Category Archives: temp

The Return

Just a few weeks ago, we were making our final preparations. It was time to head out from the frozen plains of the upper Midwest to return to the humid tropics of Southeast Asia. Our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with family were now memories to take with us. We were busy taking care of last minute personal details, packing up our winter clothes in storage for the next trip back to the USA while ensuring what remained would make the trip to Asia. After one final cold snap and a dusting of snow we boarded our flight from Minnesota. Roughly 24 hours later we stepped into the humidity of Jakarta where a midnight shower ushered us back home.

We are grateful for the past 4 months back in the US. We were able to connect with several of our friends and partners. We welcomed new opportunities (some unplanned) to share stories from our work in media across Asia. We met new friends even though we weren’t able to schedule times with everyone on our list. Through the faithfulness of many, we are able to return to Asia with the resources we need to continue what’s been started.


Good to be back into our roles with our Indonesian and international colleagues

Now we are back in our office in Jakarta, renewing our relationships with colleagues in ministry. While there have been a couple unexpected surprises upon our return, it’s been mostly uneventful. We are grateful for the warm welcome back.

We needed to get right into our work activities. One of my immediate responsibilities includes coordinating FEBC participation in media training as part of a conference in Thailand. There will be 16 FEBC staff coming to join in training workshops offered prior to the conference. I’ll also be introducing the “Content in Context” workshop concept to delegates at the conference as well as giving a more detailed overview to the steering committee of Asia by Media, who are promoting its use. Please continue to pray that these opportunities will raise interest among media ministries to participate in the workshop. The response to these sessions will give us a good indication of interest and opportunities to schedule the workshop for other media teams.

Barb and I will value your prayers over the next few weeks as I prepare for this conference. Shortly after that, both of us will be on our way to Hong Kong to help with  the FEBC International annual meeting.


Family Focus

The last couple of months have gone by quickly as we’ve traveled around the US with updates about our ministry with FEBC. We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to share, and for the people we’ve met who are interested in the impact media has in communicating the gospel in other cultures.

The major holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are now upon us, so we are focusing our time on family. We were in southern California for Thanksgiving, visiting with Barb’s sister, brother and their families. It was good to strengthen family ties and catch up with the changes in their lives.

Bartz Family Collage

Looking forward to spending time with Emily, Nathan, and those close to their hearts.

Back from California, we are now shifting to visiting our children. First on the list will be Nathan, who is currently living in central Florida. We are now driving there from Minnesota. He recently started a new job with the city of Orlando and is getting settled into that routine. He’s involved in his church and is spending time with his girlfriend on a consistent basis. We are grateful for that developing relationship.

From there, we’ll return to Minnesota in mid-December and then head over to North Dakota to visit with my mom and brother. Mom continues to adjust to her new home at an assisted living facility. My brother is currently studying online with Minot State University. We’ll be celebrating Christmas with them which will include a concert for the residents at mom’s home and also sharing with my brother’s church on Christmas eve.

For New Year’s, we will fly to Texas to be with Emily and her husband Alex. Emily has received approval of her dissertation and is shifting towards completing that major project. She also continues to teach English classes at Texas A&M. Alex is pursuing his doctorate in electrical engineering at the same university. We’re looking forward to catching up with them and learning more about their progress.

The month of December has always been a special time to focus on the good things that God provides, first of all through the coming of His Son, Jesus. We are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve Him. May you have a wonderful time with loved ones, growing relationships with family and friends during the coming days. It is my prayer that God will bless you with times of reflection on the way He has been at work in your life. Have a Jesus-centered Christmas and a blessed start to the new year.


Progress Visit

Just after Valentine’s Day last month, I had the opportunity to visit one of FEBC’s FM radio stations here in Indonesia. This station was the second one to be constructed in what would soon be the birth of the Heartline network. I had visited this city of 300,000 people back when the station was first envisioned in 2001. So who would have thought, after 15 years of operation, I would have the chance to see how the station has been doing.

Glad to lead worship with the engineer at the station. We do have some things in common.

Glad to lead worship with the engineer at the station. We do have some things in common.

