Sunday, December 23, 2012

Would you Pray?

15 THINGS EVERY MISSIONARY NEEDS

Specific guidelines to assist in praying for your missionary


Do you sometimes seem to "get stuck" when praying for missionaries? Are you frustrated because your prayers seem general or shallow? If so, here are some specific things you can pray for when you are interceding for missionaries.


Love for God
 Overworked missionaries can become service-oriented rather than love-oriented. Pray that your missionaries' love for the Lord will deepen, and that love for him will always be their prime motivation for service.


Love for Others 
Yes, missionaries are human, and just like you, sometimes they have trouble showing love and respect to those "difficult to love" people-either their missionary coworkers or nationals. Pray that the Lord will make your missionaries' love "increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 3:12).


A Deeper Relationship with God
 Missionaries' schedules can become so packed that they might skip or skimp on their time with the Lord. Pray that your missionaries would follow Jesus' 
example. It's hard to imagine any missionary having a busier life that he did, yet he consistently sought out time alone to commune with his Father.

Spirit-Controlled Lives 
Just like the rest of us, sometimes missionaries have a tendency to do the Lord's work in their own energy and human ingenuity. Pray that all of your missionaries' actions will be under the control, and by the power of, the Holy Spirit.


The Fruit of the Spirit 
As you pray that your missionaries will be under the control of the Holy Spirit, pray that the fruit of the Spirit – the very beauty of Jesus – will be manifest in their lives.


Wisdom and Knowledge
 Strong-willed missionaries often come into conflict when two or more of them have opposing viewpoints. Pray that missionaries will have the wisdom of God, which James describes as "first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17).


Courage
 Imagine your missionaries making the same prayer request Paul did in Ephesians 6:19: "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel."


Receptive Hearts
 Pray for divine providence, that the Lord will lead your missionaries to people whose hearts will be open to hearing and receiving the gospel message.


Disciples 
Pray that your missionaries will experience the joy of leading others to salvation, and of "teaching them to obey everything [Christ] commanded" 
(Matthew 28:20).


Strong Faith 
The apostles once made a direct request of Jesus: "Increase our faith!" Pray that your missionaries will have great faith that will lead them to ask great things of our Lord.


Steadfastness 
Pray that your missionaries will follow Paul's advice to the Corinthians: 
"Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).


Strong Family 
Cross-cultural living can magnify even small family conflicts. Pray that members of missionary families will be drawn together, not torn apart, by living in a new culture.


Protection 
Missionaries are prime targets of the enemy. Join Jesus in praying to the
Father: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one" (John 17:15).


Material Needs 
Missionaries often face harsh living conditions, and may have to struggle to meet basic physical needs. Pray that the Lord will supply all their financial and material needs "according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

Health and Strength 
In today's increasingly violent world, missionaries face not only sickness, they may also be victims of crime, civil unrest or political upheaval. Pray that the Lord will grant the measure of health and strength that will bring his greatest glory and the greatest good for the missionaries.

The next time you sit down to pray for your missionaries, use this list as a guide to help you pray specifically. And pray for your missionaries consistently. They need you, and the Lord needs you to help fulfill his Great Commission. Your prayers count!



http://thesangfamily.webs.com/helpyourmissionaries.htm

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sewing the Seed

Hello Friends and family,

This time of the year really brings family gatherings to heart.  Please know we miss you all and would be so blessed to be able to spend this holiday season with you all.  That, however, is not God's plan this year.  We are here still sewing the good seed.

This post will be brief but we wanted to ask for you to start praying about how you can financially partner with us so we can have some time stateside in the summer of 2014.  In order to spend that summer back home we will need to generate a monthly giving income of about $1000.  Seems like too much, seems impossible - but my God is big and He is faithful.  Would you pray for us in this area of need?

Blessings to you all - love as well.

Steve, Paula and kids

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DO Not Become a Missionary if....

1. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Going to Change the World. First, high expectations doom to disappoint, but, also, maybe your desire to change the world is trumping your desire to serve. Ask yourself if you would be happy moving overseas to a much harsher environment in order to quietly help a local, while getting no recognition and seeing no fruit in the process. If you can answer honestly yes, then maybe you’re still in the running. {Don’t worry, we thought we would’ve answered yes, but found out that we really had some unhealthy saviour-complexes to begin with.

2. Don’t Become a Missionary to Make Yourself Better. My first mission trip was as a middle schooler to Jamaica. I’m not really sure how much good we actually did, but I do remember one of the missionaries we worked with. His name was Craig, and he had some of the biggest glasses I’d ever seen. And the dude talked to everybody about Jesus. Everyone– the pot-smoking Rastafarian in the line, the tourists at the store, the check-out guy at the food stand. And I remember turning one time to another missionary who worked with him and asked what made him so “good” at evangelizing. The older missionary said, “Craig? Oh, he didn’t come to Jamaica and become like that. He was already like that in the States.” And I think Craig with the big glasses dispels the lie that if you move overseas, then you will magically become a superhero Christian. Um, false. What you are here, you’ll be there. And while it’s true that the change of environment can spark growth, it doesn’t mean you’ll go from luke-warm average Christian to Rob-Bell-Cool-On-Fire-Mother-Theresa just because you suddenly find yourself on another continent. Pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

3. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Have the Answers and the Nationals Don’t. Westerners have clunky shoes. This is just true. We are loud and obnoxious and, good Lord, arrogant. Our DNA has us descending on other cultures and dictating ways they can “fix” themselves, while throwing money at their problems. I think I’ve learned that every good missionary LISTENS, first. And listens, a lot.

4. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Can’t Hack Transition. We’ve been overseas now for less than two years, and we have moved houses three times, taken two major trips, and have gotten close to and then had to say goodbye to over 15 good family friends. People come and go on the mission field. Terms are up and governments change the visa laws. You find a deal on a house or the house you are in has rats. When you sign up for missions, like it or not, realize it or not, you are signing up for a transient lifestyle.

5. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Really Pretty Great, Spiritually-Speaking. There’s nothing like moving to a foreign country to reveal all the crap that’s in your heart. Seriously. I have cussed more, cried more, been more angry, had less faith, been more cynical and, generally speaking, have become in many ways a worser person during my last two years of serving in Asia. Call it culture-shock if you will, but I tend to think the stress of an overseas move thrusts the junk that was conveniently- covered before out into the blazing-hot-ope

6. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think Living on Support is Cake. It might look easy, but it is most definitely not– this monthly process of holding your breath and praying that you get a full paycheck , while knowing that even that paycheck is based on the kindness of your parents or your friends or the lady you know hardly has two pennies to rub together anyway. And then, when you do have a little money, you stress about how you should spend it — Should I treat myself to a coffee? Do the kids really need to go to the pool today? Should I buy the more reliable scooter or the used one that will {probably?} be just fine? And then, and then, shudder, there’s that awkward process of asking for it in the first place and feeling like you are annoying-the-heck out of the same people, who happen to be the only people you know — like that pushy lady selling Tupperware down the street. The whole thing might be great for your faith, but it can sure be a killer on your . . . heart, finances, sense of self-worth, savings, relationships, budget, fun, and freedom.

7. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Aren’t Willing to Change. Flexibility is more important than I ever thought it would be in an overseas life. So is humility, actually. Unfortunately, neither of these qualities is naturally at the top of my Character-I.Q. However, I have learned that the more determined you are to stick to your original plan– regarding ministry or living situation or friendships or organizations or personal growth– the more painful it is when that plan changes, and change it most definitely will. It’s the ones who humbly hold things loosely that I think can go the distance with far less collateral damage.

