As many of you know, I am huge fan of superheroes-particularly Marvel heroes. You might not know that I also love Sci-Fi, especially well-written novels. These days, I often find myself thinking, "Did I suddenly wake up in the throes of a dystopian science fiction thriller?" To say these are strange days would be putting it quite mildly; I could never have envisioned our current reality.
As I'm sure you could guess, the above picture was taken in England. Even now as I am writing this, my heart is burdened for the people there and the uncertainty they face day to day-especially those who do not have the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Lately, I have found myself praying daily for their burdens-lost jobs, fear of the unknown future, anger, etc. Despite all of the fear and confusion of this year, the call to go to England only continues to grow stronger. God is doing awesome things and He has invited my family to join in the transformation of this small island.
I had mentioned earlier to keep an eye out for a major update. Our original plan was to begin transitioning into full-time on the road support raising, beginning in the Fall by traveling to Texas. We may very well still follow that plan-right now, we are simply waiting to see how this season of social distancing and quarantine concludes. At this point, we do not know when exactly life will "return to normal"; nor do we know how that 'normal' will look. However, we do know that we serve an immeasurably wonderful, loving God who is in control and guiding our path. We trust in Him alone, knowing all other sources will ultimately fail, but He never will.
While this may not have been in our plan, nothing about what is happening is surprising to God. He is not caught off-guard and He is not scrambling to find an answer. Our greatest strength in this season lies not in ourselves, but in our Saviour-a Saviour who loves us beyond measure and desires to see the whole world restored to perfect relationship with him.
Continue to serve and stand faithfully where you are,
Today, I am sitting in the local Chick-Fil-A while Ethne and Grahame take some to play in their indoor playground. As I sit here, I am listening to Steve Shadrach's "The God Ask" and feeling simultaneously encouraged and challenged. The stories he presents are awe-inspiring and examples of the faithfulness and provision of our amazing God.
This has been an entirely unpredictable journey. I had ideas of what I thought it would be like-visions of quickly raising support and leaving for the field. I know God is capable of this and so much more-surely He could help Rachel and I reach full support in a matter of months. He has been beyond faithful during our time of preparation and partnership development-I cannot adequately express how much He has done for us in this period in our life.
The reality of our experience is that we are more than a year into our partnership development and we are almost at 50% support committed-I don't want to underplay that; God has connected us with churches and individuals who share our passion and commitment to see His Gospel spread throughout the island of Great Britain.
It would be very easy (and understandable!) to be discouraged through this process; I have seen quite a lot of rejection when speaking with potential partners. And, if I'm honest, I do find myself discouraged from time to time. However, God has really spoken to me in this new year, offering encouragement and hope in the midst of difficult times. I cannot help but feel like God is laying one idea heavily on the heart of Rachel and I, 'CHANGE'.
As many of you probably know, I do NOT like change; I like the status quo, I like the familiar, I love routine. However, I have felt such unease in doing what is familiar and has been our routine. Rachel and I sought the LORD and there are some big changes on the horizon for us-some shifts in the every day life, as well as long-term. I don't mean to sound cryptic, but stay tuned for some updates about our changing journey.
We ask that you join us in prayer as we prepare for this next phase. For more information, please check out our Bios and Facebook pages. We are so thankful for you in joining us on this fantastic journey!
At the beginning of August, we had the opportunity to share our story with the Global outreach team at Church Project in The Woodlands, Texas. My parents currently live in Conroe, TX, which is about 20 minutes outside of The Woodlands and they had of course scoped out the authentic British cuisine in the area. One evening they took us to a restaurant called "The Chipper" (if you couldn't guess by the name, it is a Fish 'n Chips shop-colloquially called a 'Chippie').
While there, we enjoyed some amazing fish, chips, and sausages. But the real treat of the evening was getting to talk with the owner, a gentleman from Scotland. While talking about our call to serve in Sunderland, he expressed how spiritually dark that northern area is and how desperate the need is for individuals to share the Gospel in daily life. We were both challenged and encouraged-we know the task ahead of us is huge, but our God is bigger and it was so awesome to be able to share that with a fellow 'harvest worker'.
Rachel and I often remind each other that the call which God has placed upon us is far too big for us to accomplish, but that with the support of our community and a unstoppable God, we know that we will see transformation for His kingdom.
Yeah, I know that is a kind of cheesy title...but sometimes I feel kinda cheesy, ya know?
Anyway, today, I started going through The Story of Hope. It has been such a blessing for me to revisit all of these familiar stories and to be able to look at them with a fresh eye and perspective. Perhaps what stood out to me the most in examining the creation was the relational God who formed us from the dust. He was wiling to take the time to shape and form us, to know us. Not only that, He breathed life into us-literally!
How comforting to know that God is not distant, but rather a hands-on, invested God. A God who created us and loves us and cherishes his creation. In sharing this story, I was reminded of the relationship of creator and creation-particularly through the eyes of my children.
While playing with play-doh, Grahame had created a long, thin snake. Ethne was also creating snakes, but realized she did not have enough play-doh to make the snake as long as she wanted-so naturally, she reached over and grabbed the snake Grahame had just finished lovingly sculpting and smashed it into her own mound. As you can imagine, this upset Grahame terribly and he let out a pained cry. That snake that he had made was more than just a piece of play-doh, it was his creation and he loved it. How much more does our Heavenly Father love us and desire the best for us!
God loves the people of England and desires to be reunited with them-that is why we are so eager to get there and share His love with the people there. What an awesome God we serve!
Dipping a corn chip in white queso, a brother recently said, "My goal is that everyone who I interact with knows Jesus a little bit better."
Mission work doesn't start when we land in England. Mission work doesn't begin when we feel ready or comfortable or prepared. Mission work begins today.
Today mission work took on all kinds of forms. Slowing down enough to minister and love and parent our children. Exercising. Late night online coursework. Make dinner for friends. Not remembering to turn the oven on and handling it with grace and poise. Spending time with saints and learning from them and sharing with them. Laundry. Prayer.
I also turned our watermelon into a baby and the kids rocked it to sleep but that doesn't really count.
What did mission work look like for you today? We would love to hear of all the creative and beautiful ways that Lord is orchestrating the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Thoroughbred horses, when facing a threat, put their heads together and kick the impending enemy.
Donkeys, when facing a threat, face out and begin to kick...one another. They bruise and batter any other donkey who stands in their way.
"The enemy is going to want you to see one another as the enemy," a wise, seasoned couple shared with us upon hearing of our calling to mission work. We squirmed with the acknowledgement of the truth we had already seen. "Don't let your spouse become your enemy. Fight the right battle." We could not have known how quickly we would need these truths.
How often on this journey we have fought the wrong fight? In church, in our family, in our marriage and our home, we have seen Satan cause a frenzy and we have responded with heads facing out. Time and again, in self-centered terror, I have fought the wrong enemy. Twice in the last twenty-four hours, have I spent time in repentance for being a donkey instead of the rebirthed thoroughbred The LORD intended me to be.
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
People have asked what they can pray for. Pray for shrewdness. Pray for wisdom that perceives the evil one's tactics quickly. Pray for a childlike trust and an innocent faith in The LORD's everlasting goodness.
Last week, we were appointed as missionaries with The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). It's been a long road with many unexpected struggles, overwhelming tasks, and wonderful friendships. And now, we enter prefield- a season of preparing ourselves spiritually, educationally, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Join us in prayer as we take these next steps of faith.