Kurt Warner provides the 3-2-1 countdown as we head into the final days before we leave for Africa. And since we are into #'s here are few interesting ones:
24 - The number of hours the journey will take (pending all goes well) - 9 hours from Seattle to London, 8 hour layover and 9 hours from London to Lusaka.
18 - # of bags we ended up with (includes homeschooling books, clothes and all our kids friends as well.)
12 - the number of hours the ipod will supposedly last with out a charge. We'll see.
8 - the number of backyardigans I bought for the plane on the Ipod. They love watch the Ipod video.
4 - the number of grandparents and parents we leave behind as we feel the pain of leaving for us and for them...
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Our last day at Northlake was emotional as you could imagine. Kamryn and Bradyn sang in the front for kids month. We saw some good friends in Stanwood and then had dinner with some other good friends. Saying goodbye is never easy. It is exhausting. Steve will be at a Logos training Monday and Tuesday... The kids get there final shots tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers as we say goodbye to family this week...
Posted by Steve at 9:44 PM
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was part of a conference of 20 men who came together from all over America to talk about how we can help equip pastors in developing countries. Doug Nichols (pictured) is the founder of Action International led the meetings. (if you still haven't heard his talk he gave at Northlake, click here!!!! Don't miss it!!!) It was especially exciting because there were two other missionaries going to Zambia, Glenn Ripley who is home on furlough and is the director of Action Zambia and Tracey Singleton, a pastor in Chicago area, who is heading over in January, Lord Willing. It was an amazing 24 hours being with these godly men. I didn't feel worthy to be in the company of these godly missionaries and pastors who are comitted to reaching not only America but also equpping the 85% of unequipped pastors in the world. We are down to 11 days now which just blows me away... We pack tomorrow and Friday, Saturday we have reception/good-bye party at the Collins', Sunday is our last day at Northlake and then it is our last week in Bellingham. Thanks for your support!
Posted by Steve at 8:40 PM
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The sovereignty of God in the storm.
Thabiti Anyabwile, his family and his church are facing down a hurricane. A recent post at his blog is titled What Do You Think About God When Calamity Strikes? and in this post he makes reference to another recent tragedy and two different responses to it.
When the 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed a few weeks ago, it raised questions of ultimate meaning. When times of tragedy strike people are always left wondering, "Why did this happen?" and "What does it all mean?" John Piper wrote on the Desiring God blog that "the meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever." "That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world." In other words, God uses tragedy to point us to the truth that we all deserve to die but that God extends His mercy, at least for time. This tragic event is proof that we all deserved to die. Just a couple of days ago I posted a quote by John Blanchard that seems relevant. He says this: "The judgments of God fall often enough in this world to let us know that God judges, but seldom enough to let us know that there must be a judgment to come."
Another Minneapolis pastor has contested Piper's understanding of the event. Greg Boyd, a prominent Open Theist, takes issue with almost everything Piper says. Though he agrees that this event offers an opportunity for theological reflection, he arrives at completely different conclusions. Denny Burk summarizes the differences. "Boyd’s 'concern' is not surprising, however, given that the theological differences between Piper and Boyd could not be more pronounced. Piper is a Calvinist. Boyd is an Arminian. Piper is a determinist. Boyd is an open theist. Piper believes that penal substitution is the central meaning of Christ’s atoning work. Boyd maintains that the Christus Victor view is the central meaning of Christ’s work." Because of their vastly different theology, it is no great surprise that they disagree. But as Burk points out, only Piper's view can be faithfully reconciled with the testimony of Scripture.
And now Thabiti is looking at the possibility of a tragedy as well. "Right now, the Cayman Islands are preparing for what could be a category-5 hurricane, Dean. Men are at my house boarding up windows and securing the place." In 2004 a similar storm essentially destroyed the island. "Understandably, people here are filled with fear and questions." It is worth pausing to consider which understanding of God offers the most hope not just after a tragedy, but in preparation for the possibility of one.
It's clear to me that when moments like the Minneapolis bridge collapse happen, or category 5 hurricanes come your way, you need to have a rock-ribbed theology featuring the massive and awesome God of the Bible, the God who created the worlds with a word and His Son who rebuked the winds with a word. The same God who rules even over the evil causes of Satan and his minions, and the feeble efforts of men to thwart Him. The Bible's picture of God is that nothing is beyond his control, not even the places where we live (Acts 17:24-26). And "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27).
The storm is expected to hit Grand Cayman late on Sunday night. But before then, on Sunday morning, Thabiti has the task and "the privilege really, of telling people ... how they should think about their lives right now. And it won't be much of a stretch, by God's grace, because we'll be meditating on what we've been meditating on for the entire year of my service here." He will teach them nothing less than the beautiful truth of the gospel.
God still rules. I can tell the people that the way men messed the world up through sin provoked God to wrath; the disasters of the world are really only one aspect of the outworking of His holy judgment, and not even the infinite outworking. Though God is not in the hurricane, listen for His voice. Listen for His call to repent. And that's the good news to the lost among us tomorrow.
The even better news to the found is God has not purchased your life with the precious blood of His Son in order to waste it! Whether we perish or survive in this hurricane, God will eternally be glorified. Christ has conquered death and the grave, and He will raise us up victorious. Now let goods and kindred go, this moral life also. There is a far superior one awaiting.
