Over the last few months, not only have I been challenged to dig into the Word of God, but I have had the opportunity to do so with an old friend. In the process, it seems that we’ve picked up a few new ones as well. Are you guys familiar with the YouVersion Bible program/website/app? It has been helpful as we’ve tried to stay connected in the Word of God while being separated from family. We have been able to read and “discuss” the Word of God, even when we couldn’t be in the same room. One of the most encouraging studies we shared was about how Jesus loves the broken. The reminder that our past (decisions, hurts, etc.) does not define our future rang true. Paul echoed this sentiment in his letter to the Philippians: “I do not count myself to have apprehended”—I don’t pretend to understand everything that has happened— “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). To further underscore this truth, read Revelation 21 and 22. That’s our future, and it is glorious. “God will wipe away every tear…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Revelation 21:4). Whatever has happened in your past is your past. It cannot be changed. But God can use everything you’re going through now to build your faith, to encourage others, and to prepare you for glory in eternity.
100% MPD, during the pandemic?
Our official time of concentrated Partnership Development MUST come to an end. It has been encouraging! By the end of May 2021, we will close out the chapter of life that has included a pandemic induced rapid shut down of EBI -Jackson, state mandated C19 Lockdowns and travel restrictions, and SO MUCH MORE family time than we had ever dreamed of being afforded. For our family it really has been a weird blessing that we’re incredibly grateful for and still trying to recover from. This was obviously not our original plan to do ALL of these things at once. WE were just thinking we’d “do MPD” and then make the move to Waukesha. As one of our new friends recently said, “Man makes plans and God laughs.”
We have greatly valued the time to renew and rebuild the team of people that make this ministry possible. We have learned many things about what it takes to be engaged in this type of ministry for the long term and have a rekindled appreciation for each one of you, and your role on this team.
Speaking of, and to, each one of you, if you would like to talk about how to serve WITH our partnership team, in a greater capacity, or in a different capacity, or if you’re not even sure what your place “on the team” is, please don’t hesitate to respond! Email me: Joshua_Mathew@ntm.org Call me: 5179372919. I am certain that there exciting ways to get you more connected! There are so few things that WE can give back to you, other than this partnership in taking the Good News to the unreached. Not to diminish that partnership, at all, but the main thing that we can give to you, share with you, is the immediate knowledge that your prayers and your words of encouragement, your advocacy for us and the ministry, and (most assuredly NOT LEAST OF ALL!) your financial generosity are VITAL to the great commission! Lives or livelihoods are all that Jesus asked of His disciples, no big deal, right?!
A Little Bit of Good News!
Well, the good news about the Good News is that the work has continued in many hamlets and villages around the world! The language learning and relationship building, the clean water projects, and medical clinic days, literacy training, Bible translation and teaching continues, albeit sometimes ‘differently’ than anticipated in pre-2020. I’m still waiting for the details, but I can share that we have many new brothers and sisters in new people groups that will be joining us as we one day shout praises together into eternity. What a family reunion that will be!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Emma is graduating from high school this year, a GREAT barista at a local coffee shop, and hoping to work at camp this summer. Josie is recuperating from a minor surgery on her left foot and anxious to be banking drive hours again. She’s going to be a junior in a new town this fall and not exactly sure how that’ll play out, but we are all along for that adventure. Adelaide finishes 8th grade in June and is playing violin and getting closer to catching her sisters in height. She is a reader and thinker and developing an underappreciated sense of humor. Isaac is also a reading machine, loves anything athletic, and Minecraft-ing. Ezra is a blond jokester that loves a good snuggle fight. He loves to draw and build with Legos. Jonah has not made the connection with eating the food and not being hungry 12 seconds after he leaves the table. This is probably good, because he’s hungry just about every 12 seconds for, “just a snack.” He has greatly enjoyed his brothers going back to school so he doesn’t have to compete for Mom and Dad’s attention.
We have been undeservedly and unbelievably blessed to live with these six souls and can hardly imagine life without them (or any more of them!) Tamara has been visiting a retina specialist to treat the BRVO (from back in 2014!) addressed. That has been an eye-opening experience! Joshua has been continuing “active surveillance” with his oncologist. He’s looking forward to the end of that patient-doctor relationship, ASAP.
We Have Our Heading
As previously alluded to, the next 3 months are hopefully going to be full of more meetings and breakfasts and chats and whatever else it takes to find more ministry team partners. We’ve had an amazing last few months watching God’s work on His people to fill in the line-up (if you’ll pardon a baseball analogy) and we are humbled as we look through the list of those that have committed to give financially and pray intelligently. If you have any small groups or Sunday school classes that might be interested in hearing about what God is doing through Ethnos360, please, connect us!
One of the things we’ve seen over the last 15 years is the impact of “playing the game without the full team.” God’s grace has abounded where our ignorance was profound, but I don’t think our ignorance is His long-term plan. Along with our ministry leadership team in Waukesha, we are committed to reaching 100% support as we serve the Ethnos360 ministry there. We are still in need of approximately $2500 a month and are trusting God to connect us with the funds to do the work of this ministry at the Bible Institute.
Of course, we recognize that THAT ministry is no small undertaking. And the church planting ministry (which IS the main reason, we do what we do!) is also comprehensive and complex. And to complete the larger task well, it requires YEARS of pre-field training. Added together with the initial time spent for each missionary to develop their own ministry partners, we have a 5–7-year long training and equipping process, before candidates hit the field. And then years of specific culture (and language) learning in country, and then more and different language (and culture, of course!) learning based on the specific people group. It requires no small investment of time to share the gospel clearly.
As such, we have seen the overwhelming necessity for each, and every, missionary to be well grounded in a foundational understanding of the Word of God and prepared to apply it to the diverse situations that a life of ministry in cross cultural contexts will demand. While living with and serving the student body in the 1st phase of training (Ethnos360 Bible Institute), we will focus our energy on building an ongoing relationship with those that are committed to completing their training with Ethnos360. This will include continued training and discipleship with them as they return to their own local churches and families. This is a new ministry role for Tamara and I and we are looking forward to it! It will look slightly different from working with the Student Life team, but many aspects will be similar. While we are working alongside the staff and training team in Waukesha, we will also be working with other missionary trainers in fellowship and coordination with further guidance and leadership from higher up the chain. Please keep our ever-improving communication skills in your prayers!
So to wrap this all up, the current working plan is that we will start packing in June and spend the next 6 weeks saying goodbyes in Jackson. So, by mid July we plan to be in Waukesha and unloading boxes. We’ll need time to settle in and get the boxes out of the way before the kids start school, and students arrive at EBI.