Thursday, December 18, 2014

Called to Love the Roma

Wishing for a Clearer Call

     After two years of working to raise up a team of financial partners I found myself doubting if  God was actually calling our family to Romania, but Christ took my doubt and replaced it with faith in Him. Waiting caused me to seek Him more intently, and He has clearly been validating our call.  This blog is the story of how God has been speaking to us and encouraging us to continue towards serving the least loved in Romania.
  While attending pre-field training with ReachGlobal I heard another missionary’s testimony of how God called Him to serve in a foreign country. The Lord had used a Bible passage to break this man’s heart for those living in spiritual darkness and told him, “You are to go to those living in this darkness just as I came to rescue you from yours.” This man then explained how God made it crystal clear where he was to serve and the people he was to love.
     That night as my wife and I discussed the day, I said, “I wish I had a clearer calling from God.” The Spirit of God used that thought to set in motion a lot of prayerful consideration of what God wanted for our family’s future. During this time, we read the book Experiencing God. Our hearts were struck by the phrase “look for where God is at work and join Him.”
     We began to pray, “What are you saying to us? Where are you at work in us?” We had been traveling around the US for over eighteen months, speaking at churches and trying to raise a team of financial partners so that we could serve in Romania. We had a lot of money that still needed to be raised and had run out of people and churches to contact. We were in the middle of a season of waiting and did not know why.

God's Word Speaks

God then took us to Isaiah 61:1-2:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.

     My wife and I realized that He had taken us to this passage many times over the last year and a half, but we hadn’t spent the time in silence to hear what it meant for us. We set aside a week to listen, and God spoke.  He used that time in silence to remind us of our survey trip to Romania. While on a public transportation tram we saw a young Roma girl selling flowers on a tram. All of the Romanians on the tram turned their backs to her as she walked down the aisle with the flowers she was selling. One Romanian bought some flowers from her but paid over his shoulder so he wouldn’t have to look her in the face. Jamie and I were shocked because we had not known of the extreme prejudice and discrimination that took place against the Roma people.
     The Roma are known for being thieves and prostitutes-- the bottom rung of society. The majority of Europeans have despised the Roma for centuries. In many European countries they were even gassed with the Jews during the Holocaust. Modern anti-Roma feelings are clearly demonstrated through a 2012 Swiss newspaper article about Roma immigration entitled, “The Roma are coming: They come, they steal and they go".  
     When Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago He told a parable of a Pharisees praying, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). If Jesus were to come to Europe today, I think he would hear, “God, thank you that you did not make me a Roma gypsy.”
     After God reminded me of what we witnessed in Romania He said to me, “Jesus came for the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives and those who mourn. Mark, I am sending you to love the unlovely, the looked down upon, the despised of society, the prostitutes and sinners. I am sending you to the Roma.”
     Reading further in Isaiah 61 we see what God’s plans are for the poor and despised: “Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor… For I, the Lord, love justice…. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed” (Isaiah 61:7-9). We believe that the Lord is going to take the Roma from being the most unloved and despised people on the continent to being a people that everyone will realize the Lord has blessed. The exciting thing is: He has already begun to do it!

More Confirmation

     That same week we were praying through Isaiah 61, we began to hear stories of what God is doing amongst the Roma in Romania. Simply put, the Spirit of God is at work drawing large numbers of Roma to Himself. Entire communities in the countryside are being transformed. One community closed all its bars because the Roma stopped drinking when they met Christ. It is not just limited to Romania; God is at work all over Europe. In October Newsweek ran an article titled, “How the Roma are Becoming Europe’s New Moral Army". The article tells of Roma coming to Christ in large numbers; it tells of revival. The people who have been shamed as thieves and looked down upon for centuries are becoming the moral compass for the continent. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. Their old life is gone; and a new life has begun! We see God giving the Roma this new identity: followers of Christ and precious children of God.
     In one week of prayer God had put the pieces together in my mind. I had always wondered why God was sending us to Europe after my wife and I took missionary training to specifically work with animists, those involved in witchcraft, and illiterate people. Many of the Roma fit all of those categories. In my quest to have a clearer call from God I was given a love for a despised people, affirmation that His Spirit is already at work, and a promise of the blessed future they will have in our Heavenly Father’s family.

One Last Step

     Lord willing, we would like to move to Romania by February to join God’s work among the Roma people. God has proved 77% of our monthly financial need. If you feel the Spirit of God impressing on you to join in His work amongst the Roma please prayerfully consider partnering with us and signing up for our ministry newsletter.

This blog post is going to be posted on ReachGlobal's blog next week.  If you want to read more about the Roma people please click to visit the blog!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"I am a terrible, terrible sinner, but let me tell you about Jesus."


