Monday, February 27, 2017

UPDATE - week of February 20

Freedom Ride - 2017
Hard Week 

Thank you so much for your prayers for the Wittenberg family. It was one of the hardest, most emotional experiences of my life - and a great honor to serve as a representative for so many, whose lives have been touched by Doug. 

that little guy is me

Here is a Link To The Sermon Doug gave just a month ago. 

This is Doug: "Any suffering we go through in this life is an opportunity to remember our salvation - that this is just temporary. There is an eternal life waiting for us where none of this will be a part of it. I have been healed fully - this I know. I have been healed from the ultimate disease that is killing us all. And that is what I stake my future on. And where my hope is."

Special Guests

On Monday, we had two very special guests at Round Table. (Thank you Susan Scott for hosting!)


This photo was taken from their time in the Peace Corps in China
After dinner (thanks Susan!), we had Q. and A. with mom and dad. It was pretty hilarious. And touching. 

I'm a lucky guy to have parents like I do. 

I am loving this spring-like February we are having - being able to eat outside in shorts! Crazy!

On Wednesday, we had a special Leader Lunch with Steve Lineberger. 

Thank you Baird for allowing us to use your conference room. 

Steve absolutely nailed it. He understands the Fellows and seamless living better than I ever will. It truly was an honor to listen to his stories and gather some of his wisdom...

Like: "You are not here to make a name, you are here to glorify a name."

And: "Use your God-given gifts with humility because you know where they came from. But use your God-given gifts with boldness because you know where they came from."


On Friday, we thanked our professor Jack Wilkerson with the title of "Honorary Fellow."

Jack, you were amazing. You took this year to an 11!

Helping Hands

Dakota and Jordan and Will and Jalen
Every Wednesday, the Fellows head down Marshall Street to help tutor and spend time with our young friends. It truly gets better every week!

Reese takes helping to the next level as he drives Lucy to school for his Host Family


On Friday, my friend Terrance Hawkins took us on a Freedom Ride, a moving (in more ways than one) education of the story of Winston-Salem through the eyes of African Americans.

Awesome! I hated to miss it.


I have finally become an official Highlands Ability Battery Consultant!

Thank you, Dori Stiles, for being an amazing coach. It is an honor to join your ranks. 

To learn more about the H.A.B. CLICK HERE.

Let me know if you or your organization have interest in getting assessed.

Also, Thank You Kerry and Kelly Koberg for hosting me this weekend in Highlands Ranch, Colorado (see what I did there?). 

Kerry and Kelly are such amazing friends. They welcomed me in as part of the family. And I am writing it here for all to see - we will be visiting them as a family soon. 

Kelly, Ned and Kerry

Pressley, Piper and Jackson
ALSO! The Fellows Board had a great Board Retreat on Saturday without me! So proud of our team! Thank you Josh Benoit for your leadership!!!


-This week we have our final Peace Making Class with Steve Beck.
-Leader Lunch with John Dickenson (board member and Jamaican!)
-Center For Creative Leadership
- Ash Wednesday Service at Hope Presbyterian
-Class with Clay Cooke
-Team Trip to West Forsyth to cheer on Sean Henderson as he coaches High Point Central's JV Baseball Team

Pray for family time as we re-engage after being away. I'm unfortunately leaving again this coming weekend for an Elder Retreat. Bummer.

Pray for more applicants. We are 25% full, and I'd like to be 100%!
Pray for our finances. We need 13k for Israel and about 20k to complete our year in the black.
Pray for our Fellows and their Futures.
Pray for our Host Families, Mentors and Churches.

It takes a village!

I'm glad y'all live in mine!

The next three weeks are pretty quiet for me. So I'd love to get some coffee, walks, adult beverages scheduled! Let me know!

Keep living the dream!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Doug Wittenberg

Doug and I in October
Jen called me yesterday to tell me that Doug had passed away. The news nearly crushed me. I'm still reeling from it. Needless to say, please pray for Jen and the children: Louise, Stella, Jacob, Andrew, Micah and Luke - some of the most inspirational people I know.

