The Raitz Family Needs Your Help to Adopt and Bring home Winona Mae!!

The Raitz Family has some some HUGE news! IMG_3316

We’re trying…praying…hoping… believing that we are going to Adopt Winona Mae from China! That’s our name for her. It’s after Tracie’s two grandmothers. She actually wanted to name both girls that, but Bekah and Madison won out then. Now it’s time for Winona Mae. Her name as of right now is An Fu Le and she is a beautiful 17 month old baby with PKU from China! She’s very tiny for her age.

The Story 

Ok, let me back up! We have four kids. Our life is pretty full. We planted and now lead a growing and exciting church. Our kids are in sports. Have homework and activities. Both Tracie and I work many hours every week for our Church. In the midst of all of that, we believe that God has called us to adopt a child with PKU.

The Calling

God put a calling on my heart almost ten years ago! I was flying home from a mission trip to Mexico. It was a year after Zach was born and his PKU still rocked me to my core. Actually, I could hardly deal with it. I was journaling and I was thinking about the children I saw on that mission trip and the thought that kept sticking with me was…what if Zach was born there? He just wouldn’t make it. That night, God put the call to adopt on my heart. Tracie has always wanted too add to our family and together through a ton of prayer, we have decided to take this step.IMG_3305

It’s taken ten years, but we have found a baby girl in China with PKU and we have been pre-approved by China to pursue her adoption. She’s been on a PKU diet but she is behind a bit developmentally. She is in an orphanage with 800 other children and just doesn’t get a lot of stimulation or individual attention. That’s why we need your help to bring her home!

There is a lot to be done before we can bring Winona Mae home! Paperwork, interviews and and honestly, the biggest part is raising $30,000. And then, we no longer have anything for babies! No cribs, strollers, toys, pack n plays, clothes, etc.

Yes, $30,000!

I know, I know, I know. That’s a lot of money! But, there are a ton of fees. There is airfare. Tracie and I will need to spend 2 weeks in China. There is paperwork costs. There are more fees. There is her paperwork fees. And so much more.

But, it will be worth it! We will add to our family, which the Raitz kids are totally EXCITED about it! And, we will give a loving home with a  great family to a child who desperately needs it. Plus, we already have two kids with PKU! So, she will have a ton of support with her own PKU!

And the cool part so far is… everyone we’ve told so far is totally excited! Our parents, our siblings, our kids, our friends, and circle! We’ve even had people already tell us they will help us raise the money! We’ve had friends who said they will contribute. We’ve had friends ready to help get her room ready! It’s pretty exciting!

We’ve already decided that we are going to try to sell everything we possibly can to help raise as much money as we can. We’re going to be hosting some fundraising events and we will even have a T-Shirt that people can buy.

So, will you consider helping us Bring Winona Mae home? 

Any amount and gift is a HUGE BLESSING!

Here’s what you can to do help us bring Winona Mae home:

  1. You can head HERE to give. This is a Go Fund Me account and will help keep our donations organized!
  2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page.
  3. Share our Go fund Me page on your Facebook page.
  4. Pray. Yes, that should have been number one, but please pray. Pray for the smoothness. Pray for favor with the Chinese government. Pray for God’s favor on raising these funds. Pray for our family.

Ok, I can’t thank you in advance! Thank you for praying! Thank you for giving! Thank you for sharing our Go Fund Me page on your own social media pages!

Let’s bring Winona Mae home!!!!!

Excited to Encourage 2nd Graders to Choose Kindness over Bullying today at Beal City School

It’s been awhile, about a year and a half, but today I’m encouraging 2nd graders to

Choose Kindness over Bullying.

Let me back up. Before I planted Thrive Church, I started a non profit called Live Now Leadership and I spoke in schools to encourage students to Choose Kindness over Bullying. But, with the rapid growth of the church, I just haven’t been able to head out and speak in schools. I’ve missed it.

So, we were at Madie’s parent teacher conference and as we were taking with her teacher it came up that I use to speak to students. She jumped on it quickly and asked if I would speak to all the 2nd graders at Madie’s school.

Helping kids, students and adults treat each other with kindness and respect is actually a HUGE passion of area of mine! My heart breaks when people mis-treat each other.

