Jesus’ Last Words

This summer, I had the pleasure of leading two teams into Mexico to do some missionary work. Throughout both trips, the experiences seemed to center around God using the available, not the able. During the second trip, I shared Acts 1:8 with the team. I asked them, “If you knew you were about to speak your final words, would you make them significant?”

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” -Acts 1:8-9

I asked them to see where God was calling them to serve. So many leaders focus on the “to the ends of the Earth” part, but Jesus mentioned being His witnesses “in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.” I challenged them to see where their “Jerusalem” was, as well as their “Judea and Samaria”.

As I was flight shopping for Guatemala this week, I found some great deals, but I waited until the end of the week. Over that time, God stirred my heart with the tragic situation in Louisiana.

Today, I’m announcing that I am going to make myself available and go be His witness in Louisiana. All funds currently allocated toward Guatemala will go toward Louisiana Outreach. You can help by visiting gofundme.com/wtt2016

Don’t worry! Great news regarding Guatemala will be coming this Fall!

In The Center of His Will

I discovered my love for serving in the global mission field several years ago. God shattered my heart and opened my eyes to what unconditional love and compassion looked like. Over the years, I’ve gained a sense of home from being out and serving. The bright smiles, the desire to grab my hand and walk, the hunger for Jesus, the sense of community, the simple kind of life- all of these qualities keep me thirsting and longing for what’s next. It’s in these times of serving where I have enjoy the greatest sense of peace in my soul.

I feel most at the center of God’s will when I’m serving abroad in the mission field.

When I’m hundreds or thousands of miles away and immersed in serving a community desperately seeking or needing God, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit within me, giving me the words, wisdom, and strength to complete whatever tasks are at-hand. In these times, my worries from home are not present. Any thoughts of any financial hardship or relational struggles or other psychological attacks from the enemy are removed as I’m fully engaged in His will.

I may be plagued by heavy amounts of stress and anxiety prior to leaving and when I return home, but for the 3 or 7 or 14 or however many days that God has called me out to do His work at the ends of the Earth, I’m in complete focus of what He has called me to do.

Not my will, but His be done.

 

Footprints in the Sand

I’m not perfect.

I realize that’s a strange way to begin, but I thought I’d set the tone of transparency early. I’ve been told that I always smile. I’ve been told that I always look happy. I do my best to smile and be of encouragement to others, but in no way will I sit here and say that I “have it all together”. Sorry. 

I fail every day. I stumble in my walk. I’m a sinner. I don’t have all the answers. I do fun things from time-to-time, but I have to sacrifice a lot behind-the-scenes. I went about 5 years in Los Angeles without a car. I have attended cool sporting events and eaten some tasty foods along the way. I’ve also not attended social functions because I didn’t want to awkwardly be the only one not ordering anything. Many people see pictures of me getting on airplanes and think I have it all, when in reality, I haven’t been on a vacation in about 6 years. 

In September 2014, I had just returned to America after a season of intense output [of service]. I was in Texas on a Sunday and, while at church, heard the pastor use the following passage:

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.”

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭17:8-16‬ ‭(ESV)

I didn’t know the season of life I was about to enter, but God did. My financial situation began to get a little tight, so I made adjustments where I could. I received and served on a trial. During the 5-week civic duty experience, I wasn’t able to accomplish much work for Walk The Talk. My finances got pretty scary. I had to find excuses to not have lunch with the jurors. I came to a point where I had to make decisions to pay certain bills on time or have some money to eat that week. I panicked. I cried. I prayed.

God led me back to the that passage.

I went to church that Sunday and bumped into an old face who worked at the same school I once did. She had retired a few years back and I had since left, so we had not crossed paths in quite some time. While in the hallway, she asked to see me after service. I obliged, and we chatted outside after service. Before we parted ways, she reached toward my hand and gave me a $50 bill. Mind you, none of our conversation spoke of my current financial hardship. The next Sunday, another member of the church did something similar. This continued for 4 consecutive weeks. I cried in gratitude when I went to sleep. There was no answer besides the Lord’s provision.

I have a car today. The Lord provided me the means to eat today. He also gave me the strength to put two feet on the floor this morning, so He had a purpose for me being here today. He has purposed me here on Earth to bring a smile to people’s faces. Every morning that I can put two feet on the floor, I shall keep bringing Him praise.

When I was growing up, when you’d enter the house from the garage, there was a poster of “Footprints in the Sand” at the top of the stairs. I stared at it, read it, and meditated on it day-after-day for years. I was secure in knowing that when I was caught in a storm, the Lord wouldn’t leave me to drown. May the words that comforted me speak to you at the perfect time. 

