The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Chris Hendrix
1. Learn to laugh at yourself
2. Seek to understand the people you are working with and working towards
3. Seek the good for the community and the city that you are in
4. Invite someone that’s different from you, or not from your culture, over to dinner
5. There is Good News
In this episode of the Hive Five podcast, we are thrilled to be talking with Chris Hendrix, an international church planter with Converge Worldwide, but also a personal friend. Chris, his wife, and his four daughters all moved to Rome, Italy last year in order to work on starting a church for the international community. This community is surprisingly large, but unreached at the same time. Rome is one of the most diverse and international cities in the world, but very few churches for international parties that are moving from country to country. In fact, if you were to put all of the international community in Rome together, it would be about the size of Oklahoma City, yet with no churches serving them. Chris and his family are working actively to solve this problem and reach this unreached people group.
We discuss a lot of things, and even go a little long, but it was really interesting and a different kind of story than we’ve told before. Chris talks about making that leap and how his family came to that point. They have experienced all kinds of struggles in transplanting to a different culture, country, and not even speaking the language. We also get to hear stories from Chris about some of the refugees he’s been able to work with, some particular differences in Italian culture (especially the food and the 4 hour meals), and what people thought when they learned he was moving his family to Rome.
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today. My name is Keegan with Bright V and we also have Katherine Parker, marketing director of bright beyond. Hey guys. Thanks for listening to the podcast. Our guest today has a pretty unique story and experience, so we’re excited to talk to Chris Hendricks at currently and international church planner located in Rome, Italy with converged worldwide. He and his family moved to Rome last year, but before that worked in the oil and gas industry. For over 10 years and he has a really unique story and look forward to hearing from him. Chris, how are you? Great. Kagan, thanks for having me on. We’re really happy to have you. And we want to hear a little bit about what you’re doing. So let’s just dive in here. What are you doing in Rome?
So I am an international church planner. So someone might ask, well, what in the world is an international church planner? Well, let’s, let’s talk about what is a church first church is basically a community of people who are a bit third pursuing after the same vision and mission. Right? So, so how is that different from any other nonprofit organization or business? I’m in the church. We believe that God’s designed each one of us with a purpose in mind and that’s to glorify him and then have a relationship with him. So the church as a community, not, not a building or a place where people meet, but when I talk about church, I mean a people as a community is a group who glorifies God through our love for him, our love for one another. Through our words, our actions and the relationships that we have with one another.
So when I talk about church, that’s what I mean. And so church planners, someone who who goes and starts at these communities basically, uh, the next question would be why international? Well, if you just read the news or maybe even a look around you, where you live, you’ll see that the world has become more globalized, is kind of the fancy term for it. But in other words, people are moving from their home countries to other countries to live or to stay for a couple years or maybe even a couple of months depending on the situation. And in fact, an interesting fact if you were to put everyone outside their home who’s outside their home country into one country, you actually have the fifth largest populated country in the world. So that gives you an idea of just how many people are outside of their home countries. And, uh, and imagine being one of those people that you, your, you walk into this place where you don’t know the language, you don’t know the practices, you don’t even know how to pump gas in your car, right?
So, so you walk into this place and you have no idea where to go, who to meet. Now all, you know as you’re there for your specific purpose that you’ve come therefore and so internationals, those who travel and live abroad in different areas, they desire a community to relate to you. So, so internationally church planning provides that community for internationals who are coming into, to plug into, um, the next question would be why Rome? Right? The Vatican’s there. Um, and despite that though, there aren’t many churches that actually exists for internationals in Rome and Rome’s one of the most diverse and international cities in the world. And yet there are a few churches here in a few communities specifically designed for them. And in fact, Kagan, Catherine, let me put in perspective for you. Uh, if we were to take all of the internationals and Rome and in the surrounding area in Rome and put them into one city, it would be about the size of Oklahoma City. And so now imagine okc with no churches speaking English under understanding and accepting different cultures, joyfully receiving un, so that shows just the need and Rome and I’m Broma such a globalized city from that respect. So that’s why my family are here in Rome.
