Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Larsen’s and the Global Youth and Family Ministry!

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” –John 1:14 (MSG)

Immanuel, God is with us! We rejoice with you in the ways God made his presence known to us this year—going with us and before us in life and ministry. We pray you know His presence in a close and personal way this Advent. May he fill all our hearts with hope as we trust in the One who came for us, is with us, and is coming again!

Here are some of the ways you enabled us to serve MKs in 2009:

1. The Families in Global Transition Conference--working with leaders across sectors to care for families living and serving cross-culturally

2. The Europe/ Africa Area Retreat--providing spiritual refreshment for missionary kids and families serving in Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, and Muslim States

3. Re-Entry Conference--helping mission kids in transition off the field as they deal with issues of identity, loss, and cultural confusion

4. Summer Conference--providing a summer camp experience for MKs during their Home Mission Assignment in the US

5. Pre-Field Training--offering seminars, consulting, and one-on-one counsel to youth and families preparing to go to the field as missionaries for the first time.

6. GYFM Associates program--working to recruit US youth pastors and churches to minister to specific mission teams and youth on the field

And here are some of the ways you enabled us to equip national leaders to reach youth around the globe:

1. The European Leadership Forum--invited to offer some of our GYFI (global youth and family institute) training to leaders from over Eastern and Western Europe

2. Korean Leadership Training--partnering with RTS to train Korean pastors and missionaries in engaging the next gen in their culture and context

3. Latin American Leadership Training--partnering with MINTS and local grass-roots church planting networks to train leaders in Colombia

4. Japan Church Planting Institute & Christ Bible Seminary--gave seminars, consulting and taught seminary course on reaching the emerging gen with leaders in Japan

5. Youth Ministry in India--led retreat for youth of lepers, training and consulting with local youth leaders, budding partnership with PTS as future GYFI site

6. Equipping U.S. leaders--leading SLYnet (St Louis Youth Network), partnering with Covenant Seminary to mentor and train church leaders in next generation ministry.

As it stands, we are at approx. 80% of our needed support (only 20% to go!). Please pray that God will see us to 100% as we enter 2010. Occasional gifts have kept us afloat. Would you prayerfully consider a year-end gift? Even better, would you consider making a monthly commitment, or increasing your current commitment?

You can donate online by going to (click the image marked "donate online" and follow the prompts).

And check out our latest "blogumentary" video at

Thank you for praying for us, encouraging us and supporting us this past year. It is a joy and privilege being sent by you to extend the gospel to the nations and the next generation.

In His Grip,

the Larsen's

(Eric, Rebecca, Abby, Meghan, Natalie, Emma)

Global Youth & Family Ministry and Institute

"Reaching the Nations and the Next Generation"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bullet Trains and Bhuddist Temples

Take a ride with me on the Bullet train... Visit some Bhuddist temples and Shinto shrines in Kyoto... See beauty veiling darkness... But the gospel is breaking through!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bogota, Colombia

Global youth culture is alive and well in Bogota, Colombia. And churches are struggling with how to engage. But God is raising up many pastors, leaders and parents who are prayerfully seeking wisdom in passing the baton of faith to the next generation.

It was my privilege to spend time encouraging students and leaders alike: counseling, consulting, training, and praying together over the eight days I was there.

My faith and confidence in God's work in and through His church grew as I encountered men like Javier and Daniel. These two Bogotano pastors are leading a church planting movement and seminary fueling renewal in the city. They described to me the growing disconnect between the church and the young people of Bogota, and the many challenges that young Bogotanos face.

For instance, many youth feel so disconnected with adults and so defeated by the residual fear and oppression of the terror stricken culture, that every year 100's of kids participate in mass suicide. Even more tragic: none of these kids are personally and physically in relationship with each other. The suicides are orchestrated through online "cultures" or communities, and kids are found dead across the city--alone in their rooms in front of their computers.

Kids are desperate the world over. Where are the adults who will personally pursue them and enter their world of hurt and confusion with the hope of the gospel? Please continue to pray with us that God will raise up a generation of leaders to reach this lost generation.

Thank you for supporting and sending us in the call to "Reach the Nations and the Next Generation".

Razor wire and graffiti: youth culture against the backdrop of terror

El Camino Academy: teacher training and speaking in chapel services

Speaking to the youth group of United Church of Bogota

Training Colombian church planters and seminary students

Parent/ teen seminar

Preaching at United Church

New friends


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hungary, May '09

32 hours, 3 planes, a taxi, a train and a long hike later, I find myself in Eger, Hungary. The European Leadership Forum is what's brought me here. The ELF is a gathering of conservative evangelical pastors and ministry leaders from across eastern and western Europe. This is the 8th annual gathering of the forum, a grassroots network which has grown to include 500 leaders from 45 countries. The mission of the ELF is to serve as a "bridge between local leaders' needs and God's global resources". While the forum is primarily lead by European nationals, I have been invited by Scottish colleagues and friends, Mark and Jenny Stirling, to offer some of our Global Youth and Family Institute training at the forum. While there are tracks and seminars offered on apologetics, preaching, theology, counseling, art and culture, society and politics... they have not had any emphasis or opportunity for training in reaching the next generation. I have had a group of about 50 people participate in my training seminar, and 8 in a daily focus group. In addition, I have made many new contacts and had many conversations and opportunities to consult, pray with, and learn from people from a wide verity of cultures and contexts. Just today, Zoli (a Serbian pastor) and I spent time talking about the challenges he faces in shepherding an aging, simple village church while struggling to connect to the large yet unreached youth population in their community. There are no simple answers. But God has allowed us to wrestle and pray together. God is bigger, and he continues to humble me in light of his glory and the expanse of his kingdom. His love and passion for kids is greater far than ours. He is the divine Youth Pastor, and he will redeem his own from every nation. Thank you for your prayers and commitment to reaching the nations and the next generation.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spain, April '09