 

THIS is why I smile. 

Go Be You.

In the summer of 2013, I was going through a rigorous season of challenges: I was a brand-new entrepreneur trying to get established, I went through a break-up, and I was about to announce that I was going to leave my job to take a leap of faith and pursue Walk The Talk in a full-time capacity. I attended the Global Leadership Summit that August, where I heard Bob Goff speak regarding his book, Love Does. His presentation absolutely captured me in the mess that I was and left me a focused and motivated man. After the conference, I purchased the book and read it in 4 days. 

  
Chapter after chapter was filled with real life scenarios where Bob put love into action with friends, loved ones, and strangers. God put it on my heart to introduce my friends and loved ones to this masterpiece, so I purchased enough copies to sell out 3 bookstores of their stock of the book. I mailed copies all across the United States to get them to discover how to put God’s love into action.

I’ve loved hearing the many stories of how Love Does has influenced the lives of many people I know, challenging them to live lives of action and of love. I love how personable Bob is with everyone; he is very interactive on social media with his followers. I love how animated he is when he speaks. He loves to get people excited.

Fast forward to September 2015. It’s been a season where I’ve felt unmotivated, lonely, and stressed. I’ve had the feeling of taking two steps forward and five steps backward. I’ve needed a breath of fresh air to put some life into me. It’s something I’ve been seeking in my prayer life. God had been listening all along.

Friday evening, a friend informed me of an event Bob Goff would be speaking at in the area…within the hour! I was very excited, but my schedule was going to plan. I did my best to make it and arrived just as he began speaking. He was animated and unabashedly boisterous. His words resonated with everyone and his anecdotes inspired others to keep reaching higher.

  
As he was rounding third and coming home, there were 12 words that stuck to me like glue:

“You want to change the world? Go be you. Love everyone always.”

With Walk The Talk, God has given me a calling to stand in the gap for people. This is no ordinary work. It’s going to take a lot of grit. It’s going to take a lot of faith. It’s going to take a lot of leaning on God, but God has equipped me properly. It’s time to go be the me God has created; a me with power, love, and self-discipline, not a timid me.

Afterward, I had an opportunity to meet Bob. He asked me what my name was. He treated me like a real person. He wasn’t too busy or overwhelmed. I told him the impact he’s had on me since the 2013 GLS, and how reading his book made me want to give so many others the opportunity to be inspired, and he listened. He mentioned how over 1 million copies of the book was sold and how many children in Uganda get to go to school because of it. I told him I had something for him, so I gave him a Walk The Talk bracelet. He put it on and was excited when I asked if I could get a photo of him with it on.

Thank you, God, for using Bob to rejuvenate me to do Your work.

  
www.wttwalkthetalk.com

Celebrating 1,000 Days In Photos

As Walk The Talk celebrates its 1,000th day in business, we’d like to highlight a few of YOUR photos of YOU representing WTT around the world! All in the name of clothing, feeding, and educating children in poverty around the world!
  
Sunshine Hetrick was the first person to submit a photo to us back in November 2012.

  
This photo was submitted from a group of women who hiked to the top of Garcia Trail in Azusa, CA.

  
Elizabeth Sian Vines is a seasoned traveler and solid supporter of WTT. This is a photo of Sian serving children in Thailand.

  
This is a photo of our friend, Denford Chizanga, in Zimbabwe. Denford runs the Africa Development Mission, an organization responsible for planting numerous churches throughout Zimbabwe and beyond its borders.

  
This is a photo of me during a trip I took in 2013 to serve the needs of the people in southern Italy. This photo is in Vatican City.

  
Esther Girion is a long-time supporter of WTT and might just own one of everything in our inventory. This is a photo she submitted from the West Wall in Jerusalem.

  
Justine Lopez sent us a photo of her connecting with her heart of a servant at a Thanksgiving Food Bank in 2013.

  
Robin Vines is a blessing to WTT. Her enthusiasm is bottomless for the opportunities we engage in. This is a photo of Robin and a friendly feline in Zimbabwe.

  
Sian Vines isn’t afraid of a little water for a photo. This is a photo of her at Danger Point at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is considered one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”.

  
This photo was taken at Dodger Stadium in 2014 before one of our WTT + Dodgers Nights. This was a few of our group of 50+ who came out to have a night of fun with us.

  
Here we see Darrell James being strong and courageous after a hike in Haiti while on a missionary trip to the island.

  
Here we have Celia Cruz being all smiles in our Logo shirt while on the Great Wall of China.

