Month: March 2014

Pray for Nestor at Nationals

I (Brian) am here in Oklahoma City, OK for the D1 Wrestling National Championships. One of the guys I work with, Nestor Taffur is here competing in the 157 weight class. It’s been so fun knowing him over the last 5 years.

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Nestor after his 2nd match yesterday.

Here’s my e-mail back and forth with him:

Nes,
It has been so much fun to watch you grow and develop as a wrestler and as a man of God over the last 5 years. I’m so happy to be able to celebrate with you. I wanted to send you the text of the story you shared at our dinner a couple years ago. You have now reached the pinnacle of the sport. And I see how the gospel has affected your life on and off the mat. Way to go. What a privilege it’s been to be part of your journey.
-Brian
Thanks Brian!
I really appreciate you being here. It’s very encouraging to have all of you be part of this journey. I’m excited to compete tonight in front of my family, friends, wrestling community but most importantly before God!

Love you,
Nes

And here’s what Nestor shared a couple years ago:
“Good evening everyone, my name is Nestor Taffur and I’m a member of the BU wrestling team. I am here today to share a little about my story. Prior to becoming a follower of Jesus, my identity was heavily invested in the sport of wrestling. Winning matches and reaching the pinnacle of the sport meant everything to me. Every time I stepped on the mat, I was representing myself and wrestling for my own personal glory. My performance was a big part of how I measured myself because I believed that it was the only way to gain approval of others. It wasn’t until the passing of my grandfather, where I started to question the spiritual life and the meaning of life altogether. I began to notice that I was living life to my own terms and that there was something missing. There had to be more to life than just the physical existence.
“I arrived on campus my freshman year as a member of a D1 wrestling team and wrestling continued to be my identity. It was at one of our Sunday trips to church, a member of a college ministry approached my teammates and I with a chance to get involved. Looking back, this chance was no coincidence. It was an opportunity that I knew I wanted to take because I still had many spiritual questions. It was around then when I started to meet with Brian Ellis and was able to learn more about the spiritual life and what it meant to really know God.
“I started to build a relationship with the Lord and he started to work in my life in ways that I didn’t know were possible. I learned more about his unconditional love for us even though we don’t deserve it. To have someone that cares for you so much regardless of the amount of times you neglect or reject them is truly something special. It really pulled me in to want to learn more. I also began to realize that it wasn’t all about winning or losing on the mat, that God had a better plan for us. He had equipped me with a set of talents that would serve as a useful source for something bigger.
“More specifically, our wrestling team has always been a very close set of guys that truly care for each other. The more I grew in my faith, the more I learned to care about my teammates in a different and meaningful way. I knew that the Lord wanted to use me to help them grow spiritually the way I had in my few years at college. I’ve been recently named one of the captains for the upcoming season and I see this as an opportunity to lead these young guys on and off the mat.
“This spring, I decided to start my own bible study within my own team. The first day I had planned, we had no guys show up and it was a bit discouraging. After more prayers, I gave it another shot and had 8 guys show up, half of which were not Christians. It was a great point in my spiritual journey and I started to truly see the shift in my identity.
“I know that I’m not perfect but my faith has helped me become the better person that I am today. Since I’ve received Christ into my life, I have joined a beautiful community that I have learned so much from. I will continue to use theses experiences and wrestling as a source to grow and reach out to others. For this I am grateful of the Lord and everything he provides in my life. Thank you for your time.”

 

Why would I become a follower of Jesus?

Ethan and I sat down for lunch with “Tim” in the student union. Tim is an adherent of Sufi Islam. He’s from the Middle East, but he’s a student for a couple years here in Boston. And so, while here, he’s been starting to learn a little about Christianity. When I met Tim, he had already read all of the Gospel of John and had pages and pages of questions for us.

We answered some of the questions, and talked about the differences between Islam and Christianity, and looked at Paul’s explanation of the gospel in Romans 1-3, but mostly we just listened and got to know Tim.