So it’s interesting. We talked to a lot of business owners and, and about the risks that they’ve taken and also, you know, demographics that they’re trying to reach in the markets that they’re reaching now. Yours is a little bit different, but honestly I don’t feel like it’s, it’s two different. You know, you have a very interesting demographic that you’re reaching to yourselves. But what’s very interesting is that you’re moving to a place where you don’t even speak the language. So you’re reaching people who don’t speak another language. Tell us a little bit about that. I mean, that seems like a daunting task.
Yeah, yeah. It is. So, so fortunately many of the international speak English because of the, the, it’s the language of commerce in a sense, and so people speak language as a second, third, or even a fourth language, right? So as Americans we have a hard time speaking two languages, but uh, these, these internationals are moving around the world. They speak English as a, sometimes a fourth language. So, um, with that, you know, they, they’re able to communicate and they’re under, you’re able to understand. So we do our church in English, I’m of course going from language to language, there are different nuances and different words that tend to not communicate directly. So we have to be very simplistic with our language, very easy and communication. We use a lot of kind of multisensory techniques to communicate what we’re trying to say, what we’re trying to communicate from the Bible as well. So you’re right language does pose a challenge there when it comes to establishing his community.
What are some major differences between the United States in Rome that your family had to cope with and adapt to? I mean, how do you guys work with your kids? To help them adapt because I assume it’s a little bit more challenging for them than you and your wife would you say? So?
Yes. Yes, definitely. Good night. There’s so many differences. I’ll give you a few major hitters that really impacted us upon arrival. Um, first the values are so much different here in Rome than they are in America and that’s very generalized and saying that, but if you were to take the average American and then the average Italian, you’ll see, you would see these differences. Um, in America we value freedom. We’ve had value individualism and capitalism and the free market. So those are some values that, that we pursue after in Rome, in Italy, however, relationships are highly valued. Families, highly valued, simplicity of livings, highly valued. So you have these things that clash and as Americans we come over and we expect to complete our entire task lists. But yet that, that never happens because businesses are run differently, that the government organized differently. How people spend their time is so much different here.
And so those are, those are, that’s one major difference, um, regarding just how we, how we treat our values with each other. And so it’s been a growing experience trying to get of our American mindset and insert into this Italian mindset and likewise for children. So going to school, it’s so different how talings handle conflict as well. And so, um, kids come home and you know, they’re crying and they’re upset because someone said this or if someone said that. So our challenge has been to help them understand that will people handle things differently and that’s not wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just figuring out how to love them, where they’re at and how to meet them where they’re at. So to work out these issues and conflicts as well. Another major difference between the US and between Italy’s food, right? And so, um, you would think Italian food is, uh, is amazing and it is, but it’s high ends are very particular about food and the reason why, because there’s a relational aspect that surrounds this. So let me give you an example of dinner for, for example, last several hours in Italy. So typically you’ll have an appetizer first and then you eat your appetizer, talk, enjoy one another’s company. After the appetizer you will have a pasta dish, continued to talk and enjoy one another’s company. After a pasta dish you’ll have a meat with vegetables, can send you to talk and enjoy each other’s company. After that you’ll have a salad and then after your salad you’ll get into a desert. So that’s a lot of food. Right? But you eat. I’m full.
Yeah, exactly. But for Italians that they value that because of the time they spend, it’s not an hour dinner. I mean the last two to three hours sometimes even for if it’s a holiday like Christmas and so that that time is spent just enjoying one another and spending time around food. So. So they highly value food from that respect because of the relationship that it, it, it bleeds into.
That’s so cool. And so like, just beyond anything, I know as somebody who’s never even left the country, I’m more in like the state of your kids, you know, like business of being that I didn’t even know anything about. So, um, I want to talk about your kids for just a second because you know, you were talking about like how they’re handling the conflict and stuff. Tell me, you know, who is on this journey with you, you and your wife and then how old are your kids?
