This Journey Services Weekly Update has some bittersweet reflections for April 23-29.
In March our ministry, Journey Services officially affiliated with COMENSERV. During April we finalized a number of banking and accounting details to complete the affiliation process. This move gives us an organizational home that provides a board for oversight and accountability. It also has blessed us with ministry partners who share our concerns for respectful relationships with people of other faiths. You can read more about our relationship with COMENSERV at our About Us page.
Margaret’s position as Director of Counseling was downsized by the church at the end of March. This month she has continued to work through the details of seeing clients at a new site and updating all of her required forms, documents, and brochures for her new practice. As we neared the end of April, she could look back and see a number of new clients, an influx of couples for premarital counseling, and new opportunities opening up in other locations.
Three months ago, she wondered whether the church downsizing meant that she would step away from counseling into something else. God has clearly opened up new opportunities to serve people through her counseling in different ways. She is going to get certification in trauma therapy techniques to better serve people who have faced trauma among her clients here and in places where we teach and counsel overseas.
The Perspectives course is a 15-week introduction to missions. Over the last few weeks, we have taught 8 nights of Perspectives: Lesson 12 in Columbus, Ohio; Lesson 13 in Michigan (4 nights); and Lesson 14 in the Cincinnati area (3 nights). Each night we wove our concerns about respecting and understanding Hindu people and their traditions as we presented the lessons. We helped raise awareness of some of those concerns among Christians. This last week Paul wrapped up our Perspectives marathon with sessions in Columbus, Indiana and Dayton and Mason, Ohio.
This week I (Paul) was compiling our finances for the month after our transition to COMENSERV. With all our travels, I had not had time to look at how God had provided. When I balanced all the accounts , I was surprised that we had $12,000 in our account as we face several trips and expenses in the next two months.
In the last 3 months, a major donor had to cut their giving by $1000 a month due to financial downturn in their business. In the same time frame, Margaret’s income from her church counseling ministry ended.
In spite of these challenges, the Lord opened up new counseling opportunities for Margaret and provided her with other consulting income. A number of speaking opportunities have provided further funds. We even received a PayPal contribution from someone we do not even know and cannot track down from the contact information provided.
From the beginning of Journey Services, the Lord led us not to do any fundraising. We talk to God about our needs and he leads people to give. This is a personal conviction he has laid on our hearts for how we do our ministry. You can read more about why we follow this approach on our About Us page.
Our Scriptures promise, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). His ability to provide is not limited to human circumstances or resources, but only by his own resources in glory and his faithful desire to care for us his children. We are deeply grateful for this reminder of how he meets our needs and sometimes “multiplies loaves and fishes” beyond what we could imagine.
We are also grateful for those who have listened to his prompting and have given. Their sensitivity to God’s leading and their generosity allows us to encourage and equip believers who often serve in challenging cultural and spiritual contexts.
- Thank the Lord for his generous provision for our ongoing living and ministry needs.
- Thank the Lord also that Paul’s book is in final processing with William Carey Library and should go to print sometime in May.
- Pray for Margaret as she develops a new counseling practice after the church downsized her position in March. God has already increased her client load since her transition, and has opened up several consulting opportunities with other ministries. This provides a “tentmaking”
- Pray that the Lord uses Christian Barriers to Jesus to help many believers consider ways that Jesus wants them to remove human obstacles and build bridges for his good news instead around the world.
- Pray for us as we prepare for 3 consultations and conferences in June (Pasadena, CA; Wheaton, IL; Houston, TX). We will be actively speaking and participating in two of these meetings. The American Society of Missiology meeting in Wheaton will be a prime opportunity for Paul to network and market his book to professors and missiologists from around the world.
- The challenges we have wrestled with in Christian Barriers to Jesus are leading us to some lifestyle and fellowship changes in the near future. We are currently waiting on the Lord for what he wants for us in this next season. He keeps connecting us with people who are struggling with similar questions we have asked. We believe he is calling us to help develop a support and fellowship network for people who are wrestling with these issues, but what that will look like is still taking shape.
- Pray that we will be deeply sensitive to the Lord’s leading in what he wants, that we will connect with the people with whom he wants us to partner, and that we will be faithful in following him with what we do know while we do not have all the answers to all the questions.
- Pray for Paul’s writing. He has started an Incarnational Commentary on Acts. It will take his teaching notes from 10 years of teaching Acts and integrate them with the incarnational lessons we have explored with our Indian colleagues over the past 8 years. He is still in process of outlining material and gathering his current resources. He will actively start writing in a few more weeks.