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Here’s Ethan

Near the end of our time, Tim said to us, “OK, I’ve been reading about Jesus. And I can see the attractiveness of Him. And so if I grew up in America with no spiritual background, I could see myself becoming a Christian and following Jesus. But I didn’t grow up in America. I grew up in a Muslim country in the Middle East. And I have experienced God. And so I am trying to follow God through Islam. Why would I become a follower of Jesus?

“That’s a great question,” I said. “You know, I don’t think it’s a lack of information that will keep you from following Jesus.” I told Tim about my friends Julie and Christina. When they were students at Harvard, they first had all of their intellectual questions answered. But at a certain point, God needed to show up. And he did for both of them. “I know that in Muslim countries, Jesus often shows up in dreams to draw people into relationship with Him.”

“God did show up to me in a dream,” Tim said. “He said I should follow Him. And so that’s why I’ve been more serious about my faith in Islam.”

I can’t help but wonder: “are Ethan and I all part of the answer to Tim’s dream?” If that’s the case, then, as part of our team, so are you.

We do go to the world. In fact, we’re headed back to the Middle East this summer. But the world comes to us. Thanks for the critical part you play in reaching the people of the world for Christ.

Ethan also suggested that connecting with a follower of Jesus who was from Tim’s country might be helpful too. So a week later, Ethan, Tim, and our friend “Ali” got together to talk. What an amazing treat that meeting was. Ethan and I have watched Ali over the last couple years as he has started following Jesus. And now to watch him explaining the gospel to Tim. So much fun!

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Above: “Ali,” Brian, and a bunch of our guys get warm after an epic snowball fight. Anything to bring men to Jesus.

Ali got to meet Tim just before he left America to head back to his home country. What a privilege it has been to journey with Ali spiritually. I got an e-mail from him the other day:

“It was my pleasure to know you guys… Oo man you guys have made the biggest impact in my life by showing me the truth…”

That’s not just a message to me. It’s a message to you too!

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

Brian and Malisa

p.s. three pictures we’d love you to see: Eliza at 5 months and Sydney celebrating her 3rd Birthday as Princess Anna from Frozen.

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Big Break Day 4-5


Hi everyone,

Here is our story from the last two days:

Tonight we had a great day inviting the girls of Boston Metro and Rice University for a creative date, where we cooked for them (homemade pizza, chocolate cake and cherry limeade thanks to Ethan and Jeremiah), an Italian aria performance (thanks to Matt), swing dancing (thanks to Jeremiah’s instruction), and a showing of Frozen (thanks to Ari’s mom!).

I hope that you all are doing really well! We appreciate the prayers! As a team, we’ve been able to talk to 60 people about their views on spirituality, and have been able to explain to 16 the message of the Gospel.

Keep praying for us that we are “not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16a). There is a constant struggle that we all face (one that the early believers lost in John 12), “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43).

Thanks for your love and support!
-Drew and the Big Break team

Big Break – Day 2-3

Hi everyone,

We went out the beaches for the first time today, and had some awesome conversations despite the lack of sunshine and the cold weather.
Yesterday we had a day of worship/pray/teaching in our apartment and also walked the beaches in prayer. We have sessions that meet at 7pm and 10am (8pm and 11am Eastern time), and can be seen at www.big-break.com live, or after the fact. These sessions have given us great training and equipping in sharing our faith.
One thing we really focused on was listening to people in conversations, and asking questions, and actually developing a heart for people and an understanding for where they are coming from, spiritually. Here is a video about our experience:

 

Drew’s Big Break


Our Northeastern students are down in Panama City Beach, Florida this week for a week of evangelism training. Drew has been posting video updates. We wanted to share them with you. Here’s what he says:

Hello!

The Northeastern Big Break team made it down to Florida! We got up at 4am and flew out together at 7am to Atlanta and then drove down to Panama City Beach, Florida.

I am going to be putting together short video testimonies of each day as a way to let you know what is going on and how you can be praying for us. Today, Stacy and I give some background into our week leading up to Big Break.

I’m not going to be spending time editing or doing re-takes of things or really even having people prepare out or rehearse their stories, so if it’s rough going, try to bare with it.

Here is the link for today:

Big Break Day 1