Friday, July 6, 2012

Megan's Camera: Ruel Team Visits A Hospital

Please pray for the girl's next opportunity to visit the hospital:
   1. That they are able to encourage the patients.
   2. That they will have opportunity to share God's love with them.
   3. That people will accept His love and and His salvation.

Ashley's Camera

Been wondering what Ashley has been up to? Check it!

An Update for the North Thai Girls

Your love is amazingSteady and unchangingYour love is a mountainFirm beneath my feet   

(this sticks out to me as I am surrounded by mountains in Thailand)
 This past week was our last week in our first village. We've spent three weeks here and I cannot possibly describe all of our experiences, they have been  indescribable to say the least. Just an update on everything. 
    We moved into Joy's home Monday evening. It was difficult to say goodbye to Ulm's family that we had been staying with. Khun Thii (the mom) began crying when we left and this broke my heart. They sent us off to Joy's with a huge amount of bananas and then we were off to our third host home. 
    I have a big announcement on Ulm. We found out Monday evening that she is so close to accepting Christ. She knows there is a God, but is fearful and currently weighing her options. Her aunt is the village headmaster's wife, so she has a lot of pressure on her. We hope to see her come to our worship services in the new village beginning Sunday. I desperately hope to see the whole family come to Christ.

      Earlier this week we also went off to deactivate a spirit house. There is a spirit house in the village that the people bring offerings to and such. This is a place where Satan has a huge stronghold. This whole experience was most definitely something that we had never done before. It was a process of commanding Satan to leave the place and I could truly see a lighter place once I opened my eyes; there was a great burden lifted off of us. 
     We have also had the great joy this week of teaching in a local school and going to their recital. We taught three english classes on wednesday to a little over 100 students. It was truly a great experience, Kari was able to give her testimony and we all passed out tracts to the students.

     On Thursday our supervisors did a study with us on a parable that meant a lot to me and I wanted to share it with you all. Turn to Matthew 13 and you will find the parable of the farmer sowing seed. This is important to  me bc all that we can do here is plant seeds. We are not always going to get the privilege of seeing fruit produced. God has his own timing in everything. If someone is ready for salvation then we get the amazing opportunity to partake in the harvest. It is truly an amazing opportunity that God includes us in the process at all. This is important to remember when we leave a village only seeing seeds planted, but no visible fruit.

    Our relationship with Ulm grew so much over the past few weeks. She is so precious and an amazing girl to get to know. Her sister came home from the university and came over to braid our hair into some amazing thai braids. Words cannot describe how much I love this family. 
    They even helped us make treat bags for our english kids. Funny story about that one: when you can't read Thai, cough drops might end up going into the goody bags haha. We had 8 kids in english class on saturday. I have to admit that it was a little discouraging bc our numbers had grown so high, but it all went really well. I was able to help with the little kids group this week bc none of the older kids showed up. Most of my older girls had to go to school. The gospel was presented to all of the kids at the end of english. These kids are so precious. 
   Later that afternoon we were sent for to go to the village headmaster's home-big deal! Khun Kim, the lady that has been having the dreams, was in a motorcycle accident friday night. A car ran her off of the road and she now has a black eye, scraped up elbow, and has hurt her leg to the point where she cant walk. We laid hands on her and prayed for her, it was all that we could do.

    We had to leave the village Sunday and words simply cannot describe the goodbyes. Before we left, Ulm's family was provided with a Bible and all of their hearts seem so open now. They were the hardest family to say goodbye to. Khun Thii started bawling and pulled me into a hug-I lost it! People do not typically show emotion here. This completely broke my heart. One of our girls Giv( we went to her bday party) never stopped crying. How do you say goodbye to people who havent came to know Christ yet? 
    Words simply cannot describe the moment and I trust that God has a plan and that Rung. can further the ministry here along with our supervisors, and without us. It is a moment that I will definitely not forget. Right now we are leaving from our vacation and I will update you all on the amazing vacation on next week's update. Thank you all for reading these, and if you notice the titles-they are all songs that stick out to me during that week. Love you all!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A post from Lauren: learning service

"As I was preparing for this trip, I knew exactly what I wanted to do to serve the Lord: love on the children at Ruel. I knew the job would include other things, like cleaning and outreach, but my mind was focused on spending time with the children.

