Posts Tagged ‘missions’

If you have followed my blog you know that I have been married over 30 years. You know that my wife Dianna has Cushing”s Disease and has suffered for well over 25 years. She has had 3 brain surgeries including having Her pituitary gland removed. You know that I have been involved in ministry about the same amount of time and the last 10 years in world missions including taking teams to Africa to help build an orphanage.None of which Dianna has been able to be directly involved.

Dianna under Her endocrinologist absolute warning, has never been across the big pond with me. BUT this year because Her health is so improved She received Her Dr’s blessing to go. It would end up being a short term mission trip with me to the Dominican Republic, yes the other side of the island from Haiti.

So what does that have to do with teaching old dogs new tricks. Well at almost 50 years old you get in a rut, in fact so deep in a rut you have a hard time seeing out. I am that old dog. I am a  bit, no extremely adventurous. I am used to curbing my crazy zeal, only when I have students with me, and act more parental. I can not tell you how  my emotions were rocking trying to balance being safe for Dianna, yet wanting Her to actually experience adventure.

Getting married so young “17 and 16″ ” you fill in the blanks” we did not have the opportunity to have a Honeymoon. We would tie in a couple of days at the end of our Mission adventure, to Marital Bliss in Susua, on the North side of the Island. We had a great time, I was nervous. The life most normal people live meaning, Husbands and Wives just doing what they want, when they want, has never been an option for us. We have always had the restraint of the disease dictating how we live. For the 1st time I felt we, and mostly Dianna was free from its grip. I will share a few pictures with you, of both our mission and Honeymoon. Unless you have lived under the restraints of extreme sickness, you might find this post odd. But for me, I learned a few tricks, and we enjoyed each other in a world we had never shared before.

I am so proud of Dianna for taking a risk and thankful to the Lord for opening a door of Liberty. enjoy the pictures.

jarabacoa falls

jarabacoa falls Dominican Republic

Dianna Gross rides a horse in Jarabacoa

Dianna Gross rides a horse in Jarabacoa

John and Dianna in La Vega

John and Dianna in La Vega

John and Dianna Gross

John and Dianna Gross

Susua Bay , Dominican Republic

Susua Bay , Dominican Republic


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Dianna always gives Her best and puts Her own desires on hold

Need an honest answer, come to Her, you know the truth is told

Though others leave when times get tough I know she will remain

When my heart is parched and dry Her words have come like rain

She has suffered much yet Her love has endured the test of time

The passion She has given me has caused my words to rhyme

Wisdom found a home in Her and what a treasure now resides

Watch her with our children’s children you’ll see great love inside

Precious are my memories with Her and inspiration for my life

She was cute as childhood sweetheart now beautiful as my wife

She’s my other half my better half and the half has not been told

She’s my one of a kind no average girl in Her they broke the mold

Dianna having Gamma Knife surgery25th anniversary

Progression of Cushings Syndrome

 Progression of Dianna illness : Cushings Syndrome


Dianna and I were married in 1979 in 1982 She became very sick. No one could diagnose the Problem but after breaking several bones in Her foot by simply walking up the stairs we went to Dr. Travis in Harrisonville Missouri. He said something very serious was wrong and sent Dianna to specialist in Research hospital in Kansas City. He diagnosed Dianna with Cushings Syndrome. Cushings is basically a small tumor on the pituitary glad. Dianna has now had 3 brain surgeries and a gamma knife surgery. She has had Her pituitary gland removed and now takes more medicine than I can keep track of. Dianna has suffered so much yet keeps trusting God. She truly is inspiring when you have seen Her suffer like I have over the many years.

Well here we are Dianna and I have made it 30 years. When we got married Feb 9th1979 most people gave us a year. Nine days not months between our wedding and David’s birth had nothing to do with the jokes about people from Arkansas. Dianna was born in Hot Springs and my Mother was from Mena, so we both have razorback blood in our veins. We love Arkansas, jokes and all. We have survived every curve ball life has thrown our way, and though it has been hard to keep going back to the plate, we have, and we will. GOD has been so faithful to us. We have raised our kids and are enjoying our grandkids. Though Dianna can not go to the third world because of Her medical condition She has sacrificed alot and blessed my going. I always bring Her perspective with me as I am ministering. Her heart has provided me with the needed balance, as I work together with a great team here in the midwest to launch an orphanage called Abba House. You can check out the work at http://www.houseoffriends.org/Abbahouse.html .

You were ruff and tough, a true Tom boy to the core

The first day I saw you oh how my spirit soared

You were like a mustang daring to be tamed

A loner never crying out for fame

I was a wild one, adventure would be my call

Our lives mixed together, like a painting on the wall

Colors differing, yet blending, and converging into one

On lookers set and wonder, what will it be, when done

Wisdom and zeal have found a home in We

We have given our selves to life, as we crucified our Me

We are one, We are the picture of one, and what is left is none

Dianna I love Us Together, John

Thank Jesus for investing your life in US !!!!

