happy for my sister, Lori, and her husband, Dave. They’re great parents already! There’s nothing quite like family.

Bible Baptist School Retreat

In September, I had the opportunity to speak at a retreat for a local Christian school. Spoke on “Name-o-tology.” Talked about the what’s associated with a name, desiring the right name, how to get the name you want, and Jesus: the only name that matters. Great time of hanging with students and challenging them. I’m excited to see how some of them make practical steps towards making a good name for themselves by May 2010.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Doing it Together...Doing it for Others

If you had told me 2 years ago that we would be a part of a dynamic community that does life together (called our church), I would have probably smiled, would have hoped deep down for that to take place, but would have probably doubted that we would find just that. But we did. And now, Whit and I are blessed to be a part of an incredible community called Lives Changed By Christ (LCBC).

Recently I attended a conference called The Leadership Summit where many notorious CEO's and philanthropists alluded to the importance of vision and how when a vision is clear, people will do anything to be a part of it. People will give, serve, sacrifice...really whatever you ask. I get to see that take place every week through my church...and that excites me.

Recently our Harrisburg campus finalized the purchase of a permanent home and this past weekend we began demolition on our new facility...converting it from a VW car dealership into a gathering place where peoples lives will be changed by more than driving off the campus with a new set of wheels but by the truth of Jesus and the strength of community. I think we're all doing it because we know it to be true. We've experienced the change ourselves...and desire for others to experience it as well.

If you're looking for a place where you can connect, grow, experience community, and serve...you should come visit us...we could even use some more help this Saturday.

4150 Chambers Hill Road
Harrisburg, PA...where Victory VW used to be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August Rush

More than a movie, August Rush is a season that Whitney and I will enter over the next few weeks. After an incredible and productive summer that found us in India and Nicaragua, found us sending out teams and interns, found us participating in seminars and conferences, and found us rejoicing over the news that we're going to have a baby; we now look toward the fall and soon-to-be-made campus visits.

As the 2009-2010 school year rapidly approaches would you please join us in prayer for this upcoming year. We'll have the opportunity to interact with students, plan trips and internships, counsel with students making decisions, travel a lot...and so much more. Wisdom, discernment, strength, and a positive mindset are all things that will be needed and are huge prayer requests. Here are some events currently on our schedule between now and December...please pray with us for these unique opportunities:

Aug 29 - Ministry Fair at Baptist Bible College (Clarks Summit, PA)
Sept 3-4 - Paul speaking for School Retreat for Bible Baptist School (Halifax, PA)
Sept 7-9 - Visit to Cedarville University (Cedarville, OH)
Sept 18-23 - Debrief and Missions Conference at Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)
Sept 30-Oct 4 - Next Steps at Tennessee Temple University (Chattanooga, TN)
Oct 13-16 - Missions Conference at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL)
Oct 23-25 - Next Steps Weekend at Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)
Nov 9-13 - BBC and Cedarville University (Clarks Summit, PA and Cedarville, OH)
Dec 4-6 - Student Missions Forum and Educator's Collaborative (Harrisburg, PA)
Dec 7-10 - Visit to The Master's College (Santa Clarita, California)
Dec 29-31 - Paul speaking at the Teen Leadership Conference (Antelope, Oregon)

Thanks for your prayers!
Continue to check here for updates and pictures from the road!
Picture Below: Enjoying the Summer with Members of our Life Group

Monday, July 06, 2009

Nicaragua Trip

I just returned from spending 11 days in Nicaragua leading a team of 4 high school girls and God did incredible things! The 4 girls were from different states and we all met for the first time here at ABWE for a little training and then flew out together the next day. The goal of this trip was to expose the girls to various ministries while giving them opportunities to serve…and that is definitely what we did! We didn’t slow down but the girls had such great attitudes! The entire time I did not hear one complaint and they jumped right in getting involved! Life can be tough in Nicaragua and so we knew people were praying for us each day!

