Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mother Daughter Tea!

Another family from our church has caught the adoption vision! I had the joy of singing with three of our girlies at a Tea to benefit this precious family. It is so good to see God multiply the families willing to provide these children with a future and a hope eternal. What a privilege it was to witness directly the words in Hebrews 10:24 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." I believe many seeds were planted this afternoon at a very special tea party in honor of Gloria Grace! Only in heaven will we fully see the fruit born on this day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Belgium and Bangkok

Here are the teams commissioned to go to Bangkok in 2010 and Belgium in 2011 to plant churches. What an honor!

Dear Lord, strengthen our teams in your love. Guide us in your wisdom. Even now, reveal a strategy for reaching the people of Belgium and Bangkok. I pray for provision, peace, and courage as we face many decisions and details. By your grace and in Your power may we take hold with both hands this mission with confidence and gratitude.

In Jesus' Strong Name, Amen!

Dear Julie, (my response to a friend)

I can't even tell you how much your prayers mean to us. We cannot do this alone. What is happening here is actually historical within the body of Christ. Through the courage and wise leadership of the godly men at LifePoint, our church is leading out in the taking back of the responsibility of sending missionaries out.

For much too long, a large portion of the sending has been left up to the missionary organizations, hindering the efforts on the field. As Christians, how many times have we checked our little "Great Commission" box as done because we threw twenty dollars in the plate on missions Sunday? How involved are we in answering the call to go into all the world? We, in America can be so self protective and absorbed and we have lost our sense of urgency for the gospel to reach the world.

Team efforts on the mission field have proven to be successful but so many times missionaries are sent out as individual units. They become disenchanted, discouraged and disheartened. Often times, the mission is abandoned. If this model we are participating in proves fruitful, we are believing many more churches from across the country will take heart, follow our model, avoiding our experiential mistakes and send more teams out to reap the harvest. Truly, many churches and mission organizations are watching and waiting on the outcome of this effort. What an incredible story we have been swept up into!

Please pray specifically for God's leading and strategy as we go. We have been so encouraged by his provision and leading this far. We are expecting to come upon great opposition. But we know that greater is HE!

Once we are settled in Belgium, our plan is to open our home to anyone who will come and walk beside; see firsthand the work God is doing, maybe bring a ministry team to catch the vision.

When I say that we cannot do this alone, I mean it literally. God has made that clear. This is a team effort, people just like you and David are part of that team as you hold us up in prayer. Thank you for lending your ears and hearts to our journey.

To the Spreading of His Fame!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here We Go...

On Sunday, we stood before the church and were introduced as members of the Belgium team. I was still so emotional from Abbie's departure that the moment was almost too great for me to bear. How could I possibly take all of it in? Standing there, being introduced as missionaries was as surreal as our wedding, or as crying in the university parking lot, saying our goodbyes to Abbie a day and a half before! This definitely marked a significant milestone in our life.

We are preparing to meet with prospective partners, inviting them to participate in this great adventure. At first, it would seem a daunting task, bordering on humbling to ask for money. But it is clear in the word that this is the way it's done. It is the God-prescribed method for the church to be actively involved in spreading the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Paul had no qualms about it. Nor should we. And so, we are extending a heartfelt invitation for believers in Christ to join us in the evangelizing of Belgium. What a joyous privilege it is to partner with God in this work!

Things are zooming! School is underway. Pray for patience, wisdom, passion, God's peace and a clear vision as we forge ahead through the many distractions. We are planning on listing the house as soon as possible, balancing school, work, and other responsibilities. David is working more than ever, please pray for the pain he suffers daily due to the tendinitis in his arms as he faithfully labors to provide for us and make a way for Belgium.

Abigail is settled and loving school already. I feel I am over the worst of the separation anxiety, but how we all miss her! I talked with her at length last night and by God's grace feel strengthened in our connectedness though we are daily apart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

...And One Has Flown

Last fall, our daughter Abigail and I visited college campuses, prayerfully narrowing down our options. After spending a day at the Union University campus, we knew we had found her school. Being a home schooler, she was graduating a year early, at 17 years of age. We had looked forward to a gap year. She had planned on reading, doing community theater, writing her scholarship essays and studying for her ACT's.

