I’m searching for a way to describe this past year and I can’t find an easy one. That might be because it’s Monday morning when I’m writing this. Or it might be because of how packed full of twists and turns this past year’s ministry has been.
What is for sure is that we are just as convinced, if not more so, of the work we’re pouring our lives into as we were a year ago. The group of students that started with us, last June, have just completed around 132 class hours in courses that covered everything from foundational Bible Teaching to deep dives in the books of Romans and First Corinthians, to Bible Interpretation and even a course to help them as they live family-life in the context of ministry. In total there were fifteen unique courses or modules that they completed this past year.
While studying with us; while meeting with their advisors and each other on an almost weekly basis, these dear sisters and brothers endured hardship! Many of them had bouts of COVID-19 or had family members catch it. We almost lost one of them to the virus while hospitalized for two weeks. Others are still recovering from their bouts of it. And it wasn’t just the pandemic and its pronounced effects that were hard. One student had to navigate extreme social upheaval as the government in his country fell apart around him. Others lost parents that they were caring for and even others took on caring for family members in need.
But they also celebrated milestones. We had the birth of a child, a wedding, new jobs, and especially opportunities for them to take what they were learning and begin to reproduce it for others in their communities.
Now, for every ONE of those 132 hours of classes they took, I’m just gonna take a quick guess here, Bethany and I put in FIFTEEN hours of work. I had no idea when we first dove into this that it would take that but here we are. There’ve been moments when being remote from the rest of our team has been hard. And there have been decisions to change the order of courses or other strategic things that meant we were going to have to scramble to stay ahead of the students, but we made it. And we learned SO MUCH in the process.
So, what’s next?
More of the same!
The current group of students has another year of the same amount of courses, which means the same amount of work for us as we “build the bridge as we’re crossing it” for them. The year ahead is packed with courses that equip these believers to form plans and strategies for cross-cultural ministry, for learning other languages and even beginning Bible translation. It’s a more “technical” year to be sure and our students will continue to need our prayers for understanding.
As we move ahead, I (Joel) will have an ever-increasing number of video shoots that I’ll be leading as well. This past year I was a part of three week-long shoots and two of them were solo. I’ll do that much again between now and early September, including one trip with four different instructors over the course of almost two weeks. Beyond that will be more as well. I’m loving the chance to hone my skills in videography in this way.
Now, when we say “more of the same” here’s where it gets exciting. While we weren’t sure until the very last minute what the intake of new students ready to start at the beginning would be, we had our eyes on a brand new group starting in July. To make it easier, we’re calling them “Group 2” and they would start at the beginning of the course with the classes we produced over this past year. Well, God has plans for more believers in Asian countries of course, and those plans involve us! We’re potentially going to have a much bigger group starting this next month and from several new-to-the-program countries!
This is crazy to watch God doing! If anything it just reminds us of how God is working out His purpose for the global Church to be His ambassadors and how He desires to use all of us in the church to do this.
It’ll mean more work and so we’ll need your prayers here. We’ll have Group 1 students taking courses that are being produced only weeks before they start to take them while also having Group 2 students taking the courses we produced over this past year. And all of them will be meeting with the advisors for discipleship, accountability, and encouragement on a weekly basis. Bethany will continue to be at the very center of the coordination of these groups and Joel will continue to lead the editing and production of the remaining courses for the Group 1 students.
Bringing this to a close
This update was a long one, we know, but there was a lot to bring you up to speed on. As we bring it to a close, it’s exciting to be able to share that God provided for our needs in surprising and unexpected ways this past year. It didn’t look like we planned on it looking, but we’ve not lacked for anything as you all have graciously given to support this work. All that we can ask is that you continue to let the Lord move you as you pray and support this work. It really is ALL OF US, as the Body of Christ, who was given this work to do, and partnering with you guys in this mission is a sweet way to invest our lives together. So, one more time, Thanks Friends, for standing and walking with us, for holding us up at times, and for letting us challenge you.
All of God’s Grace and Love…
Joel, Bethany, and the Potters