 8. Don’t Become a Missionary to Find Cool Friends. Now, I’m not saying you won’t find amazing friends– maybe the best in your life– but there is no denying that the mission field can draw some pretty odd ducks. {Of which, I, of course, am not one. See #7 regarding my natural humility.} Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself in a church service with ladies wearing clothes from the 80′s singing praise songs from your middle-school years like Awesome God, but without even the drums. Don’t be surprised, too, if your social interactions are awkward at best with many of your fellow mission-souls. Living out the in jungles for twenty years might do wonders for your character and strength and important things, like, oh, the translation of the Bible into another language, but it can sure do a number on a person’s ability to shoot the breeze in a church lobby somewhere. But, there, again, maybe there’s a necessary shifting that has to happen to your definition of cool, anyway.

Great post from Laura Parker at http://www.lauraleighparker.com/2012/01/8-reasons-becomingmissionary/

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Care for Your Missionary

Many ask what they can do - of course we say pray and give. That is vital.

But here is a good excerpt on how the church can support those in the field. Which church? Why you silly, you are the church!

Be Caring Toward Your Missionary

- have someone who understands missionary life tend to the correspondence needs of the missionary. Mailing letters, updating mailing lists, seek out new partners, etc.

- Maintain a flow of communication with your missions families. They already feel alone and out of the loop. Regularly correspond.

- Encourage others to write missionaries overseas. There is nothing more delightful than reading a letter that has made its way across the world - just for them.

- Send cards - remember their birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries. - Pray regularly - name them one by one in your prayers.

- Visit them!

- Respect their need for time off. Many missionaries are leery of sharing vacation news as it may deter supporters. What a shame, encourage them to rest and refuel so God can continue the good work in them. - Coordinate with your missionaries for home leave.

- Every missionary family should have home leave at least once every two to three years. This time is essential to their being able to refill themselves to go back out and serve others.

- While home make them comfortable. Remember they are in their own land as foreigners - with no home. Help them with lodging and daily needs, provide them with a car.

- Expose them to your congregation so people can have a chance to fellowship and hear their stories. Remember a lot changes in two to three years - do not assume they will "fall back in" to where they were before they left, that spot is no longer there.

 - Remember home leave is double expenses for the missionary families. Be sensitive to their financial needs so their time of rest is not burdened with financial concerns and fear of debt. Most missionaries in the field need to be debt free - home leave should not be such a burden financially that they incur debt to survive. - Their family will grow and change just as yours

- keep up with them. Offer to watch over their college aged children and pray for their other children - they are not parents of missionaries but children with a missionary calling all their own. be sensitive to that. It is part of their identity.

- Finally, missionaries LOVE care packages. send them American candy, socks - who cares. It just sends the signal that you still care and they are not forgotten. Remember - when you seal the package - do so with a prayer because the most important thing you can do for your missionary families is...

 pray and give.

 Please help support the Newell Family

http://nics.org/donate

Project # 003341

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Struggling in the Field

Here is a picture of our kids serving people who live in shacks down beside the dirtiest river in Bandung. This is the older woman's house. This is her ENTIRE house.... As with all things there are prices to be paid for our decisions, however, I think most people who enter the mission field would agree that coming overseas to serve is like signing a blank check and letting others fill in the price... This is a great blog story that we identify with - I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  