     God has been taking me on a journey these last two years: a journey from being the world’s biggest people pleaser obsessed with protecting my image to now embracing the verse, “This is a trustworthy statement that everyone should accept.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them all” (I Timothy 1:15).
     Who is worse: a drug addict, alcoholic, or prostitute who admits their struggles and pain OR a person who struggles with the same issues of being depressed, feeling worthless and hating themselves but is not honest about it?   I spent my life hiding my pain and sin and pretending I wasn’t as bad as the rest of the “sinners”.  I looked down on the rest of the world for struggling with the same things I did.  I am the worst sinner I will ever know because I will forever know my sin more clearly than anyone else’s.   
     When I grew up, if a pastor stood up and said he was going to talk about sin what I heard was, “I want you to leave feeling guilty and trying harder in your attempts to please God.”  There is an underlying lie there that I believed: admitting sin brings guilt, bondage, and just shows what a terrible person I am.  So it is no surprise that the Gospel I grew up with was: After placing your faith in Christ’s death you are saved from hell and now you are supposed to be a better person.  One problem with that, I am not a better person and, in this lifetime, I will never be a better person.   So what do you do when you know you don’t measure up to the standard of perfect?  You try harder, you hide your sin, you blame others for your anger, you look down on people with “worse” sins and you convince yourself that you are “not that bad”.  
     That is the exactly how I have lived my life: as fake, unauthentic person who would protect my image at all costs.  I constructed an image of who I thought the world wanted me to be.  I would change my personality and how I acted based on who I was around.  I was consumed with trying to be liked, appreciated, and looked up to.  I have lived like the Pharisees from Luke 11 who were obsessed with cleaning the outside of the cup when the inside was full of wickedness, pain, hurt, and sin.  
     Where did Jesus fit into the mix?  I felt like Jesus loved the imposter version of me.  I felt like Jesus loved the version of me that tried to please him.  Yes, Jesus loved me, but if someone would have asked, “Does Jesus like you?”  I would have had to answer, “Sometimes.”  The reality was that I hated myself because I knew I wasn’t as good as I tried to convince myself that I was. My heart was full of pain that I didn’t want to admit.  My situation could be summed up well from a story from “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning:

     The story is often told of a man who made an appointment with the famous psychologist Carl Jung to get help from chronic depression.  Jung told him to reduce his fourteen-hour work day to eight, go directly home, and spend the evenings in his study, quiet and alone.  The depressed man went to his study each night, shut the door, read a little Herman Hesse or Thomas Mann, played a few Chopin etudes or some Mozart.  After weeks of this he returned to Jung complaining that he could see no improvement.  On learning how the man had spent his time, Jung said, “But you didn’t understand.  I didn’t want you to be with Hesse or Mann or Chopin or Mozart.  I wanted you to be completely alone.”  The man looked terrified and exclaimed, “I can’t think of any worse company.”  Jung replied, “Yet this is the self you inflict on other people fourteen hours a day.”

     That is how I lived.  Deep down I knew I wasn’t a good person, but I felt like admitting it would only heap on the guilt and shame and destroy my reputation.  Jesus tells the Pharisees, “What sorrow awaits you… For you are like a hidden grave in a field” (Luke 11:44)  I felt that sorrow because I knew there was death living inside of me draining me and I tried to hide it my entire life.  I spent my life trying to pretend I was a good person and thought God loved that person.  These last two months I was broken and hurting enough to be honest with myself and said, “Not only am I not good, I am a horrible, wicked sinner who looks down on people with the same struggles I have.  I am worse than them!”  Something happened that I, sadly, did not expect.  Jesus said, “I know.  That is the person I love.  That person deep down that you know you are and try to hide from everyone, that person that you hate because of what you have done in your life, that person that you call “that person” because you don’t want to admit it is you, that person you wish you weren’t…  Mark, stop lying to yourself about who you are.  I love and died for you.  Not only do I love you, I like you.  You are precious to me.  Even though you hate yourself, I love you.”
     I lived my life as a Christian who tried to pretend he was no longer a sinner.  I gave Christ a bad name instead of giving Him praise.  Now, because I know I am the worst sinner in the world, when I sin against someone I don’t have to make excuses or hide it.  I can embrace my identity in Christ and say, “I am a terrible, terrible sinner and have sinned once again, but let me tell you about Jesus who loves me anyways.”  The Gospel is a message of freedom not guilt.  It is good news for those who are trying harder to please God.  It is freedom because you don’t have to be a better person for God to love you.  He already does.  
     Does God like you?  Is God proud that you are His child?  If you answer no to either of those I suggest you spend some time alone with God asking, “What do you think about me… the person deep inside of me that I want to pretend I am not?”  I was terribly afraid of that question my entire life because I was afraid of rejection, but refusing to ask it only keep me from experiencing the love of God.  So what about you..  Does God like you?  Is God proud that you are His child?
Mathew West - Hello My Name Is

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Answered Prayers Already?!?

God is at work around the world!  Your prayers for Bucharest this month have not gone unheard.  We just got reports this week of a movement of Roma (also known as gypsies) who are coming to Christ in large numbers.  The Roma people are some of the most looked down upon people in Romania.  Many of them do not have jobs and most live in the poorest most rundown part of town (pictured above), yet God is beginning to draw them to Himself in large numbers in Romania and all around Europe.  Thank you for praying for God to work, and now please thank Him with us for answering our prayers!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day Thirty of Prayer

Making Disciples
The product Jesus calls us to make is disciples. It is interesting that He did not tell us to plant churches although that is a natural by-product of making disciples. Most Romanians are Orthodox and consider themselves Christians, therefore they are hesitant to go to a Protestant church and view Evangelicals with suspicion. Instead of expecting them to come into “our” spaces, perhaps we can go to them in “their” spaces, pray for them and open the Word with them. Those who become disciples of Jesus can continue to grow and share in the context of their natural networks.
  • Pray with the ReachGlobal Bucharest city team that God will unleash a disciple-making movement in the city.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." ~ Matthew 28:19-20

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day Twenty Nine of Prayer

Romanians praying for the harvest fields

Churches that Multiply
Praise God for Jesus who always asked penetrating, engaging questions that directed people to God’s Word.

