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GO INTO ALL THE WORLD

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THROUGH PRAYER

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   We can have a big part in making Christ known to the world. You want to know how? By taking to heart the prayer requests of our missionaries!

   For instance, my son’s team has recently made a most agonizing decision to not return to the country where they have spent the last few years.  Yet, they are concerned about the young disciples and the churches that were planted there. Additionally, they are seeking God as to where He will lead them next. Sharing these prayer requests is a priority for them.

  There is much we can do regarding these requests, even though we are not serving as missionaries ourselves. We should never underestimate the power of millions of people praying over missionaries’ prayer requests. For the more people who know of these requests the more people there will be who will be praying over them.

  It is standard operating procedure these days for missionaries to call on friends and families to join their prayer team. Joining these prayer teams and recruiting others to do the same is a responsibility we should take very seriously. Following their blogs and their twitter accounts keep us informed of their prayer concerns. When you get a prayer request be faithful to pray over it and share it with as many as possible. (Always using the security guidelines the missionaries have given)

   Taking to heart the prayer requests of our missionaries gives us the opportunity to take an active part in making Christ known to the world. In America we live in an environment where the temptation to live for ourselves instead of Christ (2 Cor. 5:15) is formidable. This temptation won’t be so easy to succumb to, if we direct our focus onto something outside of ourselves such as the prayer request of our missionaries.G

The face of courageous excitement!

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   Recently, my husband and I were honored to open our home to a family who were soon to become the newest members of the Echelon team. (The team which our son and daughter in law serve with) A young couple with 3 young children. 

   There was a time when I would simply not be able to fathom why a young family such as they would be willing to give up all the comforts of life in the US to go live in a seemingly God forsaken place as a 3rd world country. Why break those tender ties with family and friends and sell most of your worldly possessions? Why break their parent’s hearts by taking their grandchildren away for years at a time? There was a time when I thought, “This is just too hard!”

However, not any more. 

Now I get it! Now I understand!

  In 2008, I released my son (my only son) to serve God in Peru in the Amazon jungle. It was what he felt God called him to do. I couldn’t argue with that. I had to let him go. There was no talking him out of it! 

   Then my son got married two years later and two years after that he and my daughter in law left for Africa! Knowing that their children would likely be born there, I summoned up all the strength God gave me and released them. (Sure enough, they now have two boys)

   Not one thing about being the mom of a missionary is easy. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. It’s a hurt like nothing else! But the wonder of it is that it’s doable!

   When God calls us to missions, either to go or to release, then He equips us to fulfill that calling. He gives us what we need to carry out our mission. He didn’t take away the pain, He lovingly helped me manage it. It did not overwhelm me! God was so faithful!

   I’ve learned that it’s not about what we have to give up or the sacrifices we must make to be obedient to God’s will. No! As I looked into the faces of this new missionary family, I saw courageous excitement for the journey ahead. I see this in the faces of my son and daughter in law. I have seen this in the faces of the many missionary families I have met since my son joined the Echelon team. 

   Our God doesn’t call us to something that is going to make us, and all concerned, miserable. No indeed! Although, the fiery darts (negative thoughts) may tempt us into thinking so. A life lived in obedience to whatever it is that God has called us to may take courage but never doubt, it will be exciting!

Prayers for South Sudan and our missionaries!

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   I am writing this blog to ask my readers to pray faithfully and diligently for our missionaries in South Sudan. As you may or may not know, South Sudan is once again experiencing perilous times. Below is an excerpt from the article that one of those missionaries shared with me.

Some analysts, both African and Western, feel the situation is so hopeless that they have proposed a radical solution: an international takeover. The argument says that South Sudan’s government is not an effective or legitimate state, and that it should be nudged aside to let the United Nations and the African Union run a transitional administration for 10 to 15 years. South Sudanese officials say they would violently resist this.

   I hope you will read the full article, and commit to pray for our missionaries already in country and those who are making plans to return there.  While the article is alarming, we must grasp the truth that God will guide them as they prayerfully consider their options about continuing to serve the South Sudanese people.

   I ask you to pray for the missionaries’s families in the States, especially. In some ways it’s harder on us. The temptation to fear for the safety and well being of our loved ones is great. Pray that we will keep our focus and not loose sight of the Truth that is found in the following verses:

Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 40:10:

I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:7-8

  Satan’s attempts to render us powerless with the fiery dart of fear, will not succeed as long as we hold up our Shield of Faith.(Ephesians 6:16) Nothing can stand against us when we are centered and focused on the power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

They are here!

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     Tomorrow, I will give my son, daughter in law, and 2 grandsons the hug I’ve been yearning to give them as soon as I heard they were on American soil. I’ve already told them this may take awhile because I’ve got a lot of hugging to make up for!

     Then, my daughter and I, along with her family are prepared and ready to listen and then listen some more because it is important to us to try and understand what life was like for our loved ones while they were living in Africa. This is our first stateside experience and though it is the first, it’s not going to be typical–for us anyway. Typically, missionaries prefer to plant themselves in a place they can call home while stateside. That’s understandable as their own place would give them that down time  they need to be real with each other and living with extended family may not give them such an environment. 

