Partnership: The Joshua Blueprint

Over the past 6 months or so, God has been re-prioritizing some things for We Are The Vigilant. We’ve been in contact with our community, sharing the heart behind where God is directing us. Now, we want to share more of the story with you and anyone that would listen, really.

In short, We are the Vigilant exists to connect Kingdom-minded creatives who want to reach a hurting world with their unique resources.

We believe that as creatives, God has equipped us to give what we can. This means that even if we don’t have the dollars we can still offer our time and our talents to those who don’t have access to the opportunities we often take for granted.

We also feel strongly that as creatives, it is incumbent upon us to use our creativity to help people see things in new and challenging ways. We’ve been asking God to open our eyes so that we can, in turn, use creative means to help other people see. Calling ourselves “vigilant” is really a statement of faith. We’re asking God to help us stay awake and aware of what’s going on around us. 

One of the ways we intend to do this is by highlighting people and ministries who embody what it means to use their unique resources (or talents) to reach a hurting world.

Joshua Blueprint is the ministry of Ray and S’ambrosia Wasike.

I (Casey) met Sam in college. We were a part of the same campus ministry. While I was the worship leader for our group, I constantly made her play instruments she wasn’t all too comfortable with, like drums, for instance. Granted, as a leader I had no idea what I was doing, but she was willing to try whatever crazy thing I asked her to do and I loved her for it.

Me & Sam - edited.jpg

Sam and I would get together regularly to pray for our campus and anything else the Lord might lay on our hearts. She was a leader even when she didn’t know she was leading. Her heart for the Father and willingness to be vulnerable in order to show people Jesus are two of the most beautiful things about her and they feed her creativity in incredibly moving and meaningful ways.

Although I’ve never met her husband, Sam would only marry someone who is as in love with Jesus and creative as she is. Ray is from Kenya and from our brief interaction over the phone and Sam’s blog I feel like I know him already. 

Next week Sam is going to be sharing more about the heart of Joshua Blueprint. But please feel free to check out their website and GoFundMe.

For the whole month of October we’ll be highlighting their ministry and discussing some of our biblical convictions about the direction God is leading us. We hope that you’ll come along!

 

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Fragile

Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth, so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field;the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.
— 1 Peter 1:22-25
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It hits me like a wave. That feeling of weightiness that goes something like this: 

This is your life. Don’t waste it. 

Your life on this earth has a beginning and it has an end and if you’re reading this right now you’re right smack in the middle of it. 

There was a point this week where I felt like I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. Not because I was breaking any rules or using stealthy ninja skills that we all know I don’t have. But because I, in and of myself, did not feel like I deserved it.

It was one of those moments that was bigger than me. Has that ever happened to you? Where you find yourself in the middle of a situation you know only the grace of God achieved. I just keep thinking, "Why, God? Why?" 

Why would He do this for me? Why would He choose me for this? And then, why would He choose me for what's to come? Because if this moment is blowing me away I can't even fathom what He's got up His sleeve for me next. 

There are always two things I feel in moments like those: fragility and gratitude. 

Fragility because life is a vapor and sometimes we get glimpses of how exposed we really are. 

Gratitude because I know that I am fragile but I am also deeply and intimately cared for by a sovereign Father God who holds me together by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

The same eternal word that stands forever is the same word that holds together my fragile life. 

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to encourage you to do things that feel risky for a cause that is bigger than you. You know why you can? Because you are loved. You are completely loved by the Creator of the Universe. Everything that’s of worth is found in Him and guess where we, as Christ followers, reside? In Him. (Colossians 2:10

I don’t fully understand the nuances of this union. What I know is that it is so, and it is beautiful. And realizing that we belong to Him releases within us a freedom to feel the weight of our fragility and the immense gratitude that comes along with it. 

Our only other option is fear.

But ultimately, aren't most of our fears just our excuses? Let’s just admit that when we say we're afraid what we're really saying is we value whatever we’re afraid of losing over whatever God has called us to do. Be it status, title, or material possessions, if our identity is not secure in who we are loved by and found in, then our identity will be wrapped up in lesser, more fallible things. 

My prayer lately has been, “Let my life have a far greater impact for your glory than it ever could by living on my own terms”. 

God can exponentially increase the impact of our lives for His Kingdom. But we can’t do it ruled by fear. 

We are complete and secure in Him and we have to live from that place, because then and only then will we experience the freedom to LOVE with authenticity and SERVE with sincerity - not preoccupied by who sees us or what anyone thinks of us. 

That’s the kind of thing that draws people to Jesus. And that's why we're here. 

 

 

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Dear Adults: A Word from Your Local Youth Pastor

Dear Adults: A Word from Your Local Youth Pastor

My birthday is just around the corner. 

Now, I’m not that old, but the older I get it feels like the faster the world becomes. 