Struggling Missionaries (or, Does our Suffering Help the Cause?) by Levi Benkert

 Something has changed. I am not sure exactly when it happened, and only in looking back can I see that it did. But there is no arguing it; things are different now than when we first got off that plane. Back then we were fired up – and ready to take on the needs of the poor even if it meant that we had to sacrifice anything and everything of our own. We had just sold the sum of our earthly possessions back in America, and it was time to give it all for those in need. That was almost four years ago. Four years of power outages, bad roads, no money, missing home, water shortages, mystery sicknesses, car trouble, and countless cultural frustrations that brought us to our knees daily. Now, though, things are easy, or at least easier. We used to wash dishes in tubs of cold, cloudy well water; we now have a $50 instant water heater next to the sink in our indoor kitchen. We used to spend hours waiting for taxi’s; we now drive a new (if you can call 1997 new) car that rarely breaks down and even has seat belts for all of the kids. We used to run out of water a few days a week; we now have a tank on the outside of our house that keeps the showers on even when the city pipes offer up nothing but air. Not that life is all perfect and roses now. We still live in a foreign land, and people yell “Ferenj” (foreigner) at us when we walk down the street. Our skin is still the wrong color. We still can’t get Oreos or chocolate chips at the supermarket. On the other hand, we don’t even like Oreos anymore. You don’t miss what you can’t remember. Part of me, though, feels that with this shift we are not here for the same reasons that we came for. Even though I know that is not true. If anything, we are exponentially more effective today than when we first arrived. We came to help orphans. When we got here we had to work at helping just one child. Now we help hundreds. Less complications = more help. Right? The truth is, though, I kind of miss the struggle. I miss the closeness to God that I felt when I was hurting for the least of these. I miss feeling like I was doing something of value just by being here. But should I? Was I ever really helping the kingdom more because the couch legs were falling off? Was I somehow holier when I smelled like a tribal person because the water had been out for two weeks? Today with this post I want to pose a question to all missionaries, missionary hopefuls, and missionary supporters. I want to open a discussion about suffering and productivity. I honestly don’t know where I land on this. Some days I am all about making our home as comfortable as possible so that we can “last” longer in this place. Other days I am ready to give it all up so that I can help more people who have nothing themselves. When visiting friends I can see that every missionary has a different point of view when it comes to how much is “enough”. I know it will never be the same for everyone. Still, I am left here wondering: is there a right and a wrong when it comes to how we should live as missionaries? Okay. Enough said by me. What do you think?
——————————–
Levi Benkert – lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with his wife and four children where they together created a ministry called Bring Love In that unites widows from the local community with orphans from the government orphanages to create new families. He wrote a book called No Greater Love and writes a personal blog at www.LeviBenkert.com

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Becoming A Missionary Part 3

I wish I had known how difficult long-term fruit really is.
On a short-term, you may go to a responsive area and see numerous decisions for Christ. But among less responsive people groups, missionaries often struggle with spiritual infertility. Sometimes those who make a decision may not follow through. On a short-term, you saw people pray for salvation and then you were back on the plane. But as a long-term missionary, you may discover that this "convert" no longer even wants to see you. If you want to see people saved, you need to spend time with non-Christians. But we were amazed at how much of our time was tied up in fellowship with other missionaries, people in the church, other national pastors, and friends who visited. We started to ask, "When was the last time we saw a non-Christian?" Then God led us to make contact with a pre-Christian every day. As part of this we invited families over for dinner once a week. Though few outsiders would come to a church meeting, no one turned down a dinner invitation! Missions is sometimes a huge challenge. During our darkest days I would read Hebrews 11 aloud twice a day and pray for the faith to keep going. One day I continued into the next chapter and read Hebrews 12:11, which says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful." I wondered if the Lord was disciplining me. Had I been disobedient? Then I read Hebrews 12:7 "Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons." Then I saw it. The hardship is something that God brought into my life. Then I reread verse 11 and exchanged the word discipline for hardship. "No hardship seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Like a good marriage, effective missions takes work. But it's worth every bit of it, too.  
I wish I had known how nationals view the economic status of missionaries.
My standard of living is drastically lower in a developing country. But no matter what level one lives at, the fact remains that you will always be considered wealthy in the eyes of the nationals. And in fact, you are wealthy. In our local currency $2,000 US dollars would equal a million, so almost all the missionaries are "millionaires" here. And even if you find it hard to live on the support you receive from back home, you still had enough to pay a ticket to come here, whereas your everyday national could never pay a plane ticket to visit another country. Also, one encounters the common idea that it is the duty of those with more money to distribute it to help others. So the nationals will never look at someone who has more money than them and lives at a higher level than them, and drives a car, as someone who is making a sacrifice. Don't expect to be congratulated or thanked for the sacrifices you made to come. Americans in particular (and I speak as one) seem to have the idea that we must be constantly affirmed. Better get over that before heading overseas. Another fallacy is that nationals should applaud that you have "sacrificed all" to bring them good news about Jesus. The reality is that they probably won't give a hoot! Many missionaries go with the idea that they should be "appreciated" by the nationals for the sacrifices they have made. And of course we cannot serve God if we are not appreciated! Pray to be humbled now, before going out and being humbled overseas. Of course, depending on your job (doctor, nurse, well-digger), you might be better received than just a general evangelist. Or if you come to work a specific job by the church, they will be more appreciative than non-Christians. But I guarantee there will always come a time when you will feel that you are not "appreciated" (whether by the church, the heathen, or even your own colleagues).  
I wish I knew how to deal with conflict.
When you want a job you usually put on your best for your prospective employer; it's like a first date, you hide all the bad and accentuate the positive. Unfortunately, I discovered after two failed attempts to work with missions agencies, this not a good way to "get married" to a sending organization. I fell in love too fast, accentuated my and their positive points, and didn't ask the critical question, "How do they fight through a problem?" Neglect to do this and you could get seriously hurt. When you know how a spouse, boss, friend, co-worker, pastor, or mission agency resolves conflict, you will know your chances of being able to have a long-term relationship with them. Nice Christians who resort to threats, gossip, slander, lawsuits, giving the silent treatment, bullying etc. don't tell you up front this is how they deal with conflict. You have to know them well before you commit to a long-term relationship. So find out how they fight before you sign up. Ken Sande's ministry has an abundance of information how to deal with conflict biblically. Reform your own conflict resolution methods first, then look for other peacemakers you can work with.

