Archive - November, 2009

CNN: Church Online Report

Why are Chris and I so passionate about helping people around the world experience church online?  Want to learn more about how we do community and communion in cyberspace?   Click here to see and hear from some of our friends and to learn more about church online as CNN explains it.

Goodbye, Poland

Byers in Krakow

Byers in Krakow Nov. 7, 2009

Today we arrive in London, and we’re reflecting on how wonderful our 9 weeks were in Poland.  Who knew that by passing through Krakow this past July we’d return to spend the Fall here?  We’ve met some great friends, learned a lot from local ministries we engaged with, and are grateful for our time here.  We’re pleased to share that the translation for the Polish Church Online project and free church resources is coming along well.  Check out a few of the samples below!  We’re honored to take part in this project to help Hosanna Church and their local partner churches reach the people of Poland with the saving Truth of Jesus Christ via the Internet.

  • "So You're Dead, Now What?" series card
  • “So You’re Dead, Now What?” series card
  • Church Online Poland Invitation Card
  • Church Online Poland Invitation Card
  • Kids & Church Online

    What started out as a simple video to share some suggestions for engaging kids in church online turned into a great discussion at a friend’s website when he posted my video there.  Click here to watch the video and check out some of the thought-provoking comments that follow John’s blog post.

    You might be interested to note that by now I am very used to public verbal attacks (from other Christians, of course) on our lifestyle and my parenting as being “unbiblical”.  I do not intend to waste time debating which is the “best” way to do church, but I do fervently uphold the approach of online ministry and community.  It’s a simple fact that people can be lazy participants in their church no matter whether they attend a local church or online.  Were it not for church online or our community of Christian friends on the Internet, we would not have prayer partners, accountability partners, or people to worship with each week.  I see fruit in our family’s spiritual lives that is evidence enough to me that God works just as steadily in the lives of those who worship online as those who attend a local church building each week – so long as they are as committed to obeying Him, serving Him, and seeking out community online and in local areas as a means of knowing Him more.

    ANNOUNCING: Our 2010 Plans

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    Orig: 5 Nov 2007 / Communication is Key

    Byers Home (2nd Floor)

    Original post by Dana on 5/11/07, [comments by Chris on 5/11/09].

    [This was the third post of the day back on 5/11/07.  Already experienced were losing a flat we had committed to the day before, then me finding a flat on my own, me attempting to communicate details about the flat that I barely remembered and then further searching the depths of my memories to eek out some positive details that would help comfort Dana.]

    Well, after a good cry (in the bathroom, of course so as not to wake the kids!), a few milk chocolate Cadbury’s cookies (“digestives” or “biscuits” here in the UK), and time to pray, Chris sat down with me to tell me things he now *suddenly* [Can any men out there feel the tension that was floating in the air two years ago?  I can feel it.  I still remember it.]  recalls about our flat. (I’ll give him credit it’s hard to remember things when you view a few pieces of property in a day, but I had to laugh out loud as he began giving me very important details he somehow had forgotten to pass along.)

    For the enjoyment of those of you who are married to someone very different than you are, I’ll share how our conversation went:

    Chris: Did I tell you the bathrooms are newly refurbished?

    Dana: Uh, no. You forgot to mention that. (This will actually be a major improvement from our hotel bathroom.)

    Chris: There’s a dining table furnished that I think can seat 6 people. And the carpet is very clean.

    Dana: Really?

    Chris: Also, the kitchen has all new appliances like the ones in the first flat we saw this morning. And the landlord agreed to a 6 month lease, so that’s great. (Until now, we’d been told we’d have a break clause fee for moving out in less than 12 months’ time.)

    So back to last night’s blog about no home being perfect, well this one fits that category. But it no longer seems to fit the “not so sure it’s right for us” category now that Chris has come forward with some details his wife was longing to hear about 5 hours ago!

    The last bit of good news is that, though we could not find the listing online as the agency said it was, with one last try this evening a photo was found! I think it’s a handsome building. Chris said our flat is on the second floor. Looking at the photo above, the window you see on the left is our kitchen window, the bay window he says he *thinks* is the living room (or, in England, the “conservatory”…minus Professor Plum and the lead pipe, of course).

    So I celebrated the positive details Chris shared with one more digestive.  [The flat was a great place to live and even helped us determine the name of our non-profit ministry, thanks to it’s cool blue door.]

