Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30, 2008

Good evening and blessings to all! This week was a great week of thanksgiving with family!

I don't really have anything profound to say this week. I admit that with all that was going on, I allowed myself to fall away from my daily Bible reading/devotions. I'm going to make it a point of getting back on this for this week! I did read a little bit more of a book called "The Shack". My father-in-law loaned me this book to read on my Mali trip, but I didn't have time to read it while we were gone. So, when we got back I decided I would start reading it. I read 3 chapters within two days, which is quite a feat if you know my reading habits. It is a really captivating book. It really makes you think about God! I'm about 5 chapters in now, and it's really making me think. I have a hard time putting it down once I start reading. I think most of all, it has made me think about the things in life that happen, making us ask God, "Why did you allow this to happen". I think it's often hard for us to see that good can come from what we consider to be trials in life. God can turn anything to good.
Well, I have a challenge to share with you. Take it if you'd like or leave it. It's just something to think about during the Christmas season. Between our current sermon series at church, "Giving Away Christmas", and having been in the 8th (or 3rd, depending where you look) poorest country in the world, I'm really thinking I don't really need gifts for Christmas this year. I mean, that doesn't mean there aren't things I'd like to have, but there are so many people in the world that are more in need than I am. So, I was talking to Sarah and said, how about we try to give a few gifts to a family in need. Our small group decided tonight to "adopt" a family or something similar and provide for some of their needs. So, you ask me how is this a challenge...right? Well, I'd like to challenge you to consider buying even a few less gifts for yourself or your family and help out a family in your community that is in need. You may know of a family in need or you may have to contact some of the agencies in the area that know about needy families in the area. Most of all, I'd challenge you to listen to God's voice in this. If you feel or hear God encouraging you to have a giving spirit in this Christmas season, listen to Him. I know from experience that God can use His children in amazing ways through little things like this.
Tonight, Gordon and Cheryl Roedding are my concentration for prayer time. My book of Mali missionaries says that their main ministry is to professionals in Bamako. They are church planters, currently engaged in leading Bible studies for professionals. I pray tonight that they would have opportunities to reach out to professionals who have not heard about Jesus' death as a sacrifice for our sins. I also pray for the professionals they are sharing with in the Bible studies, that they may have opportunities to share with coworkers and family and friends. I pray that these Bible studies, lead by the Roeddings, would bring many more people into a saving knowledge and relationship with Christ.

Well, I got windier than I expected. I pray that God will bless you all in this holiday season as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 23, 2008

Good evening to all! Blessings in Jesus name!

This week, my devotions in "Men of Integrity" focused on missions where we are. It also discussed serving our community, country, and world for Christ. I found when I got back from Mali that I really wanted to go back. I've started to consider taking French classes, studying Bambara language, and even going back to school to study missions. As I read through this weeks devotions, it reminded me that I need to continue serving the Lord where I am. That might be Lima, Ohio or it might be somewhere else in the United States, or someday, it might be Mali or some other country. But, God has called us all to serve our "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the entire world." I've heard this related to our city, country, and world. So, I think maybe this was my call to slow down a little bit and listen for God to give me His plan for my future. See, when I say "Lord, mold me, as clay, into what you would have me to be", I have to actually slow down and experience the molding process. If you've ever watched someone make a piece of pottery on the pottery wheel, it's a long and skilled process. I believe this is what God wants for all of us. He wants to take the time to slowly mold us into what He wants us to be, teaching us along the way.
So, that's my thoughts for this week. It's been a great week and I've actually been able to spend time in God's word every day this past week. This is the first week since I've been back from Mali that I've slowed down enough to stick to my daily devotions. See, in America, or at least where I work, we don't have morning devotions on the front step of our business. We did every morning in Mali. We also have a lot more distractions we use as excuses for not taking time to spend in God's word.
This is Thanksgiving week, so I wanted to share a little of what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for:
  • Sarah and Zac and all my family.
  • My job. In today's economy, I'm thankful that God has provided me with a job that allows me to support my family.
  • The opportunity to go to Mali last month.
  • Jesus' death on the cross, wiping my sins away.