  • Pray for an outreach orientation in Romanian churches.
  • Pray that any person who accepts a call to follow Jesus takes a responsibility to help other people discover God and respond to Him in obedience. This intentional, relational process is called spiritual multiplication.
  • Pray that Romanian disciples will not shrug off the words of Jesus or look at other people or our own failures and assume we have seen all there is to know.
  • Pray for disciples who are filled with the Holy Spirit and see that to be a disciple of Jesus is to make disciples of Jesus.

“Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 
~ Mark 1:17

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day Twenty Eight of Prayer

Churches that Multiply
The picture above is a familiar sight in Bucharest. Nature vs. man. It takes a lot of time, money and effort to control the natural spread of plant life (as you know if you’ve tried to kill weeds). Many Scripture illustrations relate spiritual life to organic growth: Vine and branches, wheat and tares, the mustard seed. Jesus intended the growth of His kingdom to be natural and organic, not formulaic and controlled.

  • Pray that His church here in Bucharest will break free of man-made trappings and multiply fruitfully!
  • Pray that God will lead His people to engage society at all levels and not hide behind church walls.
  • Pray that healthy kingdom DNA will lead to exponential church growth.

“He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches."
~ Matthew 13:31-32

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day Twenty Six and Seven of Prayer

Bucharest Christian Academy: Student Needs

  • Ask the Lord to continue to send students who will not only receive an education at BCA, but will share their gifts and abilities with others at the school.
  • Pray for students for whom English is their second (or third) language. Often students speak their “first” language at home with their family. Many Korean students also attend school in Korean on Saturdays.

Roma (Gypsy) Church Planting
One of the most hopeful developments in all of Europe over the last few decades has been the growth of the church among the Roma, or Gypsy, people. Whole communities have been transformed by the Gospel. We’ve seen God’s power at work among Roma peoples of Bucharest which has a significant Roma minority (close to 10%). May the grace that has arrived in the Roma people group spread to more and more people! (see verse above)
  • Pray for discipleship among immature believers and growth in love and obedience to the Word.
  • Ask God to empower the Roma church to impact other people groups including Romanian nationals.
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 
~ 2 Corinthians 4:15

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day Twenty Five of Prayer

BCA students doing a flash mob dance last year 
to increase awareness on human trafficking.

Bucharest Christian Academy: Evangelism & Discipleship

  • Pray for clear communication of the Gospel, in word and deed, to those who do not yet know Christ. We have a growing group of non-Christian Chinese students.
  • Pray that the lives of those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior and Lord will reflect His love and grace.
  • Pray for staff to encourage one another as they continue to deepen their personal relationship with Jesus.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day Twenty Four of Prayer

Bucharest Christian Academy: Staff Needs
BCA depends on teachers who answer God’s call to raise financial and/or prayer support to teach at BCA. God has been faithful to provide teachers, but recruiting is challenging and fewer people are willing to raise financial support.

  • Pray for teachers to answer God’s call on their lives to serve at BCA and for individual believers and churches to be willing to support them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day Twenty Three of Prayer

Bucharest Christian Academy: Christ Centered
From the school’s beginning, the BCA school board has emphasized the school’s dependence on Christian principles of administration and values in education.

  • Pray for the board’s continued dependence on God as they face a myriad of challenges associated with leading an inter-national Christian school in Bucharest, Romania.
  • Pray for Christ-following teachers who demonstrate their love for Christ in their instruction in the classrooms and their personal interactions with students, parents, and other staff.
  • Pray for students to grow in their love for Christ demonstrated by a love for His Word and for others.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Day Twenty One and Two of Prayer

Retired People/Elderly
This generation of elderly in Bucharest was born into, educated, worked, and raised their families under a brutally oppressive communist regime. Some older people perceive things are no better, and decry the secularization of culture, corruption, and the sad fact that the social pension for a retiree in Romania was lowered last year. (lower still for women and people classified with a disability--Ministry of Labor, Family, and Social Protection
Elderly Romanians may be disillusioned by dramatic social changes with a tendency towards pessimism, depression, and withdrawing from society. Some follow religious rituals that do not provide any assurance of salvation. Communism has been described as the "enemy of friendship" because of the way it drew people into reporting and trusting only the state.

  • Pray that elderly people in Bucharest will be reconciled to God before the end of their life.
  • Pray that more retirees will know Christ as Savior, receive His righteousness, and use their influence and time to demonstrate joyful faith in Him.
  • Pray for Christians to lead the way in reconciliation of whole families, especially that older people would not hold grudges but take the first step to peacemaking.

Hospice Ministry
Romanian children and adults with serious and incurable medical conditions may be abandoned when it seems that nothing can be done. Sometimes, as was the case with 9-year old "Danny" the incurable condition is a result of a substandard medical treatment.
  • Pray for the peace of God to overcome fear, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation for patients near the end of their life and their caregivers.
  • Ask God to guide Romanians to a Biblical view of God's ways in sickness and pain.
  • Pray for a society that reflects God's values in assigning dignity to each life, for the whole life.
  • Thank Him for the work of Casa Sperantei “Hospice of Hope” to bring medical, nursing, social, and spiritual care into this situation.
  • Pray for fundraising and awareness events and a growing volunteer base that includes many Romanians who do not turn away from suffering but share hope in Christ.
"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’” ~ Acts 2:24-28

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day of Twenty of Prayer

One Unified Church in Bucharest
Over the years the church in Bucharest has suffered from division and infighting. The three major denominations are often at odds and don’t cooperate. Recently, a growing number of younger pastors began seeing God’s work in our city from a healthier, wider perspective. Setting aside politics and denominational differences they are encouraging us to realize that God only sees ONE true church in Bucharest.

