Monday, December 2, 2013

Exciting News & Upcoming Events

Well, the moment has finally arrived! We have a date for when we will officially be moving to Arizona. January 7th, 2014, we will leave Greentown, IN and begin our journey to new adventures at the Southwest Indian Ministries Center in Peoria, Arizona. We are very excited about how God is working and can't wait to share with you about our plans in the upcoming months!

But first, a brief overview on the last few weeks here in Indiana...

On November 17th, several tornadoes ravaged Illinois and Indiana. After church that Sunday, Jon and I got on the internet to find that an EF 4 had gone through Washington, IL. For those of you who don't know, Washington, IL is about 10 miles north of Morton, where Jon and I lived for about 3 years as Jon served as Youth Pastor of First Mennonite Church. We were shocked by the news and as we wondered about the safety of our friends still living in that area, we realized that the same storm was headed our way. The storm moved FAST! By about 3pm, winds had picked up and the tornado sirens were going off in Greentown. We quickly headed to a friend's house who has a basement and camped out there with several friends of ours until the storm passed.  As we climbed out of the basement, we soon received word from others that the tornadoes had passed to the northeast of us, hitting Kokomo, a nearby town, with two EF2 tornadoes. We felt very blessed. All we had in Greentown were high winds with no damage.

Over the next few days, we received word that although there was damage to some homes, everyone we know, both in Illinois and Indiana was safe. Time spent by Jon and I cleaning up damage in Kokomo with friends on Nov 22nd and 23rd revealed many down trees, snapped power poles, strewn debris and many damaged homes, but no deaths were recorded in the state of Indiana as a result of the tornadoes. We have seen and heard many stories about God working in the hearts of people to join in relief efforts in both Indiana and Illinois. People have selflessly offered their time, resources, and even their homes to people in need. Devastation, like that brought by these tornadoes, is often very ugly but the way in which it brings people together to help one another, especially in the love of Christ, is a very beautiful thing. We praise the Lord for His protection and provision.

On a brighter note, Thanksgiving for us was spent up in Wisconsin with Lindsay's family. As a matter of fact, we enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving twice- once with Lindsay's mom and dad on Wednesday, and again on Thursday with her grandparents and other family. It was a great visit!

Christmas this year will be spent with Jon's family here in Indiana. Then, in January, we make the highly anticipated move out to Arizona! Leaving on January 7th, we hope to arrive on the 9th or 10th dependent on weather. Once we arrive, we will take part in on the field training as well as more fundraising and spreading the word about camp at local churches. Friday, Jan 17th, marks the beginning of LITE Leadership Training and planning for the summer camps of 2014.(LITE, or Leaders in Training Experience, is a discipleship program for our older youth in which they are discipled to be leaders for our elementary camps as well as other local ministries. The goal for LITE is to disciple young people to become leaders for Christ in their churches, schools, and communities.) We are excited about our first opportunity to experience this weekend event as it will decide the theme for summer camps.

We are currently about 80% funded, so when we arrive in Arizona in January, we will still have some fundraising to do. We are excited about this opportunity because it will also help us to spread the word about camp and offer churches the chance to be involved in local ministry. Before we can begin our full-time work at SIMC, we will also need to complete a training course in Colorado. This is a month long training taken by many missionaries around the world. As such, it is very difficult to get into, since it fills up so quickly. We are on the waiting list to complete the training in April, but if there appear to be no open spots, we will complete the training in the month of May and begin our full-time status at SIMC in June for the start of summer camps.

Many new and exciting adventures lay in wait for us in the coming months! Please continue to keep us in prayer and don't forget to visit our Praise & Prayer tab above to find updates on praises and how you can be praying for us, those we know, and the ministry. Thanks for reading!

Blessings and safety to you and your family during this Christmas season!

-Jon and Lindsay

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Hello all!

Just a little update for you on where we've been, what we're up to, and how support raising is going...

The past few months have flown past and fall is here already! We have been very busy traveling and connecting with churches and individuals in the Midwest. We have enjoyed traveling, meeting new people, and sharing about what God is doing at the Southwest Indian Ministries Center.