     But in our situation, our missionaries will be here only a few months and come August will be leaving again to study abroad during their stateside time. However, they are having the opportunity to be in a place of their own during a portion of their stateside and for the last portion they will be living with us. Fortunately, we have the room and we are all prepared to give them the space they need to readjust to reconnecting as family. 

     Not having done this before, we are doing our best to educate ourselves on how to make their re-entry experience as smooth as possible. Some things, I’m sure will just come natural, we are a close family and we share an abundance of memories that we will want to hash and rehash while we are together. But like I said in an earlier post, for the last 4 years we have been moving forward without each other and our memories are not so common anymore. We’ve got to find a way to fit back together again!

     I am asking extended family and friends to be aware that this particular homecoming be approached by keeping in mind that while some things remain the same, some things are different now! It’s been 4 years since my missionaries lived in America (while my grandsons never have). There will be much, of course ,that hasn’t changed about the character of my missionaries. That will be the common ground you will be able to use to reestablish your relationships with them as you set about making new memories. But be sensitive to the influence a vastly different culture may have had on their behaviors and attitudes, as you find your own way to reconnect.

     Knowing our imperfections but counting on the depth of our love for each other, this following verse will be my anchor during this fun, wonderful, and challenging time,

1 Peter 4:8,  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. NIV

A call to trust and to action:

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Recently, I came across this open letter to Southern Baptist and our Missionaries from Chuck Lawless,

Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

But please note,

   as the mom of a missionary, I am obviously concerned about how the current financial atmosphere within the IMB will be affecting ‘my missionary’. I know that the wise counsel of seasoned missionaries who worked with my son when he first arrived on the field were often a God-send (not just to them but to this praying mother). How it’s going to affect the work in the fields in the absence of those who elect to take early retirement only God knows. But I know that I know, that God has good plans for those missionaries still on the field and those who are retiring. Romans 8:28 & Jeremiah 29:11

From Chuck’s post:

   To my Southern Baptist friends on this side of the oceans: We’re a denomination with a renewed passion for church planting and church revitalization. I see more excitement among young leaders than I’ve ever seen. At the same time, our numbers don’t yet reflect a renewed commitment to evangelism. Many of our churches are, in fact, inwardly focused. We talk the Great Commission more than we do the Great Commission. That’s where our retiring missionaries can help us, for they’ve lived with a laser beam focus on reaching the lost and planting churches. We need them in our congregations. We need them in our leadership. We need them as our pastors and staff members. We need them telling the global story in our worship centers, our classes, and our homes.

   I’m grateful Southern Baptists have rallied to offer these retirees housing, automobiles, employment, etc., in conjunction with the IMB’s transition team. We must continue to take these steps over the next several months as retirees return. On the other hand, if we meet all these needs without capturing a missionary’s brokenness over lostness, we will not have adequately honored our retiring brothers and sisters. More importantly, we will not be adequately following Jesus.

  I’m praying that God will, in the mystery of His ways we don’t always understand, recharge our people – beginning with me – in these days of transition. I’m praying that we’ll reach the nations among us and around the world.

Please click on the following link for Chuck’s post in its entirety:
http://chucklawless.com/2015/10/an-open-letter-to-southern-baptists-and-our-missionaries/

How the economic downturn is affecting our missionaries, and how we can pray for them.

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During my time in the African bush, I met a wonderful missionary couple. I have asked them if I could share their concerns over the recent economic crisis concerning our missionaries and they gave their consent! Please read an excerpt from their newsletter regarding this subject, paying special attention to the prayer requests listed at the end.
The Financial Crisis at the IMB
The economic downturn of the last few years obviously hit the IMB very hard. You have likely read the news of the severe moves that the IMB is having to make in order to keep as many of our missionaries on the field as possible. This comes at a time of unprecedented access to the most difficult and hard-to-reach peoples of the earth. Voluntary Retirement Incentives are being offered to those who are over 50 years old and have at least five years of IMB experience. As we heard Dr. Platt and other top leaders announce this to missionaries and staff, you could hear the catch in their voices. (In case you’ve not read it, here’s the link to the open letter from Dr. Platt to Southern Baptists: Dr. Platt’s letter) Asking for our most experienced, well-connected, and culturally adapted personnel to voluntarily retire is certainly not the “A Plan,” but it was clear to us that our leadership has considered alternatives and believes this drastic move to be necessary at this time.
The Exciting Future of the IMB
This decision DOES NOT in any way dampen the vision for creating opportunities of service and pathways for 100,000 new overseas missionaries! We have worked with some of the “newer” missionaries and have met some of those who have been appointed recently. Their commitment to Christ, and their zeal to share the Gospel and the Word of God to the Unreached is so challenging! We are excited to know that our own gifts to the CP through our local church and those given directly to the LMCO are being used to support these men and women who are joining our experienced field personnel! As IMB missionaries, we are indeed “faith missionaries,” trusting God to provide through Southern Baptists who will passionately support IMB missions now and in the future! We are convinced that the best years of the IMB are ahead!
What now?
-Please consider today to be a strategic time to give to the IMB! Your timely gifts will be appreciated more now than ever before!
-Please pray for the IMB leadership as they seek to obey the Lord as well as meet the expectations of Southern Baptists by keeping our missionaries on the field.
-Please pray for all the IMB missionaries who are seeking God’s will in their decision about their future employment.
-Please pray specifically for us, as we strive to discern God’s best for us at this time. The reduction plan means that 1 out of 6 employees must find employment elsewhere. What does God want us to do? Jesus’ parable in Luke 19:6-10 reminds us that we are the Lord’s unworthy slaves and our desire is to be obedient to our Master. We rest knowing that His plans for us are always for His glory and our best!
-Please pray for us following Epaphras’ example in Colossians 4:12: that we would stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. We can’t wait to see what HE does next!