Much has changed since 2001. I arrived at a much different airport (in a different city, though) than the one I visited back then. It has been significantly upgraded because of the economic development in the region. It turns out that the island of Kalimantan has a number of natural resources which make it a destination for many investors. The city of Samarinda, where the station broadcasts, has grown considerably. Roads are in better condition. The signs of economic progress are everywhere, from construction taking place to a thriving port on the river passing through the valley. While FEBC’s station was one of the first in the city, I was privileged to also see two other stations during the  visit.

FEBC’s station is still faithfully broadcasting from a residential subdivision nestled back against a hill that overlooks the city. The tower is located just below the summit. Programming is in the national language and in English. Much of the original studio equipment is still in service today.

The station has not been without its challenges. Just recently, the original transmitter was replaced with a much smaller and more efficient unit that still provides a strong signal. The tower supports not only the station’s antenna, but a number of other services. A few months before my visit, the top portion of the tower collapsed because the tower is getting older. It had been repaired by the time I arrived. The station already has a newer tower ready to put up, but it is still waiting for clearance from the government to do so.

A special part of the visit included a thanksgiving service that was hosted at a prayer chapel right next to the transmitter site. Approximately 30 people came on Saturday morning to pray for the broadcasts and to thank God for the provision of this new transmitter. Many have been faithfully listening to the station over the years and expressed their appreciation for the broadcasts. I met several of them after the service, including one woman who is completely blind. Heartline’s broadcasts have been very special to her.

Continue to pray for this radio station as they face a number of challenges in their operation. Besides struggling to upgrade their equipment, they face significant competition from the other stations in the city. Pray that the station and its staff would not only survive, but learn to thrive in the dynamic environment of growth that will broaden their audience beyond the churches in the community. I’m encouraged to see that God is still at work in a station I had the privilege, in a small way, to help get started.

This, Too, Shall Pass

Wow, after five weeks in the US for holiday time with the family, we are grateful to be back in Indonesia, where the air is significantly warmer and not a single snowflake in sight — anywhere! Yet, we certainly appreciated the opportunity to visit with family and friends in our three different locations during the visit.


Fun with my family at Christmas in soon to be snowed-in North Dakota

Our stop in the upper midwest gave us our fill of winter and cold temperatures. Following -30 deg F in Minnesota, we were greeted by 12-15 inches of snow and  a blizzard on Christmas Day in North Dakota. We did our best to stay warm as winter tried to give us its best shot. I was doing fine until I opted to assist my family in digging out from the snow. After some shoveling and slipping on a patch of ice, I dislodged a kidney stone that gave me enough grief that I had to visit the emergency room in Bismarck. In the middle of the holidays and the aftermath of the blizzard, I could not deal with this problem there. It would have to wait until I got back to Jakarta. With the pain medications, a return to the “warmer” climate of California, and some exercise, I could complete the rest of the visit relatively pain-free.

Now that we are back in Jakarta after the new year, I have had more work done to resolve the kidney stone. Too large to pass on its own, I underwent a procedure that broke up the stone into many small pieces, much like sand. After about 90 minutes, the stone disappeared, indicating success. After this, it’s a matter of getting rid of what I call “the leftovers”. My kidney also swelled from the experience, so I’m likewise hopeful that the kidney will return to normal eventually. Under the urologist’s care here in Jakarta, I’m drinking plenty of water!


FEBC broadcasts continue despite Kyrgyzstan winter

As FEBC keeps on expanding its ministry across Asia, it’s inevitable that some of our radio stations will be outside the warmth of the tropics. With the reminder of the winter in the US firmly in my memory, I learned about progress made with the growing FM radio network across Kyrgyzstan. Rushing to beat the approaching winter with its snow and wind, FEBC’s local team was able to install the third transmitter in the network in the middle of October, 2016. Winter comes early to these parts, but we are grateful the team could reach the mountain transmitter site before the snow came. Another region of this central Asian country now has the opportunity to hear the gospel. I encourage you to hear the whole story from the FEBC website. Please select this link for video and photos that tell the story of getting this newest transmitter up and running. I am grateful to see projects like these completed so more people can hear the story of Jesus.

Discovering Christmas


Enjoying Downtown Orlando with our son Nathan who just moved to Florida

It’s been a busy past couple of months for Barb and me. November was filled with team meetings in Jakarta and a regional meeting of Christian media ministries in Penang, Malaysia. Then we departed Jakarta to return to the USA for a December holiday to celebrate Christmas and visit our family. This particular adventure includes the sunshine of central Florida, the snow and cold of the upper Midwest, and the crisp morning air of Southern California. For the next three weeks or so, we’ll be traveling across Minnesota and North Dakota, where the temperatures are chilly and the snow is already piling up.

