What is Family?


What makes a person “family”? Of course, the easiest ones to identify are those we are related to by blood. These are the people God graciously puts in our lives to support and direct us from the very start. But as we grow, others come into our lives who (though maybe not related to us by blood), occupy a special place in our hearts. When this happens, our “family” expands to include these folks as well. Looking back over the years, our family has grown to welcome in many people we have met along the way. One such family is the Artmans. img_1397We have been so thankful for Mr. and Mrs. Artman and the love they have shown to us (especially to our children). Living far away from both sets of grandparents, the Artman’s have served as “surrogate grandparents” to our kids. The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic at the Valiante house. We have been packing and organizing to get our home ready for our tenants who are beginning the process of moving in this week. On Friday night, the Artman’s invited us over for dinner (just so we would not have to worry about cooking). The kids had a great time playing downstairs while Sarah and I returned to the house to take care of some additional details. Our kids always love building with Legos at their house.



Then (on top of the time she had already spent helping Sarah pack over the past couple of weeks), Mrs. Artman came over on Saturday and spent probably 8-10 hours helping clean the house. An added blessing was when Mr. Artman arrived with pizza for lunch!

We have been richly blessed these past few weeks during this transition. Another family we have grown to love is the Rancks. Our children are roughly the same age as theirs and we have enjoyed our friendship with them over the past 7 years. They too invited us over for dinner and last Saturday, they even took our children out for the entire day so packing would go a little smoother for us. While they were out, Christina texted and asked what snack foods Sarah enjoyed, and they came back with almonds, hummus and lots of other great treats. Their thoughtfulness (along with their love and support) has meant so much to us.

Family is a blessing from God… in whatever form it comes. Above all, we are blessed to be part of God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ. The other day one of our children asked, “Daddy why do you call people, ‘Brother?'” That was a good question. The reason I call another believer, “Brother” is because we share the same Heavenly Father and have been born into the same family. When a person is born-again, they are “birthed” into God’s family. If you have never experienced a true relationship with God, today can become your spiritual birthday, and you can be born into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ. He loved us and gave Himself for us that we might experience forgiveness and a relationship with the Father.

Known By Name


There is something special about a person’s name. Even if you take a cursory glance over Scripture, you will soon realize names hold great importance to both God and people. In fact, of 10 commands God enumerated for His people, the third one revolves around His name. God’s name represents Who He is (signifying His character and accomplishments), and to take His name in vain is to show disrespect for Him. For this reason a stern warning is issued within the 10 commandments letting us know that God will hold those who use His name in vain accountable (Exodus 20:7).

Names are important to people as well. After God names Adam (an act which shows His authority over him [Genesis 1:26[1]]), Adam is then given the responsibility to name the animals (in turn showing Adam’s authority over creation [Genesis 2:19]). Interestingly, it is even Adam who gives his wife, Eve, her name (Genesis 3:20).

It has been said that the sweetest word to a person is his or her own name. A precious passage to believers is found in John 10 where Jesus describes Himself as “The Good Shepherd.” In that text Jesus says that those who belong to Him (His sheep) hear His voice and He calls his owns sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3). God knows us intimately and individually calls us by name.

This past Sunday we had the joy of ministering at Steam Valley Bible Church.img_1365Something Sarah and I noticed right when we came through the door was that the pastor and congregation had worked hard on memorizing not just my name, or Sarah’s, but the names of each member of our family. From the moment we stepped in, Pastor MacAvoy pointed to each of our children and said, “So this is Micah… Kiersten… (slight pause)—Lydia and Jonas!” There is nothing sweeter to a person’s ears than to hear their own name! But Pastor MacAvoy was not the only one who knew our children’s names. Many members of the church could do the exact same thing. You could tell they had been prepared for our coming and were excited to have us there. Our conversations with the folks made us feel like we were talking to old friends. We were so grateful to connect with this wonderful group of believers.

In the evening, we were able to present our ministry at Bible Baptist Church (Shickshinny, PA). We were glad to see the work God is doing within this congregation, and the excitement of their new Pastor (Randy Boston) as he leads this flock. I have known Pastor Boston for a number of years, and am grateful for the Lord’s leading within this congregation to give them a faithful pastor to preach and teach them God’s Word. We had a great time presenting our work and were truly glad for the opportunity.

