Boarding tomorrow

We last wrote to you in late March but it feels like only a few weeks ago. Time is really going by quickly! Since that last post, there has been a trip to Indonesia where James delivered the devotional teachings at a World Team conference, the family took a trip to Koh Kong (where we worked before), we’ve met with numerous friends, disciples, teammates to celebrate God’s goodness and reminese a bit, James took two trips to Thailand (for medical purposes and one with Lynette), packed up our belongings, sold our car and every other item that wouldn’t fit into an action-packer, finished the school year and final exams, handed off our dog to another family, a family visit to the dentist, participated in the Leader Cohort training in Europe and a whole bunch of other things in between each event.

In thirty-three hours we’ll board the plane for our journey to the States. As the time draws near the reality of this season’s closing is coming into full view. As you might expect our emotions are all over the place. There is the anticipation of what’s next but also the sadness of the ministry we leave behind, “parting IS such sweet sorrow”. Although living in another country has its challenges, after seventeen years Cambodia has become home. The friendships we’ve made with the Khmer and the expat community are invaluable and will be deeply missed.

It will take time for us to make the adjustment to new sights, sounds and smells. Life in Cambodia, in so many ways, could not be more different than the States. We anticipate the first six months trying to find a new normal but much longer than that before we process everything that has happened and make the full physical, emotional, and relational transition. But in the meantime, I guess we’ll need to stop driving through the gas station to avoid the red light or going three to four cars wide on a two-lane road (its possible) so we don’t scare everyone else. Where in NC will we find fried spiders or fried pork & rice for breakfast?

In closing we want you to know that our financial support has been dangerously low for quite some time. Over the last few months, we’ve seen another dip which puts our continued work with World Team in jeopardy once we return to the States. We realize that as we transition back from the field into a training role supporters will need to reconsider if our new focus fits within how they wish to support missions. If you have questions about the role, what we will be doing, how it fits into building God’s church, please write us, call us, or have a cup of coffee with us, we would love to share with you! With that in mind, we are asking each supporter to a) communicate to us soon as possible if you decide to discontinue your support b) support us through September if at all possible to give us time to discern our next steps. For those who desire to support our new ministry, you can continue to give as before. We are truly grateful for each person’s partnership with us through the years. Thank you.

Prayer points:

  1. For our belongings to arrive safely to NC by ship (hopefully it won’t end up in Wilmington, Delaware)
  2. Emotional stability as we make this transition and grace through the grieving process
  3. We need to find dependable vehicles
  4. The transition of James’ Area Director role to Pat (to be complete by the end of Sept.)
  5. God’s grace as we say goodbye to people, a community and way of life
  6. Our financial support
  7. God’s direction in our next season of ministry

Thanks for your partnership and prayers,

The Cottles

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The Role and the Ripple

In our last update, we shared about our return to the States this June and a brief description of our new role. Since that post, we have received numerous comments of encouragement and assurance of continued support in this new ministry. Thank you for your kind words and for standing with us in this transition. In this update we want to elaborate on the leadership role we’ll play within World Team and the ongoing work of establishing communities of believes among unreached people.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of Hebrews 12:2 ….“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame…” The joy before him was at least two-fold; one joy was the knowledge of being obedient to the Father in the mission he was given and the second joy was looking past the horrific nature of the cross and seeing the eternal outcome. The outcome is a host of forgiven people surrounding the throne offering their praise and worship (a glorious outcome). What Jesus did over 2,000 years ago is having the rippling effect today. His work in those early disciples, his death on the cross and his empowerment of believers is still having an impact today throughout the world. Contemplating this verse made me think; what is the joy set before us as it relates to developing training materials and leaders? The joy set before us is to be obedient to the Father and to see people praising the Father. We believe our new ministry can have a far-reaching and eternal impact. How? you may ask. Although our feet may be in Wilmington, N.C the investment made in creating training materials and developing leaders is captured by the pebble in the pond phenomenon. Just as the pebble creates multiple outward ripples, so we believe investing in others creates a ripple. We anticipate the investment we make in others will, in turn, benefit those they work beside as well as those they serve. This ripple effect extends all the way to the lost who hear the gospel, who then form into communities of believers and extend the gospel to others.

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The outward moving ripple reflects the dynamic of discipleship and multiplication. We see this in the Apostle Paul wherein II Timothy 2:2 he says “now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others”. Paul alludes to the ripple effect once again in Ephesians 4:12 “Their (leaders) responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Leaders are in their role to influence others towards the purposes of God; to create a ripple that extends beyond themselves, beyond the walls into the streets and across cultural and national boundaries.

