Tuesday, June 14, 2011
WOW!! So I think we've recovered from our trip. Dillon had a rough case of jet lag followed by a little stomach virus but I think life is settling back into the real world. We're so thankful that we were able to travel as a family and experience a little piece of life in these European cities. We didn't come back knowing for sure what we would do next, but we have a much better picture and know what questions we need to ask going forward. But let's start from the beginning.
So I know a few months ago I posted about the need for Evangelical churches in Europe, but in my heart I was still skeptical. I thought, sure, but there have been Christians in Europe for centuries so the church will be fine. But in visiting the cities of Paris, Marseille, and Belgrade, God changed my heart. In France, for example, the reformation never happened. They violently repressed any group with ideas contrary to the Catholic church. So there are relics of Catholicism everywhere, but few whose hearts have been changed by the gospel. It's a similar story in Belgrade. It's said to be Serbian is to be Orthodox, but the church is becoming less relevant.
In these two countries, some have a grandmother who went to church or they may celebrate Christian holidays, but there are other places in Europe where this isn't even true. In some countries, most do not even know a Christian. Most Europeans don't wonder if Jesus is the way, they don't even ask themselves if there is a God. So we could sit at a cafe in Paris for example, a city of 20 million, and we may not see another Christian even though hundreds of people walk past.
We were humbled by the lostness and burdened for the work started. Though living in Europe may seem like an easy thing to do, we saw the struggles of the missionaries. Some who have lived in Europe for at least 5 years and still have not seen a church planted (and not for lack of effort or reliance on God). We believe that God is moving, but it is slow work.
So what now? We came home burdened to pray for Europe and the church planters there. We also came home desiring to return. We don't know exactly when or where, but we are ready and willing. Because of Drew's degree program at the Seminary, we know that there are job openings that we could apply for. We expect to wait another year before we leave unless God directs otherwise. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to seek God's will for our family. This has definitely been a life changing process for us as we are trying to learn what it means to submit to God, and to our local church, and follow where he leads.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
(This is a picture of an eruv that I found at http://bokertov.typepad.com/btb/2007/12/boulder-eruv-fr.html)
I was watching the Daily Show from Wednesday night and one of the reports was about an eruv that Orthodox Jews want to put up around Westhampton Beach. I don't know a whole lot about Orthodox Judaism, but according to myjewishlearning.com and wikipedia (I know, not the most reliable sources) the eruv is an enclosure around a home or a community that allows observant Jews to carry things on the Sabbath. Basically, God told the Jewish people not to work on the Sabbath. Jewish scholars include carrying babies and other things within this command to not work. Obviously, if you have a baby you have to pick him up and, by this definition, work even on the Sabbath. So they created the idea of the eruv. It is a symbolic wall set up and within this "wall" you are allowed to carry certain things on the Sabbath. The segment on the Daily Show was about discrimination and some other things, but as Drew and I have been memorizing Romans 8 with our church family and this idea of an eruv really caught my attention.
The way I see it, the Orthodox Jews know that they cannot fulfil the law. They (and we) are not capable of doing everything that God requires. These Jews also know that they will be judged according to the law. So they have created a loophole. They are still breaking the law, but they can feel justified because of their human tradition. As a Christian, I am so thankful that I do not have to rely on tradition to feel justified. God's word tells me "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you, through Christ Jesus, from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a new plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin's control over our lives by giving his son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled for those who no longer follow their sinful nature but instead follow the Holy Spirit." Romans 8: 1-4 NLT. How wonderful that we do not have to rely on ourselves to fulfill the law on our own, or to create our own loopholes, but we can simply turn to Christ and God has done it for us!
Friday, February 18, 2011
Well, we have already had an exciting 2011. We've visited Arkansas twice and gotten to see so much of our family and so many friends, but of course we NEVER get to see everyone we would like, or have enough time. Traveling with a 3 month old was adventure enough for us! We drove back right after Christmas and were so blessed that Dillon slept most of the drive, except when we got stuck in a traffic jam. The second trip was unexpected for my grandmother's funeral so we flew. And we were again thankful that Dillon did so well. He loved looking at all the people and was willing to stay on our laps the whole flight.
We've been so amazed at how much he has grown in the past 2 months. He can even roll over! He's started babbling which has been so fun. And every day he's becoming more and more expressive. In the past couple days he's even gotten to play his own little version of catch and practiced trowing frisbees with his daddy. We're so thankful for our little one and how big he's getting!!
Our church, Sojourn Community Church, is continuing to grow and our campus has had to split from one to two services! One of the things we love about our church is that we have community groups that meet througout the week instead of Sunday School. Our groups talk about the sermon from Sunday and it helps us apply what we've learned and dig a little deeper. Since our church is growing, they are always in need of new groups to start meeting and Drew and I are hoping to multiply from our current group so that both new groups can have room to grow! We are really excited about this opportunity to get more involved!
Another opportunity that we have is coming this summer. We are hoping to be able to go with our church to visit our missionaries in Western Europe. This is a unique trip to not only pray for the cities, talk about Jesus, and encourage the missionaries, but they will be sharing their vision with us. The hope is that Sojourn can learn how to better partner with these families, and that those on the trip would catch their vision and decide to partner with their church planting team. Sojourn has a great vision of not sending individuals or families on their own, but to send them in teams with other families and we might have the opportunity of joining an existing team in either Paris or Rome. There are a lot of things that we need to work through, but we think that this trip will be invaluable to clarifying our call to missions. A good friend has told Drew that he thinks our family could thrive in Western Europe and we want to take that seriously. Even though it was once home to many Christian heroes, Europe is now a spiritually dark place, with less than 2% evangelical Christians. The society is now post Christian, because the people see Christianity as a thing of the past and think that they have gotten over the need for religion. It is clear to us that Western Europe has a desperate need for the Gospel.
The trip is at the beginning of June and Dillon will be 8 months old by then. When you think of us, pray that we can be prepared to take an 8 month old all the way to Europe and that he will travel well not only on the long plane ride but as we travel between cities. Please also pray for us as we raise support. We can't go if we don't raise the funds for the trip, a big chunk of it over the next week. If we don't go this summer, there may not be another good time. We feel that it is important to go as a family and this is our best opportuity before Drew finishes school in a couple years. Pray that we will be diligent and that God's people will be generous.