My prayers this week aren't real specific. Honestly, I just want to pray for all of the Missionaries and Christians in Mali. Many are going out and sharing God's love in Koutiala and many surrounding villages. Churches are growing and some new churches are being planted. So, my prayer is that God will continue to work in Mali, and that Malians will be open to what God has to say to them. Also, I continue to pray for more Malian workers at the hospital. I know God has a plan on how He's going to fill the need at the hospital, because He's met my every need and from stories I've heard, He's met every need of the hospital too.

Please feel free to comment or post what you are thankful for today. Wishing you a great Thanksgiving. I pray that God will reveal the things he's given to you this week so that you can give thanks! As our pastor said this morning, everything we have has a label on it that says "Property of God" so I know we all have something to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thinking of Mali

Hello everyone! Blessings in Jesus name! So, I've been thinking a bit about the first Wednesday night we had in Mali. We met with the missionaries for a time of sharing and prayer. I got really emotional and thought it was just because of the stories we were sharing. As I've reflected on that night, I've come to recognize it wasn't just the stories that were touching my heart that night. I think God was speaking to me through the time we were sharing. I think what really was getting me was how all these Christians are meeting together in a very Muslim community. I've been thinking a lot this week about the people in countries that can't publicly share or meet as Christians. There are many countries around the world that Christians are meeting "underground" because they could be arrested or worse for worshiping the one true God and His son, Jesus Christ. In Mali, they are able to share their faith without the fear of being arrested. The Christians and Muslims seem to get along well (at least what I saw while I was there).
So, that's what I've been thinking about and praying for this week. I'd encourage you to pray for Christians around the world who don't have the freedom to worship Jesus the way we do in the United States.
Tonight, as I flip through the book of Malian missionaries that our church prepared for us, I find two names that jump off the page to me. So, here's the prayers that I want to lift to our amazing God this week. For Olive Gifford, I pray primarily for rest. Olive has been in Mali for a long time, starting out with the six rural clinics and a key person in the development of the Koutiala hospital. I pray for someone to come in and help to reduce the workload on Olive and to potentially take her place as she contemplates retirement. To go right along with this, I continue to pray for more Malian nursing and medical staff at the hospital. I continue to hear stories of how hard and how much the missionaries and hospital staff are working. I know that God has a plan, so I pray that He would provide the staff that are necessary to move the hospital's work forward. As they prepare to open the pediatric wing (when stuff is moved into the warehouse), and start a new building, they will continue to need more staff.
The other missionary that I want to lift up in prayer this week is Kelly McLallen. Kelly is a teacher in Mali. She's teaching the missionary kids in Koutiala. I pray that Kelly would be able to cover all the topics the missionary kids need to learn. The note in our book says that she is being tutored in Bambara, the most common language in Koutiala. My prayer is that God will give her peace of mind to learn this language quickly so she can communicate well with the Malians around her. Also, I want to lift up the Malian schools in Koutiala. When we were there, they asked for prayer every morning for the schools because of teacher strikes and other problems. I pray that God will iron out the problems that may be keeping the schools from operating effectively and that more children would have the opportunity to attend school there.
Well, these are my thoughts for tonight. I pray that all of you will be blessed by God this week through your daily tasks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Africa Pictures

I just had to share this link again with everyone! Andrew was in Koutiala part of the time we were there and then a little longer. He got some amazing pictures of life in Mali!

Andrew Bryant Photography

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another week gone by...

