The Obama Speech…

Wow, what a great speech.  Although I don’t agree with everything he said, i also didn’t disagree with everything he said.  One thing I know is Barak Obama is an inspirational communicator and when you watched the speech and realize that 45 years ago Dr. King gave his “dream” speech the moment became a piece of history.

Whatever way you go politically, you can’t deny his ability to communicate, or the historical context of his campaign.

Very Interesting!



Well my marathon training is going well….I have to admit when I first started I was determined to do it, committed that before I turn 40 i will run a marathon, however in the back of my mind, i really didn’t know if I could do it.  Now I know I can.  I feel great and it keeps getting better.  I know this however, the reason I have kept going and will keep going is because of the partnership I have with my friend Andrew.  For example today on our four mile run there were a couple of times i was tired and wanted to stop, (didn’t get enough sleep) he just said, come on you can do it, we are almost there.

Its amazing how powerful those words are, “come on, you can do it!”  I just want to encourage everyone, you can make it, whatever you are trying to accomplish don’t quit, don’t give up, you may be tired, or restless or hurt, just don’t give up, you can make it.  One of the best ways to make it, is to find someone else you can cheer on.  Someone you can partner with to be an encouragement.

Encouragement is a powerful thing…try it, you’ll like it.


Getting older and excited about it….

I have a great life!  I hear people my age so often say, “I wish I could be young again.”  I’m not very old, i’m actually only 39, but that is almost 40 and to many that seems old.  My wife Janae and I have decided we don’t want to be that young again.  Not that we didn’t love every minute of it, but truthfully I love being married 20 years.  I think its great to have the passion of new ideas and also some experience to go with it.  I love Knowing the excitement of risk, and what it truly means to take one.  I like having fun with my friends and have serious conversations but at the same time, knowing not to take myself to seriously.  I wouldn’t go back, but I am doing my best to keep the best elements of being young in my life.

I do that by dreaming, keeping the dreams passionately stirred up inside me and my family.  I told my wife two years ago, because I’ve had several friends go through some devastating mid life crisis.  I said I will not allow myself to be kicked off course.  So two years ago I set some goals.  Spiritually, mentally, and physically, and relationally.  I have kept myself aiming for those goals, and have seen my life improve in every area, and not allowed myself to become disallusioned by insecurity.  I’ve had my moments and mental battles, and Im sure will still have but this has truly helped me.

I told myself I would run a marathon before 40  which is quite a challenge because at the time i was way over weight.  5’9  250 way to heavy.  In this time i have lost over 50 lbs and and last monday i ran 9 miles without stopping at a decent pace.  My marathon on November 16th, so I will be meeting a personal goal and a spiritual goal at once.  I am using my race to raise money for our global reach efforts to stop human trafficking.

I love my life, I don’t want out, I don’t want to go back, I don’t regret.  I am doing my best to become what God created me to be, and loving every minute of it.

what are you doing to work this time in your life…i’d love to hear about it.


Church of the Harvest Fall Launch…Midwest City Campus….

Join us at Church of the harvest Midwest City Campus this weekend where we begin “Fall Launch.”  There are two services to choose from.  9:30 and 11:30 am. This weekend we are having a catered bbq meal for everyone after each service.  Your kids can play on the big blow up games, while you connect with friends.  We invite you to join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Join Church of the Harvest August 23/24 for the new series INVADING
MYSPACE: Conquering the Complexities of Home Life with a Teenager.

Parents and teens alike are typically shocked at the adjustments, challenges, and even helplessness that seems to grip their home life through this season. Parents of younger kids fear the day it will arrive. Oddly enough for many the teen years seem to extend to 26 years old. What’s up with that? Parents & teens are both advised to attend. With 25 years experience working with teenagers, hosting 70,000+ teenagers at our Youth America camps, and raising 3 teenagers who have consistently loved God, loved people, and loved the Church, Pastor Kirk Pankratz offers proven expertise, mindsets & methods to help regardless of your family dynamic.