For the first week, however, my shifts at Ruel consisted of helping the cook and hanging up a lot of laundry. My shifts with the children didn't begin until the second week. During that first week, the Lord really showed me that I need to "serve Him with gladness" (Psalm 100:2). Even though I didn't sign up to cook, clean or do laundry, God commands that "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23).
God constantly reminds me that this trip isn't about me at all. It is all about bringing Jesus Christ glory and making Him known. I am learning to fully trust in the Lord and to get out of the way so that Christ can become all.

As God teaches me what it means to serve Him, I am learning to be obedient no matter what the cost. Last week we read the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus during our Bible study, and God convicted me that I can't pick and choose who, when, or where I want to serve. Just as the rich man didn't reach out and help Lazarus, there are many people in my life - neighbors, classmates, or homeless people not far from my home that I often neglect to serve and show them the love of Christ. How can I be willing to go halfway around the world if I'm not willing to serve the people within my own community?

Please pray that as we serve the Lord, we would step out of the way and let Christ be all in us and through us as we live out His perfect plan. To Christ be the glory. I must never forget that I am not just on a mission trip; I am on mission for Christ."

Jesus Loves the Little Children. All the Children of the world!

The children and I hard at work making lion masks.
Sunday, the girls and I lead the children's ministry at the church we attend.  We were welcomed by many loud and excited voices.  These children had so much energy it was hard to keep them all in one room.  After a mishap with the power and lights going off, we were finally able to calm them down long enough to share the story of Daniel and the lion's den with them.  They all demonstrated their best lion roars for us which was quite impressing.  We showed them that when we pray to God He will rescue us and protect us just like He did for Daniel.

Our finished project.
God wants us to love His children and show them what His love means at an early age.  The children made their very own lion mask for a craft.  Who knew that lions had rainbow faces and mustaches!  They might not have always wanted to listen or sit down, but these kids were such a blessing to me.  They each now have a special place in my heart. To show them how much Jesus loves them and how He is their rescue and salvation is such a joyful feeling.

Please Pray...
That these children will have parents and others to show them the love of Jesus Christ and bring them up in His ways.
That leadership will step up in the children's ministry at this church.
That these children will continually learn and understand more about the Jesus.

In the grace of Jesus Christ,

Luke 15:7 - Joy in Heaven!

Our team has been constantly meeting new students and furthering our relationships with students and other young people that we have met.  We have had the opportunity to attend many events with the locals here and have participated in many conversations that gave us the opportunity to plant seeds.  We strive to plant these seeds every day and pray that God will provide the necessary growth from these seeds.  Sometimes God provides harvesting opportunities in amazing ways.

Our team with local students after speaking in a class
Part of our team had the opportunity to visit a woman in her own home this week who has been fighting lung cancer for a year.  This woman says that she wants to feel the Spirit of God because nothing else has worked up to this point, but she says that when she prays she feels nothing.  She feels like she is missing something, but she can remember two times in her life that she has felt the Spirit of God.  These two times have both occurred when other people have prayed for her and cried out to God on her behalf.  

Our team then began to share with her how she can come to have that same Spirit of God living inside of her constantly, through personal testimony and scripture.  After hearing these things, she cried out to God to save her from her sins.  By the grace of God, she confessed her sins and committed her life to Him and our team celebrated with her.  We prayed that if it is in God's will, that her cancer will be healed.  We will be in contact with this woman during the remainder of our time here and the time after we go home.  
New sister in Christ (middle: light blue shirt) with the girls on our team

Please be in prayer for...

Her physical and spiritual health during this time.

Seeds to continue to be planted in the lives of the young people here.

The seeds that have been planted on fertile soil, for God to begin to work in their hearts.

The ISF basketball team that has been joining us for the past few days as they begin to travel around the area to play local college basketball teams.
ISF team playing basketball against a local college team
The relationships that we have already formed, and will form, to glorify God in every way possible.

Thank you for your constant thoughts and prayers,

Mid Summer Update From the Pulau Pulau

On Monday, we all returned from the islands that we've been on for the past 3 weeks. Brian, Travis, and myself were on a small island to the north and Andrew, Evan, and Christopher were on a bigger island to the south. We're so thankful that the Lord blessed us with good health and great conversations.

