Proverbs 1 - Winning

I believe God gave us the book of Proverbs because He wants us to win at life.  God knows for us to win, it helps to: 1) know the rules, 2) understand the rules, and 3) play within the rules.  The book of Proverbs helps each of us to accomplish these very things.  Look what the first few verses of Proverbs chapter 1 teach us.

“Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.  Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.  These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.”

Take a moment and list out the purposes of Proverbs found in this short passage.

Do you see it?  Look at your list.  God wants you to win! 
But how does a person start?  How does a person start again?  
A couples verses later, Solomon tells us.     

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Fear of the Lord is how you begin to win!  Sounds weird doesn’t it?  God doesn’t want you to be afraid of Him.  This“fear”isn’t that type of“fear.” God wants you to respect him so much that you’re not willing to mess around with him.  Too often people“know”what God expects of them, but they don’t do it.  They do what they want to do because they do not“fearthe Lord.”  They don’t have enough respect for God to put His ways first.  They don’t really think God is going to do anything.  

What are some ways that you can“fearthe Lord”?

Fearing the Lord is best built within relationship.  When God speaks He expects His children to listen.  To turn a deaf ear is not fearing the Lord.  

Let me wrap this up by giving some practical application.  Like me, when you tell your kids to do something, you expect them to do it.  As a parent, when I give my children direction, I expect them to obey.  Not because they are afraid of me, but because they take their daddy’s words seriously.  When they do what I ask, it is a reflection of their love towards me.  

Today, I urge you to fear the Lord.  Listen to Him.  Do what you know to do.  Respect His holy name.

Blessings,
Pastor Matt

Missionary Monday- Central Europe

UNA, UNA, UNA!!

This song, this battle-hymn, rings through the small, rural, Serbian village once a month. From the lips of two dozen children this joyful praise rises to the Lord. The words roughly translate to: "UNA, UNA, we are the UNA Kids! We are loved by God, God brings hope to our families, and we are Ambassadors to the World, for God's Kingdom!" They march to the meeting place singing their song, and when they arrive they proudly announce the UNA Motto: (translated) "God is for us, not against us!"

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It's a simple statement. Yet even in its simplicity it rings like canon fire against the gates of Hell. For the lie is often passed in Roma oral history- that the Roma are cursed by God for one reason or another. Cursed to live in poverty and cursed to be unacceptable to Him. But here across Europe, by God's grace we are teaching the children the real truth- God loves you. God is for us, and not against us. This is the core of the UNA material.

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In both Serbia and Croatia we have several established UNA groups for children. I put a great deal of work into producing the material for these kids clubs. It began as some on-the-side help with some quick sketches. Now its a weekly work with a small design team, 3 translators for 3 languages, and a local print shop. Sometimes it's quite difficult to get everything together with deadlines and all the other things going on here. But seeing the children using the books, singing the songs, and listening to the stories- it brings me joy inexpressible. 

So I wanted to use this prayer letter to share pictures. Please enjoy them and pray for these children. Please pray for the leaders who host these groups. When we arrived last April there was only one UNA Club meeting in Serbia. Now there are three in Serbia and two in Croatia! And remember, you are all part of this ministry too! We need your prayer for these clubs!

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So please continue to pray! These are the most important starting steps in these villages. From here we branch out to ministries for teens through adults. We have already started some Bible-studies and "cafe-churches" for teens. To talk, drink coffee, and discuss truths from Scripture.

Thanks as always for praying. May God bless and keep you,
-Taylor

Missionary Monday- Africa

You know those moments that keep you waiting eagerly for a long time, and then just come and go like adream? I just had one of those moments with my family’s visit; It was such a great time, but came and wentoh so quickly. It was a special thing for them to come take a glimpse of life through my eyes. They experienced the oppressive winter heat, the wildness of the school assembly dancing, the intensity of sports day, the remoteness of villages, the wonderful rowdiness of my kids, the peacefulness of Isanga Bay, and hopefully thepresence of the Holy Spirit at work along Lake T. So I’d say they got a pretty good glimpse!

I realize how blessed I am to have a family that would travel across the world (and deal with missing luggage and missed flights and mites) just to see me. Thankfully, the kids and the team here were able to share in this blessing with me. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the items that were donated from the Amazon list or otherwise! I have been eating SO much chocolate and the kids have been playing SO many new games. Their favorite rightnow is Bopit...they just can’t resist that beat.

At the end of my family’s time here it was interesting to compare what their favorite experience was vs. mine.Most of mine revolved around us getting to spend time with my kids. Those were the moments when I felt like I had an extra boost of energy, and this was honestly very revealing to me. These moments revealed just howmuch of what I’m doing each day is dependent on God’s grace. Most of the time when I’m not around the kids I’m just plain ‘ole tired, and unfortunately my family was witness to this (fortunately(ish) they had jetlag so it kind of balanced out).

I’m reminded of Jeremiah 17:7-8, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” No matterhow tired I am, God will sustain me and strengthen me to do His work. In a more practical sense, that workthis week is to lead the school and teach grade 4 while five of our missionary teachers are at a couple’s retreat.And let me tell ya, I’m so excited about having my own classroom again...even for just one week! But, we are definitely short staffed, being left with just the government teachers and myself.

In perhaps a less practical sense, but more important, my job is to share the Gospel with the people here in Mpulungu, specifically my kids. This is such a big job! I’ve been thinking about Noah and Enoch lately. In

Genesis 6:9 it says, “Noah walked with God.” And in Genesis 5 it says that, “Enoch walked with God, and God took him.” I’m just baffled at how closely these two men must have walked with God. How many people doyou know who have done something as absurd as building an ark, or who have avoided death because God took them before they could die? I want to know that kind of faith, trust, and closeness with God. And more importantly, I want my kids to know God in that way.

Our kids have praise and worship and prayers at assembly, class devotions, devotion time at Pure Girls and Smart Boys (after school programs), and my Sunday Bible study group is now growing. While all of these thingsare great, they don’t have the power to transform hearts. Jesus alone has the power to set them free from the bondage they live with. I hope (“...and hope does not put us to shame.”) that our kids will know that “nothing will be able to separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Please pray:

-that our kids will know fully, and be transformed by the redeeming love of God.
-that individually and as a team we will walk closely with God.
-for vacant positions in our field to be filled soon with God’s chosen people. We are still looking for a field leader and our associate field leader (my friend, Holly, from America) just stepped down, leaving a new vacancy.
-for more missionary teachers to join our school. We are stretched thin, but are willing to wait for the right people.
-that God would give rest to this tired teacher, and continued grace to love people as He loves them.
-that my Sunday Bible study would be an avenue of transformation for the kids who come.

