Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Family Reunion

We had some visitors last Sunday. You may remember these guys from previous posts. They were baptized in November 2010, married in December, then moved a few hours north last March. Although we have been to visit a couple times, it's just not enough; we miss them so much. Chris, Jenna, and their great kids have become family to us, so we were thrilled to have them with us last week. It was like a family reunion. 
Even without one of our families present, we were a good-sized group. Maria's mom has been here from Brazil, anxiously awaiting the new baby, and Joanne (who was baptized a month ago) and her daughter are now also a regular part of our gatherings. If you know our group well, you might be able to spot the extra kid in the photo. She came from down the street to join us. We usually have an extra neighborhood kid at any given gathering. While some adults are skittish of what we do, the children are much more adventurous and often turn up to take advantage of the great times we have together.
Our boys were happy to have every seat at the table taken for the lesson and craft.
And, of course, the best part was the playtime on the lawn. I'm always interested to discover which particular detail of home-church life a person finds most attractive. For some, it's discovering the fascinating nuggets of wisdom in the Bible or sharing a meal with good company. For others it's conversation over a cup of coffee or time spent talking to God in prayer about a difficult situation. For Joanne's daughter, it was the bike riding up and down the sidewalk while the adults stood around talking on the lawn. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Last weekend I had the opportunity to make a solo visit to my mother in Texas. John held down the fort at home with our three boys. On Sunday I took Mom to the church that supports our ministry and gave a brief report to the congregation in lieu of their regular Bible class. Afterwards we participated in the worship service.

When it was time for the serving of the Lord's Supper, a group of men stepped forward, but three of them stood out to me. John and I had met them the first time we stepped foot inside a church as adults. That was sixteen years ago at a little congregation just miles down the road from the church that now sponsors us. It's where we were converted to Christianity and married. Those three men were, at the time, just one man and his two young sons. Since shortly after our conversion, we've been missionaries, always traveling and never really settling in. It's been a while since we have been to a traditional worship service. We spend most of our time now among unchurched people, and the time we spend with the new Christians we disciple doesn't look anything like a traditional service.

As the group proceeded to pray over the bread and juice, I thought about how confusing the whole service would be to a non-Christian. I know, because it wasn't that long ago that I was that non-Christian. I realized that those three men had been living in the same town, attending the same type of church most (if not all) of their lives.  They don't consider themselves missionaries, although it was the father's parents who told us about Jesus. As concerned as they are for the lost, they would probably struggle to empathize with someone who finds traditions like the Lord's Supper confusing. While it stands to reason not every sermon they hear speaks to their hearts, I bet they haven't heard one in a while that just doesn't make sense at all.  I realized as I looked at those men that I wish I had had a father like that one and that I had been raised like those boys--in church among good people. I have often wondered how different I would be if I had been raised according to God's word, the way family was intended--the way many families at our sponsoring church have lived for generations. But that's not my reality and that means God has equipped me to serve in a different capacity.

That family is a pillar in the community and the church. John and I aren't made to do what they do--stay in one place year after year, holding down a steady job to love and support a family that faithfully goes to church every Sunday. Yet, without families like theirs, we couldn't do what we are made to do--travel and engage ourselves in the world's affairs among the fatherless and confused, introducing Jesus to anyone who will listen. To follow through with the analogy I started when I called them pillars, we know that Jesus is the foundation of the house that God is building. What we add each time we bring in a lost soul is a brick to the structure. I suppose we could be considered the mortar that patches cracks and prepares the surface for new bricks. It's not a glamourous job and sometimes downright dirty, but when you step back and look at the house in its entirety--foundation, bricks, pillars, and mortar--together I believe we're a beautiful sight for the builder.

Friday, February 3, 2012

First Parenting Class

  We've been working hard to get everything ready for the first official parenting conference. John went to California to become certified in teaching the curriculum, I've been building a website, and we've been searching high and low for a venue. We've been looking at the stack of books sitting in our kitchen now for months, the website hasn't been released yet, and we can't seem to find a conference room that's both available and affordable anywhere in the city. So, we decided to get started in our living room.  Why not?  We already educate our children and have church here.  

  We had two families who were ready to get started. They're already good parents who want to be better. God has graciously given us enough seating for them right here under our own roof so we pulled the trigger. John has facilitated two meetings and the parents are already reporting positive changes at home.  We're hearing from other interested families, and at least two more are ready to sign up.  I took this picture because I believe this endeavor will be a success and this will be our "remember when" shot.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

  Sunday our church met at the Hendersons' at 10:00 a.m. We had a few new people in the mix--Maria's mother is visiting from Brazil, our new sister Joanne was there, and a couple who left the church years ago joined us. We read some of the Bible and discussed what was going on in our lives. Afterwards, we had lunch together and talked while the kids played. We didn't go back for an evening service because we never left.
  Late in the afternoon we enjoyed a cup of coffee and shared our stories with each other. Joanne looked around the table at her new family and said, "Who wouldn't want this?" Apparently the visiting couple agreed, because they invited us to meet in their home to start a Portuguese study with their friends.