20 years…

As I sit here this morning reflecting on life,  and my  place in the world, (sounds deep right) what else are you gonna due when you wake up this early on Sunday morning.  I think  of last Tuesday August 12.  Last tuesday was a marker in my life.  A twenty year marker.  As of last tuesday, my wonderful wife Janae and I have been married for 20 years.  I know, I know we look way to young for that, at least thats what we tell ourselves.  We got married when we were 19, now i wouldn’t change this, but I don’t necessarily recommend it.

We were talking the other about what this means, all that we’ve gone through, the ups and downs, the extremely good times, and the extremely bad times.  A lot can happen over 20 years.  There have been times we have been so mad at each other we just wanted to give up, and quit on marriage.  There have been times when we had such difficulty that we couldn’t imagine how we would have made it without each other.  There have been such great times we have been elated to be together.

God has truly blessed us, by surrounding us with people who give us great examples of how to last.  He has taught us through his word, about what a great marriage really is, and how it works.

How do you do 20 years?  Love, no not that fuzzy feeling stuff we call love, but true love.  Love that considers the other person more than self, love that wants the success of the other, love the supersedes frustration, anger, or discontentment.

How do you do it?  communicate, talk to each other, my wife, even if she is the one im mad at is the first person I turn to, I am the same for her.  We are partners.  It doesn’t hurt that Janae is the greatest person I know, and has more true love and care and wisdom in her little pinky then the majority of people i’ve met in life.

How do you do it?  Believe in each other.  Realize that God has gifted each of you, that He has a purpose for each of you, and has put you together to realize that purpose, not the least of which is to train your children to become great people.  Support one another.  My greates cheerleader is Janae, and I’m hers.

How do you do it?  don’t let anger rule in your house.  Care more about unity than you do about making your point.  Remember you are parnters not enemy combatents.

How?  Most importantly Keep Jesus at the center of your life.  Not a side note, not thing we do, but truly our relationship with Jesus is what holds us together. Oh, to some 20 years is nothing, they’ve got 40, 50, even 60 years and we are striving for that.  We love each other more now than we ever have, we understand each other now, more than ever, I would never want to llive my life without her, she is my life.  To us 20 years is a great mark, and we’re ready for 100 more.  We are partners, our family is a team, and we are going somehwhere.  We focus on thriving, not surviving, and we realize nothing is so bad, that we can’t overcome it with God’s help.

I love Janae Gadberry, and I truly believe that God gave her to me as a gift, to help my life unfold according to his plan, and I hope that i’ve been that same gift to her.

So there you have it….twenty years…Its been fun, but the best is yet to come!


eyes wide open…

It is hard to imagine that there is a world out there, a coordinated, systematic, organized network of pedaphiles who prey on the innocents of little girls.  It’s hard to imagine that there are people in this world who would sale their own children into this ring of perversion for a little money and the relief of the responsability of another mouth to feed.  I know, we want to keep our eyes shut, if I just don’t see it, then I don’t have to deal with it.  If I act as if it does not exist then to me, it doesn’t and i have no responsability. 

Do not be decieved, this world does exist and it is based on two things, perversion and unadulterated greed.  Men, getting out of convictions because the grease the right palm.  Men not being prosicuted, becuase there is money to be made and no one cares about the lives it is destroying. 

My problem is I have seen the lives face to face.  The beautiful little innocent, precious lives.  Little girls who love to play, and to be appreciated and to be treated like a princess, have been taken into the depths of perverse abuse, not just molestation, or even rape, but sado masicistic abuse.  There are those who have been rescued or made it back home out of the nightmare only to be sold again.  I can’t stand it, I can’t tolerate it.  I won’t.  I have made up my mind to have my eyes wide open.  I am so excited, there are many great organizations who are doing something about his problem.  Attacking it head on to stop it.  They are directly rescuing girls, sheltering girls and give them after care. 

