Letter from a TCK

Hi. My name is Emily and my family is a cross-cultural worker family. Worker in the Matthew 9:38 sense of “send out workers into his harvest field.” I realize that my family’s very lifestyle puts all kinds of preconceived notions into different people’s heads, and so with every relationship I have, I am already working against stereotypes in order to try to get you to see the real me.

One of my largest struggles is loneliness, but I try to be strong and not let it show. In my home country, the friends whom I consider my dearest and closest friends consider me as just a casual friend who pops in and out of their lives once a year. If I come across to them as clingy, or when I’ve sent ten texts to their one response, understand that I am just so hopeful that someone from my home country will accept me, receive me, understand me—that I won’t be forgotten. I still want to matter to you. My fears are not related to the safety and danger aspects of my host country, but rather my fears are being forgotten from my loved ones in my home country, as they learn to do life without me and no longer leave room for me in their lives. I know I’m not physically there all the time, but I still need to be considered part of your lives. I need to still belong.

All that to say, I still consider my host country to be one of my homes, and I feel at home there a lot of the time, despite the cultural and language barriers. I get out and talk with people and make friends and live life, and I love my life. But in the same way that I have to struggle against stereotypes and preconceived notions in my home country, I have the same struggle in my host country with suspicion and misunderstanding and culture stress thrown in. But this is the life I have and the life I know, and I am trying to adapt, to blend in, to make myself fit in to this new culture.

And I do fit in. My home country corners get rubbed off of my square shape the more I live in my host country, and I lose some of my square shape. Yet I really don’t know that I will ever take on the circle shape of my host country. So I live, sometimes blindly even, in my state of a roundish square or a lumpy circle.  You may notice this shape changing more than I do. For when I come into my home country and greet you with hugs and kisses and want to hold your hand or hold onto your arm, I forget that you may not be comfortable with that closeness. That’s simply how we show friendship in my host country. So I have to remind myself to take a step back and shake your hand and be content to just walk or sit beside you.

As I speak with you, I’m not trying to be awkward on purpose. I don’t throw in random foreign words into our conversation to make you feel like an outsider. And I don’t forget my first language to be cute or eccentric. I have two languages running inside my head every day, and sometimes the wrong language comes out at the wrong time. And sometimes the only word that comes to mind is my other language. I have words in one language that don’t even translate into the other language. My mind is constantly navigating which words to use in which contexts. If I take a little longer to greet you or to respond to you, I’m just trying to figure out the right language and customs to use. I’ll get there as quickly as I can.

When it comes time to say goodbye to you, I can’t predict how I’m going to handle it. I may stare blankly into nothingness, too numb to feel. My tears may stream out of my eyes from deep within my core, and I may lose the control to pull myself back together. Goodbyes are so hard, and they never get any easier.  I feel the loss of each goodbye intensely. I’ve heard it said that children in my situation experience more loss by the age of twenty than a mono-culture person does in a lifetime. Thank you for being patient with me as I process yet another goodbye, another loss.

I hope this helps you understand me better. Please reach out to me. Please let me fill a place in your life. Notice me. Accept me. I want you in my life more than you know.

#Lent14: Dinner With Jesus — Neal Locke

As we have done in previous Lent and Advent seasons, we are again blogging our way through the Lenten Lectionary Texts.  In this season, our prayer is that we will bless and inspire you in your walk between the Now and Not-Yet of the Kingdom.  We pray that our meditations will be life-giving to you in your journey.

In this week’s #Lent14 posts, we are departing from the Lectionary and are turning instead to events during the life of Jesus that involved Dinner Parties.  As we travel in Central Asia, one of the things that we are continually struck by is the amount of life that happens around the dinner table.  In fact, in one Central Asian nation, we were told, “If I invite you for tea, we’re friends.  Yet, when I invite you for food, we become family.”  This week we are joined by four dear friends and pastors to our ministry who have agreed to offer a meditation for us.

We are honored to once again have Rev. Neal Locke guest blogging for us. Neal and I met 15 years ago as students at Oral Roberts University. I am thankful that all these years later I can still call him my friend. (And, can say that we both successfully graduated.)

Neal, his wife, Amy, and three children, Grady, Abby, and Jonah live in El Paso, Texas, where Neal is the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Neal Locke

Rev. Neal Locke

A Reading from the Gospel of John

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.