As for Brian, Travis, and I we arrived in the port city mid-afternoon and instantly we stole the show. Adults and children alike stopped what they were doing for the day and came to watch us. Some of the kids were standoffish, but ten minutes later they were following us, giving us high fives, and having a great time. We tried to ignore the attention and prayed that these people would see past our white skin, but that they would see Christ in us.

A few days and a few blisters later we arrived in a smaller village where we met a very nice gentleman who spoke decent English. He entertained us and kept us occupied so much that it was hard to discern what we should spend our time doing. The next day we were invited to a wedding in the village, once again we hoped that we weren't going to steal the show with our fair skin.

After the ceremony it was party time, our translator ended up tell a few men that Travis studies music. Next thing you know he's on stage singing Our God and other worship songs at a Cousin wedding! This means at least 200 people heard about our God's love, grace and mercy. After Travis finished, a small elderly woman sang a song to us in her tribal language. The song was about when we came to the village, a light shone brightly to everyone that saw us. If that wasn't a God thing, then I don't know what is.

Our host in the next village was beyond friendly, not only did they fix us elaborate meals but they loved to sit down and talk. One night, there were nearly 4 generations of men ranging from 5 years old to 98 years old sitting in the room with us. Eventually the conversation started to go the spiritual route. I was able to share my testimony with these men and they listened with great intent and concentration. When it was over we asked if they have ever heard a story like that and the answer from each and every one of them was, "never."

All around the island, we built relationships and shared the Good News. Time and time again there were opportunities to hang out or just relax on the beach, but instead we chose to serve the Lord in all we do. If we strapped up the hammocks, we found a way to invite someone in it to hang out and talk. If we walked on the beach, we drew pictures in the sand. If we played soccer with the kids, we shared stories when we were resting. Towards the end of the trip, Brian started to come down with a cold. He had sinus drainage and was just dead tired. Despite his condition, he stayed up to talk about culture and ended up sharing. God truly opened doors in places we never thought possible.

About 200 miles south, Andrew, Evan and Chris arrived in the port city. They, just like us, experienced  the same attention for having white skin. The kids flocked to them time and time again. Their stories seemed to parallel what we experienced too, except for one thing. During their time in the port city, they met a language teacher who loved to talk. The guys spoke to this man for hours and shared multiple stories as well as the Good News. He wanted more, he was longing for more but they had to move on.

A couple days ago, we're all sitting at a restaurant, and they receive a phone call. It was that same man, who is spending some time in city and wanted to get together to talk. He came over to the house and, again, they talked for hours. He's so close to understanding and becoming a brother, there's just a few small important things that needs to be completely understood. Pray that God will continue working in this man's life.

Pray for the safety and health of everyone going out to the islands tomorrow and definitely pray for the hearts of the people that we'll come in contact with. Andrew and Chris will be headed to a new island and Brian, Travis, and myself will be returning to the same island and are hoping to do some follow up with the people we met last trip.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Keep the Prayers Coming

Kid's Club

Kid’s Club continues even after the children got out of school for summer vacation last week.  Last week we had mission teams from Georgia and West Virginia, and this week we have a new team from South Carolina!
Jordan sits with the kids during a special story time
The West Virginia team does a skit of the Bible story of Joseph from Genesis
The children get to interact, playing Joseph's brothers
The kids play Joseph's brothers- they bow before him in Egypt

*Pray for the South Carolina team that is here for the week.
*Pray that God would use the ministries already at the church: feeding the homeless, prayer stations, and Kid’s Club, as well as the possibility of starting new ministries while Jordan and I are here.
*Pray for our Muslim friends Abraham, Mustafa, Muhammad, and Alex, that God would reveal to them that Jesus really is the Son of God.

Thank you so much for your prayer support!

Rain or Shine

Every Friday night, we have a community cookout in front on the church, but the Friday it rained, we had our spaghetti supper in the gym!  Despite the rain, many people came out and it was a great night of fellowship and good food for everyone who showed up.