Seriously, thank you for supporting and loving me so well. You are a true reflection of God’s love.

Much Love, Teacha Selah

 The fam reunited (at the lodge in Lusaka)

The fam reunited (at the lodge in Lusaka)

 The kids “greeting” Luke by climbing on him.

The kids “greeting” Luke by climbing on him.

 My dad, brother, and I by Chishimba Falls.

My dad, brother, and I by Chishimba Falls.

 My dad arriving in Chipwa Village.

My dad arriving in Chipwa Village.

Missionary Monday- Central Europe

UNA Festivities!!

I just wanted to send out a quick note asking you to pray for us this week. We have a short term team that came from the USA with one of my teammates. They are coming to hold UNA Clubs in two villages in Croatia. So we are helping with those activities this week! Please pray that:

  • We would clearly and effectively reach these children with the Hope of Jesus Christ. That our love for them would be known and felt. That lives would be changed during this time.
  • Pray for the high-school students who have come from the USA. Pray that they would stay in good health and good spirits. Pray also that through this ministry here, God would do something really amazing in their hearts. Revealing more of Himself, maybe opening hearts to ministry or mission work!
  • Pray for us and the rest of the team as we facilitate this. Everyone is already tired here and we haven't even begun! Pray we would work well as a team, and work well with the students.

Thanks so much for praying! I don't have any pictures yet, but one of our jobs we have been asked to do is take over the media part of this trip. Helen will be taking pictures and we will have lots to share soon!

Blessings,
-Taylor

Missionary Monday - Central Europe

Our doorbell rang on Saturday morning, same as it has for two months now. It was our Roma friend who comes to beg, Mózes. He showed up and I had promised him a couple of weeks ago I would find some new shoes for him. I had found a pair that were his size at a local used clothes store. He was happy to try them, but afterwards, instead of asking for the usual 200HUF (it's like 80 cents, enough for a loaf), he asked for 500HUF to buy flowers for his Grandmother's grave. I told him I won't give him the money, but if I could go with him, I would be happy to buy the flowers with him. 

I was wondering if he would say "No, nevermind then." But he was actually very happy that I would go with him. In my head I was thinking "God, please give me a linguistic miracle", because my Hungarian isn't super strong yet. So we hopped in the van, drove a few minutes down to the graveyard, and bought some flowers and a candle. We spent 15 minutes just trying to find his grandparent's grave. We finally did. An unmarked, untidy and overgrown cement rectangle, with huge cracks marring the top. 

He told me how much he missed his grandmother and I told him I would say a prayer at the grave (he is at least nominally Catholic, though he may never have stepped foot in a church since his baptism as a baby). I brought a book of prayers, but not finding anything immediately appropriate I just began praying out loud. Praying for Mózes, praying for his family, praying for peace in a time of sorrow. We stood there while I was praying at the grave in English, he not knowing I was really just praying for him, that he would find Christ and cling to Him. He wept, the feeling of loss for his beloved grandmother was very tangible. It was the first anniversary of her passing. They appeared to have been very close. 

It was a powerful moment. Years of preparation and months in language study. All we have wanted was to come here and reach those who are unloved and lonely. Those who have no hope. And now I'm finally able to do that. When we left the graveyard I offered to drive him home. Mózes told me he had tried all week to get his siblings to come, but none were interested. But that I had been "like a friend" to him (the word "friend" here carries a lot more meaning than in English, and is far less commonly used). I drove away thankful that God is "opening doors" by simply having a young man knock on mine. Though I do not know if his grandmother knew the Lord, we are going to do our best to spread the message of Salvation to the next generation.

Pray for him, pray for his family. These are our early steps in spreading the love and hope of Christ to the Roma here in Pécs. 

I know I have been really slow on updates! Truth be told, with Spring comes a great mass of work and things to keep us busy. I keep forgetting to send this prayer letter and in fact have written 2 prayer letters but never sent them! So I'll be catching up a bit more than usual over the next few weeks on what has been happening since February. Lots of new children's Bible Clubs and news on our new church plant! Lots of pictures too!

The Lord bless and keep you,
-Taylor

Missionary Monday - Thailand

Dear Friends,

K* visited Vientiane on March 29, 2018. 

She visited 2 of our main places of the KCC team, their families, and other families. Most of them are young people who are staying for studying. T* is our house church, S* is where our vocational school is located. From these two places there are about 80 people, and all of their church members are 155 people. This church was not registered and it is underground. By God’s grace we are able to function until today. 2 years ago we tore down all the rooms of the house to have more space. Now it can accommodate more than 200 people and we hope in about 2 years there will increase up to 200 people. Last year there are more than 27 people accepted Jesus through the ministry of this house church, especially those students who are studying at universities, colleges and also those who are working at various sewing factories, hotels and restaurants. They are also bringing their friends to the church. Plus pastor P* and his wife are also reaching out to those young people, and doing the follow-up and discipleship training and etc. 

K* has not been able to visit Laos more than 4-5 years. When she saw them, and their living conditions then she is so concerned, especially, children’s future: spiritually, educationally, economically and socially. She saw the difference between the rich and the poor people in the city of Vientiane. How can the K* who came from villages survive in the capital city of Vientiane? 

At this moment we have 9 places or dormitories for our young people in the main cities of Laos. Now we have been trying to find a plot of land in one province to build a dorm. This new dorm will cover more than 25 house churches. The dorm has 3 main purposes: for students, house church and for a safe place for people who come to get treatment at hospital and doing some trading and etc.

In the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, 

S* and K* Chan

Missionary Monday - Africa

Mwabomba uli (work greeting in Lungu),

Well, another school closing day has come and gone. Quite a few guardians showed up for the program where they had an opportunity to see the kids dance, perform skits, and recite character trait poems. As I was watching the kids perform, I was reminded of how much has happened this term. There have been many challenges, and so many beautiful things as well. Sometimes it felt like walking through a desert, but then suddenly there would be this vibrant flower that I couldn’t help but notice. So the desert didn’t always feel like a desert, even though it should have, because God is good.  

 Me giving a grade 1 student the compassion award.

Me giving a grade 1 student the compassion award.

Several of us on the school team here are referring to this school term as the term of “darkness coming to light.” We have had several serious issues with two of our teachers come to light in a way that prompted us to take action and suspend them. There are legal hoops to jump through, and many other factors that our team had to consider when coming to this decision, but for the sake of the students and staff we found it a necessary step to take. Even though this was something that fell mainly under my responsibility umbrella, it became a team effort to ensure that we were following the Spirit’s guidance, and making wise decisions. Through these challenges our team has seen the benefit of working together and communicating more often. God wants us to be a body of believers for a reason.  

