50 States of Awesome

A few weeks ago we hit a milestone…we completed one of our longer range missions to send a shirt to each of the 50 states of the United States. When we started theMap awesome shirt website we did not know all that God would do through it. The vision that started with Phil and Toni, which you can read bout on the website, turned into something that has touched many lives. And it happened because of God’s providence and a commitment to listen and obey. At each point of the journey we have been blessed, but not without some challenges, sacrifices and lots of hard work. The website was registered on 8/21/2013 with very little content and with Phil not sure we even needed a website. I felt we needed a place where people could share the stories we were hearing from those who had received the shirt in our local area. But God keep speaking to us and confirmed this idea and things grew quickly. The mission expanded to the idea of getting shirts into each state of the US and into as many countries as God allowed. Those first few states and countries came about because people from our church and local area told others. Then through the website we saw requests from other states. One month after the initial idea, we had 27 requests from the website, mostly from our local area. By the end of October shirts were in 26 states and 9 countries.I felt God lead me to write to missionaries in other countries and more countries started to receive the shirts. But the number of US states stayed close to the same. In January we were in 30 states and 32 countries. We were sending periodic emails to churches in other states but Phil felt God speaking to us about picking a state and writing emails until someone responded. We did web searches and wrote 1 or 2 emails a day as we asked God to direct us to the right person. Sometimes we went many weeks until someone responded. Then we moved on to a new state, Phil on one state and me on another. Sometimes 2 or 3 states fell in a few days. Once I received 3 acceptances from one state in one day.  We always asked for God to lead us. One email recipient said she almost did not respond but did a search of our WorldMapwebsite and church and decided we were legit. I am sure hundreds of others who received our emails felt the same and just deleted them. I did a web search for a “Normal Christian” in Illinois and found a Christian couple who ran the Normal Roasting Company in Normal, IL.  They accepted shirts. Another Christian couple from The Heavenly Donut Company in Birmingham, AL accepted our offer. A Christian band, Firelight, from Arkansas responded to my email and received 10 shirts for the band and spouses. We sent 9 shirts to “Pilots for Christ Wyoming” who responded to my email and told about their work providing air transport for families in emergency situations, especially with transport for medical needs. They also teach kids about flight and use it as an opportunity to teach about God. A Christian school teacher in Dickinson ND, an elder in a church in Zearing  IA, a church secretary in South Lewistown MT, a pastor from Stonewood WV were all among those that accepted our offer. I sent out over 500 emails in about a year and I don’t know how many Phil sent. But it was a joy to hear back from those who accepted our offer and see some great joy expressed by the regular Christians, church administrators, pastors and Christian business people who accepted our offer of a free t-shirt. Then in August we found Christians in our last two states to accept the shirts. The second to the last was a pastor in New Hampshire and his son with downs syndrome who both received shirts and sent us a couple of lovely pictures. The last was a pastor in Vermont who sent a great picture of himself and the green hills of Vermont, a sight for sore eyes in drought stricken California. It has been quite a journey and we know God has more in store for us. If you are one of the thousands who have received a shirt, I ask you to take a moment and tell us about how God has used you when wearing the shirt. But also if you have a “God story” to tell that is unrelated to the shirt, post that so we can rejoice in all that God is doing in our world. God Bless you all. Ray

About Ray

Sr. Research Manager by day, Bible and Theology teacher by night. Father of two great kids and humble husband to a godly wife.
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3 Responses to 50 States of Awesome

  1. Al Macon says:

    Great work Ray and Phil! Praying that your dedication will continue to reach others domestically and internationally. In essence your work throught The Awesome Shirt Ministry is a manifestation of Act 1:8. Continued Blessings!

  2. Thanks for the email. It’s good to see what God is doing.

    Joel Mattsson-Bozé Pastor, Neighborhood Church

  3. christopher barton says:

    Ray, thank you for such an awe inspiring update. The continuing journey of the awesome shirt is nothing less than well AWESOME!!! Smile in the fact that god is using you and Phil for a greater purpose.

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