The Stolen Seed

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it… The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. (Mark 4:3-4,14-15 ESV)

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Yesterday, I experienced what I believe these verses mean.  Just a little background.  Earlier this year, *Peter and one of his disciples led a man to Christ, *Sam.  For those following our updates, you know a lot about Sam.  Ever since putting his faith in Jesus, he has been heavily persecuted by his family and community.  He has been kicked out of the village at least twice, is constantly verbally harassed by his family and in-laws, and has had to relocate his business shop.  Yet through all this, he has remained faithful to his new Savior.

So yesterday, Peter and I hosted a small training at the church where Sam attends.  The plan was to encourage the church to be faithful in sharing the Gospel with the empty villages and people groups around them.  I had heard that Sam was coming and bringing his wife with him!  This was very exciting since she is staying with him, but has not yet accepted Jesus.  Once we arrived, word came that Sam’s mother was furious about this training and refused to let them leave.  So we began our training, and about 5 minutes later Sam and his wife arrived!  “This is the day” both Peter and I thought.  This is the day that she will accept Christ and then we can baptize both of them!

I decided then that we should alter the training schedule just slightly to make sure that we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with Sam’s wife.  Just as we were approaching the time to share the Gospel, my phone starts to ring.  Earlier this month, I had ordered some Piper books translated in Hindi that were to be delivered this week.  Well, of course they show up while I am at this training, and the delivery guy cannot find our house.  I had Peter talk to him the first 3 times he called.  After the 4th call, I decided that it would be a good time to take a short break while I talk with this guy.  Also, I thought, let everyone get some air so they can be ready for the Gospel section.

Naturally, our 5 min break turned into 15 which is par for the course here.  When we started again, Sam and his wife were not there any more.  Turns out that she had gone back to their home and Sam’s mom was waiting there to let them have it.  Sam finally returned and joined us about 10 min later; his wife did not.  Later he told me that his mom was very mad and was yelling at both him and his wife for going against her wishes and attending this training.

After the training was over, I was thinking more about this “missed opportunity” when the above parable came to mind.  I was reminded that the Gospel is sown among every type of soil; we don’t always know the condition of the soil before we share.  In this case, we didn’t even get to share.  It’s like the seed was snatched out of the air before it even had time to land.  These are hard situations to understand.  How is it that we didn’t see the thief coming?  Why did I wait so long to share the Gospel?  Why didn’t I change my schedule more?  What if we hadn’t started 45 min late?  What if I hadn’t ordered these books?  What if the delivery guy had come at any other time?  I could go on and on.  But ultimately, I don’t get to chose the soil.  I don’t actually cause the seed to grow.  Later in chapter 4, Jesus tell the parable of the farmer where the harvest is growing, but he knows not how.  It’s the Spirit that causes the growth.  It’s the Spirit that prepares the soil and removes the obstacles, allowing the word of God to plant deeply and cause new life.  The enemy is always working to prevent the spread of the Good News.  He throws obstacles our way, even when we don’t even realize it.  Yet, our God is greater than this enemy.  He is working His plan according to His Holy Will.  He will accomplish His plans for Sam and his wife and, hopefully, their family and community.

Continue to pray for Sam and his wife.  Slow progress is happening.  He is faithful and energized to continue sharing the Gospel among all peoples and all places where God’s Name is not yet known!

Image Credit: http://cometoourtable.blogspot.in/2010/06/lessons-in-dirt-picture-parables.html

Jaymashi! We are Christians.

Maddie and Mahaney are in a play at school on Saturday, and these are their lines.  When we were first approached about the play, we were told that they would only have to say these lines and to “dress like Christians.”  When I asked what that meant, the teacher said, “You know, like the long black dress and cross around the neck?”  She then proceeded to tell me that the other students would be saying things like “we are Bengali”, “we are Nepali”, “we are Muslim”, etc.