  • Ask God to break down barriers between believers of different backgrounds that we could all work in unison to make Christ known.
  • Pray that legalism would disappear from our churches and that obedience would flow from grace not law.
  • Intercede for citywide outreach projects involving believers from a range of denominations.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” ~ John 17:20-21

Friday, September 19, 2014

Day Nineteen of Prayer for Bucharest

Today we want to share a praise.  We jumped up yesterday to 76% of our monthly/ annual financial needs now met.  Lord willing, we are praying that the rest of our needed financial partnership will be committed by the end of the year so we can move to Bucharest in early 2015 after our little guy is born.  Thank you to all of you who are praying for Bucharest this month.  Tomorrow is the city's 555th birthday.

Disabled in State Institutions
Some of the least-loved people in Bucharest are found in the “placement centers” which house children and adults with severe disabilities. Conditions can be extremely poor and the vast majority have no one to visit them or keep track of their well-being. Government workers at these facilities are often sadly disinterested in the well-being of the residents.

  • Ask God to bring hope to those who are forgotten, malnourished and mistreated.
  • Pray for justice and change where there is corruption and negligence.
  • Intercede for residents that they might have the opportunity to hear and experience the Gospel of Christ.

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”   ~ John 9:2-3

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day Eighteen of Prayer

Disabled Hidden from Society
Hidden people with disabilities in the City have limited access to places and groups, and may feel abandoned or punished by God. Family life is deeply affected, as the disabled person and their caregiver can feel alienated from people, isolated, useless, or despised.

  • Pray for their physical, spiritual, and emotional protection from people who would try to harm them.
  • Pray that the Church will seek to listen, serve, integrate, and equip people to identify with one another and flourish in the community.
  • Pray that as people become aware of needs we will create access and opportunities for them to express spiritual gifts and bring glory to God.

“Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says 'In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.'  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."   2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day Seventeen of Prayer

Disabled Ministries (Candle Workshop)
Less powerful people in Romanian society tend to expect and accept power distance inequality. People with disabilities are less powerful and often excluded from education, employment, and social life. Most, with their families, have an uncertain future.

  • Ask God to bless and multiply ministries that assist people with disabilities to have productive and healthy lives.
  • Praise God for safe places where people with disabilities are welcomed and loved, hear the Good News and are empowered to serve.
  • Pray that the Lord would encourage family members who are struggling to find rest in Him. Ask God to show Him how He defines their value and purpose in life. Ask God to change the heart of a person who overlooks another person with a disability.

“When I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day Sixteen of Prayer

Abandoned Children Transitions
Children in institutional care are more likely to suffer from poor health, physical underdevelopment and deterioration in brain growth, developmental delay and emotional attachment disorders. Consequently, these children have reduced intellectual, social and behavioral abilities compared with those growing up in a family home (Save the Children, The Risk of Harm, 2009). When they do not have resources or accountability from someone who cares about them, many drop out of school.

  • Pray for the great need for right relationship with God through Christ for these abandoned children in transitions.
  • Pray for physical needs to be met through connections with local churches.
  • Pray for follow-up from summer camp ministries to abandoned children in transition. May Romanian children and teenagers have eyes open to the Gospel and through this learn their true value.
  • Pray for many lives to be transformed as children and adults learn to read the Bible for themselves and apply what it says.
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely” Proverbs 28:5

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day Fourteen and Fifteen of Prayer

Abandoned Children in Apartments
The majority of abandoned children in Bucharest have been moved from state institutions to live in apartments. This seems to be a positive step, but these apartments are crowded and often there is inadequate supervision. These young people are vulnerable to all sorts of evil influences.

  • Pray for several Christian groups who visit these apartments and care for the residents.
  • Most state support to abandoned children disappears when they turn 18. Pray for believers who are working to assist them in surviving on their own.
  • Many abandoned children hear the Gospel and are responsive, yet they easily fall away as temptation appears. Pray for true transformation.

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” Psalm 82:3

Abandoned Children in Hospitals
While there has been an increase in the number of children in foster or guardian care rather than institutions, the rate of child abandonment has not declined (Source: UNICEF, 2011). Mothers abandon their newborn babies in hospitals when they feel they cannot afford to raise them, or are pressured from other members of the extended family who see the baby as a burden. In Bucharest monitors are assigned to counsel disadvantaged mothers and teach them about the importance of good nutrition and birth registration as well as prevent abandonment or re-abandonment. Praise God that He Himself is the provision sent to satisfy the souls of every person.

  • Pray that babies and children will have shelter, clothing, water, and food because someone knows and shares the provision and love of God with them.
  • Pray for important needs for affection and safety to be known and all the benefits expressed when a mother bonds with her baby from the start.
  • Ask God to bless the work of the child welfare workers on the part of children.
  • Ask God to bring about changes in the city as the Kingdom of God enters dark places.

“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:33-35

Day Twelve and Thirteen

Preventing Trafficking from Villages
“What do you mean by crushing My people, and grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord of Hosts.” Isaiah 3:15

The per capita income in Romania has risen since the fall of Communism ($135/month in 1990 to $708/month in 2012), but this has not altered life in many villages. Most young people leave villages and head to the capital or other large cities or leave Romania altogether to find decent work. Unfortunately one industry that is still available in villages is human trafficking. People in Romanian villages without financial options can become perpetrators or victims. Family members, neighbors or friends make money from “selling” those who trust them, often not understanding what will happen to the victims and excusing the decision as a necessary evil.