Our recent travels have taken us to:
-Arthur Mennonite Church, Arthur, Illinois
-Hopedale Mennonite Church, Hopedale, Illinois
-Dayspring United Methodist Church, a Native American congregation in East Peoria, IL
-Trinity Park United Methodist Church, Greenfield, IN

We look forward to visiting the following locations in the near future:
-First Norwood Mennonite Church, Peoria, IL
-Heritage Memorial Church, Washington Court House, OH
-First Mennonite Church of Morton, Morton, IL

We are very excited to announce that with our combined support totals (both monthly and one-time gifts), we are around 70% funded! We praise the Lord for His continued blessings and provision. Our goal is to be in Arizona at SIMC full time by January of 2014.

We ask that in the coming months, you would continue to keep the ministry and our support raising in your prayers. We appreciate your prayers and support and couldn't do this without you!

Many thanks and blessings,

-Lindsay and Jon

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On the Road Again...

Hey folks!

Sorry for the delay in writing a post. We have guessed it!...on the road again. First, we'll try to get you up to speed on what we've been up to since our last post.

Back in June, we made the trip out to Arizona for 2 weeks of youth camp out at SIMC. We really enjoyed the opportunity to meet campers, build relationships, share the Gospel, and get our feet wet as camp co-directors. We were able to lead games, speak about our favorite Bible heroes, get to know the youth, spend time with the work teams, and get the feel for what it will look like for us to be camp directors once we are able to be on the field full-time. We had a blast! Even though we were not able to stay and help for all four camps, we are so very grateful to inform you that our total number of campers for all four camps was 168. Of those 168, 40 chose to follow Christ for the first time or rededicate their lives to Him. Praise God! We are thankful for the way God is working through staff, volunteers, and campers at SIMC!

That said, please continue to keep the campers in your prayers as they have returned home to normal routine and temptations that may lead them astray. Although we try to follow up and keep in touch with our campers as much as possible, we know that going back home to the daily grind can be tough. Pray that they would be strengthened in the hope of Jesus Christ and be surrounded with people who will be strong Christian influences in their lives.

After we returned from camp in the beginning of July, we were able to come back home to Indiana for some rest and regrouping. We were there just long enough to make a few phone calls and make a few connections before heading out on the road once more.

Next, we were off to a couple camps to be missionary speakers. On the way to our camps, we stopped to visit family and friends and connect with them about the camp ministry at SIMC. It is so wonderful to have family and friends who are willing to host us for a night (or two or three!) and connect with us about what God is doing in the lives of Native American children and youth. We thank them for their servant hearts and for the support they have given to us.

Our first camp was White Pine Holiness Camp in Arbovale, West Virginia. We couldn't help but notice the beautiful scenery on our way there and we enjoyed marveling at God's creation all week. The staff and campers we met at WPHC were absolutely amazing. We wanted to share with you about one particular young man we met there.

At WPHC, there is a tradition, and her name is Bonnie. Bonnie is a small clip with a ribbon tied on it that gets passed around throughout the day. Now, although the name Bonnie sounds pretty harmless, you don't want to end up with Bonnie by breakfast time the next morning. If you end up with Bonnie clipped to you before breakfast, you may find yourself drinking or eating something unappetizing, singing a song with motions in front of all the other campers, or getting a pie in the face--thanks for being a good husband and taking the heat for me Jon! (Please understand that this is all done in good fun and most of the kids actually want to have Bonnie because they enjoy the challenge.)

Another concept at WPHC is the immunity necklace. Each day, an immunity necklace is hidden. If it is found, the wearer of the necklace can chose to have immunity from doing their daily cleanup or immunity from having to do the Bonnie Challenge in the morning. However, you must guard the necklace, because people are allowed to take it from you. Now, back to the young man we were telling you about...

An older camper let this young man wear his immunity necklace, trusting that the young man would give it back to him later. After wearing the immunity necklace for some time, the young man was approached and told that he should keep the necklace because the person he received it from was supposed to be guarding it. This young man was about 8 or 9 years old. When you are 8 or 9, this is a very tempting decision! Keep immunity and protect yourself from the Bonnie Challenge or chores OR keep the trust with your friend and give the necklace back. To my (Lindsay's) surprise the young man said, "No! I'm not like that. I wouldn't do that. I'm giving it back."
"But, you could keep it and protect yourself from..."
"No! I'm not like that."

