Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wow! What a week! The past 9 days have definitely been the craziest I've had since leaving school! Recap: Drove for 2 days out to Kalamazoo, MI for the Independent Fundamental Churches of America convention. The purpose was not only to be refreshed by the preaching and teaching of God's Word, but also to make contacts and network with pastors who might allow me to come speak at their church about my upcoming mission in Uganda. Just before we arrived in MI, we received word that a dear, godly man in our church had died. We made plans to leave a day earlier than we had planned to get back to the Springs in time for the funeral. The conference was wonderful, albeit a bit draining.

On Thursday my pastor, Jeff, his wife Nancy, and my two friends Catherine and Eric and I all drove through the night to arrive at 6:30 in the morning in the Springs. The family had been so good as to ask me to accompany for one of the granddaughters who was singing an arrangement of His Eye is on the Sparrow, so we rehearsed at 9:00 and the funeral started at 11. It was a beautiful service that honored the work of God's grace in the life of Gary Anderson. His son gave an incredible tribute to the incredible things that God had done through his servant Gary. What a privilege it was to be a part of the service. Thank you, Gary and Barb for your wonderful testimony of God's love and grace to all those around you.

Yesterday, I was also blessed to attend the wedding of one of my close friends growing up, Rachel. We've known each other for so long, it was a bit strange to watch her get married. It was also an incredible time of joy and rejoicing in the faithfulness of God to provide every good and perfect gift. Congratulations, Rachel, and may the Lord pour out His blessing on you, your husband, and your marriage!

This past week I have been reminded of Ecclesiastes when it says there is a time for everything: a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing. The past 2 days have seen both, and how grateful I am for the goodness of God that provides comfort and strength through all the seasons of life. I have done nothing to deserve the love and commitment of such and incredible God, but how thankful and humbled I am that He has chosen to bestow His favor upon me. Oh Lord, my God, how great Thou art!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deputation

Tonight Robert Alderman spoke for the general session here at the conference. He was speaking on the need for greater personal involvement of the churches in their missionaries' lives. He challenged the current deputation system that we have where missionaries travel all over the country asking all different churches (most of whom don't have anyone they know at all) for money to support their ministry. In this system the personal knowledge of the churches and the missionaries is almost impossible. In addition to the ministry suffering, and a lack of accountability, the simple time and cost efficiency is positively impossible. Not only do the missionaries have to travel around initially, but then they must report back to all of those churches spread across America every 4-5 years to give a 40 min presentation that people may or may not remember and get involved in. The strain on the budget is not nearly as important as the strain on the missionaries and their families. Instead, he challenged pastors to consider a different system: that of training up missionaries from within their churches, commissioning them, and fully supporting them on the mission field. This has a number of benefits. The missionaries can get to the field 10 times as quickly, the church and the missionary have a close relationship that enables quality accountability and a close interest in each other's welfare, and the missionary has a higher quality network of support from the people that know them personally.

I have been thinking about this issue for several years. As a young female and inexperienced missionary, I did not feel it my place to speak out to pastors exhorting them to adopt this model of missionary support. Therefore, I have accepted as inevitable that I would be under this form of support raising myself. I have been commited to doing whatever it takes to get to the mission field and to enable the work that God has called me to. However, I grieve for the missionaries and their families that have been hurt and hindered by this model. Please don't get me wrong. I don't think that deputation is the sole reason for the casualty rate of missionaries, or that each missionary that does deputation is scarred for life and must endure the agonies every fulough there on. I'm also not saying that deputation doesn't have its benefits. Many missionaries have found it to be a time of growth and preparation for the field. The opportunity to bless others across the nation during your time of fundraising is indeed an honor. However, I do believe that the investment model is much closer to Biblical examples and is more effective.

Some might suspect that my feelings on the matter are motivated by self-interest and fear of deputation. Am I intimidated by the concept of deputation? Yes. Do I approach it with a slight sense of trepidation? Yes. However, I am also working to value it for the potential to reach out and minister to people I've never met. I know that it will be a time of growth and learning and I will embrace it with open arms. I will, however, continue to pray that the Lord changes the hearts and minds of pastors and mission committees around the world. I pray that He burdens their heart to embrace this new concept and approach to supporting missionaries. Whatever we do, I pray that it may all be to the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ!

TBM Website

Just wanted to encourage you all to check out the Tentmakers Bible Mission website: tentmakersbiblemission.org... also, if you search for Uganda project under their missions projects you'll find my biography and mission.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vision

What is vision? Many people have been spoken of as visionaries. Is it something to be aquired? Can it be learned? If you're not a person that simply spews forth vision, can you master the art anyway? Hmmm. The thoughts of Melanie's mind without sufficient sleep.

I've been thinking about my vision for ministry. Being here at the conference I have ample opportunity to share my passion and heart for the people of Africa, but how do I pass on the vision of a ministry I don't even have yet? So, I have been crafting a short paragraph of the vision I have for my minstry in Africa. Do I know how it's going to be implemented yet? Nope. Do I even know how I DESIRE it to be implemented? Nope. But I do know that this is the burden the Lord has placed on me, and I pray that He will burden others with it as well.

