A Confession

written by samantha

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It's been about a week since we arrived in Budapest. God was clearly preparing our hearts far in advance for our stay here, bringing up challenging conversations, a thirst to know His heart, and just an overall openness to perspective change. Quite honestly (for me especially), He is developing the beginnings of a teachable and humble spirit, the start of a shift in how I love people, and the realization that I don't know as much about Him as I thought I did. It's been one of the most difficult, embarrassing, trying, amazing, exciting, and humbling times of my life, and it's only been one week. Oh my gosh, how much our God can do in a week.

We're keeping this blog post short and sweet because God is moving and working and shaping and shifting Capture A Cause, and that's okay. God has used so many people already to give us the same piece of encouragement:

"Leave your expectations at the door and come and see what the Lord has for you."

This is not an easy thing to digest for two people who like to have a plan and know what is going on and what is to come. But goodness, has this been so freeing. Letting go of the pressures and strict schedules has given us the opportunity to accept change when it comes.

So, friends. Where does this leave us and Capture A Cause? We don't know. Our core values are exactly the same and the very same motivation is still there. We have a heart for missionaries, we have a heart to influence the American Church, and we have a heart for the people of Hungary. But we're leaving our expectations at the door. 

  • We don't know how long we will be here.
  • We don't know if we are supposed to go home after this.
  • We don't know if we're supposed to travel somewhere else.
  • We don't know how this will change us.
  • We don't know how this will change Capture A Cause.
  • We don't know if we can or will partner with a larger organization.
  • We don't have a home or job opportunities back in America.
  • We have funds for these next three months, but we have no way to raise support for after that.

And that's okay.

We don't want to pretend like we have it all together and that we don't have some moments where we worry about what to do. We don't have it all figured out, we don't know what is going to happen, and sometimes that is a bit scary. But we have complete peace. Knowing that God takes care of even the birds of the air gives us comfort and assures us that even if we don't know, He does.

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"My wealth is in the cross.
There's nothing more I want,
Than just to know His love.
My heart is set on Christ,
And I will count all else as loss.
The greatest of my crowns,
Mean nothing to me now.
For I counted up the cost,
And all my wealth is in the cross."

 
 

Stay tuned! We have MUCH more to come... Things we anticipate, things we're preparing for, and even things we're planning for. But no doubt there is much more lying just beyond our field of view that will blow our anticipations, our preparations, and our plans out of the window along side our pride and our expectations of just how capable we think we are of being used by God.

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."

// Philipians 2:13

What's In Samantha's Backpack

Written by samantha

Being a photographer, I get asked a lot about what equipment I use. On my own website (which has since dissolved!), I considered writing and post listing all of the things I use and what I think about them, but I just never got around to it! But now that I have a videographer husband and both of our jobs will revolve around cameras and lenses and equipment and programs and SD cards, I thought that now might be a good time to list everything out and give my honest opinions on them!

I by no means think that I have it all together or that what I have is the best of the best, but I do know that I love and appreciate everything I own and have worked very hard to get good lenses and waited a very long time to get a good camera body. I've also been very blessed with people who have wanted to support me and have helped me along the way, so a lot of this equipment is either previously used by other photographers or gifted to me. You know who you are and I love you!

Without further adieu, here are my FAVORITE pieces of equipment I use (which, let's be real, is pretty much everything)!

 


BACKPACK

Atlas Supply Co. Backpack - For our birthdays this past year, Johnny and I decided to get each other camera backpacks that would look nice and still hold all the equipment we would need to carry with us on a daily basis. It was incredibly hard to shop for one because the prices were through the roof (and right before our birthdays he had lost his job at the church due to budget cuts), but we both managed to sell some things and do some extra work in order to pay for them. We considered them a very large investment for the future and I am so glad that we did! I love my backpack more than my last camera bag (which was still pretty amazing!) and I love how much I can fit in there comfortably! Plus, the fact that my husband picked it out for me and surprised me with is makes it that much more special.

CAMERA BODY

Canon 5dMiii - This is an AMAZING camera! I upgraded to this camera from a Nikon D700. I used to be a die hard Nikon user and had been since I first started photography in 2012 (mainly because it was waaaaaaaaay too expensive to try and switch over to Canon), but I got my hands on a Canon body for a wedding I had to shoot right before this past Christmas and fell in love! Canon is laid out a lot better than Nikon and the mechanics of everything is just a bit smoother. I love it and will never go back to Nikon!

LENSES

Canon 50mm 1.4 - I. LOVE. THIS. LENS. Oh gosh, I love this lens so much. Because I was mainly doing portrait photography (i.e., weddings, engagements, seniors, couples), this was my go-to lens. It's the perfect balance of bokeh and sharpness, and it gives you just enough depth of field to work with. I'm very grateful for it and have it on my camera 75% of the time!

Canon 85mm 1.8 - This is another AH-mazing lens that creates the creamiest bokeh and still manages to keep your images incredibly sharp! I love using this lens anytime I need to be a little bit farther away from whatever I am shooting.

ACCESSORIES

Two 128gb Memory Cards - because you kind of need these when your job is photography/videography! ;)

2013 Macbook Pro - My trusty ole' Macbook is still kicking. It has a few scratches and a dent on the screen, but it works perfectly for what I need to do and I don't plan on upgrading or trading it in until I absolutely have to! Thankfully, when Johnny got me my backpack I also received a free leather-and-felt laptop sleeve, so I've been able to protect it more while not in my backpack.