 (These last three posts were taken from www.askamissionary.com - a great , insightful resource for all things missionary!)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Things I Wish I had Known Prior to Becoming a Missionary Part 2

I wish I had known more about myself and being patient.
The following are some things nobody told me, but I'm telling you: Boredom is real. I heard that before I left my home country. But now I have long periods of down time that I used to fill so easily at home. The first two months or so in a new place are the hardest, since you're establishing new friendships and a new pattern of life. Knowing yourself is very important. I have been stretched a phenomenal amount, especially in the first months of my assignment. If you have any hidden personal issues, God will bring them to light. Be willing to deal with them as they come up; don't push them away. God needs to break you in order to use you. Be teachable, and be a lifelong learner. It's easy to depend only on your ability to figure it out once you get there, since firsthand knowledge may seem more dependable than book knowledge and theories. It's not true. Know before you go. It takes time to ease into the structure. At home, I had lots of energy to fill my day from early morning to late at night. But overseas, I tire so quickly. Realize that being stretched physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well as facing a new culture, language, and living situation wears you out. It's okay to slow down. Being a missionary is not about being superhuman and accomplishing a long list each day. Some days all you'll accomplish is a trip to the grocery store or a government office. It's about trust, obedience, and hearing the Master's voice.  
I wish I had known about language learning and missionary relationships.
Most adults do not know how to handle the humiliation of learning a new language, of having people give them confused stares, just outright laughing at them, or becoming angry because you're in their country and can't speak the language. Many people in my language school suffered from loss of identity and inferiority. These were well-educated people who had been successful in their occupations back home. Now they were learning language full-time and couldn't understand why they were having such a hard time. Being smart does not guarantee that you will find learning language easy. Never assume that you and your colleagues are going to be one big happy family. Generally you can't choose who you're going to work with, and no one is going to hit it off with everybody. So you may find that your colleagues have different interests and backgrounds that you can't relate to well. You may find that they do things that are quite irritating to you, or have major problems with anger, critical spirit, gossiping, etc. Good relationships take a lot of time and effort, but they are important.  
I wish I had learned about spiritual warfare.
I wish I had known more about my relationship to God and about spiritual warfare. Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson is one book every Christian should read. This book helps us understand and recognize spiritual warfare. Wherever we're living right now, we are in the middle of a battle. We need to understand the nature of that battle so that we can be victorious over our enemy. When we cross into another culture, where Satan has built strongholds for centuries and where cultural cues vary, the battle looks different. However, our victory over the powers of darkness is still in Christ.
Editor's Note: In addition to Neil T. Anderson's book, see also Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian by Dean Sherman.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Things I Wish I had Known Prior to Becoming a Missionary Part 1