I’m a child of the 80’s. I can still remember using my grandmother’s rotary phone (if you don’t know what that is click here. haha.) to call home as a kid.

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No Second Chances: 9 Ways to Jumpstart the Call on Your Life

No Second Chances: 9 Ways to Jumpstart the Call on Your Life

Let’s say you’ve felt the call to ministry in some form. Or maybe you just know that you’re meant to do more with your life than just survive at a nine to five job.

But there is no obvious path to take. You feel apprehensive about moving forward because the unknown is frightening at times.

On the other hand, you don’t know if you’re wasting the precious time you’ve been given. Let’s face it, our time is a limited resource. After all, when we see Jesus face to face we aren’t going to say, “Wait, Lord. Can I go back? I didn’t do that quite like I wanted to.” We get one life. There are no second chances.

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6 Ways to Seek Excellence and Grow Through It

6 Ways to Seek Excellence and Grow Through It

A few years ago my husband and I started attending a very large church that, to some, might seem to have it all together but I think they would be the first to admit they don’t.

We are so thankful for our time there. We learned so much and we got to rest and recover.

But some of the typical things that people encounter with larger churches were things that we found to be challenging, and at times frustrating.

  • It was hard sometimes to feel connected.
  • At times things felt a little too well rehearsed.
  • And we wondered if we were “cool” enough.

Shocking, I know.

I have a tattoo. Matt wears skinny jeans. What more could you want?

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If We Truly Are Vigilant...

If We Truly Are Vigilant...

Here we are. All of us together.

We have come to a point in history where we find that our desire to do good is thwarted by an acute case of self-obsession.

We are in slavery, our taskmaster, comfort. We dare not make way to the promised land knowing full well that between us and that place lies wilderness, lies difficulty, lies hardship.

Who am I to say such things?

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Meet Brother Arnold

Meet Brother Arnold

In 2007, I was asked to preach at a small church in Leavenworth, KS. It was the beginning of an encounter with a collective of people that I now know and love.

Upon my arrival, I was introduced to this jazz drummer who my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) referred to as “Cool Guy.”

“Cool Guy,” was a lighter skinned, elderly, black man. His body was slightly hunched and swayed to one side, bearing most of his weight upon a favored foot. Observing his stance, I noticed that the rest of his weight was held up by a long black cane. Through a quiet voice with a slight rasp, he extended his hand to mine and spoke,

“How ya doin’ there? I’m Brother Arnold.”

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Is There Anything for this Generation to Declare?

Is There Anything for this Generation to Declare?

Churches everywhere are working to maintain relevance in this post-Christian nation, scrambling to survive.

Church attendance in many places is steadily declining as people go outside the church walls for spiritual fulfillment or people have just stopped caring about church altogether.

"One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts."

- Psalms 145:4

Let me ask you, is there anything for this generation to declare?

 

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The Minister's Manifesto

The Minister's Manifesto

I don’t know how to be something I’m not. 

Most of us don’t.

Since I can remember I’ve loved 2 things: ministry & art. 

In the same way you like unique foods and your own manner of doing things, I can’t imagine not having a passion for these pursuits. 

For me, it’s a peculiar combination. 

Most of my life I’ve felt too “Christian” for the art world and too “artsy” for the local church. 

And so, finding a space to call my own has been a pursuit of discovery.

Its also been an intentional pursuit to carve out more space for others like myself...maybe for someone like you too.

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The Best Thing to Believe

The Best Thing to Believe

Right now, my eyes are heavy and sweet sleep is calling my name.

I am writing this on a borrowed laptop, as we camp out in a nine year old's room while he sleeps on the couch.

This is life on the road for the Shirleys. 

The past couples weeks have been filled with incredible experiences, really good food and even better company. 

But as our time passes Matt and I find ourselves praying about the future and endeavoring to hold all things loosely. 

This time is conjuring in me a belief that grows more firm with each passing day. 

Jesus is enough. He is sufficient.

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Dear Pastor

Dear Pastor

Dear Pastor,

In the wake of recent events, I’ve penned this letter out of grave concern for your well-being.

It seems lately that some of your kind have fallen away.

It’s been said that where there is smoke, you can expect fire. For those of us watching, it was obvious in those circumstances what was going to happen.

Some of us have scattered, while others have stayed. Some of us are exiles, hoping that one day amends can be made for the injustice we found within the walls of the churches we once knew as home.

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If God is Real...

If God is Real...

When I was 14, I remember riding in the passenger seat of our family mini-van, looking out the window on a bright summer day. I turned to my mom and said, “One day, I’m going to do something big for God. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know how, but it’s going to be big.”

The conviction in my heart was so strong. If I could have grabbed my mom’s head between both of my hands and downloaded the knowing that I had straight into her being I would have. Because I didn’t want to just talk. I hesitated to tell her because what if that’s what it was? Just fourteen-year-old talk?