Two 2 Terabyte Hard Drives - These hard drives hold SO MUCH STUFF. Like, I had photography work I did back in 2014 when I was really trying to push my business and would just dump all the RAW files and edited files onto it. I had to sort through the hard drives and clean them out a few days ago, but I was surprised at how much they could hold (and they were only half way full!). These will come in handy will in Budapest! It'll make working on my laptop a lot easier and quicker since I'll be able to work off of the hard drives rather than the laptop.

My Bible - I have a NLT study Bible, but I keep my journaling Bible in my backpack since it's a little bit smaller. I've always travelled with a Bible and this is no different. You never know when you or someone around you will need a bit of encouragement and truth!

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Thank you so much for reading! We're getting closer and closer to our sending date of September 10th (ahhhhhh!!!)! Thank you for all of the constant prayers and encouragement that seem to have flooded in these past few weeks. We are looking forward to seeing what the Lord has for us, the members of Agora Buda, and the people of Hungary!


What's In Jonathan's Backpack

Anytime I start becoming captivated with a new vlogger, filmmaker, or photographer's work, one of the very first things I think to myself is "I wonder what type of equipment they use?". Often that question is not answered on any of that artist's platforms, but whenever they do answer that question (ESPECIALLY when they explain how they often use outdated technology that is significantly cheaper), the gear-nerd inside of me eats that junk up! So I figured "Hey, maybe someone might wonder the same thing about me?"! If nothing else, this is an opportunity to indulge that side of me and geek out in a brief tech exposé of the things that I know and love to use. So here's a list of what I use and a bit of reasoning behind why I use it!


BACKPACK

The Everyday Backpack by Peak Design - This backpack is AMAZING! As Samantha and I were taking inventory of the equipment we would need to take to Budapest, Hungary we realized that neither of us had good quality backpacks to carry our equipment comfortably. We also had nothing that would offer sufficient protection for our equipment. This became quite a concern for us as we began to consider what our life will be like in Budapest. With no car, we will be walking or taking public transportation everywhere we need to go and carry all of our equipment with us. Knowing that with the life we have chosen as missionaries there wouldn't always be money to replace equipment if something happens, we decided it would be invaluable to choose quality protection for our gear.

As I do with every purchase I make, I researched and researched and researched for days before I came across the Everyday Backpack, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date. I then proceeded with further research for weeks (literally) comparing it against every other bag out there at every price point finally realizing "This is the one!". Samantha and her mother combined forces (Samantha having to sell a few things to help with the purchase) and they surprised me with it for my birthday!

I told myself I would do the same for Samantha; however, my curse of the need to research everything so thoroughly caused me to be nearly 2 1/2 months late with it (and ending with selling my first electric guitar for the money). I knew style was a little bit more important for her so finding a balance of style with functionality AND at a decent price point was TOUGH, but this thing is seriously incredible and the company that makes it Atlas Supply Co. is great too. Go check them out!

*** DISCLAIMEr ***

We have absolutely no relationship with either of these companies and weren't asked to recommend their products; HOWEVER, if anyone reading this has connections with either company you should totally introduce us, because their products are the bee's knees!

CAMERA BODY

Cannon T4i - So for my camera body I still have the same Cannon T4i that I have had for the last four years. We REALLY hope to be able to upgrade at some point to the Cannon M5 as this is the camera we use for vlogging and it gets a little heavy (and it's not that great at handling low light situations). With that being said, I still love this camera. It has served me well and has never given me problems. It carried me through three photography courses in college, many funny video shoots for our youth ministry, three youth camps, several missions trips, a few Christian Biker rallies, and on several video shoots as a backup camera during my time on staff as the Video Producer at Church at the Mall. It has been to the Dominican Republic, New York, Daytona Beach, Philadelphia, Alabama, Georgia, and it's very ready to return to its favorite place again: Budapest, Hungary.

LENSES

I still have a kit lens (18mm - 55mm) that I never use but it still sometimes manages to show up in my backpack as a backup just in case.

Cannon EFS 10-22mm - This is my widest lens and it is what we use in the vlogs. 

Tamron 24-70mm - my favorite lens of all time, purchased used. This thing has never once performed less than flawlessly. The image stabilization is a revelation and crucial to shots that I can actually deem as somewhat professional. The only lens I use when it comes to more serious projects.

DRONE

DJI Mavic Pro - equipped with a set of Polar Pro Cinema ND filters and a couple of extra batteries. I love it!

ACCESSORIES

Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Mic - I've had this microphone for years and it has never let me down! It is great in MANY different situations!

Shure FP Wireless System - For every other situation I have a lapel and a handheld wireless mic system. I got them a few years ago and they still work awesome!

Memory Cards - Several memory cards of varying capacities SDs and Micro SDs and lots of flash drives.

Two 128gb Memory Cards - Sam and I each have one of these that we got for Christmas and we use them mostly.

LaCie 2tb Rugged Thunderbolt HDD - I literally work straight off of this. All of my video files are sourced from here and it still preforms at brilliant speed even with large format 4k video files. Keeping my files off of my computer allows my computer to continue to run smoothly and quickly and forces me to organize my files (before my LaCie my desktop was a mess).

2014 MacBook Pro - This joker has made it through A LOT! Through countless incredibly strenuous video editing projects, graphic animation, website designing (projects that really should be done on a more powerful desktop), getting slower and slower as time moved on. After narrowly surviving a short drop of about 1 1/2 feet onto carpet just months after the 3 year warranty ran out the display cracked slightly behind the glass sending a series of black and purple lines down the top left side of the screen. This was something that I have worked around for the past 3-4 months as it progressively creeped further and further down the screen, my top menu bar was something that I had to grow to be able to navigate through from muscle memory as my cursor would disappear behind the glitched out corner. Finally after months God provided! My Dad played golf in a charity event and as a thank you the sponsors extended a credit to everyone who participated through their website! This didn't pay off my new computer by any means but it all0wed me a head start on a new MacBook Pro. 

