October Is Here

October is here. It is the month that brings us fall colors in northern places, cooler temperatures, and oddly enough something called pumpkin spiced lattes. Pumpkin spices lattes do not seem to have a place in coffee shops, but coffee shops are businesses, so they want to make money. Have no fear your coffee purist will not allow such a concoction to pass through his lips.

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It was in October 1989 that the beginnings of what God was calling me to happened. I visited a different church to see a Billy Graham Ministries movie- Caught. It was about an American drug addict in Amsterdam who came to know Jesus through a man from India who was there for the Billy Graham world convention for evangelism. At the end of the film, it showed Billy Graham saying, “and do the work of an evangelist.” When I heard that, it felt like spiritually an arrow had pierced me.

I came home after the film and when I walked in the door, the presence of Jesus felt so strong that I dropped to my knees and then laid down on the floor. I kept seeing people who were lost in life. Jesus has given me so many opportunities to share him and his love with many lost souls from many countries since then.

It happened again yesterday at the Ukrainian Church. It was my first Friday offering a class there. We had a mother and her 15 year old daughter join us. The daughter is not a Christian yet. I shared a devotional thought with them that because Jesus was a refugee during his childhood on earth that he understands what it is like to be a refugee.

So welcome October and the opportunities to share Jesus, but you can keep those strange pumpkin spiced lattes. ūüôā

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Phone Call Caused Nostalgia for Me

I knew it was coming sometime this year, but still when I received the call, it caused a lot of feelings of nostalgia for me. Wednesday evening the Director for ESL, English Second Language, called me to let me know she is retiring as of October 10th. She is the one who interviewed me and hired me.

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We have been through many changes together in the department. We worked on curriculum changes, starting the Family Literacy Program and more. She once referred to me as her most flexible teacher because she could call me with short notice to sub a class.

Her anticipated retirement marks a bit of a milestone for me. Over the past twenty-two years, God has opened many doors for me to share Jesus with the nations living in my city. Twenty-two years ago, I still had a landline with an answering machine. Times have changed, but Jesus never changes and he continues to give me opportunities to share his love with the nations living in my city.

Now I am the last remaining original person involved with the Family Literacy program and the longest serving person in the ESL Department. That is a scenario that perhaps no one would have seen coming thirty years ago when I was going through my first bout with autoimmune issues.

While it is nice to reminisce about what God has done over the past twenty-two years, it is the new things he has me doing that excite me. As Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

God can do new things even in what looks like a wasteland in our lives. He did it twenty-two years ago for me and continues to do so today.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Student Reactions to Winter Pictures

This story time is a collaborative effort between me and Gary of garyfultz.com. You know those outdoor adventure type shows? They perhaps pale in comparison to Gary’s outdoor adventures. He lives in the far north of the USA where I think they have a few weeks of summer each year and almost endless winters. Where he lives, they can pull a shack onto a frozen lake in the winter by driving a pick up truck onto the frozen lake. I think he spends most of the winter in his ice fishing shack. ūüôā

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Gary sent me pictures of his winter adventures with his family for me to have a little fun with my students. I have been showing them to my students this week. The picture above is not from Gary simply because I did not ask permission to put one in my post but if you go to his blog, you will see pictures of his outdoor adventures.

My Ukrainian students were not phased at all which was no surprise. But the looks of shock on the faces of my students from places like Mexico, Burma, Sudan and Vietnam were fun to observe.

When I asked if they wanted to go ice fishing, some responses were:

“No, I don’t want to die.”

“No, I don’t want to need the hospital.”

It was part of having fun with my students as they laughed with me. When my students laugh, it gives me joy because I know how hard life has been for them.

Laughter is a gift from God. Psalm 126:2 says


Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.

