Though no-one can go back
and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now...
and make a brand new end.
This week has been a doozy for us - but instead of rehashing all the details, I'm going to copy and paste the text from a prayer letter we sent yesterday.
August 28, 2011
“And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’ “Luke 5:39 (NASB)One week ago, Sunday night at the English worship and fellowship service we attend, we heard Dave Totman (the youth pastor at Sahel Academy and someone we are thankful to call friend) preach on the parable of the wineskins. We aren’t sure we’ve ever heard someone actually address the last verse of that parable. Dave did that night, challenging us with the idea that in this parable, Jesus addresses the fact that He came to earth to do something new – something that was no longer compatible with the old – sadly and often we resist or dread the new that God is doing because the old is comfortable, or “good enough.”
Talking about the sermon later that night, Tim remarked about how he didn’t like that specific part of the challenge. Richelle had to agree. We don’t tend to gravitate towards or even consider change when things are going well. And that is where we are. We’ve seen God doing some encouraging and amazing things… we are seeing the fruit from long-term projects… and then just a few evenings ago, God clearly showed us that it was time for a change.
Late Wednesday night, we received confirmation that our mission agency, Evangelical Baptist Missions, would be closing. This is painful news. EBM has a rich history, their ministry beginning right here in Niamey, and we consider ourselves so privileged, so blessed, to have been a part of this organization over the past 16 years. We have collaborated with, we have been mentored and greatly encouraged by, so many faithful servants who are a also a part of EBM… Needless to say, we are grieving.
We had been aware for some weeks that this might become a possibility. However, the sudden abruptness of the decision as well as the resulting speed with which we have to make life changing choices has taken us by surprise. According to our understanding, the decision giving us such short notice was outside EBM Board control. Their heart has been to be as helpful as possible in this transition. Please note: As of September 2, EBM’s Indianapolis office will be finally and formally closing its doors, and will no longer offer services to missionaries, their churches or other donors. EBM’s legal representation will then be handling the liquidation of all remaining assets and the proportional distribution of funds to all creditors, including EBM missionaries with account balances.
HOW ARE WE DOING? WHAT ARE WE DOING?
We are overwhelmed, in both good ways and in… well, just plain overwhelming ways!
We never cease to be amazed by our God. The overflowing outpouring of love and the unbelievable offers of help and support from our local missionary and expatriate community can be nothing other than a foretaste of heaven. We are so thankful for how God wraps us in a huge hug, drawing us close through His prompting of others to care and show that love and care in very tangible ways. Rest assured, we are doing well, we are cared for and we are continuing the ministry God has placed us here to do. Additionally, several different mission organizations (and we would be honored to become a part of any one of them) have graciously extended the offer of immediate care for us as we walk through this crisis, making the transition to whatever “new thing” the Lord has for us.
We are grieving. We love our organization, both the leadership (administration, home office staff, board of directors) that has so faithfully served us for nearly 20 years and our colleagues serving with us here in W. Africa who have become family… it feels a bit like the bottom of a bucket fell out, everything has washed away and we are wondering, waiting to see where everyone will finally wash up… It hurts. It isn’t easy.
We are continuing our God-given ministries to the people of Niger:
radio program production;
audio-visual production work;
assisting local church planters;
preaching in local churches;
teaching ladies’ Bible study;
facilitating EBM ministries- the French School, the Evening Bible Institute and Tri-M; and
meeting the special education needs of both expat and Nigerien children at Sahel Academy.
Still praying through, and not knowing yet for sure God’s plans for either the immediate or longer term future, we have made the exceedingly difficult decision of pulling five of our children from the French language school they’ve loved and attended to consolidate our family in one place, particularly cutting transportation and gas costs (at approaching $7/gallon, that is significant.) While excited, our children are grieving that loss, and are nervous about that change – Victoria in particular, who has flipped back and forth between English and French school systems now 4 years in a row.
