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March 15, 2019

Updates from the Field

Times of confusion, trial, and frustration are often opportunities to see God’s faithfulness at work. RMM workers around the world share stories of what God is teaching them in the midst of (and through) their sometimes-chaotic lives, and how he is giving them peace in their current situations and hope for the future.

Katie,* REACH Team Indochina

Patience is something I’ve certainly learned a lot about over the past couple weeks. One particular day I was helping in the kindergartners’ class and they were doing a little craft coloring paper planets. A little girl had attached herself to me and wouldn’t let go, so I sat down and helped her and the others around her. It wasn’t long until she turned to me in distress, “teacher! I want the purple pencil!” The issue was, the little boy next to her was using it. “Well, you can wait until he’s done with it and then you can use it.” But she wasn’t satisfied, “no, teacher, no, I want it now!” I reminded her to be patient and wait for her turn. To which, of course, she responded that she didn’t want to be patient. And then I caught myself saying something I often heard growing up, “well, you know, patience is a virtue.” Then I had to try and describe what a virtue is to a kindergartner. That was fun. But it made me think. How many times have I heard that phrase and not really thought what it meant? Or even known what it meant?

Being patient is hard, and really not my first instinct or nature. But patience is truly an incredible thing because it speaks volumes. It testifies of the love of the Father and testifies of our love for one another. The love we have because of the Son. So much good comes as a fruit of patience. After all, it’s a virtue, right? But, yeah, patience is much easier said than done. And even though it’s hard to practice sometimes, I’ve been discovering the beauty of patience and its life-giving qualities. Something the Father has, is, and likely will continue to teach me over the next few months. He has a way of making me think, that’s for sure. I look forward to whatever he has in store.

Judah and Rayna,* Middle East

Ever since moving to our new city three months ago, it has felt like life has been in high gear, and this past month has been no exception. We've had guests in our home for extended periods of time, become actively involved with the youth group in the local fellowship, I (Judah) made several trips to a neighboring city to help a new fellowship that is starting, all while Rayna continued with language lessons. I also continued to pursue business opportunities for some of the refugees and local followers in our fellowship.

In the midst of all the things going on, we had some time at the beginning of the new year to reflect on the past year and recognize the faithfulness of our Father each and every day. There were days we wondered what we were doing and what the Father was up to. There were days it felt like we could not think straight, and the things we were wrestling with felt so huge – such as family members struggling with illness or feeling like all we were doing was going from one dead end to another. As we look back we can see how things really weren't as big as they felt in the moment, or at least they really weren't that big when put in comparison to the Father we serve. May each of you be able to realize this in your lives as well!

Wyatt,* North Africa

I am nearing the end of my formal classes in studying my first language. I know there are still a few holes in my understanding and usage, but they are daily getting smaller. It is exciting for me to think about starting the second language study. It will be hard to go all the way back to square one, but to think of the rewards of knowing the heart language of the people encourages me far more than the difficulties deter me. Please remember me and request perseverance for me.

I have seen some of my expat friends make some serious progress in communicating the truth as we know it to those around them. It has been awesome to see firsthand the miracle of light coming into the darkness. I ask that this would continue to happen where I am now, even as I look forward to a new location, platform, and language.

Shontel,* REACH Team Ecuador

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” Psalm 77:19

Today as I flipped through my Bible I re-encountered this verse. It drew me in. What a promise to cling to in this season.

“Maybe I need a turbulent world in order to grasp just a bit more of the Solid Rock I anchor myself to.”There are moments when the day or week looks like the ocean, wave after wave crashing and I wonder... How can I do this? How can I show love yet again to the boy who refuses to listen? How can I give grace to the girls who try my patience? How can I persevere in the midst of the mundane? How can I best use my time on and off shift? But he promises; he promises himself. He promises his faithfulness even though we can’t always see it. He challenges me to remember his provision in every moment past. He will continue to be faithful.

There are times I question our Abba here. I look at the lives around me and wonder. Father, why doesn’t this child get to see you when she asks to? Jesus, where are you in the midst of the kids’ dark pasts? Why don’t you give families to the boys who only know foundations as homes? God, why didn’t you step in and prevent rape? Why do I pray over these kids and yet often don’t sense your presence here? These are my real questions and they make me squirm. But I cling to his promises...“though his footprints were not seen.”

Juxtaposed with the questioning and discouragement is an inner joy I’ve been discovering. Maybe I should call it an outer joy, because it certainly doesn’t come from me. It’s a joy that isn’t based on even a grain of sand from this world. It’s what brings me to our roof almost every day to sing the praises of the King of Heaven. It’s what makes me want to dance and jump and shout. It’s what brings me to my knees. Our Abba is worthy of praise no matter the circumstance. He leaves me with peace no matter how burdened I come to him. He promises to never leave our team, the foundation, nor my own heart. And that encourages me. Maybe I need a turbulent world in order to grasp just a bit more of the Solid Rock I anchor myself to.

Please pray for continued reminders of God’s faithfulness in the lives of RMM workers as they mature and multiply churches locally and globally.

*Names changed or last names omitted for security

March 08, 2019

Holy Ground: A REACH Update

By Shontel, REACH Team Ecuador

Nap time arrives at 1pm every day – this is when we enter the zoo. Sometimes it involves wrestling six, seven, and eight year olds into their beds and holding them there until they calm down enough to sleep. There’s often yelling, running, chasing, and hiding. But eventually the room grows quiet as one by one, with our help, they fall asleep.

In this quiet, God has spoken that what I sometimes consider a zoo is really holy ground. His presence dwells in that room. When I take the time to remember he’s there, he gives me eyes to see him. As I stroked a boy’s back one afternoon, I thought about how small my work is here. And so gently God reminded me of his greatest gift to us: Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus demonstrated through his ministry that our Father delights in sharing life with his children. His disobedient, messy, broken children. “And that’s what I want you to show each child here,” I felt him say to me.
It released the pressure that I have to see a difference in the work I do and the need to transform lives. Instead, simply dwelling with his broken, beloved children is enough. Jesus dwelled with his disciples and commanded us to do the same with him: “Abide in me, as I also abide in you” (John 15:4).

Lately as I’ve reflected on the meaning of God dwelling with us, I’ve realized the same God who told Moses to take off his sandals by the burning bush is now the one who walks with me. He has gifted us the Holy Spirit, who is one with God. This means that since the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are holy ground. Wow.

“… turning the boys’ room into a sanctuary of his presence, hand-washing laundry into hours of praise, and time with his people into restful acknowledgement of his dwelling.”I need to take a minute to worship. The God of the universe, commander of the waves, delights in dwelling with his broken children. He dwells with me, with each teammate, teen, toddler, and tía. All of us have our scars and messiness but in his abundant love, he enters in. I’m learning to embrace this amazing truth. There are days when I look at the world, forgetting about the dwelling of our Father, and life quickly becomes tiring, frustrating, and pointless. But he gracefully reminds me again and again of his love and goodness in each moment – and that it will not change no matter how I feel. That is what moves me to worship, turning the boys’ room into a sanctuary of his presence, hand-washing laundry into hours of praise, and time with his people into restful acknowledgement of his dwelling.

As you dwell on the areas of your life that need to be embraced as holy ground, please keep Shontel and her team in your prayers. Pray that God would continue to fill them with his presence, so that they can bless those around them.

March 06, 2019

A Change in Perspective

By Cora,* RMM worker in North Africa

Now that I travel out to Raleigh and Opal’s* town on Monday and then return to the city on Thursday, I have three hours of travel a week. When I first began thinking about this, I thought it would get old to wait for grand taxis and drive the same roads back and forth. It has only been six weeks, but I have begun to view this time as a gift.

Since returning to North Africa I’ve become aware that, in America, we do very little waiting when it comes to travel and public transportation. We know exactly when things are going to be leaving and don’t arrive any sooner than we need to. And if anything is delayed, you know about it from online sources and can adjust your schedule accordingly. Well, here it is a little different. You arrive at the taxi stand and there need to be six people to fill a grand taxi before it leaves. You could be the fifth or sixth person and leave very quickly, or the first person and wait as long as an hour before leaving. And I have come to realize that even after you leave, it could potentially take longer than the hour and a half expected, depending on what happens along the way. Basically, everything is out of your control.

“I have no control
of the situation…
All I can do is wait.”
Right after returning, this annoyed me. I wanted to know exactly when things would happen. But soon I came to realize there is freedom in this. I have no control of the situation, so there is no pressure to be somewhere at a certain time or do anything to speed up the process. All I can do is wait…so this is when I rest. These three hours and the time it takes to get on the road is such a gift. It is now time I use to read a book or listen to a podcast. I am happy to have gained this change in perspective.

Are there times in your life that you feel are being wasted? Ask God to help you transform those times into a gift of rest and refreshment.

*Names changed for security