I wish I had had more realistic expectations.
Many girls and young women have unrealistic ideas of romantic bliss in marriage, without seeing the problems or day-to-day efforts needed to make a marriage work. Missions is no different. In most missionary presentations, we hear only about the victories and great things the Lord is doing. I think that is for two reasons. First, missionaries are trying to recruit people into the work, so they strongly emphasize the positive side. Second, most people, and maybe especially missionaries, don't want to be vulnerable and reveal that they have problems. This is not helped by the fact that church people want to put missionaries on a super-spiritual pedestal for being willing to sacrifice and live under harsh conditions. So, it's important to talk with missionaries one-to-one to hear their struggles as well as their victories. Another common fallacy is that the lost are crying out for someone to tell them the gospel. There may be the rare exception (in Papua New Guinea, one tribe did build a church in anticipation of the missionaries coming to tell them the good news), but in general, the lost are blinded just as the Jews are. They are not searching for God and are living deceived in the darkness of their blinded condition. We will most commonly find indifference to the message, and at worst, we'll experience downright opposition. Missionaries who think they're going overseas to do a great work for Jesus amuse me. First, we merely participate in the work God is already doing. This is well explained in the book Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby. Of course, all our friends at home will tell us what a great and wonderful thing we're doing. Then WHAM! We come face-to-face overseas with all our inadequacies and weaknesses. We realize how much we’re actually going to have to depend on God to see something accomplished. Many missionaries, when confronted with the reality of living in a foreign culture and the time needed to influence people, simply become discouraged, turn around, and come home. Only when we realize our total dependence on God, wait on him, and work with him do we finally see some beautiful fruit.
 I wish I had known how difficult missions really is.
 I would have gotten more cross-cultural training, especially focused on the culture to which I was going. I would have taken more time in language learning. But most of all, I needed realistic expectations. Working in a foreign field is the same as being in a war. I know. I've fought in both and the similarities are striking. There is not much glorious about warfare. It may look exciting on TV or in the movies, but in the trenches it's a lot of hard work. And the enemy has ambushes everywhere. Often you can't tell the enemy from the friendly. And your friends get injured and killed. It hurts. The culture won't make a bit of sense and you'll even resent the people sometimes, or think how they do things is ridiculous. But you will learn how to live there. You'll learn new cultural cues. You'll begin to see how they do make sense in your new culture. And in the learning, you'll grow to love the people. So learn to laugh at yourself! Don't give up! When you go, determine that you're going to stay. It's like God meant marriage to be. It won't always be easy, but make it work! Don't expect the other person to change. Change as you need to. And there's probably no better environment to promote change in us than working in another culture.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Boy time flies....