We are proud to be part of helping to stop human trafficking.  We were able to spend time and resource to give the girls in a rescue “a week for a princess”  Our way of showing them how special they are, and how God has a purpose for them and what has happened to them can not stop what God can do.  It was our first one and it was phenominal.  I couldn’t believe how great it was.  I could go into all kinds of detail, but lets just say, it was life changing for them and for us. 

We are getting involved, in rescue, in after care, and in foster care.  Not only around the world but right in our own back yard.  Someone has to speak for those who can not speak for themselves, someone has to stand in the face of greed and perversion and say thats it, no more. 

I dare you to look into the face of these little ones, from 4 to 14 years of age, who are so resiliant and realize what has happened to them, and then try to keep your eyes shut.  If you can, somethings wrong with you.

We all need to be aware, we all need to resource and help those who are on the frontlines like ICA, like Hager, Like the IJM.  Jesus said suffer the little ones to come to me, he said it would be better to tie a heavy rock around your neck and through yourself into the river then to hurt one of these little ones.  If he was so passionate about kids, His heart must be for his church, and people everywhere, to love beyond their denial and open wide their eyes, and see the reality, realize its not a nightmare, its happening right now, and then act to stop it.

Stay tuned, and I’ll give you some ways you can help.



Headed home.

The week that changed our lives…update from Cambodia…

I don’t want this to be long so I will try to be concise.  However, it is hard to describe all that we’ve done in the last week.  I haven’t written sense last Sunday before we left the capital City to go to the province.  What a great trip it was.  It has been non-stop action.  We planned this trip well and it has gone according to plan.

I don’t need to review what we did last week because you can read the previous blog and it will get you up to speed.   We left Phnom Penh last Monday morning and headed to the Kampong Cham.  Last year our team held a huge festival in Kampong Cham, and thousands of people came, we also built a hope center.  The hope center is headed by a wonderful Pastoral Couple, who love God, people, and children.  They have a church they pastor, and oversee several others equalling about 400 people.  Last year his home was functioning as house, church, and orphanage, and there was not near enough room.  So we built the hope center to house the orphans.  He has taken in 15 so far.  15 little cambodian children, who would otherwise be on the streets, prey to all kinds of vulchers.  Instead they are receiving love and care.  They are being educated, their medical care taken care of, and the spiritual lives are being encouraged.  We went to the hope center and really didn’t know what to expect.  I wondered if it would be as nice as we left it or would it be worn down over the year.  We were pleasently suprised they had taken great care to finish it out and make it a wonderful place to live.   They had recently put a playground with swings in the back yard, however it gets very hot and certain parts of the day the kids can’t go out and play because of the heat.  So we built them a nice overhang shade.  They were so excited, and we had a great time with them.  We bought the materials and built the shade, it looked great and was fully functional when we left.  We also saw that they needed a walk way between the buildings so we built one and it is beautiful.  We also landscaped the back and front of the buildings and truly made the place beautiful.  We took each orphan a back pack and filled them full with school supplies.  We gave them painting sets, and coloring books, and instruments and soccer balls.  It was truly a blessing to them.  We also were able to get them several bibles that Pastor Hong could give to believers in the church that cant afford to buy a bible of their own.  Once our mission was complete there, we had dinner and invited pastor Hong and his wife, and lavished them with gifts and appreciation for the hard work they do in the ministry and watching over these kids.

After a good nights rest, we got up, and began our journey to Kampong Thom.  We arrived just in time to meet with Pastor Sochan and Esther and their brand new baby girl Christina Joy, and went out to one of their feeding sites.  Pastor Sochan is a young pastor who has a real heart for orphans or impoverished kids.  He has 5 Churches that he oversees.  each of them have orphans and each of them have a feeding program.  We went with him out to the feeding program.  The way it works is they feed the kids, while they are there they tell them bible stories and then sing Christian songs with them so they are learning the word of God constatnly.  They also teach them a practical health lesson.  How to clean up, how to brush their teeth, etc.  The reason he does the feeding programs, is because many of these poor village kids, would like to get an education but they can’t because their parents need them to work on the farm or as a vendor, they need the kids to work to make enough money to be able to eat.  So if Sochan feeds them for free then they don’t have to go to work with their families because they don’t need them for extra money, so the kids can go to school and get their education.