2017 MacBook Pro - While I do still have my old glitchy MacBook Pro as a backup I realized the necessity of purchasing this before our move since I will need to use this machine to train ministry minded marketers come September. Along with this computer there are also a few adapters that were necessary to allow the new machine to work with older equipment.

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Personal funding for new equipment is very tight so please pray for the protection of all of these devices as we travel and explore a new city, a new country, a new continent in faith with an ambition to use all of this equipment to advance our Father's kingdom.

#Vertical2017

Written by Jonathan

As many of you may know, this summer has been full of traveling for Samantha and I. From Florida to Birmingham, Alabama, back to Florida, to Gainesville, to Georgia, to Springville, Alabama, back to Florida, to Minnesota, back to Florida, then to South Carolina for the 2017 Solar Eclipse, and finally back to Florida again, and amidst vlogging, blogging, and emailing, building our website, moving out of our first apartment, moving into a spare room at my parents, and preparing to move to Budapest we have stayed pretty maxed out. 

One of the busiest and most sleepless weeks amongst all of this was the week that Samantha and I drove to Springville, Alabama to film Church at the Mall's Student Camp (called Vertical). That week was an absolute blast! We'll link the videos that we made for each day of camp for you guys to check them out if you'd like! (at the bottom)

Something huge happened that week: a breakthrough in the life of our student ministry with the likes of which I haven't ever witnessed before. Many students got saved, many recommitted their lives to Christ, many even got baptized (which is incredible!), but this wasn’t just your typical student camp revival.

I (having grown up in church and gone to many student camps) was no stranger to the “camp high” (this overwhelming sense of the Holy Spirit that causes kids to fall amazed at the feet of Christ while at the same time rise up with a fire for Him that seems unquenchable, however, most end up getting so caught up in the moment that when they return home they realize that camp is over and the “camp high” seems to have completely disappeared somewhere along the bus ride home). This usually will last into the following week (maybe two) for a few of the students but over time the majority of students have burnt themselves out spiritually with ambitions, commitments, and ideals lacking any sort of strategy or substance.

But this wasn’t just your typical student camp revival.


The speaker, Kasy Benson, spoke with a power and a relevant tone that met the students right where they were at in their lives, harping on the dangers of this “camp high” over and over, reminding the students that they will not be going home to the safety and comfort of a camp atmosphere. In a series of interviews we did with students three weeks after camp, Seth Rodocker (a student who got saved at camp) mentioned a statement that Kasy reminded the students of frequently. “Something that Kasy said was, ‘Either you're going into, you're already in, or you're coming out of a storm,’ and I guess I hadn't really ever looked at life like that before until he pointed that out,” Seth said.

He goes on to explain the change that was made in his heart. “Well, my mindset (going into camp) was that ‘yellow team is going to win again' and 'I can't wait to have fun’. That's what I was thinking. And then afterwards, I wasn't even thinking about the games. I was just thinking ‘What am I going to do when I get home and how am I going to live my life now?’". Seth knew that he would be going home to an environment that would challenge the decisions he made at camp and so, instead of getting caught up in the emotions and the distracting high that camps typically offer, he used his camp experience to prepare himself for those challenges and strategize long-term change.

He knew the dangers of a camp high. “You think that your camp high will last all the way until the next camp so you think that you’re on a camp high when really you're just back to where you started before camp.” Even three weeks after camp he was able to state with confidence, “After camp, I've been reading it (the Bible) every day and I've been more proactive and on fire for God!” 

Another student, Dylan Macklin, explained the environment that was so evident throughout the whole week, “For me, it was truly just the unity and that real kind of feeling at home with my small group. We had no problems, even the first night, opening up to each other. It made everyone want to be vulnerable to the Holy Spirit, which was really cool because there was never a dull moment. You always felt like you were comforted with, and in, that presence that, ‘This is real, this is something I want to be in contact with.’”

Kylie Bridges (another student we interviewed) echoed that there was just something different about this camp, “This year at camp it felt more practical. I wasn't necessarily hyped up on all the fun and games and just being around my friends, which is obviously a lot of fun and it's really great, but I wasn't hyped up on that. I was more focused on the practical, learning the Bible and all of the lessons, I was actually digging really deep into that. So the whole vibe from the week was more of, ‘What are we going to do when we get home?’, not necessarily focused on whats going on right in this moment.” She went on to explain the dangers of a “camp high”, “A camp high is when you're so excited about Jesus and it's all you think about and you're like a true on-fire Christian, but it doesn't always last that long. You come home and realize ‘Oh, camp isn't reality.’ And then you just kind of sink back into normal. It makes it seem like you were being fake, almost like it wasn't true, it wasn't genuine. So anything that you were saying about Jesus and telling your friends about Him makes them look and say, ‘Well, that's not how you are now. It was only just from camp.’” 

Dylan agreed as he told us, “I think a camp high is a mask you want to wear. It's a ‘I’m around a bunch of people that act a certain way so let me be somebody that blends in. This week I’m a chameleon, next week I’m a lizard. I don't care to expose my true personality in this environment because I feel great and I’m happy because everyone else is happy.’ Its very misleading. For a lot of people it's just like, ‘Let me get out of reality for a week but as soon as its over let me jump back into whatever I was into when I get home.’”

