Wednesday, January 28, 2009


BEAUTY. This is the one word that I would use if I was to describe the tour so far. I have seen so many beautiful things. Some of them the nature of God's creation like the canyons, mountains, and beaches. Other things like the attitudes and generosity of our contacts and host homes. But the most beautiful thing I have seen so far is the body of Christ at work.
Like in 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about how we are like a body with many parts, each so important and we cannot say to one part we don't need you. This has been so clear to me as we travel from city to city and state to state. I have seen a lot of people, met many different faces, and ministered alongside various denominations. Every where I have been I am reminded that each of us are made differently with different gifts and that's what makes the body work so well. If we all had the same heart for the same people, many would fall through the cracks and never experience the love of Christ. One youth worker in Greely, CO ministers to "unchurched" kids, while another in Wellington, CO encourages the ones who "know it all", then one school in Fort Collins, CO has kids with hearts for Christ, while the next one in Los Angeles, CA we are sent to just needs to know God is there for them, then we go to a jail in Washington that has many who are hopeless, while the next one in Denver, CO we instead are blessed with their passion. Needless to say that is the BEAUTY that makes me fall deeper in love with a God who loves variety and has placed each one of us somewhere where we are able to be a part of the body of Christ. I just count it a privalege to see so many parts of the body of Christ at work this year.

Basking in the BEAUTY,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Our time in Vegas was great.We got to stay with some of Sara's family, see the strip, have a day completely off, and play 4 shows in one day. While the day off might possibly beat the previous best day on tour (the day off in Warroad where we never even got dressed for the day) another fun part was going into the Christian Elementary School on our day off to teach the 3rd grade music classes. We played an acoustic rendition of Hallelujah Jesus while teaching them to play the drums and maracas. They even brought in the 2nd graders to see us. It was great that they think we're rock stars. It gives us a better platform to speak from, and they feel so much cooler since we're taking time out of our day to teach their classes. I really enjoyed our visit and would love to go back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lessons for the Gretch

I've been shown two things this past week, and I want to share them both with you.

I was reading in Romans the other day and I was struck pretty hard with this passage: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Ro. 5:3-5 ESV). I was struggling with a couple things during the week and I was feeling so guilty because I couldn't get over it. I kept telling myself, "Gretchen, you're stronger than this! Gretchen, you are more mature than this! Gretchen, just let it go! Gretchen...WHY do you do this to yourself!?" And when I read this I was just reminded that I am going to have struggles just like everyone else. I think there's this misconception, or expectation (whether we place it on ourselves or it's placed on us from the outside) that because we're "missionaries" everything is going to be all glorious all the time and we're never going to have spiritual or emotional struggle because we're in constant ministry and always talking about God and such. Well, that's just not the case. No matter where we are in our Faith, we're still fallen people...we're still going to make mistakes. And then it happened! I related what was happening to one of our rep songs! Yes, yes, a testimony was born in this moment. It was quite humorous for me because I sing the song Sometimes and Carrie or I talk about this song at every single concert. But it's always been something that we're TEACHING, how "we're all going to fall; we're all going to make mistakes. But when we do, we fall into grace...delight in THAT, don't get caught up in the mistake; get caught up in the grace that follows". This day however, it was a lesson I was LEARNING.

Let me tell you about Carrie really quick...
she's so awesome! Man, I'm so glad I've gotten to know her. I love her! You know how sometimes people ask you how you're doing and you can tell they really don't care what your answer is, they're just asking you out of obligation? Well, it's not like that with Carrie...not at all! Every time she asks me how I am or if she can do anything to help me...even if she asks me several times a day, I know she's being sincere; I know she cares about the answer I give her.

So yeah. Just thought I'd share those lessons with you all...because they've been a blessing to me. Hope they are to you as well.

So long for now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Beauty of it all...

So today carl and I had the oportunity togo hiking on the Colorado National Monument, outside of Grand Junction, CO. What beauty! I've seen mountains before, shoot, I've even been on and fell off mountains before! But this is my first trip to the "south western" US area, and I've have never had the pleasure of rampaging around in the "red rocks" of Western Colorado, and the veiws we had were simply breathtaking. Carl and I were constantly muttering out loud (which we do almost inceasantly anyway) about the beauty of God's creation, musing about what creative prowess, and deliberating as to wheather or not we had indeed found the perfect place to pee (we never did, or if we did find it, we didn't make proper use of it!).

Allow me to change gears for a minute (actually, you have no choice, i'm switching gears, willy-nilly as it were. You're only other option is to stop reading right now! But please don't...). We've had some incredible ministry experiences, both that we observed in others or were done to us by others. One of the latest of which was performed in the city of Greely, CO. We had the amazing opportunity of playing at the YFC's Higher Grounds coffee house/skate park. The Audience we had there was not our usual audience of church kids or Christian schoolers. These were the un-churched, or maybe even anti-church kids. And while we felt we were out of our league with them, both the kids and the folks who work there are simply incredible. Without going into any of the specifics, we were informed of how a church in the area had requested that the YFC staff STOP recomending their church to the kids who went to the skate park as they (the kids) made some of the members uneasy. At first I was livid, and wanted to go tell those so and so's what was up. But it was some something that Ryan, the YFC Director said that called me on my attitude- he said that he was not willing to complain or criticize anyopne or thing without attempting to be a part of the solution. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that by my critical attitude I was actually perpetuating the cycle. Carrie reinforced that today in our team meeting when the issue was brought up when she said "it's easy to go around pointing fingers at the darkness, but it's a whole different thing altogether to go and shine a light there" (my paraphrase, as I can't remember verbatim what she said). And I was once again reminded of what an incredible ministry oportunity we have with CTI. We get to go around, and try to shine light into these places, both the churches and the non-churches. To be an example of Christ's love, of the Gospel's extension to all people. And to me that is such a beautiful thing...

