Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Recap of December


December was quite the month! At the very beginning of the month I (Bethany) flew to Seattle for my grandmother's memorial service.

My siblings and I at the memorial service

After the service we went to see her grave site.

2 days after I got home to South Carolina from Seattle, my parents arrived!


Baking Christmas cookies with my boys


Cooking Indian food with my dad and sister

When Uncle Stan arrived, Joshua would not leave his side!

Gingerbread house design

Advent Christmas reading

My brother Stan brought his girlfriend
The whole group

My parents

We are so grateful that we got to see and spend time with both sides of our families this year before heading back to the field for another three year term! Our hearts are full to overflowing and we will carry the joy of these sweet memories into 2015 and through the months that we are missing our families so much.

Thanksgiving with the Fader Tribe


 This Thanksgiving we celebrated with 30 Faders in Michigan. It was a lovely treat to have Eli's parents and his brother Jason and his whole family from Africa for a whole week of fun together.


And there was snow!


We sisters got to catch up on life


Rollerskating fun one afternoon - this was Joshua's 1st time

All the cousins lined up youngest to oldest for a game

Thanksgiving meal

The Patriarchs - 3 Fader brothers



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Decision Made

I have shared over the months how Eli and I have prayed, poured over Scripture, read books, talked, questioned and cried over whether we can return to South Sudan where we've been ministering for the last 7 years of our lives. God has taught us so much and grown our faith and relationship with Him and with each other so much more than I could have expected. Though it's been a very hard and challenging season, it has been GOOD.

As the year went by Eli and I set November as a time when we would try to make a decision for our next term on the mission field. We felt we had two main options:
1. Go back to Melut and continue training Sudanese leaders despite continued instability or
2. Switch to a new area of South Sudan or a nearby country where we could work among Sudanese (Uganda, Kenya or Ethiopia).

At the beginning of this month we didn't think we could make this decision. Earlier this year we thought for sure the fighting and unrest would settle down in our area in South Sudan by the end of the year...but it hasn't really. Though there has not been outright fighting or danger in Melut town itself, there is tension  because of the armies and militia in the areas surrounding our peaceful town.

Melut from the air
*photo from the web
And yet Eli and I don't feel God is telling us to move on. Rather our "call" to go has grown and we are moving forward with the decision to head back to Melut in March 2015. There are still a lot of questions that we don't have answers for and still a lot that can happen - either good or bad - between now and then and we continue to look to the Lord and what He has for our family.

We are setting our faces to Melut and praying that God will make a way where there seems to be no way for us to return and re-open the college in order to continue training more Christian leaders for the harvest that is growing in great numbers. Something happens in times of war and hardship - many turn to Christ. So we need more discipleship, more training to meet the needs of the growing church in South Sudan.


                                      * photo by James Briggs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lie - "I shouldn't have to suffer"



I have been processing this idea for quite a few months. When we first returned to the States for our time of rest and refreshment, we also knew that this year was a chance for us to pray about our future and whether we could/should return to South Sudan as a family, even in the country's unstable and more dangerous state.

During the first months after the fighting started in South Sudan my main question was: Should we really go back into South Sudan, specifically Upper Nile State which seems to be the most volatile area due to the fact that it is the homeland of the two warring tribes.

But as we have prayed and asked God for wisdom, I have realized a few, very key things.
1. It is a lie that we feed ourselves that we should not have to suffer.
2. Our calling hasn't changed just because circumstances have changed.
3. We are not in the business of saving ourselves, (our lives) but of  God saving others.

Think of this verse, ponder it for a little while - Matthew 10:39 ---
" If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

Arthur Mathews, a missionary to China during the 1940's said, "We tend to look at the circumstances of life in terms of what they may do to our cherished hopes and convenience, and we shape our decisions and reactions accordingly. When a problem threatens, we rush to God, not to seek His perspective, but to ask him to deflect the trouble. Our self-concern takes priority over whatever it is that God might be trying to do through the trouble..."

If we don't trust the heart and intentions of God, we will naturally resist suffering. 

So as William Law, a Puritan author from the 1600's exhorted: "Receive every inward an outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, and desolation, with both thy hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with they self-denying, suffering Savior."

We say we want to be like Jesus and then we resist the very instrument God chooses to fulfill that desire! In the book of 1 Peter, Peter even went so far as to say that suffering IS our calling - not just for missionaries or apostles or people in the ministry but for every follower of Jesus! Look at 1 Peter 2:21 written at the top of this blog.


Eli and I continue to wrestle with many thoughts and questions but in the depth of our hearts we have peace because we know God holds our family of five in His strong, very capable hands. Will you pray for us specifically in the month of November? In November we plan to decide what we will do and where we will go in this next term of ministry among the Southern Sudanese people. We know that as we come together to seek the Lord, He WILL lead us.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Waiting



I have done a lot of waiting lately.