Light was also shed on our kid’s views of love and marriage. Some girls came to my office and shed light on some inappropriate things that were happening at school, and outside of school. This led to the rest of the teachers and I having talks with the students about what love is and what marriage is…most of them didn’t know, and had some really sad interpretations of both. Our kids all live in villages, so there’s not a lot that they haven’t been exposed to (even our grade 0’s). What they’re taught about love in the villages is so SO false, and even though it was tough to hear about some of their experiences, it was very good to have the opportunity to share Biblical truths on this subject (which is not usually talked about openly). I also think that for our teen girls to see that I’m content to be single was very strange, but also a good example for them, and a way to show that my identity is in Jesus and not my marital status. As all of this was happening, we also found out that one of our grade 7 girls is pregnant and that the boy is refusing to accept responsibility for the baby. She is coming from one of the most vulnerable families in Mpulungu, and won’t be able to take proper care of the baby when it comes. Pray for her, and for us, as we walk though this journey with her. Most of all, pray that the students would come to understand and know God’s love for them deeply.

Really, all of our kids are going through something or need help in some way and need someone to walk alongside them. Many of them have been opening up to me more about struggles at home…not having food or money, being beaten, not even having soap to wash clothes or themselves, etc, but I don’t always know how to help. I love that they open up, and that God has given me the opportunity to show compassion to the kids and their families, but pray for Godly wisdom, and that through helping with money or food or prayer they will experience the love of Jesus.

In a way, these tough situations where darkness has come to light, and when I don’t know what to do are the real flowers in the desert, because it gives me (and the team) the chance to walk in integrity and to speak the truth, and the truth is powerful. These situations cause me to look to the Lord for answers and help, and that’s always a good thing. However, one of the most beautiful flowers was a more obvious kind, and came into view when one of my grade 5 students came to me after I led class devotions to say that he wants to know more about how to have a relationship with Jesus (!!!!!!!). We met in my office later that day and he accepted Jesus as his savior. Pray for him as he navigates how to have a relationship with Jesus. He’s coming to my house tomorrow to have a Bible study, and I feel like the most inadequate person to disciple him, but I’m bursting with joy, and so is all of heaven! How amazing is it that God would let me see this boy come to Jesus?!

A few other desert flowers have come in the form of a birthday outing and, of course, football games. I took some grade 6 boys to the beach at Isanga Bay for my birthday, and man oh man did they have a blast! They got to swim, kayak, eat nice food, and play football on the beach. It was a great time, and I’m so thankful that I was able to bless the boys in this way. Team Cooperation has also had more games, and more teams around Mpulungu requesting to play them. They’ve really come together as a team and have been very committed in training. I also have more boys that are younger or smaller that wanted a team, so now Team Compassion has come into existence. They just had their first game today and won in a penalty shoot-out! One of my boys from Team Cooperation even helped to coach them, and the others encouraged them and gave advice. All the boys still consider me a “coach” because I help to organize everything and because they want me to show up to the games, but really, their coach is a friend of mine who actually knows how to play football. His name is Sunday, and he’s been through the coaching training and has a heart for the boys. I’m so thankful that he is willing to give up so much time to invest in their lives (Especially because I have no idea what I’m doing, which is nothing new). 

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 Team Cooperation (in uniform), Team Compassion, the boys and I at Isanga Bay.

Team Cooperation (in uniform), Team Compassion, the boys and I at Isanga Bay.

Please pray:

-that gossip that was spread by a teacher would not interfere with work for the Kingdom. Pray for protection as gossip in Mpulungu can spread quickly, and that if it does spread people won’t believe it.

-for the boy who accepted Jesus as his savior, as he grows in his relationship with the Lord. And for me to know how to disciple him, and that others would join in this mission.

-that the school leadership team would continue to work well together, and that we would have wisdom from the Lord as we deal with the tough stuff (especially teacher issues).

-for the kids at school. SO many of them need help, and as teachers and missionaries we need discernment on how to help them.   

- for the new finance team member (Zambian) and a couple that has just joined us from the Netherlands.

-that God would continue to call the students at our school to Himself; that they would accept His forgiveness and grace.

-that the process of getting my driver’s license would go smoothly. My international one is expiring and getting my Zambian one has the potential to cause a major headache.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support. As God brings this darkness to light it’s as if He’s preparing the soil for the seeds; by pulling out the weeds and removing the rocks that we too often let accumulate in our lives. But, there is progress. 

Lesa amipale (God bless you),

Sarah

 

Missionary Monday - Thailand

Dear Friends,

We want to update about Mr. O*, was has been in prison for his faith since Feb. 2nd. He now has been released from Prison on March 16th! He was fined a total of 700 USD from the authorities. 

We plan to have a border seminar with our FEBC K listeners on the 21st -23rd of March. We plan to have about 70 pastors and evangelists attend. Mr. O* will plan to be at the border seminar. This will be the first time to meet us. He became a Christian about 4 months ago. His son is currently a Bible school student. Thank you for your praying for him while he was in prison. 

Thank you for your prayers and support,

S*

*Name and location have been changed for their protection.

Missionary Monday - Zambia

Mwatandaleni (You are visiting),

And I thought the public bus in Zambia was an experience…wait until you hear about the public boat! Constant shouting, hard benches, the smell of petrol and dried fish, not to mention that the ride took 10 hours. This experience felt like the real Zambia, the real Lake T. I was traveling to the very remote Nsumbu Village to fetch a little boy who lives with one of the missionaries on base. He was visiting home while this missionary was travelling for meetings. I hadn’t been to Nsumbu before, so I thought, “Why not hop on a boat and go?” The visit was great, and I’ve decided that Nsumbu is now my favorite lakeshore village out of the four I’ve visited. OM has a base there, so I was able to stay with missionary friends during my visit, and visit the families of several students from school who stay with relatives in Mpulungu during the school term. Everywhere we went in Nsumbu people greeted us, “Mwatandaleni.” If you go to a village and don’t visit people or greet them, they will remember and hold it against you. Needless to say, we made many visits and exchanged countless greetings.

Aside from visiting families, the most fascinating part of this journey happened on the boat. The “big” public boat doesn’t actually dock at the villages along the route. Small canoes and ring-net boats paddle out from the village shore to bring people to and from the public boat. The fascinating part is that the people paddling out are young boys. Some of them only 10 years old! I asked my traveling buddy (a Zambian from Nsumbu Village) how old the boys are when they begin learning how to fish. He said that boys can be brought along on the fishing boats at 5 years old, and start going out to fish in the small boats on their own by the time they’re 10. This wasn’t surprising to me, but startling, because I’ve heard about what happens on the fishing boats. Many of the men drink, smoke, and throw insults. Most of the boats are covered in witchcraft rituals. And you may not know, the fisherman along Lake T are considered an unreached people group. Please pray for these men and young boys to know the protection, hope, and freedom that they can have in Jesus. 