Well, a week has gone by since we arrived home from Mali, West Africa. This morning, our team had a debriefing meeting. We shared stories from our trip and prayed for the missionaries and the hospital in Koutiala. It was a very good meeting. I was reminded again of how God's been using my blog to bless people around the world. The response to my blog has been amazing. I have been surprised by the number of people following my blog and even how they've been encouraged or blessed by certain things I've written. I truly believe that God has placed all of these words on m mind to share with everyone.
So, what's on my mind tonight? Well, there's been a couple things on my mind lately. Leading up to the trip, God had placed The Pledge of Allegiance to the Bible on my heart. (I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's holy word. It's a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It's words will I hide in my heart, that I may not sin against God.) At the time, I didn't think too much about it, but the scripture (Psalm 119:105) it's based on came up in devotions at the hospital. This verse has also come up in my personal devotions. So, God is saying something to me, right? Well, my mind wanders back to 4-H camp many years ago. Whenever we were out at night, we made sure to have flashlights so that we could see the path and make it to our cabin, the campfire, the bathroom, or the outposting site. So, if I take that and apply the scripture to my life in general, God's saying that I need prepare myself for whatever may happen in life. God's word is a bright ray of light/hope if we use it or go to it when we're feeling down or when we feel lost in the dark. Ephesians 6:14-18 talks about the Spiritual Armor we are given from God. In particular, I think the Sword of the Spirit relates to what I'm talking about. A note I have here is that "Spiritual warfare with Satan is won or lost with our usage of God's word." So, God's word is a lamp to light our path through life and it is also a weapon that allows us to defeat Satan's attack on our life. This sounds like a great reason to spend more time in the Bible, learning what God has to say to us!
The other thing that's been on my mind this week is a Master's Degree. I've said over and over that I see no reason to go on for a Master's Degree because my current job would never really require it. Well, since we got back, I've been thinking it might be worth seeing if I could move on for a Master's Degree in some sort of Bible studies. I haven't thought too much about it, but it's in the back of my mind. Don't know where this might go in the years to come, but it's what's on my mind.
Well, that's enough rambling for one night. Tonight, my prayer is for a few of the missionaries in Mali. First, I'd like to offer up prayers for the Nesselroade's. Dan and Marcy are very busy every day. Dan's delivering babies and performing all kinds of medical procedures at the hospital. He's pretty much on call 24/7. I can only think that God keeps him going. All of the work at the hospital has to be extremely taxing on him physically, emotionally, and mentally. So, my prayer for Dan is that God will continue to strengthen him every day for the work he has to do. Also, I pray that God will provide him rest when he needs it so that he will not become weary. I also pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to Dan throughout every day...that Dan will feel closer to God with every day he is there. For Marcy and the children, I pray for their schooling. It's my understanding that Marcy is learning the Bambara language and homeschooling their children. Learning a new language can be quite a challenge, so I pray that God will give her clarity of mind to learn the language thoroughly so that she can communicate effectively with the people who speak it. Also, I pray that God will give her the knowledge she needs to teach the children the things they need to know to progress through their homeschooling.
My prayers tonight also go out for Jessica Schaeffer. Jessica got back to Mali from a time in Switzerland just as we were getting ready to leave for home, so I didn't really get to know her much. Jessica is a missionary nurse at the hospital. Jessica is extremely busy, just like all the hospital staff, and needs rest and strength to make it through every HOT day there in Mali. I pray tonight that Jessica will settle back into the fast paced work of the hospital. I also pray that God will give Jessica opportunities to share Christ's love with patients, patients' families, and any hospital staff who don't have a personal relationship with Christ.
So, that's my thoughts for tonight/this week. Please feel free to comment! I always enjoy reading people's comments and sometimes they even help me think a little deeper about what I've posted. Have a very blessed week everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Missing Mali

Good evening to all! Blessings in the name of Jesus! I hope you all had a great Sunday.

I was thinking a little today that one week ago, we were attending Germaine's church in Mali. It was such a blessing to be there with Germaine, Barry, Terry, and all the other Malians and missionaries. God is so good and He is working in that church and in the people of Mali. To hear stories of them spreading God's love and starting new churches is just amazing. We see God working here at home, but it is so much more real when you see such a poor and spiritually needy country experiencing God. Our church will be sending another team to Mali next year, and I'm so excited for the people God will call for that trip and for the Malians and missionaries who will be blessed through them being there.

So, what's on my heart tonight? Tonight, I'm thinking about Terry Newman and the amount of work she's doing at the hospital. It seems like she's on the go all the time helping at the hospital. My prayer tonight is that God will provide more Malian workers to lighten this load on Terry...and all the other nurses and medical staff at the hospital. I also pray for God to strengthen her husband, Barry in the work he does as well. Barry is such an inspiration and I'm sure he is a real encourager to Terry in the busy times and the times of rest. For the both of them, I pray that God will strengthen them and provide them opportunities to share His love with those they come in contact with. I ask that you all will remember them in your prayers as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Home

Good morning to all. Our team is home safe and sound. The flights went really well and the pilots all made really good time. We lost Ken in New York airport for a little bit, but we all met up. I slept about 6 hours on planes and at airports yesterday and slept very well last night. I'm preparing DVD's of pictures for the team and Bethany.

Thank you for all your prayers out there while we were away! I'll try to post stories as they come to mind so that you can see/imagine what we were doing there.