Is it really April? I feel like the first day of school was yesterday and I have not even sat down yet!! I am a bit burnt out as I have taken on a 3rd class this semester but I am being blessed by the kids - as always. Their impact on me never fails and always brings me joy. Steve and I are figuring out our roles here more and more. Praying next year will fill more at home. When we came our roles were very muddy and still are in many ways, but slowly they are coming together. At the end of March we had our annual Spiritual Emphasis/Week Without Walls. It was fun as usual. We had the opportunity to house and get to know Bill and Bill Nottle. (Father and son) What a blessing they were to us! They are from the Salvation Army - which brought great joy to Steve and I as we had placed our toe in those waters a while back to check out their ministry. What great work that organization does world wide! The Salvation Army has several orphanages here in Indonesia. I thought I would tell you a bit about orphanages and adoption here. Many, many children are abandoned due to the simple fact their parents are unable to provide for them. Children are placed in orphanages and are actually labeled as abandoned - that hurts. :( So many kids are in need of homes and loving families, but here is the catch - they must be adopted into the same faith as their parents. Of course, the majority of these kids parents are Muslim. Also, if the faith is unknown it is assumed to be Muslim. There are just not a lot of Muslims adopting so they are stuck in the system. Praise God for organizations who focus on the social need of the children and also love them as Christ would like the Salvation Army. Additionally, children who are christian (which is rare) are difficult to adopt as well. There are many laws on the books such as; parents being naturally unable to have children of their own, having less than 2 children already, not having children from other countries than their own, etc. The crazy part is that due to government corruption the rules are not always followed to the letter. I know families with several children who have adopted and others who have no children have been told no. Steve and I checked into the possibility and we were told we could not adopt and then told we should fill out the paperwork and they will contact us later...huh? I know of a family in the central part of our island who have agreed to remain in country and raise a national friend's child until they are 17 because they cannot legally adopt and they want to give this child the best life possible. These are some of the types of people who we serve near - people who make a 17 year commitment for the soul of one child. There are private Muslim orphanages that have nothing - and I mean nothing. It is so incredibly sad to go there with a bag of rice and see their living conditions and know that you would never be able to bring a child out of that. However, they love for us to bring things - so that in itself is our ministry. Did you know $60 can buy a huge bag of rice that will help feed all the children at a Muslim orphanage near us for a month? What did you last spend $60 on? Food for thought...(pun intended)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Louder Than Words, Continued

Well, the magical answer was not there, but hooray - God's Word always is... My golden nugget? "For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10 Ok, so it is not a great epiphany and angels did not sing. Not a new verse that cause an earthquake and tongues...but it was the simplicity that God knows I am imperfect and he also knows the desires of my heart. Where I run out of gas He has a plan. That is why I love the church. You know - the people, not the building. For it is the church who helps stand in the gaps when I cannot measure up. It is the godly teacher who gives a word, the godly neighbor who gives warmth in their smile, the godly husband who tags in when I give up. If you re feeling alone and are hurting I encourage you to find the church - once again, not the building, but the body of believers who will help hold you up when you are weak. A body of believers who will help guide you on the way. I encourage you to find a body of believers who does not place their beliefs in corporate worship on Sunday mornings between the hours of 10-11:30am, but in groups of believers who regularly meet and invest in each others lives. That is something I miss a great deal here in Indonesia. Although there are great people here there are few at our stage of life and in our age group. I can tell my American friends with great certainty now that you are truly blessed to meet freely without fear of prosecution and you have abundant opportunities to find a body of believers that you can connect to and invest in. If you do not have that I challenge to not end this month without having made significant steps to changing that. Go - check our your churches and their small groups and Bible studies. Get involved, open up - pray with someone today. YOu will be blessed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hmmm.....Louder Than Words by Andy Stanley

I have been reading a book called "Louder Than Words" by Andy Stanley and enjoy it as I do all of his books. However, this one is causing me to look around at the world in which we live and realize this is no longer the world of my grandparents or even my parents. In a very short 50 years everything is different, everything is permissible and everything must be politically correct! In his book, Andy Stanley, talks about character - so I asked my 10th grade class to tell how they define character and was shocked by the lack of morals used in their definitions. I assumed words like integrity would be used but instead the descriptive words were much more superficial. Words such as successful and leader popped up during the discussion. What? Ok, I am teaching cross culturally so I must rephrase and try again - but to no avail. So what happened? How did everything get so screwed up? Was Sodom and Gomorrah once a place with solid values and clean living? Ok, ok - don't laugh, but I wonder. In the foreword of the book, John Maxwell writes, "The world desperately needs people of vision and personal conviction." Is that what we have lost? How about me? Do I have vision and personal conviction? So the book i really about leadership but as I read the messages I started to think through if my actions as a mother and a wife speak louder than my words? When I say, "I love you." Do they really hear the message I want to send or do my actions muffle the sounds? Then he says, " The mental picture of God may be distorted because of subtle messages you received as a child." Instead of turning that within and thinking about my childhood I became terrified that I was a part in distorting the image of God in my own children's lives. And I lost it. Could that be true? This post is full of questions and no answers. I have not completed the book and to be honest and transparent I just keep creating more questions? It is the season of my life I suppose to be thinking about these things and I know that my dream of being a perfect parent is just that - a dream, but I do not want to hurt my children with my sins. So now what? Is the magical answer in chapter 14, The Finish Line? Probably not, but I suppose asking the question is the first hurdle in the race? Stay tuned....

