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Reaching the Unreached: Josiah and Lydia Stout

Reaching the Unreached: Josiah and Lydia Stout

“God is more concerned about who I become rather than what I do. ‘Be’ comes before ‘Do’.”

Josiah and Lydia Stout are newly weds who graduated this spring with degrees in Intercultural Studies and TESOL. Josiah grew up with his family in Omaha, Nebraska for most his life, where he says “Life was good ‘on the prairie.’” Lydia grew up in Missouri and Michigan with her eight siblings and two godly parents who she says exemplified following the Lord in a powerful way throughout her life. Josiah and Lydia met each other at Calvary University through the Nikao Leadership Institute, and married in the summer of 2021. Today, they are eager to embark on their missionary calling through receiving training with Ethnos 360 to reach the unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Josiah reflects that his time at Calvary has been “instrumental” in choosing the ministry and career he is now pursuing, and Lydia adds that her education at Calvary has trained and equipped her for her ministry and career through studying Intercultural Studies and teaching English as a second language. She states: “My intercultural classes have encouraged me to fully consider others’ perspectives and the influences that have shaped who they are. This will be important to consider as I try to learn the culture of the people I will work with someday in order to effectively share the Gospel with them.” Josiah adds, “Being in an environment with people to cultivate your passion, opportunities to wet your feet, and an atmosphere that elevates God’s Word have been three of the most instrumental ways my time at Calvary has prepared me for the future.”

The pull towards missions started for Josiah and Lydia when they were both just children. Josiah reveals that, “I was the kid who used my free time to read a book.”  He states that God used both the Word and missionary biographies to grow an early excitement in him to serve in missions, potentially overseas: “I never felt a specific call from God, although I enjoyed volunteering with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) during the summer and thought it could be fun to pursue a teaching ministry, possibly for children. God really used circumstances at Calvary to draw me to His Word and see His love and passion for those who have never heard the gospel.” Lydia recalls a time when she was in elementary school that specifically burdened her soul for the unreached. One day, a missionary speaker came to her school and pulled out a piece of paper that stretched down the audience’s aisle: “On this paper was a list of all the languages which did not have the Bible. It made me so sad, because I knew this meant they did not know the saving message of salvation.” Since this experience, Lydia says God has increased her burden for the unreached and that Calvary has enabled her to pursue a vision of reaching them successfully. Together, Josiah and Lydia are determined to reach the unreached as a unified force. 

During Josiah and Lydia’s four years at Calvary, they volunteered with Global FC: “Because of the four year commitment to tutor these refugees,” Josiah says, “We have developed deeper connections with them. A couple weeks ago Lydia and I were able to spend some time with a family that Lydia began tutoring her freshman year. Even though it had been months since we had seen them, there was a close bond that we sensed in the room.”  Lydia adds, “Global FC has provided me with opportunities to build relationships for Christ with refugee kids and their families. Working with this organization has allowed me to view people of other cultures in a more personal light than I would have otherwise.”

Both Josiah and Lydia have learned powerful lessons through their classes at Calvary. One of the key lessons that Josiah learned was the concept of “Know, Be, Do” which Dr. Joshua Paxton helped “drill” into his head: “What stood out to me is that God is more concerned about who I become rather than what I do. ‘Be’ comes before ‘Do’. All three areas (knowledge, character, actions) are a continual work in progress that God matures as we seek Him.” When reflecting on Lydia’s educational journey, she touches on a lesson that deeply impacted her life: “One of the professors at Calvary, Dr. Bonine, continually reminded me to think of the ‘people or things’ concept. This has reminded me to have the right perspective in life. I try to invest my time and energy into people, which will last forever, instead of things, which are only temporary.”

Presently, Josiah and Lydia are “anticipating what the future holds” as they enter Ethnos 360’s missionary training center this August: “We have been talking and praying about this decision for a few years,” Josiah says, “And so it feels hard to hold our plans loosely. We are excited to begin this next phase of what may lead us overseas in just a few years.” 

At Calvary, Josiah and Lydia were active students, participating in Nikao events, helping lead Haystack meetings, speaking in chapel, and graduating with special honors. 

Why send missionaries over there?

Why send missionaries over there?

“There are so many unsaved people here in the United States. Why should we send missionaries to other countries?” As American becomes increasingly post-Christian, this view seems more reasonable. 

Calvary’s Dr. Joshua Paxton invited Matthew Ellison, President of Sixteen:Fifteen, to discuss this important question. Ellison has a different perspective. Ellison said, “Why are we going ‘there’? It’s because there are people without access to the gospel. Be the church where you’re at, but we need to raise up those who will take the church where it isn’t.”

