Servant Life Blog

Core Value – Long Term Strategies

Through the years, The Lord has led Servant Life to four Core Values that shape all the work we do.  They are: Gospel-centered ministry, long-term strategies, one-on-one relationships, and a focus on youth and children.  Every missionary in our global network is prayerfully and specifically selected by their devotion to these principles.  We are highlighting each of these Core Values in a four part series.  The next value is “Long-Term Strategies.”

While our team was visiting one of the missionaries in our network, the missionary told us a story about a church from The States that came to “work with them”.   When they arrived the American church insisted on building a community center for the ministry to work out of.  The missionary tried to explain to the Americans that this was not a need for the ministry, but they were determined.  When the Americans left after that week they had only halfway finished the building.  The lonely, half-finished building outside a remote village in Central America was left until the next short-term team came to serve.  Since the missionary had no need for the building, or funds to complete it, construction ended and that next short-term team began to deconstruct the building.

Short-term mission trips must happen within a long-term ministry strategy. 

Servant Life partners with missionaries and national ministries that maintain a consistent presence and work towards long-term, Gospel-centered, goals.  We are called by Christ to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  In order to see true discipleship, relationships that are formed during trips must continue past the 7-10 days that participants are on the ground.  Therefore, Servant Life sends students to serve our network of global disciple-makers in whatever way best fits their needs.  We exist to support the work in which they have invested their lives in, the same way the Philippians supported Paul in Philippians 1:3-7.  Will you help us support the missionaries in our global network?

– Ryan Childress, Servant Life Director


12 Songs Of Christmas

You’ve heard of the 12 Days of Christmas, but what about 12 of the most popular international Christmas songs? In keeping with the Christmas spirit, we’ve compiled a list of Christmas themed songs from around the globe (including an excerpt of the lyrics!). You may recognize more than you realize. Enjoy!


1. Feliz Navidad – Spanish

Chances are you’re very familiar with this one. This classic Spanish song even helps you out with an English translation.

“Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
próspero año y felicidad. // Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
próspero año y felicidad. // I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas.
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas.
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart.”

2. Adeste Fideles – Latin

Maybe Latin isn’t your strong subject. No worries, there’s also an English version to Adeste Fideles that you probably know: O Come, All Ye Faithful.

“Adeste, fideles, laeti, triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem:
Natum videte Regem Angelorum: // Venite adoremus, venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum.”

3. Twelve Days of Christmas – English 

No “12 International Christmas songs” list would be complete without the 12 Days of Christmas! (Hope you don’t get too upset if you don’t receive a partridge in a pear tree this year.) 

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 
Twelve drummers drumming, 
eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, 
nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, 
seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, 
Five golden rings. 
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves 
And a partridge in a pear tree.”

4. Le Divin Enfant – French

This French Christmas carol recounts the birth of Jesus Christ. The last line reads “O Jesus, O all powerful king, rule completely over us.”

“Il est né, le divin Enfant,
Jouez, hautbois, résonnez, musettes;
Il est né, le divin Enfant;
Chantons tous son avènement! // Ô Jésus! Ô Roi tout-puissant!
Tout petit enfant que vous êtes,
Ô Jésus! Ô Roi tout puissant!
Régnez sur nous entièrement!”

5. Stille Nacht – German

Brush up on your German and sing along with this version of “Silent Night.”

“Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Alles Schläft, einsam wacht
nur das traute, hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
schlaf in himmlischer Ruh’! (2x)”

6. Astro del Ciel – Italian 

This popular Italian Christmas carol praises the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and asks Him to “instill peace into our hearts.”

Astro del ciel, Pargol divin, mite Agnello Redentor! 
Tu che i Vati da lungi sognar, tu che angeliche voci nunziar, 
luce dona alle genti, pace infondi nei cuor! 
luce dona alle genti, pace infondi nei cuor!

7. Jingle Bells – in Ukrainian 

Need some help translating this one? It’s the ever so popular song, Jingle Bells! Feel free to belt out this Ukrainian version as you’re dashing through the snow in your one horse open sleigh!

Дзвонять дзвони, дзвонять дзвони,

Дзвонять увесь шлях!

Як весело нам їхати

В однокінних санях

Дзвонять дзвони, дзвонять дзвони,

Дзвонять увесь шлях!

