Monday, January 30, 2017

Facing Discouragement

Over my 38 years, I've grown to "know myself" a lot better.  I know, I know, that sounds mighty corny.  But bear with me for a moment.  I am an empathetic "feeler".  Being an introvert, people might not know that immediately, as I also place a high value on emotional modesty.  And that's not all bad.  In fact, I think it's often a beautiful thing, and I wouldn't trade it in order to feel less.  But the flip side of that is that I'm easily prone to discouragement.  And, I'll admit, January's been a month of struggle for me.  The weather, the homeboundedness, the political climate, my partner in life being gone for two weeks.  Probably the biggest struggle I've met with is spiritual discouragement.  Not with the Lord or the Word, mercy no!  But the pre-field ministry has been hard this month.  I've seen so many great successes by fellow pre-fielders.  And that's a glorious thing, praise God! I wouldn't begrudge them that in a heartbeat.  But sometimes, in private moments, the smile slips and discouragement seeps into my heart.  What are WE doing wrong?  What could I do better that would more readily communicate the need to those around me? But that's the trouble right there.  I'm spending too much time thinking about me.  I must keep my eye on the prize, which is to run the race that's been marked out for me, the course that God mapped out specially for ME before the foundations of the earth were even layed.  Although all followers of Jesus Christ share the same end goal of growing in holiness and Christlikeness, my race is not the same as anyone else's race, so why compare?  As Teddy Roosevelt (or maybe Dwight Edwards, but that's neither here nor there) famously said, "Comparison is the thief of joy".  And it's so true.  Here's the best news of all, the antidote to all the discouragement, comparison, and sadness - I don't have to deal with that all on my own and neither do you!  Jesus promised us a Comforter.  The only true and perfect Counselor - the Holy Spirit.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Our Year-End Goal

With full confidence in the Lord's provision, we are hoping to reach our 2016 goal of being 25% funded.  If you feel God calling for you to partner in this ministry to the people of Togo, please consider joining our partner team.  December can be a tough time of year to find extra funds, of course - did you know that ABWE allows you to commit to monthly support (which counts towards our goal) now with an actual support start date begining in January of 2017, or February, or April, or whenever?  God has a great work for his Church in West Africa - a place in desperate need of the gospel: the harvest is ripe!  Some he calls to be goers, and some he calls to be senders, but one thing is certain.  He calls ALL of his children to carry out the Great Commission, in one way or another, in one place or another.  We are so grateful to all of you who remember us in your prayers regularly and lend your support and encouragement of any kind.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Are you bold enough?

I'm currently doing a 31 day Christmas Scripture writing challenge.  Day 3 was too good not to share.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.  He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.  He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.  Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
Isaiah 11:1-5

Jesus promised us his Spirit, which means WE can pray for the very things Isaiah promises of the Messiah-- wisdom and understanding, counsel and power, knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  Are you bold enough to ask this of God?  Am I?

Friday, October 28, 2016

How Does Missionary Support Work?

Let's be real.  No one wants to talk about money.  It's awkward and uncomfortable.  But we know you have questions, and that's okay!  We thought it might be helpful to explain things in a blog post in response to some queries about how monthly support works (and why our numbers are as high as they are), especially for those who are used to religious denominations sending out missionaries as employees of the denomination.  First of all, monthly support includes our salary.  All missionaries with ABWE, whether they are surgeons or mechanics, make the same salary.  Our salary is $1560 per month.  For our eight children, we receive $1625 per month plus a $400 monthly educational stipend (homeschooling and online school is pretty pricey!).  Then we have a housing allowance of $650 a month.  We pay a bit under $800 per month in self-employment Social Security.  We pay $825 per month in health insurance, $25 in accident/life/vision insurance, $200 towards a medical expense account, and $243 monthly into a retirement account.  The remainder of our monthly support in the order of $2050 goes directly towards ministry expenses, as missionaries, through their financial partners, contribute to things like the hospital, the radio ministry, and all of the other ministries in the area.  So, as you can see, there's a lot going on, and truly our support partners are not just paying for the Fifes to be on the field, but also paying directly into the actual ministries in Togo, like the Hospital of Hope.  Pretty neat, huh?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A(nother) Big Announcement!