That is the joy and ripple effect in developing others. We want to play our part….causing a ripple for the praise of His Glory.

Over the last six year while serving as the Asia Area Director, growing and developing leaders has been at the forefront of our ministry. Now we have the opportunity to devote more time to a greater number of current and emerging leaders, not only in Asia but in other countries where World Team is working. Take a few minutes to watch this video to hear young leaders share the impact of the new Leader Cohort training which started November 2017. https://youtu.be/IbWfipLQzA8

The leader cohort (described in the video) is just one of the opportunities we have to impact leaders and missions on a global scale. In addition to the cohort, we’ll join others to present onsite training in various countries as well as hosting online development sessions. We’ve been asked to develop a new training resource every few months that will prepare workers for the task of sharing the gospel, discipling believers, establishing churches, working as a team, and leading others. We will also look into other training needs such as cross-cultural adaptation, resolving conflict, partnerships, leadership values, and other relevant topics.

There is great debate over whether or not leaders are born or are made. I can tell you from personal experience that leaders (whether born with a gift or not) need several things: 1) their reference point for all they do needs to be God, 2) development in principled-biblical leadership, 3) opportunities to exercise leadership, 4) feedback from mentors on how they’re doing 5) encouragement and a listening ear as they lead 6) continued development opportunities 7) vision to develop others. When emerging leaders have these components we will see a new era of available leaders.

We praise God for this chance to invest in leaders who will invest in others, thus keeping the multiplication ripple moving. We trust you see the importance and the strategic nature of this opportunity.

There is still so much more to share with you, such as the holistic organization we’re involved in. In our next update, we’ll share a bit about that and provide a video link which explains the core concepts of its ministry focus.

Look for another update coming soon,

The Cottles

We’re moving on but not out

cfamilyIt’s hard to believe but its true; the Cottle family has served with World Team Cambodia for seventeen years. We recall the day we made the decision to serve and communicated to our family and friends in May 1999. We also remember the day we boarded the plane with tear filled eyes; both hands filled with carry-ons, and “Grandma grapes” (as Moriah used to call her) monkey bread to begin a new chapter in life. Little did we know at the time the path and adventures we would experience.

Over the last seventeen years with World Team, God has taught us many lessons. Although some of them very hard at the time, we wouldn’t trade the benefit in for an easier path (well, to be honest, we would probably trade a few in for easier times). During this time God allowed us to participate in a variety of ministries which gave us not only the opportunity to take the gospel to the nations and minister to the poor but to grow as a family and followers of Christ. Each event, victory, every turn in the road and struggle afforded us the chance for introspection, a moment to grow, be better equipped and to see God’s grace more clearly. We are thankful for His faithfulness and endless love.

Although we have enjoyed our time in Cambodia and grateful for the life-changing experience, we have come to the decision that it’s time for us to move on. In June 2018 we will bring to a close our time in Cambodia and return to the United States to begin a new chapter in the same journey. This decision has not been easy but has been under consideration with wise counsel, prayer, and discussion as a family. There is sadness in leaving but also anticipation in what is before us. Living in Asia for so long makes this is a big change for us with some uncertainties but we trust God will guide our steps and direct us as He has done so many times before. We’re moving on but not out……… IMG_4851

So what are we going to do?  That is a reasonable question. Let us briefly provide a big picture explanation of our new role in this update and then we will post again in a few days a more detailed explanation.  In a nutshell, World Team has asked us to continue serving in a leadership capacity. The primary responsibility will be two-fold; mentoring-development of emerging and current leaders within World Team, and to develop materials helping future and current missionaries in their work. In addition to these responsibilities, James will provide leadership to one of Asia’s ministry locations working among two minority groups and finally, James will remain as one of the management leaders of a new ministry arm of World Team which seeks to serve among isolated peoples (More on this in the next update).

The leadership of World Team has affirmed us in this ministry change and views this as an opportunity to further use our gifts and experience to accomplish the mission of establishing communities of believers among the unreached people. We too are excited about this as we see this in line with one of our favorite passages where Paul is describing the role of leadership in Ephesians 4: 12. “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ”. Although we do not count ourselves as experts we feel this opportunity utilizes our gifting and passion to prepare others or the great work of spreading the gospel. We trust that you see the strategic nature of this ministry and will consider continuing your prayer and financial support.

