Prayer Letter – December 2020

Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas ahead, and it’s a year unlike any other. We pray your Thanksgiving was full of good food and gratitude. It was easy for us this year to reflect on what we’re thankful for, because it’s you. We are so grateful for your dedication to lifting us and this ministry up in prayer. We firmly believe God reveals himself and his power through answered prayers.

This past month, we’ve had to stop visiting local churches out of respect for heightened restrictions, but it’s given us an opportunity to reconnect with some older friends and to continue serving at Chapelstreet Church however we can. As we send this letter, we’re on our last day of quarantine after Peter was exposed to COVID. We’re both feeling healthy, and his test came back negative, so we’re ready to jump back in to the Christmas season.

We’ve been working on a video series for Chapelstreet’s advent giving project. The past few years have focused on a global partner, but this year, it’s a local organization that serves survivors of domestic sex trafficking. Our teaser trailer and first story video have both been released. You can watch them here:

We’ve been working on a video series for Chapelstreet’s advent giving project. The past few years have focused on a global partner, but this year, it’s a local organization that serves survivors of domestic sex trafficking. Our teaser trailer and first story video have both been released. You can watch them here.

Ministry Highlight: Photography, Border Guards and the Gospel

A Northern Lights photography trip and a mishap with border guards leads to the opportunity for Crick to share his faith. Read the full story here.

We launched our Facebook page! Like and follow it for regular updates on our life and ministry.

Praise God with Us

For the completion of the first two videos in our advent giving project and the opportunity to encourage more people to get involved in this ministry.

For our health and ability to continue to connect with people over Zoom while we have been quarantined. 

Between my (Heather’s) new favorite book, Cross-Cultural Connection, and our advent study, we’ve had the opportunity reflect on this year together and really talk through some of the stresses we’ve been facing, and pray over those things together.

Chapelstreet Church has hired someone to fill Peter’s position. We’ve been praying about this position for a year, and we are so excited for Matt to take on this role. Matt has been a part of the church for a few years, and has worked on some video projects for the church already. He has also been working with us on the Naomi’s House project. Praise God for the provision and the time for a smooth transition. 

Pray with Us

For our continued preparation and study we approach as our cross-cultural training.

For our visits with family over Christmas to be safe, healthy, and full of joy.

We are praying for 50% in our monthly partnerships and 60% of our equipment fund.

From Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Thank you for praying with us!

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Prayer Letter – November 2020

One of our many fall photography walks this month.

Lots going on this month! We want to give you a brief update of the many different ways God is working.

Our region had a virtual gathering a few weeks ago, and we were able to co-lead a breakout on communications. We taught on two things how to set yourself up for a video teaching, and how to capture basic b-roll to add in to your videos. It was so fun to see our missionaries moving themselves and their cameras to follow our tips, and noticing things in the background that they hadn’t thought of before. After the breakout, one of our missionaries told us, “I should have waited 2 more hours to post that video. I did everything wrong!” We’re hoping to do this lesson again sometime in the next few months. Let us know if this could be useful for you as well, and we’ll see how we can include you!

A week after leading that breakout, we noticed we weren’t following our own advice very well. This wasn’t an official teaching, but if our primary goal in set up is to eliminate distractions, we definitely should have moved that lamp.

Local church visits continue to encourage us. It is a joy to talk with these pastors and worship in these churches. We are blessed to have our community in support of this ministry.

You have been faithful in prayer and faithful in giving. Because of that, with our start-up fund complete, we have now reached 21% of our equipment fund. Praise God for his provision through you all.

This month we’ve seen some monthly partners drop off and we’ve had new people join. Our monthly partnership commitment is now at 40%. While we’re sad to see that our percentage has gone down this month, we’re looking forward to seeing how God continues to set people in place to partner with us in this ministry.

Poland Update 🇵🇱

Poland has been in the news lately for two reasons. First, a recently created law regarding abortion has led to widespread protests. We won’t dive into this issue, but a related BBC article pulled an interesting quote from a protestor – “I’m here today because it annoys me that in a secular country the church decides for me what rights I have, what I can do and what I’m not allowed to do.” This young woman pointed out a shift that our organization and a few like it have already begun to see: many people in this country no longer view their Catholic heritage as valuable today. While we may still think of Poland as a Catholic nation at least in tradition, the young people adamantly disagree – they are living in a secular nation where Christian values are not relevant.

