Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Getting prepared...

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Wow...only 6 weeks to go until we leave (July 11th). Time is flying by! We continue seeing God's hand at work every step of the way as we press on toward Swaziland Africa. Attention to detail has become all important at this stage: signing up for frequent flyer miles, making copies of passports (2 of the group's passports have not yet returned...please pray!!), finishing up the immunizations, ordering the malaria pills, trusting God to provide the last bit of financial support and getting the shoes and clothes in order that we'll need to bring with us. In answer to prayer we have seen:

  • Every one of the 25 members of our 'team' in attendance at the most recent team building session May 20th (even Bryan and Gerianne from Chicago were there....yeah God!). Please pray that we'll all be together for our final group session June 24th.
  • Someone from the Visiting Nurse Association of Davison come to us and administer the typhoid shots for just the cost of the shot. (Lauren wasn't smiling quite so much afterwards...:-)

  • Our Team Flight plan, rooming list and Daily Work Schedules laid out before us in detail.
  • God identify Project Leaders and grouping them together with their subgroups for travel, music, crafts, fencing, crop harvesting and prayer.
  • God draw us closer to Himself and eachother through the prayer and Bible study time.

In addition to our time spent together as a group preparing, God has been using certain books to prepare our family's hearts for this mission work. Here are some quotes that are hitting home the nearer we get:

  • "I had found what I had been searching for, there was no doubt about it. But this was no game; this was not the happy feel-good contribution I had expected. Who was I to be the hope for these people? I felt completely inadequate. I had sought purpose, but this was so much more. People were dying and they looked to me as their only help. I began to question if I had taken on more than I was prepared for." (from Erik Mirandette's book "The Only Road North")
  • "To engage in mission is to participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God."
  • "One cannot follow Jesus simply by adding allegiance to Him on top of other followers of Christ we have no life apart from the life of God." (both quotes taken from "The Short-term Missions Workbook")
  • "People are worth dying for." (from Rob Bell's book "Sex God"...don't let the title fool you, it's profound!)

God says in His Book that we are to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39) Please keep us in your prayers as we continue letting God prepare us to do just that. God bless.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19

Memorial Day. The 'unofficial kick off' of summer for those of us in Michigan (wahoo!). A festive weekend filled with picnics, Bar-B-Qs, marching bands and flag waving parades. A time of putting the boats in the water and opening up the summer cottage. A time of celebration. But it's more than that isn't it? It's also a time of solemn reflection. A time to pause and remember loved ones who have died. A time to pause and remember people and events from the past that have shaped our lives and our world. A time to pause and remember those who've sacrificed so very much in order that we might have the freedoms and blessings we enjoy today. Sure, I hope we all take some time this weekend to celebrate with friends and family, but I also hope we don't forget to pause, to thank God...and to remember. May God bless you all.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Side by side...

"Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest."
Nehemiah 3:20

When the Jewish remnant that had survived the Babylonian exile returned to Jerusalem, they found the wall of their great city broken down and it's gates burned with fire (Neh. 1:3). Many wept over the devastation they had seen. But God was on the move...he stirred the heart of a man named Nehemiah to do something about it. When Nehemiah got the news, he went to Jerusalem, carefully examined the situation and determined, with God's enabling, to assemble a 'team' that would rebuild the wall. And I love this next verse...when the people heard of Nehemiah's plan they replied: "Let us start rebuilding!'. So they began this good work" (Neh. 1:18)

What's this got to do with us today? Well, just as in Nehemiah's day, God has stirred the hearts of 25 people (our little remnant) to come together to do something about the heartbreaking situation that's been happening in Swaziland. Young, old, skilled & unskilled...from many different backgrounds...we continue preparing 'side by side' for our July trip. We recently spent some time together in a 3 hr team building's a picture of Kathleen and Jim trying to give clues/directions to another teammate:

Sure, we had lots of fun...but we learned a few things along the way. (hope you don't mind me passing 'em along!) We learned the importance of depending on eachother as we attempted to eat with our hands linked together (and not spill a drop...that was a challenge!). We learned that it was necessary to listen carefully, communicate clearly, and faithfully trust the directions of others in order to get a teammate 'to the other side'. We learned how important and powerful the encouragment of another is in accomplishing a task. We learned that when things get's crucial that we lean on and support one another. But probably one of the most important lessons learned was that when we work together 'side by side' much more can be accomplished than we ever could on our own. See, that's called 'synergy': where the combined interaction of a group is greater than the sum of it's individual parts. Pretty cool when you see it in action. But that's the way God intended it to be, right? The Body of Christ at work.

Our prayer continues to be that God would use our little 'remnant' to make a difference in the physical and eternal lives of the Swazi people. Again we thank you for your continued prayers and support as we stand 'next to eachother' in this amazing work. God bless you all.

Prayer requests & praises:

  • God would continue to provide the resources for the trip (praise! our girls received some support from their home church in Grand Rapids...pray that this would lead to an 'open door' to share their experiences and what they saw God do!)
  • That the remainder of the immunizations would go smoothly
  • That God would guide us all in the clothes we are to take (and plan to leave)
  • That future team-building sessions would be fruitful and all would be in attendance (May 20, June 24)
  • That our group Bible study time would draw us closer to the Lord and eachother
  • For God to work a miracle in us and through us...all to His glory and the good of others

P.S. The next NBC25 documentary on our group is scheduled for this coming Friday (May 11th on all morning and evening segments). Please watch...and pray that God uses it to stir even more hearts to action in this work!