The new year has started off with our church having a week of prayer and fasting. This was a time we got to seek God and focus on what He wanted to say to us. A time to surrender our lives, lift up our 2024 year and plans to listen to God. It was a sweet time and the Lord brought us through it. Doing it as a whole church community was also something that we experienced as a sweet fellowship. Koinonia, communion/fellowship/partnership with fellow believers, is amazing. We have really grown and learned so much since our move here to California.
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed,”Psalm 127:4-5
Last year began with Sven recovering from back surgery and us praying about moving to California from Texas to attend Calvary School of Missions and going on the mission field. What we had to surrender for the Lord and what was needed to be done. We can tell you that what we gave up is nothing compared to the blessings we have received since then. Since we’ve moved here our entire family has joined us. We added to our family last year with Jorden and Aleah marrying and Bryan and Kayla giving us a grand baby girl. Our son Jonathan came back to the Lord; is walking passionately for the Lord and is now attending bible college here in California to learn more about Him. Joshua will be staying in California from Peru for the next year as a student, training to be a missionary alongside us. We have had a busy year but with many blessings.
So we are finally off to Japan. We’ll be here for four weeks and then we’ll head to Indonesia for 10 days. It doesn’t seem real. We have been praying for this vision tour for a while. You may be wondering why we are going to Indonesia too. Well, we will share more on that in a bit.
Our first leg will be going to Japan. We had wanted to go for a longer vision tour around Japan but that isn’t possible at this time. So for two weeks we’ll be touring around Japan, then the rest of the team will be flying in on the 29-30th of January, and staying for the next two weeks. We plan on going to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kanazawa and some areas outside of these places. We are connecting with some churches and pastors but we are really just going to see the areas and pray. We pray God will lead us and guide us and speak to us about Japan. We have been told that sometimes He will confirm after vision tours, so we are open and want to let God lead and not our agendas.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:10
After the four weeks in Japan we’ll be flying down to Bali, Indonesia. There we’ll also travel to East Java island and visit some local tribes and the rest of the time in Bali. You may be wondering why Indonesia? Sven lived in Indonesia for four years and this is also where he accepted Jesus into his heart through missionary kids at his school in Jakarta. So the Indonesia vision team asked him along. Many people may not know where Indonesia is. We have a map for you to see. Indonesia is a very interesting place, there are tribes to big cities. In Bali the main religion is Hindu, the tribes have mainly animism (spiritual worship of nature and animals), while the majority of Indonesia is Islamic. So a variety of beliefs and livelihood. We are open to what God may be leading and if Indonesia is where He’d like us, then we will go.
We are off to Japan and Indonesia! The preparations that have gone into these vision tours you would think would be extensive on the planning and practical application side. But for the last couple of months, since we have come back from Peru, that has not been the center focus. What I mean by that is, of course the details of going to all of our missions classes, serving at the church almost daily, doing all the homework, reading the books, researching about Japan, culture, etc., planning out the itinerary, and purchasing the necessary tickets, hotels, etc., are all very important. But that is not the main thing that God has been doing.
The preparation that God has been doing, however, has been mostly internal (and He is still doing it by the way). For as long as I have been walking with the Lord (since January 18th, 1991) I have never gone through as much gut-wrenching pain and trials as I have the last few months. I, much like yourself have been through my fair share of suffering, whether that be physical, financial, mental, or spiritual (all trials on one level or another are spiritual in nature) but this has been on a whole other level. These have been intense emotional trials, so yes the heart for sure, the mind absolutely, but emotionally involves feelings in the seat of emotions (the gut) that can be hard to combat, and yet God is using it all for the good. I am not sure yet how what I am going through will further the gospel, but I know it will because God’s Word says so! God has and is working on the internal, literally from the inside out.
But I want you to know brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.Philippians 1:12
All of this has caused me to rely on the Lord more than ever before. Taking my thoughts captive consciously seems like on a minute-by-minute basis. The cause, root, and attention of these particular trials are between myself and the Lord and are not important to our conversation. I merely wanted to point out that when we go through trials, it is because God loves us and does not desire to leave us in our current state.
He desires for us to grow in our walk with Him and in His grace more and more, as He molds us and shapes us to be more like Himself every day. This process can only happen, however, if we are willing to go along with His program and not the building of our kingdom of self and desires.
The Lord needs a willing vessel for eternal, fruitful change to take place. So turns out preparation for the mission field (whether short or long-term) is done in the heart and mind much more than in the practical outward.
I pray this encourages you. You perhaps are going through a difficult time, the kind of difficult time where you are praying impossible prayers because you know that God is the God of the impossible. “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Be of good cheer, God is here with you. He is sovereignly in control. Because God sees the big picture and knows, however heartbreaking and gut-wrenching your trial is, it will bring you closer to Him and you will grow in
Abide in Christ, like the branch abides in the vine. Let the Lord do His perfect complete work in you. He loves you and knows what is best for you.
On that note, we are excited to go on this vision tour and are excited to see what the Lord will do and more importantly what He will say while we are there. Please pray for us that God’s will will be done in the whole trip. See you here, there, or in the air!
- We had a year of growth- family, personally, and mainly with the Lord.
- We had an amazing holiday season with family and friends.
- We are both healthy for our travels.
- Our travels.
- Financial support.
- Health and safety for travels.
- The Lord speaks and directs.
- Divine appointments and contacts in the countries we are traveling to.
- For team unity.