They Got the Picture

There was a mission team staying at our church from a bible institute called Word of Life, and one Thursday, Jordan and I had the opportunity to go out with them and be a part of their ministry.  They do a kind of street evangelism where they set up a board and doing a big painting to explain the story they are telling about the Good News of Christ’s Salvation.  Some of the team members stand as an audience, then talk one-on-one with the people who stop to see the painting and hear the preaching.  We saw two people come to know Christ through these one-on-one conversations that our friends started that day!  It started with a painting that one of our new friends painted and a couple of people really “got the picture.”

Sam preaches with the drawing board
Sam's finished painting

Amanda talks to a gentleman who later accepted Christ!

Micah takes a turn at preaching and painting

Micah and the Word of Life group

The mission team and some bystanders who got to hear the gospel

P52 Nashville: Grilling Fried Chicken

Well, it's been a busy week, but the Lord has worked in mighty ways. On Sunday of this week we planned to go out to a local park and meet Kurdish families. Many Kurdish families go to this park to picnic on Sundays, and we thought it would be a great time to meet families and build relationships. On the way over there we stopped at Kroger to get some picnic food, i.e. fried chicken, but by the time we got there it was cold. As we arrived, we didn't see any Kurdish families, and we were a little sad about that, but decided to picnic anyway. A family came up to us and said we could use the grill that they left, which still had hot coals under it, so that's when we got a brilliant idea. We decided to grill fried chicken.

     Turns out, fried chicken has a LOT of grease and oil, and our picnic plans quickly turned to fire-prevention plans. Our food was burned to a crisp, and we were left with nothing to eat. Not exactly the best way to start a picnic. Within minutes, however, a Kurdish family arrived at the park, and they saw our pitiful picnic results and invited us to come and eat with them! We weren't sure exactly how to meet people, but the Lord clearly provided a way for us to build relationships and share Bible stories through us being foolish Americans and trying to grill fried chicken! The Lord works in mysterious ways.

     We also had the opportunity to put on a 5k Run/Walk to raise funds and awareness about refugees in the Nashville area. It was a great opportunity for us to spread the word and raise awareness about ways that the Church can be involved with these people through refugee relocation and gospel ministries. Please pray for the Church in the Nashville area and in cities across the nation that have high refugee populations. Memphis is quickly becoming one of these cities, so Church, prepare yourself to take up this mission in your area! Do research and find out if there are refugee populations in your area! These people need the gospel. They need a friend and God can change the world through these people. Many of these refugees have contacts across the globe in their oikos (sphere of influence), so see the vision of the gospel going to all nations through working with these people. God's heart is for the foreigner, and ours must be as well.

Please pray for our team:
  1. Pray for the Buddhist temple visit this Saturday. Pray for the gospel to break forth in power, and that we might see the salvation and commissioning of many.
  2. Pray for the national network of people working with Kurds that we are trying to set up. Pray that the Lord would give His people a passion to reach the Kurds here in the US and around the globe.
  3. Pray for people that we will visit this week and seek to study the Bible with. Pray for salvation of families, not just individuals.
  4. Pray for unity among our team.

P52 Nashville: The Lion’s Den

    This week we had the opportunity to visit many different festivals. Our team went to a Burmese festival, Lao Buddhist Festival, and Hindu festival. To the left is a picture of the Sri Ganesha Temple in Nashville, and this temple celebrates and is the house of worship for the Hindu god Ganesha, the god of wealth, blessing, and success. The day we went was a special day because it was a festival where Hindus celebrate the gods coming to them. In India, the gods are put on very large carts and pulled through villages and towns, but in America they put the gods on a cart and pull them around the parking lot.

    When we first walked into the area of worship, I was struck by the loud clanging and yelling and megaphones. These people told me that they were making loud noises to wake up their gods so they would pay attention to them. Then they lifted each god out of its shrine and placed it on a large cart to be pulled by the people. This was a very sad experience, and I felt sorry for these people who feel as though they have the responsibility of waking, bathing, feeding, and moving their gods. These gods aren't really gods at all. Our God, the only God, cannot be contained. He doesn't sleep, and He always hears His people when they call to Him. Jesus came to the earth to save sinners, offering a relationship with God to all those who are found in Him.
     After the Hindu Temple visit, we visited the Lao Buddhist Temple festival that we were invited to by Khambang. Khambang was the head of security for the temple, protecting the royal family, who have been exiled from Laos by the Communist government. We were able to meet a few people at this festival and share Christ with some people of peace. My team split into groups of two and prayer walked the festival, praying for open doors and people of peace to share Christ with. I met a guy named PQ who was a devout Buddhist, but after talking with him I believe he realized that I was right, but he did not want to give up his religion, which he believed to be a vital part of his culture and heritage. I met another guy named Key who was a nominal Buddhist, and his sister is a follower of Christ. I shared Creation to Christ, but he said that his sister already told him all about Jesus. I gave him a Jesus film and prayed for him as he left.

