Alexis (whose birthday was last week but I didn't edit the March birthdays in time) writes, “Pioneering a campus was crazy - really hard, but also fun. It's been humbling and exciting just to watch what God is doing here and to be used by Him somehow to get a movement started. This year it seems like momentum has really picked up, and even though there are still only a handful of believing students, there is a growing core community and more students really seeking to know who Christ is and what the Bible is really all about."
"We feel so blessed that God has let us be a part of what He's doing here, and that there are so many things we genuinely love about this city and culture and the students we are privileged to work with. We're also thankful for two great teams (last year and this year) that we've enjoyed serving, leading, and working beside. At the same time, there have also been a lot of challenges and tough, painful experiences along the way. In the end though, Christ is faithful and absolutely worthy and we are honored to be able to serve Him here."
Transitioning out of something you started can be bittersweet. It is such a huge praise but I am sure there will be tears when they leave the community of their disciples. ( It might even be sooner than you think for John as he finds out today ~ FINALLY ~ whether or not he has been granted residency here. If the answer is no, he will need to leave the country for 3 months.)
In Acts 20, the apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem where he will be arrested. Leaving Greece, he decided to meet the Ephesian elders on a neutral of Miletus. There was a lot of weeping, kissing, praying and singing of Friends are Friends Forever. In this passage, Paul laid out how he lived and ministered during his Three-Year-STINT in Ephesus. (He was able to do a third year because in those days the Roman IRS and the Antiochian HR wasn’t as strict as today.)
While many of you have several months (prayerfully John too) or perhaps another year before you say goodbye, I thought it might be helpful for us to look now at what Paul says about his STINT years and compare and contrast them to our own present ministry.
~ I served the Lord with great humility and with tears.
~ I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you.
~ (I) have taught you publicly and from house to house.
~ I have declared to both Jews and Greeks* that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. (* Insert your own ethnic groups.)
~ I am innocent of the blood of all men for I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
~ For three years I never stopped warning each of you (of savage wolves) night and day with tears.
~ I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing.
~ These hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. (Okay may you didn’t raise your team’s support or sell tents but have you ministered and led in a way that says ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’?)
Earlier in verse 24 when explaining why he was not concerned about a prison sentence, Paul says, “I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” I guess that statement sums up the totality of his life and ministry.
You may not be experiencing the same quick turnaround as John and Alexis but you are laying a foundation for His glory none the less.
May we be found faithful. May we be able like Paul to say that consider our lives worth nothing if only we may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us!
Some prayer requests for John and Alexis' team...
1) Their teammate Andy left about 2 weeks ago because his mom is in pretty serious condition, he will most likely not be returning except possibly to visit/say goodbye to students in a few months. Pray for Andy and his family and healing for his mom, and for our team as we deal with his indefinite absence.
2) For John to be granted residency and be able to stay in Croatia.
3) For endurance/strength/joy for our team as drama can be really draining.
4) They have their first big event today (14th), and there is a vision/encouragement trip there this week from Montana State University.
5) For God to continue to build the ministry this spring and that they would see more students come to know Christ.
5) For the Croatian couple currently raising support to be able to come lead the campus here next year, and for that transition to go smoothly.