With this "camp high" epidemic fully addressed at the beginning of the week, the students went into camp ready to make sustainable life changes and to begin a process of long term spiritual growth. “This year left a mark,” Dylan told us. “Even in my small group everybody says, ‘Since camp, I've read the bible every day!’, ‘Since camp, my prayer life has improved!’, ‘Since camp, I'm talking about Jesus!’. Last year, I felt like camp was a party for four days and everyone was like, ‘Yeah! We're at camp!’, but it didn't feel like camp except at 7pm for chapel. This year there wasn't a dull moment... It was a constant affirmation, constant assurance, that the Spirit was walking with us.” 

Each of these awesome students explained to us the ways that this year left a mark on them by encouraging other students with their goals for long-term sustainable growth. Seth’s advice was “Set a part of your day to where you can be one on one with God and get rid of any distractions that could cause you to stumble or not focus on what really matters.”

Dylan expanded, explaining, “To avoid a camp high, take advantage of each opportunity, every private devotion time, every worship time before breakfast. Don't stay in confinement of your small group, branch out, open up to people, get to know them, be outgoing, open yourself up to all of the testimonies in the place. Don't walk around and feel like everything is about you because, #1 it's gonna cut you off from hearing from God and #2, you'll miss out on what the devotion is saying that morning or what Nick (the worship leader) is singing about or what Kasy is saying because it's more than just lyrics and words, like, its more than just jokes. There is a purpose behind each song they play and each sermon Kasy prepares. Take advantage of the opportunities to be encapsulated by that.”

And Kylie toped it all off with this simple yet extremely powerful word of encouragement, "Just have the mindset of, ‘How can I take what I'm learning right now and use it for a long period of time and make it practical for every day?’ Not just, ‘Let me sink in these really good things that I'm hearing from the speaker and just be really excited about it right now,’ but actually think about how you can use it in the future.”

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From hearing stories of students being made fun of for passing out tracks at the mall, to stories of testimonies given that evoke long conversations with unbelievers, to the random acts of kindness these students have been doing in the community since camp, it is so evident that this year left a mark that is forever changing the way many of these students interact, the way they serve, and even the way they live in their schools, in their homes, and in their own spiritual relationships with Jesus. We are so proud of our student ministry and so humbled by the opportunity to witness what real change looks like in a large group of students, and to witness the rippling effects that it is having on the rest of the church body and in the community as a whole. I look forward to the changes that God has in store for the City of Lakeland under the leadership of these students as they grow up into powerful influencers for the Kingdom.

To get to know each of these three students a little bit more personally, we gave them each a list of random questions and had them choose one to answer. Below you will see their photos along with the questions they answered.

Thanks for reading! Church at the Mall, thank you for allowing Samantha and I to be a part of this! And students thank you for stepping up!

God bless!


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dylan macklin

What was your most traumatic experience in elementary school?

"I was in first grade and I hated public bathrooms. It's the end of the day and I refused to go #2 anywhere but my house. I probably showed up at school that day at 8:00 and had to use the restroom at 8:01. I held it until 2pm and finally decided to go to the restroom but I discovered I had already used the restroom! It was absolutely awful, and I'm trying to explain this to my teacher and she doesn't understand my desperation at that moment so I think I ended up just, like, rolling with it because I just couldn't do much about it in the situation. I didn't have a Publix bag, I didn't have a diaper, I didn't have any wash cloths. So I just walked around with stank butt for the rest of the day until I got picked up at day care."

seth rodocker

Have you ever changed your favorite color and why?

"Yes I have! My favorite color was blue and now it's gold. The reason why I changed it is because gold goes better with different colors. You can do better color combinations with gold than you can with blue."

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Kylie Bridges

Red Lobster biscuits: yes or no?

And why?

"Yes! Because you can just eat so many of them and you don't even know what's happening, like, they just go. And all of the sudden you're like, 'Oh, we need more biscuits!' ...Its just good!"


But Like, What Are We Going To Do?

WRITTEN BY JONATHAN

So, if you have been following along with us you probably know our hearts, our passion, and God's direction for Capture A Cause, if not check this blog out really quick but like, what are we about? That blog post is our best attempt to communicate a God sized "dream project" (as our good friend Sarah Koontz phrased it) that we are, as of now, in the very beginning stages of implementing. 

So how do we start this "dream project"? We have no experience doing this, we have no material from the field to show examples of our work, right now Capture A Cause as a "dream project" is just that, a dream.

So what are we going to do? 

Well, with much prayer and council we came to the conclusion that the best possible way to begin this "dream project" is to go into the mission field as active missionaries. If we dream to better understand and explain cultures as they relate to missions what better way than becoming missionaries ourselves, planting ourselves in those cultures along side active missionaries giving us the opportunity to work on our "dream project" along the way?

So what are we going to do?

On September 10th, 2017 we will be moving to Budapest, Hungry to assist our church's (Church at the Mall) European RS7 Church plant (called Agora) in the planting of their second campus! Since Church at the Mall’s last mission trip to Agora two years ago, we have seen the congregation more than double in size, an extremely rapid growth rate in stark contrast to the prior six grueling years since the church was planted. This amount of growth is particularly unusual for the spiritually dark climate of the region and is unmistakably moving Agora into the beginning stages of a God sized movement to win the country of Hungary back for the Kingdom of the Lord.

Due to the shame culture in this area of Europe, a certain level of intimacy is necessary to an atmosphere allowing the people of Hungry to open up to Christ and for constructive growth in Christ. This is where Agora Buda comes in. By planting a second Agora campus on the Buda side of the Danube River it allows the now much larger congregation to return to an intimate atmosphere by dividing the members between the two campuses while simultaneously spreading the presence of Jesus to the other side of the river through the newly influencing presence of Agora Buda which, in turn, will generate a larger presence for Christ in the country as a whole.