Як весело нам їхати

В однокінних санях 

8. Rodolfo el reno – Spanish

Rudolph, the red-nose reindeer, you’ll go down in history!

“Era Rodolfo un reno
que tenía la nariz
roja como la grana
con un brillo singular. // Todos sus compañeros
se reían sin parar,
y nuestro buen amigo
triste y solo se quedó. // Pero Navidad llegó
Santa Clos bajó
y a Rodolfo lo eligió
por su singular nariz. // Tirando del trineo
fue Rodolfo sensación,
y desde ese momento
toda burla terminó.”

9. Noel Blanc – French

Maybe you’ve never seen a White Christmas. Well, you can dream along as you listen to this French version of one of the most popular Christmas songs.

“Oh, quand j’entends chanter Noël
J’aime revoir mes joies d’enfant
Le sapin scintillant, la neige d’argent
Noël, mon beau rêve blanc. // Oh, quand j’entends sonner au ciel
L’heure ou le bon vieillard descend
Je revois tes yeux clairs, Maman
Et je songe d’autres Noëls blancs.”

10. O Tannenbaum – German

It’s likely that you’ve been singing the words “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree” for as long as you can remember. Did you know that song originated in Germany?

“O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter!”

11. El Tamborilero – Spanish

Be prepared to have the “pa rum pum pum pum” beat stuck in your head with this Spanish version of “Little Drummer Boy.”

“El camino que lleva a Belén
baja hasta el valle que la nieve cubrió.
Los pastorcillos quieren ver a su Rey,
le traen regalos en su humilde zurrón
al Redentor, al Redentor.

12. Joy to the World – English

We come to the end of this list with a classic favorite, “Joy to the World.” Our prayer for you is that you prepare room for Christ in your heart not only during Christmas, but always.

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and heaven and nature sing.”


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Break & Missions Conversations

Christmas for you is likely full of many memories, traditions and time with family.  For those that are Christ-followers it is truly a wonderful time of the year as we celebrate and give thanks for the promised Messiah taking on a robe of flesh and being born in the most unlikely of places.  This moment leads to a restored relationship with God for those people that place their faith in Him.

During this time of year, you often get time to spend with family that unfortunately the busyness of our lives and schedules does not always supply in abundance.  These next few weeks are a great time to talk with parents and family about spending some time next spring or summer advancing the Gospel through a short-term mission experience.  The thought of serving will bring obvious questions such as:

  • Where?
  • With whom?
  • How will it be funded? etc.

Often having good face time with the parents allows for you to talk through the thoughts and plans that are on your heart.  Take advantage of these days.

If serving either domestically or internationally is currently not on your mind, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider how the Lord desires to use you as a part of making disciples of all nations.  There is no doubt that the commission is clear.   As we celebrate the greatest story every told during this Christmas season, we need to remember that it is not a love story that was only for us.  There is a whole world out there that needs to hear.

J. Roger Davis
Servant Life

Servant Life in Nicaragua

The following is a recent post from Beth Lang. Beth and her husband Jason are Servant Life’s ministry partners in Nicaragua. You can read the whole post and more here


“A few weeks ago, we also hosted Roger Davis (Student Life President) and Ryan Childress (Servant Life Director) for what I would probably call a micro-trip! These guys have been doing a lot of traveling this year to partner ministries around the globe and they wanted to fit us in before the holidays. Their visit, though just for a weekend, represents somewhat of a dream come true for Jason. After taking several youth groups to Student Life camps over the years in the states Jason thought it would be really awesome to have Servant Life come do camps in Nicaragua one day. After 3+ years in the making we will be partnering with Servant Life in June 2014 to offer two weeks of camp at Centro ABEM for children and youth. We are very excited about this partnership and look forward with anticipation to what God is going to do!”


You can serve at Centro ABEM in 2014! Click here to learn more about Centro ABEM, the Langs, and how you can partner with Servant Life in Nicaragua next summer!