It was another wonderful Lord’s Day, and we are excited about all that God is doing in our lives!

[1] As a note the proper name “Adam” is the same as the noun, “man” or “mankind.” Context helps one differentiate the two usages.

Warm Welcomes and Sweet Fellowship


Every place we go on this journey of raising support, we are met with warm welcomes and enjoy sweet fellowship. This past Sunday was no different. We were grateful for the opportunity to present the work God is raising up in the Philippines at Haven of Grace Seminary at Bible Baptist Church (Benton, PA). I have known Pastor Moseley for a good number of years, but this was the first chance for our families to get to know each other over an extended period of time. I was so grateful for Pastor and Mrs. Moseley, along with their daughters and son, taking the time to get to know our children. Our kids had a blast and felt very much at home here. In fact, they felt so much at home, they even got to share a fun (zany) 2nd verse to the song, “Be A Missionary” in front of the whole congregation. We can thank fellow missionary kids (the Speights) for teaching our crew the crazy lyrics.


In addition to getting to know the Moseley’s better, we also had a wonderful time getting to know this church family. It is exciting to see the good work God is doing among the folks here. They certainly had a great interest in the work in the Philippines, and we had some really great, in-depth conversations with them. It was an encouragement to hear about their own ministry experiences (both near and far), and to share some of ours as well.img_1333

We are grateful for the ministry of this church, and the warm welcome they extended to our family. We pray for God’s richest blessings upon them as they continue to reach our into Benton and the surrounding communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 (Devotional Thought by Sarah)


I have been thinking on this verse for many weeks lately, partly with the preparation of speaking at a ladies conference in October and partly due to homeschooling Lydia and this being one of her memory verses. This verse was also displayed on the wall just left of the pulpit in my home church growing up. It was a constant reminder to keep my mind on God and yet, it is still challenging me again today.

Preparing for the ladies conference, I was to speak on peacemaking from Matthew 5, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Did you know that peacemaking is evidence of a true believer? One whose mind is fixed on God will have less worry, less anxiety, and more peace than the world can conjure up? As a mother, I often get distracted with the thought that peace comes from a clean and organized home, obedient children, and a husband who understands my every thought! But in reality, I become even more frustrated seeking to implement these ideas of peace. The truth is that peace comes from having our minds focused on God, Who He is and What He has done. He is always good, Sovereign and powerful. I can rest in His will no matter how it may look from my perspective. I am learning that when I am overwhelmed, frustrated, or fearful, it is because I need a change of perspective. I need God!

Another thought… When our minds are fully focused on Him—when we eventually reach glory—there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more fear or anxiety. So then the closer I am to God here on earth, the more I experience a glimpse of Heaven…less worry, less fear, less pain, less of myself and more of Him!

Big, BIG News!

The Valiante Family has some big news to share. The kids are so excited they are ready to burst. Check out the video below to find out all about it!

Just a few weeks ago, Sarah and I were surprised to learn that we were expecting another baby! There were a lot of different emotions swirling around our hearts and minds when we learned the news, but above all we are grateful to God for His goodness and mercy in gifting this little one to us. We just had an ultrasound this past Monday, and the baby is doing well and is very active. We even saw his hand up drift up to his mouth, so we may have another thumb-sucker on our hands. Below is a picture of our little one!


I am sure we will write more about this event in the coming weeks, but our intentions of going to the Philippines remains unchanged with this joyful news. The baby is due on May 16, so our initial plans to head out West in April / May will be pushed back to August / September. Other than that, our goal still remains to make it to the Philippines by May 2019–but now we will arrive with a family of 7 instead of 6.

Exciting times here at the Valiantes! We will be sure to post more in the coming days and weeks!


Churches that Mean the Most


During the beginning stages of this journey of raising support, we have been grateful to be in churches that mean the most to us. For the past 7 years, we have been privileged to serve at Emmanuel Baptist Church (Millville, PA). This past week, our family took part in their annual missions conference. It was a unique experience to be “on the other side” of a missions conference at our church, but we were encouraged by the warm welcome, and wonderful fellowship.

Church Picture JPG

We are so thankful for this group of believers and the friendships we forged over the years. We were humbled to learn on Friday, that the church voted the previous Wednesday to take our family on for support. With Emmanuel’s support, we now stand at 25%.