That’s when it occurred to me what (I think) was happening.  Christianity is like a caste to them.  Or it is at least something that you are by birth, not by choice.  You are born into a family that is of both a caste (think people group) and a religion, and that is who you are and forever will be.  It is there assumption that both Maddie and Mahaney are Christians now because their parents are Christian!

But really, how much different is this culture from my own?  How many kids grow up with Christian parents who take them to church every week.  They “do good” because they are supposed to, sing because they are supposed to, pray a prayer because they are supposed to.  Then they reach a certain age, are released to college, and realize they never had any faith to begin with.  So while there are some deeper differences in the thought process of this teacher about the “religion” of our girls and how some in America think (or used to think), it’s not really all that far off.

377580269_74deeb11c4_oNeedless to say, we are not dressing the girls as nuns…even though here they dress more like Mother Teresa than say, Beth in this picture.  We are, though, enjoying the opportunity to talk to the girls about what is going on; and we have enjoyed explaining to the teachers more about the fact we are not Catholic, but followers of Jesus.

Who is your Mario Kart character?

Seems like, these days, that questions like this are all over Facebook.  Which state are you?  Which country are you?  Which food are you? etc….

So why not join the crowd and ask “Who is your Mario Kart character?”

Well, I have always thought that when it comes to productivity, I am Donkey Kong.  You remember Mario Kart, right?  I’m not talking about the modern, fancy version.  I’m talking about Super Mario Kart for Super Nintendo, the original.  Each group of characters had a different strength and weakness.  Some had quick acceleration, but not super fast (Princess/Yoshi).  Others were average all around (Mario/Luigi).  And then there was Donkey Kong.  You knew that if you picked him, you would never be the first one of the blocks.  However, if you could catch a straightaway, there was no one that could catch you.

Ah, the memories of Super Mario Kart…..joy, anger, throwing controllers, victory, defeat, accusing other person of cheating by watching your side of the split screen…..

Anyway, back to my point.  Here’s how this applies.  Which character is your work style?  I am definitely Donkey Kong.  If I have a project or work that needs to be completed, it takes me forever to get started.  There’s always something online to look at or an article to read or another small task to complete.  I guess we would call this procrastination?  However, once I can finally get down to business, everything seems to roll quite smoothly.  The project is almost always completed on-time; sometimes it just takes a while to get off the blocks.  Worked this way in high school with homework.  Worked this way in college and seminary with papers.  And it is working it self out these days with reading, writing, and email.  Some things just don’t change.

So, who is your Mario Kart character?

 

Image credit: http://www.mariowiki.com

Celebrity vs. Freak

We just got back from our Kathmandu trip and it was really restful and encouraging!  As we were at our meetings, someone mentioned something about people who move across the ocean sometimes lose their identity…sounds crazy, right?  But it’s SO true.  I (Beth) think if you’re not real confident in the States, your home culture, you definitely won’t be confident overseas in a foreign culture.  I can speak from experience.

I have discovered a lot about myself while living in ‘ol South Asia.  For example, I am a germaphobe, I really like structure, I really like being with my husband & kids all day most days (who’da thought?), and I am pretty insecure…

Yup, I said it, I’m pretty insecure…not quite sure why b/c I have an awesome husband, parents, family and friends that encourage, inspire and support me…but maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve time warped back to middle school with an inferiority complex since moving to South Asia.  I feel like everyone is watching me and staring at everything I do (but that’s because they are) and I have to be really conscious about what I wear/how I act in public (as to not attract more attention).  In this culture, it’s not rude to stare.

So, I feel like I have 2 personalities – Celebrity vs. Freak.

Why Celebrity?  I think it’s because I feel like we’re being watched and sometimes even treated like royalty!  As I appreciate people’s hospitality, I am not so sure I value the attention.  Listen, I know I am no beautiful movie star, nor do I want to be treated like one!  I am a normal, God-fearing woman that would like respect and courtesy.