Fundraising Tip: Parent’s Night Out

With it being the holiday season, many parents are looking for babysitters so that they can attend Christmas parties and events.  You and your friends can set up a parent’s night out as a way to help families while they help you. compare hotel prices  To host a parent’s night out, pick a specific date and time (you can even ask your church if you can use a Sunday school room or gymnasium), then spread the word to parents with young children.  It’s best to have a sign up sheet so that you can know how many children you’ll have and can plan accordingly to have enough babysitters.  You can have snacks, play games, or watch Christmas movies! Parents will pay for the babysitting and that money will go directly toward your mission trip.  A parent’s night out requires some good planning, but if you’re willing to do that, it could be a great fundraiser.

Extra tip: If there is a night where several Sunday school classes in your church are having Christmas parties, that would be a perfect night to host a parent’s night out!


Sometimes the word “fundraising” strikes fear into the hearts of mission trip participants.  No one likes feeling as if they’re begging for money. Plus, trying to raise money for your trip can seem like a daunting and potentially discouraging task.

This is where we come in! We want to provide tips that you might find useful as you begin the process of funding your mission trip.

First of all, here’s what we believe about fundraising:

– Let’s face it: fundraising is essential.  The reality of mission trips is that they cost money.  If done the right way, fundraising can be very beneficial.

– Servant Life believes strongly in partnerships.  One of the best things you can do in terms of fundraising is to establish partnerships.  You’re not asking for a handout.  You’re asking for people to come alongside you and support you in your mission.

– Give potential donors a reason to give. Clearly and thoroughly explain your mission trip to people.  Show them that what you are doing is worth an investment.

– Being an efficient and organized planner while benefit your fundraising efforts more than you can imagine.

Fundraising doesn’t have to be scary! So, to help you, we will periodically be posting fundraising tips and ideas.  Here’s one to start:


Percent Night!

A great idea to help raise funds for your mission trip is to have a percent night at a local restaurant.  The way this works is that on a specific night, a restaurant will allow a percentage of their profits to go toward your organization. Then all you have to do is get the word out to your friends and family! Simply tell the people you know to mention your organization when they order.  Restaurants that participate in fundraising opportunities like this include Chick-fil-a, McAlister’s, Chipotle, Subway, and Pizza Hut (just to name a few!). You can do some research and contact restaurants in your area to see about setting up a percent night.


Partner Spotlight: Northern Uganda


Currently, the country of Uganda has over 2.5 million orphans.  In light of this unsettling statistic, Four Corners Ministries exists to spread the Gospel in East Africa by building relationships with orphans and families.  Through this ministry, the team at Four Corners seeks to provide aid to orphans while demonstrating the love that Christ has modeled.  Most recently, FCM has established Abaana’s Hope, a project that is very close to the heart of Four Corners President, Tripp Skipper.  The desire for Abaana’s Hope is to provide holistic care for orphans through a new children’s village.  The goal is to raise up the future leaders of Uganda who will care for and support their community just as they have experienced.  In serving with Four Corners, teams can expect to help with one or more specific areas such as education, emergency relief, evangelism and orphan care.  Without a doubt, serving with Four Corners will stretch, grow and challenge anyone.  To learn more about how you can be a part, visit or

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18


Store Ad


T-shirts. Patches. Wrist bracelets. Click on the picture or the “Store” tab above to get great Servant Life gear while funding global missions! 


Ukraine: Then and Now

Then and Now

In 2009, Heather Harris and the Midtowners in Ukraine took pictures of the kids to bring back to Nashville so that the church could pray for the kids. I picked up one of the pictures. It was two kids, both with happy little smiles. The name on the back of the photo said Dima Pelepenko and corresponded to the kid with the blond hair on the left. And he was maybe 11-12 years old. That was all I knew of him when I picked up the picture in 2010.

I went to a few “pray for the kids” meetings at Midtown. I placed the picture in my journal and started praying for Dima everyday and most times for his little friend too even though I didn’t know his name.

It worked out for me to go to Ukraine in August 2012. A few weeks and months before the trip, Heather found out that Dima might be coming to the camp for the first time since 2009. The two of us were getting really excited about Dima and I meeting. As the days drew near and we finally arrived at camp and Heatherconfirmed that Dima was there. She told me that she would introduce us when we got a breather at camp.