Since my last email about the tough stuff happening, I have seen rays of sunshine here at the lake. I have no doubt that this light and warmth has come from surrendering to God and from your prayers. There has still been some heavy stuff to deal with, but God’s grace has outweighed it. There was a day when things just felt too heavy and I was tired. I went home early from school on this particular Monday because I had been travelling most of the weekend with an outreach. I sat in my room and prayed…and cried, releasing my burdened heart to the Lord. As I was praying and crying I heard a knock and, “Teacha Selah!” There was about 10 students at my door. I tried to ignore them, but they started opening the door to come into my house! Now, I’m not telling you this so that you can be sad that I cried, because it was a freeing kind of cry. I’m mostly telling it to you because I now find the intrusion funny, and because I’m human and I think it’s important that we be open about our brokenness…and the strength we find in Jesus. 

I created a note on my phone that lists some of these sunshine rays because I want to remember each glimmer of light. Here are a few…My boys meeting me at the boat harbor because they were so excited that I was coming back from Nsumbu (as they were waiting apparently one of them called me auntie and one called me mom), getting a message from one of my students saying that he missed me and asking me to come back to Mpulungu, 3 fellow missionaries being amazingly supportive friends during the tough stuff, receiving a compliment from one of the government teachers who I thought was not a fan of mine, taking a few of my boys to the lookout point and hearing them say that I was their real coach when they were jokingly being persuaded otherwise, gaining Godly wisdom and advice from mentors to work through difficult situations, seeing God care about the little details of bringing people together, Team Cooperation victories, visiting the guardians of my boys, and so many more.

Team Cooperation is my football (soccer) team. Since that first time I went to watch the boys play and got stuck in the mud with them, I’ve been to many more games and had many more adventures. I usually walk an hour through town and Muzabwela village to get to the plot where they play, because the minibus is not working and the rains have made the roads quite bad. This has earned me the title of “Coach” which is the running joke of everyone on base because I know nothing about football. But I show up, and I care. That’s really what it’s all about. The boys don’t care that I know nothing about football because they know that I care about them and am willing to give up weekends to support them. I was feeling hesitant about the boys being the ones that I was spending so much time with, but now I’m embracing it. These are the ones that God has brought into my life…and there’s a reason, and I’m so thankful for each one of them. Pray with me for these boys; I don’t want to miss any opportunity that the Holy Spirit gives me to tell them about and show them Jesus.

One of my boys has had a really tough time at home. He’s almost 18 and is in grade 6. His mother is extremely ill and he has a 14 and 1-year-old sister. He’s been trying to provide for his family while going to school as the older sister stays home to take care of the mother and baby (although some days she runs away). He asks for small jobs to earn money for food and rent, but has had trouble making ends meet. Two other teachers and I sat down to think of how we can best support his family. I was able to give money (from you!) to him to buy items that his mother can re-sell in smaller packs to others in the village while he’s at school. One of the other teachers (a missionary in charge of Self-Help Groups) went shopping with him and will follow-up with the family to make sure that they are earning enough to provide for their basic needs, buy more product, and save. We’re hoping that this will be a sustainable way to empower them as a family to take care of themselves. Please pray for the mother’s health, and for this little family’s welfare. I actually went to visit this boy and his mother at their home several times before we provided the capital. His mother gave me a big hug and held my hand for the first several minutes of my visit. And just like she held my hand, God has them in His.

At school we’ve been learning about character traits in devotions, and teach them using Bible stories and verses. The first was cooperation, then integrity, and now we’re moving on to compassion. This character program has been the highlight for many of the teachers this term (this means I did something right, wow haha). The kids have had some lively and honest discussions about the applications of these words and stories to their own lives, and have even enjoyed creating skits. The teachers have even been studying the traits in their devotions, so it’s been just as convicting for us as it has been to some of the students. Pray that God would continue to use these traits and His word to transform each student and teacher.

Eesh…and I thought I wouldn’t have anything to say when I started typing this update! Thank you SO much for your prayers since my last email; they have been felt as little rays of sunshine coming through the clouds…which are often the most beautiful. I hope that each of you have been experiencing your own rays :)

In Christ, 

Teacha (Coach) Selah

Missionary Monday - Thailand

Medical Mission Ministry Report 

On February 7th-9th, 2018 was our KCC team meeting, where 20 of our key leaders attended. It was a very good time to fellowship together, have Bible study, and held worship service in the evening. We heard great reports from various provincial leaders, how the Lord is moving in their region, and many discussions and plans for 2018. From January to February 2018, 5-6 new house churches have been established. We held our meeting at a K* church. In the evening all of the membership came and joined us for good meals, and worship the Lord together. There is no other joy than to meet my team, as I love them with all my heart. They are so precious to me! 

On February 9th in the afternoon, we went to Chiang Sean district to meet our medical team from the States led by Dr. Helen, the Circle of Love Foundation. On February 10th, we started our first clinic, and there were some OMF Missionaries that came to help us translate in the dental department, for the doctors, and help count pills. From the Feb. 10th -12th these were the people group that we saw: LaoLue, ThaiDam, Iumien, Hakha and Khmu. 

In Chiang Sean, we held our clinic at a Buddhist temple. We were invited by the head of the village. 2 police officers came and checked on our clinic on the 11th. By the grace of God everything was well, and no problem occurred. The police asked me who are those checking the people. I answered “they are American medical doctors.” He also asked me again, “Are they real doctors?” I replied, “Yes, they are real doctors. They even brought their medical certificates with them.” I told them that they can also get a free medical check-up if they want too also. The police told me that those doctors look retired, and doing a good deed to help unfortunate people. I answered him, “They come every year. All the medicine, glasses, dental equipment are paid by the doctors. They also treat both Thai and Laotian that are in need of medical help.” I offered to them if they needed any reading glasses or sun glasses. One of the officers took up the offer and took one reading glasses. They then saluted us and took their leave. Praise the Lord! 

On February 13th-15th, we moved our clinic at Huay Jor at another K* church. The 14th was the hardest day as more than 400 people came from Laos. There were many widows and women that came. The reason is because they cannot come to the leader’s seminar when we have it at this church. So when the opportunity comes, especially to come see me, they come as soon as they can. They are faithful listeners to the FEBC K* program. Many came to talk to me personally, and asked for radios/batteries. I met their needs and they were so excited for the radios! 