John 2:1-12 (NRSV)

The Word of the Lord.

I have always been a bit envious of Jesus when reading about his first miracle.  The first time I attempted to convert water into a fermented beverage, it took me an entire day of hard work followed by three long weeks of waiting, checking, fretting, adjusting, more hard work (bottling) before finally ending up with a batch of homebrewed beer.  It was reasonably decent, but certainly nothing to summon the bridegroom about.  My first batch was five gallons.  Jesus made about 150.  His work took a matter of minutes. Mine took almost a month.  Even after five years of homebrewing, I am only just beginning to have the understanding and control over the brewing process required to “get it right” every time.  Jesus got it right on his first (and possibly only) attempt.  So forget walking on water or raising the dead–the very first miracle of Jesus is the one that impresses me the most.

But I think there is another miracle at work just under the surface of this story–one that shows up in my own brewing experiences, too:  It’s the miracle of community.  You see, whenever I brew, I typically invite over some friends. Ostensibly, this is because more hands makes the work easier.  But the truth is, I could do it all myself–it’s just more fun with friends and it’s a good excuse to get together.  Brewing involves periods of intense activity (measuring, grinding, mixing, lifting, pouring, cleaning) and a lot of watching and waiting in between.  Those in between times are great for kicking back and talking, catching up on each others’ lives, debating the finer points of NFL quarterback stats, or even going philosophical on the greater questions of life, death, and raising children.  Meanwhile, the brewing goes on, and serves as the larger end we are all working toward–a product that, when finished, we can all enjoy and be proud of.

There is a science to brewing beer, and I’m sure there are plenty of chemists and physicists who can explain the process in the minutest detail.  I’m not one of them.  To me, it’s all pretty miraculous that I simply throw together the right ingredients, follow some time-honored steps that brewers have used for thousands of years, and fermentation happens!  Even those who can explain what happens did not themselves generate the laws of physics and chemistry, so I like to think that God is ultimately part of the brewing process…and it is therefore miraculous (even when it isn’t instantaneous).  The same can be said of the community that brews alongside the beer:  You throw a bunch of people with different personalities, opinions and life circumstances together in my garage for a purpose almost completely unrelated to any of them, and community happens!  I’m sure a psychologist could explain what’s going on and why this works, but even so, it is miraculous.

Given the connections, then, between the miracle of fermentation and miracle of community, I think there are some things we can observe and learn from Jesus in this passage:

1. Be intentional.   Miracles are not spontaneous.  Jesus is reluctant (here and elsewhere in the gospels) to perform a miracle, and would have likely been just as happy to just go on his way without one.  But his mother is insistent, and knows that without Jesus’ intervention, things won’t come together.  Likewise, good beer (or any beverage for that matter) doesn’t appear in my refrigerator just because I like to drink it.  I have to be intentional about either making it or taking the time to find it somewhere else.  Good community is the same way:  it doesn’t “just happen.”  We have to make space for it, cultivate it, and seek it out.  In other words, we have to be intentional about it.

2. Use what you’ve got.   Homebrewers are notorious for re-purposing common household items in order to avoid buying expensive equipment.  Jesus looks around for something to make wine in, sees some large stone jars (which are essentially 1st century Jewish bathtubs!) and says to himself, “Yeah, that’ll do.”  The wine has run out, but there’s plenty of water:  “Yeah, that’ll do.”  While we have to be intentional about community, we don’t have to make it elaborate or overly complicated.  Community forms best around simple things:  food, drink, kitchens, garages, books, games, nature, and even inflatable leather balls.

3. Follow the process.  Since we’re already in the realm of miracles, I’ve always wondered why Jesus didn’t just blink his eyes and have the wine instantly appear in people’s cups.  Why go through the whole ritual of having the servants fill the jars? Why use water? Why summon the steward to taste it when he already knew it was perfect?  None of these things were, strictly speaking, necessary.  But by creating a process, Jesus involved others in the miracle.  He also gave us some things to think about:  There is some pretty deep symbolism and foreshadowing in transforming water (think baptism) into wine (think crucifixion).  Likewise, I could just go to the store to buy beer, but in adopting a process I involve other people. I learn more about what I’m brewing/drinking, and develop more appreciation for the final result.  Community, too, works best when we follow a process:  That’s why our rites and rituals (like worship, communion, baptisms, weddings, funerals, and pot-luck luncheons) are so important.  They involve us with other people, and give us opportunity to contemplate the symbols that draw us deeper in thought and faith.