God’s timing is so perfect. As I was leaving my room on the 5th night of camp, John, the youth pastor with the Philly team, came out of his adjacent room. Together we chatted and walked down to the front door of the dorm. John saw Lesya and Dima and walked over.  I raced back up to my room and grabbed my journal with Dima’s picture in it. I came back down and John was talking to Dima with Lesya translating. He asked Dima what he thought about God. Dima said he believed in God but wasn’t sure about going to Heaven. In that moment, I could sense the Holy Spirit speaking through John as he witnessed to Dima. And then John asked Dima if he wanted to pray, but only do it if he really wanted to. Dima said yes and John started praying for him and Dima repeated. Right before John, Dima, and Lesya started praying, Heather walked up so I grabbed her too. The prayer went something along the lines of, “I’ve tried many different ways to take care of myself, Lord. But I need you in my life and I trust you God. I’m ready to follow you” Then I started explaining my side of the story and how I’d been praying for him.

It was just the most perfect way God could’ve brought me and Dima together. I prayed for protection for Dima and that he would get to know the Lord. I still can’t get over the fact that I got to witness what I’d been praying for him over the past two years. God prepared me for two and a half years, matured me and allowed me to grow before meeting Dima. I was able to keep up with Dima after I left Ukraine. He graduated from his school/orphanage in April 2013. I was able to go back to Ukraine in July 2013. He came back to camp even though he didn’t have to. He’s currently in school and has a church family.  I can’t believe how amazingly God has worked in both of our lives through each other.


Prithvi Muddana


Since the fall of Communism in the late 80’s the doors to the Gospel have been opened in this former gem of the Soviet Union. This past month, we made a quick trip over to see our long-time friends and partners Oleg & Lena Vasilevsky who lead Radooga ( there in Ukraine. I am always encouraged when I spend time with them and their team. Their love and vision for their country is contagious as they continue to reach out to young people and expand their ministry to orphans around the country. We were able to spend time with not only their year round staff, but some of their seasonal employees.  These young people carry the same spirit that you find with the thousands of American college students that work camps each summer.  It was great to hear a bit of these stories as well as stories of others that give their time to advance the Gospel in Ukraine.

I also spent a day with their year round staff that one friend said should have been called Secret Church for camp.  We began talking methods, models and philosophies at 9 am and went solid until leaving their small offices at 6:30 pm.  It was so refreshing for me to spend time with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, talking about how we reach young people in the states and how they do the same in Ukraine.  It really is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ.

Radooga needs American teams to come over and spend time serving alongside their staff in two main programs.  The first are English Language Camps, where groups spend time side-by-side with Ukrainian teenagers in Bible study, worship, recreation and teaching English classes.

The second allows for teams to go lead Orphan Camps for government funded orphanages throughout the country while spending time sharing the love of Christ with kids and teenagers that typically spend their summer with nothing to do.

Then, England…

Victor Hugo, the French writer that gave us Les Miserables once said, “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.”  With the Bible at the core of the country, you likely don’t think of England as a place that is in need of missionary help.  However where we visited in Northeast England, 97% of the population claims to not have a relationship with Christ.  The country gave us great missionaries such as Hudson Taylor and has a rich faith history, but now is full of beautiful church buildings that are closing and becoming gyms, offices and civic clubs (we visited a few.) England is in desperate need of a spiritual awakening.

But how awesome is it that the Queen (obviously fully under the control of a sovereign God) years ago mandated that all schools provide religious education in the schools? Many of those very schools are asking our friend and missions partner, Mike Taylor and the gap year students of UK-USA Ministries to go into the schools and teach the students about Christianity.  Hello, are you getting that? There is an open invitation to go into the schools and talk about Jesus, the Scriptures and faith. And they are doing just that and seeing amazing things happen in town after town, school after school, and life after life.

Additionally, they are running after school programs for kids and students, various youth ministry activities throughout the year and camps during the summers.  Teams that serve with Servant Life will get to experience great life-on-life opportunities to share their faith and grown in it as well.

Before visiting, I was thrilled we were partnering with Mike and his team as we work together to advance the Gospel in England.  After visiting, I have wanted to share with everyone I can about the remarkable work and great need in a country that is often overlooked in the missions conversations.  Serving in England will not cause you to have to learn a new language (however a few accents might be hard to understand) nor will you likely be concerned about what you will eat, but no doubt you will leave forever changed.

Regardless of it being Ukraine, England, or another country, I encourage you to get into the action of responding to the Great Commission.


– J. Roger Davis, Servant Life Executive Director