Why Freak?  I think it’s because we are some of the few white people that live here…so, people are curious, and they stare.  Not just stare.  They look until I feel like there’s a hole stared right through me.  For example, we walk down the street and people riding their bikes watch us until I almost think their heads will turn 180 degrees! You know you didn’t like getting stared at when you were trying to find a seat in the cafeteria in middle school, right?!

It creates some kind of defensive mechanism inside me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like living here.  It’s just created some feelings within me that I have had to deal with/am dealing with, and praying how to combat future meltdowns and anger.  Praying for the Lord to give me HIS love for these people and to give me confidence in HIM, so that I would not be prideful in myself.  B/c I know it’s not going to be my own flesh that loves them.  I know it would be easy to be confident in myself.  But I want to love and take pride in Jesus, not be dependent upon myself (or others) for strength and reassurance.  Whew!  It’s a daily combat that we live over here.

Anyways, that’s a little bit of what’s going on my head and about our journey…can you relate?

Happy Birthday to the Beth J!

I think I can say that in Beth J’s top 5 favorite bands is the group DC Talk.  Of which one of her favorite albums is the ever popular 1992 album “Free at Last.”  Of which she loves the song “That Kinda Girl.”  Here’ the chorus:

She’s that kinda girl
Different from the ones before
‘Cause I know she loves the Lord
She’s that kinda girl
Virtuous in every way
The kinda girl that makes you say,
“I hope she comes my way.”

With this being the case, I feel I can bring out a quote from Proverbs 31 which I think accurately describes Beth J on this day…

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teachings of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently but you surpass them all.” (Prov 31:25-29)

Happy Birthday Beth J!  You are that kinda girl!

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5 Things I Think I Think

It’s time again for another installment of what’s on Will J’s mind.  But this time, I’ll just keep it to 5 so as not to take too much time from your long Memorial Day weekend…

1. I think it’s awesome how just eating a Subway sandwich shows the difference in Maddie and Mahaney.  Mahaney opens up the bread, removes the ham to one side and cheese to the other and leaves the veggies on the bread.  She then proceeds to eat each part of the sandwich separately until everything is finished.  Maddie just eats the sandwich normally.

2. I think cricket is more fun than baseball.  No explanation needed…however, here’s 10 ways cricket is more manly than baseball:

cricket-211) No gloves.  You try catching the screaming line drive with bare hands.
2) 1 strike and you are out.  None of this 3 strikes and then you are out till you get to bat again.  One chance.
3) Batting until you get out takes endurance.
4) You ever try to hit an 85 mph ball off the bounce?
5) You try and make the ball twist and spin WITHOUT bending your elbow.
6) None of this foul territory business.
7) Short, exciting tournaments as opposed to a ridiculously long regular season.
8) It takes manly skill to throw the ball and hit the stick rather than a man with a glove.
9) You are allowed to skuff and doctor the ball.
10) Yurvay’s 6 “home-runs” in a row.  Nothing like a little trash talk from a Brit to spark a fire in an Indian. (Start from the 2 min mark).

3. I think I am excited to watch the World Cup next month.

4. I think I’ve been overseas too long when I am talking about cricket and soccer football in my posts.

5. I think it is amazing how much Maddie and Buggie can remember when it is put to song.  As Beth mentioned in the last post, she has been teaching them Bible verses, using the tunes from familiar songs.  At first, I was skeptical.  Yet now, I am a full believer.  It has even helped me!

6. One more…I think that my wife is amazing for caring so much about the future salvation of our children.

7. Two more…I am thankful for all of those who have served or are serving in our military.  It never was an interest of mine, but I am thankful for the freedom I have because of those who have protected it for us.  Happy Memorial Day!

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My pockets are sweating!