As of this time, our primary roles in the planting of Agora Buda (and better establishing Agora as a whole) are to assist in tech setup, tech crew training, creating and implementing marketing strategies, plus assembling and training a marketing team in photography, videography, editing, graphic animation, graphic design, social media management, etc. 

But what’s next? Is this mission in Hungary JUST for 3 months? And what will we do after? 

The truth is, we aren’t EXACTLY sure. We do know however that we will give all that we have to accomplish the mission at hand and as the Lord provides and directs we will continue on mission to wherever He leads us. All along the way we will be adding content to our website (vlogs, interviews, short films, blogs, photos) in an attempt to equip believers bound on mission to better understand the life of missionaries all around the world and the people groups to which they are called, “to unify the Church through sharing cultural exploration and to use relevant platforms to bridge the gap between the mission-minded and the mission.”

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Vlog || Our Trip Is Booked!

AH FRIENDS. After weeks and weeks and weeks (and weeks...) of filming, editing, having to push it off for other paid projects, getting sick, traveling, moving, and volunteering at student camp, our second vlog is finally up! We'd love it if you watched it and let us know what you thought in the comments section!

5 Struggles We've Had (So Far) As First Time Missionaries

Written by Samantha

Let me start with this: we are stoked for what God has for us in Budapest, Hungary! We cannot wait to get on a plane on September 10th and begin the 20+ hour trek from Lakeland to Budapest. Sometimes we can't even put into words how we feel about it so when someone asks if we're excited we just look at each other with our eyes wide and our smiles plastered across our face, then one of us attempts to make noises sound like words that portray what emotions are coursing through our bodies. It's joy. It's excitement. It's anticipation. It's whatever-the-word-is-for-being-so-ready-for-something-that-you-can-hardly-sleep.

But.

As first time missionaries who have yet to leave American soil, we have faced a few struggles and challenges as we prepare and we definitely don't think we are the only ones to experience them. We just want to be real with you all. We don't want to sugar coat the things we are going through and we certainly won't sugar coat the things more experienced missionaries have gone through. We want to use this post not as a form of complaint but as a way to help others understand the struggles associated with missions work as we experience them. We knew that this road wouldn't be without a few bumps, but my goodness sometimes it feels like there are giant boulders in our path. Praise the Lord, though, that our God can move mountains! 

Here are five struggles we have experienced so far.


1. doubt.

We talked about it in this blog post and we've been pretty open with our email subscribers about how easy it is to let the lies Satan whispers into our head become things we believe. As we begin to recognize and bring this to light we can easily combat negative, doubtful thoughts with Scripture and truths God has set before us. And God, being the amazing and wonderful God that He is, somehow always has someone message us, text us, or tell us something encouraging when we need it the most. We can't tell you how many "God-moments" we've had recently where He has used the people around us to speak to us. It's amazing to witness that despite how real and in-our-face the doubt can be.

Go and email, text, or message a missionary you know right now with a word of encouragement. I guarantee you will make their day!

2. lack of support from the body of Christ.

This is something I want to be careful to write about because this isn't a blanket statement whatsoever. We have amazing friends, family members, and fellow church members who have supported us, have committed to praying for us along the way, and that help in every way they can. I actually would daresay that we have more people in support of what we are doing than against it. It's strange, though, how despite the 99 people who believe in you, that 1 person who doesn't has that big of a hold on you.

It hurts when we have brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ who are not exactly thrilled at what we are doing. It hurts when (in their eyes) we are "too young", or "too inexperienced", or we can't share Jesus because we don't have a seminary degree, or that we can't go to Europe to spread the gospel because they having running water and nice clothes and seem to have every need met.

We need encouragement, friends, and I know a lot of other missionaries do as well. We need to rise together as the Body of Christ and encourage one another and not discourage the work the Lord has for someone. We need to let our conversations be "... full of grace, seasoned with salt..." (Colossians 4:6) towards each other. 

3. Online exposure.

Getting exposure online is tough, period. But it seems like once you attach the word "Christian", "God", or "missionary" to whatever it is you're posting, you get about half the engagement that you would when you leave those words out. It's been incredibly difficult trying to get engagement on our website, Facebook page, and Instagram. We're trying to break the norm of a typical "Christian website",  and you can help us immensely by sharing our posts or vlogs, commenting, offering feedback, and following us on Facebook and Instagram

4. disconnect from relationships.

This is something that I am finding myself struggle with more than Johnny. Knowing that we are moving overseas for an undetermined amount of time is something that is hard for me to grasp sometimes and when I remember it (even subconsciously), I find myself disconnecting from relationships I previously was incredibly invested in. 

My dad worked overseas for a good portion of my life. He would work overseas for three months and then come back home to the States for two weeks, and then leave for another three months. He did what he had to do to provide for my family and there is not one day that goes by that I am not thankful for the incredible man he is.

But, when I was younger, I would purposely not connect with him that much so that when it was time for him to leave again it wouldn't hurt as bad. It was a coping mechanism I used and it was wrong. As I got older, I pushed that old behavior away because I realized how badly it was hurting my dad and I's relationship. But, as we prepare to leave America, I find myself reverting back to those old ways with friends and family who have been a constant in my life for years.

Though I don't believe that everyone struggles with this, I do believe that I'm not alone in this. Leaving friends and family hurts and an easy (but not right) way to deal with it is by disconnecting. It's something I'm constantly working on.

