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500 Months

DSC_0188Today I am celebrating my five hundredth-month birthday.  To save you the effort, that means I am 41 years, 8 months old.  But five hundred months has a better ring to it!

It seems like a huge number when you think of it that way.  How did that many months fly by?  Every language has their way of saying it, but we all know that time speeds by SO fast.

If God gives me another five hundred months, what do I want to do?  I was thinking randomly today, and really want to:Photo 11

  • Stop and smell the roses with my wife and girls.  I want to learn how to lay aside the "work" and learn how to stroll the streets, enjoying life with them.
  • See my girls grow into strong, young women.  I want to lead them and love them, helping them be picky and discerning to find the right godly man who treats them honorably.
  • Stay in Moldova long enough to see the Church deeply impact this country, bringing hope.
  • Stretch myself and start and finish a doctorate before age 50.
  • Survive the season of three teenage girls and their emotions and hormones.
  • Savor my friendships, both in the US and overseas.  I want to drink a cup of coffee with countless friends, sitting in THEIR kitchen chair.
  • See the first women come OUT of the Home of Hope healed and whole.  I want to see the ministry standing on its own, with leaders that are called to the ministry, sacrificially giving of their time and hearts.
  • Swallow my pride and continue launching out in Russian.  I am preaching already (though simple messages) but want to become good enough to teach at a high level in Russian.
  • Shoot enough quality photos that I win one photo contest and somehow afford to buy a Nikon D3X.
  • Submit myself to the grueling task of writing, seeing one book published (and on the New York Times best seller list).
  • Spend time with my friends, the leaders and pastors of Moldova.
  • [And the final--SNEAK off to actually hunt some wonderful big game: bighorn sheep, mountain goat, grizzly bear, ibex, and an African leopard!)IMG_1088

I think that I have enough to fill the next 500 months.

What Defines a Challenge?

I spent a little time this morning in Bubuieci, a good-sized village near Chisinau.  I went there to shoot a quick video to send back to Neighborhood Assembly, helping them promote a team for this summer.  With the economic situation in the US, it seems that many churches will not be coming this year, or will be greatly reduced in numbers.  The church there is in the middle of construction, and our goal is to build both the church and the building.DSC_0110

Pastor Sasha and I were talking, working through the steps for building.  We need about $1000-2000 to get the foundation finished, with all the backfill done.  We've had to haul loads of backfill in, and still need about 50 more loads to get it done.

Yet when we talked, I realized that $1000-2000 is a big challenge to Sasha.  Where can we find that kind of money?  To many people, $2000 would be s simple check to write, but to us, it is huge.  I suppose, it would be the equivalent of saying in the US, "We simply need $60,000 to get through this next step."  That seems big to me.

But what defines a challenge?  It really isn't the dollar amount.  It isn't the size of the problem.  It isn't the impossibility of the task.

What defines the severity of a challenge is our abilities and resources.  If we have nothing, $5 would be a challenge.  If we have never built a thing, holding a hammer and driving a nail would be tough.  If we have never believed for anything, the smallest act of faith would be enormous.

$1000 might not look like an impossibility to me, but there are many situations where I face challenges.  How can we get the resources to build our youth camp?  How can I minister so Oxana sees the need to stay at the Home of Hope?  How can I preach in Russian where the message stays clear?

The key is not the size of the challenge or the smallness of my resources, but the ability of my God to make up the difference.

I face many challenges and needs.  But I know that nothing is too difficult of Him.

Doing It Together

The world is always talking about globalization, how interdependent the world has become on each other.  The supply chains are vast and fast throughout the world, and the internet has shrunk the world to the size of the click of a mouse.

But it has nothing on the interdependence of the Church.  As servants of Christ in Moldova, we are dependent on countless people, both within Moldova and throughout the world.  We are so dependent on our team here, and I can't wait until we are all back together again. I can't wait until the 2 or 3 missionary associate couples on the path to Moldova finally get their funds raised and land here. 

We are dependent on support and prayers from everywhere, with threads of support tying us to numerous nations and nearly every state in the U.S.  We are supported by friends and churches that share our vision for a transformed country.

In turn, we are part of the support for others.  Our words and letters encourage the church to serve a larger need than their communities.  Our finances support another half-dozen missionaries in other countries.  Our prayers encourage and lift up friends around this world.

DSC_0115 I am most thankful for the one that serves right next to me.  Nancy cares the bulk of the load for the Home of Hope.  She is the one that does the real ministry, serving the staff, leading and guiding.  I am her support, as she has supported me for years.

And of course, we are both dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the one who links all the above names together, through the Holy Spirit.  As the Church, we share one heart and one vision, to share His love and forgiveness to every person in this world. 

Let's do it together.