Our children enjoyed reconnecting with the kids from Emmanuel, as well as getting to know some of the other missionary kids.


The banquet on Sunday afternoon was a special blessing to our whole family.


There was even a “Valiante Family Tree” with pictures of our family, and the Filipino flag!img_1260

Micah and I enjoyed an early morning Men’s Prayer Breakfast and were challenged from God’s Word by Missionary Rodney Myers. Sarah enjoyed taking the girls to the Ladies Brunch later that morning.


Above all we are thankful for the friendships at Emmanuel. We will forever be grateful for the love these folks have shown to us and to our children. In the picture below Jonas got a ride to the auditorium from Mr. Near.img_1275

Taking part in this missions conference was something our family had been looking forward to for quite some time, and it was a rich blessing to be back with the dear folks at Emmanuel. We are thankful to partner with them as we head to the Philippines to equip and train national pastors there!



Coming Home


From the time Sarah was just a few days old until she left for college some eighteen years later, she attended La Junta Baptist Tabernacle (LJBT). Even though she spent four years in South Carolina gaining an undergraduate degree, followed by two years in Wisconsin in graduate school, a year in Arizona, and then 14 years ministering in the Northeast, LJBT has always held a special place in her heart. LJBT is family to Sarah in a way that I have a hard time relating to. I did not grow up going to church, so I don’t really know what it is like to have such a long history with the same group of people, who, even though they are not related by blood, are related in a much more meaningful way as fellow children of God. Every time I hear Sarah speak of her home church, I immediately sense the deep love she has for the folks in this congregation. They have supported, encouraged, helped, and blessed her through these many years.

While I was setting up meetings in the early fall, there were a couple of openings in October that just weren’t getting filled. I tried to scheduled meetings, yet the weeks remained open. So, as God has been teaching me, I decided we would just “go with the flow” and use these two open weeks to connect with Sarah’s home church here in Colorado. Our plan all along has been to utilize our family and church connections here in La Junta / Rocky Ford, Colorado as a second “base” while we visit churches to raise support out West. (Sarah’s mom and dad still live here in Rocky Ford). However, our initial plan was to come out in the summer of 2018. But, since God seemed to be closing the door to meetings out East during this stretch of October, we decided this would be a good opportunity to connect with La Junta Baptist Tabernacle sooner rather than later. So, using airline miles, we booked our tickets and made our way out West. Looking back now, I am so thankful the Lord directed our way to Colorado these past two weeks.

Our time with family, and connecting with LJBT has been such a blessing. We are thankful to be able to share the call God has placed upon our hearts with this wonderful church family. Pastor Jon Brandt has been a source of great encouragement to our entire family over the years I have known him. My history with Pastor Brandt goes all the way back to our wedding. He officiated the ceremony! Sarah has looked up to his wife, Ruth Ann for over 30 years, and in many ways has patterned her own ministry as a pastor’s wife, and servant of God after her. Ruth Ann is known for her joyful, loving spirit, as well as her dedication to her husband and church family.

img_1200An added blessing at LJBT is that Sarah’s older brother, Tim, serves as the Associate Pastor of the church. He selflessly serves the young people within the congregation, as well as the community. His wife, Joy, and his children have a deep passion to glorify God, and are a constant example to me of what it looks like for a family to faithfully serve our Savior.



This past Sunday night, LJBT surprised us by taking a congregational vote to support our family. (And just as a note, the picture above is not the church vote. This picture is Tim asking a wacky question to the kids at the AWANA Club.) With LJBT’s support, we are now over 20% of our monthly support. I find it hard to believe that we have only been on the deputation trail a little over a month, and we are already 1/5 of the way there! We are so thankful for the support of this dear congregation. But what meant even more to us was the special time of prayer the congregation had for us on Sunday night. After taking the “vote” the congregation surrounded our family and folks began praying for the ministry God had called us to. They prayed for our family and asked for God’s grace and mercy to sustain and protect us. In listening to their prayers, you could tell they were not just praying for missionaries… they were praying for family.

We are so thankful for the generosity, and love LJBT has shown to us. We look forward to our partnership in the Gospel with them and the fruit that will abound to their account. This church will forever be a part of our family. It has been so good to come home.