5. knowing what to do while we wait.

This is hard. So, so hard. We have 50-something days until we move to Budapest and those days are filled with us trying to figure out how we can use our time wisely. We write lots of blog posts, we send out a weekly email update , and we try and vlog as much as we can. But the waiting period is very difficult. We find ourselves feeling like we could be filling our days with more ways to prepare or more ways to promote Capture A Cause even though we have no idea what those things could be. We try and try and try and somehow it isn't enough in our own minds. 

Deep down, we know we are doing everything that we can. I think we just put pressure on ourselves to be more productive and do more work because that is what we believe we need to be doing, not what God needs us to be doing. We pray daily that God will reveal what He wants from us and that we would have the strength and motivation to do it.


We love you all, we appreciate you all, and we value you all more than you will ever know. Go hug a missionary and tell them that they are loved!

But Like, What Are We About?

Written by Jonathan

Our mission statement is this: to unify the Church through sharing cultural exploration and to use relevant platforms to bridge the gap between the mission-minded and the mission.

But what does it mean?

This statement attempts to encompass a much, much larger picture. As God has slowly revealed the calling into missions to each of us the vision has seemed to grow dramatically with each and every revelation. This has taken Sam and I so long to fully understand because this vision doesn’t really fit into any template for missions that either of us have experienced or heard of before. Each time we think we fully understand it, God reveals something more to us that we didn't even know we were missing and opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It stands to reason that with each of these revelations it takes even more time further beyond digesting them to be able to regurgitate them and comprehensibly explain them to others (woah, sorry. That’s a weird way to explain that…).

We know that as you follow with each and every blog post, email update, status update, vlog, and social media post, you will witness this vision unveiled more and more, but even still we want to dive further into this with you to attempt to paint a more vivid picture of the calling that the Lord has placed on our hearts.

So… here it goes.

  • Have you ever been on a missions trip?
  • What did you do there?
  • Was it short term or long term?
  • Are you sure that you did everything in your power to make a lasting difference for Christ?
  • Have you been on multiple missions trips?
  • Did they seem to all follow the same template regardless of the region you were ministering to?
  • Did you talk to the missionaries living there long term? I mean, REALLY talk to them?

For me these answers were “Yes”, “humanitarian work”, “short”, “I think so”, “yes”, “actually… yeah”, and “ummm kinda?” until my first visit to Budapest, Hungary. 

This trip didn’t have much of a template. During our time there God revealed to us that our purpose was to encourage a discouraged team that had been on the ground there for 10+ years and through this encouragement He did amazing things.

This really got me thinking. I had never heard of someone saying, "Lets make it a priority to love on and encourage these missionaries that are here long term." I had never heard, "Lets really soak in this culture and try our best to identify with these missionaries, you know, the day in and day out sacrifices that they make to bring the gospel to this area." I had never heard, "Hey, with all of this seed planting we are doing short term, we ought to set aside time to really invest in the people that God has chosen to work in and through during the cultivation process." And I began to wonder why.


After seeing the difference that this encouragement and empathy made to a group of missionaries in Budapest, God began to unravel a mission to me that I didn’t even yet realize. He gave me a passion for missionaries on the ground and for opening the eyes of the worldwide church to the fact that those missionaries need an abundance of our love and our encouragement. ("To unify the Church...").

He also gave me the realization that even though the area they are living in isn't baron or economically oppressed or suffering from natural disasters or is experiencing shortages of food and water, the devil is at work just the same, he is just using different tools that aren’t quite as obvious to spiritually oppress entire people groups and to viscously attack those in the mission field. This creates a very dangerous situation when you combine it with the fact that we (the world wide Church) do not make it a great enough priority to love on and support those on the ground long term and instead have the mentality of “Wow! They get to be missionaries in Europe! That must be so much nicer than being missionaries out in the desert or living in huts in the jungle!” 

Okay I’m getting a little off topic here...

These are issues for another blog post at another time. Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah.

He gave me a passion for missionaries on the ground, and He also gave me the desire to share with the world the day in and day out of what these missionaries deal with. To expose the tools that Satan is using in different cultures all around the world, the tools that aren’t as obvious as famine or disaster by exposing ourselves (my wife and I) to those cultures and learning and loving on the people and the missionaries who live there ("... through sharing cultural exploration...").

And to do this in a way that is actually relevant to the way that the world consumes information now ("... and to use relevant platforms..."). So many missionaries are getting this piece SO wrong. I mean seriously. Go on Instagram and search "#missionary" or "#missionaries" and you will quickly see that Mormon’s are kicking our butts. And still, in the grand scheme of things, they aren't even making a peep loud enough to hear amongst the celebrity gossip, D.I.Y. tutorials, advertisements, etc.

Oh gosh… I’m doing it again. Another post at another time, Johnny…

Anywho. I began to think, “This actually could be done. Maybe this is what the Lord has been preparing me for...” And it was! He provided me a job that challenged me in video and marketing, He threw the responsibility of producing a TV show with no experience in that whatsoever on me, and through all of this He was familiarizing me with the tools that I would need to share His vision with the world. 

My wife and I came to understand over time that the best (and I think only) way to properly share the intricacies of different cultures and the implications that they have on missionaries is to go be missionaries in those cultures. We need to share our experiences and the experiences of others along the way. We aspire to open eyes, just like my eyes were opened by the things I learned and experienced on that trip I took to Budapest. We believe that the information we share will assist in connecting the called to the calling. ("... to bridge the gap between the mission-minded and the mission.").

