Praying through the ashes
In an uncertain time, Jesus is our certainty
Quite a few very sad events have happened in London and around the UK since our last letter to you. Stabbings, terrorist attacks, and last week, a tower building of flats engulfed in flames with many lost. Just these are enough to make a mother tremble for her kids. And our moms have been keeping tabs on us, as good mothers would, and Jana, at times, fights the uncertainty of leaving our flat.
I’ve been studying Acts as I prepare to teach a course to staff that have been a working with Agape for 3-5 years staff in. After I got over my fear (literally trembling at the prospect) and doubt, I finally submitted to the Holy Spirit (why did I not just start there?), and dove in. It has been an amazing journey so far. But, one thing stood out yesterday when I got to Paul’s first journey to take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the known world. When Paul eventually got to Derby, Jews from Antioch at Pisidia and Iconium came and stoned him, thinking they killed him, threw him out of the city. Of course we know he wasn’t killed, but it was his decisions thereafter that were surprising. Instead of taking the short route to the church in Antioch in Syria, Paul decides to travel the long way, and visit the new disciples in Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia before heading back! Wait… what? In the face of not just threats of death, but an actual attempt at murdering him, Paul stayed the course set before him and continued to preach the gospel.
Why do I share this? I think that despite terrorist threats in London (something that is not new), the actual attacks, the dangers (real or perceived) of living in one of the biggest cities in the world, we press on without fear. The reality is that safety is an illusion, and an idol of western thought. I do not write this lightly, we struggle with it ourselves. But, we’re called to the Great Commission in the face of adversity and danger – whatever form that takes – wherever we are in the world. The gospel is worth it. Jesus is worth it. That’s true for you too. The Great Commission is not just for the ‘paid missionary,’ but for all Christians.
Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe says this of Aslan: “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” We should have never become Christians if we were just seeking mere safety. The reality is that we signed up for the battle for the souls of mankind. An intensely spiritual battle with no promise of physical safety. By the end of Acts, almost every one of the disciples were martyred. The others were killed soon after, except for John, who died of old age exiled on an island.
If it’s true that we are “no safer on the battlefield than we are in our own beds,” then we can take courage that just as God is sovereign over our salvation, he is sovereign over our deaths. So we are taking courage to press on for the sake of the gospel. If Jesus sought mere safety – there would be no resurrection, no church, and we would all be in our sin.
Statistically, we have a significantly low chance of being in any danger. Our request is that rather than pray for our safety, pray that we are equipped with the full armor of God to withstand the fiery darts of the enemy. Pray for students across London to see the gospel with hearts wide open. If you pray for our safety, pray this with the heart set so that we can continue to proclaim Jesus throughout London, not for self-preservation.
However long we are here, the legacy we leave in London is not one that tells that story of a family that had a nice time in London and shared Jesus when it was convenient. We want our story to be that we were a family that, forsaking all, ran into London, busting wide open the gates of hell, proclaiming the good news of Jesus, setting as many captives free as the Lord would lead. In a city of 8.5+ million people, we are the ones that carry the light and love of the sovereign God of the universe.
“Courage, dear heart.” For you and for us. Thank you for sending us! ❤️
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?.”
First, thanks so much for the messages of prayer and encouragement from everyone. I know many of you were up praying all over the world as I received the IVIG treatment. Jana and I cannot express with enough gratitude with how you have been fighting for us with your petitions to the Lord.
To the point, after the treatment, I really did not notice anything. A few days later I went to my Chiro, and while he saw no signifigant improvement, he didn’t see any decrease in my strength. The other day, which would have been about two weeks after the treatment, I went and saw my Neurologist. Surprisingly he found a half-a-point improvement in the strength test for my finger and toe. Of course, this is not a signifigant enough improvement to tell him anything, but what I understand is that they will wait until August to test my strength again and possibly do the treatment again.
We want this “thorn” to go away more than anyone, but I’m encouraged by Paul in 2 Cor 2:12 – “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In all reality, it really seems as if whatever has been going on in my body seems to not progressed since the elders of Sanctuary and my community group prayed over me or continues at a very slow progression. In that, we praise God and give him all the glory! If this “thorn,” which is weakness and not the diagnosis, must stay, we press on in it so that God might be glorified through it.
Thank you prayer warriors. We are forever grateful.
Pray for those hurting in London.
Pray for Alex as he is in full Summer mode. He is working in London for the Summer and we hope to meet up.
Pray for Mark to do well in his summer placement and that we would be able to meet up this summer.
Pray for our kids as Jana wraps up homeschooling for the year. Homeschooling challenges are tough (maybe compounded), and Jana and our kids can use you prayers.
Pray for a meeting with the leaders of Agapé discussing new ministry opportunities for the future, and direction for our family next Summer.
Pray for us as staff as we think about the next year and lead our students into the 2017/18 academic year.
We leave on Holiday tomorrow for a few days. Please pray for our time to be relaxing, detoxing, and we soak up as much sun and sea as possible.