We are actively seeking the counsel of our commissioning church and senior pastor as well as that of other supporting churches. We are trying to balance their guidance with the reality of our mission’s permission/charter to work in Niger and the immediate needs of the many ministries for which we are responsible. While we’d like to be able to find a solution that is everyone’s first choice, that will not be possible and we need to seek to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. That is hard, and as missionaries totally dependent upon support from others, quite daunting.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Pray! We need wisdom, humility, and Holy Spirit discernment as we are pressed to make huge and important decisions in a very short amount of time.
2. Pray for our children – those who are old enough to grasp the significance of what has happened are worried and wondering what will happen to our family… if and when they will need to say goodbye to people and this life they love… and for the younger ones who don’t really understand, but sense that Daddy and Mama have a lot on their minds and seem distracted and unavailable in these trying days. Pray specifically for those beginning a new school on Wednesday.
3. Pray as we seek to explain this situation to our Nigerien friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord who will not necessarily easily understand this present turn of events.
4. Pray for our EBM colleagues all over the world who are facing this same situation.
5. Plead with the Lord that all legal ramifications will be resolved in a way that honors and glorifies His name.
6. Pray that we will be able to preserve our ministry assets, including the EBM French School and the property housing the radio studio, our business office and two homes presently under construction, including the one where we hope to live within the next few weeks.
7. Pray that as we seek to communicate and research our options, internet and phone lines as well as electricity will work consistently.
8. Pray! At the present, we have very, very limited funds with which to care for our family and continue ministry. Education monies and future travel monies we’d been accumulating for future needs are now unavailable to us, frozen by legal counsel. Our niece Leandra’s support, based primarily on one-time gifts already receipted by EBM, is in the same situation. We have no idea how much of that she will eventually be able to access, or when. By God’s grace, she is still firmly committed to finishing her year of ministry here with us, Lord-willing. Pray for Leandra, as this has been an unexpected and intimidating introduction to missions work.
9. Be confident in our unwavering commitment to the work you’ve sent us to do. Please continue to support us through this time.
10. Communicate: We are seeking to communicate honestly and authentically with you, many of whom have legitimate questions. Please don’t speculate or wonder if you hear something that you find confusing or disturbing. Contact us. We want to hear from you and will answer your questions to the best of our ability. Any encouraging words you can direct our way are also deeply appreciated.
11. STOP IMMEDIATELY sending donations intended for this ministry, our family or the radio studio (i.e. Thru the Bible programming) to EBM. Please hold those funds and we will be in touch within the next few days informing you where they can be sent.
12. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, change our email address to either one (or both) listed at the end of this letter.
13. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING THAT THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE HIGH AND LIFTED UP IN EVERY ASPECT OF SUCH A TIME AS THIS!
this week's gratitude list:Corrie Ten Boom once said:"When a train goes through a tunnel
and it gets dark,
you don't throw away the ticket and jump off.
You sit still and trust the engineer."Right now, that is exactly what we are…
exactly what we are striving to do: sit still and trust
as God reveals exactly what new direction He wants us to move.Sitting and trusting… still… all because of Jesus,
Brendan, Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright
(#'s 1491 - 1522)
seeing opportunity starting anew from today
anticipation - and the confident expectation that God is doing something amazing
friends who make the time to pray with us
our supporting churches and supporters
someone handing over a box of tissues to wipe those tears
having some of the hard decisions already made
malaria treatment working well
spotlessly cleaned kitchen
grace to trust, grace to sit and rest in the stillness
counsel from those who love us, even when it seems to muddy the waters
our wonderful home and sending church... and the godly man we are priviledged to look up to as our senior pastor
notes of encouragement
watching our team pull and pray together
this incredibly generous, loving and serving community
the practicality of God's Word to situations I'd never dreamed of
the quietness of late night and early morning hours to work on critical correspondence
napping babies, especially when they've been so grumpy of late
long blonde hair to comb after cool showers on muggy mornings
enough leftover peanut sauce to feed this gang lunch
boys playing Risk
girls watching "The Sound of Music"
two days off school - perfect timing for us in our time of crisis
container arrived - soon doors on the school building
the privilege it is to be a part of something that only God could do... and to realize that by His grace, He may be entrusting us with the responsibility to finish it well
saying goodbye to old dreams... anticipating the dreaming of new ones