So thats our statement. It's a lot to cram into one blog post and I still feel like I may have only grazed the surface, but we will be expanding on all of those rabbit trails I tried to go off on as well as many other topics that my wife and I are passionate about in blogs to come, such as the fine line that many believers love to dance on between missions and vacation. 

And hey, guess what else? I love you! You take the time out of your life to read our blog posts, to visit our website, to watch our vlogs (more are coming, I promise {especially when our feet touch Hungarian soil in September}), and maybe even to subscribe to our newsletter. That investment makes us feel incredible and keeps us going. To know we have people like you in our lives humbles us and encourages us so much! So I want to end this post just by thanking you again. You’ll here us say that a lot and I promise you we mean it on a level greater than we can even communicate every single time.

It's Not Always Easy

WRITTEN BY JONATHAN

If you don't know this yet, we have an newsletter that we update weekly! We wrote most of what is below in this past weeks email, but after receiving such a great response, we decided to turn it into a blog post! It hits a tender spot in our hearts but we wanted to allow ourselves to be open and even a bit vulnerable with you all. We want everyone to understand that even though we are excited to do what God is calling us to do, this path isn't free of stresses and tears sometimes.


No one said this was going to be easy. No one said it would be easy moving to a foreign country as a young newlywed couple. We never assumed that it would be effortless living out a God sized vision planted by Him in our hearts nor did we assume that it would always be easy to communicate that vision to everyone. We knew this road wouldn't always be exciting. We knew that feelings would well up inside and try to overwhelm us at times and in the spirit of transparency, sometimes it feels way too scary, way too far out of our comfort zone, and that someone else is better suited for something like this. Doubts begin welling up in our minds and Satan begins to whisper little lies into our heads. He tells us that we aren't good enough. People don't actually believe in us. That this should be someone else's journey to take.

What seems hardest is that we know those things aren't true and that this is a path designed just for us, but those lies look so appealing and easy to believe. Easier to believe than some of the hard truths God has presented to us. We'd be lying to you if we said this adventure has been completely free of tears. It's been incredibly trying. But our God is steadfast! Immovable. And so, so faithful. In times when deception rears its ugly head we lean on your prayers and we lean on Him. We don't know the future. We don't know all that lies ahead. Heck, we don't even know what the flat we'll be living in looks like or what the exact address is.

But we do know He's equipped us for such a time as this. But we do know this passion has a purpose. But we do know these two tourists have a real good Tour Guide. So for every lie Satan throws our way we've got a "but" for him to kiss.

We want to to take the time and thank each and every one of you. Friends, you have been our support and prayer warriors through all of this. We love you all so much and can't even begin to thank you properly. Time and time again you have told us how you are excited for us, praying for us, and love us. You have no idea how much that means to us and that it always seems to come at just the right time.

We ask that you continue to pray for us as the days draw closer and the nerves begin to set in. We know God has big things planned for Budapest and we want to be 100% ready for it and with your added prayers and support the weight on our shoulders grows lighter. We couldn't do this without you! We love you!


Our Story || Dating, Marriage, + Moving Overseas In A Year And A Half

written by jonathan & samantha

it all started in bass pro shop...

 
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I'm going to try and not get super mushy about this, because when i think about our relationship i can't help but get emotional and sentimental and overly joyed that i get to be with my best friend.

but for the sake of you people, i will refrain (... just a little bit...)

We had been hanging out with the same group of friends for about five months in 2015 after officially being introduced at a church college event. We all did everything together, seeing concerts, going to have coffee late at night, eating cheap food after church on Wednesdays, and just hanging out at each other's houses. After going to an after Christmas party for our church's college class held at Johnny's house on December 30th, we all spontaneously decided to go to TopGolf the next morning.

Because TopGolf is suuuuuuper busy in Tampa, (plus it was New Year's Eve), we had to wait for two hours before we could get a bay, so we all decided to go to Bass Pro Shop down the road and hang out there until we got called. That's when Johnny found a ridiculously huge bag and told me to get in it so he could carry me around and thus our first picture together was taken (*cue the awwwwww's*).

We eventually got called, played golf, went back to Lakeland, got coffee, and went our separate ways to celebrate New Years with our families. Johnny and I's thing while we were just friends was quoting The Office together, so he started sending me Snapchats of different quotes from the show, but then he sent me one in particular that changed the rest of my life.

Referencing a scene from the office that he sent me, he captioned it, "So... if by next year I haven't had a date and you haven't had a date...?" I, being super oblivious, just replied "Haha!", and he sent me back "So, what do you say?".

He sent me that at 10:45pm on New Years Eve.

I was so scared to ruin the amazing friendship we already had that I told him no and that I just wanted to remain friends. He was 100% content with that and continued to invite me to things, even things that he was doing on his own (like walking around the lake in the evenings). We began hanging out a lot more but I still convinced myself that I didn't like him like that, until the Mission's Celebration in February of 2016. I remember so clearly making the decision not to go, but Johnny had gone on the missions trip to Budapest, Hungary the November before and made a video that was going to be played in the service. He had worked so hard on it and because God led him to edit it so differently than any video he'd ever done before he was extremely nervous, so I went. It was so special to see missions through his eyes in that video, and I remember thinking to myself "Oh man. I really do like this guy." It was as if God was whispering in my ear "This is him...".

After the Mission's Celebration, Johnny, one other friend who we had been talking about the Lord with, and I went to Starbucks and stayed until 11:30pm. I remember hearing him explain God and salvation and grace to our friend. Have you ever heard someone talk about God and through their words you fall deeper in love with Him? That was how it was with Johnny. I fell deeper in love with Jesus and I swear I fell in love with him that night. It was a night like no other.