On the last day of the clinic, the 15th, I met one man who was interested in wanting to know about Jesus. I took him to the back of the church building and started talk to him about Jesus. My voice was so loud that it reached to those who were waiting to see the doctors. Then more than 30 people came to listen. They were excited, as well as I. I thought this is a great opportunity to lead 30 people to Jesus from talking to this man. I began evangelizing and using the Heart Diagram. After I finished my messages on the Heart Diagram pictures, I asked if there was anyone that wanted to accept Christ, please raise their hand. No one raised their hand. I was surprised at first but then they all replied that they are all Christians. They were so excited to just listen to me share about the Bible because always hear me on the air, but not in real life. I spent one hour with all my energy to share the basic Christian faith hoping to lead them to Jesus, but at the end all of them were are already Christians! This brought some humor to me. 

At opportunity came, during the same day, as many people were standing in the door of the church trying to get inside the church. Yet, one man blocked the people to let anyone go into the church until their names were called to see the doctors. I thought that this was a good opportunity to share the Gospel to them. I stood at the door and spoke to them about Jesus for 3 minutes. Thank the Lord 6 people accepted Christ! 

I want to express our appreciation, and gratitude to the medical team from the U.S. led by Doctor Helen Laib, her husband doctor Dave, Dr. John, and their daughter, Dr. Amy. Also Dr. John, his wife, and their son also, Dr. Jonathan. I want to thank the dental department, and the 2 pharmacists, and other team members that have come faithfully every year. Everyone was working hard, taking the sacrifice out of their time to come to treat people who need help physically and spiritually. They are not looked down upon but instead being touched, prayed for, and talk to the patients with gentle and loving hands. We have been doing this for 20 years. Is this not wonderful?! (Matthew 25:34-46) Throughout the 6 days, 1426 patients were seen, and 171 people accepted Christ. 

The Circle of Love has not only been doing the medical missions with KCC for 20 years, but also having a wonderful project of helping 374 widows, and more than 27 university students have been receiving education scholarships, and micro-loans for pastors. Thank you for this wonderful partnership and the prayers!

Generosity Story - Jamie Eberra’s Story

The sermon on living in YOUR budget really rocked me. Our budget is not the one we (my husband and I) WANT to live in or realistically have been living in, but it’s the budget that we are blessed with and the budget that very tightly lets me work at home until our youngest is school aged and I can go back to work.

As I think about things I have bought that we could have gone without, releasing it was actually very freeing and has brought a lot of peace. Saying “not this time” to my friends' Mary Kay and Pampered Chef parties that I enjoy actually felt like a burden being lifted knowing I don’t have to try to find money for that out of the sky. It has not been an easy challenge thus far and we have not had any extra, but my husband told me a story of his work day that consisted of many times hearing God say and show us “I’ve got this.”

On a very financially tight day, just before the next payday, God showed my husband to trust in Him and He provided just what my husband needed to get through his work day and even just enough for a small treat that my husband recognized as a blessing. We have grown and learned so much in this challenge and know that this is a season that our Lord will bring us through with our faithfulness. Lord willing, our situation will change, our littles will get big and I will go back to work when my Father says it is time, but through it all the Word stays the same, therefore , we are now a tithing family, living in our budget.

-Jamie Eberra

Missionary Monday - Thailand

Mr. O* was arrested by the authorities on February 2nd because of his faith. He accepted Christ through his son. In the beginning, his son accepted Christ and was excited to share his faith with his parents. Unfortunately his father hated that he accepted Christ, and kicked him out of the house. O* threw away the Bibles, radios, USB sticks with message, and MP4 speaker radios that his son brought back home to witness to his parents. S* left the house and went back to his home church, 5-6 hours away in another province. S* went to stay with his grandma and his uncle. During the trip back to his home church, S* father, O*, called the police to arrest his son. Thank the Lord that S* was visiting his friend on the way, and the police could not find him! The Lord sure protected S*.  

S* felt that God called him to study God’s word in Chiang Mai. May 2017 was when he went to study in Chiang Mai. The Bible school was only able to accommodate him (and 2 other students) for 1 term because of visa issues that were encountered. Yet, I took him and the 2 other students to stay in our compound and decided to teach them daily. I challenge them to love God, love God’ Word, pray, love the K* people and other people’s group. On November 3rd, 2017 they went back to Laos to minister to their own home churches.  S* asked me for permission to visit his parents again even though they did not like S* religion. S* parents dislike Christianity because they see that it is a foreign religion and the government of Laos detests it. 

S* and his uncle went to visit them. This time was different as S* parents were open to listen to the messages on the MP4 speakers, the K* program on the radio, and interacting with their son and pastor. S* and pastor T* led S* parents to Christ along with other families. A total of 10 people accepted Christ! O* was on fire for the Lord and started to witness in the village. He then led 5 more families to Christ, which brought to a total of 50 people in the village that accepted Christ! This made the head of the village fear for his position from the Communist party. On January 17th, 2018 O* called me, and said he led 8 families to Jesus. He asked for more messages on the USB sticks, more MP4 speaker radios, and other ministry materials. He said that many people are wanting to accept Christ after listening to the messages. 

On February 2nd, 2018 O* was arrested and put in prison until today (as I am writing this on February 20th) 2018. From persecuting and wanting his son to be arrested, O* was now put in prison for his faith! From his hate to now being in prison for the God he accepts in his heart. This situation has never occurred yet among the K* Christian, since I have been serving God for 40 years, which started in 1977.

At this moment O* is waiting for the court to have a verdict on his case. The head of the village is currently forcing O* wife to renounce her faith. They want them to give up their fish pond to the village, and then her husband will be released. S*, their son, told his mother to not renounce their faith under any circumstances, and not sign any papers to renounce their faith. Recently, the court asked Mr. O* to prepare at least 3,000,000 Kip (380 USD) as a “fine” regarding the situation. Please pray for those 8 Christian families who are facing tremendous pressure to renounce their faith, as they just recently accepted Christ. They depend on the radio, USB messages, and MP4 speakers to grow in their faith. Please pray that they will not renounce their faith, be strong in the Lord, and stand firm. This will be a great test for them as we believe that if they can withstand this, many more will come to Christ!

-Recent update as of Feb. 23rd - Mr. O* cannot be released from prison no matter what he pays until he officially signs a paper to renounce his faith. 

*Name and location have been changed for their protection.

Generosity Story - Dave and Rachael Brother’s Story

 

I remember filling out the 90 day tithe challenge to continue giving. (My silent prayer that day was that God would move my husband's heart to do more.) My story of what God is doing has been a story loooong in the making. Back in my single mama days, I remember knowing that if He couldn't trust me with a little, then He couldn't trust me with a lot, so I made a vow to start giving. I am so thrilled to have persevered in my deep desire to give generously. After David and I married, I started praying that God would move his heart to match my desires. Or really, God's desires in generosity. (I may or may not have told him about that prayer.) 

