Since it’s April 1st, I’m tempted to start with an April Fool’s post. We will just do a Journey Services update with what actually happened. It’s been a full week.
This week was spring break for all seven of our grandkids in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. So we took Monday and Tuesday off and had them all over for a sleepover at our house. Picture seven children ages three through eleven running around the backyard finding bugs.
We roasted hot dogs and then marshmallows over our fire pit in the back. Everyone actually slept (mostly), which was amazing for their first sleepover at our place.
The next morning, Grandma and the two mommies took all seven to the zoo. Mid-morning a friend posted on Facebook that he could hear the gibbons calling loudly over a mile away at the University of Cincinnati and wondered what had them stirred up. When Margaret came home, she confirmed my suspicions. The seven grandkids started calling back to the gibbons, who increased their volume in response. The kids got louder and so did the gibbons. Quite entertaining for all.
Journey Services has a new organizational home. In January, long-time friend and colleague, Don Tingle, asked if Journey Services might affiliate with his ministry COMENSERV, instead of creating a stand-alone non-profit organization. In February their board officially made us a subdivision of their organization. This week we finalized the banking arrangements and the organizational processes to be completely a part of COMENSERV and to close out the connections with the church that had temporarily hosted us for the last two years.
Both COMENSERV and Journey Services encourage followers of Jesus to relate to people of other faiths with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). COMENSERV has modeled this for decades among Muslims in different parts of the world. Journey Services has focused primarily on similar approaches among Hindus.
Writing and Speaking
On Monday, Paul sent the final edits for his book Christian Barriers to Jesus to William Carey Library.
Paul is developing a new blog, Paul’s Journeys, and has been writing material and setting up the background details for that. On Wednesday, he drove to Columbus and presented Lesson 12 (Christian Community Development) for 80 students in the Perspectives Course there. Paul was able to weave our India experiences into his presentation. He shared with the students how some common Christian benevolence and development practices can offend and alienate Hindus, instead of representing Jesus in a positive way.
One of the ways God provides for our livelihood and ministry is through Margaret’s professional counseling practice. Fees her clients pay help fund our Journey Services trips so that we do not have to solicit donations.
Goodbye to LifeSpring
In January, Margaret was told that her counseling position at LifeSpring Christian Church was being eliminated. Her more than ten years as a member of the ministry staff there ended this Friday, March 31st.
The news that she was being let go did not exactly surprise us. We had sensed for months that the Lord was preparing her for a transition. She had already been praying about what that might entail and looking at alternative opportunities to use her counseling training and skills. So as she finished up this week as a staff member at LifeSpring, the Lord has already opened up new doors to expand her ability to use the gifts and training she has received.
New Counseling Opportunities
One of Margaret’s former teachers invited Margaret to provide independent counseling services through her agency. Their fees are higher, so some of what Margaret lost in salary is being made up with increased, but still below-market rates. In addition, this has also opened doors for Margaret to supervise trainee counselors.
This week also saw her provide screening services for a mission. They needed someone to do psychological testing and evaluation for mission recruits. That has become a regular contract opportunity. It combines her mental health skills with her deep understanding of and experience in cross-cultural life and work.
First Quarter Journey Services Update
So what has Journey Services accomplished in the first quarter of 2017?
- We’ve lost our breath at the pace at which these three months have flown by! It was just New Years and it’s now April 1 already.
- Paul’s book, Christian Barriers to Jesus:
- Draft completed and two read throughs and edits in January
- Proofreading by external reader and final edits of those detailed corrections in February
- Manuscript submitted to William Carey Library (WCL) on schedule by the end of February
- WCL returned manuscript for typesetting and stylistic edits from typsetter – completed first week of March
- Final edited manuscript returned to WCL for typesetting and production – it’s in their hands now
- Requests sent for endorsements from Indian and US reviewers
- Journey Services’ adoption as an affiliated ministry of COMENSERV
- Margaret’s counseling transition
- Developing blog infrastructure and skills for Journey Services and Paul’s Journeys blogs
What We Do
The Lord uses us to serve people in many ways. Our main focus, though, is to advocate for and encourage those who must follow Jesus without traditional Christian or church forms or expressions. My book Christian Barriers to Jesus explains why this choice is both faithful to Jesus and Scripture in much of the world, even though it sounds strange initially to many Christians.
Keep your eyes open for future posts where I explain some of the reasons and dimensions of this necessary choice. These issues often arise in other societies. The US today faces it’s own version of this challenge. Research indicates that only 36% of Americans say they attend church weekly. A significantly higher percentage, though, believe in Jesus and even want to follow him. That attendance percentage is rapidly declining, indicating that church attendance in the US is heading the direction it went in Europe decades ago.
We are convinced that believers are not asking deep enough questions about what makes Christianity and church a barrier to so many globally. We regularly consult with believers in different parts of the world who want to ask and answer these deeper questions.
We would love to hear from you about this Journey Services update or any questions or comments you might have about Journey Services in general.
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