Life Outside the Comfort Zone!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!” A friend shared that statement with Patty and me the other night and I have been thinking about it ever since. By nature we seek-out comfort or environments that we think we can control, places that seem safe and familiar. In fact the “comfort zone” is a big seller and makes billions of dollars each year convincing people that life is all about living in the zone of comfort with that the next phone, car, gadget, home, job, investment, etc.

When I think about the saying above it has me pondering Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-26:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. I f you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process.”

In essence Jesus is the author of “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and that life is found in following Him. Yes, the epic journey of following Jesus is scary, hard at times, uncertain, and definitely out of our comfort zone, but it leads to exhilarating abundant life. To be honest I’m a little scared as we pack up to leave for South Africa and say good bye to so many things and people that make us feel comfortable. But I know from past experience that there is a life ahead beyond understanding that is found in His will.

So as you move into 2020 think about the phrase “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and the words of Jesus from Luke 9:23-26 calling you to follow Him. Where is He calling you out of your comfort zone in this New Year? Perhaps it is to reach out with His love to a neighbor or co-worker. Maybe it is to use your gifts and talents in a new way this year like leading a prayer group in your home, doing a Bible study with your wife, kids, or a friend. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you this year about following whole heartedly after Jesus. No doubt it will be scary and beyond you- but know that “True Life,” in Jesus is waiting for you as you step out of the boat.

The Board & Staff of Oceans Ministries prays that God will do more than you can ever hope or imagine this year for His glory. We also want to thank you for your prayers and support as we move out in new steps of faith this year. For those of you who donate to Oceans you can still send your checks to Oceans Ministries, P.0. Box 461024, Aurora, CO 800046 or through PayPal found on our website:

Happy New Year!

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Party!

Oceans Ministries hosting a Christmas Party for Hebron Partners, who minister in a township in South Africa.

‘Tis the season for parties! We see in the Gospels that Jesus loved to attend dinner parties, weddings and festivals. He loved parties because He loved people and wanted them to taste what His Kingdom of grace and love!

A birthday party for one of our friends living on Colfax in Aurora, Colorado.

In one of Jesus’ parables He tells of a man throwing a big party and sending out invitations far and wide. But as the rsvp’s came back, everyone was too busy to attend. So the man invited “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind,” to come and enjoy this incredible free feast at the host’s own expense (Luke 14:15-24). We are the people who are in need of this amazing gift!

Barbecue at the Wooden Shoe Motel Zeeland, Michigan

2000 years ago our Good Father sent out the most glorious invitation the world would ever receive through His only Son. His humble birth, His holy life, His horrific death, and the healing power of His resurrection invites us into a forever Kingdom party. All we need to do is say “YES” to the invitation from the Father and let the precious gift of HIs Son Jesus lead us into the Kingdom celebration. This party will flood your soul with unspeakable joy, a peace that passes all understanding, a love that knows no limit, and a passion to both worship and witness His glory!

Oceans Retreat Center, Fish Hoek, South Africa.

Merry Christmas from Oceans Ministries! May you enjoy the Kingdom party, not only during this Christmas season but all year long!!!!

Pray for Open Doors

“He is speaking right to me!” Have you ever felt the sermon was just for you? This past Sunday the pastor’s message struck a cord that has been ringing in the ears of my spirit ever since. “Prayer is hard work, probably the hardest spiritual discipline we will do,” stated Pastor Jeff. He went on to say that the enemy knows that when God’s children pray they become an unstoppable force in the world. So our enemy will do whatever it takes to keep us from prayer or when we do pray discourage us with intense spiritual warfare to keep us from pressing in further.

The text preached was from Colossians 4:2ff:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful, and pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should.

Your prayers have the power to birth missions. Paul writes the words above to a people he had never met and yet he knows that their prayers can open doors for him to share the gospel even as he is in prison. As I was listening to the sermon the Spirit shook the core of my being and said “you need to ask people to pray for the work of Oceans and fervently pray for other ministries, churches, and people for supernatural doors to open to share the Good News of Christ.” Maybe it is my pride, in fact I’m sure it is, I’m not good at asking others for help. If Paul, the greatest of all missionaries pleaded for prayers from strangers how much more do I need to ask for prayers for open doors.

So here it goes, I want to ask you faithful readers to lift Oceans and our Partner Ministries in prayer. That we would have open doors to share and live the Good News of Jesus Christ.

  1. Mike and Dawn Verkaik – As they weekly minister with a team of others at the Wooden Shoe motel in Holland, Michigan. Also, as Mike will be leading several mission teams to Lesotho, Africa & Cape Town.
  2. Ray & Sue Haakonsen – As Ray will be transitioning from helping set up Oceans Retreat Center to discipleship and training ministry in the Townships of Cape Town.
  3. Kegan & Dessie Haakonsen – As they manage Oceans Retreat Center and create a place of prayer, discipleship, healing, and Kingdom advancement.
  4. Bountiful Hope – Led by Paul & Cindy Trollinger as they provide schooling for orphan high schoolers as well as direction of jobs after graduation in Lesotho Africa.
  5. Beautiful Gate Care Center in Lesotho Africa – That they would continue to answer the call to save and love orphan children and be a place that disciples many to live into the Kingdom.
  6. Jesus on Colfax – Led by Shawn and Dianne Sikkema who tirelessly minister the love of Jesus on the toughest streets in Colorado.
  7. Patty & myself – As we relocate to South Africa in a few weeks and that there would be open doors to share and live the Gospel of Jesus.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and for sharing with us in the ministry of our glorious Savior Jesus Christ. And we pray that Abba Father will open doors for you today as well so that together we may show and tell others about the hope of Jesus that lives in us!

