It's the Final Countdown!

This post is meant to connect to the campaign for the final countdown so if you didn't get an email, this might seem out of context! Sign up with yours so we can get you caught up if that's the case.

We only have $500 to go for monthly amount! And we are over half-way left to go for one-time: 37,500!

That one-time goal amount you have seen floating around may seem like a huge number for a mission’s trip, but this isn't for a few days, weeks, months, or even a year. It is meant to pay for a lifetime of mission’s work in Japan. 

These funds will go directly to our "out-going" costs. Just like the money you might need to move into a new house, we need these finances to set up a life in Japan and to be equipped for ministry there. This will pave the way for housing, visas, transportation, flights, two years of language school, and utilities. (You might notice these numbers total up more than what is being asked for, and you’re right! Some has been raised already; we only ask for what we still need)

Our website: https://team.org/givenow/us/add-donation?v2glid=92353 (Here you can do recurring or one-time and it's tax deductible!)

Our One-time Go Fund Me: www.gofundme.com/petkoffs2japan (This is only for one-time donations and they do not give receipts for tax purposes, but you can watch progress here real-time.)

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So What's Going On?

 New, almost there, and returning missionairies at Team's conference (Where we also had our final training.)

New, almost there, and returning missionairies at Team's conference (Where we also had our final training.)

We are just about to come up on the one-year anniversary of the fund raising process (August) and a great amount of things have happened in this past year. God as blessed us so much with many people who have a heart for missions that have come on board. We have been flying through the school, orientations, meetings, and more that I know I'm forgetting, but the list is finally down to only one more task. More details and reflection to come (especially for those on the newsletter list) but consider this as a quick catch-up since the last update:

  • We just went to Wheaton College Illinois all of last week to attend Team's pre-departure orientation (this was the last step in the sending process!)
  • We currently sit at about 65% of the monthly commitments needed (both those that have promised, and those that have started now, which helps with our one-time expenses greatly!)
  • Later this year we are planning to hold fundraising events at some of our supporting churches. Lots of interesting and fun ideas; be on the lookout for more info soon to come.
  • A campaign is currently be worked on and should go out sometime later this month by both physical and email forms. We need help growing our connections, so when you see these go out, help us spread the word!
  • We have nothing but supporting building left at this point, once we get 100%, we are set to go!
  • Nick has finished his Master's level studies and is awaiting the diploma
  • TheGoFund, a non-profit working with missionaries going long-term to un-reached places, has partnered with us! This means our student loans will no longer be an issue for our ministry! (Hit the logo and check them out!)
  • We are working on getting networked with some more churches and communities in the Bay Area and Arizona with the possibility of making a more East Coast trip as well. If you know a potential connection we should get in touch with, let us know.

Evangelism Vs. Missions: Your Role in Each

“Your mission field is in your own backyard”. How many times have you heard that? While the intentions behind these types of sayings are not wrong, they neglect crucial aspects of what missions really is. 

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I have read and heard countless speakers teach on Acts 1:8 about how the disciples were to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Many people compare these 4 locations to mean that we are to focus our mission starting in our own neighborhoods, then to the areas surrounding that, then to the world. The question this always causes me to think about is, “Aren’t the disciples from Galilee?” If Jerusalem isn’t there home town, does this teaching even make any sense….?

Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t share the Gospel with all the people we interact with on any given day in our home town. The point I am trying to make is that I believe that there is a difference between evangelism and missions.

Looking at the words linguistically, evangelism comes from the Greek word euangelion, which means “good news” or “gospel”. The word mission comes from the Latin word missio, which comes down to meaning something along the lines of “send away” (I studied Greek, not Latin, haha). So while an evangelist can be anyone who shares the gospel, a missionary is someone who is specifically sent out from one place to another to do it.

food for thought: can you be a missionary in your own home country by intentionally sharing the Gospel with people of different cultures there (e.g. refugees, foreign-exchange students, etc.)?

John Piper says, “Evangelism is speaking to anyone anywhere the gospel. Missions is doing that by crossing a culture. It usually involves learning a language, learning new cultural things where… they don't have any access to the gospel. So evangelism is speaking the gospel to everyone, especially those in your culture. Missions is realizing there are cultures and linguistic groups that don't have anybody in them to do that.”