I'm still making arrangements to be with them later this week.

I'll need your help to keep the Winston-Salem Fellows going while I'm gone. I know Lia will also need help back at home. Please reach out. Thanks.

Doug was my boss, my band-mate, and most of all my friend. One of the very best. He had the amazing ability to make you believe the very best about yourself. I can honestly say I would not be the man I am today if it weren't for the friendship, brotherhood, and encouragement of this man.

I love you, Doug. I know you are jamming with the angels right now. I will miss you. We all will. You left a lasting legacy. I am part of it, and I am forever grateful.

Monday, February 20, 2017

UPDATE Week of February 13

We are on fire!!!

Lots of people tell me that when they read these Updates the Fellows look so busy. I usually say, "Well, I guess I could write about how on Thursday they went to work and then went home. Or on Tuesday I spent the morning reading."

All that to say is that the goal of the Fellows year is what we call seamless lives of faith. We build in activity and rest, giving and receiving, work and fun in a way that does not necessarily create balance (there is no such thing), but we do work to create congruency, restoration, and wholeness. That's the target. Sometimes we hit it - sometimes we don't. But that's what we're shooting for.

When you communicate in pictures - burning 100+ Christmas trees is a whole lot more entertaining than watching television on a Tuesday night...


Campbell and a Tibetan Mastiff Puppy

Campbell Anderson has been a highlight! For those of you who have been following us this year - Campbell has had some struggles: a broken leg, a job placement challenge to name two...

But the last few weeks, he has experienced a dramatic turnaround. He has finally been cleared by doctors to run and workout again. The new job at Boosterthon has been a perfect fit. But what really has stood out is his new found faith in Jesus. It has been nothing less than inspiring to watch.

On Saturday, he voluntarily spent the day with Bill McClain and his basketball team for their tournament in Statesville. That night, he held this Tibetan Mastiff puppy while we got ready for the annual Geer/Nicholson Families Christmas Tree Bonfire. (see above).

MONDAY NIGHT. The Fellows attended a Peacemaking Seminar hosted by Salem Presbyterian and led by the Peacemaker himself: Steve Beck.

With Special Guests Nikki Armengual on the left and Anne Glenn (the host family extraordinaire) and Steve Beck on the right
We learned the first step to peacemaking is GRATITUDE. That's a free nugget to all of you who were unable to attend...

LEADER LUNCH. On Wednesday, we were hosted by Betty Ann Faulkner, the Executive Director at the Center for Smart Financial Choices.

Yep. That's a photo studio!

Betty Ann works at the Enterprise Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, so we had a little two-for-one action because we were also given a behind the scenes tour of the facility. So cool.

Betty Ann led us in a Money Habitude activity.

Julia thought she was Care Free but turned out to be Security. Alex thought she was Carefree and was Carefree

Campbell was a Planner. Rahel of course was a Giver
I was Security and a Planner - aka Getting Old. 

Thank you Betty Ann for your wonderful introduction to Budgeting. It was a great jumping off point as we sit down with these Fellows and talk financial wisdom over the next few weeks. 

VALENTINES DAY. The Glenns had the gals over for wine and a viewing of Pride and Prejudice to celebrate Valentines Day. Very Romantic. 

Thanks Anne! You made the Update Twice this week!

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. We had an AMAZING conversation with Bill McClain and his basketball team about recent incidents with violence in our community. Thank you Bill for your leadership. We ended with the most powerful prayer time I had this week. 

I missed the first half of the conversation because I got swarmed by a bunch of munchkins...

There were eight of us on that couch.
No complaints here. 

SATURDAY. As mentioned, Campbell was in Statesville and returned in time for the bonfire. 

We had also been invited to the free screening of the Maya Angelou documentary. I registered but was put on a waitlist. The Fellows didn't even sign up but just went (good for them). 

