Family Feed

2015 in Review

It’s been a wonderful and challenging year and I give thanks to God for making it possible. And a SPECIAL THANKS to those of you who supported us financially through our New Zealand supporters and SYRIOUS LOVE (Syrian Refugee Ministry).

Some highlights from 2015

We worked in these countries: Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, and Germany.

Jones family 2015

I taught at my favourite European Festivals. At SLOT Festival in Poland I taught for 4 days on “Church Different”, outlining the new reformation of church and tracing the history of how we got here. At Freakstock Festival in Poland I taught on the MainStage about God’s plan for families and raising children. At Meziproster Festival in Czech Republic my title was “Back to the Garden”. I looked at our relationship with creation, what was lost in the fall and how God’s people are repositioning themselves to live sustainably and in harmony with their environment and each other.

We fed the refugees at the borders and along railway tracks. And we did generally did not photograph them. When I saw representatives of one organisation drive up to a squat in Serbia, take photos and video and then drive off to do their fundraising, I decided that we would not abuse the vulnerable people who needed our help rather than their picture on a newsletter. It was a little crazy. We dumpster dived for food. We threw away our refrigerator - one of those crazy moments that symbolised our desperation in finding and storing food in the truck for the refugees at the borders. 

We participated in three Rainbow Festivals, in Serbia, Slovakia and Egypt. It was hard for me and the kids eating vegan food for so long but we had so many rewarding conversations about God and the spiritual life. But they were great times and we were often the only followers of Jesus inside a much bigger world. Debbie did extremely well and found herself become a spiritual “mama” to hundreds of young hippies and spiritual seekers. Debbie also got bitten by a scorpion in the Sinai desert and ended up at a hospital in Cairo.

Truck 2015

We traveled for six months with a LOT of young nomads. At one stage there were 20 of them in our truck. This wasn’t so bad when there were places we could put up tents but when it was raining, or if we were traveling through cities, we all had to sleep in the truck and it was quite cramped. You can imagine.

Debbie and I took an online language learning course through Wheaton College. It was very helpful and empowering. 

I visited refugee camps and talked to leaders of ministries reaching out to the refugees. I also spoke to many Syrians about their needs and the best way for Westerners to offer help. In Germany I attended a special gathering of leaders involved in refugee ministry. We visited a few camps and discussed the needs around Europe. We also committed to provide resources for volunteers and start an informal network where we can share stories and advice.

A mission in USA set up a fundraiser called Syrious Love and raised almost $3000. This helped our team of 20 volunteers buy food, travel to where the refugees were bottlenecking at the various European borders, and show compassionate care to the refugees where the need was greatest. Others gave through other means and this has helped me travel to the camps and the leaders involved in the relocation and compassion initiatives. We want to raise more money to help create a network of key leaders in each country to coordinate efforts and provide training resources. Will you help me?

I took part in a gathering of veteran fresh expression/church leaders in Prague. We spent three days together talking and praying. A very valuable time that I now refer to as The Nicholas Sessions, named after the Nicholas Hotel where we stayed. I might host another one in the future.

Nicholas sessions 2015

In the Sinai desert of Egypt I enjoyed many discussions about God, Islam and the Sufis. I am learning a lot about Islam and find in the Sufi poetry many potential bridges and connection points for our talks about Isa al-Masih, Jesus the Messiah, and the way of following God.

On the negative side, all my Wordpress sites and blogs were brought down recently by “Muslim” hackers. I have yet to pinpoint who has been paying them to target me but the attacks started around the time I stated that ISIS were not true Muslims. The invasions happened daily, despite my efforts to keep the hackers out. My sites went down one by one. They even invaded my computer. And I am still getting threats that they will continue to [mess] with me in the near future. I have felt quite vulnerable these past few weeks, and bullied. But I will not stop speaking out. I have shifted for the time being to my old blog on Typepad.

