Today marks the fifth day since I’ve been in the outside world… sequestered in our home by the Great Winter Storm of 2014. Facebook is flooded with people going stir crazy and desperate to get back to work, school or even to the grocery store! I’ve really enjoyed the extra time with the family and the complete lack of a schedule.
One of my friends posted an update on Facebook that brought tears to my eyes as I thought of my Jewish friends. I want to share her words – not to make anyone feel guilty for any grumblings they may have uttered, but because it is good food for thought. Unless you know me very well, you might not know that I grew up in a cabin, built by my Dad, that was only accessible by four wheel drive. In the winter, it was often only accessible by foot. We would hike up our 1/2 mile very steep hill in the dark, bitter cold and slippery ice all to arrive at a cold, dark cabin (we heated with wood and didn’t have electricity for four years either… it’s a long story). I write all of this just to say that my parents taught me a valuable lesson in these times. They always made us list all the ways we could think of that it could be worse. It helped us see our situation in a better light. It’s a practice I still use today. Having had the privilege of hearing first-hand stories of Holocaust survivors, there is no question in my mind that no matter what trials I face in my life, it is nothing compared to the horrors and hatred these people endured. I pray that God will bring them healing and His love, that can melt away the winter of the past and bring the spring.
You guys know me, my sense of humor (or lack of) I love making people smile, but I can’t help that this post is going to be more on the serious side. I’ve just re-read my favorite books of the WWII era. First up was my favorite All But My Life, by Gerda Weismann Klein. She was a teenager in Poland when the Germans invaded her country. She lived the war years in slave labor and at the end of the war was sent on a death march as the Nazis felt the end of the war was coming. For 3 winter months, she and her 3 friends from Beilsko walked and slept outside or in barns until they were liberated by American soldiers in early spring. Can’t help but think of her as this snow falls and we’ve had our bitter cold temps. The 2nd is called Bitter Freedom which is about a Jewish couple who was hidden by a German citizen. They dug a hole under his basement and stayed in that hole for 22 months, not standing or making any noise while German officers were above them all day. So as we talk about cabin fever I think of her being down in that place for all those days, trying to be quiet so no one could hear them. These stories get me every time, making me wonder if I could have made it through. Read them if you get a chance.
We are looking very forward to our return to Poland in a few months, and we appreciate your continued prayers as we make some important decisions… When should we plan on leaving, given that the end of school is pretty questionable at this point? Can we raise enough funds to purchase our airfare in the prime price window (which is just a month away)? How long can we stay? Does God want us to take the lead on the Russian Children’s Camp? Does God want us to organize a team of short-term workers? I don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but I can hardly wait to greet my Jewish friends, make some new ones, and pour some love into them!
I love reading Paul’s letters to the churches. They are full of encouragement, teaching and sometimes reproach – all of which applies to us today just as much as it did to first century churches. Paul was able to give these things to the churches and pray for their differing needs because he KNEW them. He says hi to people by name and speaks about very specific situations. He visited them and invested himself in them. He connected them. “The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets in their house.” (1 Corinthians 16:19)
During our last time in Poland, Ben was able to do something that reminded me of this. He and Dave Hatfield traveled to several churches that are under the care of Polish Christian Ministries. Their visits were meant to do much of what Paul did with his visits and letters. These are churches that we continue to pray for, and hope to have contact with again. As part of his role with the board of directors, Ben also has a list of US churches that support PCM, and by extension the ministry of these Polish churches, which he has committed to pray for. So here is what God has laid on our hearts. How can we effectively pray for these churches when their support of PCM is really all we know of them? Do they know all the good things their financial contributions are going towards? We want to visit them, get to know them, so we can pray for them on a deeper and more personal level. We want to share with them what we as a family have been able to see and do in Poland, giving them a personal connection with real people that are passionate about this ministry. So we feel that God has grown in us a prompting to begin our own tour of churches. Our little family won’t bring the wisdom and guidance of the great apostle Paul, but we feel God has some plan in mind from this leading, so we will obey.
If you’re still reading this, you must either be bored or you really care about this stuff like we do! Either way, we ask you to pray for us as we do this. We’ll start with PCM supporters closest to us, and then include some other churches that may be looking to grow their missions giving. In addition, there are a couple of other areas of ministry, unrelated to PCM, in which we feel God’s nudging. When Ben pursued his ministry degree and ordination, we didn’t really know where it would lead. Ben isn’t designed for church office hours and Sunday morning preaching. But God seems to be molding together a unique and unconventional sort of ministry for us, a collection of ways for us to share hope and joy with some people who just don’t know where to find it. We’re pretty excited about that, but we need your prayers for guidance, wisdom and obedience.