Hello Friends & Family!
These last few months have been a sweet time of ministry. The Lord has really been confirming what I believe to be His main calling on my (Joel’s) life: to teach the Word of God! This specific calling plays into every role He has me in, from leading worship to being Director of Missionary Care here at SGWM.
The opportunities for me to teach have been plentiful. Right now, I am teaching our young adults group weekly through Romans. I was privileged to preach for three Sunday mornings at our church through the book of Jude recently. I am co-teaching a class at my church with our Senior Pastor through the prison epistles right now. In a couple of weeks, Amy and I will join a young adults group in northern California as I teach all of the sessions at their retreat; this group is led by Bond and Heather Gaona, who is a fellow SGWM board member with me! I will get to teach a session at my church’s youth camp in a few weeks, and I will also get to teach a Sunday morning at the church of a friend I met on my recent Nepal trip in just about a month. Notice that some of these teaching opportunities have come through missions connections! This has all taken a lot of hard work studying, but it is so awesome to walk in what God has called me to.
I’m so thankful to God for all of these opportunities, but for me, teaching goes so far beyond local church ministry. My role as Director of Missionary Care means that I get to meet often with our missionaries, and in that role God has called me to continually give them encouragement from His Word to help guide them and to help them persevere on the field. I also get to spend a lot of time teaching some of our missions interns who are heading to the field soon, to help prepare them for decades of ministry ahead of them!
An exciting new development for me has been that I get to go to Israel at the end of April with our church! The purpose of this trip is threefold:
1. I will help lead the team as my pastor is traveling separately, and I will help share the load of teaching at different sites there with him, as well as leading worship
2. This trip will serve to further educate me as a Bible teacher. I went to Israel on a short trip a couple of years ago (we actually got back to the U.S. from that trip just days before the COVID shutdown). That trip was kind of a “mini” trip tacked onto a Middle East vision tour, so this next trip I go on will be a deeper dive in the area of the world I spend so much time teaching about!
3. Finally, a number of our missions interns will be on this trip who are heading directly from there to establish their roots in the 10/40 window! That means this trip will serve as a sort of “send off” for them. I’ve grown really close to some of these young men and women, and actually was on the Israel trip with them back in 2020! So this feels really “full-circle” for our friendship. I am so excited that I get to send them off no longer as a leader in their internship, but now as their pastor and Director of Missionary Care for them! I wish I could post pictures from our last trip of them and tell you their names, but for security purposes and the sensitive nature of where they will be serving, I will have to refrain. Here’s a picture of me from Caesarea from 2020 instead 🙂
Our family is doing great. Our three oldest just finished their first “season” of basketball, which was awesome and made me so proud! Amy is also doing amazing home-schooling the kids and doing ministry, including co-leading a group for moms at our church called “Inspired Motherhood.” I’ve also taken on a role as a board member for the charter school my kids are enrolled in, so please be in prayer for all of those things!
Thank you all so much for your prayers! It means the world to us.
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Love in Christ,
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, Jude, and Clara Garcia