Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back in the US of A!!

Hi Friends! My goodness, it has been awhile since we posted anything here! Most of you probably know via Facebook or email updates that we've returned to the US per TEAM's request to fill a special assignment for our mission. It's a position in which finally, we can see God using so many of my (Ben) skills, interests, passions, and desires, all for His Kingdom, for His glory. So many of the experiences we've been through as a couple, as a family; so much of the training; so much of the international living and situations we have been through; and so many of the people, networks, and organizations we have developed relationships with; all these realities point to this role I am now beginning.

Truthfully, I am excited and a bit nervous all at the same time. It's a dream job for me (although it remains financially dependent on our missionary support), and it gives our family more stability for the coming years of our children's schooling here in the USA. We definitely miss Brazil and our friends there, our ministry. In fact, we are trying to retain the Portuguese that Becky and the kids all learned while there! I speak with the boys in Portuguese throughout the day, and Becky too. It's too valuable of a treasure to lose the language after they spent three years learning it. Even David, our 2.5 year old, completely understands Portuguese when spoken to! It will be hard, but we can do it if we put some effort into it.

How do you "do a job" that hasn't been done before? This role I'm starting now, as far as I know, does not exist within other mainline Christian Mission Agencies--not to the degree that we are investing in it as a mission agency. So that is one aspect that brings its own challenges. On the other hand, maybe a larger challenge is that many times, we Christians are not willing and ready to accept some things in our daily Christian walk that should've been "standard practice" centuries ago. In my specific case, we can call it "Creation Care", or call it Christian Stewardship of the Environment", or call it "Practical Solutions to daily needs in the worldwide church", it doesn't matter to me. What it comes down to is doing our part to invest in the Kingdom of God through the local church worldwide. We will be doing this by glorifying God through the appropriate care, use and enjoyment of Creation. "What?", you might ask. But before we become antagonistic toward what many of us in our conservative Christian circles deem as "liberal talk/agenda", let me ask you a question: "Would you argue with a missionary who is helping a local farmer in Peru control and prevent erosion on his land?"
Or, how about the mom in Guatemala who daily scrounges at the massive city dump for her family's "daily bread"? You see, that man's life and his family's lives depend on that soil remaining where it is so he can grow his food the next season. That mom in the dump is praying she can find enough refuse to feed her two little kids--and what she finds shouldn't really even be edible!

We are planting churches in these communities, right now, today, as you read this. Part of the church's role is to bring hope and healing to these communities--where else are they going to find it? (hint--they're not). We bring the message of salvation through Christ--their eternity hangs on the line, it is dependent on them finding enough food that week. So, why would we NOT help the man by teaching him better techniques for soil conservation? Why would we NOT teach that mom how to grow a rooftop or tire garden to supplement her family's diet? It might seem trivial, but it's a practical way to show the gospel of Christ while we preach it. After all, many times, we preach the gospel of Jesus through what we do (James 2:14-26). The gospel does not only apply to what we think of as "spiritual", our, it applies to the WHOLE of who we are--this includes our PHYSICAL bodies and the needs that we have physically.

This is what I will be doing--helping our missionaries worldwide in meeting these various challenges with practical, feasible, sensible solutions that glorify God and grow His Kingdom through the local church. I'm excited--aren't you?

I will be blogging more often now that we are in the US and my position will involve much more interaction with you, with churches, students, and many of our 600+ missionaries worldwide. I look forward to good discussions with you if you are reading. Let's pray that God's name would be glorified through all of this--will you join me? Thanks!