Moving on.... David and I started with a commitment to tithing, yes, the true word of tithe, a couple of years ago. Fast forward to this holiday season and SOMETHING happened (God happened) BEYOND my wildest imagined prayer. But that is totally how you know it is HIM!!! I just love our God.

Here is the story...The community I live in has a team of about 25 of us who have banded together because of sports. This community has become (what is a picture of) the church to each other. When one is need, we all chip in. Just a couple months ago, sadly, we found out one of our families is going through a divorce. The mother of 4 was left in a bit of a financial disaster, was struggling to make ends meet, and would not be having Christmas for her family. Another family owns a business that builds homes and they offered us the opportunity to do construction clean up versus hiring a company to come in and the money earned would be given to our family friend in need. We have done that twice and the family in need helped in the work. 

When the email went out, IT happened.....the Lord moved Davids heart to go beyond our tithing. Then David heard your message about supporting outside the church. It makes my eyes tear up to think about it. David told me he wanted to contribute and we both agreed to pray on it. Every time he brought it up, I would say we would pray about it. Not sure if I was in shock or not obeying immediately (yes, a bit of both), but it was not until Matt's sermon about God confirming the birth of Jesus to both Mary and Joseph that my light switch flipped and the Lord had already given us both the same amount. There was nothing left to pray about. We gave the family a cash donation. I'm not sure the amount really matters, but I will say it mattered to the mama who was so humbled. Then hearing Cathleen's story, my heart strings were pulled again. David agreed with me to help her through this hump. So I was able to meet her for coffee, hear her story, and then tuck some cash in her sealed Christmas card. Let me say, I have thoroughly been so humbled and blessed with so much joy to be the messenger for our King. 

I know it is not always about the gift of money and that sometimes it is the gift of time, or resources, or a meal, or listening. However, these 2 occasions did call for money and obedience is the key answer to what He is teaching both David and I right now in my answered prayer.

I hope this story touches you as deeply as it has me.

-Dave and Rachael Brother’s

Missionary Monday - Zambia

Prayer Fam,

I’ll just be honest; this month has been hard. God has taught me a lot in a short amount of time, and usually His lessons come out of some sort of struggle. Last school year I was able to observe a lot about the school in my periphery as I taught my classes and small groups. There were things I knew needed to change eventually, but for the most part I was able to just do my part and enjoy being around the kids. This year, several issues with the school have come into full view.

I began the term excited to step into my leadership role by planning and facilitating all the teacher meetings at the start of the year. There were a lot of really good and convicting conversations about the school vision and how we can intentionally share The Gospel with the students. Everything was well thought out, and I was certain that with the expectations being clear and having a united focus, that some of the problems I noticed from last year would be taken care of. In my head I was thinking “capwa,” which means “finished”. However, after those first few teacher meetings I realized that change is going to come VERY slowly, and will not be finished for a while.

Teaching in Zambia is done the same way at every school. Everything is done by writting on the blackboard, and there isn’t a lot of motivation to do anything differently. There are no critical-thinking or problem-solving skills taught, and social skills are completely ignored. There’s not much consideration of student engagement, learning styles, or relationship.

It’s hard to look at a ministry like the orphan school that has such potential for serious Kingdom impact, and see government teachers who lack integrity, ambition, and compassion. It’s even harder when one of your students explains that he’s being insulted by one of them, and then to hear from someone else that a different teacher is insulting the majority of her class. This is the main reason that life has felt a little heavy recently. I can’t stand the thought of these kids not receiving God’s love at this school. I’ve felt burdened for this school, and God is slowly helping me to give that to Him, and trust that He has a plan. It’s made me more desperate for daily guidance.

I’ve had to examine my own expectations and part to play here. I can do everything in my power to make this school better than it was. I’ve asked myself the question, “What if I leave Zambia and don’t make a difference?” Now, some of you might say, “But Sarah, you are making a difference!” And that’s nice of you, but not the point. The point is that God hasn’t called me to feel successful. He hasn’t called me to gain personal glory, or to feel like I’ve made a difference or accomplish something great. And He hasn’t called me to save anyone. He has simply asked me to be obedient.

The great thing is that He lets me be a part of His work for His glory. Even though it feels hard sometimes it is a privilege, and I can find peace in Jesus and the fact that He loves me. Instead of feeling frustrated at the teachers who aren’t united in Christ with us I’ve felt God speaking to my heart; so instead of always asking, “How can I make these teachers fit the mold we want?” I’ve heard God prompt me saying, “How can you serve these teachers, and through that be a light?” My prayers have mostly been focused on asking God to guide me as I lead the school, that He would help me to be a light to the students and teachers, and that He would help me to be bold in sharing The Gospel with these kids. I realized that I often use the excuse “actions speak louder than words” to not actually speak the words of the Gospel as often as I should. There is power in saying the words of The Gospel that will change hearts, and I hope that the Lord will speak to the hearts of the teachers and students.

And don’t you worry…There have been a lot of great things happening in the midst of the struggle. Let me tell you about a few…Seeing the OM missionary teachers love the kids, seeing one of the “tougher” kids become the most improved in my class this past week, finding encouragement through wise and prayerful teammates, Holly (missionary at the lake for 10 years) coming back from America for a visit, experiencing God’s grace in new ways, praise and worship with the kids, some of the girls opening up at Pure Girls, my weekly nshima lunch date with the grade 5 girls, and the crowd of kids that gather around my office at break time to play games.

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One of my favorite experiences in Zambia so far though just happened the other day. I got to be the “soccer mom” for the boys. I mean that almost literally…I drove them to the game, cheered them on, held onto their stuff as they played, made sure to pack water for them, and drove them home. It started when a group of boys met at my house. We walked to the base so that I could drive them in the minibus through the bush to our field leader’s plot to play his team. I was the only non-Zambian in the village and felt totally comfortable. The game started late of course, and my boys played well, but lost the game. We all jumped back into the minibus so that I could drive them home (or close to home since I couldn’t drop off all 15-20 of them on the bush roads). They were all so excited to be crammed in the bus that they started singing; it didn’t matter that the lost. Then, as a huge truck passed us going the opposite direction we got stuck in the mud on the side of the bush road. Normally this type of situation would have been embarrassing or frustrating to most people, but I knew I was safe with boys. The kids all jumped out and immediately started pushing the bus. Some of the kids were telling me to reverse, some were telling me to go forward, and nothing was working. After a while I was about to give up and called someone for help. The kids wanted me to try one more time. I hear them all shout, “Everyone work together, it’s cooperation!” My heart filled with joy…Cooperation is our character trait of the month! I prayed that God would show them the value of working together. And He did! I drove out of the mud with the kids all screaming and shouting in victory. They piled back into the bus just as help arrived…We gave our would-be rescuer a thumbs up to let him know that we were ok, and drove off through the village and then town, singing even more elatedly because we saw God show up.