We kept hanging out, we began to seek each other out in crowded rooms, and we became best friends. He ended up asking me out in March again to go and see 10 Cloverfield Lane with him (I got scared and he held my hand for the first time{!!!!}). Then on March 23rd, 2016 he wanted to take me to a Rita's Italian Ice, but because it was unexpectedly permanently closed we went to a Taco Bell close by where he asked me to be his girlfriend in the parking lot. The night was gorgeous, we had baja blast freeze's and I was with my best friend. That made for one of the most perfect nights.

We had amazing memories together during our 2 1/2 months of dating. We celebrated both of our birthdays since they are two weeks apart, we had lots of dates, and we both hung out with our families together many times.

On June 13th, 2016 I thought we were going on just a normal date. He had planned to take me to City Walk in Orlando for dinner. Kent, one of his best friends, just happened to be there with his family on the same night, so before our reservations we went to meet up with him. Somehow Johnny and Kent worked it out to where we met near the center of City Walk (where the big Universal globe is) to take a picture together like we always did. But little did I know, Kent was recording video, not taking a photo! As we posed for the "photo" I was completely unaware that both of our families were lining up behind us with signs that said "Samantha Jean Smith, that has a nice ring to it". For some reason, I turned around prematurely and saw them all there with their signs, looked back at Johnny, and then he asked me to read the signs out loud. When I read "Smith", though, the sign flipped to reveal "Bryant" on the other side! I turned back to Johnny, he got down on one knee, said the most beautiful little speech that only we could hear, and then asked me to marry him. I obviously said yes. ;)

 
 

We aren't the type of people to just wait around and take our time. About a week before we became "official", we had talked about dating each other and we both said that if we were to do this, we would do it for real, with intentions to marry. We would leave out the very common idea (nowadays) that dating is just to have something to do on a Friday night. Our relationship was and is so evidently God-orchestrated, so when he proposed after 2.5 months of being together, it didn't seem weird too fast or rushed to either of us. It felt right. 

We decided to get married on September 23rd, 2016. My dad would be in town from working in the Middle East and it would also be our six month mark of being together. We were engaged for 3.5 months, a month longer than we had dated! Being engaged was all sorts of wonderful with him. We had the most amazing friends and family help us with the wedding, using all of their gifts and talents to help us create the most amazing day. We were so blessed that we pretty much only had to pay for the venue (heavily discounted), clothes, and food! We couldn't have had the day we had without the help of others and we are forever grateful for what they did! 

So here we are now. We had an amazing honeymoon in Jamaica, we've been married for over nine months, and we are getting ready to take one of the biggest leaps of faith we've ever taken together. If you were to tell me on our wedding day that we would be spending out first anniversary as a married couple living in Europe as missionaries, I might have looked at you like you were crazy. But man oh man, I wouldn't have it any other way. And I get to do all of that with my best friend!

THank you to evan dell of ardency & arrow co. for taking our engagement and wedding photos!

Saying Goodbye To Our First Apartment

Written by Samantha

If you were to ask us about Budapest and all that is happening in our lives right now, we would tell you how excited we are to embark on this new adventure together. And we truly are! Experiencing new cultures, helping document the start of a church plant, and obeying what God has clearly told us to do is SO exciting! Sometimes we can't contain it! But. When God calls you to something, it isn't always easy or without giving things up and letting things go.

We are so incredibly blessed to have made this our home for the past year, and even more blessed to call this our very first home together. We won't (well, at least I won't because I'm an emotional wreck sometimes!) be leaving this place without a few shed tears (or ugly crying faces...). It was where we had a lot of firsts and made a lot of memories, from learning that Johnny is an amazing cook to our first Christmas together, from having lots of 2am talks together when we really should have been sleeping to finding out that I'm LITERALLY THE WORST at remembering to switch the laundry. It's a home full of laughter, jokes, puns, lots of sneak attacks, and some pretty delicious meals. We'll miss it immensely but we know that when we are together, we are home.

I'll never forget our first married road trip. We went up to Georgia for Johnny's cousins wedding. We had to wake up at 4am and be on the road by 4:30am to make it on time. We were in desperate need of a nap by the 2nd hour so we pulled into a rest stop where we both fell asleep for an hour. When we woke up Johnny looked over at me and said "You know, I still feel like I'm home because you're with me."

So we'll find a new routine and adapt to a new place and learn how to make it "ours". We'll still make great memories and giggle in the middle of the night together and Johnny will still continually find ways to scare me and cook much better meals than I can. I'll still laugh at every pun he says no matter how bad because that's who I am as a person and I'll probably still forget to switch the laundry because old habits die hard. We know that wherever the Lord has us, it will be good because it is what He has for us. We trust Him completely and are ready for this change!

"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."

Psalm 24: 3 - 4

//

Here are some photos of our apartment! We were so blessed to have been gifted a lot of the major furniture we have when we got married (I'm looking at you, parents!). You'll also probably notice our appalling array of candles that we have throughout our home... We *might*  or might not have a bathroom cupboard stacked full of candles because we *might* or might not be really obsessed with good smells. Maybe.

Until next time!

// Johnny & Sam (a.k.a. the candle hoarders)

Vlog || We're Moving To Europe!

Guys. Vlogging is weird. Recording yourself and talking to a camera is awkward. Taking a camera into public places and talking is uncomfortable. But we did it! And we put together a vlog for you highlighting some things that have been happening since Johnny lost his job in March. We hope that this gives you a little bit of an idea about what's been going on lately!

// Johnny + Sam