Monday, September 30, 2013

If foreign missionaries came to your church...

"Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send twenty people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip half of the group's energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They'd like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come?"
                                                                                                                                      - Darren Carlson

During my short-term missionary trips to Mexico, I got an earful from the local missionary about American behaviors.  Bottom line is this:  The questions posed by Carlson are worth considering, because I heard the same ones posed by missionaries in Mexico.  But really?  Are most short term missions teams like this?  Well, it depends a lot upon the leaders, the sending organization, the goals, and the relationships with the local missionaries.

I would say this.  If you want to serve in the mission field, then GO TO SERVE.  Ask the missionaries what they would like you to do.  Stop checking out TripAdvisor to plan your missionary excursions in your country of choice, and start reading your bible about what sacrifice really means.

When we decided to be a repeating, short-term missionary family, we had no idea what we were doing, but here's one thing we did right.  We asked our missionaries this question:  How can we help?  We did not expect them to arrange outings, accompany us to meals to speak the language for us, or change their daily schedule.  We simply were quiet and did what we were told to do.  The result?  A wonderful relationship with many Costa Ricans, because through prayer and the Holy Spirit, we were able to set aside our human desires, and perform useful services to those who were there for the long haul.

This year's no different.  We had a long Skype conversation with Matt and Lisa Befus were they outlined what they would like us to do.  It's an adventure as always, we're trying things we've never tried before, but we love, we absolutely love to serve with these folks at this school.

We're exactly where God wants us to be.  

So, as Jesus said...GO.  But when you do go, leave your electronics in your backpack, leave your American entitlement at home, and be prepared to experience the adventure of a lifetime.  Why?  Because when you come back home, the missionaries you served will say, "I'm glad they we're here."

Friday, September 27, 2013

We're heading south. Costa Rica 2013!

Dear friends and family:

We're heading south.  And Costa Rica's not a bad place to be in the winter.  But you may want to know why we're doing what we're doing.  

That's a great question.  This will be our third lengthy mission trip to Costa Rica.  We have always considered it a true privilege to go to another country on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ as an entire family, not piecemeal.

So why?  Vickie and I have been very active in every church we've attended. Sometimes hyperactive. We like teaching, helping, cleaning, preaching, moving furniture, blowing up balloons, praying, singing, and loving on the those far from God. In the middle of everything, we've always felt a yearning to go overseas to further the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We really believe there are three things that are compelling us to serve in Costa Rica, and then consider further overseas ministry in the coming years.

First, we believe that God has specifically called our entire family to minister in this way. Not just one of us going to Mexico, or all of us working with kids in our church, but also "going unto all nations."  We take Jesus literally.

Second, we feel God has given us an opportunity to serve Him in an educational setting. Vickie and I both have taught in various settings for over 25 years and we are excited about putting our experience to use at La Palabra de Vida.

Third, we believe that going and serving is the best way for our children to understand the sacrifice that the Lord speaks so prominently about in scripture. We want to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus, even if it is only for a short time.

So, on November 18, we'll board our flight and head south.  We'll be working to restore a missionary house, developing curriculum to broaden the school's ability to make the Bible come to life, teaching ESL classes, and financing and helping to install improvements in the school's infrastructure.

We can't wait.

We would like to ask you to partner with us. Please commit to pray for this year's adventure, and consider supporting this worthy work financially.  We need to raise $17,000 to help offset the costs of the mission activities.  Here's how:

·     Make checks payable to Sieben Family Ministries
·     Mail checks to Markham Family, 113 Frostwood Drive, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566
·     Donate via PayPal (credit card or checking account)  Send money directly via PayPal to

God's richest blessings,


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Friends and Family:

It is our distinct privilege to announce that the Markham family is returning to Costa Rica from November 18 – December 23.  We will be serving at La Palabra de Vida, a Christian academy in San Antonio de Belen, Costa Rica that is dedicated to providing Christian leaders for Costa Rica’s future.

The twenty-two months between mission trips has been filled with change.  We’ve moved from Byron, Illinois to Lake Jackson, Texas.  My job at Exelon ended, and the Lord provided a new one at the South Texas Project, about fifty miles from Lake Jackson.  Our children are fifteen, thirteen, and twelve years old, and giving us so much joy as they grow up in the Lord.  We are attending a wonderful church in Lake Jackson, Hope Fellowship.  We have no doubt that God is blessing us with His favor and His love each day.

