Exodus 16:2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Just about a month and a half after experiencing arguably the most miraculous of miracles, walking through a parted sea on dry land to escape Egypt, Israel complains against God that He does not care about them and wishes them dead. What short-lived memories (mind you they also had the pillar of fire and cloud presently guiding them)! Yet, by their complaints, we know that something else was true: They were starving to death. The way that God made for them in the wilderness was not pleasant…at all. It was miserable, and difficult. They didn’t have enough to eat, they didn’t have enough to drink, and God was not providing for them in the way they expected, and not on the schedule they thought reasonable.
They would need to learn to wait on the Lord. I don’t know that they ever truly did. If I’m honest, I don’t know that I have either. I’d like to say I’ve matured to a point that I don’t resemble these attitudes, yet I’m glad there is no one chronicling the gory details of my life for all future generations to see! I fear the things that could be written about my inward thoughts, the complaints I’ve let fly against God’s provision, and the words spoken out of limited perspective. If I took a little closer stock of them, I’d certainly be a little less critical of the multitudinous failures of Israel’s wilderness wanderings.
Truth be told we’ve been having our ‘waiters’ tested this year. We’ve made a lot of changes in our life and ministry, with an eye toward the future. We had to make some decisions that brought both joy and grief while God provided and assured us of His presence. The last couple of months have brought testings of their own, as we’ve had our hands full on the plow while preparing for our furlough. In the form of continued prayer requests, I’d love to share some of the ways we’ve seen the Lord working and growing our faith in the process, and how you can be praying with us for this ministry.
Pastor David and Eliska with family
1. We began working with the new church-plant in the Repy estate of Prague last August. As we joined in the ministry we attempted to be quick to help and slow to speak. The more we get to know ‘how things work’ in Czech ministry, we see the wisdom in this mode of operation. As we’ve gotten to know the ministry and pastor David and his wife Eliska, we’ve appreciated their heart and the way the Lord has led them. They are a lovely family and are diligently seeking and serving. At the same time, we began discerning some areas that were in need of being addressed in regard to the church and its ministries. Particularly, in regard to where time and energies are being spent, and where they are not. I wanted to address the issues, but just sensed that the timing wasn’t right, and that there might be more to the story than what we were perceiving. There always is. Last month we had a leadership meeting, and I was both cautiously optimistic and dreading raising our concerns. As we came to the part of the meeting where we begin planning for upcoming ministries, David and Eliska called a ‘timeout’ and wanted to share something on their hearts. They shared their conviction that we needed to reevaluate our priorities in the ministries that we are doing and earnestly seek God’s direction for how and where we should be investing our time and resources! God was doing the same thing in each of our hearts, and we were able to move forward with unity and joy in our labors together. I know this sounds fairly mundane and is not the kind of miracle that makes a great story. But it’s in these kinds of moments that our hearts are refreshed as missionaries. Please continue to pray for our church: That we would grow in love and grace, and that we would be able to effectively reach our neighborhood with the gospel.
2. Furlough housing is never easy for us. We can’t rent through the normal channels as a) rental managers don’t want a family of 8, unless it’s in a huge house that we can’t afford, and b) we can’t commit to the leases that are required. This leaves us looking for ‘connections’. Unfortunately, these seem to be in short supply as well. As we’ve been striking out in every direction we’ve looked, we began to despair. Our ‘waiters’ were being tested. With 6 kids already expressing their anxiety and fears about having to leave ‘home’ to go to a ‘home’ they feel little connection to, and our meager budget potential, I for one was knocking a little harder on heaven’s door each day. As I prayed about where God would have us land and where we should be trying to find housing, my heart kept being turned toward eastern Kansas, where we have family and a smaller base of supporters. I reached out to a pastor friend who made our need known. Soon after I was put in touch with Rick. Rick is a widower who has a lovely 4 bedroom home in a nice area of Lawrence, KS. He has offered to let us live in it for a symbolic price, while he relocates to reside with his kids during our furlough. God would then provide one more confirmation if I wasn’t sure. We’ll be homeschooling our kids for the 6 months on furlough, and the prospect of keeping everyone on track and getting the time and attention they need to succeed is daunting, especially with 2 High schoolers and 2 Jr. Highers in the mix now. We would need some help. In the last month or so, a retired teaching couple came to CISP (Christian International School of Prague) to fill in some teaching position gaps to the end of the school year. Phyllis has been tutoring one of our kids in math. As we got to chatting she expressed that they really enjoy tutoring and assisting homeschooling families when they are home, and offered to continue tutoring our kids when we all return to the U.S. …because they live in Lawrence, KS! We praise God for His provision.
3. Of course we plan on seeing everyone we can in California! And we so look forward to it. We’re eager to reconnect and update on all that we’ve seen the Lord doing in Czech Republic these last 4 years. We’re planning to be in California for the months of August and December at minimum. If you look at your calendar and see a date that would work to get together and fellowship over a cup of coffee or tea, let us know and we’ll get it on our calendar as well! Please pray that we’ll be able to use our limited time efficiently and that the times we get to spend with our ministry partners would be blessed and that our partnerships would be strengthened.
The calm before the storm
4.Easter Outreach- On the Saturday before Easter our church hosted a large egg hunt in a local park. Around 200 kids plus their families came out and enjoyed a morning of crafting, competing, and collecting plastic eggs. We shared the news of Jesus’ resurrection at one of the activity stations and introduced people to our church. Please pray that as the Holy Spirit is moving in people’s hearts, they would respond by reaching out to our church. We were able to plant many seeds, we pray for the opportunity to water and nurture them further.
5. We have a month full to the brim with ministry events coming up. We’ll be hosting a team of ladies who are exploring ministry options in Europe with ABWE. As a church we'll be hosting a team from a church in UK who have come alongside us to provide encouragement and support. After a very positive result from our first try, we’ll be holding another community boardgame event at the church on June 15. We pray for opportunities to connect with many folks, and establish some new relationships.
6. Financial support- please continue to pray for new supporters and additional support to cover our monthly shortfall. Several families have blessed us with one-time gifts to carry us these shortfall months. We thank God for you! In the meantime, landing on American soil July 1, won’t magically cover our support either. We need to be connected with new partners with this ministry and regain full support as soon as possible. Please don’t hesitate to help us make connections with individuals or churches who might be interested in partnering with this ministry. One of the most helpful things you can do as either a prayer or financial supporter is open doors for us that we might not be able to open ourselves. One thing that has been a great blessing in the past is hosting a BBQ or casual meal and inviting friends over with whom we can share our ministry as we break bread together. If you would be willing to host such an event, let’s plan it out together!