Sunday, January 24, 2010


I am 95% packed & its only 4:45pm Sunday afternoon! I hope to get to bed before 9pm tonight. We have to be at the airport at 5am for our 7:40am departure to Washington, DC. Then onto Brussels, Belgium. Then onto Freetown, Sierra Leone. We'll be in route about 27-28 hours. It will be evening when we arrive in SL but mid-morning, Tuesday, here. We'll go right to bed & hit the ground running on Wednesday morning.

Most of our stay in Sierra Leone will be without electricity or running water. We'll be eating mostly African food. The people are intelligent, friendly, and fun to be around. They have very little by way of material things but they lives are full, full of love, relationships, gratitude, and humility.

Medical training (specifically for labor and childbirth) at the medical clinic in Lungi that Sam started 3 years ago AND going on a 3-day retreat with 8-10 new Susu Christ-followers in Guinea. That's our mission. Pam, Deanna & Bruce will take care of the medical part. I will take care of the teaching part. Gav will take care of everything else that comes along.

Here's how you can pray for us -
  1. God's provision of all of our financial needs
  2. safety & protection in travel
  3. favor in the eyes of the custom officials as we are bring a number of suitcases full of medical supplies & gifts for the Sesays & Stombaughs
  4. health while we're on the ground in SL & G
  5. filling of the Spirit for our service to our African brothers & sisters in Christ
  6. our families that we leave behind at home

All for now. Bless you. Africa, here we come!


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Spirit in the Gaps

Right now my life is a whirl-wind of activity. I cross items off of my "to do" list only to add new ones. I leave for a tw0-week trip to Africa in one week. The preparation seems endless. There is work to be done to get the church and staff ready for my absence. The separate "to do" list for the trip itself - packing, finalizing the schedule, supplies, emergency contact info for family members at home, securing travel visas, updating my vaccinations and securing needed prescriptions to ward off malaria and intestinal uprisings, and preparing four two-hour talks that I will give to new Christ-followers in Guinea and one sermon and one Bible study that I will give in Sierra Leone. And then last but certainly not least, the list of things to get to get my family and home ready for my absence.

Yesterday, Sunday, I arrived at the church shortly after 6am to pray and put the final touches on my sermon. I preached, faciliated my 2:42 Common Ground class. I ran home and grabbed a quick lunch before I sped off to Village Baptist Church in Beaverton for a ministry meeting. On the way home I stopped off at Powell's in Beaverton to buy Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing, part of what I hope to read on the plane over and leave as a gift to my friend Phil. Back home for a few mintues of rest before I left again to attend my small group meeting. Home for the rest of the evening to eat and then enjoy a "game" night with my family. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Early this morning over a cup of hot tea at home I reviewed my "to do" lists and created a final one for my last seven days at home. Today is Hannah's 19th birthday. I took her to Starbucks for coffee. Later we will take her out to lunch, home to open gifts and eat cheese cake, and then I'll drive her down to Eugene and her dorm room at the University of Oregon. Drive the 97 miles back home, go to bed, and fall asleep ticking items off my "to do" list for Tuesday. Each day this week, full from dawn to bedtime with important matters that need my attention right now.

I write all this to write this - the Spirit is in the gaps. I sensed his presence throughout the day on Sunday. I knew he was present today in my early morning planning, reading, and short bursts of prayer. He blessed the time I had over coffee with Hannah. The Spirit is in the gaps and he will guide, direct, lead, sustain, and empower me this week. He will keep it up while I'm in Africa. He will be present to my family while I'm on the opposite side of the world. I don't have to worry about CAC as he will be present in the lives of the staff and church leaders. After-all, it is Christ's church not mine.

The immediate presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not always translate into a calm, sane, and easy life. But the Spirit does bring calm, sanity, and ease in the midst of a crazy bunch of pre-Africa, Africa, and what will be, post-Africa weeks.

Thanks be to God,

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Word of the Lord

For the past thirty-five years I have tried to follow Christ. Imperfectly. Sometimes I feel like the blind leading the blind. Others times God's leading is crystal clear. In the past two weeks I believe God has given me three words to lead me into and guide me through 2010.

Jeremiah 33:3 (NASB) - "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things which you do not know."

Luke 1:66 (ESV) - "For the hand of the Lord was upon him."

John 3:30 (ESV) - "He must increase but I must decrease."

Jeremiah is calling me to a year of prayer. Luke struck me with a desire for the hand of the Lord to rest up me. And John convicts me of my self-centeredness and tells me it is all about Jesus, not me.

Prayer. My need of God's hand and blessing. Pointing to Jesus.

God desires to move me into a deeper prayer life. I am collecting a list of needs, concerns, challenges, and dreams to aid the cause. The hand of the Lord upon me is a necessity. I can't if God doesn't. And it's time I find ways like never before to point others to Jesus even as I let John point me to Jesus.

Thanks be to God!