Second, there has been a huge spike of Covid cases throughout central Europe. Several of our team member’s friends, kids’ teachers and classmates, and neighbors have tested positive. All of Steve and Jenny’s kids are schooling from home now, and there is tremendous stress in re-acclimating to life in Poland at a time like this. 

We’re now on social media! One step at a time: Instagram now, Facebook next.

We launched our Instagram account as a way for more people to hear about us and see what’s going on in our ministry, and as a way for you to share this ministry with your friends. If you haven’t already managed to find us, we encourage you to check it out and follow us @hansonstoryteam. Guaranteed pictures and stories of us working, glimpses into our daily life as we prepare for the field, and scriptural puns about media equipment. 

Praise God with Us

For God’s provision and for the generosity of His people.

For a successful first communications workshop.

After the opportunity to test the camera we plan to buy for this ministry, we are feeling confident in our choice. 

For the encouragement we have received from our various teams (in Poland, in the Converge leadership, and in you)

Pray with Us

For our Polish brothers and sisters who are striving to live out the Gospel through all this turmoil.

For God to continue to guide us in our conversations about the development of a full team.

For tremendous growth in partnership over the next few months. Please pray for 50% in our monthly partnerships!

From Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer. 

Prayer Letter – October 2020

We can hardly believe it’s already October! We had originally hoped to be launching this month, but of course all of us are experiencing a different autumn than we expected. Instead, we get to experience another wonderful color-changing season in the midwest and some big steps in our progress toward the field!

Praise God, we have completed our personal ministry video! It has been a challenge working on a video of ourselves, but we love to share our story and highlight some of the people and organizations that have poured into our lives and that God has used to lead us to media missions. Shoutout to Stetson Butler, Ryan Vander Ploegg, Dennis McMains, Bruce McEvoy, and Josh Nicholson for helping to make this happen!

This is a video to share with churches and people to introduce our story and ministry. Please share this video with people you know!

In this past month, we’ve been able to spend some extra time with friends and family. We’ve moved in with Lorrie (Peter’s mom), so we’ve been able to sell, donate, or store most of our belongings now. 

We have officially signed up for the cross-cultural training in January! We’re excited to prepare for this big step in our training and preparation for the field. 

We’ve been reaching out to and visiting other churches in our area. It has been a blessing to be welcomed in and prayed for by the people in these churches. It’s been a wonderful reflection on how this mission work doesn’t belong to just us or our team or organization. As the Church, we can all participate in and praise God for the lives touched around the world when we’re supporting and praying for missionaries and people who have yet to hear the Gospel. 

Praise God with Us

For the completion of our video and for all the people who helped us make that happen!

For our acceptance into the January CIT and progress in our training and preparation.

For the Valentine family, who made it back to Poznan and have just celebrated the registration of the church plant in Poznań.

For the extra time we’ve had this year with family, friends, and our church family, who are all dear to us and who continue to help us grow.

Pray with Us

For us and our team members to remain healthy and energized as the cold and flu season begins.

For continued growth in partnerships, in prayer and in financial support

For our team members overseas (Steve and Jenny, Zach and Miša) who are adapting to new ministry methods and relearning cultural norms that have shifted over the past year.

For our team members in the States (Bob and Carol, Andrew and Miranda, Lemuel and Brittany) who are also raising support and in a period of anticipation, holding in balance the joy of family and friends and the longing for the field.

From Hebrews 12:1-2, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

We are so grateful for you and for your prayers.

Status Update

September 8, 2020

When will we move?

Like you, we do not know what this coming year is going to look like. There are three key factors that impact our moving date:

1. Travel restrictions: We are waiting on the Polish government to allow Americans back in. Just a few days ago, our team leader, Steve Valentine, and his family booked their tickets to get back to Poland. Please pray with us that their documentation is accepted and that this opens the door for the other members of our team that are waiting to get back to Poland.

2. Funds: We need to raise our full monthly partnership, our start-up expenses, and our equipment fund. Read more about our financial support below.

3. Training: We have a month-long training on crossing cultures that we are excited to attend. Of course, these trainings have been impacted by Covid, so the upcoming trainings are attempting to take in more people than normal to make up for some lost time. We are currently on the waitlist for the January training.

What does all this mean? We don’t know, but we are praying to be trained, funded, and ready to go in February. Please pray with us for this.

Where are we in our financial support?