  
Former 10-year NFL Veteran and current ESPN TV & Radio Host, Marcellus Wiley, wears his WTT bracelet every day. Marcellus even wore his logo shirt in the studio on a broadcast one day.

  
Tracy Olds and her friends jumped for joy in their ASL/Joshua/Logo shirts on the beautiful shore in Hawaii.

  
A missionary team from Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA show off their WTT bracelets at Machu Picchu in Peru in 2015.

Here’s to the next 1,000 days and beyond!

http://www.wttwalkthetalk.com

Legacy

Since childhood, I’ve wondered how many people would show up to my funeral. To some, that may sound morbid. To others, it may sound arrogant. To me, it has meant, and still means: “How has my life made an impact on the life of others? If today happened to be my last day on earth, would I be satisfied with the way I treated, influenced, and inspired others?”

Over the years, I’ve heard people speak of the transcendent LEGACIES public figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, and Mother Theresa left behind. I wondered about how many people showed up to their funerals not just because it was an exclusive event one could post about on social media, but because the individual lived a life so extraordinary that the impact would even be felt posthumously.

These reflective thoughts appeared throughout my adolescent and, now, adult life, and now push me to be the best me possible today and every day. I take a look at the man in the mirror and remember to reflect Jesus more today than I did yesterday, and more tomorrow than I did today. I know that pursuing God’s will is a daily process that includes growing, pruning, and challenges, but the more I invest myself into loving Him and loving others, He will continue to guide my steps and be a light unto my path. 

I’ll never be able to attend my funeral, but one thing God has revealed to me through my days as a missionary, is that we may never see the fruit of our labor, but that isn’t important. God knows the fruit of our labor and whose lives have been transformed for the better through His light shining through me. I know I’m not responsible for making an impact on people’s lives, but that it is His work that He has started in me. It is because it is His work to begin with that I give Him all of the glory and honor and praise. I am but a willing servant.

What is your LEGACY? Start writing it today- with your actions.

Your EXTRAORDINARY Story

For years, I downplayed my story, my testimony, because it lacked that pivotallife-changing moment where I was lost in myself and rock-bottom came, and God rescued me and changed me forever. Knowing God my entire life, my story lacked that WOW moment, leading me to believe my story wasn’t significant enough to share. 

Recently, I witnessed a woman share her story in a foreign country with a gathering of people of whom didn’t share a common language with the speaker. In a moment of courage, this introverted individual poured her heart out and did not hold back. Tears flowed from her eyes and the eyes of her translator, and to be honest, from every face in the room. The connection made on that day in that room impacted many hearts. The experience on that day caused me to re-evaluate the significance and impact one’s story can have and to re-evaluate the significance and impact MY story can have.

  Do I WALK THE TALK? Does my life reflect one of lifting others out of destruction into a life with hope? Do I live beyond the news of myself and help take BOLD STRIDES TOWARD HOPE for others? Do I stand in the gap for those who struggle?

  Do my ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER? Do I live a life of GIVING, HELPING, and SERVING? Do I live a life spreading random acts of kindness or INTENTIONALLY acts of kindness? Do I live a life of intentionality? What is my motivation for acts of kindness: for others to recognize me or to lift up my brothers and sisters?

  Is my story one that reads of being STRONG & COURAGEOUS? Am I afraid to leave a life of comfortability for a greater purpose God placed on my heart? When God calls me to take a leap of faith, will I keep my toes on the ground? Will I remain obedient in the face of mocking and ridicule, or will I throw in the towel?

  How do I LOVE GOD and LOVE PEOPLE? Does my love and compassion only run when it is to my advantage? Do I love my enemies? Do I represent the hands and feet of Jesus to others? How do I act when no one is looking? How do I act when everyone is looking?

Each of us have been given a pen to put to the paper of Our Story. Every day is a new day, a new opportunity to leave a great impact. Yesterday’s page cannot be unwritten, but today’s chapter can tell of the new and improved you. A you who once was lost, but now is found.

http://www.wttwalkthetalk.com

A Glimpse into the Life of a Missionary

Over the last several summers, I’ve been given amazing opportunities to do God’s work and serve His people around the world, from North America to Africa to Europe to South America. With different tasks and different roles on  different teams to leading teams to going solo, no two experiences are alike. From team chemistry to team size to team age range to ministry opportunities to local culture, there are so many factors that go into making every service trip unique. God has a way of putting a unique handprint on each trip that make each experience memorable in its own way. 

  
 
I’ve been asked, “Which is your favorite place to go?” It is not black and white at all. My answer always includes highlights from each experience that differ so much from the previous that the inquisitive individual begins to understand how impossible it is to be concise; singing songs with special needs children in Haiti, performing a dramatization of David & Goliath to elementary-age children in Peru, and preaching the importance of having community like the first century church to new believers in Zimbabwe don’t give an easy case for discerning favorites.