Yes. So we have four girls, which is completely anomaly here in Italy. So, so the most kids, Italians typically have or two, most of them have won. But uh, so they see us with four kids and you know, they wonder what the freak freak show we walk around the city and everyone’s just looking at. And so, um, but our eldest right now seven. And then the next one is six. And then we have a four year old and a two year old. So they’re, they’re relatively close in age. All have completed for personality. So
that is great. You mentioned to me before the podcast that there some statistics of, you know, missionaries, Church planners not making it in these for,
for a very long time. Yeah. Why, why do you think that is? And then how are you guys overcoming that?
So I, I think the number one reason is, is between teen conflict actually. So missionaries come into a situation like this or, or even those who have jobs and move abroad, come into a situation where they’re, they’re expecting some difficulty with the transition. It, it’s natural, it’s a whole nother language, a whole nother world. So you, you expect that difficulty there so you come in brace for it. But what you don’t come in brace for several time in many cases is that the people that are with you, so in a job, your, your coworkers, right? As missionaries that the team that comes over there, things that, um, people just don’t think about when it comes to how to handle conflict, how to prepare and think about different schedules, whether they’re are singles or families and, and all of these revolving things that I’m bringing people together to accomplish a mission or a goal and you have to, you have to be in it together and so many people fail because they can’t get along with the people they work with in an international setting or the people that you come over with to accomplish your goals.
And so that’s one major area where people fall out the first year and even two years. Of course, the second areas is not adapting to the culture and not being able to meet the people where they’re at and conflicts and relationships not being established with those that, that are surrounding you and your day to day life as well other than your, your team members. So those are some big areas when it comes to relationships that cause people to fall away. Whether you’re an international businessman or refugee or a missionary.
Catherine, does this not sound, just like things that we’ve been hearing and like our startup accelerator and from other people who are, have started businesses that we’ve sought mentorships from it. It’s so funny. All the things are the same.
Oh, exactly. And uh, you talk about the risk. I mean we’re, we’re all taking some sort of risk, but this is very similar to an entrepreneur journey. And Chris, I don’t know if you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not, but it does sound exactly like what our team is going through right now.
I mean, they’ve told us multiple times, you know, the, one of the first things when we started was they said, you know, Kagan just, just know that your team may not be the same in a year. Also teams or sometimes what, what causes you to fail dramatically. And so we’ve been really focusing on our team and making sure that we’re a tight knit group in that we can handle conflict. And you know, we, I say we haven’t had major, major conflict, but I thank the Lord for that because I think it’s how we’ve all been united together. That we can, we can talk, we can be transparent with one another and that is something that most people don’t even want to step into. Transparency is really difficult, especially in the midst of trials.
Yes it is. And when you mix together different personalities, different likes and different strengths as well as weaknesses. Figuring out how to be transparent with one another, but also considering each other that each other’s opinion on the same level as yours. If not, eat better than yours and taking that kind of humble step back and say, okay, I don’t know everything.
Yes, definitely. Yeah, that’s difficult.
And also, you know, not just speaking about the team and the people that you’re working with, but talking also about the level of risk and the conversation that we’ve had to have several times as entrepreneurs is what are we willing to give up to put extra work in Web? What is it that we’re. That we’re willing and able to sacrifice, you know, because it’s not a nine to five job. It’s not Monday through Friday and Chris, you’re in that same boat and so there was a ton of risk in you taking this leap and uprooting your family. And what, what was your risk? I mean, what did you leave behind? Did you leave a comfortable job? Uh, you know, tell us what your risk was when you left.
Yeah. So we had a very, very comfortable life. So we lived in Texas and then moved to Oklahoma. I had a great job in the oil and gas industry and was blessed by that and we had great neighbors got along with all of our neighbors or our family lives in Texas as well, so they weren’t too far away. And so, so life was extremely comfortable for us and so that, that didn’t make it easy by any stretch of the imagination in leaving. But, um, you know, we had a specific vision for our family, his specific calling that um, we were pursuing after. And um, we, we knew that’s what we wanted to drive towards. And so it took a lot of prayer. It took a lot of us keeping our eyes on Christ and his promises and his scripture and knowing that for our family and specifically where we were at was, was comfortable.