Monthly: Through your prayers and support, we currently have 46% of our monthly budget committed. 

Start-up: We have nearly reached our full start up fund. This means we will soon have the funds to complete our training, move to Poland, and get set up on our new home. Thank you for your faithfulness in giving.

Equipment: Choosing to focus first on our start-up expenses, we have not been raising for our equipment until now. Once our start up budget is met, any monthly or one-time gifts will be directed toward our equipment expenses.

How can you continue to support us during this season?

Keep doing what you’re doing: tell, pray, and give.

Tell: Share this ministry with people you know! This is so key for us at this time in our ministry. Even if no partnership comes of the conversation, it is our hope that our ministry sparks more conversations about missions and causes people to consider their role in missions. Please talk with people about this ministry, show them a video or an article, or give them the link to this website. You are also welcome to share our contact information with your friends. 

Pray: Please continue to pray for us in this time. Pray for our spiritual, emotional, and physical health, for our continued progress toward the field, and for guidance as we navigate partner development.

Give: If you have been able to give financially, please continue to do so faithfully. If you have been considering it and are trying to figure out the best time, we understand these are crazy times. Letting us know if you plan to give monthly and the amount you plan to give, even if you can’t start yet, will help us in our planning. 

We’ll keep you updated as things change and as we prepare together for the launching of this ministry.

Prayer Letter – September 2020

We had to opportunity to capture the baptisms at our last outdoor service.
I (Heather) learned it’s very hard to stay focused on the camera and cry at the same time.

What an incredible month it’s been! We have had the privilege to attend birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, and baptisms. This has been a month of God’s continued blessing through time with the people we love here. If there is a theme of this month, it is that God is caring for us through our community (in person and virtually). There have been many times this month when we have left someone’s home or our local coffee shop after sharing our ministry and felt like we had just experienced truly sacred space. It’s such a honor to be a part of conversations about how God has moved in people’s lives, how He challenges us all to take steps of faith to serve him, and how He continues to mold us and use us.

What is a way you have experienced God through community lately?

Ministry Highlight: Estonia – Future Generation Foundation

Beth Ann Erickson grew up in Saint Charles as is one of Chapelstreet Church’s global staff. She is a Converge global worker in Estonia, and we’ve been waiting for the best time to share her ministry with you! Though we have yet to meet Beth Ann, we already love her because of the things we hear of her through our many mutual connections. Among the many things Beth Ann is doing, the Future Generation Foundation is what we want to highlight today. 

Estonia is one of the most atheistic nations in the world, but it is Beth Ann’s vision to reach 2000 youth in the next 5 years. 

From Beth Ann:
Many youth in Estonia are willing to spend time with believers, ask questions about beliefs, consider and ponder possibilities of a creator and savior, however they may be hesitant to set foot in a traditional church building and may be turned off to anything that is connected to their definition of “religion.” This project will provide the opportunity to purchase a location, outside of a traditional church building, where youth can gather, grow, and go. The location will serve as the foundation for the next generation of churches in Estonia. Currently, other than schools and churches, there is a lack of physical place were youth can gather (for free), especially during the winter months.

Be on the lookout for more information and for some stories about this ministry in the coming months. 

Prayer Requests

  • For continued connections with people and churches that result in lasting partnerships.
  • For generous giving to the ministry in Estonia, and for the launching of this youth center. 
  • For healthy patterns of work and rest, so that we are able to participate in all that God has for us during this season.
  • From 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, that we “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances”

Thank you for continuing to pray with us. 

Blessings,
Peter and Heather

August 2020 – Prayer Letter

A social-distanced summer = weekend practice photo shoots

Nearly two weeks ago was my (Heather’s) last day of work. We have been blessed to be able lower our expenses over the past few months, and as we continue to progress toward the field, we knew it was the right time for me to devote 100% of my time to our ministry. At the same time, Peter has cut back at work to half-time. We are praying that our flexible schedule will now enable us to meet with people more and progress faster.

The practical side of us says now is the strangest time to make a decision like this, in the midst of a pandemic, when international travel isn’t even possible, churches and families are struggling to see what the future holds for them. However, we know God is preparing the way and the time for us to go, and He is more than capable of meeting us where we are now.

Our call is to celebrate God’s movement among least-reached peoples and inspire God’s people to engage in missions. In the same way, we are reflecting on our lives, celebrating God’s work in us, and considering how He would have us engage pursue Him and serve Him in this season, even while we’re looking ahead. 

