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Countdown to January!

We have very exciting news!  As many of you know, we were accepted as members of NTM earlier this year.  We have also been praying and thinking about where God would have us serve.  It has been a long journey of praying, seeking council, having long discussions, and researching.  During that time, God began directing us to look into the needs in West Africa.  It wasn’t long before God continued to focus our attention on that area of the world, and we began the process of applying to the leadership there.

Just a few weeks ago, the lengthy application process and interviews came to a conclusion, and we are now free to announce that we have been accepted and are now considered by New Tribes to be en route to West Africa!!

Our plan is to move to Senegal in January, 2015 (just 10 months away!). We’ll live in Dakar, Senegal for a year or two while learning the French language, West African culture, and building relationships with the nationals and the national churches.  During this time of language and culture learning, we will also be looking to God to direct us toward the long term ministry we will have in West Africa.

We are very excited about living and working in West Africa!  We have been greatly encouraged by meeting and talking with some of the other NTM missionaries who are already working there.  We know it will be a huge honor to work alongside and learn from those who have such a heart for God and for reaching those who haven’t heard God’s message.

Thank you to all of you who are a part of this team!

The country of Senegal, where we'll spend our first couple of years in West Africa.

The country of Senegal, where we’ll spend our first couple of years in West Africa.

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What We’re Doing…In Pictures

Cameron has been in the Missionary Tech Specialist classes for  2 weeks now.

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He’s in class from 8-5 with a 1 hour lunch break, then has homework in the evenings. As part of the training the tech-specialists get the opportunity to help teach the basic tech training that all students take.

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FLASHBACK!! Me in tech class last year:

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While Cameron’s learning about imaginary numbers, brushless motors, and lots of other things I know nothing about, I’m home with the kids, Gracia and our foster son “Little Dude.”

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We’re in our 4th week of homeschooling. Gracia’s in kindergarten and starting to learn how to read. Little Dude is working away in his pre-school book. His favorite is learning with legos. :)

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We also got the privilege of seeing Big Sis and Little Bro again! We’ve taken care of them 2 times before, and this last week we watched them over the weekend for their foster parents. Sorry we can’t show any of their adorable faces.

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Please pray for us to manage our time well between Cameron’s classes, homework, homeschooling, foster-related things, parenting, and getting everything in place for moving overseas. But most importantly pray that we’ll continue to grow closer to our God in everything!

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A few words from Suduwame

Suduwama-preaching-on-outreachDon’t turn back form the work which you are learning about and being strengthened in. Do not turn back from that work which God has given you to do. Be strong. If you give up and turn back and do not go to tell those who have never heard, then who will go and tell them? Those people will continue living with their total sin debt. But so that they can be forgiven and free from their sin debt, they must be told God’s Word. Be strong in continuing to do the work of God.”

 This message had traveled half-way around the world to reach us.  It was from a man named Suduwame, a member of the Bisorio people group in Papua New Guinea.  As he grew to adulthood in his remote jungle village, he didn’t learn about the God who had paid his sin debt.  He learned instead about spirits, and magic, and curses.  He learned about pain, and suffering, and death.  In the early 1970′s two missionary families moved into his village.  They lived among his people, they learned his people’s language and ways.  The missionaries continually reminded them that they had come to tell them a vitally important message.

This message had traveled half-way around the world to reach us.  It was from a man named Suduwame, a member of the Bisorio people group in Papua New Guinea.  As he grew to adulthood in his remote jungle village, he didn’t learn about the God who had paid his sin debt.  He learned instead about spirits, and magic, and curses.  He learned about pain, and suffering, and death.  In the early 1970′s two missionary families moved into his village.  They lived among his people, they learned his people’s language and ways.  The missionaries continually reminded them that they had come to tell them a vitally important message.