It was great, but that was not the end all to be all in, in your right, Catherine. And it was several risk and, and just preparing to go. Right. So the, the conversations with families, with friends and um, and funny. Yes. And the funding for this journey as well. And so I remember the day that we sold our home there in Oklahoma actually, and it was so surreal saying goodbye to her neighbors in the house and several of her close friends including UK Egan and I’m just. No, no, I know, but just, just knowing that we may be back to visit, but that’s not our life anymore. It’s a, it’s a whole nother world. And I know people who, who jump out and who are entrepreneurs and, and take risks in business and maybe you don’t have to move where I. maybe you can stay in your home, your community, but leaving your job or making changes in your lifestyle or sacrificing. I’m comforts to save money, right, for your business. I mean, these are, these are big transitions that, um, you do have to sacrifice and there’s a risk there in um, we could have come over here to Italy where I’m at right now doing this, this podcast and I’m completely failed and um, have, had to return home. And so by God’s grace that, that hasn’t happened and we pray that it doesn’t. But there are a lot of risk in changing, changing your life.
I’m just absolutely fascinated. I mean, I could question now, but to be completely frank, this is very, this is not a conventional lifestyle to most people that are probably going to hear this. I mean, when you said that you were doing this, did people look at you like you were?
Yeah. People wonder what in the world we were. We were thinking
people with the same belief and the, they, they’ve said that they believed the same thing that you do and they’ve said that you were.
Yeah. Oh, it’s a hard pill to swallow. When, when you think about just the logistics in all of it, not to mention the what ifs that can go wrong and whatnot and um, really, you know, what it came down to is our faith and our trust in Christ and knowing that he’s placed that vision in our life and that calling and that’s what we’re doing to pursue after it. And so that, that’s what gave us the strength. That’s what gave us the hope and, and taking those risks and pursuing after that. And so, but it’s, yeah, it has so many expressions of some of the people we’ve talked with and even my, my manager at my job being a, we got along well, great guy, but he was even taken aback by it as well. And so that naturally. So I mean this is not a normal thing like you guys said,
Chris, I know that you have to be careful in what we talk in regards
to the people that you serve. But can you just give us an example or even a, even a story of the people that you are, you’re serving because they’re, their stories are humbling, their stories are inspiring and you have the opportunity to be right there with them.
Yeah. Yes. I would love to. Um, we’ve had many stories and many tears shed many a joy of laughter and celebrations. But there’s one in particular that I’m right now actually, we have a wonderful family staying with us in our home and um, a lady with two kids and they actually had to flee Egypt because of persecution, religious persecution, and they were a part of the Christian church there. And the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a sect of Islam, radical sect in that area basically wanted to, to kill them. And um, so they ended up having to flee. But just hearing about some of the things they went through and the tortures and um, I mean it just rips your heart out to, to think that this, this is taking place. And you may hear about it on the news or from stories from missionaries coming to visit.
Churches are refugees or immigrants coming through, but to actually meet some body and look at them in the eyes and have them tell the pains that they suffered and um, but we’ve been able to rejoice with them as well because they’ve arrived here in Italy and they’ve been able to acquire the legal documentation to stay there. They’re not having to go back into that situation. In fact, this past week they got approved to stay for five years plus a automatic renewal, which means they can stay as long as they need. And so it’s such an excitement to rejoice with them and that especially knowing after the, the hard, hard stuff they’ve gone through physical hard stuff they’ve gone through in. So I’m Sonya was there such a sweet family and to be able to rejoice with them and cry with them as well has been very impactful for us.
And in our kids also course, the kids don’t know that the specific details that this family’s gone through, but they know they’ve gone through something difficult and hard and it pulls them out of their box and helps them to see that there’s a, there’s a world out there that’s not, not very loving and very kind and not very pretty. Um, but yet here’s something that you can do to show love to some body, to show love to your neighbor. Right? So that’s, that’s one of the many stories that we have come across being here in this kind of setting,
what would you recommend to people when they say, I want to take a leap, I want to take a, I want to take a risk, like, like you have what, what are some things that you think of that you would, you would tell them?