     About this time I was feeling really bummed because no one would talk to us. I was about to give up and head home, but a man named Wayne just came up to us and started talking with us! He began to tell us about how he came to America as a refugee, and told us how thankful he was for our team for what we are doing with refugees in the Nashville area. He told us, "You know, it's sad. I will never see you all again... Unless I give you my contact information!" He proceeded to give us all of his contact information and told us he wanted to meet us again soon to talk about Jesus!

     So we've been in and out of places of deep darkness, but the Lord has prevailed in all of them. A little light can expel much darkness, and the Lord is more powerful than forces of evil and the lies they have spoken. He was powerful enough to shut the mouths of the hungry lions to save Daniel, and He is powerful enough to change hearts through prayer and the faithful preaching of the gospel.

     The Lord is doing great things here in Nashville. Here's how you can pray:
  1. Pray for our national network of people ministering to Kurds
  2. Pray for a website resource we will be creating this week to reach Kurds
  3. Pray for new relationships and for solid followup with already established ones
  4. Pray for visions and dreams of Jesus
  5. Pray big things (world vision)

Not just a good life.

The dinner last night with the English teacher and the family went well. She walked us around the village. Basically her entire family and extended family lives within a block of each other. She and her mother both said that their house is our house and that we are welcome back anytime. Kelly shared a good bit about Christ and that He is the only one that can save us. We are hoping to continue to reach out to her and her family while we are here. A. John Mnit taught her older sister, who they said is a Christian, when she was younger. If anything we hope to build the bridge from their family to the dorm/church we stay at.

Today, we when to the coffee shop in the rain to spend more time with Jang. Kelly and I both pray that us continuing to come despite the rain was a testament that God wants to have a relationship with her. We continue to invite her to the dorm to learn and speak English with her but she keeps telling us "when I have free time." Please pray that the Holy Spirit would work on her heart. She has studied about Jesus in school and all she knows about Buddhism is what she has been told by her mother. Pray that she would want to know the Truth! Buddha himself said that there will be another "Phra" to come that will save them from their sins.

We are made in the image of God so we desire to worship something. Whether that is God, money, sports, etc. We worship something with our lives and how we live our lives shows what we worship! Lord, I don't want to live a "good" life and never tell anyone or give praise to you for everything in my life. Otherwise I am living to bring glory to myself when credit is due to You!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Parable Applied

