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August Ministry Update

Greetings from Amsterdam,

Bless you! Your prayers were heard regarding the mission team that joined us this month. We had wonderful outreaches and opportunities to meet new refugees and introduce people to the love of Jesus through Word and deed.

God showed up in many ways, including: the team cycled safely through a very busy city, activities / events well attended, 3 Iranian men and 1 Turkish man expressed an interest in Discovery Bible Studies and many kids at the refugee camp were impacted with the kindness and love of Jesus through our times together.

We praise the Lord for this and thank you for being united with us! Here’s a snapshot…

Please pray that the Holy Spirit continue to draw these precious people to an understanding of their need for Jesus, His grace and forgiveness:
Misagh, Farzam, Saeid, Hadi, Nathan, Hussein, Jose’, Sheepa, Roja, Khalil, Solafa, Shareen, Asso, Miriam, Maria, Ashran, Asiah, Samira, Delarah, Kaser, Mamoun, Rula, Hekim, Rabia, Mohammed, Amber, Amina and the many children we’ve gotten to know.

20 year Reflection ~ August 2001 and 2005

This month’s reflections stem from personal life experiences on both “sides of the pond”, before I left Orlando and while in Amsterdam. In 2001 the Lord ministered to me through a “storm” and reminded me of the necessity of trusting in Him. Then in 2005 I came face to face with a sense of abandonment but also received God’s strength when dealing with spiritual battle.

2001: I got away for a 26-hour personal spiritual retreat at a nearby camp/retreat center. It was a much-needed time to focus on my relationship with God. Shortly after arriving, I decided to relax my thoughts and body by taking a canoe ride. I headed out across the lake and chose a destination (a grove of Cypress trees where dozens of birds were roosting). The day was filled with an abundance of sun and a gorgeous 78-degree temperature.

As I approached the opposite side of the lake, I began to make a left turn in order to paddle along the edge of the lake. In an instant, however, a huge gust of wind began to blow and my canoe began moving to the right and directly into the shore (nosed in between large Cypress trees). I had to paddle in circles before actually being able to steer the way I wanted to go. For the next 20 minutes, I fought an incredibly strong current to get back to the dock and then it began to rain. My idea of a calm, relaxing venture out in nature certainly did not turn out the way I had planned.

However, God knew exactly what He was doing. I often try to control my life circumstances, but God is teaching me to have greater faith in Him. Just as I could not control the canoe very well while fighting the current, I desire to learn how to let the Lord be my guide and sovereign leader, especially during difficult times.

I have often doubted God’s goodness, love and provision while struggling in life. And yet, "... God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith." (Philippians 3:9)

On my retreat I finished the book Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala, in which he said, "…the hardest part of faith is often simply to wait. The timing of God is often a mystery to us, and even sometimes a frustration. But we must not give up. We must not try to arrange our own solutions... we must keep on believing and waiting for God." I thank God for ministering to my soul through the time with Him and the many messages of faith, hope and love I received.

2005: The abandonment I've experienced since moving overseas is not that my support or help has been withdrawn, but rather something much more powerful and positive. The Lord has been reminding me that I need to abandon myself more to Him. He has spoken to me through His Word, the Holy Spirit, sisters in Christ, and study materials. The topic of abandonment has continued to surface over the past 18 months. I believe this theme has a presence in my life for a reason - God is gently drawing me to Himself through the realization of my frailty and that I am nothing without Him. Simply put, my Lord and Savior has been asking me to yield myself completely to Him.

What does it mean to be abandoned? A great example is found in the life of Much-Afraid from Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds Feet on High Places. Much-Afraid has to put complete trust in her companions Sorrow and Suffering in order to make it through the trials she faces as she presses on toward the High Places. Eventually, Much-Afraid chooses to give up her right to control her own destiny. Once her heart is softened and she is completely abandoned, the Chief Shepherd steps into view and is permitted to meet her every need. Of course, prior to that time, He had been observing her and was never far away from her.

I have to ask myself, “Do I trust Him for the dry, desolate, wilderness times as well as the fruitful, joy-filled, inspiring times? Am I willing to follow His path regardless where it takes me?” Psalm 138:8 says that “the Lord will work out his path (or his purpose) for my life – for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.”

On numerous occasions since landing on Dutch soil, God has filled my heart and soul with an offering of the sacrifice of joy and shouts of praise for the Lord (Psalm 27:6). Even in difficult times of experiencing culture shock, not understanding the language, and fearing the insecurity of my future, the presence of the Spirit has provided a shelter of peace... "He has covered me with His feathers and under His wings I do trust." (Psalm 91:4) Most everything involving living in the Dutch culture is new, so unfamiliarity has become my friend. Sometimes I long for what used to be familiar and yet the Lord has given me perfect peace in this adjustment. I know He will step me through each phase a little at a time. And, only He truly knows what lies ahead, how long I’ll actually live in Holland, what my roles and ministry will look like in this community, if I’ll ever acquire a second fluent language (I hope so!), and so on.

Through calling upon the Lord's presence I've found new strength and courage for each day. He is taking me along life's path where I am stretched and challenged to develop in my interpersonal relationships, become more transparent and open, grow in trust, and allow the Lord to transform me in whatever ways He sees fit. I yield myself to Him. There is an extremely refreshing peace that sweeps over me when I abandon my life to God. He has placed me in Amsterdam. I thank the Lord that He is my strength and may this "High Place" be a place where I can bring Him glory and impact the Kingdom of God as I develop hind's feet.

”He will make my feet like hind's feet and he will make me to walk upon mine High Places... " (Habakkuk 3:19)

This month I experienced a very painful time in my life when my cat, Bagheera, passed away. She was only 2.5 years old and a very special comfort in a strange land. I carried her with me on the airplane the day we moved to Amsterdam. Bagheera was filled with love, gentleness and affection. Every day I was blessed by her sweet spirit and her desire to sit on my lap in the red chair while I read the bible.

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” - Psalm 119:28

Bagheera’s death is somewhat mysterious, although it seems as if an inflamed pancreas was the initial cause of the 4 days of her quickly deteriorating health. It seems as if I’ve experienced a blow from the enemy. Who is our enemy? Someone we’re in conflict with, opposed to, or against. I believe the spiritual darkness (enemy) doesn’t want me here in this city sharing the love of Jesus. Please pray for healing in my heart and for God to strengthen my effectiveness as a missionary. I’ve been called to press on in this fight … I’m not turning back! Over time the Lord brought healing and strength from the Body of Christ. Eric, an Amsterdam50 Pastor, wrote a story of his family’s experience related to Bagheera’s death…I was blessed by his reflection. Check out: www.amsterdamasp.blogspot.com/2005/08/grief.html

Your prayers & support over the years have resulted in amazing blessings!
With a warm and thankful heart,