Just imagine if Parents would be passionate about teaching their kids to treat each other with unprecendeted amounts of kindness and respect. Imagine if parents treated their families and their peers with that kind of kindness. Imagine if 2nd graders understood the importance and began to treat others with kindness…the world would change!

This wasn’t a tough decision at all.

So, this morning I’m headed into Madie’s school and I get to help out. I can’t wait!

And bonus, my kids have heard me speak on this so many times that they’ve been helping get my talk together this morning! I love that!

Thanks for praying for me around 8ish this morning!

A Brothel Closed Down Because of a Church!!! ONLY GOD!!!

Yesterday we visited a former brothel. It was a pretty simple building that was used for horrific acts against women. Satan used to dwell there. Darkness won there. The light was shut out.IMG_0632

Let me back up. We were on a tiny island with 1000 residents. Took about 25 minutes by boat to get there. No running water. Virtually no electricity. Houses bit on stilts because of constant flooding. Garbage all over the place. Half starved dogs running around. Little kids with no shoes, barely any clothes and running through the mud.

We went to visit a Compassion sponsored family and we went to a building that looked like it had a bar in the back. When we asked what used to be there, we were told a brothel. There were 6 tiny rooms on the right side where men would pay for woman and disgustingly enough girls. Like I said, the darkness was winning.


A Church brought the light and hope of Jesus to that island. Remember how important the church is? Because of Jesus…the Church is the Hope of the World! It’s the most transformative and important organization in the world!

And, because of this Church, the brothel closed down! It went away! It failed! Women were freed. The Church brought light to this very dark place. Now, the brothel is used for families. Jesus is winning.

How powerful is that? The light came into the darkness.

And, here’s the powerful story behind this Church. Greg Nettle (the President of Stadia) climbed a mountain to raise the funds to build this church. People sponsored him by the foot and he was able to raise the $87,000 needed to plant this Church and Child Development Center.


Talk about selflessness! Talk about Kingdom vision! Talk about a passion for Every Child to Have a Church!

His story and his daughter’s, which I’ll post about next have really got me thinking about how much I can do to help get more churches started in Ecuador!!

This trip has been life changing. My heart has been wrecked. My heart has been opened. I’m ready to do more.

 *I wanted to attach pictures, but the wifi is giving me some problems. 



Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

I just don’t words. I keep tearing up thinking about the deepest level poverty I’ve experienced in my life and I keep asking myself how do people live there. I keep asking God why I was born where I was and why they were born where they were.

I can’t get the kids faces out of my head. Their beautiful little faces. We arrived by boat to the island of Limones and, what seemed like, every child from the island line the dock and cheered for us. Why did they do that? We should have been cheering for them.

I just keep thinking about how many kids die a day because of poverty. In case you’re wondering, that’s 19,000.

And, here’s what I’m so ticked about…they don’t have to die. They can be saved from poverty.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart….

Watching Bekah walk hand in hand with these beautiful and precious little girls just wrecked my heart. Watching them play with her hair and just truly marvel at her face just wrecks my heart.IMG_0640

Watching Bekah try to process the fact that children live in places that make your stomach turn and your heart sad is something else.

Watching Bekah hug these precious little kids is almost too much for this dad.

I just keep praying that God would put a holy discontent on Bekah’s heart to do something to help the world’s poor.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

I just keep praying for forgiveness for the all the precious resources I ‘ve wasted. I am mad that my family hasn’t sponsored more children. I mean its $38 dollars a month! I’m sad when I think about all the money I’ve wasted on silly things that could have been used to literally save a child’s life and release them from poverty.

I just keeping thanking God that my Zach and Madie weren’t born in some of these places. They may have not made it because of their PKU. I stood in a home yesterday that was no bigger than a large houses closet and the kitchen the size of a washer cardboard box and I kept thinking…how would families care for PKU kids here? I don’t think they could.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

Being around passionate and inspired leaders like Greg Nettle and Wes Stafford has opened the eyes of my heart to how much God can use regular people like me.

Being around amazing church leaders and seeing God move in their hearts and releasing that because of this trip, churches can be planted. When a church is planted, a community is changed. The light is brought into the darkness.