I would say just do it. That’s right. That’s right. You know, it’s a, this has been a process of, of actually getting over here, have, um, three to four years, you know, this, this wasn’t something overnight. We decided to do two. We did, right. So, so it took some planning, it took some time, it took some energy, it took talking to people. Most of all, it took us praying and seeking after God for, um, for wisdom through all of this. And so, but there was that initial, okay, let’s do it. I remember having that conversation with my wife, Kristen, and um, one night after getting the kids to bed, you know, we, we got the kids to bed was a rough day. We’re exhausted, but, um, we’re, we’re just trying to figure out what to do with our family and the future. And I was in school at the time and so life was chaotic, but, um, this was something that was presented to us and we, we thought through it, prayed over it, and then we came together and both of us said, you know, what, let’s, let’s do it.
Let’s, let’s pursue after this. And so there was that initial, you know, what we need to pursue after, let’s just make the leap, make the jump. So that’s where, I mean, that’s where it starts, right? Choosing choosing to make that jump and being committed to that. Um, I think that goes a long ways because then when you’re a year or two years, three years into it and you feel like you’ve gotten nowhere, you can look back into that one moment in your life to where you say, you know what, we, we made the choice to pursue an interest and to do it. So let’s press on and continue. I think that plays a huge role in, in morale. If nothing else.
Side note for anybody who has listened to the podcast before or even if you have it, I am just like, I’m sitting here and I’m just absolutely blown away by the people that we interview and their stories. Gagan can you vouch for that?
I just longed to be over there with him right now so that I can experience what he’s experiencing and be able to have those stories as well. And I, I know right now that’s not where the Lord has me, but I will. I want to be over there to be able to see it firsthand and to, to hear and to experience because there’s something, there’s something about it to be able to experience. What, what he’s experiencing right now that is just so amazing and in and so humbling. And so I don’t know if that answers your question, Catherine, but there you. Well,
if, if you, if you can’t find Kagan, it’s do not disturb sign it. We’ll be back. So, Chris, I know we could talk all day, but I want to go ahead and go into your five key takeaways so that you can share your most important lessons learned with everybody who, who’s. Yes.
Yeah. So, so the first key takeaway, learn to laugh at yourself. Okay? So you’re going to make many mistakes and whatever you do, right? So if you decide to move overseas and go internationally, you’re going to screw up the language and you’re not going to pronounce something right. Or if he decided to stay right where you’re at and your town and you make a choice to pursue after business opportunity or go after a new passion or new thought you have, like you’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to mess up and have issues and just learn to laugh at yourself and not take yourself so seriously. And so if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’ll become frustrated, you’ll become bitter towards others, you’ll find it harder to make relationships. And so just a slight or laugh at yourself. So that’s my first key takeaway. There you go.
Ready? Made too many mistakes that I haven’t laughed at myself.
Second key takeaway, seek to understand the people that you’re working with and that you’re working towards. And so we all have a network of people. We all have people around us. Um, you know, cold culture is a funny thing, right? So you can try to classify people as Americans, as Italians, but we all know, you call yourself an American there different parts of the states that you could be from and different things from that location that sets you apart from other people. I mean they, even between Texas and Oklahoma, we lived in both states and their key differences between those states and they border one another, right? So, so just get to know the, the people that you’re with, you know, this is going to require a time. This is going to require seeing people not as a means to an end are there further your revenue or your profit lie or to get what you want, but it’s going to require you to look at people as people like yourself who make mistakes and get messy and get dirty, but I’m seat to seat to learn who they are.
Seek to what makes, what makes them drive, what are their needs, what questions do they ask about life and about the world around them. So, so seek to understand and know those things. I’m a third key takeaway is seek the good for the community in the city that you’re in. You know, you could be in a large city like Rome or it could be in a small town like Yukon, Oklahoma, but, um, seek the good for the community that you’re in, no matter what business you’re pursuing after, no matter what denomination, what church you’re in, or no matter what area of life, maybe you’re a homemaker, a, you know, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. Seek the good for the people around you. Learned the needs of your neighborhood, your street, your community in the city. Pick a specific way to engage those needs on a corporate level.
