We all have a journey. For some of us our path is the result of meticulous planning, some of us take life as it comes, and for most of us the truth lies somewhere between haphazard and precise. Many of you have walked this path alongside us, as family and friends you have been drug along for this voyage whether you wished to be or not. We are so grateful for you and for your part in our lives. You have been with us almost every step of the way, and we would love for you to join us on the next leg of this odyssey. Our journey is one of gracious uncertainty, one in which we are painfully unaware of God’s greater plan for us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am admittedly horrible at these things, but we want to share with you all where God has led us this past year. 2012 was a phenomenal year for Emily and I, not only our first year of marriage, but a year of phenomenal growth in relationship with Christ for both of us. I cannot tell you of a time I have been more confident in God’s direction for my life, now our lives, than what I am at this moment. It has been a journey in which we have had to embrace “gracious uncertainty” as Oswald Chambers would call it. We have full faith in the words of Philippians 3:8, that “everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” We are prepared to give it all away to follow where he leads; we are ready to lay aside all our plans and dreams to chase hard after Christ. We trust that the words of Mark 10:29-30 hold true for us today, as true now as the very moment Christ spoke them.
Paris served as a sweet time of confirmation of the calling God has put on our lives. I’ve tried to pretend at points that I could ever be happy doing anything beside this, I never will though. Getting to serve and help equip the team in Paris was undeniably in line with where our heart and calling lies, but after confirmation there must come action. That is where we find ourselves today. The time has come for us to pursue the action to which we have been called. The first step of that action has been for myself to humbly accept that I need to be equipped for this next step. My reluctance to pursue seminary training for several years has now changed. The reason is three fold and found in Matthew 13:52, the epistles of the apostle Paul, and the Greek word for “read.” Matthew 13:52 states: “Therefore,” He said to them, “every student of Scripture instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who brings out of his storeroom what is new and what is old.” I’ve come to affectionately refer to this as the lost parable, I’ve never heard it taught or seen its truth declared. It is to me perhaps the single greatest encouragement in training and study that has ever existed. Pair with this truth that the most prolific author of scripture among the apostles was Paul, the only one who could claim the highest theological education of their time. Paul drew on his education and his knowledge of the Tanakh to discover the person and character of Christ, and he drew from these very scriptures to instruct the church in following Christ. And if that was not enough reason to pursue studies I learned the Greek word for “read” that is used in places such as Matthew 24:15 and Revelation 1:3. The Greek word ἀναγινώσκων (anaginōskōn) broken down into its roots is profound. The root word ἀνα (ana) carries the implications of an intense and repetitive coming to the text, while the root γινώσκων (ginōskōn) carries the weight of intimate knowledge. The exhorting to read the text repetitively, intensely, and intimately is littered throughout the pages of our bible, it begs us to study these words harder than any book we have ever touched. Through these three things I have come to accept that God has called me to pursue more intimate knowledge of him through study and education. But I cannot simply sit back and study, there simply isn’t time left for that.
Mission has become a mere facet of the Christian life, it has become something the Christian does. The fact that this is what we have relegated mission to in our society and churches frustrates me. Mission was not a facet or aspect of the Christian life to the apostles or early church members, nor should it be to us. Mission is central to relationship with Jesus Christ, it is foundational to being his disciple. We cannot continue to ignore this truth in our current church culture, we must return to a climate in which mission is essential to the daily life of the believer. I have long said that the greatest factor keeping me from the foreign mission field is a calling and desire to equip those in the local church in this country to embrace the Great Commission and lead Missional lives that glorify our Heavenly Father. I believe that this becomes possible only through community; as believers bond together, commit their selves to the scriptures, and begin to live their faith out loud great change becomes possible and sustainable.
So how do you marry a desire and a calling to be trained and equipped with mission and community? We believe God has lead us to a program that will do just that, while allowing us to work for the glory of God through the local church. We are meeting with this program at the end of February about the possibility of joining them on mission while being equipped and trained for the next step of our journey. I am at this point intentionally vague about where and what we believe God has called us to. We are confident in God’s direction but we are taking nothing for granted, until God has confirmed what we believe to be his calling to this place we simply pursue the idea and ministry he has called us to.
This letter is about asking, asking you to partner with us in prayer, nothing more. This step is huge for us; it is terrifying and it is joyous, it fills us with “breathless expectation.” We can’t take this lightly, it calls us away from home, away from family and friends, and away from almost everything we know and find comfort in. The thought of the moments that we will lose with parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends have all started to resonate acutely. The sweet moments of life that we are so fortunate to share in here carry such intrinsic value, we are not walking away from that lightly, but not only are we walking away from family and comfort but we are moving toward a support raised position. For up to the next two years we will rely completely on God’s provision and the generosity of his people.
I don’t know where this story goes from here, I don’t know if we will be accepted to this program, and I don’t know what life looks like on the backside if we are accepted. I can’t tell you about my grand plans for launching a specific ministry and how this position will benefit that ministry idea. All I can tell you is this: we are so excited about where God is leading us. We are asking only that you pray for us as we move along this journey. We don’t deserve your attention or prayers, but we are so grateful for them. If all of this becomes reality it will only be through God’s desire and power, may he be glorified in every aspect of it.
These updates will become the norm for us, that is our commitment to you who agree to take part in this journey with us. But from this point forward, it is optional. If you would like to keep receiving updates from us you’ll have to “opt in.” We will distribute a regular update/newsletter going forward via mail, email, and blog. If you would like to receive our updates or would be willing to consider financially supporting where God has called us, we would be honored. There is no expectation or obligation to do either, we simply want to share our story to God’s glory.
Doug and Emily