The change in routine and shift in focus has offered some time to reflect on Christmas and the story of Jesus that is at the heart of the celebration. As I’ve remembered again the various characters in the story, whether it’s Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, or the wise men from Persia, their routines of life were interrupted by the significant. There were changes in expectations, surprise developments and life changing decisions.

In each case, their contribution to the story started with a discovery. First, Mary became pregnant in a most unusual way. The shepherds were surprised by blinding light one night. The astronomers saw something in the heavens that had never been there before. Each discovery led them into wondering what all this could mean. Why were these circumstances suddenly demanding their full attention and changing their lives? Their individual discoveries drew them into the mystery as these events intertwined with one another, impacting them in ways they never could have imagined. They were captivated, even compelled, to participate in something that not only changed them but ultimately impacted the entire world.

I wonder if we have, over the years, missed some of that mystery and meaning that comes with Christmas. Maybe this year we’ll come back to discovering, exploring, contemplating and appreciating what the birth of Christ really meant, not only for the characters in the stories but also for us. As we marvel at the mystery, let God’s Spirit draw us even deeper into the treasure we call the good news of Jesus’ coming to this earth.

As we approach this season, I’m offering a few songs that try to capture some of the intrigue and mystery that surrounded that first Christmas and what the characters in the stories might have discovered. You will find the Discovering Christmas trilogy available online at SoundCloud. It’s my prayer that these songs will highlight the greatest gift of Christmas in a meaningful way.

From Barb and me, we wish you each a very merry, meaningful and joy-filled Christmas.

The Past Returns to the Present

One of the privileges of having lived in a variety of locations around the world and traveled to several more, is the opportunity to build relationships with so many from differing backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and perspectives. It gives us a much broader perspective of the creativity and diversity that God has woven into and throughout humanity. I was reminded of this over the past couple of weeks as we’ve renewed and developed some new relationships right here in our little corner of Indonesia.


An evening wth our colleague and friend, Romulus S.

I was on my way out of the office the other day to refill my tumbler at the water cooler. I needed a break after a rather long session at my computer. I was on a mission, not paying a great deal of attention to anything else around me. But on the way back, I passed one of the other offices and just happened to glance in on a meeting. Much to my surprise, there sat one of our good friends from the Philippines whom we met when we first joined FEBC in the early 1990s. Back then, he was one of the Indonesian programmers broadcasting back to his home country through the shortwave transmissions from Manila. Now, right in front of my eyes, after more than 20 years, there he sat with that unmistakable smile that reflected the joy that was always in his heart.

Barb and I had often wondered what had happened to Romulus S., our fun-loving, exuberant partner in both ministry and tennis. We had lost touch with him when he returned to Indonesia, until now! It did not surprise us that he continues on in ministry in another part of the country at a local Bible school. Even though he is several years past what some consider to be retirement age, he’s still spreading the joy, sharing Christ’s love, and remaining faithful to the call. Some of our friends in our home town of Fergus Falls, MN may remember his visit to our home church back in the mid 1990s.

There’s been a recent worldwide conference of young leaders, sponsored by the Lausanne movement meeting this past week at the local university here in our part of Jakarta. The conference drew several friend from Africa, including a former colleague from TWR. We were glad to spend a block of time to meet up with Rudolf, whom I had met last year in Johannesburg. Through our contact with Rudolf, we were introduced to others attending the conference, including coordinators ministering through music and the arts.


We met the new station manager from Radio Wimbi here in Jakarta

We were also privileged to meet the new station manager for Radio Wimbi, the radio station in northern Mozambique that I had helped get started when I was with Feba UK.

So we have been further enriched, renewing relationships from other parts of the world, being introduced to servants of the kingdom and appreciating afresh how great the work of the Spirit of God is in so many different corners of the globe. We consider it a privilege to welcome old and new friends to our life in Jakarta, and to offer them some refreshment as they minister among us for a brief time.