The first couple of days we helped another American team with a VBS and began building shelves for our big project. The VBS was great and the 5 of us girls really got to use the little Spanish we knew to talk with the kids and have fun with them. In the afternoon’s we would head back to where we were staying at the Center (like a camp) and began cutting, measuring, drilling, and sweating over shelves! For being a bunch of little girls we sure know how to use power tools!

Throughout the week we were involved in a variety of ministries from helping with artwork for the Nicaragua Christian Academy, visiting a blacksmith’s shop ministry, helping with a church ladies Bible study, to learning about ministry to the upper class, and helping with AWANA. It was great for us to see how God can use anything as ministry and the girls really saw that you can do anything as a missionary.

Most of the week was spent at the House of Hope. This is a place for ex-prostitutes to get off the streets and make changes in their life. They can live at this center for up to 3 years and are taught the Bible and how to make money in different ways. Their main source of income is to make greeting cards and one morning we were able to watch as the women made hundreds of cards. We helped by holding their babies so they could work faster and make more money. The sweet little girl I held just cried the whole time…she had a runny nose and a fever so I felt so bad for her. Her mom felt bad but was so thankful I could hold her while she worked.

Our biggest ministry at the House of Hope was to the girl’s dorm. We called it our “Extreme Home Makeover” project! The girls dorm houses girls ages 9-15 who were involved in prostitution as well. Most of the girls were sold into prostitution by their mom or dad’s and their stories just broke my heart. Some of the girls were sold to an Auto Hotel where cars just pull into a slot to spend the night in their car. A big curtain is pulled across the door to the garage and these little girls were brought to the cars for the men to abuse. Other girls were sold to pimps, older men, etc. One little girl was sold to a pimp by her mother for only $7.50…even thinking about that just brings me to tears.

So our job last week was to spend time with the girls and makeover their dorm! As you can see from the “before” picture, the walls were so dirty and the girls used to write on them just to add some color to the wall. Their sheets were dirty and old and they had no place to put their clothes, shoes, schoolbooks, etc. So, we brought fun sheets from the states and purchased paint when we got there. The first day we painted the foundation colors and the 2nd and 3rd day were spent painting huge butterflies and flowers all over the walls! I went around and used a projector to trace pictures then the girls and I painted in bright colors all over the place! It was a great experience because while we were painting we got to hear from their dorm mom, Brittany, a 23-year-old girl from California, about their stories. We also got to spend time just talking with the girls and many of them helped us paint flowers the 3rd day! Although our Spanish was little, we were able to build relationships and love on them as much as we could.

Saturday morning we paired off with the girls and helped them read through their Bible study before meeting together as a group. One of the little girls, Sujey, and I sat down and memorized her verse and read through the story. When we finished one of the ABWE missionaries, Shelly, came over with a brand new Bible and had Sujey sign it. Shelly said that Sujey and her were talking 2 weeks ago about Jesus dying for us and Sujey just started crying. It became real to her and she understood why Christ died for us. That day Sujey accepted Christ and this day she was getting her first Bible! I could have burst into sobs watching her sign her Bible and show it to me. Her face lit up and she was so excited! I was just thanking God for Sujey and for bringing her to the House of Hope so she could hear for the first time that there is a God who loves her!

On Saturday the girls went to another building after the Bible study and we surprised them by making up their beds with the new sheets and setting up the shelf’s we built! When they came in they were so excited to see it all completed! We helped the girls organize their things on the shelves and gave out more hugs that I could imagine! It was incredible to know that they girls have suffered so much abuse, are living away from home, but that the Lord allowed us to bring some joy into their lives.

It was such a blessing to play a part in these 4 girls lives and to minister alongside them. It was awesome to see how God is working in Nicaragua and how much He needs workers to tell people about His love. Please continue to pray for the missionaries who live and work there every day, praying for the girls in the House of Hope that they would receive Christ and live normal lives, pray for the poor and the wealthy that they would come to know Christ.