     In the book of Matthew, chapter 13, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. Our field supervisors came earlier this week to encourage us with this passage. The sower spreads the seed; that is their purpose, just as it is our purpose as Christians on earth to spread the gospel. 
    The hardest burden to bear in this role is not being able to control what kind of ground the seed falls on. Some hear the message, but turn away because they do not understand. Some recieve the message with joy, but soon get discouraged because of persecutions and hardships and stumble. Some seeds take root, but have a hard time growing because of distractions. Some seeds take root and grow. 
    Aom is a young 17 year old lady who we have spent much time with lately, and who has recieved the message of the gospel with understanding, a flicker of hope, and much fear... fear of what others may think or say. It is kind of easy to stand up for your faith where I am from. 
    It is much different here. We were reminded of this fact when we appeared at a local elephant show, and the performance was ceremonially dedicated to the spirits. The darkness is indeed all around us. Aom also holds a high place in spiritual society because she is closely related to the village headman. Their family takes special part in appeasement ceremonies at the local spirit house. This is the same family in which Kim is a member of. She is suffering persecutions and pressures as a Christian because of her role as the village headman's wife. 
    This week Kim suffered from a motorcycle wreck that left her in much pain. The Lord led us to her house at the right time so that we were able to lay our hands on her and pray for her protection and strength. We were also able to visit the spirit house earlier this week. It was powerful moment that none of us had ever experienced. Upon the suggestion of our supervisors to "deactivate" the spirit house, we set out to do just that. We used the power that the Lord has given us in 2 Corinthians 10:4 to demolish this stronghold that the evil one has over this family. Please continue your prayers on behalf of the souls of these people. Jesus loves them too!
     This past week both began and ended with tears. It started  as we moved out of Aom's house and into the home of Rungnapah's brother, sister in law, and pregnant neice, Joy. Aom's mom, Khun Thee is the sweetest of ladies, and was such a mother to us while we lived in her home. The whole family helped us load the truck. Khun Thee began crying, and ran upstairs to cover her emotion. People in this culture do not usually express their emotions strongly, instead they try to "save face." 
    The hardest part of the week was leaving this village, and knowing that we would not be coming back. We said our final goodbyes on Sunday. Many of the kids came to the worship service, and afterwards we had lunch with everyone, and Aom's parents came. We were able to present Khun Thee, Khun Loun, Aom, and Nay with a family Bible which they were happy to recieve. We know that God has a plan for this family. They have recieved the gospel with interest... please keep them in your prayers. 
     What came next was something I never expected and cannot hope to explain. We began to say our goodbyes, and Khun Thee began crying again... soon, all of the kids present were crying, including the older ones in my class. Remember, it is not customary for them to show emotion like this! They all gave us hugs and gave us their cards that had been handmade. At that moment, I didn't want to leave. "They are still lost and headed to hell, and I am leaving" ... that was all I could think of. The seed I've recieved I have sown. I have been a part of sharing Christ's love with these people, through both actions and words, that is all I can hope to do. Pray for the harvest.

Prayer Requests:

  • As always, pray for our team... for strength to endure. We will be moving to a new place soon, and it will be very different... pray that we are able to make an impact there
  • Pray for our guy team: Luke and Jamie
  • Pray for that little community outside of Wang Nua. We will never forget their faces; pray that they grow in curiosity and that God would draw them close to Him
  • Pray for Rungnapah and her ministry in that community
  • Pray for spiritual strongholds to be broken in that community, and the one we are headed to.
  • Pray for the students we were able to reach out to.
  • Pray for Aom and her family

The harvest is here, yes the Kingdom is near

So many times this week I have thought about this song and Psalm 2:8 because IT IS SO TRUE!! God has opened my eyes to hungry people wanting to hear about Him and His word. Last week 3 people came to Christ and this week 12 more people have accepted Christ and have been baptized. We take them down to the nearest river and baptize them there. When talking to a family that was baptized, they were thankful that someone has come to explain who God is so they can learn more about Him and they said this with smiles on their faces. Another lady started crying because she was thankful to hear the Truth!
 We have been working hard on the farm. Our task was to plant around 200 tree poles, 200 black pepper plants, and then replace any dead pepper plants. We found many American toads in the field. American toads are these huge toads that are about 2 to 3 times larger than the ones back in Missouri. With all this work, I have never sweat so much in my life. It truly is hard work but the best thing is we have snacks half way through. Sometimes we will go into the bushes and cut down coconut so we will have something to drink. The coconut water tastes better and energizes better than any Gatorade drink. Another favorite has been rice cakes and they are delicious!! They take “going green” literally here because many times we have eaten off of banana leaves.
Thank you again for all the support and prayers. It has been making a difference. This week if you could pray for persons of peace that we will be able to reach them and find then. Pray for the new Christians that they will be able to stay strong against persecutions and they will keep growing in their faith. Also, that God will send out more missionaries into the harvest. The harvest is here and God tells us to ask Him for this. 

Community Outreach Snapshots

Jennifer posing for the camera with some cute kiddies.
Bridget and some sweet children!
We cook Filipino food!
Doing our community outreach, You Got Served. 
Children in the Maripange village