Media and Disciple Making

Making disciples is a core calling for every believer. It’s God’s plan to use His followers to encourage those we meet to consider Jesus, follow Him, and become disciple-makers themselves. With the complexities of life, cultures, perceptions, and values, becoming a disciple can be a complicated process. That’s true for us who may have been following Jesus for some time. It’s even more involved for those who have no understanding yet of who this Jesus is. So, just like an orchestra performs inspiring music, it takes a wide variety of approaches to weave together experiences and conversations that encourage someone to consider Jesus for themselves.

DMM Concert Night

Enjoying an evening of music at the DMM Workshop

I recently participated in a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) media workshop hosted by FEBC’s partner, Ibra Media. The week-long workshop took place in northern Thailand where a number of media teams from Ibra’s network came together. We met to explore how media can provide value to sparking a DMM in a particular people group or community.

It became clear early on that media can only be a part of a larger discipling strategy. It requires intentional disciple-makers entering the community in search of open and spiritually hungry individuals (called persons of peace) who eagerly introduce what they are discovering to their existing networks of relationships. Guided by their mentors, it will be these persons of peace who will share the stories and start the conversations about Jesus.

We uncovered some key roles that media can have in activating a DMM in a particular context. The preparation and delivery of culturally meaningful content that awakens a community to DMM include:

  • Inviting and engaging potential persons of peace to respond to discussions exploring issues of values and life in the community. As these candidates respond, engage, and pursue answers to their spiritual hunger, they are invited into discipling relationships with DMM partners.
  • Introduce the community to exploring spiritual insights through sharing and discussing stories found in Scripture together in small groups comprised only of people from the community. In DMM, such a small group is called a Discovery Bible Study (DBS), focused upon discovering truth and obeying what’s learned.

Such partnerships between DMM ministries and media require close coordination to link respondents to mentors for discipling. As these DBS groups form, the strategy encourages participants to start new groups around the same stories. This multiplies the discovery of Jesus throughout the community in its own ethnic and cultural contexts.

As FEBC develops new strategies for reaching into peoples who have yet to hear about Jesus, DMM partnerships can be one strategy that results in growing numbers of disciples following  Jesus in the context of their community. There are still plenty of these people clusters around that FEBC is in a position to serve. My role as a facilitator is to introduce this and other strategies among FEBC ministries as they develop and produce their content. It is up to each FEBC ministry to embrace and implement the approach that will work for them.

When people desire to meet Jesus, He will show up, be discovered, and attract disciples to Himself. God, the maker of every culture, will reveal Himself in ways that only these new disciples can truly appreciate. When conversations start in the community, great things can happen.

For more information about Disciple Making Movements, check here.

Across Generations

Living in the western suburbs of Jakarta provides a unique opportunity for encouraging and impacting future generations. The community in which we live hosts a university, and a secondary school, both of which are quite international. So we are learning what it is like to once more rub shoulders with the younger generation. We are adapting to their approaches to communication (another 10 WhatsApp messages just hit my phone) as we walk alongside one another in this journey of life from our often different perspectives.

HMCC Covenant 2016

Our Life Group retreat keeps us active in the life of our church

Barb and I have gotten involved in a church just down the road from where we live comprised of students, young adults and younger families. Several of the parents are either teaching at one of the nearby educational institutions or are involved in technology jobs in the city. Some are from other countries around Asia, or from Africa, Australia or the US. As one of the longest married couples in our fellowship, we often are asked about our perspective on life in other cultures, how to adjust and respond to the sometimes unique challenges of living here. During a recent retreat in the mountains overlooking Jakarta we enjoyed spending time with several of the younger families in our church. Our creativity was challenged a bit as we got to know some of the children of these families.

Recently, I have also had the opportunity to minister to other churches in other parts of Jakarta. After sharing at a church in Bali earlier this year, I was invited to share a message (sprinkled with  musical illustrations) with two services on one particular Sunday in April. Last Sunday, I was invited to share with a smaller congregation of Persian refugees that meet together in east Jakarta. These invitations help us make new friends and expand our horizons beyond the planned community where we live.

Next week, I’ll be off to Thailand again for a conference with other media ministries in which we’ll be developing ways to serve disciple making movements in sometimes difficult locations of the world. The strategy involves local groups that spring up to explore stories that introduce them to the God of Scripture. My goal is to bring back these strategies to share with FEBC producers who are looking for ways to influence new audiences who have not yet considered Jesus.

