The Long Haul

By Friday, September 12, 2014 0 0

My favorite! Another guest post from Chris. I hope you enjoy a bit of his perspective on our waiting for the walk sign. -Rose

When Rose and I were first married she had one more year left to finish at the University of Oregon and I had a job up in the Seattle area. That means that we had to live 300 miles away from each other for the first year of our marriage. Not a fun way to spend your first year of married life.

During that time we would see each other every other weekend, as we had done while dating and engaged. Either I would go to Eugene, or Rose would come up to Seattle. If I was driving to Eugene, I would pack a bag for the weekend early in the morning and head off to work. I would work a full day and then leave right after work for my trip down south. With traffic and everything else, I knew I would be in my car for about six hours. I usually left work at 4 pm so I would get to Eugene at around 10 pm.

During that drive the part that felt the longest was once I passed a sign that read “Eugene 27 miles.” That would always sound great when I saw it. I would do the math in my head and estimate how much time I had left in the car before I got to see my wife again. I then would creep past and I would think to myself “certainly I am almost there!” Then, after what seemed like 45 minutes of more driving, another sign would go by.

Eugene 24 miles

WHAT!!!

How can that be? It took so long to go three miles? I should be there by now.

I would perhaps speed up a little and settle in for what I understood to be 20 short minutes left of driving. Then, as the road noise thrummed in the car and boredom settled in again time would seem to slowly creep by. On and on it would go until another sign.

Eugene 17 miles

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! The city is running away from me!

Obviously that wasn’t happening and I always made it safe and sound and happy to be with my wife again. I tell this story because any journey can feel VERY long at times. Sometimes it can be a journey of only 10 miles that can feel like it drags on and on.

Rose and I are at the point where it has started to feel like serving in Spain is running away from us; like I felt like the city of Eugene was running away from me near the end of the long drive. The exception is that we are only just over halfway to what we need in support to leave for Spain. We have been trying to reach churches and individuals for three years now and are currently at 57% support. This is actually pretty average according to ABWE. It just feels so slow. As I call churches and get few responses or I’m told that there isn’t any budget left to take on anyone else, I sometimes wonder if I’m just really bad at my new job. Am I saying the wrong thing? Do I not ask correctly? Is the information I send goofy looking or not professional enough? Do individuals not think we are capable of doing missions work so they don’t want to invest their money in us?

Those are some of the many things that go through our minds these days. For all of those thoughts, I try to focus on the fact that God will provide what we need when He knows it should happen. And he’ll do it despite the things we aren’t doing well. Success or lack thereof is not always an indication of God’s blessing, after all!

It just seems that we passed a sign that says 43% to go and we have been driving for a very long time and have yet to see the next sign. Please pray for Rose and I as we work through this. It is a challenge that we want to grow in and respond well in. It is tempting to want to go back to something with a consistent and bigger paycheck. We know that would be disobedience so we continue, knowing that God is guiding us and that one day we will be writing these posts from the field. Thank you to all who support us and thank you all for praying for us. It is needed and appreciated.

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A Pruning

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

So many people express awe at our faith in God’s call, our willingness to travel the world with our children, to put our faith into action by planting churches in Spain.

These things are at the very bottom of our worry list, but it seems that the very thought of missionary life makes some people uncomfortable.

Not us.

We long to be engaged in the calling He’s given us. We pray regularly for supernatural clarity of mind to grasp Spanish quickly so that we can be effective immediately. We practice sharing the Gospel relationally and putting ourselves out there to meet people. We don’t worry about that statistics and we’ll be grateful to be one flat stone in the mosaic path that leads Spain to Christ.

You know what makes me uncomfortable? Finances. And so where do we find ourselves, nine months after Chris quit his day job to pursue full time ministry? Uncomfortable, financially.

We are terrified and excited to see how He will come through.

The thing is, though Americans don’t talk money with one another, I can guess that most missionaries don’t arrive on the field with a large nest egg in their savings account and lots of disposable income. So this pruning is just reality. He is taking care of us. He has always taken care of us. I may thank God for the food in (or not in) my refrigerator every week for the rest of my life, and it might be frustrating. It’s much easier to just take a loaded refrigerator, a nearby grocery store, or a quick trip for takeout, for granted. But easy isn’t what I am going for. Joy, service and trust in Christ are my goals, and those always begin and end with thankfulness!

So as not to leave you hanging, we have some examples of how God is showing us we can trust Him in this uncertain time.