We want to thank each of you for your friendship, support, and prayers. We realize more than ever how God has designed the body of Christ to join together to fulfill the Great Commission. The ministries we’ve been a part of would not have been possible without your participation.

Please pray:

  1. For us as we begin the process of closing down our house
  2. That we would leave well the work that has been our hearts for these many years
  3. For our kids as they process the change and say goodbye to their friends and life in Cambodia
  4. For details in the States that still need to be worked out for our return
  5. For energy and focus to run our last miles with clarity and commitment
  6. That our time with fellow-workers and Khmer believers will be a time of encouragement for all

Paul wrote in Philippines 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This is our confidence for our fellow-workers, the expanding church in Asia, for the Asian believers and for ourselves as we make this transition. God will complete what He has started.

We invite your comments and questions. Post them to this blog or write us at james.cottle@worldteam.org

 

Blessings,

The Cottles

Cottle Family Update

June 26th, 1993 two kids got married. Lynette and I celebrated 24 years of marriage. Honestly, I’m not sure how Lynette has put up with me this long but I’m glad she has. I think we were made for each other.

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On a recent trip together, we were able to add an extra day to our travels to see the Palace in Beijing and a few Pandas. It just so happens our travel dates were on our anniversary…..so I credit myself for taking Lynette somewhere special on our anniversary.

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Also in June, I had the chance to observe the closing ceremony of Ramadan. This was a great experience and I couldn’t help but think of the verse when Jesus told his disciples “the fields are white and ready for harvest. Some estimate that over 200,000 Muslims filled the streets near the Mosque….I believe it. There were people everywhere.

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School House News

Lynette is teaching at Logos International School and one of her classes is Bible. She has some great things planned for students this year with the goal of helping them interact with God’s Word in practical ways rather than just viewing scripture as a book from the past. One way she is doing this is through using DBS (Discovery Bible Study). After reading a short passage of scripture (1-10 verses) she asked; what does this teach us about God, what does this teach us about man, is there a command to obey or an example to follow, is there a sin to avoid or repent of, and what truth will you apply this week? I have used this approach and we highly recommend it for all ages.

Rachel and Caleb are deep into their studies, making friends and enjoying sports. Rachel is playing High School volleyball and Caleb is playing Middle School basketball. Both of them are involved in Bible studies with other students and continue to grow in their faith. Since Logos is not too far from our house they ride their bikes to school and get to experience the high heat and humidity of Phnom Penh. I, on the other hand, choose to ride the motorcycle.

Area Ministry

I (James) continue to work with three different groups of leaders in Asia focusing on growing in our leadership skills and effectiveness. Each group meets every month to focus on various aspects of leading ourselves and others well. The training is not only about learning or sharpening our skills but also identifying tendencies and defaults that hinder us from serving others well. Starting in November I along with three other trainers will launch the Leadership Cohort. The Cohort will focus on developing emerging leaders throughout World Team. These participants come from South America, Africa, different countries within Europe, and Asia. The goal is to equip them now so they are better prepared to serve in any leadership capacity that God may lead them to.

Since we’re talking about leadership let me share with you a definition of leadership that I  like.  A leader is a person “with God-given capacity and with God-given responsibility who is influencing a specific group of God’s people toward God’s purpose for the group.” Dr. Bobby Clinton

Our well-being

Living in another country (especially a developing one) does bring its physical challenges and we’ve had our share of stomach bugs, viruses, and unexplainable symptoms but since we returned in August 2016 our health has been good and we’ve only encountered the typical illnesses that everyone tends to get. We thank God for good health and the ability to carry out the ministry.

However, we have experienced a decrease in monthly giving as a result of hardships some churches and supporters have had. We are currently averaging a $700 monthly shortage. As of right now, this is manageable but we would like for you to pray that all our needs would be met so that the work can continue.

Finally, we want to thank you for your prayers and support of our family and the ministry. As we enter our seventeenth year of serving in Cambodia we are amazed and thankful for each person, business, and church that has given their resources in order to reach others with the Gospel and establish the church.