Understand that I had not just returned from summer camp or had some experience where I saw Jesus flashing like a neon sign. I just knew. But what I didn’t know was what “big” looked like because what people consider “big” is not usually what God considers big. But I was willing to do whatever it took to get there and I was okay with whatever it ended up looking like. Even then I had a sense that God could do miraculous things with a life that is radically surrendered to Him.

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Why I Waited 'til Marriage to Kiss My Wife

Why I Waited 'til Marriage to Kiss My Wife

I had a close friend once tell me that there are two times in your life where those you know will really show up to support you, at your wedding and at your funeral. 

When my wife and I were married, it was a party, but it didn’t come easy. We paid for most of it out of our own pockets. We had the right music, the right cake, and had waited for the right moment to kiss each other for the very first time. 

Yes, before our wedding day, my wife and I had never kissed. 

It wasn’t because we didn’t want to. Trust me, we REALLY wanted to. I certainly wanted to. I would consider myself as much of a man as any guy, so when I say I wanted to kiss the woman I loved, I really wanted to kiss her. In fact, there was plenty more I wanted to do too. (Cue Marvin Gaye music).

But before I say too much, you need to know something about our story.

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Binge. Purge. Repeat.

Binge. Purge. Repeat.

Our culture is one of excess. We binge and purge. Everyone. There is really no exception. I’m not just talking about food. I’m talking about entertainment, spending, leisure, sex, social media, the list goes on. If you think you’re the exception then you can stop reading right now, I suppose I’m not talking to you.

I’m talking to people like me.

For example, someone might say (myself included), I don’t watch a lot of TV. Well, that’s nice. Neither do I. BUT when I find a show on Netflix that I like, I will watch it until there is no more to watch. Binge. I will deprive myself of sleep, I will shirk responsibility. When I have a bit of free time, guess where it’s going? And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get your spouse in on the action and you waste your lives together. What does it matter? There are only a limited number of shows you can watch, so eventually you will come out of your entertainment induced stupor and once again embrace the light of day.

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Change

Change

First, I would like to apologize for our silence. Pregnancy and an odd combination of varying circumstances had put us out of commission for a while. But we're back and we couldn't be happier about it! 

I feel like a certain amount of responsibility comes with a name like "We are the Vigilant". You might be wondering why we picked such an intense name for a blog, ministry, etc. Why not pick something a little more palatable? A little more "vanilla," if you will? And all I can say is, it just clicked. It touched on something that was our heart's cry. Not that Matt and I would just be vigilant, but that people would be inspired to wake up, to be aware, to say WE are the vigilant. Anyways...since the name of the blog implies we are watching and looking out for what's coming next, I guess that means we should at least be ready for whatever that is. So, I guess that also means we get to be the first to change, the first to adjust. 

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Year in Review

Year in Review

So, we knew we wanted to share about this past year. We wanted to share where we are coming from. But first, I want to say that this past year has been a “butt kicker”. There have been moments where we loved it and where we hated it. I’ll be honest, the majority of the time I hated it, but for what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

This past year we also started MissionBrand. This is a company specifically designed to support missionaries through the sale of custom apparel that my incredibly talented husband designs. We learned a lot from this experience, too. Things don’t always go the way you expect them to. We received an incredible amount of moral support and encouragement. A lot of people have said that we inspired them to take steps of faith out into the unknown. This meant so much to us! Would I do it again? Um…Oh God, please don’t ask us to do this again. Will He ask us to do this again? Probably.

In January 2013, we said goodbye to some incredible students that it had been our privilege of ministering to since 2009, both as volunteers and then as their youth pastors. This was one of the most challenging things we have ever had to walk through. During that season, we had some of the most rewarding and heartbreaking experiences of our lives. We learned a lot and we didn’t do everything perfectly but, by God’s grace, we did our best.

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We Are The Vigilant

We Are The Vigilant

What is “We are the Vigilant”?

Or, perhaps the more appropriate question is “what does it mean to be Vigilant?”

About a year ago my husband and I sat down to talk about what we wanted. We have these conversations often. But this conversation was different. We were taking a giant step. We were launching a business that would seek to support missionaries through the design and sale of apparel. Those we knew thought it was a great idea. We thought it was a great idea. In fact, we still think it’s a great idea. We know that our mandate as Christians is to “go and make disciples of all nations” according to Matthew 28:19. We believe we will one day go abroad to do some of the work we’re so passionate in supporting. But in the midst of that conversation we had to admit something was missing. We were leaving vocational student ministry to strike out on our own, only our passion for students and reaching younger generations had not changed. Even now, we are still just as zealous to see students serve God with passion and consistency. It was out of this conversation that the idea for We are the Vigilant was born.

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