Friday evening was the beginning of the Catalyst retreat on OMS campus. This was the first Catalyst event we've ever done, and it was a blessing to be a part of the facilitation team for the event! I always get excited when we have new people on our campus and have the gift of deep processing time together before the Lord, but one of the special things about this event is it was tailored specifically for Every Community for Christ's church-planting ministry and the potential applicants we are working with right now that are interested in serving through this OMS ministry. ECC is the church-planting catalyst within OMS :)
Friday night at Catalyst, three missionaries shared testimonies of God's leading and faithfulness in their own lives. As an activity to introduce this time, the participants were asked to share with a partner about a time they were impacted by another person's testimony. There was an odd number at one of the tables, so I jumped in with a woman attending. She knew immediately what she was going to share with me. Thirty-two years ago, she heard a missionary, who served in Africa, speak at a church. She described the presentation to me, giving careful attention to describe the pictures of children she saw in that presentation. "It was something about those faces, that caught me, and I knew God was calling me to missions." And as she shared with me, tears welled up in her eyes. What a tender moment that must have been to bring her to tears 32 years later... There is power when we are willing to share what the Lord has done in our lives. When we are willing to be transparent for His glory, there is so much room for others to see His faithful character!
Our house church has been talking recently about Joseph's life. Talk about an impacting story of the Lord being glorified through someone's life! We read it at the hotel last Wednesday night, and our friends were so enthralled that they kept asking and asking if we could stay a little longer to read a few more chapters of Genesis to see what would happen. Anyway, obviously there is so much in this story of God's provision and sovereignty, but what stood out to me as I was re-reading it Tuesday, was a little verse in Genesis 41:1. Joseph had interpreted the cup-bearer's dream and asked the cup-bearer to tell Pharaoh about him. Then, it says, "Two full years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing in the bank of the Nile River." Two full years... that's all it says. No explanation, no description of what may have happened in the two full years to make it purposeful. Just two full years passed and then Pharaoh had his dreams and Joseph is released from prison. And yet, Joseph continues to honor the Lord with his words when he is brought to Pharaoh. No record of bitterness or questioning... what's that? Not sure if I'm communicating this well at all, but it was so convicting and challenging for me to be reminded that sometimes we won't ever know why God chooses the timing of seasons in our lives. Sometimes, He is so gracious to show us later what He has intended, but other times we may never know the reason for the way things are, and yet, we are still called to trust His will. What a lot of growing I have to do.Tuesday night, I had some sweet time with two of the young women going through training. Sarah, who served as an intern last summer and traveled with me to Houghton, is going through training to serve with our church-planting ministry full-time, and Colleen, who I helped coach through her funding, is preparing to leave for Ireland with eXtreme Walk (our 11- to 24-month church-planting internship). Our time together was not long enough, but it was great to hear a little about their training and how their hearts are doing in it all. They shared with me about one of the object lessons they had earlier that day: each participant was given 30 pieces of paper that were cut into puzzle pieces. On each piece they had to write a significant experience that has impacted who they are today, and then pray through those things and put the puzzle together... Honestly, my first thought was, I don't know if I could come up with 30 major things quickly under pressure. But as we continued talking, the Lord sweetly reminded me that He can think of not only 30, but hundreds in my short life. He is so purposeful in not only how He knits us together in our mother's womb, but also throughout life. So thankful that He knows what is best.
Would you please pray over these things as God brings them to mind?
* For trust and security in God's love for us and who He says I am in Him.
* For the participants who will come to OneWeekend, Feb. 10-12
* For upcoming campus visits
Thanks to each of you who were willing to share about your lives transparently this week, to bring the Lord praise. And thanks to each of you reading, who are doing so in your own communities.
Lovely Catalyst participants :)
Facilitating a session on calling and barriers with Paul, our director of Mobilization.