Friday, January 28, 2011

Never Stop Praying

        One of the many blessings our family has experienced in the last 24 weeks has been the amount of people praying for us.Whether we conclude a presentation of our ministry at a church or whether we share with a friend we’ve known for a long time, the number of people wanting to pray for us has been incredible.
Recently, we had a dear friend of over eighty years of age tell us he would not be able to come alongside and support our ministry. “I won’t be around long; it would not really help you in the long run. BUT, I will pray for you and for your children. I promise I will pray for you on a daily basis AND that I can do,” said our elderly friend to Tony and I with a smile on his face. How precious those words were to us; a pledge to pray and be involved in our ministry in a way that matters most.  

For Tony and I, a day doesn’t go by and that we don’t stop and pray for strength in our journey of faith. Without a strong prayer life, it would be impossible to move forward in faith and trust God to provide for the results that only He can provide.
One of the most memorable examples of how prayer has shaped our hearts and minds was when we contacted a church hundreds of miles from our home on the telephone. Prior to contacting this church, Tony and I had spent the morning praying that the Lord would open more doors of opportunity. An hour after we concluded our time of prayer and meditation, I picked up the phone and called a church I had never made contact before. Their name was on a list I had but I did not have a name of a senior pastor nor of a missions pastor. A male voice responded to my greeting and introduction and he began by telling me that he had been praying that his church would become more missions minded. “Sister Laura, I believe your phone call is an answer to prayer. We’ve been praying on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a greater involvement in missions and I believe you’re ministry is going to play a role in it,” said the enthusiastic senior pastor of an African American church on the telephone. My reply, “Praise the Lord! We’ve been praying that the Lord would lead and guide our steps! How amazing that He would honor our request and bring us together.”  The result of what was accomplished only through prayer gave not only the pastor but also to Tony and I the encouragement we had been seeking. The encouragement to trust in God for our heart’s desire and to know He can orchestrate circumstances and events beyond our human understanding. No wonder Scripture reminds us to “pray without ceasing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17. 

With humility and a heart of thanksgiving, I would like to express our  appreciation to our friends and loved ones who pray for us on an ongoing basis. On behalf of our family: Thank-you and never stop praying.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What do former US presidents and a governor have in common?

They recently commended Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) for being an exemplary organization.
Former president Bill Clinton of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund praised MAF's efforts saying the group has had a critical impact on Haiti's recovery. "By organizing hundreds of relief flights and delivering thousands of pounds of supplies, MAF has had a critical impact on Haiti's recovery," said Clinton.

I am not surprised by the President Clinton’s kind remarks about our role in the relief and rebuilding efforts. MAF has been working in Haiti since 1986 and has four aircraft at a permanent base at the Port-au-Prince airport. After the earthquake that crippled Haiti's already weak infrastructure, MAF partnered with some 60 relief agencies, transported medical personnel and aid workers, delivered critical relief supplies, and performed many emergency medical evacuations. Since then, MAF has continued flying provisions such as food, water, and medical supplies -- -including IV solution to help combat the country's cholera outbreak.

Idaho governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, made complimentary comments this week as he delivered his State of the State address at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise on Monday. Otter’s state budget recommendations mentioned Mission Aviation Fellowship located in the city of Nampa as a bright spot in Idaho’s economy, “ MAF is courageous and forward-looking; examples that we should celebrate.”

It is with a smile on my face that I count my blessings as Tony and I serve with such a quintessential organization. As someone who never envisioned a midlife career change, it is encouraging to realize that we will now be involved in a ministry that makes worldwide impact wherever we serve. We, along with nearly 200 missionary families serving 42 countries, desire to observe MAF’s mission statement: Sharing the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Let Us Go To Them......Impressions from our first missions conference.

The Calvary Chapel Missions Conference in Murrieta was an enormous blessing to us. Tony and I had many wonderful opportunities to share our work with pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders. The phenomenal speakers spoke on their own ups and downs of serving Jesus in foreign lands and people groups they would have never had the privilege of working with had they not entered missions.
One of the biggest surprises and delights of the three-day conference were the amount of participants who asked us to help provide educational and technical expertise to facilitate the training of new and untrained indigenous church leaders. Those that came by our table acknowledged the large leadership gap that is taking place in places like Colombia, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador to name a few. When Tony and I validated the lack of access that exists in rural and isolated places in Latin America to receive biblical and discipleship training, they asked us how soon can their village pastor come to Costa Rica and receive adequate theological training. Our answer: They will not need to come to us; we will go to them. Tony and I explained that MAF-Learning Technologies believes that remote pastors are better served by keeping them in their native country while receiving support and training from us rather than by plucking them out of their natural setting for seminary training (3-5 years) in the United States and risking the chance that they will not return to care and shepherd their flock. Our response clearly hit a nerve. The realization that ethnic Christian churches in America are often the result of national leaders not returning to their homeland to  lead their own people was quickly acknowledged. Many were able to tell us about pastors who meant to go back to Central & South America while studying in seminary or bible colleges in the West only to stay and raise Spanish speaking churches in the United States instead.
Although we did not know what to expect when we arrived at our first missions conference, we walked away encouraged by fellow missionaries and pastors and most of all, desiring to get to San Jose and assist church leaders in Latin America lead strong and healthy churches in Jesus’ name.