Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Change in my Spirit (written by Bethany)

I need to testify about what God has been doing in my heart this past week. When we returned to South Carolina after 10 weeks of traveling and the task of packing up our house and planning for three more years in Sudan loomed large ahead of me, I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to handle the emotions and stress. But in God's amazing love, He showed me something life -changing in my devotions one morning. I was reading about the Hebrews' grumbling in the book of Numbers because they were tired of eating manna and wanted the tasty fish and vegetables they'd enjoyed in Egypt. They wanted good food more than what God was providing for them.
Something struck me. I realized that I have a god in my life too - something I want more than anything else! That god is stability and comfort. Through all the changes and transitions in the past decade of my life - transferring colleges, getting married, moving for seminary, heading overseas and going back and forth between Uganda, Sudan, and Kenya over a period of 3 years and then recently, the weeks of traveling across the United States, living out of our suitcase and staying in many different homes - I've developed a deep craving for stability.
Once I recognized this "god" in my life, I realized 2 things:
1. Life in Sudan is the opposite of comfort and stability.
2. If I want to experience the fullness of all God has for me, I must make a tough decision. Will I let go of comfort and stability in order to follow the Holy Spirit to spiritual abundance?
3. Rest assured, God's plan will be better suited to my desires than anything I can dream up for myself.
That morning, I prayed a simple prayer. I asked the Lord to forgive me for getting hung up on myself and my desire for something more than Him. I asked Him to help me let go and handle my life which is brimming with change lately with calm and peace.
Do you know what? God has answered beyond what I could have asked! The peace and security I've felt in the midst of long to-do lists, packing, and planning, has seemed almost too good to be true. This is a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit in my life and I'm so thankful that I wanted to share it with all of you who follow what's happening in our lives and pray for us on a regular basis.
Please do continue to pray for us during these next 5 weeks as we have much to do and have been battling with sickness going around in our family.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Facing Life

I thought today would just be a normal day of packing and cleaning to get ready to drive home to Columbia, SC tomorrow. But instead I've found myself very contemplative. Yes, I'm doing laundry and packing, but I've also been deep in thought about our future. What lies ahead for our family?
We head back to Columbia for about 6 weeks - one week at our home church's missions conference, the next weekend at another missions conference, and then hopefully some rest and more packing - but this time for Sudan! That's right, our new tickets leave Charlotte, NC on March 30 giving our family one extra month in the States to recuperate from 78 straight days of travel and prepare for our next 3 years in Sudan.
As I, Bethany, begin to think of going back to Sudan, my mind is full of questions:
Will we be able to get visas to study Arabic in N. Sudan?
Will Sudan remain peaceful enough for us to return?
If we can't go north, will we move back to Yabus where we spent the last 3 years?
If we can't go to Yabus, where will we relocate our ministry and family?
How will Eli and I and our boys handle all of this change?
Will we be able to find renters for our new house in Columbia, SC?
*By the way, each question is a prayer request if you'd like to write them down... (hint, hint)

I came across a beautiful quote by Helen Keller the other day. As many of you know, her story is one of overcoming major challenges in life. She writes, "Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight. When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or in the life of another."
When I look at the life God has called my family to, sometimes I get very overwhelmed, knowing full well my many weaknesses and deficiencies. But looking back over the past few years in Sudan, I know God has made me stronger for what I've been through. He doesn't want me to be able to handle life's circumstances on my own. He wants me to lean on Him, my Rock.
As each of you live the life God has called you to, even when it's harder than you think you can bear, remember: "we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or in the life of another."