earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — June 2015

June and July 2015 Ministry Update

Our move to Tanzania has brought us closer to bartering, sowing, harvesting, and shepherding than we have been in the States. References to these things in the Bible have since become more meaningful to us. (Sheep really do get lost easily!)

Though life in America is even further removed from life in biblical times, our furlough experience has stretched us in new ways which have, in turn, brought new insights into Scripture. Now that we have begun saying our goodbyes to friends and family this past month, my attention has turned a few times to Paul’s farewell to the elders in Ephesus (Acts 20:13–38).

The link between our experience and Paul’s is mainly that, knowing our time with loved ones is limited, there is a similar urgency in our conversations. I wonder if Paul came into Ephesus with a short agenda that turned into the address we have recorded in this passage. I have never been as eloquent as Paul, but I have run through a mental checklist before saying, “see you in a few years.” I have found myself less hesitant to share the Truth with others and more eager to pray before parting ways.

We have had to think deliberately about “last-chance” meetings with people. Knowing what was coming at his destination, I wonder if Paul had to think about whom he could and could not see and where those meetings would take place to ensure the most constructive convesations. (It seems he did; Acts 20:16, 17) We’ve taken detours to fit people into our schedule, but we still haven’t been able to see everyone. I’ve set a 1-hour timer to make sure I leave one place in order to make it to the next “last-chance” conversation.

This is the Point

I would count this sense of urgency as a privilege of our situation rather than a burden. Not only do these encounters make a reading of Acts 20 more rich, we find ourselves identifying more with the life and burdens of other missionaries. We also do not regret that God has used these mental checklists to bless us with great fellowship.

While we would rather not have to say goodbye at all, we would also like to remind everyone (ourselves included) that life in ministry is rich in surprising ways. God is good. And, He often opens that goodness up to us in the midst of difficulty–not apart from it.

Prayer Update

  1. I had the privilege of serving my sending church by speaking for our teen camp in June. God blessed us with great meetings and fun times (and only minor injuries ;-).
  2. We have only one more church meeting to go. So we are now turning our attention to figuring out how to “bring as much of America back with us” as we can cram into our luggage. Please pray with us that God will help us wisely use our remaining weeks in the States to enjoy our families and prepare for readjustment.
  3. We fly out of the US on July 14 and finally return to Mwanza, Tanzania, on July 18. We already know that our Swahili muscles have atrophied and that we will need to work hard to catch up on all that has happened since February. Please pray that we will be enabled to readjust well.

June 27, 2015   1 Comment