Do not think this is directed at any one person but know that I have probably felt the pull to come “home” at one time or another in search of “safety.” We are not guaranteed safety in the Bible. Not once.
There are 148 students dead at Garissa University in Northern Kenya. If you haven’t yet heard about it start watching world news. It is sad. Tragic. An unthinkable act of terror.
In response someone wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall, “It’s time for you to come home. This could have been [your child].”
Of course it could’ve been one of us. It could’ve been one of us in Europe or China or Australia or yes, even “home” in America. Terror does not confine itself to Kenya. It doesn’t even confine itself to Africa or the Middle East. It is evil and it is everywhere.
Day-to-day life changes when living under frequent security warnings from our embassy, the Kenyan government and other world leaders. Once again we do not go to shopping malls at night or on the weekends. We avoid large gathering places. We do not travel to certain areas in the country. We listen to advice given and heed warnings about threats.
Yet, this does not define our lives. There are other places to shop or see a movie or go for an ice cream. There are other events to attend and places to vacation. Please do not mistake our carefulness for constant fear. We merely try to be “wise as serpents” while “innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
This does not make me brave. This is a day-to-day reliance on the goodness and faithfulness of my God. He is in control. Yes, He is in control even when circumstances seem out of control; even when terror comes to my country; even when suffering and sadness happen.
Easter just two years ago found us celebrating in South Sudan with teammates from 5 different countries and South Sudanese from many tribes. We cooked all morning over charcoal, went to church where there was much dancing and then feasted on lamb stew and rice from disposable plates under flame trees while sitting on plastic chairs. We shared the Gospel story through song, translated it into Arabic and some heard it for the first time. Our house was a place to hear of Jesus’ sacrifice and His love.
This year we celebrated in the comfort of our new home with friends and teammates who work in 3 different countries. A big bang from the night before meant the electricity was out through the night and into the morning disrupting my plans to throw a roast in the crockpot (not even an option in South Sudan). Instead we cooked with the gas oven and stove top to make the meal, a much easier medium to work with than charcoal. After church we gathered around our wooden dining table to eat off of matching ceramic plates and metal cutlery, our conversation focused more on encouragement for tired teammates while the meal was a taste of home, something not normally served in the countries they work. Our house is a place of refuge and a place to be refreshed.
Sometimes I wonder why God brought us to South Sudan and back again. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer for sure. Sometimes it feels like we were pulled out of the front lines only to be placed on the back burner; always hearing exciting stories but not quite able to participate in them. Yet both roles are important; that of evangelist and that of encourager to other Believers. There are many examples in the New Testament of both.
For now we are certain this is where God has placed us. Pray for us that in the role he now has us we will be effective in spreading the Gospel by supporting our teammates well and that if there is opportunity we will embrace it.
The new (to us) SIM caravan started its long 8,000 mile journey this morning, Thursday 12th March. There was a dedication in TX earlier this week with some of the major donors. Then our two pilots flew to Ohio to get loaded for the long trip.
Follow its progress on AIM Air’s website: www.aimair.org/main/caravan-project. The planned route is to St. John, Newfoundland in Canada, then the long trip to Ireland, on to Malta, Egypt, then Eldoret, Kenya and from there the short flight to its new “home” at Wilson airport here in Nairobi.
Please pray for the pilots and the plane during this long trip (approximately 5-6 days of flying), much of it over wide open water.
I have a love/hate relationship with this social media giant.
I hate that I get envious of other people’s posts about the awesome lives they are living (Read about my house envy here.). I hate that it skews my vision of others’ lives because of course who wants to post the terrible, horrible, no good very bad days for the world to see? I hate that it causes me to compare my body to others. Can we please stop posting pictures of itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikinis on the beach?! I hate that I waste precious time while my son naps scrolling through checking out posts or clicking on meaningless articles when I should wash dishes or write blogs, things that are difficult to do when Little Bear is awake!
Most of all I hate that Facebook is the home of sensationalism, that it is a platform to spread unchecked facts, hate, bitterness and inappropriate photos.
Yet, I love how it makes the miles almost disappear. I love that I can keep up more easily with close friends all over the world. I love seeing pictures of my friends’ kids, fun activities and motivational stories. I love that it gets information out quickly to a wide audience, like how this blog will post to Facebook automatically! I love how it mobilizes people to pray, like with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and recently when Little Bear had a really high fever.
Knowing that people in different time zones were praying for us even while we tried to get some sleep was priceless! More and more I am learning the peace that comes through prayer. I’m so thankful that Facebook enabled me to get the word out quickly and then notified me that people were interceding for us.
I don’t think I’ll give up Facebook but maybe I can work toward giving up some of those bad habits that Facebook brings out in me!
While in South Sudan last year, I (Bear) attended one of only 2 Jum Jum churches. Traditionally the Jum Jum live in small villages about 50 miles North of Doro. SIM started reaching these people in the 1950s but was forced to leave due to insecurity at that time. Up until now, the Jum Jum have remained largely unreached. However, due to the bombing and fighting in that area they fled in 2011. Now they live just down the road from our Doro base!
The number of believers is small, between 200 and 300. But we rejoice as one of our colleagues recently attended a baptism of 20 new believers!
The preacher of the day was an elder in the community and one of the very first believers. There is no Bible in the Jum Jum language. Therefore, he reads from his English Bible, then translates and expounds on the word in the Jum Jum language. Our team partners with other literacy experts who start Bible translation into the Jum Jum language this month.
Pray with us for the efforts of our teammate, the translation process and the growth of these 2 small churches.
I’m thankful for Nelly. Our relationship is mutually beneficial. We provide a good job and she helps us in the house 2 days a week. She helps clean, wash clothes, can salsa, make meals and watches Little Bear. She’s wonderful with Little Bear which allows me to go to the market alone or attend meetings at the office. We trust and love her!
Chopping onions for salsa.
Mary teaching us to make enchiladas.
Filling the tortillas for enchiladas.