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2011 Year-End Review

 

Dear CULTURELink Family,

First and foremost, I want to thank you for being part of our ministry. Your prayers and encouragement have been a blessing. 2010 was a year of establishing a non-profit organization, writing and publishing a new curriculum, and field-testing new training. To my amazement, 2011 has surpassed both my hopes and the accomplishments of 2010.

Last week, my colleague, Ryan Hurlburt, and I dug through evaluation sheets, class rosters, and calendars to prepare our end-of-the-year report. The data we gathered is trackable and verifiable. These numbers are also conservative because not all CULTURELink seminar graduates provided us feedback. Therefore, as you read the bullet points below, know that the data is realistic and most likely lower than actuality. Be encouraged because YOU are part of this movement called CULTURELink.

In 2011:

  • We conducted seven Help! We’re Going on a Short-Term Trip! seminars (Atlanta, Greensboro, Hanover, Little Rock, Pittsburgh, Spokane, and Tampa).
  • 270 short-term mission team leaders representing 90 different churches across the United States were trained, each completing 15 hours of instruction.
  • From these classes, 112 teams will be discipled by our graduates and sent out to at least 68 different countries (see map at the end of the letter).
  • Two Introduction to Short-Term Missions Discipleship seminars were conducted for 60 participants.
  • CULTURELink’s new website was launched.
  • Strategic world missions consulting services were provided to three different churches.
  • An international trip to Romania took place. CULTURELink linked two ministries together so that their ministries will have a greater impact in that country. Make a Positive Difference and The Gypsy Education Fund are now partnering to influence hundreds of Gypsy children.
  • CULTURELink and I were featured in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement’s online alumni newsletter, which was distributed to 60,000 readers.
  • I served as a guest speaker in 12 churches, taught three Perspectives on the World Christian Movement courses, and served as the plenary speaker at two world missions conferences.

While the above stats are measurable and can serve as an indication of God’s hand on this ministry, numbers can often be a human gauge of success. Knowing this, what honestly blesses me most are those things that cannot be measured in numerical terms. Below are some comments by seminar participants that reveal CULTURELink’s impact on their lives, the likes of which, on this side of eternity, will never be able to be measured.

  • The spiritual impact of this seminar was memorable and life changing!
  • Thank you for developing me to be the leader God made me to be.
  • I didn’t really have the time this weekend to easily attend this seminar, but I am so glad I came. I have learned so much and have been very blessed and encouraged by the teaching. The application to several areas of my walk with Christ and the mission He has given me has been outstanding.
  • This seminar makes me mad and frustrated! Why? I wish I had taken this class years ago, because I realized how many trips I led so poorly. I am thrilled and anticipate more impact-filled trips in the future as a result of this seminar.
  • You not only gave us training, you discipled us to be better followers of Christ and motivated us to be disciple-makers of our teams and those we go to serve.
  • I had no idea this seminar would be as much or more about growing spiritually myself as it was about details and logistics of trip travel.
  • We have spent over a month doing/attending pre-field orientations to be long-termers. This tool/discipleship plan is BY FAR more useful, beneficial, practical & do-able! Thank you!
  • The seminar served to resurrect thoughts of serving as a missionary, challenging me to take the next steps in continuing preparation…for my wife and me.
  • I’ve been challenged by the question: “Is Jesus enough?”
  • This training is valuable. We’ve received feedback from nationals we serve that they notice and appreciate how prepared our teams are; compared to some others, they have less stress when our teams are there.
  • Thank you for being vulnerable; I felt like I needed that. I can’t understand how God has put me in so many leadership positions. I am just a shy, insecure person. I realize that God’s plan for me is more than I ever can imagine. He can use a broken person!
  • Renewed my passion to remain in the disciple-making process here and there, wherever I go, until Jesus returns.

Also, in 2011, I am thrilled to inform you that God has kept us financially healthy. Through foundations, individual donors, seminar tuitions, and consulting, we are solvent! This month, I have read newsletter after newsletter from ministries that seem to be going under. I don’t understand God’s generosity toward us, but He is blessing. You are investing into something healthy, something eternity-changing, and something I am convinced God has ordained.