  • Pray for better job opportunities (small businesses, factories, organizations involved in development) in villages.
  • Pray for awareness campaigns to take place that will help communities understand and face the issue.
  • Pray that believers will be salt and light in their communities and will have the courage and wisdom to stand against this form of evil.

Preventing Trafficking of Abandoned Children
60,000 children currently live in government or privately-run orphanages in Romania (2014). Most of these children are not orphans but are considered abandoned children. Children in government-run orphanages are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Traffickers can be in league with staff workers leaving the children with no protection.
  • Pray that abandoned children would be protected and cared for by people of integrity.
  • Pray that a healthy foster-care system would be developed in Romania. Pray that law enforcement and child protection officials would be free from corruption and work for the good of vulnerable children.
  • Pray that the Body of Christ would seek to care for these children and offer hope and practical help in the name of Jesus.
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” Isaiah 10:1-2

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day Eleven of Prayer

Trafficking Aftercare
Survivors who have been freed from trafficking find hope and healing at the Open Door Shelter in Bucharest (the only shelter in Romania). These young women come into contact, perhaps for the first time, with people who love God and love them. The healing process is long and must be addressed holistically (mind, body, and spirit).

  • Pray for the director and staff of Open Door to draw strength from Christ to love and serve the young women who come to the shelter.
  • Pray for the young women to be truly healed emotionally, physically and spiritually.
  • Pray that God would continue to provide the human and financial resources needed to run the shelter.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day Nine and Ten of Prayer

Today and tomorrow we are traveling to Missouri for a missions conference so we are posting two days prayer requests at once.  First, please pray that our trip to Missouri and Arkansas to speak at churches would bring glory to God and be used to further His work in Romania and around the world.  The other requests for today and tomorrow are:

  • Pray that God would move in the hearts of Romanian churches and believers to give generously to missions, and that God would bless them in order to be a blessing.


Romania is the major source country for victims of human trafficking in the European Union. Men and women are often lured by offers of work to wealthier countries in Western Europe only to find themselves enslaved into forced labor or the sex trade. One-third of trafficking victims are children who are kidnapped and secretly taken across borders (Source: 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report).

  • Pray that the government would effectively implement laws designed to prevent and combat human trafficking.
  • Pray that funds earmarked to support private anti-trafficking organizations would be released by officials and put to use as intended.
  • Pray that more Romanians would be made aware of the scope of the problem and would find ways to get involved in the fight to end modern slavery right in their backyard.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day Eight of Prayer

Tent-Makers from Romania

  • Pray that Romanian missions leaders would explore and discover creative ways to send out the growing number of missions-minded believers in the Romanian church.
  • Pray that the introduction of the tent-making model will result in hundreds more missionaries being sent out from Romania.

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” ~ Colossians 4:3

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day Seven of Prayer

Pray for Romanian Missionaries

  • Pray that God would sustain, encourage, and support the 200+ Romanian missionaries that have already been sent out.
  • Pray that their ministries would be effective, bringing glory to God.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day Six of Prayer

A group of Romanians interested in missions

Romanian Mission Sending Agencies

  • Pray for national sending agencies to cooperate and thrive as they partner with Romanian churches and international agencies.
  • Pray that they would find creative ways to send those God is calling as missionaries.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” ~ John 17:20-23

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day Five of Prayer

“For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.”   ~1 Thessalonians 1:8

According to the 2011 census, there were 28,226 Turks and 20,464 Crimean Tatars living in Romania. Some are in Bucharest and others in the neighboring area near the Black Sea. Turks tend to be lower income. Churches are being established. Several Romanians are working full time among Turks developing leaders and planting churches. Tatars tend to be higher income. No one is currently engaging this unreached people group full time. There are only one or two known Tatar believers.

  • Pray for growth in the Romanian Turkish church. May the day come when the Word of God sounds forth from them as it did from the Thessalonians (see above)!
  • Pray that God would raise up full-time workers to enter the Tatar community and make disciples of Jesus.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day Four of Prayer

Romanian Gateway to Other Countries
Romania has one of the largest number of believers in all of Europe. Many neighboring  countries have an extremely tiny Christian community. Many cities are unreached by the Gospel. God is putting a couple of the countries (towards the bottom right of the picture) on the hearts of dozens of Romanians.

  • Pray for the many short-term Romanian Christian workers visit these countries each year.
  • Many Romanian believers desire to minister long term as tent -makers or full time workers but it’s very difficult for them to obtain long-term visas.
  • Pray for a solution. Ask God to bring revival among the these people, so they can know God’s grace!

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise You!”
~Psalm 67:1-3

“Freely you received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day Three of Prayer

Muslim Business People
Thousands of Turkish, Arab and Asian Muslims are involved in business in Bucharest. Some are quite poor while others are very rich. All are struggling to improve their economic situation thinking this is the key to happiness. Some enjoy the looser moral standards in Romania while others are quite traditional.

  • Pray for the multi-national team of believers involved in a prayer and discipleship ministry at the Red Dragon commercial area.
  • Intercede for several Muslim business men who have expressed interest in learning more about Christ.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day Two of Prayer

Muslim Refugees & Students
There are more Muslims than evangelical Christians in Bucharest. Some of these are refugees and others are students coming from Arab, Turkish and Asian backgrounds. There is currently no ongoing work among international students in Bucharest. Some believers have begun to befriend Muslim students. May this outreach grow and lead to transformation of lives. Refugees in Bucharest face many bureaucratic hurdles. Most feel stranded, not knowing Romanian and wishing to reach western Europe.