 However, as a young man, Suduwame felt that he had more important things to do than listen to these strange people and their bizarre message.  The missionaries began telling stories about the Creator God, but Suduwame didn’t come to listen, he stayed away, hunting, and tending his garden.  The Missionaries began with the first stories about the Creator, and everyday they would tell the next story in order.  He knew that his friends and family kept returning everyday to hear the missionaries talk.  None of this brought him to listen, he continued to stay far away.  siar-595x3001

At last, Suduwame heard that the missionaries were going to tell the last story and his curiosity finally got the best of him.  Decades later, he has this to say about that day.

 “Let me tell you something, I wasn’t there for the first six months of teaching, they taught, and I missed it. I showed up on the last day, when they were speaking about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. All the others were there, the teachers were acting out the story. I watched the whole thing, I saw everything, and all my Bisorio friends saw the same thing. And at the end, everyone stood up, rejoicing and excited. But I didn’t understand.  It didn’t make any sense to me. I thought to myself, ‘I speak the same language as my brothers and sisters, why doesn’t this make sense??’ Everyone else was happy but I still didn’t understand.”

All around him, his friends and family were jumping up with excitement and celebrating what God had done on their behalf! However, as he said, none of it made sense to him because he had not listened to any of the stories that led up to this moment.  But from that day on, he saw a difference in his friends, he saw a change in them.  He wanted to know what they knew, he wanted to know why they had shouted with joy on that day!  Suduwame found out.  He started coming to hear the missionaries talk.  Although this time around, it wasn’t just the missionaries speaking, some of his Bisorio brothers were up with the missionaries, teaching the stories as well!  

rugged-crossSuduwame learned about the Creator God.  He learned about how his ancestors, Adam and Eve, had rebelled with Satan against God.  He learned how God communicated with man, and promised a rescuer.  He learned of mankind’s long history of failure to keep God’s standard.  He learned about the Rescuer who did arrive, he learned that this Rescuer was God Himself!  He learned that the payment for mankind’s sin debt was death.  He learned that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, paid this debt once and for all on the cross!

He finally knew why the others were changed!  And he had this to say, “I believed when they said, ‘Jesus died on the cross for you’.  The Spirit of God came to live within me!” 

 Suduwame is now one of the leaders of the growing Bisorio church.  He not only studies and teaches God’s word to his own people, but he also travels to surrounding people groups, sharing God’s talk with them as well.  God has changed him to such a degree that he is willing to undergo great personal sacrifice in order to further God’s message.  

 Recently, several of our classmates traveled to visit Suduwame and the other Bisorio people in his isolated village.  They returned with hours of recordings, straight from the mouths of these vibrate believers.  Among the recordings was the message Suduwame sent to be read to us, the students attending NTM’s Missionary Training Center.  We were all deeply challenged and encouraged by his words.  

 We look forward to the day that we can work alongside men and women like Suduwame who have been rescued and changed by God is such an incredible way!   

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The truth about God

Hebrews 12 :1-2tarahumara runner

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joyawaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 

We have an important race before us. A vitally important task. We might be feeling trepidation, fear, self-confidence, anxiety, at such a task! We know it will involve pain, suffering, perhaps even failure.

We know the task is, humanly speaking, impossible!

But what is God asking us to focus on? The race? Our selves? Our sin?

He is asking us to focus on a person, on our Lord Jesus Christ! What kind of God would give of Himself in such a way? Making Himself the author and finisher of our faith?

Let’s remember who our God is…

He spoke the universe into existence, and yet He still walked in the garden with His creation.

In response to Man’s rebellion, he promises a rescuer!

He even provided clothing for Adam and Eve.

He promised to crush Satan under His heel.

He closed the door of the ark, saving Noah and His family.

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He created his chosen people from broken, fallen man, when He could have easily created them from the stones on the ground!

He is the God who stopped Abraham’s arm, sparing Issac and providing a substitute!

He had compassion on Hagar when she cried out in despair!

He worked through men like Jacob, a liar, a cheat.

He rescued His people from Egypt, making a mockery of the Egyptian’s so-called gods!

He parted the red sea!

He descended on Mount Sinai, declaring His law to His people as they shook in terror.

He worked through men like Moses, Aaron, Joshua.

