Sunday, June 1, 2014

Prayers for Courage

Our family has been in much discussion about the opportunity we have to return to Tanzania for a longer period of ministry.  We are thinking of staying there for at least two years this time.  It is both exciting and scary for us.  There is so much to ponder and weigh in our minds in making this decision.  At this point, we are saying that we are going, but there are so many details to work out before this can happen.  We desire your prayers that God will provide the way, the right timing, and grant us peace in our hearts to do what He wants us to do.

The rest of this blog post is some thoughts that my wife Julie wrote down recently while considering the decisions we are making about our future.  It begins and ends with a couple of poems she wrote asking God to grant us courage.

Prayer for Courage

Two paths I see;
Which will it be?

One leads to foreign lands;
The other lies close at hand.

Grant us courage to choose today;
To strive along the narrow way.

Early Sunday Morning, May 18, 2014:
     "We find ourselves at a crossroads, a place in our life where we have to make a decision between the good and the better.  We must choose one or the other, and both are good.  There is life in rural Kentucky which is so peaceful and beautiful.  I woke up this morning to the sound of newly hatched chicks chirping in the hallway that are in a cardboard box with a bright light keeping them warm. Since it is a cool morning, I got the wood stove woke up and warmed the kitchen. Later, my husband will get up and milk our cow which brings us abundance of milk, cream, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, whey - and plenty to share with whoever is interested."

"Then our family will be getting ready to walk through the woods, over a homemade bridge my husband and son put over the gully, go up the hill to our wonderful church in the woods.  We are greeted by our church family, and we worship God together in this beautiful setting. I have the privilege of playing my banjo in this small church; which is fun for me since I am a novice musician.  Doesn't the Lord want us to enjoy worshiping Him? Yes!!!! So it is great to pick along with the more experienced musicians. Life is so comfortable and predictable here where we got married and had six children."

"And now -- we are also being given the opportunity to return to Tanzania.  Last year, our family was given the gift of a six month stay in Mwanza, Tanzania.  We had a lot of adjusting to do as we settled into a concrete house which requires mosquito nets on our beds, because those little critters will not leave you alone at night.  In fact, they often got into the mosquito nets and tried to drive us batty while we were trying to sleep.  At night, besides dodging mosquitoes, we had to step carefully to avoid the cockroaches."

"Also, it is often quite noisy into the night, then again in the very early morning hours.  The only quiet is between 2 and 5 AM.  It really isn't a picture of comfort.  When we are tired and want quiet, it is quite hard to find.  There is no place to walk where there aren't loads of  people, and since our skin is white, we stand out like a cardinal on a snowy field. So why would we ever want to return?"

"It is the beautiful people we met that beckons our hearts back to Africa.  They so kindly welcomed us into their lives, forgave our awkwardness, and went a step farther to make us one of them, a part of their families.  Children graced our home throughout the day, providing many friends for our children.  We had three big kids and three little kids who were regular visitors to our home,and they became part of our lives, forever changing our hearts.  I had the fun of trying to teach a couple of English classes, and this afforded the opportunity to get to know several of the students and some of their families.  Our son was adopted into an elderly couple's home to stay each night, since we ran out of bed space; and our daughters became part of our pastor's family. So now our children have a more extended family, which includes African grandparents.  Isn't this a priceless gift!!"
"The choice we face is between the good and the better.  It is not an easy choice.  It requires courage to give up the peaceful, quiet setting where we are currently residing, and take that other path which affords very little rest but an abundance of purpose and joy.  To join hands with our Tanzanian brothers and sisters in the Lord and with their children.  God is opening the door to this rugged path.  I need courage to walk through it to the warm welcome of the Tanzanian people calling out, "Karibu!" (which means "welcome")."

Prayer for Courage II

Lord, we ask Your shining Light
     To guide our pilgrim steps.
Lord, we ask Your blazing Fire
     To burn the chaff we've kept.
Lord, we ask for grace today
     To humbly die to our selfish ways.
Lord, we ask for courage to live
     Within Your Will always.

Lead us, guide us, grant us strength;
     May we truly honor You, O Lord.
Lead us, guide us, grant us courage;
     May we truly worship You, O Lord.

May the peace of Christ be with you,
Brother Nathan

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