Oh No …. But Yes!

The previous four days had been pretty intense for the FEBC staffers who attended a digital media training event in Thailand earlier this month. For many, English is a second language, requiring even greater effort to understand the principles and skills they had come learn. Yet they were committed to persevere because of how it would help them  interact with their audiences using today’s Internet-based media platforms. So we planned an extra day to meet together as FEBC to review and give the participants a chance to share with one another what they had learned and how they would apply it back home.


Together with Janysh from Central Asia discussing future plans for their FM network

Barb had worked with me to make the arrangements, but now at the training site, I was on my own. I thought we were all set, but it was a bit odd that the resort staff had assigned us such a large meeting room. However, I was an hour early so thought I would have enough time to set up for the day’s conversations. Suddenly, about 20 minutes before the meeting was to start, the manager from the resort informed me I was in the wrong room! Our meeting room was on the other side of the resort!

Oh, no! Now what?! My mind started racing as I frantically  disconnected my equipment to move to the new room. I quickly told a couple of the participants to start spreading the news about the change in venue. I used a bicycle to quickly find the new meeting room. Yet in the rush, I’d left my computer’s power supply back at the old venue. All I could think was this day was turning into a disaster. On my way back, I found some more FEBC staff who were looking for our place to meet. I hoped everyone would find our new location.

After setting up in the new room, we finally were all together, starting about 15 minutes late. We began with a time of worship and Bible study that helped us focus for the day (and helped me regroup!). Then the conversations started. Everyone there (23 in all) had something to share. We split up into four interest groups based on their training from the previous four days. Each group, with a large sheet of paper, started capturing their ideas and plans. We all agreed our conversations needed to continue once we returned home. We are eager to hear about one another’s successes and challenges, to encourage one another to turn these new dreams of connecting with our audiences online into reality.

What seemed to start as a disaster that day turned into even more than I had hoped. Seeing FEBC people come together, many of whom had never met each other before this week, was a joy to behold. Now back home again, the real work is starting. Please pray with me that the enthusiasm we shared will translate into fresh interaction with online audiences across FEBC focusing on the gospel. Thank you for your support in this way. It is vital and our teams appreciate it.

Bali De-brief

Once a year, the worldwide leadership of FEBC comes together in one place to explore opportunities and build relationships with one another for more effective ministry. This year’s meeting was held on the island of Bali, in the west central region of Indonesia. Representatives from more than 25 countries discussed key issues of working together as well as exploring the value of being a part of the FEBC International Association.


Barb and I did get to the beach one day in Bali

With more than 80 delegates and guests as part of the meeting, there were plenty of logistics to address. Our host team from FEBC Indonesia did an outstanding job of warmly welcoming each delegate. We in the International Service Team worked alongside them as we helped provide administrative support to the meetings themselves.

It’s been good to come together and share our hearts for ministry. However, this time around, we shared a bit more than what we would have liked. For whatever reason, there was a flu and cold virus just waiting for an opportunity to distract us with poor health. When we are all together in a conference room sharing the same air, it didn’t take long for the coughs to settle in. During some segments of the meetings, there was as much coughing going on as there was conversation. The virus hit Barb during the middle of the week. Fortunately, the other members of our admin team were able to fill in the gaps. I was able to stay healthy until the last day of the conference before I contracted a cold. When we returned back to Jakarta, we were still recovering from these nasty bugs.

This was also a time for the International Service Team to come together and discuss our plans for the coming year. There were budgets to consider as well as updates on ministry progress from a number of the team members.

During our time together, we learned of some serious challenges that our ministry in Cambodia has been facing with its property in the country. There have been a number of legal challenges to the ownership of one portion of property from where the ministry’s flagship station broadcasts. Most of these challenges have been unsuccessful so far, but they continue to occur. Please be praying for our leadership team in Cambodia as they work to protect the property amid some lengthy disputes. One recent challenge is still under litigation even at this time.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be traveling to Thailand to participate in a new technology media conference with a number of FEBC participants from around the ministry. Please be praying for the training sessions with producers and other local staff who are at the forefront of FEBC’s media ministries in their respective countries. I’ll be there to help facilitate discussions among the participants and assess the value of the conference and associated training to the broader FEBC family.