Not generally speaking!

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   Praying for our missionaries is something I do in earnest now. I grew up in a church that brought the need of praying for our missionaries to my attention. Every church I have served in since childhood has promoted praying for our missionaries as well.  So naturally, I prayed for them, consistently, but in a general way.

   Yet when my own son became a missionary my perspective on praying for our missionaries took on a new more intense facet. I suppose that is to be expected! However, I want to share with you some particulars of how I now pray and even if you won’t feel it to the depth that I do, I hope you will consider these particulars as you faithfully pray for our missionaries.

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Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There’s lots of reasons why our missionaries might grow anxious (especially today). But as this verse proclaims, in those anxious situations they can focus on being thankful for them.  Because in every situation, God has the power to bring good out of bad situations. That’s the key to the peace this verse claims.

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Isaiah 54:17, no weapon forged against you will prevail.

No weapon of any kind, be it anyone or anything.

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2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a strong mind.

When our missionaries face their days, they must reject fear and grasp the power, love, and strong mind provided to them by God. That needs to rule their thinking; not fear.

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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.

We need to pray that they will cooperate with God daily as He works out His plans for them.

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Matthew 9:31, But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.

We must pray that they will be successful in making Christ known to the people they have been called to serve.

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Pray that in their personal problems they will have the vision to know what they must do to experience true resolution and honor God.

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Then finally, remember that because of their calling they must endure separation from their families back home. This is hard because family life back home continues to happen but without them. It’s hard on our missionaries and believe me, it’s hard on their families back home. So, put yourselves in our place and remember to pray for the grace and mercy needed to live our lives separated from the ones we love. 

Missionaries advancing the gospel, together, in one sacred effort!

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   If you are a Southern Baptist, then you are familiar with the International Missions Board– the organization that takes care of and facilitates our missionaries’ efforts all over the world. During the month of December Southern Baptist Churches give towards the Lottie Moon Christmas offering ( which provides the major support of those IMB missionaries.)

Who is Lottie Moon?

Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (December 12, 1840 – December 24, 1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly forty years (1873–1912) living and working in China. As a teacher and evangelist she laid a foundation for traditionally solid support for missions among Baptists in America.(LM, Wikipedia)

   Having been a Southern Baptist all my life, I know the importance of giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. And obviously, when my son joined the ranks of this missionary organization, I got up close and personal with how my donations to the December offering affected our missionaries personally. From the vehicle they drive, the house they live in, the salary they are paid, the provision for my daughter in law when she gave birth to my grandson, to being able to arrange the complicated logistics for a pilot to fly into the remote area where my son and his family live to take the antibiotic my grandson desperately needed, my perspective on the importance of my giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering now finds its origin deep within my heart. 

   I pray Southern Baptist individuals, especially, but all who read this blog, will take to heart this mother’s plea to support the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. With all the sacrifices my son and his family (as well as their families in the States) have had to make in order for them to take Jesus to the nations, my heart is encouraged and comforted because I know from experience that because you give my son and his family will be provide for as they join with other IMB missionaries in making this sacred effort to share the gospel message.

And that’s worth every effort!

IS JESUS WORTH THE RISK?

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     As I was talking to my son the other day, via Skype (all missionary parents should be aware of this technology) I asked him about the status of our missionaries who are living in areas near the Ebola crisis (and other dangerous areas), as to whether they would stay or not? His response follows:

This question is one our missionary leadership and personnel must seriously considered especially in current days. When all has been evaluated and the decision is made to stay, it has come down to THIS:

Their devotion to Christ and making Him known to the people they have been called to serve is worth whatever risk that must be taken!

After pondering on this statement, this question formed in my mind:

What if the Church in America felt this same courageous devotion to Christ?

A Missionary’s Mom and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering!

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My Message to all of you on behalf of our missionaries and their families.

The holidays are such a blessed time of the year, esp Thanksgiving and Christmas. But know that especially around this time of the year when our families are separated by distances too great to easily overcome, your prayers are sorely needed. And from this missionary’s mom, knowing that those who pray for my beloveds are stepping up to the plate, even in these harsh economic times, and make generous contributions to the

LOTTIE MOON CHRISTMAS Offering 

encourages my aching heart in ways you can’t imagine. Thank you for your prayers and giving on behalf of my son and his family.

God bless all of the churches and individuals who send prayers and financial support through the Lottie Moon Christmas offering to our missionaries all across the globe.  Your loving generosity cannot be measured!

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