Wow! What an unselfish, truthful act. We were very impressed with this young man's character, but God wasn't done with him yet. There had been an evangelist there at camp who had spoken all week about salvation. Each night he spoke about who Jesus is and why we need Him in our hearts. Throughout the week, there were a few altar calls and a few campers accepted Christ there at the altar or back in their cabins afterwards. The last night of camp, at the end of the service, there was a healing service and many people cam up to be healed and anointed with oil. Most of those who came up to be healed were older adults. So imagine our surprise when the young man came up and got in line. I think a lot of us were wondering what was going to happen and what he was going to say. What could this young man possibly need healing for? As the boy approached the evangelist, the evangelist asked, "What do you need healed of?" The boy replied as one who is overwhelmed with the Spirit of God. "I...I just need it all...all of it." The evangelist knelt down and got on eye level with the boy. "You're here for salvation, aren't you?" he said with a smile. The boy nodded. They prayed together and that night this young man gave his life to the Lord.

What a great testimony of the working of God in our hearts! Looking back on the week, I saw Satan working trying to get the best of this young man. Earlier in the week, he had gotten into a fight with another boy. Earlier in the week, he ran away from an activity crying because he took something someone said the wrong way. Earlier in the week, he was tempted to betray someone's trust and keep the immunity necklace for himself. Satan was trying to get at him, but our Lord has overcome! Through camp, the staff, and the working of the Holy Spirit, this young man has begun his life as a new creation in Christ. Praise God for the ways He is working through ministries like WPHC and SIMC to reach young people for Christ!

This week, we are in Otway, Ohio at Mt. Hope Bible Camp. We have only been here for a couple days, but we can see God at work here. Would you join us in prayer for the campers and staff not only here at Mt. Hope, but for children's and youth ministries around the world? Satan does not want these kids to have life changing experiences that bring them into relationship with God. But we know that God has overcome! Please pray that campers and staff would remain strong to resist temptations to fall away from God and to keep the commitments that they have made to follow Him.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back in a couple weeks to hear more about our experience here at Mt Hope!


-Lindsay (and Jon)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Prayer Letter

Our summer prayer letter has arrived! We are excited to see the Lord working in the lives of Native American youth here at Southwest Indian Ministries Center! Today we started our first camp of the summer with 24 teenagers! Check out our prayer letter here. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Travels to Wisconsin & Minnesota

Last weekend we were invited to speak at Lindsay's home church, New Life Assembly of God in Sparta, WI. While we were there, we had the opportunity to catch up with some of Lindsay's family. Saturday evening we drove up to Winona, MN to take Lindsay's grandma out to dinner. Afterwards, we met up with two of Lindsay's aunts and  took a walk along the Mississippi River downtown. 

(left to right: Aunt Linda, Grandma Sherman, Lindsay & I, Aunt Joyce, Dennis (Lindsay's Dad)

On Sunday, Lindsay's grandparents on her mom's side of the family joined us for worship. We had the opportunity to share with the congregation and met some new friends after service. We were able to spend time Sunday afternoon catching up with Lindsay's grandparents and enjoying their company. 

(left to right: Dennis & Cheryl (Lindsay's parents, Grandma & Grandpa Kaste, Lindsay & I)

We are privileged to have such a great family. We are thankful for all their prayers and continual support. 


Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer Plans

The days are getting longer and warmer, trees and flowers are coming to life, and the farmers are hard at work in the fields. It looks like summer is just around the corner. Our summer is starting to look busy. We are excited to say that we will have an opportunity to spend three weeks in June at the Southwest Indian Ministries Center! Although we won’t be able to spend the full summer out in Arizona (since we have yet to reach our fundraising goal) we will have the opportunity to be a part of the two Jr./Sr. High camps. We will also have some time to visit some friends and churches while out there. We hope this trip will prove to be fruitful on many levels for us.