4. Trust in God for the rest.  In brewing, I am intentional about the process. I use the best ingredients and equipment I’ve got on hand.  But ultimately, I rely on God (the author of chemistry and physics) to make the real magic happen.  Mary shows great faith in her son when she tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  She doesn’t ask Jesus if it might be possible for him to help in some way–she knows exactly where human ability ends (“they have no wine”) and where divine ability begins (“do whatever he tells you”).  To put it simply, there are things we must do ourselves (see 1-3) and there are things we must place in God’s hands.  Knowing the difference between the two is important. Community ultimately is a heavenly gift.  So no matter how intentional we are about it, no matter what resources or process we use to facilitate it, when the magic happens we give thanks to God.

Giving Thanks

Give thanks to The Lord, for He is good.

His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.

His love endures forever.

— Psalm 136:1-2 (NIV)

The cantor sings out.

The people respond.

Thanksgiving in their hearts.

Praise on their lips.

And, so, on this day we do the same.

We give thanks for so many things.

God who called us.

The people who send us.

The ones who pray to keep us.

The friends we've met along the way.

As we sit down around the table today with family, we do so in humble gratitude for the journey.

We do so remembering family who are gathered at other tables today.

We do so remembering those of our family and friends with whom we won't dine until the Kingdom is fully come.

We do so remembering friends, who this year became family to us, in Central Asia and Thailand and Colorado Springs.

We do so remembering those who have given financially to support our work.

We do so remembering those whose prayers have sustained us and kept us and guarded us and protected us and encouraged us.

We do so remembering those who have served as Pastors to us–gently shepherding us through the tough times and celebrating with us in the good times.

As you sit at your respective tables today, know that we are thankful for you. And, together may we all proclaim the words of the Psalmist:

Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy house of worship,

Praise Him under open skies;

Praise Him for His acts of power,

Praise Him for his magnificent greatness,

Praise with a blast on the trumpet,

Praise by strumming soft strings;

Praise Him with castanets and dance,

Praise Him with banjo and flute;

Praise Him with cymbals and a big bass drum,

Praise Him with fiddles and mandolin.

Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD!

Hallelujah!

— Psalm 150 (The Message)

 

 

Advent’s Coming

My favorite time of the year is a (way-too) brief four week period called Advent.  This is the traditional beginning of the church calendar.  It’s the space where we sit in eager anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.  We place ourselves into the story as Zechariah, Elizabeth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Joseph, and Mary.  We rest in the thought that our hope–joyful and confident expectation in the goodness of God–is soon to be reality.

We want to take this opportunity to point you to a couple of ideas to help make this season of Advent a time for your family to walk out that eager expectation.  Ways that you can WALK and not RUN between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It is important for us to take this space.  It is critical that we learn to live in the in-between place.  That place where we know that there is a promise, yet that promise remains unfulfilled.

I would urge us all to take the space this year.  Take the pause and deep breath that Advent affords.  I would urge us to breath in deeply the wonder that is this season of Advent.

First, for those of you who aren’t from a tradition that follows the seasons of the Church, here are a couple of links that provide some background understanding into the season of Advent.

The Season of Advent from Christian Resource Institute (Great related pages with devotionals, Scripture readings, homilies, and liturgies)

Advent resources from the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church (Great source with liturgies, readings, meditations, prayers)

Here are a couple of ideas for you to celebrate the season of Advent in your own home.  These are things that we have done as a family.

Make an Advent Calendar.

This can be as simple as making a calendar in Numbers or Excel and counting down the days of Advent to Christmas.  It can be more complex like making an Advent Chain (Here’s one that gives you a Scripture lesson to read as a family each day.)

Read the Jesus Storybook Bible as an Advent Devotional

I’m going to link you out to another blogsite for information on this one.  I came across this idea the other day.  It’s something we’re going to do as a family this year.

If you’re not familiar with Jesus Storybook Bible, then you’re missing out.  This is hands-down the best Children’s Bible on the market.  Sally Lloyd-Jones does a remarkable job of taking the major stories of the Scriptures and illustrating how Jesus is seen in that story.  The graphics (done by Jago) are some of the most interesting and beautiful artwork I’ve seen.  This book is a favorite in our house (and the houses of everyone we know who has a copy).  You can read more about it (and order it) by following the link at the bottom of this post.