We also lost our two churches that gave us much-needed funds for 2015. The senior pastors of both churches, who have been friends of mine for many years, either retired or moved on. This means we enter 2016 without a single church to back us financially. Would you pray that God would raise up two churches who believe in our mission and want to support us with prayer, 

This was our first year representing and being cared for my friends in New Zealand. They have been wonderful support and have partnered with us gently and wisely. They understand us. They provide half our personal support and are helping us to raise the other half. When we joined them last year we asked to be placed on under the poverty level so that we could minister among the poor as one of them. They graciously allowed us to do so but watch carefully to make sure all our needs are met and we are ministering from a healthy base. 

Thomas Merton has been my favourite author in 2015, especially his interactions with other religious leaders. His books have been inspirational. I need to read them with reading glasses which is a first for me.

Debbie has emerged as a spiritual leader in her own right, with an enormous amount of respect and authority in the world of Eastern religion, paganism and earth-based religions. She is often the first representative of Jesus and the Christian tradition that they have encountered who they admire and want to emulate.

Debbie 2015

Our daughters Quill (Hannah) and Bones (TJ) had an eventful year. Spending time in Prague with all the children at an emerging Christian community was a highlight for them. After six months of traveling Europe and the Middle East with hippies, they needed a break (who wouldn’t?) so we retreated to Prague for Christmas, leaving Debbie in Egypt at the Rainbow Festival. TJ is enjoying the company of kids her own age. Quill is volunteering at a hostel in Prague. We hope to catch up with Debbie in Africa soon.

Whats up for 2016?

- The Syrian Refugee Crisis is at the forefront of my mind and has been there since the summer. How the church responds to the Syrian refugees, and the other refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, etc, is one of the most crucial turning points of our current moment. Will we emerge from this new reformation as a church of generosity and compassionate understanding or will retreat back into fear, xenophobia, and insulation? My primary focus in 2016 will be to continue showing the love of Christ to refugees, feeding the hungry, guiding the homeless wanderers, resourcing the leaders, enabling the relocation efforts inside the various countries, and keeping the eyes of the church on this tragedy long enough to allow them to see it as the momentous opportunity that it really is.

- In 2016 we will continue to be a Christian presence inside the new spirituality and the related festivals, eco-communities, and events. 

- If God allows, we will return for some time in North Africa. 

- I have received a lot of requests to train young people in the summer of 2016 in Europe. Most likely I will select a small number of them and set up a one to two month training in June/July.

- Prague will be a base and launching pad for us again in 2106. We want to start a small monastery here. Perhaps we could start with the truck and then take over one of the buildings. There is an old barn that could potentially, and quite possibly, become the training centre we have always imagined. My theological and missiological books are already in the barn, waiting to become the library. Stay tuned.

Prayer.

We are enthusiastic and we are located exactly where we need to be but we are financially under-supported. Pray that God provides some people and some churches to join with us in our mission. Pray for safety in the Middle East and North Africa. I am no longer as anonymous as I intended. But I am not afraid. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Support

Direct gifts to the Syrian refugee crisis can still be received at the Pure Charity campaign called SYRIOUS LOVE

 Personal support? Send me an email at tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com and lets talk about it.

Thanks!

 


Wedding Day

Today is the big day for our family. Our Number One son Sam marries Jenna White. All very exciting. Lots of airport pickups. I got to bed at 3am last night.

In a few hours we host the wedding ceremony. The pig is already on the spit. Yes, we are taking lots of photos and video. Show you in a few days time.

Sam and jenna wine600 Sam and jenna name bath 600Sam and jenna beach


Our eco-friendly $5000 home

In the past few months, we have turned a storm damaged yurt into an eco-friendly, toxic-free, funky home for our family. Last night my wife and three of our kids officially moved in to the house we created from recycled materials. We slept on our new wood floor, lit a fire in our pot belly stove, ate some pizza and watched a movie before we all fell asleep. This morning I woke up to see sheep sleeping outside our window

Elizabeth cello in the yurt

Our home has cost us NZ$5204 which is US$4,287. The only thing left to do is plumbing the bath and sink to the hot water cylinder and installing a wetback in the pot belly stove. And I need to make some more furniture but that can wait a while.

Still a bit more work to do but our house is very livable and enjoyable. A yurt is a Mongolian style round tent, also called a "Ger". Ours was originally made in NZ by Jaia Yurts and was badly storm-damaged when we bought it from an English lady who was moving back to the UK. Much of the frame was broken, the canvas was water-stained and the round ring that holds it together was smashed. But it was worth salvaging and I managed to find the right wood and replicate the broken pieces.