A Tapestry of Tragedy and Love

I asked Ray Haakonsen, Oceans South African Ambassador, to share this touching story of how even in times of painful loss the Father’s love shines through.

As a high-energy individual I’m generally drawn to activities that require robust contact, are fast pace and involve sweat! My wife Sue on the other hand, is a patient, keen, and skilled “stitcher,” preferring cross-stitch, but also interested in tapestry. It has always amazed me when I investigate a tapestry or cross stitch design, she is busy with, whilst the front is normally an exquisite design, the back just seems to be a chaotic, colorful jumble of threads, with seemingly no shape at all! Life can feel like that at times.

A recent story reaching across an Ocean expanse, reminded me of such a tapestry. Raven, a lady I know from the suburb of Cape Town often challenges people who can, to partner with individuals or families in very difficult circumstances. On her Facebook Group – Goodwill Donations she mentioned a family of 6 with both parents facing unemployment. The 9-year-old son had won a place in a boys’ soccer team, and needed a substantial amount of money to purchase the kit and pay for costs associated with participating in the tournament. However, the family was struggling just to put food on the table (especially at this special time of the year), to pay money for their son to continue to play the game he was good at and brought him great joy did not seem possible.

With Raven’s permission, I posted the story on my personal Facebook page with the agreement of not mentioning any names. Within minutes I heard from a family I know from Michigan USA. The Kroll’s had volunteered with their three children for 6 months some years back at Beautiful Gate, the Care Center Sue and I ran for abandoned and HIV/AIDS babies.

The Kroll family

This family had experienced unimaginable pain with the tragic loss of their youngest teenage son Zach, 4 years ago. Then just 3 weeks ago their nephew, Keaton, at age 16, with dreams to one day become a pro soccer player, collapsed whilst playing indoor soccer, caused by a blood clot in his leg that travelled to his lungs. Another bright, passionate, loving young man in their family lost. How do you speak into and comfort families, who have suffered such heart-breaking loss?

Keaton Kroll

But when Lori Kroll (the Mom of Zach) messaged me, she told me the family were being sustained and ministered to by the faith of Christ, the God they love and serve and felt helping this young boy (and family) in an over-populated, drug and gang engulfed area, would be a way of honoring the loss of these 2 precious teens, who are so close to their hearts. The Kroll’s willingly agreed to meet the full cost for the pre-teen South African to participate in this tournament.

Raven, who initially posted the need, met with the family struggling financially, and the recipients of this kindness were overwhelmed and completely stunned by this gesture. They repeatedly thanked Raven (who they know well), for sensitively making their son’s need known. I picture in my mind, the smile of that young boy and imagine the racing of his heart, first when he puts his kit on, then runs on to take part with his team at the tournament.

Picture used with permission.

Hearts have been torn apart, broken, challenged, and knitted together, across the Oceans, forming a human Tapestry through the circumstances of families in Cape Town and Michigan, spurred by love amongst strangers. It is so amazing to see how our Creator God is interested in and involved in the details of our lives. Behind the messiness there is a beautiful tapestry.

63 days of Praise!

“Perfect love drives out fear!” For me these words from 1 John 4:18 are some of the most freeing in all of Scripture. If we are honest with ourselves fear can control much of our thinking and our lives. Since the first family walked away from the Father’s love in the garden of Eden we have struggled with the stronghold of fear. We fear the future, not fitting in, not having financial security, failure, etc. These fears become a vicious task master robbing us of true love and life and leaving both mind and body imprisoned in a dungeon of despair.

The Christmas message is one of LIGHT breaking into darkness with a transforming love-freeing us from all fear. Jesus, the gift of the Father, is the “perfect love” sent to destroy the power of fear in our lives and bring us back to the world of love we were created for. Our minds are powerful and what we focus on we will become. That is why Paul said, “don’t be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2)

For the last 63 days I have been doing a spiritual exercise to help renew my mind and overcome the foe of fear. I was inspired by books and podcasts by Dr. Caroline Leaf. As Patty and I prepare for our move to South Africa fear can covertly creep in and try to rob me of living in perfect love. Why 63 days? Studies have shown that after repeating an action for 21 days-a pattern is formed in the mind that will begin to control they way the brain responds. If you think about and practice something for 63 days a powerful transformation will take place in your mind. Below are the steps I practiced for the last 63 days. Since I am a visual learnerI would either draw a corresponding picture in my journal or visualize each step in my mind.

  1. Carry my fears to the foot of the Cross of Christ and lay them down before Him. (1 Peter 5:6-7).
  2. Acknowledge, confess, and receive forgiveness from Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin. (1 John 1:9, Psalm 32).
  3. Kneel before the thrown of Grace and give thanks for all Christ has done through the cross making me complete in Him. (Psalm 103:1-5, Colossians 1:15-23)
  4. Visualize Christ picking me up and carrying me into the Father’s house of perfect love. Spend time with hands lifted high in praise and worship. (Romans 8:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Revelation 4-5).

I challenge you to do the above for 63 days and watch how the Spirit of Christ will fill you with transforming peace and perfect love from heaven. The exercise has helped me identify the lie of fear that targets my mind and has given me the spiritual tools of thanksgiving and praise to overcome the attacks. We have been called through the cross to live in the abundant love of the Father’s house where fear has no place and praise and peace reign!