Wednesday, February 6, 2019

"For Christ's love compels us..."

“For Christ’s love compels us…” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

The month of January was a good one. Gavin was able to drive 14 hours north in the Republic of Congo with the District Superintendent of Congo/Brazzaville and a local lay member of the church to visit new preaching points. It’s exciting to report that the church is growing in numbers and in faith. People are hungry for the truth. While in route, they were stopped by police and asked for the usual items required by law to have in your car (fire extinguisher, first aid kit and triangles). When hearing where their final destination was, the police asked if someone could hitch a ride with them to Owesso. Over the next couple of hours, Gavin and the other men were able to share about the Church of the Nazarene with this young man who had many questions about faith and the church. After reaching town and before dropping this gentleman off, they invited him to church. They were all pleasantly surprised when he showed up on Sunday morning. The Nazarenes in the northern part of the country, although young to the faith, are very motivated to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Some of the villages where we have a presence, Nazarenes are the only Christians in the area.  

Because we now live in a capital city, we’ve run into a few English-speaking expats. When asked what our occupation is, and they find out we’re missionaries, a few of them asked if we’d start a Bible study in English. This last week, Jill began a study in English with expats from the US and Cameroon. We’re ready to see where the Lord leads and are thankful for new opportunities in ministry that are a bit different than we anticipated. 

Macy and Connor are going strong in school. They are attending an English-speaking school that partners with an online school in the US, out of Florida. While it’s been a new experience to do most of their schooling online, we’re always ready for a new challenge and are thankful for programs that are accredited for our children. The school here in Brazzaville just started after-school activities where the kids get to learn karate, art and dance. Macy is learning to play the guitar and Connor is learning how to play the piano, as well.

Please join us in prayer over this next month as we get ready to receive a new missionary couple in Lubumbashi, DR Congo; Phil and Monica Carr. Pray for Gavin as he travels to Gabon for an exploratory trip in starting the Church of the Nazarene in that country. Pray for Jill as she takes on a new ministry role of Field Personnel Coordinator, helping and assisting missionaries on our Field as well as working with the Regional Personnel Coordinator. Pray that Macy and Connor would be good witnesses for Christ at their school and remain focused and attentive in their studies. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Celebrating Six Years in Central Africa!

DR Congo January 2013

Republic of Congo January 2019

Today marks six years of serving the Lord and the Church of the Nazarene in Central Africa! What a joy and honor it has been to be used by God in this part of the world.

Significant events of our 6th year include:
*Watching 21 ministers get ordained
*Installing solar panels for drawing water at the micro farm
*Collecting and harvesting our first batch of fish from the fish farm
*Witnessing discipleship and growth across DR Congo and Republic of Congo
*Sending a Missionary family from DR Congo to Cameroon
*Connor learning to ride his bike and completing 3rd grade through Homeschool
*Macy thriving and completing 5th grade in her first year of English learning
*Macy learning to dive in the swimming pool and how to play netball at school
*Saying goodbye to friends and churches in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo
*Moving to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
*Sharing what God is doing in Central Africa on Home Assignment
*Meeting new partners in ministry and keeping in touch with many who have continually supported us throughout our time in Africa
*Spending quality time with our families along the Gulf Coast while in the United States in July
*Seeing District Centers built to stages where they can be utilized for meetings and training centers. Also, churches have been started in these buildings
*Participating in 7 District Assemblies across our Field
*Taking in our first church members in Cameroon
*Hosting a volunteer for a month
*Welcoming Global Mission Director, Verne and Natalie Ward

While these are just the highlights, we've seen God moving and protecting and continually leading our family in ministry. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for walking this journey with us. Thank you for allowing us opportunities to share about the amazing God we serve!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Giving it Back

There is nothing that surpasses the feeling of being called to a specific task by a higher power.  This is especially true for those of us who get to make this calling our life's work.  However, sometimes we have to admit our shortcomings and failures.  We have to be ready to give our calling and our work back to the Lord in order to see it renewed and refreshed.  This has been the case for the work of the Church of the Nazarene in the country of Cameroon.

More than 12 years ago, some contacts were made by Nazarenes moving from another country to Cameroon.  They were members of the COTN and through their witness, deeply impacted the Christian Community they joined upon arriving in the city of Douala.  Soon after, the local church expressed its desire to join the Church of the Nazarene.  Unfortunately, long distances and other difficulties made it so that these connections were lost.

Over six years ago, a Nazarene pastor moved from his fruitful ministry in Western Africa to his home country of Cameroon.  He worked in the western part of the country and evangelized many people who didn't know the name of Christ.  Once again, there were many challenges related to isolation from church leadership, personal issues, and growing political unrest leading to violence in the area.  

Just about six months ago, the Church of the Nazarene sent a missionary family to Yaoundé from Goma, DRC.  In the short time since their arrival, God has used them to lead people to Christ, re-establish old contacts, and meet new people of peace.  Last week, we just received the first members of the Church of the Nazarene in Cameroon.  Eight people from old and new ministry efforts came together to officially join the Church of the Nazarene.  There is so much to be done and we know that we are still at the beginning of this journey of having a sustainable work of the church in Cameroon.  However, we know that none of this could have happened without recognizing our weaknesses and giving our ministry efforts back to the Lord.  

Sometimes on the path to faithfulness, doors are closed.  At some points along the way, it may be necessary to regroup.  The need may even arise to go back to step 1 and give the ministry back to the Lord. This can allow fresh ideas and new collaboration to arise.  Giving our callings back to the Lord may be what is needed to get over a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  Phillipeans 1: 3-6 reads, "I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Receiving New Members

It is true that Paul was speaking about the work of these believers being saved and transformed into the image of Christ.  But I believe there are valuable implications for our ministry efforts as well.  God, who began this good work, will carry it on to completion.  This reminder takes the burden and pressure off of God's people who understand that our callings, and the people they bring us into relationship with, belong to God.  For those of us working to establish the Church of the Nazarene in Cameroon, it wasn't until we took a step back and committed to allowing the Lord to start our efforts over from scratch, that we were able to have this first fruit.  We will keep working as best we know how, but we will be waiting for God to carry it on to completion. 

Church of the Nazarene in Cameroon (sorry that its not in focus)