Turns out there was plenty of room...and from the looks of Alex's plate, plenty of cheese!

There is a story behind this picture
90% of life is showing up.
FRIDAY. We went to Reynolda House to reconnect and celebrate the 70 degree February weather.

AND Help out our friends at The Variable with their Social Media Campaign for Sunshine. 

This was SO staged!
SUNDAY. I had the distinct privilege of speaking to the Redeemer Church Middle Schoolers. Thanks Tripp and Houston for the invite!

It was fun to see Campbell there volunteering

Welcome Morgan Bonds! Our newest Fellow is coming to us from UT-Chattanooga where she is finishing school and serving as student staff for Young Life. 

One of her employers gave her the best compliment. "Morgan is like water. She finds the soft places and fills them." Wow! Can't wait to welcome her to Winston in the Fall!


Things are coming together for our mission trip April 30 - May 7

Camille raised $23.20 from her Grandmother - our first donation!

If you wish to help us reach out $13,000 goal. Please send donations to:

WS Fellows
851 W. 5th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Or Donate online by Clicking HERE

OR By contacting Ned - or (336) 413-4918
for us to do odd jobs, babysitting, yard work, etc.

Let me tell you - we got some baby whisperers in our midst. 



The Fellows does not exist without the support of this community. In other words, we need you! We are built on the prayers and support of this city. 

- Pray for our Fellows that they would continue to develop a profound understand of our Lord and a rich intimacy with Him. 
- Pray for our Fellows as they continue to explore future opportunities. 
- Pray for our Recruiting Efforts. We are praying specifically for 12 Fellows for next year: 6 guys and 6 gals. 
- Pray for our BOARD RETREAT this Saturday.
- Pray for our FUNDRAISING. Pray if God wants you to be part of His answer!
- Pray for the Ericksons. Lia has a full week, and I have some church commitments in the evening, which is going to make family time a little tricky. 
- Pray for another full week!

Looking ahead: 
- Round Table at Susan Scott's. Q. and A. with my parents!!!
- Leader Lunch with Steve Lineberger!
- Volunteering with G.I.D.E.
- LAST CLASS with Jack Wilkerson
- We have plenty more with Clay Cooke!
- Board Retreat on Saturday. 

A few more photos for you...

Me and Dakota.

Anna Rose and David made a killer fort!

Dakota made the Milestones section of the WS Journal!

Christina and Jessica traveled to Dallas to be with family and friends. 

Drinking in the Sunshine

Keep sharing the story and spreading the love!

Monday, February 13, 2017

UPDATE - Week of February 7

James K. A. Smith

It's not every week that you get to attend a twenty-four hour conference in your hometown where the speaker happens to be the author of the book you are studying for class! 

This year, the Forum on Faith and Culture invited James K.A. Smith to keynote the weekend. Dr. Smith is the author of several books, including You Are What You Love and Desiring the Kingdom both are being studied by our Fellows this year. 

Reese, Sara Beth (honorary Fellow), Christina, Ned, Rahel (in the back) Campbell, Jessica, and Tessa and Rachel (from the Greensboro Fellows. 
The conference was thoughtfully provocative. And what was almost as good as the sessions was the conversation it inspired afterward with the Winston and Greensboro Fellows. 

What a treat! A special thanks for the committee who put this conference together - it was as if you had the Fellows in mind when you put the weekend together!


Friday, we also had the opportunity to hear the stories of two former felons: Biggs Burke (cofounder of Roc-a-fella Records with Jay-Z) and Chip Skowron (Yale Educated Doctor gone Hedge Fund Manager). Unbelievable. 

Biggs and Chip
Thank you Jay Helvey and NCS for inviting us in!

Let it be known: Winston is a happening place!


Monday we had Round Table at the Erickson house. It was a great night of laughter and prayer. I also was able to snap this special photo of the Anna Rose helping David with his homework!