Maybe you joined something, join a movement going on or on, and also on an individual level, what can you do personally to reach into somebodies life to seek the good for them. So at the end of the day, um, know we should be about people flourishing and growing and making an impact on the community and city as business leaders, as entrepreneurs, as people who take risks. Another key takeaway, the fourth one, invite someone that’s different from you or not from your culture over for dinner. So this is something that we quickly discovered early on while in the states, it’s a good way just to get to know people, hear their story and learn something new about a different culture. Um, realize maybe how strange you are compared to the other people, but invite somebody over that’s from a different part of the states, maybe from a different country or maybe even just from a different town.
Invite them over for dinner. Get to know them and feed them and talk and just just have a conversation with them. That’s a key takeaway that I have found has gone a long ways in helping me. Just to have fun with people, Laugh with people, and get to know people and share the, the joys as well as burdens of, of life also, and especially as entrepreneur, you know, talking about team relationships. Life is full of relationships and it’s easy to forget that, especially in individualistic society because you’re focused on tasks, you’re focused on vision, you’re focused on what has to get done, where you want to be, the goals, but at the end of the day you can’t accomplish anything without relationships. And those relationships are forged and, and start around conversations and around the dinner table. So I would highly, highly encourage that. You know, my last takeaway as an international church planner, um, I can’t, I can’t help but just input this in there.
There is good news. You know, when you look at the world around you, you see the pain. When you look at the news, you see the divisions, the hurt, you see everything that’s wrong in the world. We even look at ourselves and we know our own thoughts and at times how we can be cruel and thank you, ill towards people. Um, you know, the Bible calls all of that stuff. Sin and the sin prevents us from having a relationship with God is perfect and he’s holy and he’s above all of this stuff. In fact, our sin even has consequences and there’s a payment required for our sin as well. And that’s what, that’s what the Bible tells us. And so God however, so loved each one of us, that he actually came to the earth as a person in known as Jesus Christ. And not only did he come to the world to take a human body and experienced the pains and the torturers and of life in what’s going on and on this planet.
But um, he also died to make that payment for sin. And the reason why he did that, to give us that relationship with God. So there is good news when you look around and when he see the pain, maybe when you experience a failure, after you’ve taken a risk, he had high hopes, you set your drains on that and you failed. Know that there’s still good news and that good news is found in having a relationship with Jesus Christ, and this happens by placing your faith in him and making a commitment to say you trust him with your life. You know that he’s forgiven you and you’re choosing to follow after him. For that’s. That is where true hope and true joy comes from. Then you can even make that decision right now as you listened to this podcast by praying and seeking after him and after you do that, find a church nearby and go and tell them about the choice you made.
Chris, we really appreciate it. And the five key takeaways sometimes seem so simple, but I think in our culture it’s extremely hard. It’s extremely hard for us to even understand it. So if someone wants to talk to you more about the five key takeaways, maybe a little bit more about your experience, maybe about what you, what you said, and, and wants to learn more, what are some of the best ways that they can do that?
First, she can reach me by email. Um, I would love to receive an email and then we can set up a call over the internet. And thank God for technology these days. We can see each other face to face. Maybe you don’t want to do that. Maybe you just want to talk in a film again. Thank God for technology. We can talk on the phone for free over the Internet, over data. Um, all of that’s possible too. So every means of communication you have, we have over here in Italy as well. So email me, reach out, you can email me at Chris h at Converge Dot Org and we can start a conversation up.
That’s awesome. And we’ll also have all of that in our show notes as well. We to remind everyone though to make sure and subscribe to the high five podcast and also give us a review. Give us your view on what you thought about Chris. Man, this is a very different podcast than what we’re used to, but it was so great. It’s so good to have people that push us out of our comfort zone and and understand a little bit more about who other people are in different countries and the risks that we all take and how it’s not that different. So Chris, thank you so much. We want to remind everyone again that if you are looking for insurance quotes and at some point you will be, go to bing.com. Click get a quote and you can search for qualified agents of your choice. Again, everyone have a wonderful day and we will talk to you soon. Thanks Chris.
Find Chris Here: https://converge.org/give/208016