Encouragement from Martin Luther

Commenting on the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Exo. 4:21 Luther paraphrases it this way:

I will certainly deliver you, but you will find it hard to believe, because Pharaoh will so resist and delay the deliverance. But trust nevertheless; for by My operation all his delaying shall only result in My performing more and greater miracles to confirm you in your faith and to display My powers, so that henceforth you may have more faith in Me in all other matters.

Amen and amen. This has been our journey, one of delay in which our faith has been confirmed and God’s power displayed.

From The Bondage of the Will. Translated by J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, 210.

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From the Vault: Some Thoughts on Missions

I don’t plan to do this often, but as I’m in the process of working on some things I would like to post on here, I thought I would fill the silence by posting something I’ve written before.

I posted this in 2010 on my (lonely and neglected) blog. I stumbled across it today and thought it might like to see the light of day again. So here it goes!

Short-term (as in a week or two) mission trips are amazing. I’ve heard certain objections, particularly that the short-termers (out of innocent ignorance) might come in and disrupt or set back the work of the long-term missionaries in an area, and I’ve even heard “Why fund someone’s short-term mission trip? What can somebody really accomplish in one short week?” It’s true that it is difficult to make a real, lasting impact on a new area in such a short time. But the more I think about it, I think this is not really the primary purpose of short-term missions. Short-term missions are a unique and powerful opportunity for people to broaden their view of the world, God, and His love for His people. More specifically, short-term mission trips often birth a love for the work of missions and pave the way for God’s calling in the lives of long-term missionaries. This was the experience I had when I didn’t even know I was seeking it.

My freshman year of college, a senior who had been a friend and mentor from my freshman orientation ran into me in the library and asked what I was doing on spring break that year. Spring break was just in a few weeks, but I hadn’t even thought about it. He told me he was going with his church on a week-long mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and he asked me if I wanted to join them. I had never traveled out of the country, and I had no clue how I could raise the $1200 it would cost for the trip. I told him I didn’t think it would work out since I didn’t know where I would get the money in such a short time, and I didn’t even have a passport. Thankfully he didn’t give up on me, and after encouraging me that the money would come together, he even said, “Why don’t you come with me now and I’ll drive you to the passport office so you can get an expedited passport?” We did that, and I started asking people in my church if they would be interested in funding my trip. My church gave me $400 in the following days, and I was encouraged, but I still wondered where the other $800 would come from. The next day I went to a new dentist to have a filling done. We started chatting , and I told him about my upcoming trip. He asked me how much money I’d raised so far, and thinking he was just being conversational, I told him. He looked at me for a moment and then said, “I’d like to match the $400 you’ve already raised.” I was astonished. My parents and I were able to afford the remaining $400, and before I knew it, I was on my first non-domestic flight on my way to the Dominican Republic. I would like to write in detail sometime about what I experienced there, but I will sum it up quickly by saying that it permanently changed something in me. All of a sudden I had a bigger understanding of God and His creation and my place in it, and He gave me a passion and excitement for missions I’d never had before. There’s a fairly involved story about what has passed between then and now to stifle that in many ways, but I’ll save that for another time as well. The point I’d like to focus on is that this one-week experience where I made little (if any) impact on the people of the DR irrevocably changed my life and my faith. If it had not been for my friend’s encouragement and persistence, my church’s and family’s support, and the unexpected gift of my dentist, I would not have had this experience. In His providence and wisdom, the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of these people to put me in a position to have my heart and life changed forever.

There is a Caedmon’s Call (yes, them again) song called “Two Weeks in Africa” that ties in closely with these thoughts. This song says,”Two weeks, and we all can feel a calling (two weeks) to make the world a little smaller.” Later in the song, they sing, “We put the walls up, but Jesus keeps them standing. He doesn’t need us, but He lets us put our hand in, so we can see His love is bigger than you and me.” I feel like this was my experience, and what it has done and is still doing in my life is tremendous (and the topic of yet another future post). But if you are a believer and have ever been asked for financial support toward a short-term mission trip, I hope you will think about what I have written here and realize the amazing opportunity you have to be involved in advancing God’s kingdom through investing in someone to allow them the opportunity to discover things they never knew about their faith, God, and His calling on their life.

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Missionary, eh?

Obviously a lot of people would not have seen this one coming, unless you are good friends of ours (and even then!). But if you saw me in high school, well, this might seem to be a big change. Not that I was a hellraiser in high school, but I was far from a disciple of Christ even though I bandied the name of Christian.

By God’s grace, the promise of John 6:37 held true. Jesus, once I called upon him (believed in him, whatever words you want to use), has never let me go. The transformation from sub-Christian to missionary was a longer journey that this post has time for. But it will suffice to say that it is a testament to God’s faithfulness and his grace. He took a kid who said “I could never be a missionary” (a story for another time), struggling in sin, to where I am now, an intern with a great church and a pre-candidate with our denomination’s mission board.

My biggest influences have been John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad! (a dangerous book indeed) and Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. I can still remember listening to the audiobook of Crazy Love while at work. It was like a switch had been flipped. I was called to be a missionary. The journey from there to here has been one of many avenues being closed only for a path to emerge that was the right one. That was six or so years ago. Now with a child in tow and my masters degree nearly complete, here we are.

The Apostle Paul said “but by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:10).

¡Hola!

(Not to be confused with “Holla!” which you will never, ever, evereverever hear us say)

Many of you are probably wondering right now what in the world this blog is about. Well, for starters, its creation is serving as an announcement of the Next Big Step for our family (I felt like that called for extra capital letters).

So what exactly is this Next Big Step, you ask?

We are now officially pre-candidates for foreign mission work through World Witness, the board of foreign missions of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Yes, that’s a mouthful. So what does it mean?

We have submitted our application to become long-term missionaries in a foreign country. I realize this might seem like it has come completely out of the blue, but the truth is that we have been moving toward this point since 2003 (and arguably before). Much of it has been a private journey, with lots of uncertainty, emotional highs and lows, and (providential) setbacks, but we have finally arrived at a turning point where things are now moving in a more focused, accelerated direction.

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At this time, many things are still up in the air. We have not yet gone before the World Witness Board to be vetted and appointed as candidates. We do not have a set-in-stone field trajectory (though we are on the path to joining the growing World Witness team in northern Spain). We are truly in the preliminary stages of the official process. But we have received the official blessing of World Witness to start raising funds for a survey trip to Spain (required of us before pursuing candidacy), so we can now officially say it:

We are working toward becoming full-time missionaries to Spain.

I just sat here for five minutes staring at that sentence. It almost seems unreal. This has been such a long time in the making, and God has been staggeringly faithful to us during this process, holding us back when we unknowingly needed it (desperately) and giving us the ability to persevere when it seemed like we were completely directionless.

I tend to write novel-sized blog posts (to the chagrin of my husband), so I will stop here with this announcement for now. But I also promise in the coming days to give you more insight into what this process has been like for us, what our current situation is, and what the future might hold. In the meantime, we greatly desire and appreciate your prayers for our family as we stand at the precipice of a life-changing decision and jump, wholly trusting in God’s provision and sovereign plan.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

-Proverbs 3:5-6