Some of my students know Jesus. Some do not. It is my heart’s desire that they all come to know Jesus and the joy of knowing him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Surprise Spanish Session at the Coffee Shop

Yesterday evening I was at my coffee shop, aka my office, relaxing after teaching my afternoon class. I was about to leave when I heard a group of people speaking Spanish. They were all Americans who have a Spanish club on Tuesday evenings at the coffee shop. Normally I teach Tuesday evenings, so I did not know about them.

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I walked over and asked, “ustedes estan hablando espanol?”- are you speaking Spanish- to which they answered yes. I asked if I could join them and they smiled and agreed. We had fun speaking in Spanish. The group was six retired people, so even though I was much younger, ūüôā , they let me join.

My evening class starts again next week, so sadly I cannot join their group again until December, but yesterday evening gave me a glimpse of life outside the classroom. I have taught in the evenings for twenty-two years, Teaching in the evenings has allowed me to connect with the diverse people living in my city. I can join any cultural event and people know me as the teacher. It has been a blessing, but the desire to have my evenings freed up was highlighted yesterday evening.

When asked when I will retire, my normal response is, “when I die.” That is in reference to my ministry. But teaching is so interconnected with my ministry, my thoughts on retirement also apply to teaching. But yesterday evening felt great. We will see what happens in the future. I draw my thoughts on retirement from Philippians 1:21


For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

The only reason I am still in this earthly life is to share Jesus with others. It will be interesting to see how Jesus leads me in the future.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Gives Us New Lives

In my afternoon class at one of the high schools in my city, one of my students is a Yazidi woman who never went to school as a child. English is the first language she has learned to read and write in. After coming to America nine years ago, she was a busy mom taking care of her family and also working. Last week, she shared with me her regret about not having learned more English by now.

My response was, “You were a busy mom taking care of your family and also working. You are a good student. I am happy you are in my class.” Then we talked about the difference between opportunity and ability. She did not have the opportunity to go to school as a child in Iraq and she did not have the opportunity before now to go to an English class here. We talked about how she has the ability to learn, but did not have the opportunity before, however, now she has the opportunity to learn.

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She has a new life in America with new opportunities she would not have had in her home country. She is learning to read and write in English and seeing her children grow up without living under oppresion.

When I think about 2 Corinthians 5:17, I think about the new life Jesus has given me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

My old life is behind me and only the memories of it connect me to it. Jesus has not only changed me as a person, but he has completely changed my life. I would have never imagined so thoroughly enjoying getting to know people from all over the world living in my city. I would have never imagined learning to greet people in thirty languages, visiting refugees in their homes, and the wonderful opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from diverse cultures.

Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and the changes he brings into our lives bring us to a greater sense of fulfillment than we could have imagined.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

That Was Fast- September Flew By

It’s the last Sunday of September already. It feels like I blinked and September flew by. The saying time flies when you are having fun seems to apply. This has been quite the month. Jesus has blessed me with many opportunities this month.

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It started with getting a car earlier this month thanks to generous people. That has allowed me to go to the Ukrainian church to teach on Saturday mornings. We have fun while studying. I love to see their smiles and hear them laugh especially knowing what they have been through.

My morning class started again this month, That certainly adds to time seeming to fly by. It is great to be back with the moms learning English, so they can help their children. They are going to decorate our classroom tomorrow, but something tells me they won’t want my help with that. ūüôā

This morning I will see my Hispanic friends at church. We will practice English, sing a few songs in Spanish and pray. This afternoon I will go to a birthday party for an eleven year daughter of friends of mine from Mexico.

With all of this fun I have been having with my friends from other countries, it might be full steam ahead to Christmas. Did I mention there are only 90 shopping days left until Christmas?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturday With My Ukrainian Friends & Thank You!!!

This morning when I arrived at House of Prayer Ukrainian Church, the pastor was smiling and said, “Matt we have boxes for you.” All of the items I listed on my Amazon Wish List for the class were purchased and sent. A BIG THANK YOU to those who donated items from my wish list!!!

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Before we studied together, I shared with them that Jesus was a refugee during the first years of his earthly life, so Jesus understands being a refugee.