Ministry Highlight: The impact of a personal story

One of our global workers, a young woman, is serving women in a predominantly Musl_m country. She wrote in a recent newsletter about sharing her testimony in an honor/shame culture. Read her thoughts here

For security, the true image and location of our global worker have been withheld.

That is only the beginning of the story for this worker and her friend, but we encourage you to reflect on the way God has used personal stories to impact you and how He has used you to influence others. 

Prayer Requests

  • For the completion of our personal video, that God may use our story for His purposes.
  • For the start of a new project, a video overviewing the various ministries within our region. 
  • For adjustment to our new work-life, and for our schedule to become full of opportunities to share with people God’s work in our lives and the need in Europe and the Mediterranean region. 
  • For the men and women who willingly live a life of trying to fit in while also trying to stand out, who open themselves up to shame, suspicion, and even persecution for the sake of the Gospel.
  • From Jeremiah 9:24, that we continue to boast of our great God: ‘that we understand and know Him, that He is the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.’

Thank you for continuing to pray with us. 

Blessings,
Peter and Heather

Prayer Letter – July 2020

Vacation photography lesson for Heather: testing exposure before family photos.
In case you were wondering, exposing for bright, reflecting water is not easy. 

We have completed our whiteboard video! Until these last few months neither of us had done a video like this before, but we were excited to make something specific for our region. The video will serve as a brief introduction to Converge’s presence in Europe as a follow up to an excellent video produced by Global Frontier Missions. We will send out a link to you as soon as we have permission to do so.

We had a wonderful week in New York, spending time with family, having fun on the lake, resting, and a few opportunities to practice our photography skills with some of the cutest models out there.

We are getting back into the swing of things now, and looking for ways to connect with churches, even as they are in the midst of working out their regathering plans. We know that Covid has affected some of our missionary partners, and we are working toward serving them as they assess how their ministries must continue to adapt and grow. Please continue to pray with us that we progress toward the field and are able to be there soon!

Prayer Requests

For our personal video project: that God would use our story to challenge people to become more engaged in the Great Commission

Again for the continued progress in raising support, sharing our ministry with churches – and for fundraising progress for our team members.

That God provides the right people to take over our roles at work. This is Heather’s last month at the clinic, so we are praying for a smooth transition and for our time to be filled with partner development work.

From 2 Corinthians 12:9  – That His power is made perfect in our weakness. That we will boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us.

Prayer Letter – June 2020

Location scouting for the interview shoot.

Set up is complete. Checking the lighting.

We are nearly finished with a whiteboard video for Converge Europe/Mediterranean region, and we were able to film an interview of ourselves for a brief video about how God has led us to this ministry. It’s safe to say God has definitely called us to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, but it was fun to have the chance to tell a bit of our story in that way. The pictures above are part of the set up process for the interview. We’re excited to share that video when it is finished.

At work in this past month, we have both been preparing for the loosening of restrictions while simultaneously looking at how we can transition out of our jobs. We both feel the need to invest more time in our preparation and partner development than we are currently able. As we are more able to meet with people now, we are navigating how to balance our time. Even while there is uncertainty and unrest throughout our country and world, we are trusting that God is making the way for us to reach full support and move to Poland. 

Next week we will visit family in New York, and we’ll have some much needed time of rest and recuperation after the last few months of stress. 

Peter doing one last sound check before we start the interview.

Reflection from Peter

Made Perfect in Our Weakness

As we’ve been sharing our ministry with people, many have reacted by saying, “I can’t imagine moving to another country,” or “I could never do full time missions”, or “I couldn’t live on support.”

Before missions was on my radar, I would have said those same things about myself. It was only after God had directed my heart toward supporting missionaries through storytelling that He began to tear down those assumptions.

Every part of this process has presented unique challenges that at times have seemed like too much of a stretch, but God uses those situations to remind me that it’s only by his strength that we will be able to move overseas, let alone have an impactful ministry once we’re there. In those moments, I am often reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians: 

“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Once we were convinced of God’s call, it was never a question of what we could or couldn’t do because God has so clearly been at work in our lives, and we know he will provide what we need to follow his call. He can do it. He has prepared us, guided us, and equipped us for this, and He will sustain us through our remaining preparation and into the future of our ministry.