We fed them, gave them stickers, they love that, and sang songs and told them stories.  They were beautiful kids, and extremely poor.  Sochan is doing a great work.  We then went back to the hope center and met with the orphans there.  We gave them all their presents (back packs, school supplies, and toys) The older kids led us in praise and worship and then we presented Pastor Sochan and Esther with a gift basket that was put together just for them.  We were also able to resource them to help finish some construction that need to be finished.  They want the kids to be able to play out in front, and Destiny Church in st louis brought a team and built them a beautiful fence, but they needed a secure gate, so we were able to help with that.

After we left the Hope Center, we met with Jenn Garrett, Our International Crisis Aid representative and great friend, she introduced us to the coordinators of the after care program for Hagar.  We went through an orientation to preapare to minister to these precious girls who have come through such extreme abuse.  They are great women, doing a great thing for the Cause of Christ. I will blog about hagar later and about what is being done about the sex trade.

We went to the home, and because they knew we were coming they were so excited and prepared a dance for us.  It was incredible, it was a formal, traditional Khmer dance, we were very impressed and moved that they were so talented.  We met them and intereacted and then went back to our hotel. We met them in the market and bought each of them a new set of clothes, they were so happy and excited, it was a beautiful thing to see. The next day we all got up and headed to Siem Reip, where we took the girls to the “cultural village”, this is a great place where they do several programs that show you how different cultures do different things.  It was a lot of fun and the girls really warmed up to us. Many of them had never been able to go to anything like this, it was a huge blessing for them.  Next day was angkor wat, one of the 8 wonders of the world.  It was amazing and the girls and the team loved it and continued to cultivate a relationship.  We truly were having a week for a princess.  After this day, we came back and a banquet with different dishes that the girls never get to eat because of budget.  At the end of the banquet several girls wanted to tell us thanks so they thanked us for the trips and for the clothes and for all the food.  They were so grateful, so precious, it really was a great moment.  The last girl said, I would like to give my testimoney.  She talked about  how her life used to be really bad, the story is that she was sold into the sex trade by her aunt, and was severely abused, she went on to say that she had the opportunity to join Hagar and get an education and food and medical care.  While she was at hagar she was introduced to Jesus Christ, and she said that becuase of her past at that time she was unable to trust people, but after knowing Jesus she said God changed her and she knew that God is always there for her, it was so sincere and so powerful it left us in tears.

The girls stayed at the hotel and ate ice cream and the team went to prepare to receive hem.  When they were finished they came to the house.  When the bus pulled up, our team was out on the porch with glow sticks and balloons and crowns to put on them.  The house was decked out for a princess party.  We had several stations, one to fix hair, one to do nails, one to make crafts and one to color.  The girls and staff got off the bus and literally ran into the party, it was one of the greatest moments of my life.  It may not seem like a big deal, but if you knew the circumstances these girls have come out of, and the fact that they rarely would get any of the things that we did for them it was a huge deal.  They sang and danced and enjoyed all of the stations and we had a grand time.  After the party settled down, we all took a picture together, and then sang some songs, after the songs we sat down, and I told them the story of Esther, and then prayed with them.  They prayed for us, and we for them.  It is hard to explain what a bond was made in those few days, but it was heart wrenching for them and us to part ways.  I can honestly say that we truly made an impact and i believe that God is going to raise these girls up and bring beauty from their pain.  They will be great leaders in the future.

Be watching for a future blog about sex trafficking and what is being done about it.  Thank God that there are many organizations attacking this problem.