In order to spend time in AZ and to dedicate the amount of time fundraising requires for us to be full-time, we have decided to wrap up our temporary jobs at the end of May. We are excited and eager to begin this next step in our journey towards serving Native Americans! We are taking a big leap of faith in trusting that the Lord will provide the finances necessary for us to support raise full-time.

July looks to be another busy time for us as we will be heading to a couple of summer camps in Ohio and West Virginia. We look forward to sharing our heart for missions with these youth and the staff. We also look forward for the opportunity to join in all the camp activities and get to know the youth better. Growing up, camp was a big part of my (Jon) faith formation. We look forward to being a part of the lives of the youth at these camps.

Ultimately, our goal is to be fully supported by the end of summer. As of this point, we are 24% funded. There is a lot of work to be done and many miles yet to be traveled but like Paul, we “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called (us) heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).” Please continue to pray for perseverance and patience.

Jon & Lindsay 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Newsletter

We are finally getting some spring weather here in Indiana which means summer is quickly approaching! Here is our most recent newsletter! 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Recently we've signed up for an online course for a part of our continued training. This course is called "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement". I think you can guess what the focus of the class is on. One lesson in the course that caught our attention talked in detail about how the Bible is not merely a series of stories with various lessons to pull from but rather one big story that focuses on you guessed it, missions.  

The story starts out in Genesis 1 when God creates the heavens and the earth along with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were in a right relationship with God and all was well until they ate from the forbidden tree of knowledge and truth. Because of Adam and Eve's act of defiance, humankind's relationship between humans and God was broken by sin. Man was no longer in right relationship with God. But God being a loving God, came up with a new plan to restore His relationship with mankind. He chose to make a covenant with a man named Abraham. Abraham was to be the father of a new nation called Israel and through his descendants, all nations would come to know the love of God. Israel was to be the hands and feet of God serving as His witness to all of the other nations on the earth. Although we see times where the people of Israel followed God and did many wonderful things to show the other nations who was truly the God of the universe, they also turned from God and failed to live up to expectations. Ultimately, their acts of defiance weakened them to the point that Babylonians were able to overtake them. 

Four hundred years passed since the time Israel was captured by the Babylonians and many followers began to think that God's promise to Abraham was never going to be fulfilled until a young lady gave birth to a baby boy in a manger in Bethlehem. His name is Jesus, God with us. Jesus came to restore the broken relationship between mankind and God. Through giving His pure and blameless life, he atoned for our sins restoring our relationship with God. All we have to do is accept this free gift. 

But God's mission doesn't stop at us. He calls each of us to "go and make disciples of all nations". As spiritual descendants of Abraham through Jesus Christ, we too are called to be the hands and feet of God and a witness to all the other nations on the earth. Will we accept this calling of missions or allow our acts of defiance keep us from furthering God's kingdom? Only time will tell...


Saturday, February 16, 2013


This past week has been a challenging one- in a good way. It was also very busy. Last Friday, Feb. 8th, late in the afternoon, we set off for Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, AZ. Our plane landed around 8pm Mountain Time. Our plans that weekend were to reconnect with a couple missionaries there at the Southwest Indian Ministries Center, see the progress that had been made on the new dorms and multi-purpose building, visit a couple different churches, meet Lindsay's Great Aunt and Uncle, and also to interview with their church's Mission Board on Monday.

The construction had progressed quite a bit from when we visited back in May of last year. When we were there at that time, the foundation for the dorm was just being poured. Now, most of the outside of the dorm is finished, most of the framework inside is done, insulation has been sprayed inside, and most of the plumbing is done as well. It is really coming together fast! Also, last time we visited, the multi-purpose building's floor was still being cleaned and mopped and bathrooms were almost finished putting in. Last week, Jon and I were able to enjoy playing basketball (Thanks Steve!), the bathrooms were functional, and the equipment room was stocked. It is so very exciting to see everything coming together!

On Saturday, we were blessed with the opportunity to re-visit the Heard Museum of American Indian Art and History.  We were also able attend a Hoop Dance Contest in Phoenix. Click the following link for more information. The hoop dancing was phenomenal. We enjoyed watching dancers from many places including Arizona, Canada, Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, Tennessee, and California. For pictures, please go to our Facebook page, Jon & Lindsay Birkey.

