earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — August 2011

A New School Year

We’re back at home in Lincoln Park for a number of weeks. This allows us to catch up on a number of domestic projects. Laura is tending to the garden; I have a few things in the house that have been neglected while we’ve been away. My job at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary also requires a bit more attention at this time of year. As we’re entering a new school year, I’m glad to have a part in the excitement of everyone returning to their studies. Laura, on the other hand, is experiencing the first end-of-the-Summer in which she is not involved as either a student, teacher, or school staff member. There is certainly a part of the experience which she is missing!

During these weeks, meetings were intentionally scheduled so that we could stay in the area. Last week, Aug 21, I had the opportunity to share our ministry with First Baptist Church of Sterling Heights and fill the pulpit for their pastor. The believers there were very encouraging and supportive; we left refreshed and encouraged (I’m told they were too!). This past week has also provided some focused time to correspond with churches, schedule meetings, and follow up with prior contacts. I trust that God will continue to fill up our calendar with good meetings as he has already begun to do.

August 27, 2011   No Comments

Our Fifth Anniversary

Yesterday, August 19, 2011, Laura and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. We celebrated with homemade pizza, gifts, and the legendary fudgie mudgie.

Let me say that I’m grateful to God for giving me such a great travel partner for deputation! In all seriousness, Laura is one of God’s best gifts to me. He has graciously used the past five years to grow us in Christ–individually and as a couple–using our marriage, I trust, to enhance our ministry for his sake.

August 20, 2011   No Comments

Our Trip to the Twin Cities

We returned this week from a trip to the twin cities of Minnesota. On August 7 we shared our ministry with the people at Grace Community Bible Church in Lakeville. I spoke during their Christian Education hour on Sunday, preached for the mid-week service, and met with a number of families during our stay from Sunday through Wednesday night. They are a growing young church filled with bright and gifted believers. Despite the diverse background among the people there, I was impressed by how theologically astute they are. I found myself regularly engaged in discussions about philosophy of missions and theology during our visits–and glad to find so much agreement between us! So, we are excited that they are considering partnering with us as the first missionaries they will be supporting.

Our car was packed to the brim on this trip. In addition to the personal gear and presentation materials, we also brought along stuff for camping. Lighthouse Baptist Church in Cottage Grove invited us to the state fellowship family camp being hosted at their church. Attending the camp involved pitching our little 2-person tent on their beautiful property (and sharing the bathrooms in the church building!). The congregational singing was refreshing and we appreciated the opportunity to meet new people.

On Sunday, August 14, we joined Liberty Baptist Church in Eden Prairie for their worship services. I presented the ministry in their evening service and met with their deacons shortly afterwards. We had the privilege of staying with Pastor Don Odens and his wife for a couple of nights. Our fellowship with them is one example of blessings that pre-field ministry provides us. We are grateful for these opportunities to glean from the wisdom of such godly couples.

August 18, 2011   No Comments

“Is it Fun??”

Last Sunday, Aug 7, we shared our ministry with Grace Community Bible Church in Lakeville, MN, during their Christian Education Hour. One thing that impressed me during our time with this church was their talent for asking insightful questions. On Sunday morning we spent a good 15 minutes in Q&A. There were questions about us, African traditional religion, neglected parts of Africa, challenges in ministry, prayer support, accountability, training missionaries, and so on. It’s clear to me that this body of believers is very Berean in their approach to missions. But then I was caught off guard by a question from a young man who asked, “Is it fun??”

Speaking to a group with a broad range of ages is always challenging. How do you communicate with everyone effectively? In retrospect, I probably should have answered simply with a “Yes!” But since there were also a number of adults in the room with active analytical skills, I felt the need to qualify my answer. The fact is that taking the gospel to places far away from “home” will certainly have many less-than-fun moments. I realize that there are many unknown challenges waiting for us, but we still believe that the overwhelming response to what God is leading us to do is joy. As I shared with the people at Grace Community, if it ever fails to be joyful, it’s probably the result of our failure to train our focus on God and the sufficiency of his grace.

In spite of my round-a-bout answer, I really appreciated the question. Thanks!

August 13, 2011   No Comments

August 2011 Prayer Update

We are grateful for the many people who have encouraged us through their prayers. It is a special blessing to be carried along by the prayers of so many godly people. Thank you.

Praises:
  1. God continues to provide opportunities to share the ministry with like-minded churches. He is blessing our meetings and, we trust, using the discussions to encourage believers with the news of God’s work in Tanzania.
  2. The churches that have pledged financial support bring us to 43% of our budgeted amount. That’s fantastic for a few months of deputation!
  3. We’ve traveled almost 5,000 miles for ministry presentations since March without any automotive or health problems to speak of.
Prayer Requests:
  1. Since the pace of deputation has picked up, we’ve become aware that the regular things that build us up spiritually are not in their usual places. We hear less preaching (where someone other than myself is delivering the message) and our normal routines are upset by traveling. Sometimes this can make it difficult to practice spiritual disciplines as regular as we’d like. Please pray that we will learn to work around our schedule and that God will continue to use this phase of our life to prepare us for serving him overseas.
  2. We plan to make the shift to full-time deputation in November. Since we are not yet receiving 50% of our support, our financial situation will be stretched for a time. Please pray for wisdom to manage the changes that this requires. There will be budget and health insurance changes just to name a couple.
  3. Please pray for the churches we are contacting. Thankfully, we’ve been introduced to so many faithful congregations who are taking the prospect of gospel partnerships very seriously. Pray that they would be wise stewards of their resources. Pray that their decisions would be guided by a mutual commitment and understanding of the task ahead of us.

August 4, 2011   1 Comment

Introductions: Laura

I am grateful to have been raised in a Christian family; I remember hearing the gospel often in my childhood years. God blessed me richly when he saved me as a child. My love for Him grew as I did, and my interest in missions blossomed when I was in high school. I graduated from Maranatha Baptist Bible College in 2003 with an elementary education degree, and then worked on the college staff for two years, where I met Matt. After my ministry at MBBC, I spent a wonderful 9 months on Yap, Micronesia with Paul and Sherry Zimmer. I home-schooled 4 of their children during my stay there.

Micronesia has many similar aspects to Tanzania, and ministry overseas then has better equipped me for the ministry God has before us now. After my time on Yap, I came back to the States to marry Matt. As he studied in seminary, I taught second grade at Inter-City Baptist School. As we transition to full-time, pre-field ministry, I am excited to serve God in opportunities He gives to us in the present and in the future!

August 3, 2011   No Comments