While the beautiful remains, I am also convicted by all of this. First of my attitude- if I allow that anger to fester and mature in me, then I will be rendered inefective as a minister in that I will not be able to love those peole who have angered me. Secondly, I am the same as them. I point my finger at them and say "aha, you're the problem" or "I can't believe you are that cold" and I am the same. I do it to them, or to other that don't meat my criteria of "Coolness" or whatever. This is such a struggle for me, being of a naturally self righteous bent. But I'm wrong, and I know I am. God, change my heart on this. Make me able to love those who I believe to have wronged others the same way that you do. Give me Your eyes in all of this. Create in me a clean heart, oh God. And teach me to love as You have loved me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some churches...

remind us of certain people. This one in Nebraska reminded us of Paul Vasilko.
So we took pictures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prison Ministry

I’d like to highlight one facet of our ministry. When we go into Prisons or Detention Centers, we are faced with two potential crowds. The first is the crowd that came willingly, already Christian, and VERY receptive to the Gospel and our music (standing/singing/shouting Amen during testimonies/etc). The other crowd is the people who decided to come just for something different/a break from the monotony of everyday life. The receptive ones are some of the best crowds we ever play for. We usually mostly play uptempo songs, with worship thrown in and a more evangelistic testimony. We’ll work with any normal standards that the group we’re playing for has. Last Weds we played for a weekly group that meets at FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) Englewood. We found out ahead of time that they usually do hymns/worship with a guy playing guitar with people randomly picking from the audience (and shouting it out of course), along with Bible study. So at the end of our set, since we had more time, we let them shout out some songs and if we knew them, we’d play them. One of the songs was He Reigns by the Newsboys. At first Eric said he didn’t know the chords, someone in back shouted F-C-G. So Eric and Nate figured out the progression, and they started to play. The next problem was figuring out/remembering the words. That wasn’t going so well, so when we noticed two of the guys there were singing it, they were invited up on stage to lead the song. It was great seeing them singing it with all the guys in the room (over 100) singing along. For me, these concerts make up for the ones in churches or schools where we are welcomed with lackadaisical clapping, or significantly less than whole-hearted worship. I’m not saying all churches/schools are like that, but we’ve had our share.

An example Testimony

I’d like to pass on an example testimony, one that I used onstage at a prison tonight. Not word for word, but the same ideas/concept.

To let you know a little bit more about myself, I grew up outside of Washington, D.C. I’m 22 years old with 11 of those years being spent working on sound equipment. But I’d like to highlight some of the highs and lows since I’ve been involved with CTI.

I first heard about CTI in December 2006 at the Urbana missions conference. I was looking for some form of an outlet for my Audio/Visual background and it seemed to be a perfect fit since I like Rock music, and always wanted to tour with a band. The added bonus is that it was in a Christian context. So in January I signed up for a short term mission trip with CTI to go to Honduras for a month with a similar band. Since that point about 2 years ago I’ve seen some incredible things. In Honduras I got the chance to see the beauty of God’s creation in a totally new way (jungle covered mountains, 100+ ft. waterfalls, lemurs....). I got to worship with fellow believers in a different language. We’d play a song in English that they knew in Spanish and be able to worship God in a totally new way. The following school year was my senior year, and I managed to pass with a Physics degree, writing an 86 page thesis (a miracle in and of itself considering how poorly I did in some theoretical classes). Now I’m touring for a full year (August to August) with a band spreading the news of Jesus. In October we got to go to the Philippines where I could get up in the morning (for the first week) and watch the sunrise over a volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean (literally with me IN the pacific Ocean).

Along with that came some new lows. Less than 3 weeks after I got back from Honduras, a friend I worked with committed suicide. I was with him Monday at the end of the work day, and at some point before work the next day he killed himself. It’s the sort of thing that wears on you, because you end up thinking “was I the last person to have a conversation with him.... could I have done anything else differently to change the outcome...” etc. Earlier this year the grandfather that I’m named for passed away while we were training and heading out on the road for the first time, so I missed the funeral. Then in the fall my dad had a major stroke, and my electronics got run over (not to put those on the same level though).

All of this happened while I have been working as a music “missionary”/with a music ministry. God doesn’t promise us an easy life. We don’t get $1,000,000 for accepting Him into our lives. But He does promise that He is coming back to renew our lives, to take away all sin, and all suffering. Even creation waits to be fulfilled (and the next time you see a pacific ocean sunrise, think that it will get even better some day). So if you know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him, take heart and know that there IS hope, that no matter how low your life seems to get, there IS a light at the end, and that God can work all things to good. If you don’t know Jesus, let me tell you that He is Lord of this Earth, created all this beauty for our enjoyment, and that He loves you. If you want to know more, please talk to the Prison Fellowship staff who meet here every Monday night, talk to us after the show if there’s time before they take out you, or ask Him yourself to show Him to you. He never fails to disappoint anyone who actively seeks His face.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Ok....we're all a little sad that we weren't able to hide that lovely news spot from our adoring fans. So, what I want to say is this: Please keep in mind that we had just spent 10 hours in a van and didn't find out about this news cast until 3 hours before it happened. Thus, we do not look like the beautiful people that we really are.
That is all.

14:22 Featured on Local Newscast

CTI Team 14:22 was recently featured on a nightly newscast in North Platte, Nebraska.  They are working with the local Youth for Christ chapter there.  

Here's a link to the story.

Thanks for all your prayers and support!