We had twenty this week including a married couple who came here in July. The wife already knows where stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are. I looked at the husband, smiled, and said, “I’m sorry.” He laughed.

We will add a second class Friday afternoons with a focus on the young people ages 17 to 25. The reason is so I can mentor them as they prepare for college and careers here.

Two of the items on my wish list were packages of different snacks. They were a big hit with the children. It is great to have whole families coming on Saturdays together to learn.

How is your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Friday Kind of Vibe

Having survived my first full week of teaching, five mornings, three afternoons, and four evenings, when I arrived at the school for my morning class, I walked around saying, “Friday. Coffee,” to the amusement of my colleagues. Why do I have such a schedule?

Teaching ESL is my springboard into meeting people from diverse cultures. It is a patchwork of part-time teaching gigs, not a get rich deal, but it has allowed me to be known among the many people groups living in my city. It has opened many doors of opportunities to share Jesus with the world.

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So Friday afternoon is here and guess where I am. If you said the coffee shop, aka my office, you were correct. It is time to wind down, refresh, and get ready for weekend ministry. Tomorrow morning will be my time with my Ukrainian friends. Then I will go to our annual Latino Festival in the park. Sunday morning will be church and my time with my Hispanic friends in my Sunday morning group.

God has connected me with some new Yazidi friends from Iraq. My city is home to the largest number of Yazidi people in North America. They were oppressed in Iraq due to not being part of the majority religion. One of the first things I tell Yazidi friends is how much I love having Yazidi students. I might also happen to mention how much I love their food. ūüôā

Before I came to the coffee shop, I did something for me. Now that I have reliable transportation, I joined the one fitness place that has an aqua track in my city. Aqua tracks are great for people with arthritis. My schedule will allow me to go there four or five times a week.

But now I am in my coffee shop, my coffee mug is full and so are my heart and soul. How is your Friday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My First Saturday with Ukrainian Friends

It was my privilege to meet ten refugees from Ukraine yesterday during our first Saturday together. It was more of a time of letting them get to know me and assessing their English levels, so I can plan our future lessons. It was good to see them laugh as we studied.

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Of the ten, five were from one family. The family has two daughters and one son. The two daughters are 20 and 19. One of them completed two years in a university in Ukraine in psychology. The other one had just graduated high school a few months ago. I encouraged them that their dreams are not over and that with Jesus they can have a good future here.

The family just came here on Labor Day, five days before I met them. Realizing that, I asked the twelve year old son if he was nervous about starting school here. He nodded his head yes. I encouraged him that the teachers are nice and will understand he is learning English. We talked about how he can learn step by step.

Before we ended, one of the men said we should pray, so I asked him to pray for us. It was the perfect way to end our lass time. I am looking forward to this new adventure with my Ukrainian friends. The class would not have happened if I had not gotten a new to me vehicle Thursday.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturdays Just Got More Fulfilling- My Ukrainian Friends

What I am writing about today reflects how much the Lord has changed my heart over the years. I used to be such a diehard college football fan that I not only made sure to watch my team every Saturday in the fall, but would also watch other games. I planned my weekends in the fall around college football. My favorite team went from being one of the dominant teams to a team struggling just to have a winning season.

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As that happened, my ministry with refugees and immigrants began to take off. Over the years before COVID shutdown, that included many cultures. Returning from COVID shutdown, I began to focus on Hispanics because I speak Spanish and have ideas for possible future ministry. However, that is on Sunday morning.

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Beginning Saturday September 10th, I will be going to a Ukrainian church I helped in the past to provide English Conversation practice for the new Ukrainian refugees in my city. I am looking forward to meeting with them, helping them with English, and having it connected with a church that shares Jesus and the gospel. I won’t plan anything else on Saturdays except to meet with my friend to practice Spanish and be flexible for other opportunities..

My Saturdays are about to become much more interesting. ūüôā

Thank you for reading. God Bless.