A couple of months ago I was in the book of the prophet Isaiah in my Bible reading plan. I was down in a small room at our church with couches, an isolated little spot where I spend time with Jesus an hour or two before work during the week. This amazing poem in the book (chapter 25, verses 6 though 9) leapt off the page:
The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
Refined, aged wine.
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
It was a moment of clarity and vision: This is why I do what I do with SGWM! I found my heart longing for this moment that awaits us, and the Lord renewed in my heart my goal of seeing people from every nation gathered with me on that mountain as my family in Christ. I’m going to get to feast with brothers and sisters from every continent, from every people group, and our job as Christians is to start inviting everybody we know to join us by spreading the gospel to our neighbors and the nations. Those little reminders from Him are so precious to push me to continue to do what I do!
Things in the ministry have been great! A couple of months back, I got the opportunity to go to an organization that supports me, Evangelical Christian Credit Union, where I used to work, and share in their staff meeting a little bit about what I do with SGWM as a US-based missionary. It was so sweet to share and see all my old friends there!
A couple of weeks ago was incredibly busy, but come Saturday night May 5th, all of the work we’ve done over the last few months paid off at our SGWM Missions Banquet! It was a roaring success, as all of the pieces came together perfectly. Our administrative staff and some amazing volunteers helped us put on a fruitful night of spreading our vision of what it means to disciple the nations as a missionary-sending and church-planting ministry. I got to lead bi-lingual worship with one of our church-planters from Mexico as well as interview one of our missionaries (and my friend), Rebecca Alaniz, who is preparing to head to Croatia, about what it means to have a strong sending ministry. It was such a blessing to be a part of this night!
Two days after the banquet, Pastor Mike Thiemann (SGWM’s Director) and I got to head up to Sacramento for a couple of days at a conference with Church United, an organization that helps church leaders get involved in what is going on politically. It was really informative, especially regarding some troubling bills in the pipeline for California. We had a sweet time worshiping in the center of our state’s capitol building and got to meet with some of our assemblymen. The enemy is at work in the political realm, and it is time the church got on our knees to pray for our government and leaders!
Finally, looking toward the future, I will not be able to go on the trip to the orphanage in Mexico in July after all, as I will be officiating a wedding here. I am, however, still planning on going to Uganda in October. Please pray as I will need to raise some additional support for that trip. I’m looking forward to visiting and blessing some of our missionaries there and getting a better vision for our involvement in Africa!
On the family front, things are going really well! The Lord has been good to our family. Maggie is growing so fast in her learning and maturity in being a helper around the house, Harrison is potty-trained and doing amazing, and Jude just turned one this month (and has plenty of dance moves to show for it!).
Love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers and support as we seek to be a family focused on inviting the nations to that future “feast on the mountain.”
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude Garcia