We've just returned from Spain where we lead a team of 20 pastors and youth ministers to bring spiritual refreshment and renewal to 100 mission kids from all over Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. MTW provides an Area Retreat for these 600 missionaries and their families once every 4 years. It's hard to put into words how important this retreat is to these servants and their kids. For many MKs this was a time to be known and poured into in a relevant and personal way--a way they rarely experience on the field. And for many, this retreat marked a significant moment in their walk with Christ. Here are some of their own words:

"I love hanging out with other MKs"

"The small groups and leaders were really awesome and the music too"

"I now have lots of friends"

"This was an awesome retreat - I never felt scared to share my thoughts"

"Thanks to the leaders, you guys rock!"

"Amazingly awesome!"

"The message was so appropriate for the stuggles of MKs"

"As an MK preparing for college it was helpful to hear from people who had already faced the transfer to a university"

"I liked the activities and the teachings on grace"

"Being reminded of God’s grace and how amazing it is no matter how messy e are was just what i needed"

"That we can hope for a time that all tears will be wiped away"

"While i face temptation and pain the only thing capable of overcoming these is a deeper more genuine faith than many ‘masked’ christians have"

"Even when you don't desire God he still desires you"

"That i am just as important as my mom and dad"

"That even though i am a kid i can still work for God"

"That no matter how far you run and push away. God isn’t going anywhere"

"That I am not alone in my struggles"

"God still loves us despite our failures"

"To take off my mask"

"That God loves Losers - because i sometimes feel like a loser"

"That there are many kids like me who understand what it's like to me an MK"

Thank you for investing in us as we invest ourselves in the lives of those growing up on the mission field. By God's grace, together we are seeing Kingdom impact!

In HIs Grip,

Eric and Rebecca Larsen

(Abby, Meghan, Natalie and Emma)

Abby, Meghan, Natalie, and Emma "hangin-out" at the terminal

100 middle, high school and college missionary kids worshipping and growing together

Emma's become an expert traveller

Larsen ladies in flight

Monday, March 9, 2009

Houston, March '09

I just returned from the 'Families in Global Transition Conference' in Houston, TX. This conference brings together leaders from several sectors that deal with personnel living cross-culturally (Military, Missions, Int'l Business, and various forms of Foreign Service).

One of topics that came up in conversation and in the seminars, was the issue of grief. For many of the TCK's I encounter, grief flows as an unseen current just beneath the surface of their lives. Occasionally the rip tide drags them under in depression, anxiety, and rage. But often they don't even recognize the currents of loss which accumulate subtly, wave upon wave, until they find themselves standing in the high tide of hurt. And when the dam bursts it's often about more than the precipitating event (like moving), but rather the culmination of unresolved grief. As one presenter put it, many TCK's are crushed under the burden of "paying debt" on accumulated losses in their lives.

Sara, a 21 yr old missionary kid (who grew up in Australia, Singapore, France and Russia) shared a bit of her story with me. She talked about how her initial transition back into U.S. culture felt like "no big deal" during her freshman year in College. But by the time she entered her sophomore year, she found herself feeling disconnected, depressed, like an "outsider". The subtle effects of culture shock and the losses sustained through the many cross-cultural moves finally caught up with her after the thrill and challenge of her first year in college had worn off. In his mercy, God led her to an understanding counselor, a caring adult, and a small group of fellow TCK's who came alongside her. Through these relationships, Sara began to uncover the grief that lay dormant in her heart--naming the losses and and working through them before the Lord. God has brought a lot of healing in Sara's life. In fact, through it all she has come to embrace her cross-cultural heritage and uniqueness--graduating with a degree in Intercultural Studies and Russian. Sara is looking to the Author of her life to show her how He intends to use her story to make a difference around the world.

Sara's is the kind of redemptive story you are helping to write. By supporting the Global Youth and Family Ministry, you are investing in the lives of kids like Sara. Please continue to pray that God would enable us to provide effective resources, care and crisis intervention for God's mission kids and their families. We are working to build a team of youth ministers and counselors who are equipped to engage these unique issues, and who will invest in personal relationships with over 400 adolescent MK's around the world. In turn, we continue to develop training and resources to encourage and equip missionary youth, parents and leadership to thrive through the challenges of adolescence and the Third Culture Kid experience.

In fact, next month Rebecca and I will lead a team of 18 pastors, counselors and youth ministers to provide a retreat for 100 MK's from all over Europe and Africa. Please pray that God would use our team to bring spiritual refreshment and encouragement to these mission kids. Pray that we would be sensitive to those who are hurting and apply the healing of the gospel. And pray that we would know how to challenge and inspire those whom God is calling to live out of their unique gifts and callings to engage a broken world with the love of Jesus.

Thank you for sending and supporting us!

In His Grip,

The Larsens

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Brussels, January '09

I’m writing this post from Operation Mobilization’s center in Brussels, Belgium. A group of new MTW missionary candidates have gathered here for a month of pre-field training. The mornings are spent in classroom instruction, while the afternoons/evenings are spent in practical ministry assignments around the city. I have spent the last few days meeting with individuals and families and doing some training for the group on global youth and family ministry. Brussels is a great location for this training: 45% of the population is immigrant. Our missionary candidates will be placed in Persian, Korean, Dutch, French, and Indian contexts. Please pray that these new missionaries will grow in grace and skill as they are equipped to take the gospel to the nations. And pray that my time here bears fruit in seeing each one inspired and empowered to reach the youth in their context--including caring for the TCKs on their teams.