The Christensen family has been so grateful that all of you have opened your arms to us and made us feel welcome as we’ve worshiped and served together over the last several years. We are also grateful for the encouragement we have received as we engaged what God is calling our family to missionally. We have been equipped through programs like Perspectives, supported in our trips to Italy & Kyrgyzstan, encouraged in our receiving Ben and then Kanat as our family welcomed our Kyrgyz neighbors here to Apple Creek, and providing us with wise counsel as we prayed through next steps. That’s certainly been true the last 8 months as we’ve sensed the Lord calling us to adjust our strategy to accomplish the vision of Morning Star Fiber throughout Central Asia.
Over the past seventeen years our family has undergone massive changes. After many years of leading youth ministry in Wooster, Cleveland and then Atlanta, we moved back to Ohio, where we pursued JC’s grad work in biblical counseling. It was during this time that God began to work in our hearts regarding business and mission and reaching unreached people groups. In the summer of 2006 we began to describe it like this: We believe the Christensen’s exist to be a catalyst in the engagement of at least one unreached people group(UPG) in the span of our lifetime and spur others on to that same passion. In a single word – TEOTE! [an acronym for “the ends of the earth”].
For those who are unaware, walking out this calling has included taking a job at Morning Star Fiber (MSF) in the fall of 2006 to join a start-up business seeking to be a Great Commission Company. In 2007 the Lord caused us to encounter 12 Kyrgyz artisans who were part of a business exchange program based out of Cleveland. In 2010 the Lord led us to take our first of three exploratory/preparatory trips to Kyrgyzstan. These trips have allowed us to prepare nationals and expats to establish a platform for a fiber industry in the region. During this whole time our family has wrestled with our personal role in his call “to be a catalyst”. In recent years it’s been interesting to see how the Lord has brought “welcoming” opportunities to us to witness and train nationals in our own home and business.
God is always changing and clarifying what we think we know about our future and teaching us tough lessons along the way. For starters, our ever expanding family has played a large and dynamic part in how this vision has been worked out over the years. Also what started out as JC cleaning the mill, to learning to help with a few machines, to managing the floor production and now outright ownership has been anything but expected or planned for. It’s taken the skill of hearing His voice amidst all the other voices to a whole new level. But praise the Lord for His Word and being able to seek out and submit to godly counselors that God has placed around us. We’ve had to learn that while we can make plans, it’s the Lord that directs our steps. We’ve had to learn that a plan is not the same as “His path” and the Lord always instructs us in walking down His path only revealing what He deems necessary at the time for His glory. And often enough that path didn’t look like the plan, or what we thought the plan was going to look like.
We’ve often thought the plan included our family living in Kyrgyzstan, but the steps he’s directed us in this past spring and summer have looked a lot different. We now see that the Lord is leading us to establish a strategic base camp location between “here and there” that allows us to properly equip, supply and encourage young entrepreneurs in business as mission through a training center we want to call TEOTE! Outfitters. As the Lord would have it, many of our friends at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters (swoutfitters.com) have been looking for ways to develop entrepreneurial ideas that would give creative access into hard to reach places in Northern India, Central Asia, Middle East and Africa to better launch and sustain the many folks that they have been influential in preparing to go in the last decade.
Through discussions with SWO and others the Lord has raised up here to walk us through this transition several things have become clear:
1.) It isn’t about our exotic fiber processing business, but the idea of creating vehicles like ours that gain creative access to UPG’s in ways that embrace their cultural heritage, create wealth and greatly assisting in the foundational roles of discipleship and witness in that local cultural.
2.) It isn’t about our family going to Kyrgyzstan to launch a mill and be “missionaries”, but our family being on mission with God as He catalyzes a movement of young entrepreneurs who purpose to establish a multitude of vehicles that will revolutionize industries, transform nations, and point millions of lost to Christ in UPG areas through the use of Great Commission Companies.
3.) at the end of the day our family will do well to pay attention to the prophetic word of God as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts, this was never about the will of man but men being carried along by the Holy Spirit into the greater purposes of God.
If you feel so led here are six ways you can get involved:
1.) pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit as we posture ourselves and set our sails ready to receive his power and direction
2.) help us seek out the best option that fits our family/business needs this spring when we move to Andrews, NC
3.) help us move out of our home after January 5th and pack most things into storage at the mill property. Our plan is to move out the storage items on January 10th to the barn at the mill property and move the remaining things the following weekend into the rental property.
4.) consider if God might be calling you (or someone you know) to use your entrepreneurial experience to create a new vehicle for missional purposes in creative access areas
5.) consider strategically welcoming someone from Central Asia through a student exchange program to help establish an ever expanding network of connections in the region that the Lord might use in the future to do His work.
6.) talk with us and help us think through ways we can partner together to advance the gospel through business as mission through resources and ideas you might have