This month, I ask that you pray with us for each person and church we meet with. We are praying that God uses our story to challenge people to reflect on what He is shaping and equipping them for. This is our prayer in these meetings, and this is our prayer for each of our videos. 

Prayer Requests

For our two video projects in the works – that each will be used to encourage people to consider how God has equipped them to engage in the Great Commission.

For the continued progress in raising support, sharing our ministry with churches, and for the continued reopening of Polish borders.  

That God provides a person to take over Peter’s position at church, and for the smooth transition.

For our vacation – that work runs smoothly without us, and that we have a week of rest with family.

That followers of Christ are known for our response to pain and injustice. That we seek healing along racial divides. That the Church be a place where we are united in one cause: to build God’s kingdom and reconcile many to Him.

Prayer Letter – May 2020

Many of us now are beginning to feel antsy, ready to get back out into the world, see our friends and family, and start up life again. The truth is, for the two of us, we have been feeling this way for a year now. We have been waiting to be released onto the mission field to begin our ministry to the global workers in Europe and the Mediterranean region. Though we are so grateful to be part of our community here in the States, we know that our “real life” is out there. 

We are trusting that God is preparing the way and the time for us to enter the field. We have been informed that our training and our ability to travel to Poland will not be greatly affected by this pandemic. We ask that you pray with us that we are able to join our missionaries in the field as soon as possible. We have remained dedicated to training and raising support during this pandemic because we long to visit with our workers, hear their stories, celebrate their ministries with them, and share with you the ways in which God is moving in the region. 

Here is a story about Nita, one of the Converge missionaries continuing ministry during lockdown. We are so grateful for people like Nita, who are committed to serving, ministering to, and caring for the people in their sphere even while they cannot visit and see them face to face. We have seen this abroad and locally, and we’re excited to hear more stories. If you have a story of a way God has enabled you to reach out to someone in your sphere during this pandemic, we’d love to hear it and celebrate with you!

Prayer Request

For our continued work on our the video project – that God will direct us as we fine tune and finish this piece, and that it will be used to challenge more people to engage in missions to the least reached people groups in our region. 

For God to place more people in our (virtual) path to partner with us in our ministry; for us to continue to make progress toward the field, trusting that God is making the way. 

We pray this verse over our missionaries. We ask that you are praying for us in this way as well. From 1 Corinthians 15:58: Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

For the moms in Albania, and all around the world, who are isolated not only from their friends, but from their source of community, care, and encouragement. May God continue to reach these women in their homes.

Prayer Letter – April 2020

We’re sure this has been as crazy a month for you as it has for us.

We’ve celebrated three years of marriage with takeout and a blanket fort. We’ve gotten to explore our neighborhood a bit more on our we’ve-got-to-get-out-of-the-house walks. By God’s grace, we are both still working and healthy, and we are praising God for video call platforms like Zoom and Skype that are enabling us to continue working and preparing for the field.

Most excitingly, we have had the opportunity to start on a video project for the missionaries of our region. It will be a short video introducing the state of Europe, the need for missionaries, and how our teams are engaged there. We look forward to sharing it with you. We are thrilled to be able to jump into our work even while we’re still here in the States. 

Our video project meeting with Dennis McMains (our International Leader – left) and Bob Marsh (Impact Team Leader – right).
Don’t worry, we’re all just debating what language we should use for a certain part of the script.

We have been blessed to hear about the many ways God has been moving in families and communities as we all face these uncertain times. We read an incredible story from one of our missionaries in the Middle East. We summarized it here.

We praise God for blessing us with unique ways to reach people and for using a worldwide event to make the Church bolder and people more receptive.

Prayer Requests

For the success of our video project – that God will direct us in its creation and that it will be used to inspire more people to engage in missions in Europe and the Mediterranean region.

Praise God with us that I (Peter) am able to serve our church community by filming sermons and midweek messages. Pray that God will continue to give me the health and energy to do this work.

For our continued preparation and partnership development as we continue to head toward the mission field, trusting that God has prepared the way and the time for us to go. 

For church leaders around the world who are committed to teaching and encouraging the believers in their community. For the many people who will have an opportunity to hear the Gospel online, and for the Church to be prepared to respond to them.

For those who are not only physically vulnerable but spiritually and emotionally vulnerable while they are cut off from their community. May God give them peace and comfort, and provide them with creative ways to continue to find encouragement.