Proverbs 16

on a journey of faith

Our lives over the past few months have been defined by tape, cardboard boxes and heavy plastic. A thousand well-loved books are packed neatly away along with tables, chairs, and whatever clothes were big enough to keep. Today they’re all tightly packed like suitcase sardines, stored for our return at the end of next summer.

In between wrapping bins and breaking down furniture we were still in full time ministry;  preaching farewell messages to the many students we’ve served at the Bible school and the loving congregations of men, women and children at the churches we’ve planted. A day before we left Senegal Elise and I rejoiced as we led another young woman in committing her life to Christ.

These are all part of the journey, regular steps in the life of a missionary.

It’s hard to believe that four years ago we were packing our suitcases moving to Senegal. The speeding passage of time marked by family milestones along the way. Henry and Fiona, who waddled into Senegal, walked out as kindergarten graduates. Ava, who arrived in Dakar as a precocious four year old, left ready to start third grade.

These are all part of the journey, regular steps in the life of a child.

Daphne, who came to Africa as a two year old toddler, who now stands tall at my shoulder, a few months ago felt the Spirit of God more profoundly in her life than ever before. Kneeling at the altar, weeping in the nearness of Christ, her life verse resonated with new life and truth: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” (Proverbs 16.11). In those moments her confession of faith found greater clarity, her declaration of Christ’s Lordship given greater depth.

Last Sunday, days after arriving back in the States, Daphne waded into the baptismal water before family and friends. Together we listened to the words of her testimony read as she stepped down into the water; her testimony of experiencing the presence of God among the nations. In her youth, in these faded hours of her childhood, she committed to live her life for Christ, knowing Him and making Him known.

These are all part of the journey, regular steps in the life of a Christian.

This month as a family we will begin crisscrossing cities and states across America, sharing our vision to be a personal link from the local church to the unreached. We will aim to bless and challenge the Church in America with our mission to create space to grow a church planting movement in Dakar. We will live out of suitcases celebrating the hours we spend with men, women and children in countless churches.

Thank you for letting us celebrate what God is doing in your life and your local church. Thank you for letting us share the calling God has placed on our life as we serve as your personal link from the local church to the unreached!

crafting catherdrals

I stole a few minutes during a conference I was speaking at recently, with pastors from churches around Dakar and as far inland as Thies, to read a few pages of poetic lines by Henry Newbolt (I’ll be honest I’ve never heard of Newbolt before but with a name like that I had to give him a few minutes audience). Newbolt, his words are as martial and action-packed as his name. On the last page I discovered a poem called The Building of the Temple dedicated to the Canterbury Cathedral. He wrote:
   "Let us build for the years we shall not see…
    Let us build in hope and in sorrow, and rest in Thee."

Our forefathers a hundred years ago spoke vision of “the greatest evangelization that the world has ever seen,” but would they have imagined today’s 76 million men, women and children reached with the gospel in a century? They were a generation who believed if they committed their work to the Lord He would establish their plans (Prov. 16.3). On the foundation of Christ they built the walls of prayer and passion for a cathedral of praise where millions have met with Jesus.

Have you heard the story of three men working on a construction site? The first was asked what he was doing and he replied, “I’m laying bricks.” The next man responded, “I’m building a wall.” But the third man when asked the question, looked to the skies and with a smile said, “I’m building a cathedral.”

What do we believe? When we look at the labor of our hearts and hands what do we see? What would you say? We are not just laying brick, together we are laying the cornerstone, Christ Jesus, among the unreached. We are not just building a wall, we are laying a foundation of gospel witness among unreached families. With rolled-up sleeves we are, with sweat on our brow and prayer in our hearts, digging out out the cultural and religious strongholds to lay a foundation which is Christ the Lord (1 Cor. 3.11). And even with eyes lifted to heaven we are not just building a cathedral, we are creating space to grow a movement where men, women and children can meet with our Savior, Jesus.

Many of us will never see on this side of eternity the fruit of our labors in prayer, the produce of hours cultivating the world’s fields in intercession. Many of us will never stand face to face here on earth with the countless millions that have come to know Jesus as their Lord through our sacrificial giving. Nevertheless, through the hope and sorrow, through the passion and the pain, let us build the Church and rest in the glory of our God. Thank you for working with us and allowing us to be a personal link from the local church to the unreached.