A Theology of Blessing and Suffering (Part 2)


In the first part of this series, we investigated Scriptural teachings that contradict American Christianity’s skewed view of “blessing.” This misguided perspective has led to errant views regarding struggle and suffering.

A truth we uncovered through numerous biblical texts is that “blessing” originates from a person’s relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Being “blessed” is not living a healthy, trouble-free life in a large home, with expensive cars, and plenty of money in the bank account. Rather, “blessedness” is experiencing God’s forgiveness and grace (Romans 4:7-8). In spite of our culture’s equation of blessing with material or physical prosperity, Scripture oftentimes ties blessing directly into suffering or persecution (Matthew 5:10-12; James 1:12). In other places, “blessedness” comes through simple obedience to God’s commands (Luke 11:27-28; James 1:25), or is reserved for those who express faith in the Lord (John 20:29).

With this backdrop, how should we understand “blessing” in light of the suffering and struggle we face. Can we honestly say we are “blessed,” even when we are surrounded by trouble? Something we first need to come to terms with is that struggle is a natural part of life. And the root cause of that struggle (as identified in the Bible) is sin. In fact, when you study Genesis 3, you quickly discover that sin is the source of life’s turmoil. In pronouncing judgment upon mankind, the woman is told that in sorrow she would bring forth children (Genesis 3:16). The word for sorrow communicates pain, hurt, toil, labor, and hardship. The man is told that in sorrow (same word spoken to Eve) he would eat of the fruit of the ground (Genesis 3:17). Instead of the earth yielding its strength, it would produce thorns and thistles, and man’s work would be toilsome and painful. Thankfully, within this very same section the dawn of God’s grace breaks as the first promise of a Redeemer is offered. The seed of the woman would come and ultimately crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

Yet in spite of the wonderful hope offered in the beginning pages of Genesis (hope that ultimately becomes the main story line of the rest of Scripture), we still live in a troubled world. Life is not easy. Pain, hardship, loss, confusion, and fear are familiar companions. Can we truly say we are “blessed,” even when things don’t go our way? Are we blessed when battling cancer, or suffering the loss of a job? Are we blessed when overwhelmed by financial struggles, or a difficult marriage? Well, if blessing is contingent upon circumstances, then it would only be reserved for those few moments of our lives when we are carefree and at peace. But frankly, how often do you experience that?

However, if true blessing is tied into something much deeper, as we have already seen in Scripture, then it is not contingent upon the ebb and flow of life’s circumstances. If blessing is tied into the unfailing character of God, then it never changes. And when this settled assurance reigns in my heart, I know a peace that the world certainly did not give, and a peace that the world (and circumstances) can never take away. As a child of God, I am blessed because I have experienced forgiveness. I have God in my life—a God whose presence is both real and powerful. I have confidence that my eternal future is secure—not based on my goodness or merit—but based in One Who is perfect (Jesus), and One Who offered a perfect sacrifice on my behalf. This is true “blessedness.”

You will notice that with this perspective, as a child of God, I can confidently proclaim that I am blessed when the bank account is full, or when it is empty. I am blessed when I am healthy, and when I receive news of a terminal diagnosis. I am blessed when my car is trouble-free and when I break down on the side of the road. Blessing is tied into that which is eternal, rather than that which is temporal. I love how Paul expresses it in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Naturally, every single one of us desires a carefree life. It is a part of human nature, and it is especially ingrained within the American context. As an American, I long for that as well. But even though I am an American, I am first and foremost a Christian. And as a Christian, God gives me a much deeper desire than to live a life of ease. Above all, I want to live a Christ-honoring life. I want to be motivated by what is eternal, rather than what is temporal.

Part of the reason I am writing this article is to answer some of the questions people ask about our move to the Philippines. “Why would you leave the comfort of America?” “Why drag your children half-way around the world to a foreign culture?” “There is great security in America (health / prosperity / clean drinking water etc.), why take a chance and move away?” The only answer I can offer is that we are confident that this is what God wants us to do. And as we scan through the list of things we are “giving up,” everything on that list is temporary, and therefore of much lesser importance. But what we gain (following God’s will, and seeing our ministry impact pastors, church planters, missionaries and more) is of eternal value. We are keeping our eyes on the eternal and rejoice in the opportunity to serve our Lord!