these should always come before our planning…
2 Kings 3 describes the continuing war between Israel and Moab, as Moab rebels against Ahab’s successors. The Israeli leader, Jehoram, was considered an evil king, but nothing like his father Ahab… or his mother Jezebel. When Moab refuses to pay tribute, Jehoram allies himself with Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. They concoct a scheme, begin to implement their plan which included an arduous march through the wilderness, and en route, discover that sufficient water for both men and beast is just not there.
“But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him?’And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, ‘Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.’”- 2 Kings 3:11
It is at that moment that Jehoshaphat asks: “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?” Jehoram has no answer… he does not know the Lord, although he does not worship Baal the way his parents did. Finally, a servant of the Israeli king answers: “Elisha, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.”
Why do we take off following our own schemes, plans and maps only to find ourselves wandering through a metaphorical wilderness without the necessary sustenance to survive? Why is it that only then do we think to inquire of the Lord, stopping all forward motion and taking the time to call upon Him? And even more importantly, why do you think this happens so often… Why don’t we learn this lesson once and for all?
As we continue to find ourselves in an uncertain, unknown situation regarding the future, we don’t want to make that mistake. We don’t want to be guilty of making our plans and starting off before seeking God’s face and His will for our steps, not only over the next weeks and months as we undoubtedly make many life-impacting decisions, but also His will for the steps of tomorrow… and each next day…
Has lots of questions… including us!
There are some facts of which we are certain. Some of those THINGS WE KNOW include:
- Things will never be the same, and we are content with that fact;
- We are not out of the woods yet;
- We are now serving as missionaries with Faith Baptist Mission (FBM);
- EBM – Niger continues, at least for the near future;
- We still have numerous and incredible, God-given ministry opportunities wide open to us; and
- We have the permission and blessing of our home/sending church to stay (finances permitting) in Niger for 1-3 years before returning to the States to reassess with our pastors and church leadership our future plans.
However, there are also some key THINGS WE AREN’T SURE WE KNOW, things such as:
- Exactly what is our current support level? We’ve received sufficient support for October and November, but that includes many onetime gifts and emergency funds. We still don’t have a realistic or accurate feel for what monthly support giving will look like.
- When we will know more details about the EBM dissolution, or the long-term future of EBM assets world-wide.
- Political stability (knowing there are no guarantees) seems to have returned to this country and we generally feel safe as we live and work in the city.
And, of course, there are also many THINGS WE DON’T KNOW, AT ALL:
- Will we be able to afford the significantly increased health insurance costs on our current support?
- How will our support monies stabilize over the next year?
- Which churches and ministry partners will be able to continue our support through the remainder (1-3 years) of this term?
- How long will the EBM dissolution process will take?
- What will the future look like for current ministries?
- What will become of EBM assets (including the studio, the new office building and our new home) in Niger?
Yes, we have much to keep us awake nights, wondering… each one of these “items” can start us thinking through a whole list of possibilities, outcomes and consequences, especially if we try and carry the weight of all these knowns, maybe knowns and unknowns ourselves.
We are thankful for the One who carries our burdens in such a time as this.
PRAISES AND PETITIONS
- Overwhelming helpfulness and sensitivity by literally EVERYONE! Our home church, FBM, our missionary community in Niamey, our Nigerien friends, our ministry and prayer partners (and the list could continue) have been so generous and willing to help meet our needs through this time.
- Special support gifts, which help to make up for lost support $$ in our EBM account and no salary in the month of September.
- Good health.
- A wonderful house and home, which we are thoroughly enjoying.
- Tim’s very short commute!
- The oldest seven children are all enrolled in school – and everyone has adapted and adjusted well to an academic year we never would have, foreseen.
- Our niece Leandra is here with us, working at Sahel Academy and at the Remar orphanage
- Ministry opportunities abound!
- Studio is going well, but things are a little slow:
i. Hour of the Gospel and Sabon Rai programs are recorded each week;
ii. Through the Bible is airing nightly, Monday – Friday and is fully supported for the next few months; and
iii. A post-dubbing film opportunity later in the year.
- Church at Harobanda, where we are assisting Nigerien church planters:
i. Tim is preaching each month, a series looking at biblical examples of how figures from the Old Testament drew near to God… and how He drew near to them.
ii. Richelle continues doing literacy work with the ladies in the church. Two of the women are beginning readers!
iii. Brendan and Rebekah are both teaching Sunday School classes. Brendan has the upper primary school-aged/teen students while Rebekah works with the very youngest group.
- Evening Bible Institute and Tri-M Modules, taking place in October and November.
- Recent baptism service at the Beniera churches. Tim was honored to participate!
- Another year of the EBM French school is now in session.
- FBM has accepted us as missionaries.
- Most of our supporters have been able to stay on, although some may only be able to do so temporarily.
- Our home church CBC – Midland MI - is facilitating the printing and mailing of this prayer letter. Please email us if you are willing to switch from a paper to electronic format.
- Consistent support;
- Clear vision and direction for future ministry;
- Humility and patience as we wait for God’s direction and His timing;
- Spiritual growth through this difficult time;
- Knowledge necessary to make correct decisions and the gentleness necessary to carry through with those decisions in a way that honors and glorifies God;
- Our friends and former EBM colleagues, many of whom have special needs as well;
- That we remember and do not resist this fact: God is doing something new… and the old may no longer be compatible with this new thing. We don’t want to miss, resist or dread the new that God is doing because we believe the old comfortable, or “good enough.”
Back to the story in 2 Kings 3:
Have you ever noticed that several times in the Bible that a “servant” passes along essential, very key information to others that points them towards God? It was a servant who knew just who to ask- Elisha- if the kings wanted to know God’s will. That’s exactly where we want to be. We want to choose humble service and absolute obedience so we’re in the best place to see and know the will of the Master. In the account of the water turned to wine at the wedding in Cana, don’t forget that the first ones to see and recognize the first public miracle of Jesus were the obedient, unquestioning servants. God’s Word clearly says “...but the servants knew.”
Thankful to be serving our Lord together with you,
Tim, Richelle, Brendan, RebekahJoy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae & Mary Michelle Wright