Bringing in the New Year - 2021!
What have we learned?
Looking back on 2020 brings many different memories and challenges to each of us. I am sad for those who lost loved ones, lost jobs, or had their dreams put on hold. It is almost hard to imagine, but the pandemic of 2020 has left almost no people and place untouched throughout the world. Some have ventured to ask, “Where is God in all of this?” Here is what I do know, God is right where he has always been. God showed up in a big way in our lives to remind us that he is still in charge. Our schedules and plans were all turned on their heads. However, God was never shaken. In fact, he has taught us some powerful lessons. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come, and perhaps the chaos of the world’s kingdoms will remind us of this great hope. His word teaches us not to trust in uncertain riches – and 2020 showed us that health, wealth, and all the things of this world can be taken from us so quickly. One powerful lesson we were reminded of is the power and hope found in the gospel. While the world seems to spin out of control, the gospel brings us the peace with God that we all need. In our ministry we saw a real ingathering of people around our churches where people could hear messages of hope found in God. Between our Christmas services and services around the New Year, we saw over 750 people gathered in our churches. More than 20 souls gave their lives to Christ!
Loved the time with our sons!
We are learning to live with the new reality of three sons living in three states. This holiday season it was more than worth it to make the effort to travel to see our young men. As it turned out we were able to see Josh and John for Christmas, and later we made the hop to Hawaii to see Josiah for New Years.
John (left) serves in the Army with the 82nd Airborne. Josh (right) is our cowboy who works on a horse ranch. Josiah (below) serves in the Army as a military police.
What comes next?
Returning to Guyana!
Wendy and I have watched our plans to return to Guyana delayed over and over. There have been airport closures in Guyana, our own experience with the COVID virus, and most recently a canceled flight. As I write to you today, we expect to be in Guyana by January 18th (God-willing)! There is such a range of emotions. Of course, we are excited about the future of our ministry in Guyana among the people we love so dearly. On the other end of the spectrum, we leave for the field without our boys. They are grown and on their own now. Nevertheless, it is hard to leave them behind. Additionally, there are a myriad of details that need to fall into place.
Over the holidays I had the thrill of skydiving with one of my sons. The experience has many spiritual parallels about moving back to the field. On the ground, under our own power, there is a sense of excitement and confidence – we all have our “comfort zone.” Once in the plane, nearing 12,000 feet and the door opening, there is a few moments of, “What have I gotten myself into?” This is stepping out of our natural comfort zone. My “confidence” was quickly restored when I realize that the jump had nothing to do with me. I was attached to an expert that would do all the work. I didn’t need to know all about the jump, I just needed to trust the guy strapped to me that knew what he was doing. Once I took my eyes off myself, and trusted my expert, I could enjoy the experience. When we step out of our comfort zone we get to see and experience things we could never do on our own. We are ready to see God do so much more than we can even think or imagine! What are you doing for God that is taking you out of your comfort zone?
Pray for Wendy and me as we return...
1. Settling in. We still have an unfinished house to complete – no plumbing, electrical, and a few other details. Our first days will be a little like camping out. We need to discover a healthy rhythm of life in our new environment. Finding balance will be important. 2. Bringing encouragement. Our pastors and our people have been through a lot. Before we grow bigger, we need to grow stronger. We need to focus some time and attention on our leaders and their health – physical, emotional, and spiritual. 3. Develop and grow. We anticipate starting on the next phase of our campus development. Over the coming months there will be a lot of growth and development of our facilities. Additionally, we are hoping to establish two new churches – specifically for the Warao people. This specific people we have read are less than 2% evangelized – God is doing big things! 4. Partnership development. We need to broaden and strengthen our partnership base. As we depart for Guyana (Lord willing) in just a few short days. We go with confidence in our Loving Father and the prayers of those who are “holding the ropes.” You are such an important part of what we do – thank you for your faithfulness to the place God has called you.