It's the week of big announcements for The Merry Band of Fife!  First we publicly announced that we are blessed to be expecting our eighth baby in April.  As if that isn't big enough, we have another huge announcement - we are stepping out in faith and will become full-time missionaries as of October 1st, 2016!  We noticed a trend as we returned from Candidate class in July.  As much as we were on fire for the Lord in this new capacity of missions, it was just so hard to balance secular jobs, family, and ministry.  We weren't getting as much accomplished as we wanted to - we had grand plans to have multiple face-to-face meetings scheduled beginning in August, but we hadn't had time to schedule a single one.  And so, the Lord made it abundantly clear to James that he was calling us, not this summer, not in a few months, to full-time ministry NOW.  It took me a little bit to process, but now I'm ready to step out with him, hand-in-hand, and we are SO excited to make this next step.  If you would keep us in our prayers as we step into deep waters, relying on His providence and guidance, we would sure appreciate it.  Our God is a great and mighty god!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tell Me This Person Doesn't Exist?!

Is there such thing as a natural knack for waiting?  I don't know.  Maybe it's like the mythical unicorn.  If there is that person, well, I have yet to meet him or her, that's for sure.  Not only do I not have a natural talent for waiting, I would say that even my carefully cultivated patience skills are still mediocre at best.  And I have an independence problem.  Like that infamous toddler I too often have the mindset that says "I do it myself".  And boy oh boy.  This does NOT work when it comes to being a Pre-Field Missionary.  There is no "doing it yourself".  Raising your own salary and ministry funds for the duration of your missionary career?  Yeah, that's not happening without some SERIOUS God movement.  And I'm good at action (well, provided it doesn't involve phoning people.  I hate actually calling people on the phone so much.  If you are an introvert you understand this perfectly).  But waiting, pas tellement.  So, six weeks into this missionary journey, and yes, the waiting is the hardest test, thus far, that the Lord has put me through.  I see the photos of the folks already there, and I hear the prayer requests detailing the desperate need.  And I have to fight the voice bubbling below the surface that wants to say "Well, God, WE could be there helping.  Don't you want us there?  Didn't you call us there?  Don't we desire a good thing?".  And, on the lowest days, I simply can do little more than pray the prayer of desperation, "Lord, help my unbelief".  And He does.  I mean, of course He does.  I know that, really I do.  But sometimes that head knowledge fails to penetrate this fickle, deceitful heart.  The following Scripture, shared yesterday in our Pre-Field group, is a new one for me, not one that I return to over and over again for strength and patience, but it must might have to become one as we continue on this journey.  I share in hopes that it might speak to your own soul today or tomorrow, or whenever you are weary of this beautiful, vexatious human life.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

There IS an "I" in Missionary, But There Shouldn't Be

We've only been in this entire process, from application to Candidate Seminar to Pre-Field Ministry for six months, but one thing is crystal clear.  There's no I in missionary work.  Literally, none of this happens without a huge supporting and sending structure.  From the big (financial supporters, ABWE infrastructure, prayer warriors, and so on) to the seemingly small (graphic design help, childcare assistance, an encouraging note here on our website or on Facebook), missions work is all about the body of Christ working together.  This week is a special week - we will be placing our order for our very first set of Prayer Cards.  And that couldn't have happened without the generous assistance of our church friend, who not only took beautiful photos, but presented us with a CD full of various photos AND a lovely portrait of us to hang on our wall.  This journey to the field is not just about changing the lives of the people we meet and minister to along the way, but it's just as much about changing OUR hearts.  Every new experience is a stretching and growing in the knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ and a hunger to serve him and the sheep for whom He died.