    We have tea at 4pm with our new friends Trevor and Annaliese (from the local Baptist church) in a little town called Cheam outside the city. I don’t know if Hoosiers, Okies, or Guatemalans can really do proper tea. It might be a riot. Blake learned in a cartoon recently to raise his pinky while sipping tea. We’ll see how this goes…[Tea was tremendous.]

    [Today I still lack the finer elements of communication.  Thanks to Dana for her grace in these situations.]

    Sweet dreams. :)

    Orig: 4 Nov 2007 / Sabbath Rest

    Original post by Dana on 4/11/07, [Comments by Chris on 4/11/09]

    Both Chris and I were led to forego the flat search this morning and visit the Baptist church across the street. We had a wonderful time during today’s family service (the kids were invited to stay in the service with us) and meeting many warm Brits who encouraged us in our mission to spread the word about’s Internet Campus [now called Church Online].

    We had a picnic lunch in the nearby park, a nice nap, and then watched the Internet Campus’ service at 4pm our time. We were encouraged to see that 33 people raised their hands online (by clicking on a button) to receive Christ.

    We met a man at church today [this man’s name is Trevor and he and his wife have been a family to us in London. They take great care of the kids when we get together and God truly blessed us with them as friends] who told Chris about a leasing agency he and his son use to let out flats they own. This man was born and raised in Wimbledon and gave us some valuable advice on where to rent as well. The church’s pastor was raised in the US and was interested in seeing online, too.

    All in all, a great day of rest. We believe strongly we’ll find a flat tomorrow. Please join us in praying we locate God’s chosen home for us tomorrow. [While we didn’t know at that time, I believe that our rest that Sunday was worth more than ANY flat hunting {work} we could have done that day. I should try to remember that proof more often.]

    Thanks, and much love…

    Orig: 3 Nov 2007 / Still Looking…Still an Adventure

    Original post by Dana, [Comments by Chris]

    We made the 45-minute (one way) bus trip into Wimbledon today and really like this area. [It was a great place to meet people that helped launch us where we are today] It’s family friendly and safe. We had an agent take us to one flat which is a fair fit for us but not available until much later in the month and not located as close to public transportation as we would like. Chris scheduled with another agent to look at some promising properties, but she’s not available until Tuesday (the day we’re hoping to check out of the hotel!). So we think we’ll return to Wimbledon Sunday [Thankfully we took a sabbath instead of going] or Monday and view a few places we’ve found online that are available and meet our needs in the hopes of asking to view them on the spot. We’ve run into a few raised eyebrows regarding our being “on holiday” with no intent to find local employment or open a UK-based bank account (which requires UK employment – we made an attempt to open one yesterday) [It ultimately took us five months to get a bank account!], but it appears that no landlord will turn down our offer to provide cash payments up front.

    While we’d like to have a flat nailed down, our peace remains. God has been good to use comments Chris and I have made to each other and His Word to keep us pointed in the direction we believe He wills for our family. Additionally, it’s been fun adventuring to these new parts of the city with the kids and enjoying the new sites together. I’m glad we’re not feeling too stressed about not having a flat yet because Chris and I agree we found the part of the city that we like best in this general vicinity while looking today – at least that’s ruled out a few hundred flats for rent we might have otherwise worried we’d missed out on seeing! [Sometimes too many options weigh us down. Thankfully God can cause us to focus.]

    Tomorrow we hope to catch the Internet campus sermon around 4 pm our time [now we have 5 Europe-focused church online experiences and just recently we had a chat room of people from London chatting about where they live and how they found church online.] (due to Daylight Savings Time)…enjoy sleeping in an hour, America!! (England does something like DST but made their seasonal time change 2 weeks ago.)

    Kids are healthy and happy, and Chris and I are hopeful we’ll find our home soon. God is good, all the time. [He still is.]

    Orig: 1 Nov 2007 / Carried Safely "Home"

    Original post by Dana, [Comments by Chris]

    If you were among the many praying for our journey to London yesterday [two years ago] afternoon through today, I want you to know I truly felt as though we had the most care-free journey our family has made to date. [We have made many journeys since then and the kids often do VERY well.] Both children enjoyed themselves during our 10 hours of flight and 6 hours in airports, and they even managed to catch some good sleep in the air. Thank you for your prayers! [Yes! Thank you many times over for those who have prayed for our family.]

