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

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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