  • Ask God to open more and more doors for believers to share Christ’s love.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” ~ Leviticus 19:33-34b

Monday, September 1, 2014

Day One of Prayer

Kairos Missions Course
Praise God for efforts among Romanians to help the Church finish the task of bringing the Gospel to unreached peoples. Leaders and participants in the Kairos course come from a variety of church and personal backgrounds. They devote themselves to listen to God, look at the big picture of God, His mission, His World, and act on what He has said.

  • Pray for follow-through with more than a hundred course participants to courageously live up to how God has called them to be a part of God’s global mission.
  • Pray that in every church in Bucharest there will be disciples who are engaged in missions and able to mobilize prayer for specific and immediate needs.
  • Pray that churches will be willing to release disciples whom God is calling to become traditional or tent-making missionaries.

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” ~ Isaiah 49:6

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bucharest's Birthday Month is Approaching: Please Join Us in Prayer

Bucharest, Romania is having its 555th birthday this month!  We still need many more people to join us to reach our goal of having 555 people praying for the city this month.  If you would like to be a part of this prayer movement please email us and let us know.  God is at work!  Join Him!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What I have Learned from Waiting

      It has been a while since my last blog post.  Truth be told, as I alluded to in our newsletter, it has been because waiting for God’s timing has taken its toll on me.  I started to get discouraged, let discouragement set it, began to question God’s goodness, started to feel like a victim of God’s sovereign control and let myself slide into depression.  
     I have worked through the question, “Is this really what God has called my family to do?” too many times to count.  Every time I pray or go to the Word He continues to remind me to wait on Him and continue down the path He shows me one day at a time.  But instead of looking to Him for strength every day I internalized the call.  “I am called to Romania; therefore I must do everything I can to get us there.”  I called it faithfulness.  When the all financial partners we needed did not join our team as I thought they would I was left with one conclusion, “I failed.  No, I am a failure.”  I couldn’t understand what God was doing.  Every day I began to be more and more discouraged and grew insecure.  The question, “What will our partners think about how long this is taking?” started to haunt me.  
     I finally broke and couldn’t go on any longer.   I was too fearful, too discouraged, too defeated, felt worthless and felt the weight of having so many people behind us on this journey.  I didn’t have the joy, peace, patience and faithfulness to get through this season of waiting.  I told God I would rather Him take my life than continue to live the one I was living.  If this is what a life of serving Him was going to look like then I wanted nothing to do with it.  
     He graciously said, “Mark, you are living like you are an orphan.  You are living like you have no father, no one to care for you, no one to provide for you, and no one that loves you.  You act like you are a “self-made” man who has to prove himself to the world.  You act like you are worthy to be my servant based on your schooling, actions and track record, and then a second later you feel guilty because you know your actions and track record show just how unworthy you are.  You constantly live like you are alone on this journey.  You have forgotten that you are My son and I will never leave you as an orphan alone to make decisions in this world.  You have forgotten that I am pleased with you based on what Christ did.. not because of what you have done or will ever do.  You have forgotten what it means to be saved by grace and to live by grace.  Mark, you have forgotten the Gospel.”
     The Gospel isn’t just being saved from the punishment of my sin.  It is about God’s work in my life today.  My feelings of worthlessness were based in the fact that I didn’t see Christ’s worth and how God looked at me through the lens of Christ’s work on the cross.  My feelings of inadequacy found their source in looking to my own strength instead of Gods’.  

He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

     If us getting to Romania and serving there for many years was based on my strength, faith, talent or experience then we wouldn’t be there long if we ever even made it at all.  God in His wisdom knew I needed to learn that before we got there.  There has been a reason for this season of waiting.  It is because I am weak and because He is faithful, good, patient and gracious.  It is because our family will be much more useful to Him serving out of a position grace than human striving.  It is because I needed to be reminded of how the Gospel is at work in my life today.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Two Days Until the Goal: A Call for Prayer

There are only two days left until our goal of reaching 100%.  Currently we are at 69% of our monthly and annual financial partnership committed.  Last week we jumped up to 72%, but yesterday we found out that our most generous partner is having to discontinue their financial partnership for a time.

We know we cannot dictate God's timing.  We can plan, prepare and work towards a goal with His guiding, but we cannot control outcomes.  We would LOVE to be in Bucharest as soon as possible, but the time always belongs to God.

I noticed this week that we only have about 50 of our newer prayer cards with Beckham on them left.  That means out of the first 1,000 we ordered last fall we have already given out 950 of them to churches, prayer partners, financial partners and, Lord willing, future partners.  Our team of prayer partners who receive our newsletter is now approaching 600 people.  That number doesn't even include the number of you who read our updates on Facebook and share our posts.  We are greatly appreciative of all of your involvement in our life as well as your desire to see the ministry grow in Romania.

For the next couple days we ask that all of you would be praying diligently for the growth of our team of financial partners.  We appreciate so much all of you who commit to giving regularly because we know that it takes great faith.  We just announced to everyone this week that we are expecting another little one in December.  If the Lord wills, we would love to have this baby born in Romania.  

Please join us in prayer!  Just imagine the amount of prayer that would be brought before our Father if all 950 prayer cards we passed out in the last 7 months were looked at and prayer for today and tomorrow.  Please be a part of that an encourage others to also.