When that church comes to a community, 200 children are sponsored and released from poverty. A Child development center pours into those children and their families. And 30 people in that child’s life are affected by their sponsorship.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

There is a reason that children and the poor were close to Jesus’ heart. There is a reason that they should be close to my mine as well.

I’m ashamed. I’m saddened. I’m angry. I’m disgusted. All with myself. For years I squandered time. I wasted resources. I didn’t care about the poor or children. I’ve could have done so much more.

Maybe Ecuador hasn’t wrecked my heart. Maybe it’s Jesus. Maybe He’s the one who’s doing the wrecking.

I have seen him so many times on this trip. I have seen him in the eyes of our translators as they hug and kiss the families of sponsored children. I have seen in him in the flesh in the pastors of the amazing churches that have been planted here. I have seen him work through the Compassion staff at the Child Development Centers.

Jesus has wrecked my heart.

I am praying somehow, someway He will use me to help others experience what I have experienced in Ecuador.

May God wreck your heart.

Please check out the work of Compassion and Stadia. Please email me ( if you have any questions. Together we can make a huge difference!

Parents…Here’s One way to get your kids more interested in Church

Calling all Moms and Dads. Calling all Step Moms and Dads. Calling all Grandparents. Calling all Aunts and Uncles. Calling all Mentors.

Let me cut right to the point of this post…

I’m often asked how parents can get their kids more interested in church.

So, here’s One extremely simple way to get your kids more interested in Church.

You (as the adult) find a church you’re interested in and then

really be a part!

Simple, right? I have seen this work time and time again. But, here’s the secret, you have to be A PART! Not nominally, not sort of, not kind of, not sometime, not barely, not in a kind of sorta way, not when it fits in your schedule…but really be a part!

And, the best way for this to work is if you do this from the time your kids are born all the way up. Yup, you as the parent just model believing that because of Jesus, the Local Church is the Hope of the World. And because of that, its worth believing in, giving your time and finances and being a raving fan of THE CHURCH and your church.

Here are 10 Ways our Family is Really A Part of our Church…

1. We serve together as a family. Yes, I’m the Pastor and part of my job is to be there on Sunday’s. But, we all head to Church together on Sunday’s. And, our kids each have a serving role.

2. We talk about tithing and giving with our kids. From early on, we’ve talked about it with our kids. Demonstrated it and helped them when they earn.

3. We don’t junk about people in our church. If you want your kids to not like church, then talk about how horrible the people are. Just choose not too.

4. We dream together. We talk all the time how we can make our church better. What we can do to help others.

5. We are all a part of our small group. The Raitz kids look forward to Sunday night and we all refer to it as our small group. Now, the adults stay upstairs and the kids head downstairs. But, it’s our group and we make it a priority to keep Sunday evenings free and clear.

6. We are a part of one church. I know a few families who just visit a couple of churches. I don’t get it. Find a church and plug in.

7. We make sure our kids are a part of the kids and student ministry. Now, I was a youth pastor for 15 years, so student ministry is still very important to me. But, at every phase of kids and student ministry, they have been very important to our family.

Sometimes school stuff (sports, grades, band, etc) comes first in some families. That’s just not the way we do it. Yes, school stuff is very important. But, if the local church is hope of the world, why would I not do everything I can to get my kids as plugged in as possible?

8. We make sure our kids are on every retreat and summer camp. I can’t even begin to describe how important this is to our family! My life was drastically changed when God spoke to me on my 8th grade retreat and I’ve lead and spoke at a few hundred retreats over the last 20 years. So, I know first hand how important they are!

9. We pray for our Church. The staff, the leaders, the people and our outreach.

10. We ask for their opinion. As we drive, as we eat, as we walk, as we talk…we’re always asking our kids for their opinion about our church. What they like, don’t like.

Last week I asked my kids what they love about their church and here’s what they said:

Zach…It’s Simple, Fun and Real. I love the music. IMG_2972

Bobby…My friends are there. There’s not many like ours.

Bekah…We’ve been a part of its growth and that’s fun to see. It’s an energetic environment. I get to lead.

Made…We get to have PJ day. We love the people there. I get to help set up.

Ok, we’re not the perfect family. BY FAR! There are Sunday’s that its an all our brawl to get everyone out the door. But, for the most part, we really do love our church…together.