    Sitting in the back of a station wagon taxi (a “state car” [actually called ‘estate’] here in the UK, we learned) at 8am today, I experienced a feeling similar to my emotions just before walking down the aisle to marry Chris – I knew I couldn’t know what lay ahead, but I felt undeserving of the wonderful chance to take that leap of faith. We rode through Surrey County in silence – watching the fog lift to unveil the last of England’s fall color. Orange, red, and yellow trees poked out among the ancient yew and climbing ivy on the roadside. One minute you hear car horns honking in morning rush hour, the next you’re on a private county road with no one but horses and English farm houses around. Then – BAM! – suddenly you’re back on a main road merging into bumper to bumper traffic on a roundabout. [Congestion and traffic haven’t changed.]

    At one point in our trip from Gatwick Airport to Sutton, our driver rolled down his window to pull his side mirror in. I saw just a few seconds later why he’d made that preparation: we turned onto a windy, one-way, NARROW road with tall shrubbery scraping our windows as we whizzed through the tunnel they created. [We haven’t seen that road again.] Our driver laughed when Chris told him we don’t have traffic jams in Oklahoma City and said, “Where in the world is there a place like that? Incredible!” Our driver also laughed when Blake asked us if people in England have slippers to put on when they wake up in the morning, too.

    Imagine watching school children dressed in slacks and blazers with crests on them, carrying bags of books as they walked to school. [At that time we couldn’t even imagine that our children would be in school in England, wearing uniforms as they have.] We saw business men wearing suits and long dress coats carrying brief cases as they walked to work or waited at bus stops. Many folks rode their bikes past the motley mix of cobblestone homes and hip, European restaurants to get around town in the early morning hours. I hope I’m conveying clearly enough how captivated I was to watch this new community of ours in silence. It’s true I’ve been to England twice before, but never had I looked at this country as a place I’d be calling home for as long as God wills.

    Once in our hotel room, we ordered some full English breakfasts to fill our bellies for a nice nap. We slept soundly, took showers, then walked around Sutton to find our bus station (planning to hop over to Wimbledon tomorrow to look at flats), a market, and enjoy some people-watching. From the moment our plane landed, an older Pakistani couple who spoke no English offered (through gestures) to carry a piece of luggage and carseat for us in exchange for pinching the kids’ cheeks. Fair trade! A British woman who sat several rows behind us on the plane yelled up to me that Mackenzie was “brilliant” for having behaved so well on our long flight. Even a customs employee gave us the benefit of the doubt when he misunderstood something Chris said and temporarily thought twice about letting us stay in England. [Passing through Passport Control still makes me nervous every time. We’ve had a few close calls.] People at the market this afternoon enjoyed seeing our kids in their double stroller and struck up conversations with us quickly.

    In line (or “queue”) to go through Immigration, we encountered a large group of South Africans in full tribal dress [We would no longer assume that tribal dress is related to being South African as most of our friends from the country dress in everyday clothes], many Asian people, a man behind us having a phone conversation on his cell phone in French, and several Indian people. I loved imagining for a moment that that could be what heaven is like – people from all over the world interacting and enjoying eachothers’ company…[We have never given up on thinking that London is an amazing place to experience world cultures.]

    …but they likely haven’t all received Christ as Savior of their lives, therefore they won’t all be in heaven, you’re thinking. And you’re correct. Just minutes after getting our bags into the hotel room, Blake asked us when we’re going to start telling people about Jesus, God, and Life Church. “Tomorrow?” he guessed, as Chris and I laughed at his sudden burst of energy. He’s our little man full of purpose, for sure. I explained that all we have to do is get to know people first, make some friends, and then use the opportunities God provides us to tell them about Christ. Looking back on our first day, I have no doubt that opportunities to make connections will meet us each day. I praise God for carrying us safely here to a place I trust He will cause to feel more and more like home for all four of us.

    We’re not sure if we’ll be online again tomorrow – it’s expensive to have Internet access in our hotel, but do look for an update in the next few days. Next goal: finding a home! I’m off to sleep…at 4pm OKC time, 10pm UK time.

    2 Years Ago Today

    Two years ago today we arrived at London Gatwick airport with our 2 and 4 year old kids, our 8 bags of belongings and stretch-limo of a stroller for the kids. We had no idea where we would live and what we would do.

    Over the next week we will review some of those original posts arriving in London [with comments and reflections on our initial thoughts].