Monday, January 30, 2012

His voice in a loud world

This year has started off a little rough. I honestly do not feel well. I am not sure if it is stress, fatigue, or I have caught some type of bug but my energy wanes and I feel like I just need weeks of rest. AS I sat thinking about my depleted energy and praying that God will give me the extra bit that I need I felt overwhelmed with what He has done and then started looking around at how He is working in the lives of people around me. God is so very faithful, even when we are in a desert place - He finds us there. So just a note of encouragement. If you are feeling down - not quite 100% and feeling a bit discouraged - do not Fear! He is with you and His promises are everlasting. What can you praise him for today, regardless of where you are at right now? Here is a short list I compiled for myself:
- Steve has had a complete health turn around since having his tooth pulled. His color and energy is back and his blood pressure and sugar counts are back to normal!
- Drew turned 19 - ADUH! - he is back in his second semester of school and says he is "getting this college thing figured out" He sees the future and the positive possibilities on the horizon.
- Ali is visiting Drew in a week or so! So grateful she is getting this opportunity! God has really blessed Drew with a young woman who really does care for him. Praying continually for their relationship!
- Tori is 15 - when did I start getting so old? - She is beautiful, both inside and out. She has a huge heart and loves God. I am blessed beyond measure to have her as my daughter.
- The Durham family has returned safely to America - they still have quite a journey ahead dealing with David's cancer, but God has been present through their journey thus far and to watch it has been amazing. I am grateful for their friendship and God's allowance to watch Him work in their lives.
- Reba has asked me to help hold her accountable in some specific areas of her life. Praise God that she knows what God wants from her and is willing to be humble enough to work through it! She is such an example to me!
- Molly Evans is leaving today for Thailand on quite an adventure. She has been such a testimony to me in her commitment to go wherever God leads. She doesn't have a lot of details, but knows God is in control and is walking the path opened handed, one step at a time.
- My husband is getting ready to celebrate his 39th birthday! The last 17 1/2 years of my life has been an unexpected blessing. I wasn't looking when I found him, but God gave him to me anyway. We have had quite the roller coaster ride over the past 17 1/2 years but God has been present each step of the way. We are stronger, but still learning and I am blessed to have such an amazing man in my life.

I could sit and go on and on, but this is just enough to make me smile and completely forget how tired I am - it rejuvenates me and gives me the extra bit I need to do what lies before me. If you have not listed blessings in your life in a while I challenge you to pull out a pen and paper and do that now. Then pour over that paper - beaming - knowing how much God loves you. He wants to provide good things in your life. He wants to provide opportunity to build you up and make you stronger - even though it may sometimes be painful. Glorify Him in your journey. He has a plan to prosper you and bring you hope. (Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.)
Although it may seem difficult to see through the storms in our life He is building you up for a better, stronger tomorrow. So that you may serve Him more fully. (Job 8:7 Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.)
Stay rooted in God's Word and in your faithful love and trust in His way. Those with deep roots will reap great reward! (Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.)
Know that we all feel tired, weak. We all have moments that cause us to question if we can go on. Remember though - He is faithful, He loves us furiously without hesitation our condition, He wants to see us prosper in His name. Glorify the King today! Thank Him for your trials - seek Him in your storms - find Him in your moments of weakness. Know you are loved and secure in His arms. Keep an eternal perspective.
Much love friends!

Paula

Monday, January 09, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year - praying the holidays were wonderful for each of you! Our family is busy and school started again way too fast! Cannot believe year 2 is halfway over. For those of you we have not contacted personally, we have signed a 2 year contract to stay until June 2014 in our current roles here at BAIS. We feel very content - even though we miss family and friends back home. Your prayers are coveted. Blessings!