The Lord has given me a passion for evangelism and a longing to love and teach the children of Uganda. Too many times I have seen the children neglected because they might be too young to understand the truth of the Gospel. Having been saved myself at a very young age, I am a firm believer in the ability of young children to understand and believe the Word of God. I have a vision for these young children to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ when they are little, then grow in the knowledge of Him as they mature, so that in the days to come, they might teach others also. In many cases the church of Africa is expanding rapidly numerically, but the spiritual depth and steadiness is lacking. My desire is to train these children up from when they are young in order to help them develop the spiritual depth and knowledge that will transform them and future generations. This is my dream. This is my vision.
I'm here at the IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) convention in Kalamazoo, MI. Over Saturday and Sunday I drove out here with 2 others from my church, Eric and my close friend Catherine. We had such a blast in the car! Long road trips are never quite as bad if you have fun people in the car. We shared our life stories, listened to the Bible on tape, read, slept, laughed, chuckled, and laughed some more. As most of you know, wherever Melanie goes, laughter will abound. :) Both Eric and Catherine have a love and desire for missions, (and both just happened to have gone to Uganda as well!!) and it was so refreshing to be in the company of ones who share my passion. Now here at the conference, I've gotten to talk to many people about that passion as well as hear the stories of like-minded men and women of God. I must say I'm a bit out of my comfort zone as I try to single out people to talk to among the teeming masses. I'd usually much rather a small group or one on one, but I recognize that this is the first of many ways I'm going to be stretched and grown during my "Damascus" time (cf Gal 1:17 when Paul was in Damascus after his conversion for 3 years before going before the disciples).

Ok, new updates.... Vince Tharp, TBM's mission coordinator, is recently back from Uganda. He said that Mamma Aidah and Pastor Morris have invited me to come stay at their home just as soon as I could get out there. I was just thrilled at the possibility of staying with them, but I am also needing to get my ministry finalized before I decide for sure where I'm going to stay. I've sent an email to Pastor Morris with a couple ministry ideas, and now I'll just have to wait for his reply. Patience, I'm reminded, is still a fruit of the Spirit....(not just a virtue as you might hear :)). I would solicit your prayers for Morris and Aidah. They're in the middle of the summer when most of the teams go out to do church planting. Morris is in charge of the church planting efforts, so this is the busiest time of the year for them as they coordinate teams and oversea the work being done. Please pray for strength, wisdom, and patience for each of them. Also pray for a rich harvest of souls this year as well.

Since it's rather late, and I have a full day of sessions tomorrow, I shall make one more attempt at sleep. Rest well, loved ones.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I have a new friend! We'll call him M, and he works at a coffee shop near my house. We have had a couple conversations, but the most notable was after my time at Garden of the Gods (see below). Our conversation was clearly God ordained, as he wasn't even supposed to be working at the time. We talked for a good hour and a half about a wide variety of spiritual things. M grew up in an at least nominally Christian household where his father was a preacher (even though he was abusive). M is very well learned in the Scriptures and has many memorized. He did the whole "Christian" thing most of his life; obeying his parents, trying to live a holy life and just do the right thing. In the process, he was utterly miserable. He has come to the conclusion that at the very least, God is not good, if He even exists at all. I can't keep the tears from my eyes even as I write this. I can't imagine living life without my good and gracious God who forgives without question and loves me for who I am. But that isn't how M sees it. Instead, he say he is the happiest he has ever been living for what he desires. Oh, how it breaks my heart, and how I plead with God to break M's too. I can just imagine the grief my Jesus must be feeling as He longs to draw M close in His arms and give him the unsurpassing fulfilment and joy that is not fleeting as the happiness of this world is. M did say, however, that he is not closed to conversations about God, and if his heart ever changed, he would go back in an instant. However, he is committed to following what his heart tells him, which right now is saying anything but God. Please, won't you pray with me that God will change his heart? And pray for me to, for boldness with grace, and courage with compassion.

On Wednesday I went out all by myself to Garden of the Gods and found a nook in a cleft of a rock (yes, that song was going through my head the entire time!) to read, think, and pray. After 4 long years of craziness, the peace and quiet was almost frightening. With my personality, I tend to just go, go, go until I have everything accomplished. I'm very goal driven, which can be a good thing, but must have balance as well. The past couple of weeks have been wonderful to rest, but they have also been a time of reflection about who I am, and who I desire to be. During my time at Garden of the Gods, I was reading The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson. Included in that book is a list he has complied of verses telling who I am in Christ. One of his greatest points in the book is that you will act according to how you think of yourself. ex: If I thought of myself as a concert pianist, I would practice hours everyday. If I think of myself as just a sinner saved by grace, that is how I will act: as a sinner. If instead I think of myself as God sees me: sanctified and holy before Christ, that is how I will behave. It's a very powerful thought. I have so often thought of myself as entrapped by my own sinful behaviors and have failed to claim the victory Christ has already won for me. I know it's a long list, but I think it's very worthwhile to post it here. Please take the time to read through it out loud as well and take comfort and joy in who you are in Christ.