So obviously we can all take part in evangelism, but how can everyone be a part of global missions? I don’t expect everyone to be able to go overseas (nonetheless move to another country), so maybe there is more than just one role in missions.

Romans 10:14-15 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”  So there are those who GO to preach the good news in unreached, cross-cultural places and those who SEND them. That’s where you come in!

unreached people group: a people group without enough indigenous Christians to evangelize to the rest of their nation. They have less than 2% evangelical Christians and less than 5% professing Christians. The Japanese are an unreached people group!

John Piper often talks about the importance of missions for ALL Christians, and here is a short blurb of one of the videos we like. To warn you, this video can come across as a bit in-your-face, but if you are open to being challenged, then please watch!

We do have organizations that are helping to sending us such as TEAM and The GO Fund, but they both emphasize that it is truly the church that should be the one to send their missionaries. One of the best examples can be found in Acts 13. While worshipping in the church of Antioch, the Spirit told the men there to set aside Paul and Barnabas for a certain work He called them to. So after fasting and praying, the men laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them off! Other instances of individuals and churches that supported Paul’s missions can be found in the New Testament as well, and we are encouraged by them because we have found support in our churches and relationships as well.

So while you may not be able to commit to going on foreign missions, you can still be a part of it by being a supporter. After all, we can’t go unless we are sent! Giving support can come in various forms (see previous post on giving), so if you are not called to go to missions, find your way of sending people out!

Why is This State So Big?

Nearly all of March was spent with us on the road from Northern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and finally Texas. The main focus was all about sharing God's mission for Japan and bringing people on to be a part of that. We had some great meetings with family, friends, and new faces. We gained some new supporters, ate some interesting (good!) food, and even better, gained some new stories. 

We began our trip leaving from Morgan Hill, CA and made our way across the I-40 which we found takes us on a much more scenic and less busy route to my hometown of Payson in AZ. It also avoids both LA and Phoenix, and who wants to drive in LA by choice? Not I. We pulled it off in about 12 hours over the course of one day, but this leg of the trip has been done a few times now. We stopped to stay with my family for a few days while we made a few calls, had a couple meetings, did some car maintenance (Ended up being pointless, read on...), and bought more food because road snacks are important to over-all well-being and keeping Nick awake.

We left Pine and went south through Phoenix, were we made a pit-stop in east Mesa (car things again...) then out east into New Mexico. At this point, crossing the vast empty desert that is New Mexico, it felt I might pass from old-age before I saw another city/town/something with more than a tumbleweed and single gas station, but oh what little did I know. But it happened, we hit El Paso! Texas! I could feel the second wind coming on, this was our destination state, it can't be much further...

6 hours later, I could drive no more. The great plains of Texas defeated me, and nearly the cars gas tank. It had seemed that I was spoiled on seeing a gas station every 10 miles or so for much our trip, but the phrase "everything is bigger in Texas" must also apply to the distance between stations. This dawned on me as what my family refers to as the "idiot light" on the dash for one's gas level had now illuminated, effectively stamping me as the idiot. So I was hungry, car was hungry, wife was just barely keeping my sanity by playing road games, and thus we decided a more lasting stop was needed. We picked a small hotel in Fort Stockton to stay the night.

Two things happened that night. One: we got into the hotel somewhere around 1am. Second: a special thing occurs on Sunday March 12th that a person in AZ doesn't care about. Daylight Stinking Savings Time. DSST. Somehow I managed to plan us into getting a bit less sleep and putting our arrival time later and later, yeah, I am pro at logistics. We still managed to get enough sleep and finish our trip moving into Houston later that evening. 

The actual time in Texas was eventful and the trip back trouble-free. My Aunt and Uncle were generous in providing us not only a place to stay, but also fed us with food that was much tastier and classier than our typical value meal road grub. We loved spending time with them and all the connections we could make, both new and old. We are hopeful to go back out (even further east next time!) to keep sharing this mission.