We’re coming home in mid-May. When I use the word “home” I absolutely mean to use the word. I have a new definition for the word home. Home is where you enjoy fellowship together with the family of God while acknowledging the grace and presence of Jesus Christ. To me, that’s all over the world! It’s squishing next to my dad on his oversized recliner where next to him sits his worn old NASB that he’s been using since my elementary school years. It’s sitting on the beach with my mom with Bibles open pondering the things of God. It’s sitting in the one air-conditioned office in Togo where we discuss how to get the Togolese excited about enjoying the intricate details of God’s creation. It’s sitting under a fan on my porch as we teach forgiveness one more time into the heart of a girl who is learning how to live the gospel at home. It’s sitting among the dandelions in France praying that God would call the hearts of our children to himself. It’s meeting new friends in South Africa who you know immediately are “kindred spirits.” It’s sitting in a familiar living rooms after two years of being overseas and sharing with friends who want to know all of the interesting details about what it’s like to do everyday life in our host country. It’s standing among a group of believers as we praise our Savior anticipating those days ahead when we will all sing a new song around that unimaginably beautiful throne. Home is where children of God fellowship together as we share the gifts of the Holy Spirit with one another. Of course, we know that this world is not our home, but the fellowship that believers have now is a real prelude to our final Home in the unbroken Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Before I jump several weeks ahead to our time home, it is necessary that I share with about the whirlwind of a few weeks we just came through. As I mentioned in our past letter, I have been working with a friend to teach sign language in one of our mission’s Christian schools. Recently, a friend named Rachel who specializes in the deaf and special needs education came out to Togo and confirmed to me again the need to work diligently on relearning ASL while I am home, but also in praying for someone like her to join our team. We really need someone who can be dedicated to teaching not just the deaf to communicate, but also their teachers, classmates, friends, and families.
How loudly it has come to my attention that the deaf in Togo really are an unreached people group. While visiting a fairly new public school for the deaf in March, we showed the Jesus film that had a sign interpreter on the lower part of the screen. As I watched the children’s faces and reactions to the death of Jesus, I noticed some of the children telling each other that Jesus wasn’t really dead. I signed back to them, that yes, Jesus really did die and that he really did rise from the dead by the power of God. All of this made me starkly aware of the need to get a clear gospel to the understanding of these kids. We did make an attempt to clarify this message at the end of the film, but I feel strongly that I have to get back there and teach the gospel more clearly. My hang-up is my lack of language. Please pray for another opportunity this month to get back at least one more time before we leave to teach the correct gospel.
We just got back from a WONDERFUL trip to South Africa for the West Africa Regional Conference. This conference is meant to bring all of the long-term missionaries of West Africa together for refreshment and fellowship under the Word. I cannot say enough how much of a blessing it was for us in so many ways. Paul Davis, President of ABWE, spoke on the Wisdom of God from the book of Proverbs. He encouraged us to think right thoughts by telling the “voices in our heads” what and how they ought to be thinking and handling situations biblically. We also had sessions on dealing with team conflict and resolution, etc. There were games and fantastic outings, too! I really just want to give one more, big “Thank you!” to Jason and Kathy Laird for their creativity and insight into making it happen. It’s not easy getting 42 or so full-time missionaries to leave their work and travel across the continent for an event like this, but they did it and I know that everyone appreciated their having done so.
Upon landing back in Togo, we hit the ground running. When we arrived, a representative from Mission Safety International (MSI) had already dived into doing a safety audit on our aviation work. This has been a much-anticipated goal of ours to get this accomplished, as it really authenticates finally, or in a way commissions, this ministry into the mission aviation community as a recognized work by the safety board at MSI. Not only were the auditors, Lyle and Becky, another “taste of home” as we fellowshipped together with them as members of the family of God, but they finished the audit and gave us very good and encouraging remarks including the following:
“ABWE AIR – Togo restarted the aviation program in February 2018 after a major overhaul of their Cessna 206 aircraft. There are two pilot/mechanic families in Togo. Another pilot/mechanic (with CFI and IA ratings) is based in Ghana, but assists in the program. There is a strong commitment to safety and a desire to take the necessary steps to make the program even safer. The families and staff work well together and have formed a close-knit team. There are many open discussions and sharing of ideas. The team is fully committed to the mission of ABWE, and hope to continue to expand the program in support of the mission.”
That paragraph alone, is worthy of a monument of thanksgiving and praise! The night the audit was finished, we celebrated with pizza, broccoli cheddar soup, Fan-Ice, and biltong from South Africa. I get giddy with praise just remembering it all over again! Jesus has done some amazing things!
In closing, I just want to remind you that when you see us on furlough this summer and fall, you may most certainly tell us without hesitation, “welcome home” as sharing fellowship with you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is home for us as we anticipate our final Home not far off in the future with the Savior himself.
WE THANK YOU ALWAYS FOR YOUR PRAYERS……
Ryan, Stephanie, Leslie, AnnMarie, & Christian
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST' (ESV)