John 14:13-14 
Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The trials continue but won't last: 2 Corinthians 4

Broken down car, a borrowed car with a check engine light, Beckham battling vomited and diarrhea for two weeks, Jamie getting the sickness, then me, then my dad and my mom, having to cancel meetings with a church and a pastor because we are too sick to travel, coming down with poison ivy which continues to spread, battling insomnia brought on from itching and my medicine, and Beckham continuing to wake up crying multiple times a night.  I am tired, drained, emotionally spent, but all I can say is God is good and in control.  

“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)  

I am a weak, fragile clay jar that could be easily broken.  I am not patient or strong and I don’t have endurance.  I can barely keep myself together enough while working towards raising up the prayer and financial partners to get to Romania.  I will never have the endurance to stay for I am far too weak, but this doesn’t cause me despair like it once did.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.  Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)

Jesus is alive and building His kingdom, and He has called our family to serve Him in Romania.  The small, trivial and short trials we have endured lately have only made our calling more clear.  We truly do have an adversary who roars around like a lion seeking to devour.

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.   All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.   For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!   (2 Corinthians 4:13-17)

When we joined ReachGlobal we had many people tell us that they respected us and something along the lines of, "It takes a strong person to do what you are doing."  I believed it.  A year and half of humbling hardships later I see that there isn't anything further from the truth.  It takes a weak person to be a missionary.  The weaker the better, because God's power is perfected and clearly shown in weakness.  We don't endure because we are strong, faithful or full of patience.  We endure because God's power is alive inside our weak, fragile clay jar of a body.  

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

51 Days to Go!

“In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”   Psalm 5:3

There are 51 days left until our goal of reaching 100% of our monthly partnership so we can move to Romania this summer.  God has brought one passage again and again to both Jamie's and my mind.  In the book of Exodus Moses and the Israelites were standing on the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army on their heels.  “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.  The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent’” (Exodus 14:13-14).  

They stood on the edge of an unsure future and were told “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”  Currently, that is how we feel.  We don’t know what will come next, but we know that God continually shows us that He is the one who will call people to partner financially.  He is far more interested in the spreading of His glory around the world than we are.  He will fight for the spread of His gospel in Romania and put us in a position where all we can do is silently watch Him work.

Please continue to pray that God would bring more annual and monthly partners on our team.  Also, thank you so much for the prayers for Beckham. He kept down sweet potatoes last night and even a couple bottles of milk for the first time in a week!  Praise the Lord!

Please continue to pray for wisdom for the shelter for trafficking victims.  Our team is seeking the Lord about the possibility of starting a second shelter for younger survivors of trafficking.  Romanian law does not allow the current shelter to house both adults and minors under one roof.  Many victims of trafficking are younger than 18 and need a separate emergency housing option.  No such facility currently exists in Romania.  Pray for wisdom as this would be a huge endeavor, and would require personnel and financial resources that currently are not available.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Week One of Travels

To sum up our first week of traveling: nothing went as planned.  Our car started having transmission troubles on day one, and I had to drive it back to Eastern Pennsylvania the day after leaving home to get fixed.  It was a bigger job than we could wait for, but Jamie's grandma graciously loaned us her car for a month.  Beckham had a fever and diarrhea the day before we left, but he started intense vomiting on Friday.  By Sunday Jamie had come down with the same virus causing us to have to stop traveling and spend the night at a hotel.  Sunday we also had to start canceling our plans for the week.  Two stops visiting family, one stop visiting partners, a meeting with a pastor and speaking at a one of our partnering churches.  Monday we made the drive to my parents house in Missouri, and I came down with a mild version of the same bug a couple hours before we got to their house.  So five days after we left home we had a different car, we had canceled 90% of our plans and our entire family had the flu.  Like I said: Not as planned.

The last few days I have constantly been brought by the Lord to Proverbs 16.

"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (16:9).  

It took a lot of planning and coordinating to schedule our stops and church visits this week.  To see it all have to get canceled wasn't easy.  I wanted to fight it and push through even though we were sick, but God continually brought that verse to mind.  I can plan all I want, but God directs what will happen.  No matter how hard I strive and work it doesn't change the fact that all fruit and growth come from God.  Our team of partners is growing because God is causing them to grow.  Just like Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth."  Once again I am humbled to be reminded that I am called to a life of one thing: obedience.  Many days I forget that and try to convince myself that I am called to the task of causing the growth of our team of partners or teaching others how to grow closer to the Lord.  However, I am called to be obedient, and God will cause the growth.  Right now that means resting so our family can recover from sickness.  It also means praying that God will cause the growth of our team of partners.  

We appreciate all your prayers for our family.  Jamie and I are recovering and starting to feel better, but Beckham is still vomiting and still has diarrhea and a fever.  He is staying hydrated with pedialite but is starting to look thin.  Praise the Lord that we have a God who is good and loves our son more than we ever could.  Although this week has been difficult, God has kept up our family's faith, and we know that this situation will be used for our good and His glory.   

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day Two: A Different Car and Vomiting Son

Day two of our month long trip consisted of me (Mark) driving back to Eastern Pennsylvania to have our vehicle worked on.  We had serious transmission issues arise on our first day of travels.  It was discovered that it could not be fixed in our time frame, but praise the Lord that Jamie's grandma graciously loaned us her car for the next month and a half.  I then drove back to Cleveland last night totally an extra 750 miles of driving not originally planned.

Also, Beckham has a fever and spent the whole night vomiting.  He has been able to keep pedialite down this morning and has even taken in some milk and solid food, but he still has diarrhea.  