Building yurt

We got permission from the Ngatiawa community, a Christian contemporary monastery near Wellington, to build a small structure on their land. Its a beautiful green valley surrounded by trees and hills.

Tj in yurt

The biggest expense, apart from the original yurt ($2000), was the floor. When we started, we only had a plastic groundsheet but it was summer and warm enough to get away with it. But the weather eventually changed and the family was flooded out while I was overseas on a trip.

Yurt floor and sheep

As soon as I got home, I started to get the yurt off the ground and I eventually found some nice native timber offcuts, enough to make the floor.

Yurt floor sanding

Having sanded the floor all night long, I was still caffeinated and delirious when the sun came up. I never did get it really smooth because the wood was all different sizes but its a floor nonetheless. And it looks rustic like the rest of the yurt.

While I was busy getting the yurt away from the wet ground, Debbie was created an insulation cushion out of old wool blankets that we are finding in charity shops. It took about 15 blankets to make the ceiling. She filled them with eco-therm insulation which is made from recycled wool. It turned out amazing.

Debbie yurt insulation ceiling

For a complete breakdown of how that $5000 was spent, go to Jonesberries.com


My book - Your help

THANK YOU!

Last year was amazing. Your gifts enabled me to spend time in Turkey, China, Indonesia, Egypt, and Eastern Europe to equip missional leaders and their networks in those countries. And because we traveled most of those countries in our 4x4 overlander, the whole family could come along for free. It was a great experience. Life-changing, actually, for us and for the ministries we strengthened. And we did it on a shoe-string.

I want to write a book and give you copy. More about that in a second.

In 2012 we will be primarily in Asia, with NZ as our home base. The family is here in NZ now, living in a Mongolian style yurt. It has a dirt floor so its a bit cold at nights but we are building a platform for it. Being homeless is great for getting around on a budget but when winter comes its not as much fun. Bringing the truck (our home) over here will solve a lot of problems, as well as enabling us to continue the journey. From NZ, the next port of call would be Capetown when the time is right to return to Africa.

Yurt jones

We have 2 big needs right now.

1. I am flying overseas today to pick up the truck and continue the journey. I will be driving 4000kms through 6 countries. More details on which countries in my newsletter shortly. I need diesel money - about US$1500.

Paypal account is Jonesberries@gmail.com

2. Our truck is currently in Turkey but we need to ship it home to New Zealand where it will be our Asian base for the next season. Shipping cost is US$4,780. There is a container ship leaving early March which is not a lot of time but if enough of you kicked in a little bit, we could do it for sure.

The book.

Here's the thing. If you donate US$10 or more, I will send you a copy of my e-book based on my 35 country trek, a journey that has given me new perspective on the global Christian movement as well as my own life priorities. I hope to start a kick-starter thing but don't have time right now but if you give to PayPal and leave your email, I will make sure you get a copy of the e-book as soon as it is finished.

Truckinforrest1

Can you pass on the need on your blogs? Facebook? other media? It would be a huge help. And we could also get the truck before winter.

And if you have a larger chunk to donate [God bless you] or want to do a bank transfer then read on for directions.

Continue reading "My book - Your help" »


Happy Thanksgiving

My wife is American so its customary for me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Its also customary for us to cook a GINORMOUS turkey dinner and invite everyone and their dog in to eat it with our family.

01 Turkey Gravy Soda

Yep that really is Turkey and Gravy Soda but its made by some other person named Jones.

This Thanksgiving season, we are in Indonesia, staying at a home for vulnerable youth. Tomorrow there will be about 35 young people, some HIV orphans, others whose lives have been saved from nasty stuff and are full of thanksgiving for a new start. That makes it more meaningful to us. We all have a lot to thank God for.

Hope you have a great day.

Related: Our slow, kind, organic, local, Happy Thanksgiving.