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I’m up early starting the morning fire in the wood stove. We are so blessed to be warm this morning as the ice storm has taken it toll on many family’s leaving them without electricity. My fire wood is just a little damp so its takes a little more effort to get it going. I was just thinking how relationship compare to a fire. When its working right we warm up to one another and find such comfort. When its not, to be honest we just get burned. I think we all understand that like a fire, relationships need to be cared for and maintained or they just burn out. Every once in a while you find a friend that God himself puts in your path and those we need to pay special attention to. Sometimes it’s through those people that the Lord speaks to us.

If you have the time read with me of my account of the outward spiral of sparks that came from meeting one person and all the threads and connections that came from that original fire. Hang on here we go.

It started with my great friend Kato and His invitation to come with him to His home in Uganda. A few days into the mission trip we were in the home of Tim Way a missionary from Tulsa Oklahoma. We had relaxed after a great meal Tim’s wife Jill had fixed and sit down at the computer to try to send an email back home. Tim asked me if I lived near Kansas city knowing we were from Missouri and if we knew about Metro Christian Fellowship and Mike Bickle “before IHOP”. I said we had been hanging around their meetings for about 10 years but I didn’t know him personally. He then said I think you are suppose to connect with my friends Dave and Joanne Norton who live in Nebraska they have spent time here in Uganda as missionaries and have a heart very similar to yours and looking to connect with Kansas City.

“SIDE NOTE” A few days later we were at John Mulende’s church  “The Trumpet Center” in Kampala Uganda. John asked us if we knew Mike Bickle and we we said not personally but we could get a message to Him. We took a short video of Him addressing Mike with an invitation to come to Uganda. Years later while at a transformations meeting in Kansas city with Wes Adams they meet. As I watched from the back as they shook hands I thought Wild how things connect in God’s timing.

“Back To Tim” Tim seemed so sure of meeting them I dared not contact them. We connected by email first but I don’t email well or often so we decided to meet in person. They came to Kansas city and stayed with Dianna and I and we hit it off, Dave plays the keyboard and is a great worship leader and full of wisdom and humility. Joanne is the christian version of military secret ops with great faith and discernment. Together they make the perfect couple and the Lord seems to have them at the right place at the right time.

Through the years we have connected at key times and I am so thankful for them. Joanne unlike myself is great at sending out emails and I remember time and time again requests to pray for Her friend Susie.

Susie Jones is a trooper but fights her battles with constraints most of us could not handle. Susie is paralyzed and because of her condition she has had frequent health concerns. We have all prayed for her for years but Joanne has been a friend to her like no other. Several years ago I had several dreams about the Mississippi river and wanted to travel up to its source and pray. Joanne reminded me that Susie lived in the region and maybe we could meet there and pray for Susie. We did just that and had a great time. Ever since that time Joanne’s friend became my friend. She loves to pray, I need lots of prayer with all the crazy traveling I do… I know if no else does Susie is praying for me. I left on one trip and asked my Mom to call Susie and give her updates on the mission trip and its seems they have now become great friends and call each other every two weeks. The fire just keeps sparking and igniting new fires of relationship.

The day we walked into Susie’s house my eyes caught a painting on the wall. All week I would find myself staring at the picture. It appeared light was shining out of it. I would move to different angles to see if that was possibles. Finally I asked Susie what is the deal with the painting I am not and art guy and it seems to be drawing my attention. Susie explained that her son Jay Jones is an artist and that he had given that to her as a gift. She went on to say that he calls it Illumination. I told her that if he ever made prints of it I wanted to purchase one. Long story short that happened and My wife Dianna had it professionally framed and is wrapped up waiting for Christmas morning. I leave in a few days for Uganda and fly in on Christmas eve I can’t wait all my grand-kids will be there opening their gifts and when the last one is open I will open the painting and hang it on the wall near the wood stove. My favorite place snuggled up with Dianna the babies the fire and  the painting reminding me forever the barn for me is my life its old warn full of memories yet still full of purpose. At this Christmas season it will stand as special reminder to me that of all the places God the father could have chosen to reveal His precious son He picked out a stable a barn so to speak. I may be an old barn but the King of Glory resides inside and when you see me shining its not me its the King Shine on Jesus Shine on.

Here is the picture enjoy it, I only ask you be honor Jay’s Art and if you like it purchase one from Him. I look forward to seeing Jay’s art continue to display God’s gift. You may contact Jay by email at  jgraphics@gvtel.com 

Jays information is here http://www.mnartists.org/jay-b-jones

Dec 2007


1 year Later Dec 2008


Update the picture is on the wall this Christmas


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Difference between a pipe and a bucket ?