We have been faithfully praying as part of the prefield prayer initiative (150 prefield missionaries, fully funded, in 9 months). Ever week we’re asked to share with our fellow prefielders how God is answering prayers. I said to Chris one day, “I love to see the awesome things God is doing, but it feels like we never have anything to report.”

Recently we had things to report: large gifts that came in just in time, a 2% increase in support after Family Camp, and after sending an email about our need to our small prayer team, a partner told us that God had already been speaking to her about doubling her support. So she did, and included an extra gift to help us this month as well.

We also have just begun connecting with new churches and new friends and hope the Lord will lead them to join us in reaching Spain with the Gospel.

God is good. All the time.

Answered Prayers: Draw Near

By Monday, March 24, 2014 0 0

Our Pastor is speaking about prayer for the next couple weeks, and I was struck as I listened to the first message, about our example Jesus, how little I really believe in the big things God does because people pray. Today we spent some extra time as a congregation in prayer. Pastor opened the time and then punctuated the quiet with reminders of the needs in our congregation, our community and around the world. As he spoke, I visualized God receiving all our prayers as we agreed with one another. I imagined Him catching them like confetti, reading them, putting them in piles and smiling as the answers are already set in motion.

So today I spent some time recognizing how God has answered our prayers recently. For example, prayer has sustained us on prefield. People have prayed for Chris’s voice to return before a speaking engagement, for sick kids to survive long trips, for partners to join our ministry in the nick of time. Recently the whole ABWE community began praying for 150 prefielders @ 100% in 9 months. And those of us raising support have reported great success stories that could only be God-made. Personally, we have seen God add almost $500 to our monthly support this year! My mother in law told me she had been praying specifically for something to encourage us on prefield. She didn’t limit God to a financial provision. We got a whole bunch of partners in one weekend, plus some notes from our coworkers and a beautiful, though painful, reminder of how God might work through us on the field if we are as faithful as a former youth pastor and his wife.

How has God answered your prayers recently?

This is Real

By Friday, March 14, 2014 0 0

Once upon a time, a kid named Randy rejected Jesus at a fair when a bunch of high school kids offered to answer his questions about God and the Bible. He laughed in their faces.

Later, that kid became a Christian and served Jesus as a youth pastor, influencing my husband Chris. Years later, Chris also served Jesus in youth ministry, which is where he met and influenced me. Together, we committed to serve Jesus wherever He wanted us, including on the mission field. Following the Lord’s lead, we trusted God and quit our regular jobs to prepare to be missionaries in Spain, a place where people laugh in your face when you tell them about Jesus.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. (Colossians 1)

Recently, as we prepared for the field, Randy’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, and Randy continued to trust Jesus. Not only to trust Him, but to rejoice in his salvation, to encourage others to trust Him, and to magnify the Lord.

Tomorrow we go to Randy’s wife’s funeral.

We are sad. So  incredibly sad.  And I am so tired of cancer that takes loved ones away from us, causes suffering and financial problems and fills people with grief and even fear.

But cancer does not diminish God’s sovereignty. Loss does not detract from God’s goodness. Pain and heartache does not indicate God’s love for us has faded.

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see–
(Colossians 1)

When a friend who has influenced us deeply walks through a painful journey with this eternal perspective, I am reminded deep in my soul: the Gospel is real. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and what I do for Him is never in vain.

Every second that I spend with Him, every step I take in the Spirit, is not only not wasted, but multiplied in Heaven.

If our faithfulness to God, especially in hardship, causes only one Spanish person to say, “the Gospel is real,” I rejoice in that hardship.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5)

Prefield Prayer Initiative

By Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1 0

Our family might be the only missionaries you know raising support to get to the field, but our mission agency is currently working with 150 prefielders raising support to be part of church plants all over the world. In March, we launched the Prefield Prayer Initiative: 150 prefielders @ 100% in 9 months, and we’d like to invite you to join us!

It looks like we’ll miss the April 13 deadline for Field Prep Seminar, but the next one is in… 9 months! So we are now praying for and working toward the fall Field Prep.

We joined the initiative last week with more specific prayers for our personal needs, and this weekend, God added FOUR bunches of oranges to our Valencia Orange Tree.

5050-orange-treeWhat a blessing! We added a new church to our partnership team, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Snohomish, and an individual. We give all the glory to God! It is such an encouragement to see that little patch of orange grow.

Will you be part of the initiative? Leave a comment here to let us know that you’ll be praying!