So cute!
Wednesday, we had one of the best Leader Lunches of the year (of course I didn't get a picture! Blast!) We met with Jeff and Kim Ickes, owners of Salem Sports, a company that provides soup to nuts branding for customers. Their story is absolutely amazing! Not only did they supply us with food, give us a tour, but they created a top 10 list of things they wished they knew when they were 25! I have it on my wall now! THANK YOU JEFF AND KIM!!!!!


The objective of the Fellows Program is to increase the Fellows understanding of Who God Is, Who They Are, and What Do It Mean For Us To Live In The Context of This Time and This Place. 

We have achieved this objective in all kinds of ways this year. But it had always been our hope to define Time and Place globally. To do that, we had set aside some time and money to put toward a mission trip. 

And so, we put the question to the Fellows: are you interested and willing to go on a mission trip this year even if it means that you will have to raise extra funds?

The answer was a resounding Yes!

So we have been working with our board on the best way forward and this week we are ready to make the trip official! 

We are going with Young Life Expeditions (Young Life's Missions Group) to ISRAEL!

Why Israel?

Great question:
- 1st - If you want to understand God and His Word better, there is no better place to go than to the place where Jesus actually lived. 
- 2nd - If you want to understand the particular challenges that we face as a country and a world, you have to understand what is happening in Israel. 
- 3rd - Winston-Salem has a great friend in the Middle East: Hunter Lambeth, a graduate of Reynolds High School who is now the Director of Young Life in the Middle East who we will be able to walk alongside and serve. 

The trip will be from April 30-May 9 and will be half-educational, half-spiritual, and half-missions (I know that adds up to more than 100% but that's the power of a trip like this). For the missions part we will be serving the local Young Life Areas in Nazareth and Bethlehem (yes that Nazareth and Bethlehem) and working with teenagers as well as special needs children. 

There is more but I'll leave it at that. 

But to go we are going to need your support. We are going to need to raise $1,125 per fellow, or $13,500 as a group. That is absolutely incredible for a trip like this!

This is what we need:
(1) DONATIONS - if you believe in this program and have been looking for a way to support it - THIS IS YOUR CHANCE!

Or mail checks to WS Fellows
851 W. 5th St. 
WSNC 27101

For Credit Card donations, contact

- need babysitting? pet sitting? house sitting? 
- yard work? 
- heavy lifting?
We Are Your People!

- This week one of our Fellows put in some extra time to earn money for the trip. 

(4) PRAYER - we want to go spiritually, financially, emotionally, and mentally prepared. We need your prayer support to do it. 

(5) INTERESTED IN GOING? We have the capability of having others join us. Let me know if you are interested. 


Please Pray for the Fellows
- I may make it sound like in these updates that we never experience challenges or setbacks or difficulties. The truth is we do. I don't share them on these updates primarily for privacy reasons. But I will say here that we need your prayer!
--> the Fellows have some adulting to do
--> the Director and the Board are still learning what to do
--> our team of incredible volunteers (mentors, host families, churches, business partners, etc.) all have their own personal struggles as well as their struggles with us!
So please pray. We are humans here. And we are participating in a God thing. It can't be accomplished without Him. 

Some specifics:
- Pray for our recruiting. We are still at 2 yesses. We are praying for more! 12 by June. 
- Pray for Fellows futures. Lots of good indicators. But plenty of room for prayer. 
- Pray for the Director as he will be single parenting Thursday and Friday. 
- Pray for our Upcoming Board Retreat. 

Thank you!!!!

Other News: David turned the big 8 on Thursday!

I love this dude!
We had a most excellent bowling party on Saturday! 

Several Winston-Salem and Greensboro Fellows went to Hanging Rock on Saturday Afternoon.

Some May Way Dumplings were consumed prior to the Forum on Faith and Culture

Rahel introduced us to her favorite food: Doritos Dynamitas

They are about as red as lava and just about as hot!

Will and I taught the Fellows how to Shag

Who is leading who?
 Thank you all. Keep the faith and spread the love.

We need your support and partnership.