I am not the great "I am" (Ex 3:14; Jn 8:24; 28; 58), but by the grace of God, I am what I am (1 Cor 15:10)
I am the salt of the earth ( Mt 5:13)
I am the light of the world (Mt 5:14)
I am a child of God (Jn 1:12)
I am part of the true vine, a channel of Christ's life (Jn 15:1,5)
I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (Jn 15:16)
I am a slave of righteousness (Rom 6:18)
I am enslaved to God (Rom 6:22)
I am a son of God; God is spiritually my Father (Rom 8:14, 15; Gal 3:26; 4:6)
I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (Rom 8:17)
I am a temple--a dwelling place--of God. His Spirit and His life dwell in me (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19)
I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17)
I am a member of Christ's body (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 5:30)
I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)
I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor5:18, 19)
I am a son of God and one in Christ (Gal 3:26, 28)
I am an heir of God since I am a son of God ( Gal 4:6, 7)
I am a saint (Eph 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2)
I am God's workmanship--His handiwork--born anew in Christ to do His work (Eph 2:10)
I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God's family (Eph 2:19)
I am a prisoner of Christ (Eph 3:1; 4:1)
I am righteous and holy (Eph 4:24)
I am a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven right now (Phil 3:20; Eph 2:6)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)
I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life (Col 3:4)
I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12; 1 Thes1:4)
I am a son of light and not of darkness (1 Thes 5:5)
I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling (Heb 3:1)
I am a partaker of Christ; I share in His life (Heb 3:14)
I am one of God's living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1Pet 2:5)
I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God's own possession (1Pet 2:9, 10)
I am an alien and stranger to this world in which I temporarily live (1Pet 2:11)
I am an enemy of the devil (1Pet 5:8)
I am a child of God and I will resemble Christ when He returns (1Jn 3:1,2)
I am born of God, and the evil one--the devil-- cannot touch me (1Jn 5:18)
-compiled by Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Last night, through a comedy of errors I got to meet Jeff and Van Harding, a missionary couple with TBM that will be moving to Kisumu, Kenya in July. The Hardings, along with the Harrises will be my closest TBM neighbors. I won't bore you with all the details, but the night included silenced cell ringers, unknown cancelled rehearsals, and a lonely piano...all wrapped up with free rootbeer floats at Sonic! What fun. :)

It really was wonderful to get to meet the Hardings and especially to talk with Van. She was so encouraging as we talked about our heart to reach these precious Africans. We also talked briefly about fundraising and the joys and challenges inherent in that looming task. I told her that I do approach this next season of life with trepidation, but also a bit of excitment as well. Ever since I went on my first trip to Uganda, I have not been able to talk about it enough. No one could ever have enough time and interest in the subject to suit me. However, for the next year, I get to travel around telling everyone I meet about the incredible opportunity I have to minister to a people that I have loved for years... and hopefully they'll give me money for it! Couldn't ask for a better deal, if you ask me! :)

These next couple of weeks are very key as I search for a new ministry in Uganda and start getting details arranged for the start of my deputation (fundraising). Keep on praying; He is listening!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Announcing....

I know that it has been quite a while since I last posted. This has been for several reasons, the main being that I was just not sure what to write. So much has been happening, and I have been waiting on so many more things to happen that I was unsure of how much to write/not write. But now, I find things settled enough to attempt communicating them to you! A couple of highlights from the past couple weeks: I performed my senior piano recital on May 1st, graduated from Moody Bible Institute on May 16th, and spent my last family vacation with all 6 of my family members in Chicago.

The past couple of months have been some of the most interesting, and at times confusing, times of my life. For the past several months, I have been applying to missions agencies and planning a ministry in Uganda with Deywa. Choosing which missions board to go with is definitely one of the most important decisions of my life. This is a decision I have been thinking and praying about for many years, even before I started officially applying to some. Well very long story short, I have made my decision. I am so pleased to announce that I have accepted an invitation to minister as a missionary with Tentmakers Bible Mission! This is definitely a monumental moment in my life, and I am just thrilled to see the ways the Lord has led me to this throughout the years.

Now you may be asking, "What will you be doing?" That is an excellent question! The answer: I have no idea. Along with the good news comes the bad: because of certain circumstances, I will not be able to minister in Uganda with Deywa. This was a great disappointment to me since I have been working for many months towards this goal. However, I am so comforted to see the hand of the Lord leading me so clearly, and I know that Deywa simply was not in His plan for me right now. I am not exactly sure what I will be doing instead, but I am still looking into going to Uganda. My first passion is evangelism, and I hope to be working with Uganda children as well. I would so appreciate your continued prayers as I seek out a new ministry and start fundraising. I am so grateful for the prayers you have offered on my behalf already, and I know they were instrumental in helping me make my decision to join TBM. What an awesome God we serve!

Blessings to you all!