A sense of urgency

Every few weeks, my colleague in Germany and I talk by phone or by Skype about what’s going on there and what’s happening in our efforts to get there. It’s good to stay in contact so that I keep our goal of leaving the U.S. within sight. In return, Martijn and Wycliffe Europe get some reassurance that we haven’t dropped off the face of the planet – or given up.

In our conversations, I am always reminded of our brothers’ and sisters’ urgent desire that we come and help. Hopefully I can convey something of the same to you so that you, too, understand their desperation – if you’ll indulge me in calling it that. Then, you’ll be able to pray more clearly and in the right tone, and you won’t have to rely so much on the Holy Spirit getting it right for you behind the scenes (that’s from Romans 8:26-27).

Martijn told me that we have been invited again to provide technical support for the next instance of the conference that we helped last October. That event will be held in early 2012. Another invitation, also resulting from our success last year, has been given to us for a conference in September aimed at helping people working among the deaf communities in and around Europe. Did you know that Bible translation is important for the deaf? You can read more about this need at Mission Network News, and you can read at JAARS about one way in which technology is used to give the deaf access to the Word of God.

Supporting such conferences – and the individuals who attend them – is icing on the cake of the daily technical support that Wycliffe Europe IT provides to the people in the region who are busy recruiting and assisting their fellow citizens in ministry. (That is, both parts taste good to me.) We do what we do best so they can continue doing what they do best, whether their jobs seem mundane or extraordinary. Each of us is working for the growth of the Kingdom of God. What a sweet thought!

But Martijn can’t continue doing all the technical support work in Europe alone. And I can’t live here in the United States and provide him with effective help. If all of those ministry efforts are to continue smoothly, he and our brothers and sisters spread throughout that region need me and my family in Germany. Not here!

Added to this urgency is the fact that Martijn and his family need to relocate this year, moving from Germany to Switzerland, his wife’s home country. Logistically, he needs me on hand soon so that we have time to develop our working relationship and share knowledge face to face before we are separated by several hours’ travel. If you have ever taken a job without adequate orientation, you know how important such time is.

On a personal level, we need to make this move soon for the sake of the boys’ educations. Jonathan and Caleb are homeschooled here, but we can’t continue to do that in Germany. They’ll attend the local school instead. If you have ever moved as a family, you know the benefit of changing schools at the start of the year. Add to this their need to get used to speaking German on a regular basis before class starts, and I’m sure our sense of urgency will take full form in your mind.

Getting there is a whole-Church effort – it needs us (the goers), Wycliffe Europe (the receivers), Wycliffe USA (the facilitators), and our brothers and sisters who send us. All we lack now are the senders. Are you one? We’re thankful for your boldness and generosity!

Thoughts after the trip to Germany

It’s been a few weeks since I returned from what I called my “preview” trip to Germany. Do you remember that? No? That’s OK. There was a conference held in Germany some distance from the Wycliffe Europe office, and the attendees needed some computer support and services throughout the week. Many of them were Wycliffe workers, but some were not. I was invited by my future co-worker to come and help. I didn’t have to pray very hard about accepting that invitation.

The conference gave me a lot to think about, so far as ministry goes – what I do, who I do it for, and why I do it. I think the “what” is not a big deal. There are a lot of people who have computer skills – there are even many Christians who have computer skills. God appears to have gifted me with the ability to study and remember the things related to computing that place me squarely between the beasts and their users, ready to help. So, Lord, how do you want me to use this?

All of my co-laborers at the conference work, in some way, with people who live in sensitive situations. You can’t go there, or you can’t talk about this or that, or you can’t do this or that, etc. Some of them have to use other names for themselves or the places where they work. Perhaps you get the idea now. My point here is that my brothers and sisters are taking on some risk in order to fulfill Jesus’ mission for His Church. They are doing a great thing – possibly one of the greatest things. When they gather together to talk about what they’re doing, to share ideas, to learn from one another, to encourage each other, and to improve how the message of Jesus gets to people who desperately need to hear it, I don’t want them to have to worry about stupid technological problems getting in their way.

These are capable people, mind you, who use technology every day in their work – it often forms the center of their own ministries. They can solve many of their own problems. But when the purpose of their attending a conference is to learn and to become a better servant of Jesus, computer problems should not weigh them down. So I work in the background to relieve them of that burden.

Now let’s think about who they’re serving. We hear a lot in the media today about people who create fear when they move to other countries and start lives there, or about people who engage in hostility against “us” because of the cultures and nation-states we’re part of. “We” worry a lot over these people. Politicians and pundits argue on the TV and the radio about how to handle them. I’m sure you get my drift.

When I sat there at this conference, though, listening to one presentation after another, I thought, “This is the solution to all those worries.” Not that my colleagues were concerned with solving high political and social matters – they’re not. But they’re approaching the problem at the individual level – the Jesus level – and addressing the spiritual root of it all. And it would blow your mind to hear about the harvest of souls that their work is producing. I am ready to commit the rest of my life to make more and more of that happen.

If you’re a part of our ministry to all these people – in praying, in giving, in spreading the word – you are a part of what I am convinced is the best way to drive out fear and hate in this world. Don’t underestimate your place in the big picture. You’re laying and maintaining the foundation for that “harvest of souls”, and we appreciate you keeping us up and running. Hoo-yah!

This old house … ugh

In Wycliffe, anytime one is in the process of getting a new assignment – whether it’s the first one or not – there are periods of slooow progress toward one’s goal. Now is one of those times for us.

Katherine and I groan inwardly and outwardly when we look around us at our house. There’s something to be said for those religious orders that renounce materialism and worldly possessions (just see Matthew 6:19-21). Stuff reproduces and multiplies faster than rabbits, and some of it attaches to human sentiment like tar. And we have to deal with all of it, in one way or another, before we can move.

Please, oh please, pray for God to put a fire in us to go through our home and separate our belongings:

  • Sell
  • Give away
  • Store
  • Take to Germany

Some of this sorting needs to happen so that I can get to work on putting down a new laminate floor in the dining area, family room, living room, and hallway. There’s lots of painting to do, as always, so all the pictures and shelves have to come down, too. (So pray that we’re able to keep the fumes from stirring up the boys’ asthma; pulling up the vinyl floor didn’t do any of us much good.)

Now that was a nice segue to the next prayer request. Katherine has looked at a local health insurance option in Germany and thinks that it may be a better fit for us there than the plan we’re on through Wycliffe. We’re still collecting information at this point, but we need to be wise and discerning in our final choice – health care is a big deal for just about everybody.

And yet, the Man said, “… do not worry ….” (Matthew 6:31-34) – so I guess we won’t!