Light the Advent Candles as a family

We started doing this a couple of years ago, and it remains a favorite of our family.  We light the candles at dinner time on the Sunday of each Advent week.  We use one of the readings on the GBOD Advent page (the link is the second link in the introduction of this post), a reading from the Book of Common Prayer, some other resource (online or in hard copy), or I will use a variety of resources to create one of our own.  We will burn the candle(s) throughout the week, and add the next candle each Sunday.  On Christmas Eve, we light the Christ-Candle and wait in expectation for the Messiah to come.

Follow this blog

As we have done throughout Advent (and Lent) for the past couple of years, we will again be blogging our way through the Advent Lectionary readings.  This series takes us through the season of Advent with a series of devotional thoughts based on the Lectionary readings for each of the four Sundays in Advent.  As we have done in the past, we will again be inviting guests to contribute their perspectives during this series as well.

We have had people tell us that they have used these posts as family devotionals.  If you’d like to receive these posts in your email each morning then you can sign-up for that by entering your email address in the box on the right-hand side of this page (labeled: Sign up for New Post Emails).

If you’d like to see what we had to say in the past, then here are the entries from 2011 and 2012.

 

718789: The Jesus Storybook Bible, Deluxe Edition with CDs The Jesus Storybook Bible, Deluxe Edition with CDsBy Sally Lloyd-Jones / ZonderKidzIntroduce your children to the story behind all the accounts in the Bible! From Noah to Moses to King David, every chapter points to Jesus. This deluxe slipcased edition of the award-winning book features gilded page edges, a ribbon marker, and the unabridged companion audiobook on two CDs. 352 pages, beautifully illustrated hardcover from Zonderkidz.

 

 

Lent 2013: Keep Track

As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them-and with you–in this season of reflection.

A reading from Paul's epistle to the church at Philippi.

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

— Philippians 3:17-21 (MSG)

Paul, writing to the church he helped plant at Philippi, has come to an important point in his life. He has come to the understanding that living as a citizen of “high heaven” isn't an easy thing to do. It is going to require sacrifice.

He offers an admonition to the church. He says to “keep track of those you see running this same course.” In other words, you aren't in this fight alone, nor do you have to be.

We're spending this week in conversations about the majority religion in Central Asia. The person leading our conversations is a believer who was the first in their family to make a decision to follow İsa. As they told their story, they made this comment: “When I came to decide to follow, I thought I was the only person in my country who had made this decision.” (Today in that nation only 2.75% of the population are Jesus Followers. Then it was only a few tenths of a percent.) They continued, “I was so happy to learn that I wasn't the only one.”

Following Jesus is hard. So, Paul admonishes us to find others who are following and join them in the journey.

In other words, community.

Or, family.

Or, Kingdom.

Yesterday morning, we heard a report of a person (in the area we are now in) who made a decision over the weekend to become a follower of İsa. Not a decision made lightly. It took many months of conversations–discipling. Yet, after hours of hearing the Gospel, they committed to follow. They laid down their nets, left the fish, left the boats, and followed.

And, here, Paul would say to them, partner with others who follow. And, Paul, would tell us the same thing.

For us, these partners are you who read this blog, those who pray daily for us, and those who give to send us to come to the nations.

It is the team of people who we have working with us here, and the team we'll join in another location at the end of April.

It is you who email, Skype, Facebook, and tweet us encouragement.

It is the individuals who have guest written for us this week, and who will guest write for us in coming weeks–these individuals who we have asked to Pastor (Shepherd) us.

It is those who when Stephanie and I were children poured into us the stories of God's work in the world.

It is MJP and the board of Get The Word Out! who cover us as we go.

So, to each of you, we say thank you. We couldn't do it without you. We wouldn't do it without you.

And, with Paul, we admonish you. Connect. Be community. Be family. Be the Kingdom. Don't do it alone.

Skyping with folks back home.

Skyping with folks back home.

 

Zechariah: 3. Kingdom Family

As Advent–the journey to Christmas, and ultimately Easter–began, I began a journey of my own. For sometime, I felt that God was leading me to concentrate my reading and study on the Gospel narrative. To go back to the basics of what Jesus said and did. Strip out the third party, and just stay on the story of Jesus.

