Friday, May 22, 2015

Hitherto Hath The Lord Helped Us Part I

Why are missionaries leaving their posts in other countries? Which of these reasons are preventable? How can we care for missionaries so that Christ's commission to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel" may be accomplished?  I hope to explore some of these questions in a couple of short blog posts, with great help from the research project conducted by WEC titled "ReMap" meaning 'Reducing Missionary Attrition Project' conducted in 1994 and later in 2003 ReMap II focusing on the U.S. as a sending country.  William David Taylor compiled a book titled "Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition" copyright 1997 by the William Carey Library.  Google books has a lot of this book available to read for free online.  The ReMAP research project accomplished much by not only researching agencies from the Old Sending Countries (i.e. USA, UK, Germany, etc.) but also researching agencies from the New Sending Countries such as Brazil, Korea, Nigeria, and the Philippines, to name a few.  Amongst the New Sending Countries, the number one and two reasons given for leaving the mission field were:

1. Lack of Home Support (the financial and prayer network)
2. Lack of Call (a clear call to missions from God)

This is in contrast to missionaries sent from Old Sending Countries which named these top reasons for attrition:

1. Normal Retirement
2. Children  (e.g. education, adjustment issues, etc.)

[Too Valuable to Lose, pg.92-93]

Though the financial support question for missionaries from the Majority World is an obvious danger, missionaries from the U.S. can struggle, too, with making ends meet and providing the necessary support system to accomplish their work for the Kingdom.  Missionaries may struggle whether to go to the doctor or not for serious health issues because they do not have the money necessary to go.  They may have trouble with finding adequate transportation because of needed car repairs or lack of a car altogether. Others struggle with how to educate their children without the funds necessary to do so.  I see two important solutions to these problems:

1. Despite our perceived lack, we put our hope and trust in God, who will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) A deep abiding trust is needed to keep going in our call to serve.  We can learn much from Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the 19th Century, on this topic of trust.
Clearly, the highest value for Taylor was that of trust in God, who can always be counted on. Ebenezer ("Hitherto hath the Lord helped us") and Jehovah jireh ("The Lord will provide") became his watchwords.
Through his entire ministry, Taylor's trust was tested in regard to financial support. Inspired by George Muller, he decided to avoid debt like the plague, and to make no appeal for funds except to God Himself. He was not averse to describing a need, but he resolutely let God inspire the giving and saw the blessing, with unexpected finances coming when most needed. "Money wrongly placed and money given from wrong motives are both to be greatly dreaded," he said. "Depend upon it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's sup plies." One time he noted, "We have twenty-five cents and all the promises of God."
[Ed Gallagher, article "Hudson Taylor: the man God shaped for China," Ministry Journal, November 2005]  We have seen this over and over again in our years of ministry.  God will never forsake the righteous.  He is always faithful.

2. Every effort must be made by the Church to send missionaries well-equipped and continue to support them in private and corporate prayer, through adequately funding their efforts, and by providing as much missionary care as possible.  We must look beyond ourselves and look to God whose economy is not ours and from Whom all blessings flow, see where He is working, and become a part of obeying Christ's commission to "Go."  As John Piper has so famously spoken, "Go, send, or disobey." May we store up treasures in heaven by supporting the teachers and preachers of the Gospel both here in our home country and abroad to preach the Gospel where Christ has never been named.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Update from Uganda and from Home

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1

People often ask how we do while Ethan is away for periods of time. This trip is sixteen days total, and he has been gone two weeks so far. I always answer that I support him completely in what he is doing in teaching the Gospel to those who need the training the most. It is truly a privilege to serve the King of Kings and to be a missionary. 
My chaperone group at the musical "Peter Pan" Children's Theater, Mpls.

Mother's Day dinner at Culver's Restaurant

Breakfast made by G and a Lego note made by my two youngest

Fun at our friend's horse show

We saw lots of friends at the horse show

Life goes on….G's recital is coming up.
Nevertheless, with the privilege comes the trials and sorrows, too. The hard work of raising children and tending to their needs, including their ever-changing emotions, can be wearing. In addition, we experience the attacks from the Enemy of our souls, who sends His fiery darts relentlessly.

This relentless pursuit from the Enemy involves attacking our physical lives such as illness or in causing our car, oven, and washing machine to break down on the same trip my husband got his documents stolen and was stuck in London for three days; or it involves our emotions and temptations to sin which we daily battle (uffda, yesterday morning was a tough battle in that regard); or battling our wills to keep praying for the work in these other countries and staying close to God in His word; or distracting us from the real work, which is believing in Jesus whom the Father sent and rejoicing that our names are written in heaven; and finally, and most concerning, distracting us from the glory of our great and beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ, who is our Good Shepherd, our Faithful High Priest, the Alpha and the Omega, the Bread of Life, the Living Water sent from Heaven, the Redeemer, the Great I Am, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Resurrection and the Life, the Door, the Vine, the Servant, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Judge, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. When these attacks come, we turn to Jesus with the Shield of Faith God has given us to extinguish these fiery darts coming at us from all directions. We are confident because God's word tells us:
Psalm 17:8-9
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me.
Psalm  118:5-7, 14,
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me…The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Photo taken near the campus in Uganda
I have spoken to Ethan a few times through the computer, as the University has a good internet connection. Ethan's classes are at the end of a ten-hour day of intense classes for the students, who are often very tired by this point.  This two-week intense period of classes are offered for remote students, including pastors, who must travel periodically to the University in order to study and take classes.  Ethan spends three hours teaching them, and then the last hour and a half of class is spent at the library working on papers and quizzes, as well as studying.  He has taken some time throughout the class for brief breaks so that the students can keep going.  Africa Renewal University sits in a lovely location with beautiful brick buildings overlooking hills and trees.  Ethan spent time last Saturday traveling to see other parts of Uganda including Lake Victoria, a once in a lifetime experience.  He preached Sunday at the campus church, and is currently working through the last week of classes.  We see him again Saturday afternoon.  Hurray!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Elysia's Artwork (A few things, anyway)

Van Gogh's "Starry Night" made with frosting

Baby Afghan crochet

The Art of Gardening?

I made these school dresses for my girls three years ago.

Watermelon cake :)

Ethan asked me to paint the Lindt bar on his pinewood derby car.

PJ had me paint the Milka bar wrapper print on his car.

Colossians 1 map - calligraphy March 2015

Fill My Cup and Let it Overflow With Love - painted in college

Pastor Vijay - painted this month

Vlad, a Romanian orphan - sketched 10 years ago

My Dad - sketched in high school

My Dad - sketched in high school

My youngest - sketched a couple years ago

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Pearly's Photography

Our oldest daughter created a number of photos over the months.  

Walking on the Lake

Notice the UND head warmer? Both Granddads would be proud.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sowing Seeds 2014

I encourage you to watch this video. You will see where our ministry of teaching God's Word has taken Ethan this past year. We praise God for the privilege to work in His Kingdom.