Well, it’s starting to get warm in the FLL!  Inside it is 83 degrees and we are doing our best to have “happy hearts” at all times ;)

20140519_201941Since I’m spending a little more time inside, I’ve been really trying to get creative w/ the time.  Some days are easier than others.  I have been learning a lot about myself lately.  I am in some sort of nesting phase.  Sorting through clothes (mine and the girls), toys, jewelry, food (ha!  I bet you don’t have that problem in the States, right?), etc.  Maybe my fear of collecting too many “things” comes  from the torment and psuedo-traumatizing move across the pond…maybe it’s the thought that “I might use this one day, and if I throw it out, I can’t use it then!”…who knows.

But I have put my foot down!  haha…I am carefully cleaning out and redecorating the house AND doing that in my walk w/ the Lord bt1frontcover copytoo.  In our newsletter, I have mentioned starting a Bible study w/ a friend and some national ladies called Be Transformed.  It has been amazing!  And while the meeting w/ a group of 6-10 national ladies has come to just 2-3 ladies, it still has been really beneficial.  You should check it out!  It’s like therapy, but A LOT cheaper ;)

In essence, I am not only cleaning out my house, I’m also cleaning out my heart from past lies I have believed (inevitably from Satan).  This will take time.  A lot of time.  But I really am seeing with new eyes.  About myself, how I interact w/ others or don’t interact w/ others, why I react the way I do to certain things, being humbly confident in my preferences, etc.  I don’t want to teach my girls to do things the way I have done and the Lord has been gracious enough to show me this before they aren’t moldable anymore.  Praise Him for that!

I am really trying to make God’s Word priority in their lives (and mine and Will’s too!) through these little Scripture songs.  They LOVE them and if I wasn’t totally self conscious, I would post them so you could hear. The idea came from Mrs. Tebow in this post.  It’s just sweet to hear them singing them whenever they come to their minds (instead of “Let it Go”…ha!). Maddie especially is always asking what the next Scripture song will be!

The Lord is also showing me that I need to simplify things.  You can really tell a lot about a person in the way the write on a blank piece of paper or the way they decorate their house.  Weird, right?  But it’s true!  I want to be a simple person who wants to prioritize things the way the Lord wants me to.  I feel like when I do this, He provides peace in my heart and less stress.

Thanks for reading and hearing my heart.  It might be jumbly to some of you, but it makes sense in my head ;)  How long do you wait before you weed out “stuff” from your life and home?  I say, if you haven’t used it in a year to year and a half, clean that junk out!

The Story of Matt: From CP Training to UUPG Engagement

IMG_7638This is Matt.  He’s a follower of Jesus, husband, father, deacon, servant, and owner/operator of a famous chain of chicken restaurants.  And this is his story.

In Oct 2012, Matt and 2 others from their church in the States came over to help me with a church planting training.  Over 3 days, we trained around 60 men and women in how to share the gospel, disciple new believers, and plant healthy churches.  From this larger group, 10 men said that they wanted to receive more training in how this all works.  Each of them had tried something they learned and had filtered themselves out.  For the next 3 months, I met with them as a group and talked more about how God could use them to see His glory spread throughout Bihar.

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With the help of others from Matt’s church, we were able to again filter this group down to 6 men who were ready to take the next step to see healthy churches multiply across their districts.  So beginning in August, I met with these 6 men each month for a few days, and we also visited each of them in their home to see where they live and visit some of their churches.  Each of these men learned more about how to go from doing the work themselves to becoming trainers of how to multiply new churches.

IMG_1899So Matt and another church member returned to the FLL in March of this year.  At this training, the 6 men were able to bring some of there new leaders from the new work.  Over these 3 days, 21 men and women gathered together to be refreshed in the big picture vision of seeing God’s glory spread among all places and all peoples in Bihar!  So why is this awesome?  Because Matt was able to begin with a group of 60 and then 18 months later see a group of 6+15 of faithful men and women who have a vision for church planting.  This is a real life example of how 2 Timothy 2:2 is supposed to happen.