In March of this year, we felt undeniably led to walk towards serving in Belgium. Immediately our plans took a sudden shift. Abigail would need to wrap up her senior year very quickly, apply to UU, seek out scholarships, and study for the ACT's. She would lose her well deserved, strongly desired gap year, forfeit the community theater experience and time reading and resting in preparation for her college career. And we would have to let her fly from the nest a year earlier than we had planned.

In agreement with the direction our family was taking, she applied and was accepted to UU, spent countless hours hunting down scholarships and stared down logic puzzles and geometry equations in preparation for her testing. Please understand, Union was not an affordable option for us, though we felt it was the very best fit for our Abbie. And we believed that God would make a way if was part of His plan. We'd have to trust the Lord. Indeed, it would be an encouraging marker for our family to move ahead with the church plant.

Though it was a stressful few months, we are now on the other side, smiling ear to ear. God has provided in mighty ways. We dropped Abigail off on Friday, situated her in her little dorm room and drove home. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not emotional. NOT EMOTIONAL! So, truly, I did not expect to cry. But when little Ruby, our three year old from China fell apart in the parking lot, I lost it, too.

Since dropping her off I have been a regular boogery, slobbery, sighing, disoriented, brain numbed crying machine... until I talked to her on Sunday. I guess I just needed to hear her sweet voice, sounding at ease, reassuring me that she was fine and excited to embrace this new adventure. We home schooled her for ten years. Ten years. Close does not describe our relationship. Maybe velcro, or super glue. The tearing apart had to be painful. But it was time. It was necessary for the direction our family was taking to move to Belgium.

Let me share with you just how specifically good our Lord is. We leave in 2011, January. Abigail will be finishing up her second year at Union. She will join us in the summer of 2011. Under the covering of Union's intercultural studies program, for the last two years of college, she will be afforded the blessing of studying two semesters in Belgium! She can split them up or go back to back and of course she will be with us in the summers. These are our hopes and prayers, God willing. Union is a missions-minded college. Their theme is continual worship. Missionaries from all over the world send their kids to Union. We chose Union before we knew about Belgium. Or, better... God chose Union to encourage us as we, in faith, take another step on this journey.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

" Too Cool! No Way! How Exciting! "

These are some of the responses we've had as we've shared our decision to move to Belgium. It would be natural to think that the history, the chocolate, and the cobble stone roads have drawn us there. Or maybe the romantic castles and gardens, museums, waffles, or the arts. While those things are going to be unarguably wonderful to have at our fingertips, we are most excited about what God is about to do in and through our lives in the midst of this great adventure.

A strategic country, ripe for the gospel, Brussels, Belgium is home to NATO, the European Union, and is the unofficial capital of Europe. People from all over the world have congregated to this tiny country. Winning souls there increases the potential for the gospel to reach many people groups. Though considered a Catholic country, over 90% of the people consider themselves non-practicing Catholics and rarely attend religious services of any kind. Evangelical Christianity is virtually non-existent in the southern region of Belgium. In the city of Namur, there is only one evangelical church consisting of 25 Congolese refugees in a city with over 200,000 people.

Western Europe is rich in Christian heritage; we have many pioneers to thank for helping to establish our freedom to worship in America. In gratitude for the gospel we've received, our hope is to return this great and priceless gift to the people of Belgium and Western Europe. Please pray for us as we seek God's provision and clarity as we follow Him in obedience.

What a privilege it will be to be posted on the front lines in this historic moment in time when these many peoples are gathered. If we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, are able to lead some to the Living Water, they can in turn satisfy the thirsty in their own lands.

So yes, it is TOO COOL that our hearts remain in unison as we feel nudged in our spirits to continue to walk toward this partnering with God. There is absolutely NO WAY we could in our right minds neglect that nudging and risk regretting not taking courage and saddling up for the ride. HOW EXCITING it will be when the fruit of our labors is gathered around the throne of God to worship the King!

  "... I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands." Revelation 7:9

"Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5