The scope of Markham Family Missions has changed also.  Through prayer and study, the Lord reminded us that all our resources belong to Him.  As a result, our work includes:

·     Missionary Housing:  We are offering our Cottage Grove, Minnesota home to long term missionaries on furlough.  We value these tireless workers for the Lord, and are excited that God has given us the resources to provide this gift.  Lynn and Rose Lindquist, missionaries to France, will make this house their home for one year beginning in October 2013. 

·     Compassion:  A La Palabra de Vida family suffered a complete loss of income when a surgical procedure for this single mother resulted in months of debilitating pain due to mistakes made during the surgery.  We have committed to provide for their rent and their children’s educational costs.

·    Short-Term Missions:   At La Palabra de Vida, we will be continuing our children’s education, assisting this remarkable institution in curriculum development, working in after school care programs, assisting in ongoing construction projects, and providing equipment to further the school’s ministry.

·    Assistance:  Matt and Lisa Befus are long term missionaries to Costa Rica.  Matt is the Executive Director of the La Palabra de Vida Foundation which manages the property and facilities of La Palabra de Vida.  Lisa is a director at La Palabra de Vida and is directly involved in oversight, teaching, and direction.  Their family is planning a one year furlough beginning next July in Wheaton, IL after sixteen years in Costa Rica.  We will be assisting with their furlough costs and other expenses incurred in Costa Rica.

We want you to join us financially and in prayer.  Many of you supported us so graciously three years ago and we are so grateful for each of you.  Because the Lord has directed our resources towards all these efforts, we are asking for help for our short term mission expenses ($5,000), our compassion efforts ($2000), and our assistance of long term missionaries ($10,000) through the use of our home and with financial support.

We have partnered with Sieben Family Ministries, a missions organization located in Bay City, Texas that plants churches and supports pastors in central Mexico.   This will allow you to receive a tax receipt for any contribution that you send.  Please pray about this opportunity and we look forward from hearing from you.

You may send contributions as follows:

·     Make checks payable to Sieben Family Ministries
·     Mail checks to Markham Family, 113 Frostwood Drive, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566
·     Donate via PayPal (credit card or checking account)  Send money directly via PayPal to

This God-directed journey that we’ve been on for the last four years has had twists and turns that have stretched our faith, and bonded our family together in a way that would not be possible if not for His work in our life.  Please contact Bill (651-353-6021) or Vickie (651-353-6022) directly for any questions that you may have.

In service to Jesus Christ,  Bill and Vickie

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Part time help NOT needed

Vickie and I attend a bible study with a few dozen others on Tuesday nights.  We read a little scripture each day during the week, answer some questions, hopefully discuss what was read, and then show up on Tuesday nights. 

It's a routine, and not a bad one to have.

This fall we're reading the book of Mark, which truth be told, is a distant fourth in "gospel popularity."  Most folks I know cannot quote a verse from Mark, and none have studied the book in detail.  It's the Jacksonville Jaguars of the New Testament.  

We're just getting into the first chapter, but I was intrigued by a question that was presented in the material.  It was this.

What does being a follower of Christ mean in today's world?

Does it mean tithing? Church attendance?  Religious Facebook posts?  Does it mean that you read the Bible everyday?  A member of a church?  Of the Republican party?

After I thought about this for a while, I decided that it could not possibly mean less than it did the day that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John.

It's a simple response, but one that is rarely if ever seen across the landscape of comfortable American churches. 

He says FOLLOW ME.  We follow.  Let me repeat it for you.  He says FOLLOW ME.  We follow.

That's what these fishermen did.  For when Jesus called them, "they left everything and followed Him immediately.

They didn't stack up retirement funds, vacations, security, and comfort as idols before the Lord.  They cast everything aside and followed him.

In my group, I offered this opinion, and it was soundly rejected.  "We're not all called to full-time Christian service," they said.  "For some, it could mean helping out a neighbor, or simply attending church."

Perhaps, I would say, although somewhat reluctantly.

But let me say this.  I'm only looking for one.  One that I can write about.  I'm just looking for one person in the multitudes of self-proclaimed Christ-followers who have "left everything" to follow Him.  I'm just looking for one who would be willing to go the distance with Christ.  Just show me one.

You can keep your collection plates, Christian aerobics, and potlucks.  I'm looking for a Christ-follower.