07 October 2009

The Recklessness of Faith

"I love the recklessness of faith."

"First you leap,
and then you grow wings."
~William Sloane Coffin

"Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee….
As Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, 'Follow me.' And he arose, and followed him.
…behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, 'My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.'
…for she said within herself, 'If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.' But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, 'Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.'
….two blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, 'Believe ye that I am able to do this?' They said unto him, 'Yea, Lord.' Then touched he their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it unto you.'
…And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, 'The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.'"
Matt 9:2, 9, 18, 21-22, 28-29, 35-38

It is always good to go back and reread familiar passages of Scripture – sometimes the Holy Spirit causes truth to leap right off the page and it is like reading the passage for the very first time. As missionaries, many church services we attend while in the States are focused on the theme of missions and we've heard many fabulous and challenging sermons based on this passage, Matthew 9. So what was so striking in recently rereading this chapter? It was how Jesus responded to every demonstration of even the tiniest seed of faith evidenced by people who, humanly speaking, had to be terribly disheartened by their circumstances… a friend debilitated by the palsy… a hated tax collector… a dead daughter… a chronically ill woman… two blind men… a group of disciples willing to risk much to follow the Shepherd. These words persuade us to continue confidently, clinging tightly to faith that comes from trusting in a God who "will send forth labourers into his harvest."

What's been happening around our house lately? School… homework… field trips… soccer… volleyball… bug collection… leaf collection… learning to read – in English instead of French… building a garage… raking leaves… Our leaves are most definitely changing color now and starting to fall in quantity. This is one of those “home experiences” that we enjoy very much during our time here. We are not sure how vivid the colors will be as we have had a fair amount of rain in the last few weeks. Nonetheless we are thoroughly enjoying our autumn in Michigan, beginning with a fun afternoon at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes (we stopped by after visiting a supporting church in that area of the state. Hope you enjoy these few glimpses of our afternoon/evening there, enjoying the handiwork of our God.

We've been keeping busy! In the last 4 weeks, have had the opportunity to visit with 4 of our supporting churches – three missions conferences included! We've also been able to share in the Elementary Chapel at Calvary Baptist Academy. Tim spends a fair bit of time trying to contact churches and pastors… although he did squeeze in some bow hunting last week and we've now got a shelf full of venison in the freezer! We are trying to catch up with individual prayer and financial supporters, as well as our churches – so if you are passing through the Tri-City area… or we are in your area, let us know. We want to visit with you!

Back in Niger, the thermometer is climbing as the October hot season has arrived, the French School is back in session (we've recently heard that the 2009-1010 academic school year has begun exceptionally well), our colleagues working at Sahel Academy are preparing for the annual softball tournament and the end of the first marking period, the studio is being used for several different post-dubbing projects and God's Word continues to go out over the radio airwaves. Please continue to remember Niger in your prayers as elections approach, and there have been many questions and political concerns in recent months. Just this week, we also saw an interesting headline in the news: "Norway is the best place in the world to live while Niger is the least desirable, according to an annual report by the United Nations.…" The thoughts that cross our minds when we read that are numerous and conflicting. While life in Niger is certainly very different from what we experience here in the US, our family feels so privileged to call Niger our earthly home and place of ministry and we long to return. We are fervently praying for a miracle as we seek to raise the additional funds we need to do so.

In our last prayer letter we shared that we are now at about 68% support. This translates to roughly $2,300 per month that will need to be raised before we can return to Niger. We thought it may be helpful to those who may be considering joining our financial team and meeting a portion of this need to know how these funds are used. Our total Niger ministry budget is $7,060. This includes:
  • housing/salary,
  • income tax (yes, we have to pay it),
  • medical (~ $1,000 per month),
  • airline tickets (for travel to and from the field for furloughs),
  • education funds (Public school is not an option for us in Niger, leaving us with the options of local private schools or home schooling and shipping all of the necessary educational materials overseas with us.),
  • ministry funds (monies that we can actually invest into the ministry in Niger, including the funds to run an audio-visual production studio),communications (prayer letter, email, etc.),
  • and a mission administrative fee of 6.7% (which, by the way, we whole-heartedly believe is a very reasonable amount for all they do for our family).

If you would like to consider a portion of our monthly support and would like to know the exact percentage breakdowns, we would be happy to mail or email you a detailed copy of our complete 2009 Niger Field support need requirements. We sincerely appreciate all of our present support team and the investment they have made in the mission to Niger. $2,300/month seems a huge amount, but we have already seen some encouraging news on achieving this amount. Please pray with us, that we would see God’s provide rapidly for this need. Please pray that we would have wisdom as we present this need to churches and people with whom we come into contact. If you would be interested in joining with us and supporting the ministry of the Niger Radio Project, please don't hesitate to contact us.

One final thought:
"If you think you are too small
to make a difference,
try spending the night
in a closed room
with a mosquito."

~African saying

Thankful to be serving the Savior together with you,
Tim, Richelle, Brendan,
Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria,
Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright

Usually, we just post a link to our prayer letter, so we hope you don't mind us including the whole thing this time. We know many of you pray regularly for our family, so we wanted to share what's up with us!

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