Difference between a pipe and a bucket ?

Upper left is a photo of Bujagali falls on the great river Nile in Uganda. It is an awesome display of power and danger to the novice. The Nile transports an massive amount of water, can you imagine moving that volume one bucket at a time. A pipe would be a much faster way to move water, why? Because the pipe does not have a bottom.

The difference between a pipe and a bucket is: a bucket has a bottom in it.

Let me step up on my soap box and say we Christians and especially us in the western world like to  release God’s resources to the poor one bucket at a time so we can control waste and bring accountability. God forbid our alms would reach the hands of an alcoholic who wasted it on booze. Well sure we need to be accountable and sure we should be good stewards BUT. To be honest we like the control, we like to hold the purse.

There’s a great little movie called Bucket List about living your dreams before you kick the bucket. Well here is my version “The bottomless bucket list”.

Here is what I am starting to notice the less I hold on to MY money meaning giving to the poor the more I have. In other words the Lord Jesus is stretching me, as I cut a little more of the bottom out of my bucket. Who knows one day it might just be a pipe. I have a friend who wants to be a Christian millionaire so He can distribute much wealth to the poor. I had the thought wow I would like to give away a million dollars by the time I die but not to die a millionaire. There is a difference I’m sure.

 God is calling us to be pipes not buckets He has a great supply when we get rid of our bottom.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Matt 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Prov 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

This is the season to give, the greatest thing that we can give away is Jesus.

What would our bottomless bucket list look like?

Would it look like the Bottomless Bucket List Jesus had?

Bottomless Bucket list make yours out today!

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Indigenous Missions

Indigenous Missions: by definition

Indigenous:  having originated in and being produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment


Missions:  a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work


Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk produced a great tool in book form called Operation World.”   :

They give a key to what has led to the phenomenal growth of Christianity in the third world. Their quote: “but most of the subsequent growth came from a new generation of indigenous evangelical movements around the world.”

I was recently having lunch with a indigenous pastor on the Pine Ridge Rez. I used the phrase Indigenous missions and the conversation came to a halt. “What do you mean by that” He asked? I gave my ignorant definition and then I asked Him How would you define it? He answered “WE GET THE KEYS.”

Those words have been ringing in my ears. I know behind those words were hundreds of years of pain of betrayal and abandonment by whites, but pressing past that. I personally have paid a great price with Americans not wanting to give when they find out my long term vision is to give what we build to the Indigenous people when all is said and done. That to mean when integrity and relationship is healthy with all involved.

Where the rubber meets the road is with cultural differences on integrity. In the third world in general children are taught to eat as much as you can today for tomorrow there may not be anything to eat. Subconsciously as they grow up as they work with Americans and Europeans that philosophy is carried into relationships. Get the money today because they may not be here tomorrow.

Two problems in that, First it touches of that eat drink and be marry for tomorrow we may die mentality that scripture address’s. Second it address’s our American/European need to be in charge. Wow it is a trust issue, Jesus said “My Sheep will know my voice” and ” I will build my church.” Real lasting change is needed in both cases, Jesus in control fixes the problem. So when is it time to cut the apron strings and hand over ministry to the people in whom it is intended? When Jesus says so. He still speaks in most cases we don’t want to hear.

Jesus we need you to take back control of not only our ministries but our hearts. Come Lord Jesus.  


Indigenous : having originated in and being produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment

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Alma Jones hits the mission field in Her 70’s whats your excuse !!! I had just come back from my 2nd trip to Uganda and was sharing about the needs of the orphaned children. I noticed in the back of the church Alma Jones was emotionally moved. As soon as the service was over I checked with Alma to see what was going on. She explained that when She was 18 years old She felt the Lord calling Her to the same east African region that I had been to. In those days a single woman would not have found Her way through Bible college and then sent alone into such need. Life handed Her some curve balls and here She was at 72 thinking of what could have been. I reminded Her that God’s callings are sure. If God called Her then She is called Now.


She took that to be the word of the Lord and a short time later She was In Uganda. She went on Her first stay with Dave and Ruth Christian who spent about 1 year training christian leaders in Uganda. When Dave and Ruth returned home She stayed and has been there for around 4 years.


On a past trip I got to stay with Alma and see up close what the Lord is doing with Her. She has been teaching leaders how to study the Bible. While there we spent a lot of time with a young man in His teens who was actually pastoring a church due to the fact that the residing pastor had left in a hurry with big issues. No one was qualified to step into that position so this young man was chosen due to that fact that Alma had been mentoring Him. Here She is after Her ride broke down in the field and had to drive back in the back of a truck.