I was recently sharing our mission with a potential donor. As our time together came to a close, he asked, “Are you struggling financially?” My temptation was to seem pitiful so he would give, but I told him truthfully instead that God meets our needs, that people are faithful, that seminars are filling up—and that, of course, we can use more resources, but that we know it is up to God to provide. He listened and said, “I am so grateful to be part of something healthy!”

Your gifts allow us to provide scholarships for many missionaries and nationals to attend our seminars. They allow us to give our ministry away to countries like Romania and the inner cities of urban areas like Atlanta. They allow my family to be provided for, as well. We are in this together.

Remember: a board of directors governs CULTURELink’s finances. Our operating costs are monitored and set by them. Therefore, as resources come in, we are able to continue fulfilling our mission of making disciples of those who will make disciples of all nations while endeavoring to be good stewards of all that God provides.

If you would like to give a one-time gift or become a monthly partner, or make an end-of-the-year donation to CULTURELink, you may do so either by visiting the GIVE page on our website or by sending a check to:

CULTURELink Inc.
P.O. Box 6623
Marietta, GA 30065

I’m thrilled to be in ministry with you!

Larry Ragan
Founder

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Training & Thieves | September 2011 Update

Dear Faithful Partners of CULTURELink,

Training

I am sitting in a coffee shop catching up from the last two weekends of training. The seminars in Little Rock, AR, and Hanover, PA, went very well.  I am now preparing to leave for a class in Spokane, WA, this week. When these three weekends are complete, 110 people will have been trained to disciple short-term teams—and I still have two more classes in November! In the weeks to come, I will share seminar participants’ comments and let you know what nations will be impacted as a result of your faithfulness.. Thank you for your partnership. You are impacting these participants and the nations to which they will minister!

Thieves

September brought many full days: administrative details had to be managed in order to prepare for the upcoming seminars; I also had to prepare to teach at two churches and to consult with two boards of non-profit organizations. One day during a very busy lunch hour, I met with the Board of Directors of Grace Ministries International at LongHorn Steakhouse in East Cobb. As I returned to my car after the meeting, I saw that my car window had been shattered and my computer bag and all its contents had been stolen.

The next few days were consumed with getting my window fixed, buying a new computer, and updating lost files. I am grateful that I had recently backed up my data, that all the CULTURELink curriculum files were safe, and that my Bible wasn’t in the stolen computer bag. Initially, I was angry and frustrated; then I remembered what had happened when the pastor of a Romanian Gypsy church was robbed many years ago when I was with him. He had stopped immediately and prayed that God would meet the need of the person that robbed him in such a powerful way that he would no longer need to steal. When I thought of that response, I felt convicted and honestly thought, “I’m not praying that stupid prayer. I not that spiritually mature!” A few minutes later, I prayed that exact thing…and peace came over me. I realized that when you are wronged, praying for those who wrong you brings healing and peace to YOU.

Two days after the robbery, between going to computer stores and the police department, I pulled into a gas station to get a Diet Coke. I hopped out of the car, ran in, and returned to find my car running and the keys locked inside! I went back in the station and found that they had a “kit” that I could buy for $50 that would give me the “tools” I needed to break into my car. I then asked for a coat hanger. No one had one. As I walked back outside, a very small Asian man stopped me and said, “If you will let me, I can get into your car in thirty seconds.”

“Okay,” I said.

In amazement, I watched this very small man run to his huge Mack Truck and return with a screwdriver, a wire, and a rag, Literally, in thirty seconds my door was open. As I stared at him, he said with a sly smile, “I have done this before, but now I only do it to help people! I am a changed man.” I smiled and thanked him, and then he was gone.

God then said to me, Pray that the person who robbed you will use his or her skills for good, too. Two thieves:  one changed and a blessing, one not. Sound familiar?

Each of us has skills that God has given us. Are we using them for good?

Thanks for your prayers and support,
Larry

Contributions can be given online at www.culturelinkinc.org/give, or checks can be mailed to:

CULTURELink Inc.
PO Box 6623
Marietta, GA 30068

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Culture Link Has a New Website

We’re excited to provide a single resource to register for upcoming seminars and purchase materials at your convenience.

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