Saturday, February 25, 2012

February Update

All the earth will worship You, and will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name. Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. – Psalm 66:4-5

Last month I shared about the opportunity we’ve found with the People Teams. Amy and I are partnering with some friends from Antioch Bible Baptist Church to try and reach out to the Sudanese people living in the Kansas City area. We found a store in town where many of the Sudanese people hang out, so we’ve been frequenting that place and visiting with the people we find there.

I (Justin) usually take my laptop with me when we go to the store so I can show people my pictures from Sudan. One day while Tim and I were sitting there talking, we came across some pictures of spearmasters (they’re like witchdoctors) and a chicken that go along with a story I told in a letter sent last July. The guys asked me about those pictures, so I began to tell them the story about how God provided rain at the right time to show his power to the people of Paloc. In the course of telling that story to the men in the store, I was able to share the good news of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, the power of God, and the need for people to repent of their sin and make Jesus their Lord. The men in the store reacted positively, and we continued to have a long, fruitful discussion about the nature of sin and the gospel. God is providing some great opportunities!

This has been a busy month for our family. We’ve been working hard at finding new people with whom we can share our ministry, and are at about 45% of our needed monthly support. A few weeks ago we went to Plano to visit the e3 offices and have some evaluations done. The day after we got back from Plano, I came home from an appointment and Amy handed me a positive pregnancy test. It’s exciting news for us, we were hoping to have our first child before we return to Sudan, and apparently God has heard our prayer! Last Sunday we went to the hospital after receiving a call about my grandmother. Grandma had been rushed to KU Medical Center for emergency surgery on Sunday afternoon, but she passed away at 10:45 on Monday. Fortunately for us she was awake and responsive for her last couple of hours on this earth, so some of us were able to pray with her and say goodbye.

Please remember my mother (Stephanie) and her siblings in prayer as they cope with the passing of their mother, and my grandpa (John) as he adjusts to life as a widower after 61 years of marriage.

We love you all!

Justin and Amy

Monday, February 20, 2012

An Old Post From Last Year

I'm re-posting a letter that I sent out last year. I'm referring to it in the latest newsletter, so I want to make it accessible:

“O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that Youa re God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” – 1 Kings 18:36-37

As we were laying in our tents that night, Peter said “You guys called for rain, now you have to lay in it!” It had been an interesting and discouraging day. We were in a village called Paloc, intent on doing some discipleship with the local church leaders who have been begging for us to come and help them, but when the time came nobody showed up. As we sat around our tents trying to decide what to do next, we noticed that about 30 feet from us there was a chicken tied to this neat little carved pole. Were they trying to keep him from running away?

We asked Peter what was going on with the chicken, and he went to find out. When Peter came back he told us that the elders were gathering with the witchdoctor to sacrifice the chicken for rain. We sat around and talked about it for a few minutes, and I prodded the guys to go and tell the elders a Bible story. As we got up and started walking toward the men, I lightheartedly said to Justin (a visiting college student from Alabama), “Are you guys ready for a power encounter?” I guess they were.

As we approached, the men were singing and making throwing gestures toward the chicken. Justin quickly asked them if we could tell them a Bible story and they agreed. The guys proceeded to tell the story from 1 Kings 18 of Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal. When the story was over, one of the elders spoke up and told us that when their ancestors were created, they crawled out from stones and ever since they’ve been trying to figure out how to reach God. He told us that since they are all uneducated, they just have to guess. Since it had been thundering and lightning every night for a week, but no rain had come to the village, they decided that they’d try sacrificing the chicken to see if rain would come.

We proceeded to tell the men a version of Creation to Christ, emphasizing that we all came from the same ancestor, Adam, and were separated at the tower of Babel. There is only one God, and that God has come to us through Jesus to show us exactly how we can come to him, and Jesus was the last sacrifice. Jesus even chose uneducated fishermen to follow him, and the only thing that made them different from everyone else was that they had surrendered their whole lives to Jesus…and he used them to change the entire world.

The men, unconvinced, told us to teach those things to the children while they kept making their sacrifices. They told us that if we prayed for rain, AND they sacrificed the chicken, then surely rain would come that night. Justin boldly replied that we were only going to pray for rain after the chicken was set free, because God wanted to show his power to them that day. As Justin said this I looked up and noted that the sky was clear and blue, the day was humid but there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

As the old men shouted their objections, a man in a soldier’s uniform got up, untied the chicken and set it free, so we started praying for rain. We prayed there with the men present, and continued to pray after the men left. Around ten o’clock we all went to bed, slightly annoyed that all we had seen was a slight sprinkle and no real rain to help the local crops. About twenty minutes after all of us fell asleep, we were woken with the realization that our tents were being blown sideways. The three guys who were staying in the other tent (not mine) even woke up realizing that their cots and tent were flooded with water. It was pouring rain…hard. For the first time in weeks, Paloc was getting rain and for the first time in their lives the people of Paloc were seeing the power of the one true God.

Pray for us as we try to bring God’s word to these people for the rest of the summer. There are some difficult things happening here and it’s getting harder to go to the places where we had planned to do ministry, but God is clearly at work!