Now, just a little add on. This has been our pattern since our kids were infants. If you’re new to Church, your journey may be a bit different. I would still encourage you to start with this list. Model it for your kids. Ask them to be a part. And just keep asking them to be a part with you.

Some Sunday Night Reflections…

It’s Sunday night. The kids are about in bed…well, they will be soon. Music is playing and the house is calm. An hour ago it was packed with adults and kids from our small group and now everything has settled down.

This is probably the wrong time to write a reflective post because I’m exhausted. I really do feel like I give 110% on Sunday’s and by 9pm I could pass for a walker on the Walking Dead. But, as I sit here and process, I just can’t stop thinking about how incredibly grateful I am.

A few thoughts…

One…God moved this morning at Thrive Church. He moved in peoples hearts. He thrive worshipdrew people closer to Himself. He wrecked some people. It was awesome!

We changed things up a ton this morning. It was very experiential. We included a spoken word piece, a powerful video, a couple different teachers, a dance, a scripture reading, worship and even a powerful hymn. Plus, there was communion and a few stations for people to head to receive prayer or confess sins.

Again, I’m just blown away. I had multiple people message me and tell me that God spoke to them. Multiple people were in tears. Several cried as they hugged me.

It was a powerful morning!

Two…I really love my small group. Our group meets every Sunday night. There are some Sunday’s that I’ve wanted to cancel, I think we did once and in the past we cancelled too often. I’ve found when you meet weekly, your group gels so quick! And, this fall has probably been the best season of small group I’ve ever experienced.

I love the people God’s brought together and its awesome to see friendships developing.

Three…I just feel so humbled to be Tracie’s husband, Bekah-Bob-Zach-Madie’s dad and Thrive’s Pastor. It’s been a tremendously awesome few years for our family. Yes, have there been really rough and hard moments, yes. But, I love how we are for each other. I love that my entire family has been a part of building Thrive. I love that we laugh a lot as a family.

I had a Pastor tell me once that he was jealous that Thrive has grown as fast as it has and how easy it’s been to grow a church. Honestly, I wanted to smack him. It hasn’t been easy at all. It’s been an uphill climb. There have been some incredibly painful moments where I felt like my heart was pierced.

But, there have been so many more extremely incredible moments! We’ve had a tough fall as a Church and in the midst, God is faithful. In the midst, our Church continues to grow. In the midst, people are meeting Jesus and people are becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus.

I am humbled and blessed to be Thrive’s Pastor.

Four…I love retreats and I love that parents sent their kids on a retreat this weekend! Our 4th and 5th graders headed up to SpringHill Camp and I am so pumped! I love retreats and I know first hand the power of what God can do over a weekend retreat and I was so excited that Thrive parents sent their kids. club 45 2015

I think you would love my church…you’re invited to check it out

I don’t know if you have a church home.IMG_4409

I don’t know if you have given up on church.

I don’t know if you believe in God.

I don’t know if you think all Christians are hypocrites.

But, what I do know is this…

I think you would love my Church. Thrive Church. 

So, here is your official invite. You are officially invited to check out my Church, Thrive, this morning at Celebration Cinema. We have two different experience times…9 or 1015. (Oh, we don’t call them services because we want to experience God).

Don’t worry about dressing up. Actually, we’re extremely casual. I’m the pastor and I mainly wear jeans and t-shirts and now hoodies. Just wear what you’re comfortable in.

If you have kids, bring them. You will check into the Thrive Kidz check in stations and they we’ll show you where the kids area is. Your kids will have a blast.

Then, you can grab some Bigby coffee and donuts (if you’re in to those) and then head to theater one. That’s where our experience is and you can find a seat. Get ready, because we have movie theater seats…yes, they’re awesome!

The band will lead us and they’re awesome! It may be a little loud for some, but we have a little loud to ease peoples fears from singing out loud. With it a little loud, no one else can hear you singing, so you can sing at the top of your lungs.

We’ll talk about the Bible and what Jesus has for our lives. It will be fun and very practical and it will be challenging.

All that will happen in about an hour! So, bring someone with you. Show up to Celebration Cinema about 15 minutes before the experience begins. I guarantee you will be greeted with a giant smile and people who really are excited you’re checking out Thrive!

We’ll see you soon!