Monday, July 2, 2012

Visit to the Mosque

The most memorable part of the past week was our trip to the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.  This is basically a large mosque, which also has a Muslim school in it, located in Manhattan.
The people there were amazingly hospitable—more hospitable than most churches would be to someone of another religion inquiring of their beliefs.  The imam (the Islamic teacher and leader of the mosque) treated us with great care.  He took almost 2 hours out of his busy schedule to explain to us the intricacies of Islam, doing it all with a piercing smile and a welcoming sense of humor.
Hearing Muslims speak about their beliefs always breaks my heart, but this imam was passionate enough that it was especially heart wrenching.
Toward the end of his talk, he began to talk about the differences between Islam and Christianity.  He spoke of the cross and chuckled at the thought of the one and only God allowing His prophet to be killed.  He explained that the Quran says that it was only the appearance of Jesus on the cross and that Judas, in payment for his treachery, was the one being killed in Jesus’ place.
You see, Islam is the anti-gospel.
Allah transcends us without condescending to us.  He claims to be a god of both justice and love, but he does not give us a scapegoat for our sins.  He is supposedly good and righteous, but he can create mercy as he created the earth, leaving sins unpaid for.
The imam laughed at the prospect of God allowing His prophet to be killed.  What he does not understand is that this IS the very gospel.  But not only that.  It was not simply God’s prophet, but it was His Son.  And further, it was not just His Son, it was God himself, condescending to us on earth and taking the judgment we—all miniature Judases living in our daily treachery and sin—rightly deserve (Romans 2:2).
It was not that God put the imperfect in place of the perfect, saving Him from death on the cross and giving the other justice.  No, it was more upside down than that.  God put the perfect in place of the imperfect, saving him from God’s wrath and crushing the Other beneath it (Isaiah 53:10).
Father, we rejoice in Your love of turning the wisdom of this world on its head: giving Christ our punishment, and us His righteousness.
Father, turn the imam’s laughter at the thought of the cross into tears of repentance and faith, understanding Your truth and love.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  -1 Corinthians 1:18

Another Update from Mary Kate

Hello Family and Friends,

The unexpected has never been my forte; however, God is providing and sustaining.

I’ve learned that in order to "hallow" the name of God, one thing I must do is trust and believe Him. At this point, I’m very tired emotionally and physically, and it’s been hard to surrender every thought and emotion.

This Monday, my grandmother passed away, so I had to fly to Louisiana on Tuesday, coming back to the Big Apple Thursday morning. It was a blessing to see some of my family, but it’s extremely difficult to hop across two totally different cultures and environments within just a few days. I can’t imagine how real missionaries must handle these kinds of crises.  Yet, God is bigger than what I think or feel and I know that whatever happens in my life is for my good.

This week has certainly been one of trial. It seems as if we’re starting to deal with some spiritual warfare.  All these little twinges have been frustrating. For instance, one day I stepped on a piece of glass and had a lovely cut on my foot, and just last night one of my students told me, "I don't like Jesus." Wow. I’m looking forward to the upcoming week, and I would really appreciate your prayers.

Please pray:
  • that the Holy Spirit would soften hearts to hear the gospel.
  • that I would be able to start a Bible study with my roommate.
  • that many new students would want to start studying Scripture together. 
  • that I would willingly die to self, and focus on others. 
Much love,

Mary Kate

Oh Baby!

God has such a funny way of using us to do things we never thought possible! Since arriving here in North Carolina, Breanna and I have gotten very close to many families, one in particular that had a baby on the way. Beh Meh, who is one of the daughters of this family, allowed us the blessing of being in the room with her for the delivery of her beautiful baby boy. We got to help her have the baby (pretty sure we are professional breathing coaches now) and love on little baby Richard Yoeshi Yar when he was born! 

We got to pray over her and support her during the tough waiting time before the baby was born

Little baby Richard finally arrived around noon healthy and perfect! It was such a miracle to see what God can create.

Proud Daddy Yoeshi Yar holding his new baby boy!  
We were both overwhelmed with joy and felt so blessed to be a part of his birth! Not to mention that it was definitely love at first sight! 

First mommy and son moments. Beh Meh was so happy to see her baby boy. 

This is such a sweet beautiful family. They also have a 2 year old little girl named Mishi! 

Isn't it amazing that God pays attention to the details, even down to the toes on little baby Richard's feet? 

*Please pray for this family that they would grow in their faith, and this amazing little creation would place awe in their hearts for who God is. Yoeshi Yar (the father) is a believer but the mom (Beh Meh) is still learning about God. Pray that this little boy would grow up to learn about God, to love God, and in turn tell many people about what God has done in bringing his people out of bondage both physically and spiritually! Thank you for your prayers!