A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in nearly two months, we got to worship with our home church. It was great to catch up our church family and worship the Lord together! Being away for so long has had at least two effects. First, it causes us to praise God—it means our deputation ministry is picking up and we are getting more meetings! Second, it reinforces the importance of the local church and its regular gatherings. This latter point has already been reinforced in a significant way over the last year with COVID and all of the meeting limitations. While we are thankful for Zoom, streaming, and sermon podcasts, there is nothing that can replace genuine in-person gathering. The Greek word translated "church" in the New Testament means "assembly," and that's something that can't truly be done via screen. "Online church," as valuable as it was as a temporary solution, is ultimately a contradiction in terms.
And that leads us to our first prayer request. While we are grateful for the believers that we get to meet week after week in cities around the country, and are thankful for the opportunity to build vital prayer partnerships in various areas, we do miss the deep fellowship, preaching, and covenant-bound community of our local church. If, as we believe, the local church is at the center of what God is doing in the world, it shouldn’t surprise us that being disconnected from these gatherings for weeks on end creates spiritual challenges. So pray that God will uphold, edify, and feed us as a family even through the instability of prolonged absence from our home church. We praise God that his grace is sufficient! (On a related note, these challenges reinforce in us the necessity of team ministry once on the field in France!).
Looking Back We continue to praise God for new opportunities and connections. Since we last wrote we have completed all of our scheduled meetings in MI, our mission board's "family conference" in OH, a couple of great meetings in PA, a quick visit to two partnering churches in NC, and a wonderful week-long missions conference in Lexington, NC! We are grateful for the friendships we have made and strengthened along the way!
Looking Ahead Ahead are two meetings in the Raleigh-Durham area and then a trip out West (Arizona, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles). From there we drive (yes, we are driving this time!) back East for a meeting in MI before returning to the Carolinas for a missions conference. While the next couple of months are very busy, the end of the year (November and December) is still pretty open. Pray that we will be able to book some meetings during that time.
Survey Trip I feel like a broken record with this request, but pray that we will be able to reschedule our month-long survey trip to France in 2022. The COVID situation and related restrictions continue to bounce around a bit, and it is hard to know how to plan appropriately. We are seeking guidance from missionaries on the field there, and would appreciate your prayers for wisdom!
Stepping Back God has provided for our family in an amazing way through Jessica’s work as a remote office administrator for an engineering firm (Promus) for the past 2 1/2 years. She has been able to work from anywhere-including our van!-and her bosses have been so flexible with scheduling needs while traveling as well. However, with our travel schedule ramping up, God has clearly led us to step out on faith and to step back on hours (from about 20 to about 8) and responsibilities with this part-time job beginning the last week of August. We praise God for his clear direction and that her bosses are fully supporting us in this and working with us however they can! I (Michael) am also in the process of training a new coffee roaster at my ultra-part-time job (Unlocked Coffee Roasters), recognizing that the increased travel puts the company in a tough spot. While I love roasting coffee there, I'm realizing that it is probably a good time to step back from some of my responsibilities.
Partnership Update In the coming weeks we plan to send out a funding update, but for now we just want to praise God for the new partners that God has sent our way (a family and a church). We have several other (4-5) potential supporters in the docket, but are waiting to see how God directs them, and where those partnerships will put our support percentage. If you are interested in partnering with us as a church, individual, or business, you can check out the new "Partner" page on our website.
Your friends, Michael, Jessica, Amelia, & Jack