Our eldest daughter leaves to help social enterprise

Our eldest daughter, Elizabeth (17) left home this week. Wahhhh!!!! We dropped her off at Heathrow airport where she flew to Austin, Texas. We must be getting old. We will also lose our son this week as he flies to Edinburgh. Wow. 2 children leaving the nest in one week.

lizatheathrow.jpg

For the next 5 months, Elizabeth (Liz) will be helping a social enterprise start-up called Sweet Notions which was started recently by some dear friends of ours - Shannon Hopkins and Jessica Stricker. Sweet Notions, based in Houston and London, helps change the world through recycled fashion accessories.

sweet notions

Its not easy to lose the first kid but we know she is in God's hand and we are VERY VERY proud of Liz in wanting to spend her youth on transforming the world rather than pursuing more selfish endeavors. You can pray for Liz and support her in her first 2 months as she gets set up and sorted out. After two months, she should be able to support herself.

liz-leaves-home.jpg

This is Liz walking out the door for her adventure - WITHOUT mum and dad. Has this happened to you????

Related: Christian social entrepreneurs measure success by a different yardstick (Baptist Standard), Whatever happened to the girl who started the emerging church network?


Merry Christmas from TSK and family

Merry Christmas from our family. Hope you have a wonderful holiday. We are spending our Christmas in the ancient town of Silves, Portugal, where we are waiting for some paperwork and some funding so we can get into North Africa. Actually, its a great place to be for Christmas and quite warm, compared with the rest of Europe right now. Although this week we have already had flooding, an earthquake and a small hurricane that was sucked open our motorhome door until I locked it. Pretty cool, actually. (Nothing to worry about Mum!)

girlsandsamsilves.jpg

Silves is a beautiful old town, unspoiled by tourists. Except us, that is.

4girlsrunningsilves.jpg

Silves, in the south of Portugal, is the ancient Arab town of Xelb, once called the "Bagdad of the West". It has been vandalized through the ages by many famous people including Crusader King Richard the Lionhearted [of Robin Hood fame] who got sidetracked on the pilgrimage to the holy land and decided to console himself with a spot of violent looting in Xelb. All for the glory of God, of course. I think he really lost the plot, don't you? Our Christmas shopping, on the other hand, was quite timid and not a window was smashed. And since our Christmas spending limit was 5 Euros, we didn't really walk away with much loot either. Although we did take a few photos . . .

barbershopsilves60.jpg

My Christmas treat was a retro haircut from an arthritic Portuguese barber. What an experience, despite the fact that my mullet has gone back to ground zero! It took him over an hour. Not bad for 5 Euros. And that photo that Debbie took was worth the admission.

andrewhaircutsilves.jpg

Dang that haircut makes me look so incredibly HANDSOME! Oh yeah, and I have a beard now, in case you didn't notice. I think I will just BLEND into Morocco.

boyssilves.jpg

Donald and Alana have been accompanying our family during our travels. Yes, 9 people in a truck can be a little crowded, in case you were wondering, but we often spill out into tents so its not as bad as it seems.

maggiesilvescloser.jpg

There has been a lot of flooding lately with the stormy weather which means an occasional 4-wheel drive moment to show off for the camera. Our truck kicks butt! Really. Try doing that in a Winnebago!

girlssilves.jpg

Anyway, Merry Christmas. Have a great one! God's richest blessings on you this season.


HPV and our family in the news again

My wife and daughter Abigail are the lead story on the Orkney Today website. This is related to an unwanted HPV jab a few months ago that made the news. This time, a member of Scottish Parliment is upset that Scotland has no minimum age for consent for medical treatment and sexual health services. Our story is the one she is using to push her case. God speed!!!

Heres how it looks in today's newspaper. Click on it to enlarge.

Orkneytodayhpvjab-1

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Family update

Debandsamatcafe Tamara Tamaracooking Debandtamarastromness
We are all enjoying good weather and are preparing for our first summer in Orkney. Sam has a part time job working for one of the cafes across the road. Tamara is only 6 but she is becoming a great chef - She just made something yesterday without a recipe - just threw in all kinds of ingredients and it worked out. Tamara and Debbie took a horse and carriage ride yesterday through our town of Stromness as part of a Victorian Day at the museum. [Click thumbnails to enlarge].