But that’s not all…because from this group of 6, there is 1 who has really caught the vision for all peoples in all places.  Recently *Peter was at my house, and we were discussing what UUPG’s mean.  After explaining it to him and giving him an example, he replied, “There are some from that people group who live just a half mile from my house!”  The next weekend, Peter went through that village, using the Luke 10 method he had learned.  One house from this people group invited him in, and Peter was able to share the gospel with them.  Now, as of the writing of this email they have not yet put their faith in Jesus; but they have expressed interest in having Peter come back and continue sharing with them.

So, what began 18 months before with a large training and then filtered down to 6 who then have raised up another 15 new leaders has now seen the first (of hopefully many) UUPG engaged with the gospel for possibly the first time ever!

Thanks to Matt (and all the other volunteers) and his church for making this possible through the giving of their time and money to see God’s glory spread across this great country!

Also if you are in the Louisville area, stop by the Mall St. Matthews Food Court and talk to Matt while you “eat mor chikin”

Happy Resurrection Day! A little late…

Hey y’all!  We got to celebrate a little differently this year…not that the way we had been celebrating was bad, but we just wanted to change it up a bit.  We started out basic this year since the girls are 3 1/2 and 5 and plan to add more as the years go on.  I’d (Beth) like to start even a little bit earlier…around Lent-ish time, maybe.  This year’s Easter just crept up on me!

Anyways, we checked out Sojourn’s website for some kid-friendly Palm Sunday activities and came up with this!  I cut and pasted some stuff, but it was really fun to reenact the “Triumphal Entry” story.  Firstly though, we traced the girls hands 3x’s and cut them out and taped them to a popsicle stick for the “palm leaves”.  IMG_7041Then, we prefaced the story a little bit and asked the Big Question (from the Sojourn link) of Who is Jesus?  They answered so energetically, “Hosanna, Jesus is the Savior King!”  The girls’ favorite part was acting out the story ;)  Will (of course!) was Jesus, I was the person who laid down the coats (yeah, we busted out our winter jackets!) on the ground, the girls were waving said “palm” leaves and then, me and the girls switched to the Pharisees.  Pah!  Good times…we prayed and then, they wanted to do it again!  It was neat b/c all throughout the week, randomly the girls would shout, “Hosanna, Jesus is the Savior King!”

Then, I had seen a couple of different cute ideas about how to keep Easter about the Resurrection…so, here’s what we did:

-Thursday, we and our friends upstairs made these stained glass crosses and explained that the cross is empty b/c Jesus is alive!  (Left one is Mahaney’s and right one is Maddie’s)

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-Friday, we gathered all of our materials for our Resurrection Garden!  We’ve seen these all over the internet and wanted to try it out.  We followed this particular one by Oh Amanda and really liked the aspect of gathering leaves, twigs for the crosses and flowers for Friday and talking about the story of Jesus’ death…
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…and as the day went on and Saturday went on, the plants withered painting a picture of sadness and death.

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– But on Sunday morning, we started getting all excited b/c the girls knew that the Resurrection Garden would change, but they didn’t know how!  Before going into see the garden, we wanted to get the Resurrection Rolls in the oven!  So, we told them briefly and simply how people back in the day used to bury people by using oils (melted butter) and spices (cinnamon sugar) and wrapped them up and put them in a tomb (the wrapped up crescent roll).  We popped those suckers in the oven and went on to see about this Resurrection Garden!

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That morning, I got up early and went back out and replaced all of the tattered leaves and flowers with new, fresh, vibrant ones showing that Jesus brings new life!  It was fun for the girls to help get it all together, made and hear the story that we’ve heard a few times, but seeing it come to life for them was really neat.  Buggy wanted to keep the little Jesus I made from a pipecleaner ;)
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It was a fun, relaxing Easter and I would love to add some things to these traditions next year.  We also drew the Jesus dying on the cross story in henna w/the girls and they wanted to show it off to their friends/teachers at school!
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