Things to pray about:

  1. Moriah (our oldest) is getting married in Dec. We are assisting in the planning of the wedding via Facetime but there is still work to be done
  2. Rachel is taking SATs in October and obviously, she is hoping to do well
  3. That our financial support would stabilize…..and for others to join our support team
  4. I’m working with several teams in order to expand our ministry to Muslims. We need open doors and more workers
  5. I’m preparing my material for the Leadership Cohort….I’m still thinking through what to and what not to present

Thanks you,

The Cottles

 

 

 

Life over the last few months

First, we would like to apologize for not keeping everyone up to date as regularly as we should. It seems that the days are so busy with daily activities and it’s hard to find the time to sit and record all that is happening. We would like to recommend that you connect with us on Facebook if we’re not already “friends”. That format will allow you to see into our lives a bit more frequently.

Grieving dad

No doubt the last 8 months have been difficult for James. Not being able to talk to or hug his dad of 47 years is a new aspect of life that is not welcomed. However, over the last few months, God has given much grace to James and James’ heart is slowly healing. James was back in the States in May for World Team leadership meetings in which James took two extra weeks to visit NC. to spend time with his mom, brother, and sister. This was a special time as the family worked on a memorial garden and placed the ashes under the maple tree like pops wanted.

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Graduation and Congratulations 

Lynette was also able to travel to NC and we (proud parents) watched Moriah graduate from Liberty University. Moriah has grown so much in her faith and as an adult during her four-year studies and we wait with joy to see how God uses her to impact the world as a light bearer of the kingdom. We also were present when Moriah was proposed to by Houston Yager on May 6th. We are excited for them both and we praise God for a godly husband for Moriah.

Wedding bells

December 17th, 2017 is the big day. The Cottle family will travel back to the US in two shifts. James will arrive December 2nd and Lynette, Rachel, and Caleb arrive on the 14th. Planning has started via Facetime calls and wedding details are shaping up. It’s going to be an awesome day.

School is out and everyone is moving up

After the cake has settled and the balloons have lost their shape we now have a University graduate (Moriah), a Junior in college (Kailyn), an 11th grader (Rachel) and a 7th grader (Caleb). Lynette is also moving. This past year she taught third grade at Asian Hope International School but will transition to Logos International School to teach Math this coming school year.

Parents in School 

Lynette is one class and a thesis away from graduating with a Masters in Intercultural Education. She plans to complete her studies in May 2018. James is also wrapping up his degree with only five classes to go. He plans to complete his studies by June 2018. Crazy times…all the Cottles are in school.

Ministry across Asia

Since October James has traveled quite a bit to the various countries (Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and East Asia) within Asia to encourage and has taken two trips to America. That’s a lot of miles.

  • The trip in November was to East Asia (sorry, I can’t give you the exact location) to meet with four families who are working among minority groups in not so friendly conditions.
  • The trip in December was to work with three other leaders to lay the groundwork for a new holistic ministry that seeks to enter restricted people groups; some of which are literally living behind barbed wire. Progress has been made but they still have a lot of work to do in the coming months.
  • The trip in January was to Indonesia where James attended the Papua field conference where he led two sessions on working in Honor-Shame cultures.
  •  In March it was back to Papua, Indonesia for annual LEAD meetings. This is when the leaders of Asia gather for mutual encouragement, process ministry plans and grow in our leadership capacity. This was an enjoyable time with 10 leaders.
  • Late April took James to PA. USA for World Team Global Leader meetings then onto NC for two weeks before returning the Cambodia.
  • On June 22nd James & Lynette will fly to East Asia for 11 days. They will visit two teams. They will lead a session on Discovery Bible Study in order to give additional tools to the workers as they seek to start small groups of believers.

Working with leaders

Over the past year, James has been working with three other leaders to create a leadership training process for emerging leaders within World Team. The idea is to identify emerging leaders early and begin developing them over time. Although World Team has done this is various ways in the past, we are trying to be a bit more focused and structured in how this is carried out. The first leadership cohort will be in November of this year. We’re currently in the process of preparing the material for the cohort.

Along with this, James and his Field Directors have been working through various leadership topics over the past 8 months. Topics such as leadership bravery, assessment, vision, planning, why leaders wear so many hats, and a few other relevant topics. All of this is geared to help each of leader grow in leadership capacity.

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Finally, this past December James started an online group (Leader Excel) where he invited five emerging leaders to join him in growing in key leadership skills. So far they have discussed the foundation of leadership, vision, how to write a plan, and last month they started a three session topic on Situational Leadership. The time together is proving beneficial for all involved and James loves coaching and learning from these leaders.

