22 April 2014

Spring 2014 Prayer Letter ~ Answering Key Questions ~

“This will not end in death…”

Studying through the book of John during the weeks before Easter is a great way to prepare hearts and direct thoughts towards what Jesus came to this world to do. Reading through John 11 recently, the following sentences really jumped off the page:

“Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.”
When Jesus heard that, he said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. (John 11.3b-5)

Notice this: Jesus never said death wouldn't be part of the story... He just said that it wouldn't be the end of the story. The ESV version of the Bible translates it this way: “This illness does not lead to death.” He didn’t say it wouldn’t lead through death. How many times do we ask God to take something out of the story He is writing with our lives because we are afraid of following Him through death?

Death integrates into what it means to follow Jesus. If we aren’t willing to walk through that death, our death – whatever it may be or whatever form it may take, we might as well acknowledge that we aren’t willing to follow Jesus.

For though we may ask Him to take away that cup with such a difficult drink to swallow, He does not. Death remains an integral part of the story. Thankfully, He never means for it to be the end!

Jesus walked through death to save.

Will you walk through death to be His follower? 

More about Québec – June, 2015

Many of you have already heard by now – We do not believe that God is not directing our family to return to Niger. We’ve detailed our reasons in an earlier email update – however because of questions we receive and because we have several who receive our paper prayer letter and not our email version, we want to reiterate them here.

Our first and probably primary reason for not returning to Niger at this time is simple: Tim has trained local men and women, already actively ministering in their churches, to do the work he has been doing the past 13 years. We believe that if we continue to lead this ministry- instead of turning it over to local, qualified and excited leadership- we will deny our brothers and sisters this opportunity to serve, and end up doing more damage than good.

Our second reason has to do with the increasingly difficult security circumstances in Niger and the fact that we lived with the possibility of evacuation for much of our last two years. With a family our size and our ministries at the stages they were at, God convinced us that we needed to exit intentionally rather than try and hang on until the last minute.

Our third reason has to do with family – we believe we are to be more accessible and available to our children beginning to transition to college as well as to our extended family during this season of life.

Thus, we left Niger praying that the Lord would either open the door to ministry elsewhere or that if we were not understanding His leading, He would use our furlough time to clearly direct us back to Niger.

The result of that season of intently seeking His face and His will through much prayer and after seeking counsel from and the advice of our sending church and our mission board, we are convinced that God is leading us to the province of Québec. We have been so grateful for the kind and mostly positive responses to date from our current team of ministry, prayer and financial support partners.

However, we have had some ask a few key questions concerning this change, questions we would like to address specifically, and in no particular order of importance…

A question that plagued Tim’s heart? In a developed part of the world like Québec, is there really any need for a missionary to go and do this work when there are already many other equally qualified and capable individuals? We specifically posed this question to the leadership at the production studio/radio programming center where Tim is planning to serve. Their response was eye-opening. Yes, there are many with those skills and qualification. Yet in the post-modern, post-religious atmosphere of the province of Québec, there are few with a heart for such a ministry and the studio is currently inundated with opportunity but lacks sufficient personnel. They’d be happy for Tim’s assistance… starting from right after we visited and spoke with them last starting from right after we visited and spoke with them last December. Thus, the Québecois already ministering in this area are excited about and anxious for Tim’s help.

The second question ~ Why wait until 2015? We have chosen to wait for several reasons. One, we have a daughter who will be a senior in high school in 2014/15. Switching her to the French/Québecois system would complicate earning her high school diploma. Secondly, we have two younger children currently receiving much needed speech and language therapy. It only makes sense to correct articulation issues in English before immersing them in French. Thirdly, we believe we need to be closer to our extended family for a season. Finally, over the last term, with so many changes, economic challenges in the States, and with the dissolution of EBM, we lost financial support. Thankfully, most of our partners have been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging – and we are so appreciative of how their support continues to confirm this new direction for our family. We are hoping that taking an additional year, back on deputation, will allow us to be at the full 100% before striking off into a new place.

A third question we often hear is “How do you really feel about not going back to Niger?" The short answer is we are both heartbroken and eagerly, excitedly anticipating this next step. The longer answer is that God gave us an amazing gift in allowing us join with Him and to be a part of what He was doing in Niger… Niger will forever feel like home and we’ve left a large part of our hearts in that desert place, regardless of where or how He leads in the future. On the other hand, we know that we can trust Him to give us another good gift as He leads us to minister in the province of Québec. It is different – there are so many unknowns as we will be opening Québec as a new field of ministry for Faith Baptist Missions. It will be a very different experience from walking into well-established and long running ministries as we did when we went to Niger. But we do believe that God has given us the time and experience to grow and prepare us for this next step.

Why not change mission boards and join up with an organization already present and working in Québec? This is the last commonly asked question; it is probably the easiest of all to answer. Just over two short years ago, we were forced, by circumstances beyond our control, to change mission boards. We’ve been so blessed to find a second board that we are growing to love and consider our new family. Thus, we are not anxious to make another change, particularly if we can see no compelling, overwhelming reason to do so.

If you have additional questions you would like us to address, please WRITE and ASK. Give us a chance to respond to your concern – because we want to… we want to be accountable to our partners! We are thankful for each one of you, for your support and prayers, we consider you key members of our ministry team. 

  • Safety in traveling 
  • Great visits with great churches 
  • Calvary’s missionary home - for another year 
  • Neat missions opportunity for the girls this summer 
  • All the details – visas, health insurance, transfer fees – as we figure them out 
  • Brendan- school decisions for next year and a summer job 
  • Rebekah - making decisions regarding life after high school 
  • New contacts, new meetings, new ministry partners, new support – We hope to move to Québec in June, 2015. 
  • Both Tim’s father and Richelle’s father were recently hospitalized with significant and life altering medical needs. Both are currently stable, but follow-up is/still needs to occur.

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