Categories
Choices Comfort Correction Covid19 Feeding Missions Perspective What Did You Do

I Want In

I’m not an extrovert by any stretch of the imagination. By nature, I know those who know me may find this hard to believe, I prefer to sneak in and out unseen and unheard. It’s more comfortable, I’m happy to let others take the lead and simply follow. I’m happy to fade into the background…unless I see something that I have the power to help change. I hate to see people suffer, especially those who are helpless, and not do anything to help change their circumstances.

I have sometimes wished that this part of me would fade a bit into the background as it has, on occasion, brought me into the limelight, sometimes in very uncomfortable ways. Yet, no matter what I do, if I see someone hurting and I can do something to help, I want in. There have been times that this part of me has driven me to exhaustion. It has also driven me to great and seemingly impossible lengths to raise funds to bring meaningful change to this part of the world that we live in. It has driven me to sleepless nights as I work out in my mind what can be done when no one is doing anything. I want in, I want in.

I’ve also learned that while I am driven to help, it is Jesus who lives in me that is the One who brings help through His people. I’m unable to find solutions for everyone, but I am able to help someone. I should never use the excuse of a problem being too big for me to recline from what I should do for the one or the two that I can help.

The heaviness in my heart, and in the hearts of those working in this way, is simply a reflection of our Father’s heart for this world. It is through us, His servants, that He works and moves. It may be that the heaviness that those of us working for Him feel is also a reflection of how He feels when His people aren’t on the front lines bringing help to the helpless. It may be that part of the heaviness we feel is His own sorrow over our lack of involvement. He has given us everything, why have we at times closed our eyes or turned our backs thinking, “They should know better by now, they should do better by now, they should be better by now, I have my own needs to think of.”

Thank God someone reached out to me when I should have known better. Thank God someone reached out to me when I should have done better. Thank God someone reached out to me when I should have been better.

And still, through us, Jesus is saying, “I want in, I want in.”

As overwhelming as the needs are around us in this upside down world, we serve a God who desperately wants in so He can bring His power into the equation. So much depends on our “wanting in” to the will and plan of God. I’m all in, I want in.

Matthew 25:40 NKJ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

Categories
Change Church planting Courage Missions Obedience

Inconvenient Paths

Today’s entry is a forward of our monthly newsletter for Africa & Beyond. We have so much news to tell and so little time to tell it! I hope you enjoy. Please click the YouTube link below the entry for a short/not-so-short update on our news. Blessings, Lea

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Luke 1:78,79 TPT “The splendor light of heaven’s glorious sunrise is about to break upon us in holy visitation, all because the merciful heart of our God is so very tender. The word from heaven will come to us with dazzling light to shine upon those
who live in darkness, near death’s dark shadow. And he will illuminate the path that leads to the way of peace.”

Life is hard, but God’s heart for us is “very tender.” If we can have the faith to trust His tender heart for us, we can do anything He requires of us. Most of the time the directions He gives are things that will pull us away from what is comfortable or convenient. The amazing thing about God’s “inconvenient paths” is that they always lead us to peaceful destinations – even though our minds cannot grasp what He is doing in the moment.

Expansion

Mozambique, a land with a turbulent history that borders Malawi, is the newest country on our radar for church planting. Currently, we have a small group of believers who are waiting for temporary permission to meet while we wait for final permission to operate as a church which could take up to a year. While we wait, please keep our requests for temporary and final permission in your prayers. Once we have even temporary permission, we will be able to begin meeting.

Kinshasa, DRC is the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Currently, we have 3 churches in the eastern part of the DRC. Our sights have been set to plant a church in Kinshasa this year. This is particularly exciting for us as we have prayed to plant a church in Kinshasa for many years, we simply had no idea who was destined to lead a church so far away. Last year, our Senior Pastors Emmanuel and Jackie Nkunku in Bujumbura approached us saying they both felt led to return to Kinshasa, their home city, and plant a church. Until now, all of our churches have been planted in the Central/Eastern regions of the continent – it’s time to go west!

Growing Pains and Inconvenience

Obviously growing into new cities and nations is accompanied by some growing pains.  We have spent the past year praying and strategizing with our local leaders and close partners overseas on how to best to

not only get Pastors Emmanuel and Jackie from Bujumbura, Burundi to Kinshasa, DRC, but also to make sure the leadership in Bujumbura main church is secured. We were personally taken by surprise as we prayed through this issue when it became apparent to all who have helped guide us through this process that we were to be the ones to lead the main Bujumbura church. As you may/may not know, this church is the first church we planted in 1992; returning to pastor it was not something we had in mind. However, we are sure that this is the right thing to do – we are under a mandate from God to get to Burundi by June this year.