He fed his people, he even preserved their shoes!

He made provision for widows, for the fatherless, for the poverty-stricken, for the stranger.

He gave His people the home He had promised.

He worked through men like David, an adulterer, a murderer!

He destroyed Israel’s enemies!

He healed Ruth’s broken heart

He stood with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegoin the blazing furnace.

He stepped into history! Just like He had planned from the beginning!

He set aside His glorious position.

He, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself”

-Phil 2:2-8

He came to this earth that is in ABSOLUTE rebellion against Him!

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This world that groans under the curse of sin! Death, decay, disease, pain, abuse, 

This is the world into which our God stepped.war, hate, famine, depression, hunger, thirst.

He came, not as we would choose, as a king, but as an infant.

Not rich, but poor. Not in strength, but in weakness.

THIS is the God we worship, THIS is the God we serve.

He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind!

He forgave the paralyzed man’s sin!

He rescued men from the horrific grip of Satan’s army.

He shut up the mouths of his opponents, the self-righteous pharisees.

He astonished the crowds!

He calmed raging storms!

He comforted and protected children. When no one else cared.

He wept for His friend, and then brought him back from the grave!

Who were his friends? Tax collectors, uneducated laborers, anarchists, rebels, loud-mouthed fools.

If everything He did were written down, the whole world wouldn’t have room for the books it would fill!

He allowed Himself to be betrayed

Beaten. Mocked. Ridiculed. Falsely accused!

His own people rejected Him, choosing a murder instead.OldRuggedCross_Sept06cropBWsmall.sized

He went, not to the clean, abstract cross of today, but to the cruel, vicious cross of humiliation and shame.

The One who wrote “Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree” hung on the tree!

He became a curse, for us.

In the most incredible, unbelievable act yet, the perfect creator of the universe became sin, for us!

He demonstrated His righteousness so that He would be the Just and the Justifier of all who believe!”

-Rom 3:26

He rose!

He defeated Death. Sin. Hell.

All that which crushes this earth in it’s grip, He makes a spectacle of it! (Eph 4:8)

He comforted those who, only days before, had denied Him.

This is our God, the God who then sent His Holy Spirit into those who had believed and been made right before God in His Son

He changed those men and women.

He was in Peter when he stood boldly in the crowd and declared God’s message

He was in Stephen as the stones beat his body to death

He was in the early Jewish believers when they lost their homes, their families, their businesses, but never the eternal riches they have in Him!

He was in those He empowered to take His message of life into all the world.

Paul and Silas knew who He was, they knew what He could do, they knew that the prison walls couldn’t rob them of their freedom, that the chains couldn’t rob them of their joy, that their wounds couldn’t rob them of their peace! They sang out in praise of this God!

He saved the jailer who, ready to plunge the sword into his heart, cried out “What must I do to be saved?

He is the God who inspired Paul to write:

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

-Phil. 3:4-9
This is the same God who wants to include US in His plan!

This is the God who is not distant, but here with us.

This is the God who wants us to ABIDE, be sourced in HIS SON!
He wants us to KNOW Him, Not as a a bullet point, or as a theological statement, but experientially.

…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

So yes, the race is long, painful, arduous.

The task IS impossible!

 …We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

Through the fear, through the pain, through the anguish….Let’s focus on Him

We know so much about who our God is… Lets daily trust Him to SHOW us who He is!

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Here’s what God’s been teaching me

I can’t believe it, just one more week of classes! One week from today our class (pictured below) will be graduating from the Missionary Training Center! While some of our classmates are staying for additional linguistics training, some to work as staff temporarily and couple of guys (including Cameron) will be staying for one semester of Missionary Technology training, the rest are leaving. I’m dreading the good-byes, but excited to hear about how God uses our classmates as we go our ways.

Pray for all of us to stick close to God!

Pray for all of us to stick close to God!

I’ve been continuing to blog over at Purposely Frugal and in my attempt to be more vulnerable and open with people I’ve recently written two posts: