You can skip this letter and jump to the update below if you are in a hurry.
Moving to the mission field presents a dilemma for all who respond to the call to “Go Make Disciples of all nations”. Upon receiving the call, one feels excitement and apprehension as they imagine leading people to Christ while the church “back home” cheers them on and supports their efforts. Once the move is actually made, a new realization sets in. They are living in a foreign land without all their family and friends. Often the church “back home” is busy with their own lives and ministry. While they are only a phone call away, most missionaries begin to feel they are “out of sight, out of mind”.
Meeting new people and learning a new language and culture is a daunting task, no matter how outgoing you are. However, as the days turn to months and years, a new situation arises. The once close friends back home are still friends, though not as close as they once were. Instead, having adapted to this new land along with its customs and cultures, the missionaries find they have made new friends and family, not replacing the old, but adding to them.
The people who the missionary once saw as “ministry opportunities” are now much more. They are close friends, even new best friends. They are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are like family.
The longer a missionary lives on the field, the more the field begins to become “home”. This is good and how it should be. However, the missionary is still supported by their friends, family, and churches from their homeland. Those friends and family want to see and hear how the ministry is going. “Who are you reaching?” “How many have gotten saved?” “What families are you blessing?” “How many bible studies are you teaching?” all become common, sincere, questions the missionary is asked.
Finding The Right Balance
As you can imagine, this puts missionaries in a difficult position because those who were once “a ministry” are now their friends and brothers. Writing back home and sending pictures of those you are ministering to gets much harder, not because you are doing less ministry, but because you are so close with this you are ministering to. Sending pictures and telling stories about how you are ministering to them makes the ministry feel less sincere, as though you are using them. These are real people with real needs, and they are trusting us to demonstrate Christ to them in the midst of it all.
We enjoy doing this ministry and we enjoying telling you, our awesome supporters, about it. We sincerely love you and are ever so thankful to be here because of your support. But we also love them, our friends and family and neighbors who we have dinner with and bless through generosity and share the gospel with. Living the life of a missionary means learning to maintain the balance between updating your supporters and honoring the trust of those you minister to.
This is the tension we try to balance each time we sit down to write a blog update after 11 years on the mission field. This is also why our updates have been less frequent. It’s not because we aren’t doing ministry, we are! But balancing the tension between informing those who support us and not exploiting those we are ministering to, makes it hard to decide what and how much to share in our updates. Please forgive the infrequency of our updates, we will try to post more often so that you can see what God is doing. I hope this letter has helped you understand the dilemma we face.
Now For An Update On Our Current Ministries
So far in 2016 we have done some key outreaches, such as our annual Christmas Outreach and Annual School Supply Drive. However, we mainly continue focusing on teaching the word in a discipleship context.
- We have a Sunday morning service that is fully bilingual.
- We teach 4 more bible studies throughout the week, for a total of 5 “events” each week. These other studies are small group format.
- We have a small study we are doing with a group of local missionaries, discipling them with “The Tekoa Project” bible study materials so they can be more effective in their ministry,
- We have a men’s group and a women’s group each week in the early morning,
- We have a home study that is going through the book of 1 Samuel,
- In addition to that, we meet with people on a daily and weekly basis for meals and counseling and discipleship as needed.
As a result, we are watching God grow and transform people into His image. Discipleship is a slow process and is often messy, but it is effective and God has called us to do it. We have also baptized 3 people in the last couple months! In early May, we went to El Salvador for the Central America Pastors Conference. It was a tremendous blessing to connect with other Calvary Pastors and encourage one another!
Some of those we are discipling have begun to go out to the streets and evangelize, pray for the people, and preach the word of God. It is exciting to see those you disciple begin fulfilling their own ministry!
In the church, we have seen new people step up and start serving, taking responsibility for entire areas of service. This has been a tremendous blessing for us. We also have a Mission Team coming in July and are excited about the outreach we will be doing with them. You can also watch our services live on our Facebook Page thanks to the new Facebook Live feature.
I know this update is overdue. We wanted to let you know we are still here, plugging along, being faithful to what God has called us to do. Thank you for your support, we couldn’t be here without you! Please continue to pray for us and the ministry. Feel free to let us know how we can be praying for you!