Newsletter – Volume 41


Newsletter – Volume 41

April 8, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
Meet Tashi...

Tashi Franzen is the brother of my daughter’s (Mallory) husband (Josh). He is young man who has had his walk on the wild side. However, he is also genuinely curious about spiritual things, and would self-identify as a Christ-follower. But he also admits that he is still very much in process. He is the son of a missionary and definitely fits the profile of a third culture kid. Here is a bit of his story.

I was born in Bangkok Thailand, the youngest of four kids. My parents were missionaries in India at the time. But the medical system was better in Bangkok, so my parents went there for my birth. Within weeks we were back in Darjeeling India (home of black tea), where we lived for another 6 years. We came back to Waco for a year on furlough before returning to Bangleore India. I was relatively athletic, so I played a lot of soccer. As most 3rd culture kids, I had to sort my way through the relational maze to figure out how I fit. After another stint in Thailand and France, we eventually moved back to Waco when I was 15.

Looking back on my experiences overseas, it was definitely a mixture. My brother and sisters and I slept in the same room. We went to an International School. I was a bit of a loner. I was also a bit of rebel, so I fell into the same things that my peers were into – porn, smoking, and drinking. Part of what kept me from going completely off-the-rails was a group of friends I made who loved exploring the world. We even made our own YouTube channel “Expedition Addiction.”

In terms of my spiritual journey, some things began to shift for me in 2020 when my parents urged me to join them for the World Mandate Conference. In the middle of a worship experience, I was struck in a new way by the fear of the Lord. I had not really paid much attention to that part of who God is, but that broke some things loose for me. For the first time I got serious about letting go of some lingering bad habits and addictions.

In 2022, I went back to India with a friend from Philadelphia (who had never been outside the States) to see if we could find the home where I grew up in. I really wasn’t sure what we were doing, but there were a couple of divine appointments. It was not an easy place to get to – lots of steep hills. Once we got there, I began showing a pic of myself as a 5-year-old kid, and some people recognized me and threw their arms open to welcome me. We ended up staying at an orphanage where tigers and elephants frequented. The trip also included a stop in New Dehli where we spent two weeks at a pastor’s house and then at a brothel (completely by accident), but also met and worshipped with some amazing Indian brothers. What an adventure that was!

It’s definitely been an interesting journey, being a missionary kid, being a lost son, trying the missionary thing myself with a stint at YWAM, and two months in Africa. Going off to school, only to drop out a semester later. This past August I went through a break-up with a girl after talking about engagement. Now I am living in Austin with my parents, my sister and her two kids, and going to therapy. I’m still figuring it all out. I’ve even considered being a nomad. At the moment, I just want to work with my hands, wear one of those yellow construction hats, and be a ‘normal’ guy. Hope that is OK.

Certainly OK with me/us, and given your openness and rawness, you are certainly most welcome in the Black Sheep Messenger community.

Word of the Week


Noun: a large quantity of something; more than enough.

For most of my life growing up, I had a certain view of God and his way of being with us. Perhaps it is related to the value that the Dutch place on frugality. But for me, I saw God as one who would dispense blessing and provision with eye-dropper exactness. Just what was needed. Nothing more. Waste not, want not!

So, the surprise for me is that far from stinginess, God is the God of unbelievable generosity. With him there is always more than enough. Jesus certainly reflected that in his miracles. With his first miracle of changing the water into wine, he made a lot! Six water stone water jars holding 20 -30 gallons each (John 2:6) – that’s 150 gallons of wine (at a party that had already had wine freely flowing). In the feeding of the 5000 there were 12 left-over baskets (Matthew 14:20).

God’s generosity is also obvious in nature. There is abundance everywhere. Point being, whatever it is we are facing this week, in God we have more than enough!

An Artist I’ve Been Enjoying

Avi Kaplan

Bio: Avriel Benjamin Kaplan is an American singer-songwriter. He is perhaps best known for being the former vocal bass of the a cappella group Pentatonix from 2011 to 2017.