Logistically, the work here in Blantyre, Malawi where we have been since 2016, is doing amazingly well. God blessed us with a quality couple, Pastors Chimwemwe and Mary Chihana, who are not novices and are anointed to lead this local church. Our plans for Blantyre remain the same: construction of facilities as God brings the funds in as well as opening a school in 2019. Mary has been studying the Montessori program and will be the lead teacher, she takes her final exams this month and will graduate in July this year as a qualified teacher. This Sunday, April 15th, we will be laying hands on this precious couple and commissioning them into the ministry of pastoring this church.

The pastors planting in Kinshasa will be moving in/around September; with our arrival in the country in June, there will be time to transition between their and our leadership. What remains for all of this to take place is for all of the necessary parts to move in unison: 2 households are moving (ours and the current pastors in Burundi),  the Chihanas to pastor the church in Blantyre, and in Lilongwe, our main pastors, Wilson and Yamikani Mvinya, will become the national overseers for the nation of Malawi and Mozambique. The financial burden is great, but God’s provision is greater – what God orders, He pays for. Thank you for standing with us in faith for everything to come together in this amazing and sudden season of expansion and growth.

Truly, a little one is becoming 1,000,

Pastor Jamie, Lea and Andreya

 

Categories
Change Inconvenience

Inconvenienced

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I remember the day when I found out we were having our first baby; what a change that day represented! When I told my husband that a baby was on the way, he cried, hugged me, laughed, and proceeded to tell everyone. We didn’t follow any proper protocol in announcing this good news – everyone had to know RIGHT AWAY!

As the weeks turned into months and my belly grew, I began to notice that having a baby would mean much more than the first thrill of the news. We began to prepare for our child. Someone asked if we had prepared the nursery, what’s a nursery? Another asked, would we be using cloth diapers or disposable, diapers?
Yet another asked if we wanted our baby to wear onesies or just tshirts, what’s a onesie?

Changes were on the horizon. At first, the news of our pregnancy was thrilling, and then we began to understand that there’s more to this than exciting news; our lives were about to be seriously inconvenienced.

My due date was set at November 28th but my little one decided that he couldn’t wait that long. On November 4, 1985, (the Cowboys were playing, a serious inconvenience for my husband), I felt a sudden and painful contraction that was mostly centered in my lower back. There would be no good night’s sleep, there would be no easy way out, there was no schedule this child wanted to follow – at midnight, I found myself in the car on the way to the hospital.

All night long and into the morning of the 5th of November, I was given an education. The thrill of first knowing a baby was on the way was a distant memory as I agonized (yes, agonized) to deliver my firstborn. I was being seriously inconvenienced.

When our son was born and we heard his first cry, I didn’t care about the pain, the lack of sleep, or off-color hospital gown. This beautiful boy had just made his home with us. A lifetime of inconvenience followed, but the pure joy and richness of having this addition to our family made the inconveniences seem very unimportant. I learned to live an inconvenient life.

John 5:6 “Do you want to get well?”

If you read John 5, you’ll see that Jesus was questioning a man who was an invalid and had been in that state for 38 years. I think it would have been obvious that the man wanted to get well but Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” Why do you think He asked him such a question?

Jesus always speaks beyond the obvious. He knows we are conflicted in our minds and as much as we might think we want things to change in our circumstances, we grow comfortable with the way things are going in life. Change can be, even in difficult times, more uncomfortable than the discomfort we struggle with from day to day.

If you read on in John 5, you’ll see that the man who Jesus was speaking to had an unexpected answer, “I have no one to help me.” How could it be that he had, after sitting there for 38 years, found no one to help him? Chris Tiegreen says, “Mixed motives make for slow responses.”

Perhaps this man feared what a dramatic change like a healing would bring to his life. Perhaps Jesus was confronting him at this encounter as if to say, “Can you handle what life would be like after a radical encounter with Me?”

Are we like this man? Do we fear change to the point of resisting change? We get deliverance from sin and bondages but often look for ways to be tempted to return to them. We struggle with our “divided souls.”

Do you want to get well? Are you ready for things to be inconvenient? For life will surely change – for the better – when we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced by Him.