If you would like Alma to speak on the missions topic and encourage your group that God doesn’t retire you but refire you She’s your lady at 77 years young, contact email at     jjajjauganda@yahoo.com

If you would like to join in the journey by helping Alma out financially, please make your checks payable to House of Friends, and send your donations to P O Box 228, Alma, MO 64001 along with a note for Alma Jones.  All donations are tax deductible. If you would like more information call ·  816 533 2573

Email:  info@houseoffriends.org      web pages:   http://houseoffriends.wordpress.com/      http://www.houseoffriends.org/ 

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January 13th early in the morning my wife Dianna woke me up and told me “you sure are sleeping loud” I knew it was true I had been dreaming I was back in Africa and I had been dropped into the middle of devastation. I was working to get orphans into homes. It was overwhelming, one minute I was in Africa the next I would be back in Missouri. Then the dream slowed down into slow motion. I had been trying to get someone to explain to me what had brought about such devastation in Africa and how I ended up in the middle of it all.

There it was the longest train I had ever seen, it was a old coal burning train. It was pulling passenger cars and on each car was written Show Me Orphan Train. In the windows were little faces pressed against the glass. At this point I am crying looking into the faces of desperation to be loved, it was overwhelming. In the dream Linda a 20 year old Ugandan girl that is living with us while going to college pointed at the children and said “John it’s about them” I woke immediately with all kinds of emotions.

I thought about the meeting I have today with my friends from Alma Missouri introducing them to Gizaw my friend from Ethiopia who will be talking to us about the need for orphanages in Ethiopia. I thought about our friends John and Sharon who minister in Kenya that had just been at the house talking about the conditions there. I thought about my own experiences in Uganda, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Then I thought about a teaching that Regina Shank does on overcoming rejection and She tell’s stories about the orphan trains that would move from the east coast to the Midwest dropping off children to waiting families. Of course there are some bad stories about abuse and using the kids as slave labor. As a whole the Midwest provided homes, I myself have a great grandmother who was an orphan and was taken in to a wonderful family in Beatrice Nebraska.

Here is an advertisement below that appeared in the Troy Free Press Feb 11, 1910. Troy is in Lincoln County.

A company of homeless children from the East will arrive at
TROY, MO., ON FRIDAY, FEB. 25th, 1910
These children are of various ages and of both sexes, having been thrown friendless upon the world. They come under the auspices of the Children’s Aid Society of New York. They are well disciplined, having come from the various orphanages. The citizens of this community are asked to assist the agent in finding good homes for them. Persons taking these children must be recommended by the local committee. They must treat the children in every way as a member of the family, sending them to school, church, Sabbath school and properly clothe them until they are 17 years old. The following well-known citizens have agreed to act as local committee to aid the agents in securing homes:
Applications must be made to, and endorsed by, the local committee.
An address will be made by the agent. Come and see the children and hear the address. Distribution will take place at the
Opera House, Friday, Feb. 25, at 1:30 p.m.
B. W. TICE and MISS A. L. HILL, Agents, 105 E. 22nd St., New York City. Rev. J. W. SWAN, University Place, Nebraska, Western Agent


Orphan Train in Black & White – Diamond Someday “above”

Here are the words to a blue grass song: Orphan Train “below”

By (Utah Phillips)

Once I had a darling mother, though I can’t recall her name
I had a baby brother who I’ll never see again
For the Children’s Home is sending us out on the Orphan Train
To try to find someone to take us in

cho: Take us in, we have rode the Orphan Train
     Take us in, we need a home, we need a name
     Take us in, oh won’t you be our kin
     We are looking for someone to take us in

I have stolen from the poorbox, I’ve begged the city streets
I’ve swabbed the bars and poolrooms for a little bite to eat
In my daddy’s old green jacket and these rags upon my feet
I’ve been looking for someone to take me in

The Children’s Home they gathered us, me and all the rest
They taught us to sit quietly until the food was blest
Then they put us on the Orphan Train and sent us way out West
To try to find someone to take us in.

The farmers and their families they came from miles around
We lined up on the platform of the station in each town
And one by one we parted like some living lost-and-found
And one by one we all were taken in

Now there’s many a fine doctor or a teacher in your school
There’s many a good preacher who can teach the Golden Rule
Who started out an orphan sleeping in the freezing rain
Whose life began out on the Orphan Train.

Well I have to get going and get ready for Church, I just wanted to get the dream down before I forgot it. I hope it will stir you up to pray for those all over the world that have no place to call home and no one to call family. They need to know they have a father who has declared so from heaven. Some times we need to be reminded as the church we are His hands and Feet and more than that we are His Family with open arms and open eyes.

Psalms 68:4-6  Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds– his name is the Lord– and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Part 2   https://riverflowsdown.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/show-me-orphan-train-dream-part-2/

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