I have my set of “go to” worship songs that I go to that have been regularly encouranging and inspirational, most notably Toby Mac’s “Help is on the Way”, Stephen McWhirter’s “Rapha” and “Ain’t no Grave” by Molly Skaggs and Bethel Music. But, recently I have been exploring some other music not in my typical mix, and have rediscovered Avi Kaplan. I loved listening to the Pentatonix acapella group when they first came out. But they eventually fell off the radar. Then, about a month ago, I inadvertently ran across some of his solo work, and found it mesmerizing – particularly “Change on the Rise” “Healing” and “Feel Alright.”

But it’s not just his music, it’s his story. At the height of the Pentatonix’s success, he stepped back from the group, because he felt that the rigors of the road was taking an undue toll on the relationships that were most important to him. That is one of those decisions that sound great in theory, but quite difficult in the real world (especially in light of fame and fortune one is leaving on the table). It’s no small thing – and I think that courageous spirit comes through in his music.

How Are The Kids?

From Mallory's Perspective

I have been asked several times, how are the kids doing with all this? Sometimes it is even harder on those who have to watch the journey. So, I asked my daughter two questions: What makes this hard for you? And what gives you hope? Here is what she wrote:

The hardest thing about this journey is the overwhelming and ever present unknown. There’s no simple equation “if you do x then you will be cancer free.” We exist in the world of “maybes”, where even there is good news, you know bad news could lurk around the corner, and oftentimes the news does not neatly fit in the “good” or “bad” bucket, making it difficult to ascertain where you are on the journey.

But, what gives me hope is that my parents have been incredibly thoughtful and prayerful throughout the whole process. They have spoken to experts, my dad has taken his protocols seriously (and ironically looks 10 years younger!) and he has leaned into his hope and trust in God. As much as we hope for a certain outcome, all we can do is control the controllables to increase our chance of success, and I believe we are doing that.

What We Need Right Now

Ask Jenni

Over the last few weeks, a number of people have asked how they can be of help to us in this next season. Candidly, it is hard to know exactly how to answer that question. Our stock answer has been to encourage people to follow whatever prompting God gives them. And already the prayers and messages we have received have been quite timely and helpful. We hope and pray people will continue doing so. But we also know that some would find it helpful to know the details on the more pragmatic side of the equation. My executive assistant has graciously agreed to serve as our communications person. She will know about the specifics of our most pertinent needs and should you feel called to be part of that time, please feel to reach out to her at or 303.916.9747.

Upcoming Schedule:

  • 5 weeks of bladder treatment (once/week) in Austin beginning this Tuesday 4/9.
  • Return to Mayo for surgical pre-op appointments on 5/13
  • Surgery to remove kidney, ureter, prostate on 5/15
  • Post-op appointments/check-ups 5/20-5/29
  • Return to Austin 5/30
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Newsletter – Volume 46

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Joel… Joel Salabarria and I have done several ministry projects together. He is an extremely

Newsletter – Volume 45

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Mike… Mike Orenstein has been one of my closer friends here in Austin. He is

Newsletter – Volume 44

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Kelly… My wife Carol will tell you that I often have difficulty listening to speakers,

Newsletter – Volume 43

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Kim… Kim Zanting is part of the congregation I served in Pella, IA. She is

Newsletter – Volume 42

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Kristalyn… Kristi Barnes is kinda a local superstar, but she would vehemently argue that point.

Newsletter – Volume 40

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Joseph and Stephanie… Joseph and Stephanie Claypool experienced the worst kind of heartache that befalls

Newsletter – Volume 39

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Dr. Tony… Dr. Antonio Jimenez is the founder and Chief Medical Officer of the Hope

Newsletter – Volume 38

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Deb… Deb Halsey is my wife’s (Carol) older sister, and she will readily concede that

Newsletter – Volume 37

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Allen… One of the first friends I made in Austin was Chief Allen Banks. Allen