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

Lance Rensberger: Trust within Trial

Lance Rensberger: Trust within Trial

Aftermath of helicopter following hangar collapse. 

“‘The safest place to be is within God’s will.'” 

Lance and Caitlin Rensberger are alumni of Calvary University who graduated one year apart from each other, Caitlin in 2015 and Lance in 2016. The couple, married in 2016, began building a family and serving at Ethnos 360’s campus in Arizona. Currently, Lance serves as a Maintenance Specialist for Ethnos360 Aviation, working on helicopters and airplanes to keep them running and outfitting new aircraft with upgrades for teams in other locations.

Recently, a disaster took place that challenged Lance and the Ethnos 360 team. The team in Brazil had just received the Ethnos 360’s Aviation R66 helicopter and had been renting a hangar on the airfield while finishing building their own hangar. On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, winds of over 100km collapsed the aircraft hangar, destroying their helicopter. Lance shares how God protected Ethnos 360’s pilot Jeremiah, who was inside the helicopter, cleaning the windows when the winds struck: “The windstorm was so strong and the accident was so sudden that there was even part of a wing from another airplane that crashed into the windshield of the helicopter.” This airplane wing went through the helicopter cockpit right over Jeremiah’s body, shielding him from the falling roof. By God’s grace, Jeremiah crawled out of the crushed helicopter uninjured

Lance reflects: “When we talked to Jeremiah about his experience, he couldn’t even remember getting out of the helicopter after the collapse…He just remembered one minute he was inside the helicopter–and the next moment he was outside of it–looking at the damage.” The insurance adjuster assessed the damage to the helicopter and determined it to be a total loss, providing Ethnos360 with the full amount for which it was insured and allowing a replacement to be ordered.

When reflecting on the impact this challenge had on his personal life, Lance states: 

“Looking at this experience, there’s been a few things I’ve been reminded about. First, the enemy can and does interfere with our day-to-day lives. The team in Brazil has gone through other trials similar to this one in terms of severity.  For instance, a friend on the team in Brazil was in a rollover car crash while moving to the new location. Yet, in every trial, they have experienced God’s ultimate protection. It reminds me of something someone told me recently, which is that the safest place to be in life is within God’s will.” Lance concludes: “I’m still not sure why that first R66 got smashed, but I do know that it is a part of God’s plan, and He will use it to further His Kingdom. God’s plans are never ‘messed up’ by the things we perceive as setbacks.”

Lance’s family plans to serve in the Philippines, although they have had a difficult time in preparation for this. “Covid has certainly played its part in this process, but on top of that I have some autoimmune disorders that need to be monitored to ensure that everything is still under control.” Lance states: “We’ve been talking with doctors in the Philippines to see if we would get the necessary care needed for me to stay there long term, but we’ve had a hard time finding answers via email. So, we plan to take a trip this August to visit the team in the Philippines and directly ask questions to the doctors there. We hope that those questions will give favorable answers so we can start the process of moving. We would come back to the U.S. to make one final round of raising prayer and financial partners and then be in the Philippines by spring or summer of 2023.” 

Today, Lance and his family are pursuing a life of service through Ethnos 360, where Lance is using his skillsets to further his career and ministry to God. Despite the struggles that have come along the way, God has continued to protect and provide, no matter what the circumstance. Jeremiah, the pilot from the helicopter accident, showed this same confidence as he reflected on God’s goodness despite the accident: “God is in control. He has a purpose and a plan and is controlling everything all the way down to the smallest details. Things will come in His most perfect timing, just like He did with protecting me in that helicopter.”

 

The Rensberger family: Lance, Caitlin, Eli, and Sadie. 

Dr. Joshua Paxton: Why you should care about Intercultural Eduction

Dr. Joshua Paxton: Why you should care about Intercultural Eduction

Intercultural Education is more necessary than ever before. According to Dr. Joshua Paxton, the need for Christians to understand how to communicate and relate with people of other cultures is only going to increase.

Paxton, Director of the Calvary University Burnham Center for Global Engagement and Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, recently completed a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Intercultural Education. He was invited to join Calvary’s Shaun LePage for a conversation to clarify what exactly is Intercultural Education, why relating to and teaching cross-culturally is different from teaching someone of the same culture and some of the things a person needs to know in order to communicate and teach cross-culturally.

But this is not just for Christians in higher education. The “average” Christian or local church leader should also care about and give our attention to our own Intercultural Education because of the cross-cultural times in which we live.

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more. 

Rensbergers say Calvary prepared them for missionary life

Rensbergers say Calvary prepared them for missionary life

Currently serving at Ethnos360 in Arizona

Lance and Caitlin Rensberger met during their time at Calvary University. Lance graduated in 2016 and Caitlin in 2015 — both majored in Advanced Biblical Studies. The Rensbergers have been married since 2016 and they have a son named Eli (18 months old) and a baby girl on the way (due in May).  

