so much has happened during this "stateside furlough." i am just now attempting to journal some of the stories...
our time here has been fruitful in more ways than i can explain. it's been a special season with family - including our daughter brooke’s wedding, our daughter madi’s college graduation, and our son jake’s transition into college. we've also had wonderful extended time with our parents and siblings, which has been pretty impossible over the last 10 years.
i've been able to preach at several of our supporting churches, and kerrie and I have been teaching a class on sanctification at our home church of emmaus jacksonville. it's been such a joy to have the time of encouragement and edification within the body of believers - another thing that's tough to find in the foreign mission field. we’ve also connected with a local soccer ministry to refugees called and are excited about whatever God does with that partnership.
i have also taken advantage of the time stateside to fundraise for the academies, collecting uniforms and equipment, and have gotten back to visit both guatemala and honduras to encourage our missionaries, staff, and Rhinos. thanks to all who have donated gear!
God beginning to reveal what is next
we took a true “sabbatical” for our first several months back in the states to rest and refuel. we had felt that iraq would be our next BVSA location, and we had visited there and made some contacts. but during this initial 3 months back, we felt like God was telling us to be quiet and be with Him – and specifically NOT to pursue anything ministry-wise. the sabbatical was great for several reasons, and I will share more about that at a later date. but at the conclusion of the 3 months, kerrie and i were at a worship gathering at emmaus on a sunday morning...
some missionaries from west africa were visiting, who had been working in the same village to a completely unreached people group for 28 years. living in "the bush", a 13 hour drive from any airport, they had seen 3 people come to Christ over that entire time. at the conclusion of their talk, the husband said something to the tune of:
“oh... we’d also like to ask for prayer on something. lately we’ve been trying to reach the boys and teenagers in the village by playing soccer. if I throw a soccer ball down on my property, they flock to us. we believe this is a great opportunity, but we just can’t take it on because of the work we’re already doing. so we’re praying for someone to come that could lead a soccer ministry and help us reach all of these boys.”
instant goosebumps! kerrie and I looked at each other in disbelief. we were in shock!
skipping ahead to more recently...
since that time, we have been meeting with the couple from west africa now for several months and are convinced that God is sending us to west africa for BVSA #3! when we initially shared this with them, they couldn't believe it. they have been working alone (for the most part) for nearly 3 decades, and were stunned when we shared that we were willing to come. when we still said "yes" after all the warnings of how difficult life in this village is, i think they finally believed us! the wife eventually shared with kerrie that they simply didn't want to get their hopes up.
we are still believing for a BVSA-Iraq, but are trusting that God had His reasons to change the order around. we are scheduled for a visit to west africa in june, and we will begin the process of logistics for a move.
being a 2-family ministry model, we began praying for 2 missionary families to join us. our plan was to meet with all of our supporting churches to see if there were any families feeling called to the foreign mission field. then, we would follow up with an email blast to all of our contacts to share the need as well.
God had other plans! Before we did either of the above, God began doing miracles. in a short time, God brought 2 families into our lives that we did not previously know. almost immediately, they both shared with us that they felt called to join us for the ministry plant in west africa. (More specifics to come!)
oby is a muslim-background believer who was excommunicated from his family when he chose Christ. this is an invaluable perspective in light of where we are headed - to a village that is 100% muslim. monique is fluent in french. in the country where we are headed, french is the national language! oby is also an avid soccer player and certified coach. and most importantly, the two are as passionate about Jesus, and sharing their faith, as any young couple we’ve ever seen! what a miracle!
|monique & oby with me, kerrie, and luci|
prayer requests: monique has a serious medical condition that we are praying for answers and healing. they have some school, medical, and car debt that needs taken care of. we're praying against satan's attacks, as we know he doesn't want this amazing young couple taking their gifts and experiences to an unreached people group.
the husband serves as the community pastor at their church, and also started a youth center in the city where they live, to minister to troubled boys age 10-18. they regularly have boys living with them who are in the worst situations. their experience in this area has uniquely prepared them for BVSA ministry work! they have an 18 month old girl, and are also expecting a baby boy in september.
prayer requests: they currently have a foster child staying with them who will need to be reunited with her mom before they can commit to leave. we're praying for this girl, her mom, and for God's will in that whole situation. praying also for her pregnancy, and all the emotions and nerves that come with taking young children to the mission field. also for the process of raising support, and sharing their decision with family and friends.
needless to say we are in awe of God! his faithfulness is blowing our minds, yet again.
|2 new families with some members of bvsa leadership!|
please be praying with us for both families, as well as our own... as we know that satan is already scheming and trying to disrupt. please pray for strong unity and devotion between our families, and great determination to see the Lord's will be done.
i’ll share more soon- with more location details, names of families, etc. we're being careful for now, for specific reasons.
THANK YOU for your continued support. this "stateside assignment" has been a critical time for us, for so many reasons. most importantly, it has allowed for the Spirit-led pieces coming together for our next academy plant – this one in the 10/40 window to an unreached people group! praise Jesus!!!!