Running Wind Sprints in Heaven

By Sunday, September 3, 2017 0 15

As a missionary, one of the biggest areas of sacrifice that I face is leaving family behind. Of course, I don’t mean the immediate family of my wife and kids, but the rest of my family – my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law and my nephew. This is an area that will probably always be difficult in my life as I live in another country and try to follow where God leads.

Not enough is often said, though, of the sacrifice of leaving church family. I grew up in Eastgate Bible Fellowship and spend a lot of time with the people that made it a church. I watched parents raise their children. I saw how various men treated their wives. I watched how people worshiped and struggled with their faith and was able to see how God used them in various ways. I also gained a number of role models.

This brings me to David McBee, our friend, ministry partner and financial adviser, who passed away this week. I knew that David lived with many physical struggles in his life. But I didn’t know because he shared it with me or because he complained about it. I often wonder how I was aware of these things because, truth be told, in his serving Jesus Christ, David didn’t really let on that he had those physical struggles. David taught a Sunday school class every Sunday morning without complaint and was always prepared. He led with humor and humility. He arrived on Sundays ready to hear how other people were and how he could pray for them. I could always expect a warm smile and usually a hug from David each time I saw him.

From David, I learned how to put my discomfort aside and look to other people first. I learned that a little levity can go a long way. I learned that being honest about your failings and limits allows you to praise God’s power all the more. I learned these things watching David simply live his life within our church family.

When we return from Texas in December I will certainly notice David’s absence just as I will notice pastor Brad’s. My spiritual family has lost another one of its brothers here are earth. A sister has lost her husband. I know that she is in good hands with our Father God and with her brothers and sisters in Christ at Eastgate. God has and will continue to work in and through Debbie’s life as he carries her through this loss.

I thank God for the time that I had with David here on earth and I look forward to when we are reunited in Heaven. It will be fun to spend time with the David I never knew here; the one who will probably challenge me to a wind sprint and beat me handily.

Coffee for Spain!

By Monday, August 28, 2017 0 15

We did a little campaign at the beginning of the month to let our partners know we could reach full support quickly. In a matter of minutes, God increased our monthly support by over a percentage when 7 of our partners increased their monthly support by $5 to $10. I couldn’t keep the graphic I created updated as the emails came in. What a blessing! Please keep praying for our monthly support requirements. If every partner increased by $5, we’d reach our goal immediately. Our Outfit & Passage has grown a lot since we came to language school and we will not have much to raise for that when we graduate. We praise the Lord for His provision!

We’ve started second semester of language school. Our classes this semester include Advanced Phonetics: Public Speaking, Advanced Grammar, Advanced Conversation, and Grammar Lab. We are using a new program, VISTAS, which we are really enjoying. It is more modern, relevant, and includes some information about Spain and the Spanish they speak there. There have been some tech difficulties but the resources available to us this semester are worth it. It’s much easier to practice vocab, do homework, and brush up on skills with this technology. We also have Latin American Culture, which is now taught mostly in Spanish and includes info about Spain, Spiritual Life, and chapel two times a week. The Bible College is incorporating more English for the Bible students, many of whom do practical ministry in English speaking places, so we get one message a week in English, which is refreshing.

At church, Chris has led a service and PREACHED A SERMON! Yesterday, he gave his first sermon in Spanish. He wrote a message in English, fed it through Google translator, and worked with two tutors to make it right. Then he read it out loud to them and worked on pronunciation and fluidity. Finally, he read in it church yesterday. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a clear message and Pastor Tito said that he could tell it was a message very personal to us. Chris spoke on obedience from Exodus 4:1-12. For those of you who have met with us to learn about partnering with us in ministry, you know that Exodus 4:12 is an important verse in the story of our calling to missions.

It is a joy to have this first step, baby though it may have been, completed. We feel that God has confirmed for us once again that we are in the right place, doing the right thing, even though it is hard. For Chris, it often feels like he will never learn Spanish well enough. But yesterday bolstered his confidence that it may come yet.

Be Interruptible & Practice Hospitality

By Saturday, July 1, 2017 0 17

Chris and Omar, one of the students who was on campus some of the summer

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

I’ve taken great comfort from these verses, and all of Romans 12, as we’ve sought to serve the Lord from inside the walls at RGBI this summer. One of the ways we’ve been able to use our gifts is by serving some of the students who have chosen to stay on campus for most of their summer vacation. The married students have apartments and kitchens, but two guys were staying in the dorms. The dining hall is closed and they don’t have cars, so they were really stuck on campus. We enjoyed inviting them over to share big dinners and time in our living room, encouraging one another in the Lord, just like it says in Romans 12:13.

At the end of the semester, we spent a weekend serving at a church in Big Wells, a small town outside of Laredo. The church was between pastors and always in need of preaching pastors on the weekends, so we were asked to go. Chris prepared a message about how the Lord doesn’t work on our schedule, but His own, so we should “be interruptible.” A couple times, we’ve been able to practice this by being available to open the pantry (a food dispensary) on the campus, take a student to the bank or the store, or fill in for a pastor.

We’re so thankful for these opportunities to serve this summer and look forward to how God will interrupt our plans while we are on the road in July. May we be interruptible!