We are leaving right now to drive to Michigan to meet with a missions team tonight from a Baptist Church.  Please be praying for Beckham that he would sleep well in the car.  Please continue to pray that God would be glorified through this trip and that we would continually to look to Him for comfort and wisdom.  Praise the Lord that He promises us the grace to get through all situations.

Our current struggles remind me of the apostles after they were beaten.  The  book of Acts records their actions saying, "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name" (Acts 5:41).  Although we having been physically beaten, I can begin to relate to this verse.  God has called our family to glorify His name through missionary service and working to raise up a team of partners for this ministry.  Hard ships will come, but praise the Lord that our family has been blessed with the privileged to bring Glory to Him in any way we can.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day One of Travels: Check Engine

Two days and five hours of driving after sending out a newsletter about trusting God's sovereignty and praying that His glory would trump our safety we are sitting at a rest stop with the smell of burning rubber and check engine light on the dashboard.  Jamie's first thought was, "Maybe you shouldn't have written that newsletter".  :)

The situation as it stands is that the car can still run but needs something in the transmission replaced that is estimated to take at least 6 hours to replace.  We are in Cleveland currently for a EFCA church conference and are meeting with a Baptist Church's missions team of Saturday night in Michigan which is an appointment we have been praying for months to have.  Being as important as it is to make Saturday it looks like I will be driving back to PA to have Jamie's father (an awesome mechanic) do the work on our car tomorrow.  Please be praying that the car makes the trip and that the work can get done.  It looks like Jamie will be going to the church conference with Beckham tomorrow without me.  Please pray that God will use this for His glory, because we know He can and we know He wants to.

Beckham wasn't too stressed about the car troubles when we stopped at the rest-stop.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Your will, not mine..

Four months ago, I had to wean Beckham.  I knew it was the best thing to do because we had way too many issues with nursing, but I was crushed by the decision.  When I pictured myself as a mom, I pictured myself nursing my child.  I thought “that is just the way God intended it to be” and there was no question in my mind that it was what I would do.  As soon as we left the hospital though, there was issue after issue and our little guy was just that – little.  He only gained a pound by week seven and it became clear that I was not going to be able to produce enough milk for him.  

We began supplementing, but as he grew and needed more milk I just couldn’t keep up and eventually had to completely wean him.  The Lord was extremely gracious in that time and showed me that it was okay to not nurse Beckham.  (That’s another story for another time.)  But over the past two months since he has been completely weaned I would still find myself questioning God’s goodness over this issue.  When it all started I would pray “God I know you are completely sovereign and completely powerful, so You can fix this.  Please fix this.”  He never did.  The enemy then took that understanding of God’s sovereignty and used it to put doubt into my mind about God’s goodness.  “If God is completely sovereign and completely powerful, why didn’t He fix it?  He mustn’t love you because He knows you are trying to do what is best for your child.”   I bought into that lie and would still find myself questioning God’s goodness.

Yesterday, as I was thinking about it again while giving Beckham his bottle, the Lord opened my eyes to see that I have been deceived by the enemy.  I immediately repented and asked the Lord to give me a different understanding of the situation.  I wasn’t asking Him to show my why He never corrected the nursing issue.  I wanted to see His goodness in the situation and be able to trust Him with it.  The Lord answered that prayer very quickly and I would love to share what He taught me yesterday.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew what was going to happen to Him because He understood what the different prophecies said about His death.  He was “grieved and distressed” and went off to pray (Matt 26:37,39).  His prayer is so powerful, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39).  A little later He prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt 26:42).  Jesus did not want to undergo the suffering, humiliation, and shame He was about to face, but He entrusted Himself to the Father and knew He had to be obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).  But it is one thing to pray this way; it is another to live it out when faced with suffering.  Jesus did just that.

Immediately after this moment in the garden, Judas arrived with a mob to arrest Jesus.  He was taken to the high priest, scribes, and elders who held a trial to condemn Jesus to death.  They brought false witness after false witness into the trial, but “Jesus kept silent” (Matt 26:59-63).  Then He was taken before Pilate and again “He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge…” (Matt 27:14).  Why?  Because Jesus knew that if the Father wanted to save Him, He could.  He knew that His life was in the Father’s hands and He was going to be obedient to the Father’s will no matter what (Matt 26:53-54).  If Jesus had answered their questions and proved they were false witnesses, then He could have been released and the scriptures would not have been fulfilled.  But instead, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).  Jesus gave Himself fully over to the Father’s will knowing that His Father was completely sovereign, completely powerful, and completely righteous in everything He does.

So how does this relate to nursing?  I realized that if Jesus endured the ultimate suffering trusting His Father through it all, then I could suffer through bottle feeding as well.  I can trust the Lord to judge righteously and know that just as He saw it was best to not save Jesus from the cross, He saw it was best to not fix the nursing issue.  I don’t have to live in fear that I won’t be able to nurse any future children we might have, but I can pray for the Lord’s will and trust it to be good.  For “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).  Isn’t that the point after all?  Jesus died on the cross so that I would die to sin (and my sinful desires) and live to righteousness.  He didn’t die so that I would become His child and then get everything that I want (because most of the time they are sinful desires).  He died so that I would live right before Him by faith trusting that He knows way more than I ever will.  He died so that I would entrust myself to the Father just as Jesus did.

Such peace filled my heart yesterday when the Lord gave me this understanding.  I now have truth to hold onto and a greater appreciation for my Savior who fully entrusted Himself to the Father’s will without question.  May that be the cry of my heart “not my will, but Your will be done.”