Such a joy

We praise God for what He is doing in Asia and for allowing us to participate in establishing the Church. The workers and leaders of Asia that we work alongside are doing an awesome job of ministering in humility, staying connected to the vine (Jesus), promoting the Glory of God above all else and all have a desire to grow in knowledge, attitude, and skill. For James, serving as the Area Director with these missionaries is a joy.

Things you can pray for

  1. For God’s grace as the Cottle family continues to grieve the loss of a husband, dad, a brother, and granddad
  2.   Lynette and James as they continue with their schooling
  3. Moriah and Houston as they step closer towards uniting as one
  4. That the leaders in Asia will continue to grow in character and competency so they can lead well
  5. That the management team for the holistic org we are starting would work well together and that we’ll soon be able to complete all the structural elements of this new org
  6. Asia has three priority ministries, all among Muslims. Pray for more workers.
  7. The Cottle’s monthly support is averaging $600 a month shortage. We need more financial supporters and God’s grace to sustain us

Thanks to each of you who support us financially and prayer. Kingdom work is done through the power of God and in the context of community.

The Cottles

 

 

The Goals in 2017

In this update we want to share with you three ministry objectives that we are giving attention to and we’d like for you to join us in praying for them.

Every year World Team leadership asked us to identify what our leadership objectives will be for the year. As you all know, having objectives/goals gives people purpose in their work. It gives direction in how to be and/or achieve God’s glory. Having a clear sense of what your’re trying to accomplish gives focus, which also determines how to use time and how to accept or reject opportunities that come along. Focus is a powerful friend in a busy, high-demand world where many “good things” call for our attention. The objective/goal that people identify for themselves (or company, team, Church, etc…) should represent the most needed step/s to move them forward. If the goal that a person identifies is one that burns deeply within, without question, must be done and will move towards fulfilling the overall vision rather than just a good idea–that is the making of a good goal.

For us, we have three objectives that motivate us and determine how we spend our day, how we spend money, what we pray about and so on. These objectives are to develop leaders around us, grow Muslim ministry in Asia and launch a holistic organization in Asia. These stated three are key areas for us as leaders within the Asia Area. We believe these three objectives help World Team be where they need to be and to fulfill their purpose as a mission.

Develop leaders: We meet monthly with the leaders in the Asia Area to pray for each other, talk about ministry, to learn and encourage each other and to grow in our leadership competencies.We are focused on growing in areas such as vision, planning, team building,  conflict resolution, delegation, and developing other leaders.

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Muslim ministry: We launched PRAY GREEN several years ago for the purpose of drawing attention to the great need for more workers in Muslim ministry. Currently we are working in three countries but among 4 different Muslim people groups. Each of these teams need more workers. Hundreds of millions of Muslims live in Asia but the workforce is really small. We would like to see that change.

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Holistic Organization: Building relationships and meeting felt needs are two of the simplest ways to introduce people to Christ. However, addressing physical needs is not the only focus. We want to grow the holistic organization to meet the needs of people and point them to their Creator. The holistic organization that we want to develop has one distinctive reason for its creation, and that is to gain access to restricted regions. Some of the world’s unreached people live in isolated situations and religious-sensitive areas therefore one of the only ways to access them is through a development organization. The holistic organization we hope to launch will be able to enter restricted areas–places that many organizations cannot go.

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We are looking to make progress in these three areas in 2017 but we realize that we can’t do them alone, in our strength, or without God opening doors. We are asking you to make these three ministry objectives a part of your prayer time.

My Dad’s Birthday

Today, November 30th my dad would turn 73. To a young man/woman in their twenties 73 may seem far off, but anyone that has reached their 40’s will tell you that life goes by very quickly. Like a high speed train. God tells us this too. In several places in the Bible God reminds us that life is like smoke, water vapors, the blooming of a flower, and dew on the ground…..it’s presence is brief.

We should not be overly concerned about how brief the moment is, but rather who will we be and what will we do with that “brief” moment we are given, that should be our focal point. We are made to love God and love others; that is the most power yet simple description of how our life is to be spent. May the sum of our life be focused on these two points.

I have attached a poem which was used for my dad’s eulogy. It doesn’t explain it all but it gives you a sense of who my dad was and how his presence in our lives shaped us kids. The poem was recorded and sent to my dad on September 25th. The poem was my way of acknowledging the influence my dad had on me personally and it was my personal thank you to him for being a great dad. The poem is called There. Click on the word there  above the pic to get the link.

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