They are serving at the Ethnos360 campus in Arizona. Lance is a Maintenance Specialist for Ethnos360 Aviation. Currently he works on their helicopters and airplanes in Arizona keeping them running, outfitting new aircraft with upgrades for the different fields, and training and learning about the aircraft that Ethnos360 Aviation uses.  

We’re planning to move overseas within the next couple of years to one of four options: Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Asia Pacific, or Brazil,” Caitlisaid. Once in country Lance would continue to maintain the mission’s aircraft and help to keep the program running smoothly. That might include keeping records for the in-country government, keeping track of parts and getting parts through customs, or buying supplies for the missionaries in the bush that are planting churches.”  

Lance said, “Caitlin doesn’t know for sure what her role will be, but we know that the Lord has her raising our family, and that there will be plenty of opportunities to join in the effort of spreading the gospel to all nations. We’re excited to see how God will line up her talents and abilities with needs on the field.” 

While Caitlin has known for most of her life that she wanted to go into missions, Lance didn’t plan on it until college. Missions was something that became more and more of a desire each year at Calvary. 

Initially he had hoped to go for a year or two and then go into engineering. But after a few years he realized he wanted to be involved with some kind of ministry and to use the gifts God had given him to further the kingdom. Maintenance and working with his hands were some of those gifts, Caitlin said. 

The couple agrees that Calvary prepared them well for the missionary life. “We both had a lot of opportunities for leadership while at Calvary,” Lance said. We grew a ton in our walks with Christ. We grew in our relationships with people and made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot about how to disciple and grow other believers.

Caitlin added, “Calvary didn’t give Lance aviation specific training, but just about every other aspect of ministry with the mission we were given plenty of opportunity to grow in those areas. For instance, there is a fairly high turnover rate for missionaries in overseas missions. The number one reason for this turnover is personnel conflict. I can’t tell you how many times we both went through training that covered personality differences and working together to use other people’s strengths to compliment others’ weaknesses. Also, a lot of our time there was focused on real life conflict resolution. We don’t claim to have all the answers and don’t want to pretend that we couldn’t end up leaving a field because of a personnel conflict, but we sincerely hope and pray what we learned at Calvary will be things we remember and are able to put those things into practice in what has proven to be so difficult for others.”

Calvary Student Reflects on Year Studying Abroad

Calvary Student Reflects on Year Studying Abroad

Calvary student Elise Godsey studied in Greece this year as part of an articulation agreement with Greek Bible College.

“My walk with God definitely grew…”

Calvary Junior Elise Godsey spent the 2019-2020 school year studying in Athens, Greece through Calvary’s articulation agreement with Greek Bible College. She attended for two semesters, studying with other students in the school’s international program (ISP). Godsey said, “This year especially, we got to have a really diverse group,” with students from Greece, America, Canada, Macedonia, South Africa, and Hong Kong.

Calvary’s articulation agreement allows students to function as transfer students, taking courses through Greek Bible College and transferring them toward their degree at Calvary. Godsey said not every course transfers, but “it’s class-by-class figuring it out.” She was enrolled full time, and audited courses of interest that wouldn’t transfer towards her degree. She said the cost of attending added up to be “about the same as a semester at Calvary” and the school environment was very similar to her experiences at Calvary, “a laid-back type of atmosphere, and the professors were very personable.”

Greek Bible College rotates through courses, and Godsey was able to take classes on Bible survey, history of missions, apostles, and the Greek language. Chapel services were held in Greek with a translator, but “all of the classes were in English; everyone knew English really well.”

The ISP students also visited several significant sites around Greece, including Nicopolis, Patmos, Meteora, Delphi, Thessaloniki, and Philippi. Godsey emphasized that, “It’s not just a trip, it’s living there. So many other [study abroad programs] that I’ve heard about were like a one month trip spent traveling… What I loved about mine was that I was living there. It wasn’t a trip.”

Godsey quickly became involved in many ministry opportunities in the community there. She said, “The thing that affected my faith more than anything else was getting to learn from the people in the different ministries I was a part of. I learned a lot of facts at the school, but my walk with God definitely grew seeing what he’s doing in the believers there in Athens.”

See also: 

Calvary Student Enjoys Semester Abroad in Greece” (October 2019 post written by Elise Godsey).

Calvary Student to Spend Semester in Greece

Calvary University has an articulation agreement with Greek Bible College. For more information, click on the image of the GBC website.

Sunrise over Pikermi

Mt. Parnitha

The Parthenon at the Acropolis.