Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Friends!

There are butterflies in my stomach as I think about how our life will change in just less than two hours.  At approximately 9:57pm we will welcome a new Burmese refugee family of five to the Tri-Cities.  Keith and I will work alongside World Relief to provide for their needs as they settle into a whole new life here in America.  I can feel God stirring something great with the friendship He is developing even before we've met this family.  It's hard to put all our thoughts into words but I'm going to try.

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”
2 Corinthians 9:11-13

Overwhelmed with Thankfulness:
Second Corinthians 9:11-12 speaks of the blessings of God being poured out on those who know Him so that they can turn and bless others, bringing thanksgiving to God.  Over the last month, so many of you have replied to our plea for donations to provide this refugee family (our new friends!) with the items they will need in their apartment.  We were overwhelmed by your response.  Some of you gave items that you had set aside for such a time as this.  Some of you gave items that were very dear to you, knowing that God would be able to bless someone through your sacrifice.  Others of you went out and spent LOTS of money on new items that this family would never be able to buy for themselves.

In our  Perspectives class we read an article that described another person like all of you who donated.  J. Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission organization in the late 1800’s.  During his journey of preparation for service, the Lord led him to do something rather strange.  Read on…

“The effect of this blessed hope was a thoroughly practical one.  It led me to look carefully through my little library to see if there were any books that were not needed or likely to be of further service, and to examine my small wardrobe, to be quite sure that it contained nothing that I should be sorry to give an account of should the Master come at once.  The result was that the library was considerably diminished, to the benefit of some poor neighbors, and to the far greater benefit of my own soul, and that I found I had articles of clothing also which might be put to better advantage in other directions. 
                “It has been very helpful to me from time to time through life, as occasion has served, to act again in a similar way; and I have never gone through my house, from basement to attic, with this object in view, without receiving a great accession of spiritual joy and blessing.  I believe we are all in danger of accumulating—it may be from thoughtlessness, or from pressure of occupation—things which would be useful to others, which not needed by ourselves, and the retention of which entails loss of blessing.  If the whole resources of the Church of God were well utilized, how much more might be accomplished!  How many poor might be fed and naked clothed, and to how many of those as yet unreached the Gospel might be carried!” (Hudson Taylor, The Call to Service)

Embracing the Foreigner:
Early March, Pastor Jim Landymore preached about God’s compassion to the poor, the orphans, and the foreigner.  Throughout the Old Testament God asked His people to welcome, feed, and take care of these marginalized people that crossed their paths and lived among them. 

Deuteronomy 10:17-19
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves 
the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 
And you are to love those who are foreigners,
for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

Here in the Tri-Cities, foreigners are constantly coming to “live among us.”  Since God loves and cares for them, we who call ourselves “children of God” must do likewise.

If you are like us, you may often wonder if you are actually doing God’s will.  We take a step toward what we think God wants us to do.  Then we seek confirmations that we are onto something that pleases God. 
For us, this partnership with World Relief came very quickly.  Within one month we had applied, gone through orientation, background checks, gathered apartment donations, and now we are about to welcome our new refugee friends in less than an hour!  It all happened so fast that I felt a little timid about the whole idea. 
Before March, we knew next to nothing about World Relief and the people of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).  We prayed for God to confirm our steps and He did!  Within days of starting the process, we heard sermons about God’s concern for the foreigner, watched movies about Myanmar, and then the best confirmation was this last Sunday night.  The guest speaker at our Perspectives class spent a large chunk of his time speaking about God’s work in Myanmar.  He told us of the redemptive story that He had planted in their folklore and how the Church is growing in that people group.  Then, after class we met a fellow student who had connections here in the Tri-Cities with the Burmese community.  He gave us the name and number of a Burmese pastor.  This will give them friends who can speak their language and an opportunity to hear the gospel!

For us, this partnership with World Relief happened so fast that I felt timid and unprepared.  But God has confirmed each step and within one month we had applied, gone through orientation, background checks, gathered apartment donations, and now we are about to welcome our new refugee friends in less than an hour!  Thank you for all your support prayers as we embark on this next step of sharing God’s glory among all nations.


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