Midway through Holy Week

Angry, distressed, troubled, sorrowful . . . sounds like us, doesn't it?

It also sounds like Jesus as he cleansed the temple, stayed awake all night in the garden and prayed, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me." (Mark 14:36) But Jesus submitted to the Father's will and entrusted himself to the one who does not grow tired or weary.

Luke and Shannon have followed God to a hard place for ministry, but they take heart in the promise of the everlasting God, Creator of the ends of the earth.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28)

For His Sake

Jesus had to go to the cross alone. But as the writer of Hebrews said, Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Our gospel sacrifice for his sake will be worth it . . . now--and then.

Eric and Sara Channing have been willing to follow Jesus at all costs.
Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not fail to receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30

Instructions Included

As we try to make sense of unsettling global events, take heart this Holy Week and walk with confidence because God counsels you with his very eye upon you.

A promise for instruction (Phil and Ann Baur, Anita Deyneka)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

A promise for wisdom (Janet Blomberg)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

Sheep Who Follow

Tim and Carol were part of the China Study Team, and now they are following Jesus for the long haul. As we celebrate Palm Sunday, renew your commitment to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

Purpose and Plans

Today's promises are from missionaries who work with young people.

A Promise According to His Purpose (Robbie Becker)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A Promise for Hope and a Future (Jeff and Margreet Dusek)
"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." Jeremiah 29:11

Generous Wisdom, Steadfast Love

At the Spring Missions Festival, the attending missionaries introduced themselves by sharing a promise from God's Word. From now through Easter Monday, April 6, we are posting these promises to encourage all of us to hold fast to his life-giving Word.

A Promise of Wisdom (Ben and Mandy Pehrson)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

A Promise of Steadfast Love and Faithfulness (Tammy Lundell)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24

A Simple Smile

by Lorraine Triggs

Ever since Sarah's mother had a baby in November, Sarah's quiet father has been faithfully bringing her to Kids' Harbor Bible school each Sunday. He never stays for worship or an Adult Community, but always picks up Sarah on time. In World Relief's ESL program, Sarah's dad is learning English and taking care of his growing family over at Wheaton Square Apartments.

One week, I casually mentioned that his wife needed to bring in the new baby so I could see her. "When it is warmer," I said. "It is too cold out for the baby."

This past Sunday, both of Sarah's parents dropped her off. It's always a little crazy at Kindergarten check-in time, but I soon noticed that the two of them were still standing there. That's when I saw her--Baby Rebecca all bundled up in her car seat.

Sarah's father's English is stronger than her mother's but there was no mistaking good, old Midwestern friendliness as I fussed over the baby, with her thatch of black hair and remarkable resemblance to Sarah.

After Bible school, I found out that Sarah's parents had placed the baby in the nursery and had gone to worship for the first time. Maybe all it took was a baby and a smile to make another connection point with a refugee family.


Starting Over

We gardeners greet the month of March with a mixture of skepticism and hope as we look for any signs of life in our dormant garden beds. It's spring, after all, the season of new life and rebirth. In this entry, Lauren Fortosis writes about new life--that is, the new life refugee families experience when they arrive here through World Relief. 

When I first heard about Good Neighbor teams a few years ago, I sort of felt like Moses when God asked him to go to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites. I felt totally unprepared and assumed I wouldn't be a great fit for this type of ministry.

I am a bit uncomfortable in situations where it's hard to communicate, and this would almost certainly be the case with refugee families who partnered with World Relief and Good Neighbor teams. Yet, somehow, I felt God nudging me to do this, saying, "I'll equip you to do what I have asked you to do. Before I had too much time to talk myself out of it, I attended an informational meeting and signed up.

Within a few weeks, our little Good Neighbor team gathered at the airport, waiting for the arrival of our family. Steven, Ellen and their little boy, Isaac, arrived from India and the next couple of weeks were a whirlwind. We strategized  about how to find Steven a job, how to take them to the grocery store and explain about food stamps and how to get them to ESL classes to work on their English. I was amazed at the magnitude of transition this young famly had to go through financially, culturally and geographically. I also saw the benefits of a Good Neighbor team in place to assist refugee families through this transition.

Yet, a part of me remained discouraged because they spoke almost no English. I struggled with the language barrier, let alone the cultural barriers that separated us from making an emotional connection.

One day at a WIC appointment as we waited for food stamps, I had a little glimpse into Ellen's heart. 

I had recently found out that, like me, Ellen was pregnant with her second child. Ellen, however, had a health condition that could make the pregnancy dangerous to both her and the baby. It was imperative that we found proper medical care and nutrition for Ellen. The woman from WIC asked if we needed a translator and I agreed that it was probably a good idea. I will never forget what happened next.

For the first time, I sat and listened and understood Ellen as she poured out her heart and her struggles with loneliness and anxiousness about the pregnancy. She felt overwhelmed in a new place with so many new things to learn and take in.

I went home and wept after our appointment. I realized that Ellen and I weren't so different after all. I had struggled with some of those same feelings. A woman from halfway across the world experiences some of the same fears and cares a a woman in Wheaton did. And that woman from halfway around the world and that woman from Wheaton both ultimately need the love of Jesus.

It took a Good Neighbor team to bring these two women together. It takes a Good Neighbor team to share that love of Jesus in tangible ways. And if you join a Good Neighbor team, you will come away from the experienced as blessed as the family you are serving.