Regardless of the differences in destination, ministry opportunities, and team dynamics, there is one part that remains the same: the impact it leaves on your heart. Being at home in America, watching HD television, and seeing a weekend informercial with starving children with big bellies cuts at you for a moment, until you realize you can turn the channel quickly before any desire to change develops. It’s a different story when you walk to the doorstep of a home to deliver a basket of food and household items, only to witness the living conditions FIRST-HAND, does your heart instantly shatter and your life forever change. When you see a child under 6 preparing a hot meal at home for her younger sibling covered in dirt while their mom is at a doctor’s appointment preparing to bring in the family’s next addition do the tears roll from your eyes. The basket will bless them for a short time, but the real takeaway from the encounter is what God did to your heart by opening your eyes. IT’S NOT A COMMERCIAL ANYMORE

  Many people with missionary experience will agree that one of the most difficult parts of going on a mission trip is returning home. God cuts your heart deep to allow you to see the world through His eyes. Your heart is on fire to do something meaningful. You get home to share your newfound purpose and you realize NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. They listen to you, but they don’t get it like you do. You have to have been there to know it in its true significance. Your pictures and words may tell one story, but your heart and mind remember another story all the more real. It’s so difficult to not get mad at your family and friends for not changing their habits, but realizing that they never will get it unless they’ve been there is an uphill challenge. Pray for them to go. Encourage them to get out and serve. 

“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

-‭Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭37-38‬

God has opened my eyes to realize and accept the aforementioned struggle of the return. For me, my struggle is sharing. Not that they won’t empathize, but that they’ll only get a snippet. So many times I’ll receive a text reading, “How was your trip?”, or walking past someone at church who says, “Welcome back! What did you do?” They are friends and family with genuine inquiries, but I struggle with summarizing a spiritual, emotional, and physical experience and maturation into one of two phrases typed on my phone or to someone while in passing. God is still working on me with that. I LOVE sharing over a meal where I can give an exhaustive illustration for my guest.

So whether the short-hand or more exhaustive method of sharing, find the method necessary for you to get more laborers for the harvest.

Be Intentional Every Day

In 2015, make it a year where you make a difference…in the lives of others!

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WALK THE TALK.
Be intentional every day.
Open a door for someone.
Tell someone how beautiful this smile is.
Pay for someone’s coffee.
Give someone a compliment.
Walk around and give people high fives.
Pay for someone’s gasoline fill-up.
Volunteer your time at a food pantry.
Mentor a child.
Pray for someone.
Pay for someone’s restaurant bill.
Give someone a hug.
Be a blessing.
Act with compassion.
Love always.

http://www.wttwalkthtalk.com

Let Your ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
-Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭40‬

Throughout Walk The Talk’s existence, people have asked, “Why put so much effort in helping abroad when there is so much need in your own backyard?” Walk The Talk puts a heavy emphasis in its international partnerships and projects, but has had a place in its heart for displaying compassion at home. What better time to bring smiles in the community than at Christmas?

This week, WTT & BJ’s Restaurant partnered in an Adopt-a-Family Christmas Outreach Event. The County of Los Angeles nominated a family to be sponsored and WTT & BJ’s shared the responsibility of making Christmas happen for the family.

On Monday night, the family was invited to BJ’s for dinner. The rest was a great surprise. Their special table was decorated with mini Christmas trees and candy canes. They ordered whatever their hearts desired and were amazed by the great portions. After dinner, there was a surprise visit from Santa Claus, where our 3-year-old guest was elated. After Santa made his exit, we did the presentation of gifts, which the children loved. The smiles on the girls’ faces were ear-to-ear. Mom was left speechless and the never-ending supply of gifts.

This is the family’s first Christmas in the United States, and mom could not believe the amount of love and compassion displayed. She thought there were other families coming to share in the experience and receive gifts, but the evening was all about them. We took lots of pictures and then had the excellent problem of fitting all of the gifts inside the car and still have enough room for the family to sit! Thanks to the BJ’s staff, the gifts and kids all fit in the car.

Walk The Talk would like to thank the management and staff of BJ’s Restaurant in West Covina, CA for their incredible display of professionalism, teamwork, and execution of the objective for this event. It was a fantastic outreach event that Walk The Talk would love to see grow bigger and even more successful!

May this inspire all of you out there to let your actions speak louder than your words. When a lot of people with a little come together to do great work, lives can be changed. All glory to God!

http://www.wttwalkthetalk.com

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