Today's reading brought me to the story of Gabriel appearing to Zechariah and foretelling the birth of John. I've read this story many times and have even written about it previously on this blog, but a couple of new things stood out to me in today's reading. The day before yesterday, we looked at the prayer–and subsequent answer–of Zechariah. Yesterday, we turned our attention to the angel's command regarding John. Today, in our final post in this short series, we will look at the message of John.

Our text is from the Luke 1:5-25 (NIV) (emphases mine):

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of The Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Then an angel of The Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him:

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He wil be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of The Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to The Lord their God. And he will go on before The Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

 

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Fatherhood.

The statistics on orphans are staggering. UNICEF statistics from 2009 tells us that 153 million children have lost at least one parent, and of these, 17.8 million have lost both parents. 119 million have lost their father.

In other words, 136 million children in the world today have no father.

To be perfectly honest, I have no way of wrapping my mind around this number. Yet, to add to this heartache, there are millions of other children in the world today whose father's are still alive, but are absent from their lives.

Fatherhood.

We have several friends who are in the process of adoption right now. Each of their stories are unique, but share the common thread of being a living image of what God has done for each of us.

One family, who lives internationally, is adopting a child from neither America nor the country in which they live.

Another, adopting a child from their own state.

We also have friends who work internationally with orphans. Yet, in addition to being parent-less these orphans also have disabilities of various types.

Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.

The message of the Kingdom is exhibited in these people. Set the orphans in families.

See, here's the deal, we are all orphans. Each of us has been separated from our Father. Father created us to be in relationship–family–with Him. Yet, we elected to turn from that relationship.

But, rescue has come.

And that was John's message. The King was coming. Messiah was near. Father was setting redemption in place.

And, so, as our friends have done in the physical, God is doing in the spiritual. He's calling us back to family. Calling us to join this family Kingdom.

Before I finish, I would be remiss to not offer you an opportunity to assist with these earthly representations of the Kingdom principle of adoption. If you would like to be a part of the adoption journey of our various friends, then please contact us at giving@ledbytheword.com and we will get you in touch with them.

If you would like to assist the ministry mentioned, then please visit our friends at Kimmy's House.

I am thankful that we are family!

Children in Central Asia

Children in Central Asia

 

What’s Been And What’s To Come

It’s been a few weeks since our last update, so we thought we’d take a few minutes to give you a quick look into the past few weeks here at YWAM-Strategic Frontiers.

I had kitchen duty.

Emily had Crazy Hair Day.

Stephanie received flowers from Jesus.

We attended a Baptism Service.

Thanks to our friend, Steve Schram, Caleb and I got to go flying in a Cessna SkyHawk.

And we’ve been learning a new language.

 

In addition to all this fun, we have had some fantastic weeks of teaching on God’s Kingdom, the Fear of the Lord, and what the Bible says about the Body of Christ. We have this week and one more week of lectures and then we head into the nations.

So, now that our Crossroads Discipleship Training School Lecture Phase is about to come to a close, what’s next?

We leave on June 25th for Central Asia. We will be spending two months working with front-line missionaries in a predominatly Muslim nation. Our work will entail serving at local Houses of Prayer, meeting with locals, assisting other missionaries in any way they need, and a variety of other tasks.

If you would like to help us financially on this journey, you can donate to this work by clicking over onto our Partner With Us page, or clicking the “DONATE” button on the right-hand side of this page.  All gifts through Get the Word Out! (our covering ministry) are tax-deductible, and any amount is gratefully appreciated.

Emily’s Prayer

Sunday afternoon, we had a scare with Emily’s eyes.  They had symptoms that resembled the dreaded Pink Eye.  We all went into what has become a standard procedure for moments of pressure.  We prayed.

And prayed.

And prayed.

And asked others to pray.

Throughout Sunday night, Emily struggled to sleep.  She kept waking up with her eyes stuck shut and saying that she just wanted to be able to open her eyes.

We kept praying.

We also had a Get The Word Out “Healing” Word CD playing all night in her room.

And, once again, the morning brought us news of His unfailing love!

Emily woke up with her eyes looking better.  They were still puffy, but the draining was gone.  The redness in the eyeballs was gone.

By late morning, even the puffiness was gone.

Emily's Prayer

Emily's Prayer

As we were having our quiet time yesterday morning, Emily was praying for God to complete the healing process on her.  She wrote a letter to God as her prayer.