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I cannot express to you how experiencing this “real life” moment, and small victory with these kids refreshed my weary soul. That’s what I want more of. Time with kids that isn’t focused around class and programs…just life.

Please pray…

-that God would provide the right teachers for the school, and work in the hearts of the ones that are here now.

-that I would hear and feel God’s guidance each day…and obey!

-that God would help the teachers and myself to share The Gospel clearly with the children through our actions AND words.

- for provision of more staff here at the lake…finance, field leader, teachers, etc.

-that the hearts of the kids would be open to receive The Gospel. There are so many cultural, spiritual, and traditional strongholds that keep them from experiencing Jesus. Pray that the Lord’s love would sink deep into their hearts.

Thank you so much for praying with me through all of this. God is at work here at the lake, and I’m so grateful to be a small part of it. He has a beautiful plan for the people of Mpulungu, and through the challenges and His redeeming grace I get to see it unfold. 

In Christ,

Sarah 

P.S. The boys are saving for their own soccer ball, and somehow I became their treasurer. So now I have boys running up to me to give me one or two Kwacha at a time. It’s been really cool to see them all working together to save up for something that they care about.

 

 

 

Generosity Story- Alyssa Leckliter's Story

When the 90 day tithe challenge was first presented, I was not interested at all. We had not been tithing to the church, but had been giving different amounts to a local food pantry where I volunteer. I always assumed the number added up to 10%. While we are not in any financial trouble, these past two years we have not been as comfortable as we once were and it had been weighing on me. The stress and anxiety would cause me to lose sleep at night worrying about "what if" and trying to pay off car loans, etc. I was not interested in giving more of "my" money to a church, even one we had chosen as our home for the past 3 years. We have experienced many church heartaches and betrayals in our young lives, so I was giving outside to an organization I fully know. Summary:, I was anxious and still didn't fully trust New City with "my" money.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Matt shared what New City was able to accomplish this year because of God's blessings and I was amazed. Each ministry pulled on my heart strings. When I heard that New City had helped start New Life Church in Belton, I was so excited. Our good friends had been very active in that church plant. Story after story pulled at my heart and it was the next week that I heard God say "it's time to let go". I was terrified, but obeyed. 

First thing I noticed was that I was sleeping better (as much as a pregnant woman can). Next, were awesome financial blessings. Cameron has been working as a contractor for his company for almost 5 years. Long story short, after considering another company, Cameron's current company decided they wanted to keep him and offered a $5 an hour raise. Praise the Lord! 

The same current company used to give Christmas bonuses, but had not the previous year and I assumed that they would not this year (especially after that amazing raise), but they ended up giving us half of his monthly paycheck as a bonus. Praise the Lord! At the company Christmas party,  they blessed each guest with a $50 target gift card (even our daughter Adelaide). Praise the Lord!

While these things were all amazing blessings, I think the one that topped it all off was my attitude towards it all. Each blessing we received made me excited to find new ways to give away more to families or missionaries in need.

I am so grateful that I listened to God's call, stepped out in obedience, let go of fear, and truly trusted God with His money.

God Bless,

Alyssa Leckliter

Missionary Monday - Thailand

Dear prayer friends,

We want to update about the 6 people in prison. Thank the Lord that they have been released on Jan. 31st. All were fined for a total of 3,000 USD. All 6 of them have now been reunited with their families. Thank you for your prayers!

We will have a key leader meeting from Feb. 7th-9th to plan for 2018. Close to 20 leaders will come to discuss many issues. Then we will have our yearly medical mission near the border. We need your prayers for our medical doctors, evangelist to share to Christ who are coming, and for the people to cross. Last year we had close to 1,100 people within a week and now we think 300 people might come in one day. Please pray for this as it can get stressful. Last year was very overwhelming, and stressful. We do not have to have this happen again.

Blessings,

S*

*Name and location have been changed for their protection.

Generosity Story - Michael Eberra

On December 20th, I experienced a true “appearance of God”. I’ve always believed in a God, but never knew what it meant to know God. I’ve been walking with a discipleship group of a few guys for some months now and am becoming more knowledgeable of who God is and isn’t. Before this day, I still had my struggles in attaching Jesus to God. 

While I was working, almost done for the day, I got a call from my wife with a confused/excited tone in her voice. She explained to me that the parents of one of the kids she babysits gave her a Christmas card when they picked up their child. Not thinking much of it, she thanked them, and got back to the other kids she cares for. A few moments later, she decided to open the card and read it and saw there was money in the card. She said she figured it was an early payment for looking after their son. After counting it, she then realized they had made a mistake, because they had left way more than what was due for the week, $500 more! So she called the parents to let them know about the mistake or to find out if maybe they were pre-paying for a few extra weeks. To her surprise, they told her there was no mistake and that the extra money was her Christmas bonus for taking great care of their son everyday! She told me how this was a huge blessing and she was very appreciative that they would do this. 

For a few hours, I pondered why anyone would do such a generous thing. Especially with Christmas just a few days away. Surely they could use it for their family... right? Once I finally got home around 6:30pm, I went to my bedroom to I guess try to figure this all out. Confused and not getting anywhere, I began speaking to God. I asked him if this was Him blessing us and revealing Himself to me. 

Rushing to my own conclusions, I brushed it off and said no, no, no. It’s all because my wife is so helpful and has such a huge heart for helping others. It was all because of her, and nothing I do would ever contribute to someone seeing in us a reason to do such a nice thing. JUST AS I SAID THIS TO HIM, there was a knock at the door. I went to see who could be at the door at this time. It was a neighbor from a few houses down in the neighborhood who we know. She was holding a frozen turkey in one hand and a frozen chicken in the other. She handed both to me and said "Merry Christmas" and walked away. I was stunned. We had no dinner plans that night so it was perfect timing. 

Just then, I felt a strong feeling, as if God was right there looking at me saying, “Wake up, this is all me!” It couldn’t have been more clear. At that moment I realized, what more am I looking for as proof that Jesus is real and that He’s taking care of not just us, but taking care of and providing for me? 