Saturday evening, we met with Lindsay's Great Aunt and Uncle. We had a wonderful time getting to know them and hearing their stories. They were a great connection for us as we interviewed at their church before the Mission's Board for support on Monday. More on that in a bit. We thank Jim and Esther deeply for their faith in us and their generosity as well as their hospitality.

Sunday morning we visited Grace Bible Church in Sun City (Jim and Esther's Church), early in the morning. We enjoyed our time there. We then visited Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, where we met with the senior pastor, youth pastor, and worship leaders. We hope to return and meet with both churches again soon.

Monday afternoon, we interviewed at Grace Bible Church before their Mission's Board. We were challenged as we were reminded that we only have a few short months to raise the rest of our support by the end of May. We needed this reminder in order for us to refocus and recharge our hearts and minds with the mission that the Lord had laid before us. This trip to Arizona was exactly what we had needed to jump-start our support raising efforts. We have new goals in place and feel very refreshed and renewed in the Lord and His plans for the SIMC.

We returned to Indiana Monday evening and arrived at WGM Headquarters in Marion on Tuesday morning to begin our week-long training. We enjoyed meeting two new Missionary Disciple couples as well as reconnecting with another MD couple that we had met previously. We also enjoyed connecting with other missionary couples who were on HMA and meeting with some new and familiar faces of WGM staff. That time was spent attending teaching sessions, cooking and eating meals with one another, doing a work project together, and getting to know one another. We completed the training week on Friday and picked up one very excited dog from Jon's parent's house on Friday evening. We were finally ready for some rest.

Do you need recharged? What is draining you of your energy? Do you need time to refocus? How has the Lord used times in the past to help you rest in Him? We pray that God would reveal to you ways that you are being drained of your energy and focus in the Lord. May He come alongside you and help you find ways to refocus your heart and mind on Him and what He has for you as a part of The Body. May you find rest and fulfillment in the One who created you and may you bring Him glory all the days of your life.


-Jon and Lindsay

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Cure Summer Boredom

Recently a fellow missionary at the SIMC in Arizona wrote an article for WGM's The Call magazine. We thought we would share it with you. If you want to read this article or other articles about what God is doing through other WGM missionaries around the world check out this link.

By Billie Sue DunnAmerican Indian Field
January-March 2013

Once school starts, children begin to count the days until summer. When I taught school, I would hear the students say after the first day, “Only 179 days to go.” But then when summer would arrive, parents would hear, “I’m bored! When does school start?” Students need activities to keep the summer boredom away.

Summer camps at Southwest Indian Ministries Center on the American Indian Field provide opportunities for children to have a Bible-based camping experience. Four different levels of Bible camp are offered, which includes teen camps and elementary camps.

Campers enjoy devotional time with worship and Bible lessons, crafts, games, sports, cooking and computer classes, and working with puppets. They also have Bible class to study and memorize the theme Bible verse. Making new friends is another key activity at camp. One camper said this about her camping experience: “I laughed, played, sang, and just had fun.”

Campers also have the opportunity to experience fun events like the zoo, circus, baseball games, and story hour at the local library. Swimming is the highlight of every day. Memories are made as the campers do photo projects and assemble scrapbooks to take home. Summer boredom can’t overtake the children with all that happening.

Most importantly, campers have the opportunity to learn what Jesus has done for them. One camper wrote, “As the days went by, I learned more and more on why Jesus died for me, for my sins, for everything.”

Winter weekend camps are also offered to help revitalize the children and their relationships with God. This enables the staff to show Christ’s love to the campers for more than just the week at camp during the summer.

You can be a part of enriching the lives of Native American children. A minimal registration fee of $50 is requested, but that covers only one-third of the $150 cost for each camper. No camper is turned away if he or she is not able to pay the $50. You can become a part of the camp scholarship program, which helps camps be affordable for all Native American children.

The days are counting down until the 2013 summer camping season begins at Southwest Indian Ministries Center. You can play a part in keeping boredom away from Native American children.

You can become a part of the American Indian Field camp scholarship program. Although camp costs $150, any size offering will help send a kid to camp. Send your check to World Gospel Mission and write account #23749-CALL on the memo line.
World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948