See You Later, Pastor Brad

By Saturday, June 3, 2017 0 17

As I fall asleep tonight, I’ll be praying for my friend Lisa. She lost her daddy today. And he was her pastor, so, double whammy. I’ll be praying for Bonnie and Scott and Wendy, his wife and other two children, and their families. I’ll pray for Caius and Ghilly, who lost their papa, their housemate, and their pastor.

If you think of us, pray for our sending church, Eastgate Bible Fellowship. Pray that we would suffer well, that we would be in the grief journey with our dear pastor’s family for the long haul, that we would not grow weary as this is not the only cancer diagnosis our little congregation faces. Pray that we would rejoice, and laugh, and smile. Our friend is free, he is whole. He does not have cancer, arthritis, or Celiac’s Disease anymore. He is no longer tired or weary, or weak. He’s not stubborn about or frustrated by his limitations. He’s not sinful or broken. He’s met face to face the One he preached about. He has no more pain, no more tears. The hope he had on Earth is manifested in Heaven. Wow.

I’m far away, so I’ve been reading all the comments I can about his influence. My favorites are the ones he influenced to ministry. It is really an enormous part of our story that he believed in us and saw us in the ministry in spite of all our many, many shortcomings, which he certainly knew about.

I became a Christian at the same time he became the pastor of our church.

He walked me through a season of anxiety in the most gentle manner, many times at Starbucks late in the evening.

He married us.

He dedicated our children.

He preached one Mother’s Day a sermon that had me blubbering on my (new) boyfriend’s shoulder the worst ugly cry ever, and then later he wisely encouraged me to grieve the loss of my mother even though she is still alive.

He sent me to Mexico on my first mission trip ever, before I even knew the difference between the scripture and the commentary in a study Bible. And he commissioned my family to serve Jesus in Spain.

He counseled us for marriage in 4 weeks time because we had been long distance. Our assessments made him chuckle. He told us, “your differences seem great now. They’re probably why you were attracted to each other. But they’ll cause some problems later if you’re not careful.” And he was right. And when that happened, we saw the licensed marriage counselor he recommended.

He shepherded our church through the very worst things: a young mother’s suicide, one of his best friends losing a son in a tragic accident, a biblical response to the consequences for sin, cancer in the young and old.

He had a vision for our church that helped me find a good place to worship in college.

He battled cancer bravely. He pushed through and preached, and he also was weak and unavailable because he was sick and I learned so much from that.

He always greeted my family so warmly when they came for Easter or special events. He knew their names and made an impression so my grandma who doesn’t walk with the Lord would frequently ask, “how is your minister?”

When I sing “Thank you, Lord” I hear his a capella voice.

He would end (the world’s shortest) business meetings with “all in favor say I’m hungry.”

When Chris preaches about the Pharisees and Saducees, he always says, “they didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were sad, you see,” and it’s because we heard that from the pulpit over and over.

He was a coach before he became a pastor. That’s why we can go from tech jobs to missions.

I’ll leave you with this story. Pastor sat in on our oral doctrinal exam, which went way too long because Chris and I were fumbling around for the right answers and sort of arriving at them haphazardly. Pastor was really our only friendly face. I mean, they were all friendly, but the others were making decisions about us at the end of the exam. The last question, after the eschatology question we think we got right, was “why is Christ beautiful to you?” and I said, “because he became my sin. He knew no sin, and he became my sin so that I could become his righteousness. He traded places with me and didn’t just save me, but made me righteous. That’s amazing.” Pastor asked, “do you know the reference for that?” and I didn’t, at the time. (Lord knows I do now, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and I also know a song about it). So I just blurted out, “Galatians 2:20? No that’s not it but you do preach on that a lot.” And then I admitted I didn’t know the reference.

Bless it. How did we ever get this job?Maybe in their little meeting afterward he said, “in their defense I do mention Galatians 2:20 a lot.”

I will miss him so much. I am so sad he will not get a prayer letter from us from Spain. I am sad for his family. I am sad he was forced to retire and didn’t get to choose it and spend his days golfing and playing with his grandkids. I am mad that this colon cancer has now taken three precious men from me: my grandpa, my step grandpa 10 years later, and now my pastor.

But I am rejoicing because the battle is finally over, and Jesus wins. Again. Like always. My pastor knew that, and it fueled his days.

Language School Update

By Thursday, March 23, 2017 0 17

Wondering how we’re doing in language school? Well, I (Rose) studied Spanish in school for eight years, up to approximately level 6. I spent 6 weeks in Argentina, speaking mainly Spanish, and spoke in Spanish on three different mission trips. I still learn something new every day.

Chris is starting from almost nothing, so he learns a lot every day! More than he can keep in his brain. We have to memorize dialogues that are chock full of new vocabulary and, frankly, it feels like we’re memorizing sounds in “chicken.”

Here’s a sample of our experience.

Hay la familia Duryee.

Son misioneros.

Están en México (en esta foto).

Van a servir a Dios en España.

Here are the Duryees

They are missionaries.

They are in Mexico (in this photo)

They are going to serve God in Spain.

Spanish is easy to learn, they said. You already know so much from high school, they said. So many words are the same, they said.