-Michael Eberra

Generosity Story - Mann

I’ve never struggled with tithing, I don’t share that to brag, but it’s an important part of our story. I started tithing with my first job in high school. No matter how tight our budget was, I knew we couldn’t out-give God. Matt struggled with this though, and so we weren’t giving regularly and when we did give, it usually was less than 10%. I don’t share that as a knock on him; again, it’s an important part of our story.

Our story actually starts about 4 ½ years ago. Our budget was beyond tight. Monthly bills put us in the hole each month. That included only necessities, and did not include expenses that weren’t monthly like oil changes, clothing, haircuts, etc. We began asking God for a specific yearly salary. Compared to what we were making, it was a huge ask. Since we were asking for something big, we decided to show God that He could trust us with the little we had and thus became regular tithers.

We continued praying for this specific amount and continued to show God that He could give it to us by being trustworthy with the little we had. Over the next year, God always provided. We didn’t get the amount we were asking for, but we never went hungry, never missed a rent payment, and always had clothes to wear. I remember looking at the budget month after month and saying, “I don’t know how this is working. We shouldn’t be able to pay these bills.” Yet we were. Fishes and loaves. Thank you, Jesus!

It was both exciting and stressful to see how God was going to provide each month. I thought that my willingness to tithe was evidence that I trusted God. I knew I had other areas to work on, but I really, really thought trust wasn’t an issue for me. 

It was about a year after we had started praying for this specific number that we were asked to move out of the house we were renting. The timing was absolutely terrible- we got the notice on the same day we left the hospital with a newborn. We did as much packing as we could but it seemed to never end. Moving day came, and we had several friends and family members over to help. It felt like we were never going to finish boxing up all of our possessions. We filled the biggest moving truck you could rent 1.5 times, plus had several pick-up truck and minivan loads.

At the end of moving day, I was tired and worn out, but mostly embarrassed. Embarrassed that we had so much stuff. Embarrassed that friends and family saw it. It was our last night at the old house, and I was sleeping on a pallet on the bedroom floor. I began to pray and self-reflect.

Why do I have so much stuff? Why am I holding on to it all? What if I get rid of something and then we end up needing it; we don’t have the income to buy it again. I’m holding on to everything because we are poor. If we just made a little more, I could get rid of so much.

God, it’s been a year. Are you going to answer our prayer? We need a bigger income. Haven’t we shown you that you can trust us?

“But do you trust me?”

Whoa! There was no mistaking that voice. It was so clear. I didn’t hear it with my ears, but there was no denying it wasn’t my own voice or my own thoughts. It was direct and firm, but at the same time gentle and loving. And true. Oh, so very true. I thought I trusted God. But now I realized that I didn’t. I didn’t trust Him to provide my every need.

We got into the new house, and I started going through all my belongings. I organized things into keep, trash, or sell. The rich young ruler in the Bible was told to sell his possessions, right? And if we sold it, we could use that money to supplement our income. We were still barely skimping by, and now we had another mouth to feed. But that mouth was also a newborn, and newborns are pretty time consuming. I really didn’t have time to sell anything. 

Eventually, other things got in the way of my sorting and the only things I ended up actually getting rid of was obvious trash. I kept creating excuses, some of them were legitimate, like being on bedrest with a new pregnancy and suffering from post-partum depression. But mostly, they were just excuses.

3 years passed. Three years. God still provided every single, stinking month without fail. We were always able to make our rent payment. We always had clothes to wear. We never had to beg for food. There were new jobs and small pay raises, but there were also 2 new mouths to feed. Money was still tight. We still couldn’t budget in oil changes or new clothes for growing children and definitely nothing extra. I still look back and am amazed at how God provided for another 3 years when the math still wasn’t supposed to work. 

There were consequences to my disobedience, though. It’s hard to describe why or how, but having so much stuff made me feel like I was prisoner in my own home. Our house was filled with clutter. Piles of papers on the kitchen table, a mountain of fabric and craft supplies in the “crafting corner.” Homeschool books and endless school supplies in our home classroom. It was impossible to find what we needed when we needed it because we had so much stuff. It’s hard to take care of your belongings when you have a lot of belongings to take care of, so things were constantly getting broken or ruined.

Getting 4 young kids ready to go and out of the house was such a chore amongst all the clutter, so we mostly stayed at home. When we did get out of the house, I felt guilty, like I should be at home organizing, but I rarely did organize when we were at home. Inviting people into our home was most definitely not going to happen. Our marriage relationship went through its roughest period too. I was suffering from post-partum depression after Bryant was born, and I know sometimes that just happens after you have a baby, but I also know feeling like a prisoner to my things made my depression a thousand times worse. 

Matt and I had countless “discussions” on how we could tame the clutter and what the best method was to get rid of all of our junk. Finding time and getting the children out of the way were our biggest obstacles. He suggested over and over that we just rent a dumpster for a day and throw stuff in without even looking. That sounded ridiculous to me. There were things we obviously did need and that didn’t seem to be good stewardship.

I was getting desperate, though. I wanted out of my prison. I was driving in my car alone, and I know exactly where I was on Shawnee Mission Parkway when I asked God, “What if we did get rid of literally everything? Would we be bad stewards of what we have? Would you really provide for us?”

“But do you trust me?”

Just like before. It was the same exact voice. Still direct and firm. Still gentle and loving. The thought was interjected into my own thoughts in such a way that it’s just not possible the voice was my own. 

I lost it and the tears started flowing. For 3 years, God had been waiting for me. Waiting for me to answer his question, “Do you trust me?” He is so patient and full of grace. At any point he could have given up on me, but he didn’t.

God and I spent some time hashing out what he wanted from me and how I could show him that I do trust him. While I know I could get rid of literally everything and God would provide my needs, there are a few items that we use regularly that we’ve decided to keep. As I boxed things up, if I got stuck on whether to keep an item or get rid of it, I immediately asked God for wisdom and asked myself if I was trusting God. There have been some really hard things that I have given up, but I trust God.

So, with the 90-day challenge, we were ready and willing to listen to God and do what He said. Matt and I increased our giving; in obedience, we went from tithing on the net to tithing on the gross. We looked at our budget and made changes to give us freedom to give more. Also, because there is a good life insurance plan through his employer, we cancelled one we had carried for a long time and committed to give that total to the Lord for 3 months as well.  We had started packing our stuff to trust to God, but had not actually gotten anything out of the house. So during the challenge we took the back seats out of our minivan and donated at least 4 loads to various ministries and we are still working on getting rid of more.

God has honored our obedience and our trust; On February 5th, Matt will start a new job, working for the city of Shawnee’s Parks and Recreation department and help bring kingdom to our city…. The salary is not what we had been praying for over the past 5 years, it’s more! Thank you Jesus!

Mann Family