Sometimes when we’re in the middle of something intense, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of why we do what we do.  Every Christmas season, serving in worship ministry, Rebekah and I need to be reminded that the reason we labor to present something excellent is to point the world to the miracle of the Incarnation.  Remembering and celebrating that the Word became flesh puts all the extra hours into perspective.

Similarly, our current stage of waiting and preparing for our field assignment with Wycliffe can be exhausting and overwhelming.  With so many decisions to be made and transitions to prepare for, it’s easy for us to get distracted from the main reason the Lord has called us to this work:  hundreds of language communities in Papua New Guinea still lack a Bible translation that speaks to their hearts.  As we read Scripture to our children and build their educational and character development around it, we can’t help but ponder what it must be like to live life where that isn’t even an option.

And the needs don’t stop there.  This week we were reminded by The PNG Experience that:

One of the things that children do well, is learn. Learning a language is a complex task but children do it easily, especially in a family/community environment.  That is why there is an emphasis on teaching young children to learn how to read in their first language, first. This creates a foundation from which it is much easier to learn a second language (like English). In PNG, it is sometimes hard to find a mother-tongue teacher for the lower primary grades where reading is first taught. Pray for more teachers that can can help PNG students.

PNG Child

While we struggle to make decisions to give the best education possible to our children in the last year or so that we’re in the States, in the place we’re going there are sometimes no teachers at all.  Sometimes the only school available is held in a different language from the one the children speak at home.  When the Lord opens the door for Bible translation in an area, literacy training often goes hand-in-hand with the translation work, helping to meet this crucial need for mother-tongue teachers.

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it…. — II Timothy 4:17 (ESV)

We’ve seen the Lord do just this over the past several weeks, standing by us and strengthening us over and over, moment by moment, as He leads us toward Papua New Guinea.  What an encouragement so many of you have been to us!  Our partnership team is growing steadily, and it’s deeply confirming to watch the Lord bring people to stand beside us, commit to pray for us, and give to our ministry so that the work may be accomplished.  As we continue on our journey, linking arms with yours, we are already feeling the effects of the soul strengthening power of the body of Christ that’s spread across generational and denominational boundaries.  We are immeasurably grateful for you.

My last day of full-time church ministry at First Euless will be Thursday, December 12.  Then we’ll be traveling for a few weeks, spending much needed time in East Tennessee.  If you make your home in that part of the world, we’d love to take the opportunity to meet with you face-to-face and share more about what the Lord is doing in our family.

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink.  Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” – 2 John 1:12 (NIV)

By the time we return to Texas in early January, we’re trusting the Lord to move in people’s hearts to bring our current level of 35% above our required level of 50% so that I can start back at GIAL (linguistics school here in Dallas) to begin my final year of required academic preparation in linguistics.  In addition to our 50% deadline in January, we need to be at 100% of our monthly ministry budget by September in order to get us to PNG by January of 2015.  As the Lord prompts more of you to step up and partner with us financially so these goals can be met, we’re confident that the Lord will bless and multiply your obedience.  If you’ve yet to formally commit to joining our prayer and/or financial partnership team, please visit our partnership page to join.  We communicate more regularly and in more focused ways to our team than we do here on the blog, and we count on those folks to faithfully support us.  Thanks for praying for us, and know that we’re praying for you as well.

As you face this season and its many distractions, we are praying that the Lord would allow you to fully focus on remembering His precious Gift to the world and to never forget our desperate need for Him.  As we are recipients of immeasurable grace, peace and joy, may you extend them in the same manner to others this season.

“May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18 (HCSB)

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