I thank God for men like Thabiti Anyabwile who preach the gospel in the face of tragedy. Looking at the possibility of meeting with the worst of what nature can send their way, they stand firm on God's promises, knowing there is ultimate meaning even in pain and suffering and tragedy. What a tragic thing it would be to see the storm but to miss the message.
Let's pray for Thabiti, his family, his church and the whole island, that God would preserve and protect them. Let's pray that if the hurricane does continue to bear down on that island, that God would use even that tragedy for His glory.
Posted by Steve at 2:38 PM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I just wanted to include a blog from our director Glenn Ripley which I think gives some great insight into what I will be doing in Africa and the ministry which Action Zambia has in Zambia...
The post describes a trip he took to Lusaka, Zambia (during his furlough) with his adopted Zambian daughter, Grace to get her US citizenship and the fruit that came out of that trip...
My trip to Lusaka was significant in at least 3 ways: first, and perhaps most importantly, God used it to confirm His call on our lives to continue ministry in Zambia. Throughout our 2-month stay I was visited by a steady stream of pastors who, sometimes with literal tears, pleaded for us to come "home" soon to continue our work. It was quite touching to hear these dear friends talk about how Action Zambia had impacted their lives and how much they care for me and Liese. It's one thing to believe you're called to be a missionary, but to hear this adamantly confirmed by those you've come to serve is a true blessing!
Secondly, I met with elders from four Christian Brethren (CMML) churches in the area around the AZ Ministry Center (aka "the farm") regarding a new church plant in Kasupe, almost literally on our doorstep at the farm. In addition to supporting the new church, these men expressed a keen desire for me to work with the leadership of their churches when we return to Lusaka. This is a big answer to prayer, since AZ is church-based in its ministry philosophy and we have been looking for a good church near the farm with whom to partner, and because I have been praying about where to focus my own ministry. With the arrival of Graham Melville and his family this month, Steve Allen and his family next month, and Tracy Singleton and his wife in early 2008, our pastoral leadership development work will really be picking up steam. Based on this meeting, it is likely that I will personally focus on these 5 churches.
Lastly, God may have opened a new, amazing door for ministry in the southern province of Zambia, the area where we've built our Koinonia Village. I'll write more on this later, but the short version is that I met with the Christian chieftainess of the area and she enthusiastically gave AZ her blessing to proclaim the gospel, carry on Christian leadership seminars with her headmen, and, basically, conduct any ministry we feel led to do in any of the 200 villages in her kingdom! Since our current AZ team is fully engaged in the Lusaka area, God would have to provide additional workers that feel called to rural ministry in order to really pursue this. This would be a bit of a departure for AZ, since we've always concentrated on Lusaka, but may be too big of an opportunity to pass up. Of 237 chiefs in Zambia, only 2 or 3 are believers, and this could be a huge opportunity for the gospel. Pray for Chieftainess Mwenda and her kingdom and for whether and how God might have AZ work with this people group in the coming years!
Posted by Steve at 10:18 AM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I don't know about you but that little 1 before the 9 kind of freaks me out... Yes, the countdown is on and we are busily preparing, packing, saying goodbye and well, freaking out:) We enjoyed our last weekend down in Bellevue, going to church, speaking to the seniors group, listening to Matt Chapman (former intern and good friend) teach in middle school, putting more stuff in storage, enjoying some fun times with Stephanie's parents, being a part of Aaron and Megan Gibbs reception, and mixing with friends at the Turner's house. I also met with a bunch of buddies and former students for our annual and possibly final fantasy football live draft... I think I am going to win again:) A full but fun weekend. Here are a few pictures of our weekend. We have just completed the next newsletter that you will be recieving by mail probably in the next week or two. (I know you will be at your mailbox every day waiting for it:) Thanks again to all in Bellevue that encouraged, challenged, and prayed with us...
Posted by Steve at 9:45 PM
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I enjoyed about an hour with my great friend and best man in my wedding, Matt Canlis, today. He is a minister with the church of Scotland. He was in town for some family stuff, leaving his family of four and wonderful wife behind. We hadn't seen each for about 3 years, and it looks like it will be another 2 years until I see him again. It was like we hadn't missed a beat. Sharing old times, still connecting, still pressing on in our faith, and challenging each other to walk closer with Jesus. It is so fun to have friends that follow Jesus with all their life and to be able to share struggles and joys and victories and failures. It is crazy to look back at our college days at the University of Washington as single, crazy bachelors and to see the faithfulness and grace of God to bring us to where we are today. I just want to thank God publicly for Matt and my many other friends that God has blessed me with. It is crazy to think I will be leaving my other good friends for a long two years. It makes me glad to know that Heaven is my home and we are just a passing through... I was reading in Philip. 4:1 - Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! I was reading it and asked myself, what is how and why is the therefore there for? The previous verse is contrasting people whose mind is on earthly things and those whose minds are on heavenly things. So, to stand firm, we need to be people who live here for there. That provides perpsective to get through these hard goodbyes. It is what we live for, it is what motivates us to go and it was strengthens us when it gets hard when we do go there. May we all have dear friends that strengthen, challenge and encourage to love Jesus more.
Posted by Steve at 10:19 PM
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Kamryn came to me this morning with an idea. She said, "I know, we can have a garage sale with just our toys and we can price them and then sell them." I looked at her and smiled, "Yeah, we could do that," all the while thinking that we already sold most of them in a garage sale and how glad I was that she didn't really notice that many of her toys were already gone.
Posted by Steve at 3:24 PM