Then, during worship time yesterday morning, the kids were asked to go to the front and pray over adults that came to them for prayer.  It was quite special seeing our daughter laying hands on people seven and eight times her age and praying over them.  What a moment!

All made possible, by God’s unfailing love to once again bring healing.

We were asked yesterday what our gut reaction was when troubles come our way.  As Steph and I thought about it and talked about it and remembered the last several storms that we had been through, we said that our reaction was to pray and trust.  We have learned to not hang on to that which we can’t control.  We have learned to immediately turn it over to God and then leave it on the altar.

As I laid in bed and thought about all of this, and prayed through the other “storms” that are hovering around, I went back to the prayer of Jehoshaphat.

O YHWH, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven?  You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.  O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?  They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgement, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.  See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance.  O our God, will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.

— 2 Chronicles 20:6-12 (NIV, emphasis mine)

Family Update in Week 3 of CDTS

Wow!  It’s been a busy three weeks!

Emily and her classmates learning about Kashmir

Emily and her classmates learning about Kashmir

We are doing quite well.  We have been surrounded by the four truths that the Bible tells us about: Who God is, Who I am, Who We (the church) are, and What’s going on in the world around us.  Such depth of truth by which to be surrounded!  And we’re thankful that the kids are learning those truths as well.

Caleb is doing very well in Preschool.  As you saw in the video from last week, he  and his classmates have planted their garden.  Today, he and I are going to go out and pray the Blessing of the Land or a Garden from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals over it.  He loves his teachers, Mr. Nick, Mrs. Rene, and Ms. Rahel.  In addition to learning about gardens, he gets to learn about God and His nature and character, and gets to paint, color, play with trains, and play outside.  It’s a pretty good life.

Emily and her classmates learning about the "Tent of Meeting" (prayer).

Emily and her classmates learning about the "Tent of Meeting" (prayer).

Emily is also doing fantastic in her classes. Each Tuesday, she gets to hear an abbreviated version of the teaching that Stephanie and I are receiving.  This has proven to challenge her own relationship with God.  It has been amazing to watch her as she is coming to the realization that God desires more than anything to be in relationship with us.  On Mondays, someone from the Nations Team (the liaisons between the states and the front-line missionaries in the 10/40 Window) comes in and teaches her class about their particular focus.  This past week, the Kashmiri team came in and taught about Kashmir.  They transformed a part of the room into a typical Kashmiri living room and allowed the kids to dress as Kashmiris.  They had even made a typical Kashmiri rice dish for the kids to try.

Stephanie and I are also doing well.  Our teaching times have been rich.  We are learning a lot about trust–specifically with the house back in Little Rock.  Yet, of all the teaching, game playing, talking, and fellowship we have been a part of, my favorite moments are those when we get to sit one-on-one with other missionaries and ask, “What are you dreaming?”  So beautiful hearing them share the dreams that God has planted within them for the nations.

Please continue to be in prayer with us as we traverse through the coming weeks.  We have nine more weeks of lectures to go through, and then we head overseas for a couple of months.  We expect to find out where we’re headed in the next couple of weeks, and will let you all know where that ends up being.

That should provide you a quick update.  We are grateful for your prayers and support!  May God bless each of you!  And, as always, if you would like to partner with us in this work, then jump over to the Partner With Us tab.

 

Family

Today was our first official day of teaching here at our Crossroads Discipleship Training School at YWAM Strategic Frontiers. What a day it was!

Every Tuesday morning, we will be receiving teaching from two wonderful staff people, Steven and Nancy Schram, who have a heart and ministry for families. Today, they gave us a perspective on family that I had never really thought of before.

When we look at the various types of injustice in the world–abuse, orphans, human trafficking, etc–they all share the same root. That root is a fundamental breakdown in family. It all goes back to family. God created the family structure for a specific reason. Ultimately, if we lose family, we lose every other sphere of influence.

The second thing that struck me in this teaching on family was that regardless of whatever spheres of influence you might have, we all–everyone–has one in common.

Family.

We all are a part of a family. We all have parents–even the orphans. Not all families, however, operate in the way that God intended for them to operate.

Family.

God is a family God. He’s all about the family. So much so, that when Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6 and Luke 11, He taught us to begin by calling God, Father.