When I stop and count I realize that Eli and I have been waiting on the Lord regarding whether we can return to our home in Melut, South Sudan for 10 months now. 

We waited in Uganda for one month while we celebrated Christmas with my family.
We waited in Kenya for a month and a half to see if things might settle down so we could return to Melut.
And as of late February we've been waiting from this side of the ocean.

Honestly it's been a very good season of waiting. I can't begin to list the great lessons the Lord has taught Eli and I, and even our boys, as we wait and pray and trust that the Lord is refreshing and preparing us during this furlough (year of rest in the States) to return to the place He's called us to. Our deepest pain has been knowing that so many of our beloved friends in South Sudan have suffered great losses during these 10 months of tribal fighting. Being so far away, it's hard to imagine what their lives have been like.



I have been so encouraged by many of you who reassure us of your prayers and ask how the situation in South Sudan is. Thank you for remembering us and thank you for faithfully praying for peace in South Sudan. One of my dear teammates sent me this beautiful poem this week about waiting on the Lord that so beautifully expresses the journey I have been on this year. It is a little long but I hope you will read on...

"WAIT" (Author Unknown)
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried: Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate, and the Master who gently said, "Child, you must wait."
"Wait?" You say, wait!," my indignant reply. "Lord, I need answers, I need to know why! 
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard? By faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
"My future and all to which I can relate hangs in the balance, and You tell me to wait? I'm needing a 'yes' a go-ahead sign, or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
"And Lord, You promised that if we believe we need but to ask, and we shall receive. Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry: I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!"
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate, as my Master replied once again, "You must wait." So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut, and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting… for what?"
He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine, and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign. I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun. I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
"All you ask me I could give, and pleased you would be. You would have what you want – but, you wouldn't know Me. You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint: You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.
"You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair: You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there; you'd not know the joy of resting in Me when darkness and silence were all you can see.
"You'd never experience that fullness of love, as the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove; you'd know that I live and I save… (for a start), but you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
"The glow of My comfort late into the night. The faith that I give when you walk without sight. The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked of an infinite God, who make what you have last.
"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee, what it means that 'My grace is sufficient for Thee.' Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true. But, Oh, the loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see that the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me. And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late. My most precious answer of all is still, 'wait.'"

----Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals.

Time with Family is always a gift!

Joshua and his 10-month old cousin, Liam

This week I got a most wonderful surprise: family on my doorstep!
Wednesday morning I returned from my morning run around 7 am to find my 2 sister-in-laws and 3 nephews in my kitchen!
When we went to help unload the van, Eli's brother jumped out!
What a fun four days we just had together.

Liam was getting to know his other Fader cousins

On a river walk
 We spent a lot of time at home, reconnecting and catching up with life. But we also had a few fun outings like a walk along the river in downtown Columbia. Being from up north, they LOVED the warm weather!

My beautiful sisters Krista and Alyssa
 (we were really missing our 4th sister!) 
Brothers

Eli's soccer team needed an extra player for their game so Caleb played.
Cheering at Isaac, Evan and Joshua's soccer games today!


What crazy 6-year-olds!

Right before the concert

Caleb and Eli watched all the kids on Friday night so we could have a Ladies Nite Out. My friend Heather joined us and we headed to the State Fair for a free Christian concert and some Fair Food!



Something I will always, always, be so thankful for is that our family takes advantage of any opportunity we have to see each other since we spend so much of our lives living on the other side of the ocean from each other. What a gift that these siblings drove 12 hours each way to bless and encourage us!

Monday, September 01, 2014

News from Melut, South Sudan

A view of Gideon Theological College 
I can't express to you the emotions Eli and I felt this week as we received photos and news from teammates in Melut. Our South Sudan director and fellow teammate flew in to Melut to spend a week assessing the situation in Melut, checking out the markets, and meeting with workers who are currently present
in Melut. We soaked up every tidbit of news and gazed longingly at every photo, remembering a life that seems a universe away and an eternity ago.

GTC staff housing is now housing other relief workers who needed a place to call "base"

The rains have come so it is green again!

Isn't this a picture of peace and beauty?
How can this be a place of war?!

With the rains, comes the mud

One of the sweet boys living on campus

To me this picture represents God holding Melut in His embrace

Boats are back up and running to and fro on the Nile River 
Our front yard
 I know that things change when you're gone. It's just a fact. But there was something in my heart that squeezed with pain when I saw this picture. This is our front yard. This is the view from the porch of our house. What is now tall, uncontrolled grass used to be a large flower garden that I'd planted last rainy season. That area used to be a space where our boys played. The grass was kept short and last year our boys even planted their own vegetable garden.

There is nothing wrong with the fact that it looks different this year. This is not where the Fader Five live this year. This is not where Isaac, Evan and Joshua play every day. Of course it wouldn't remain the same. But I guess this photo reminds me of the memories in that same spot. This photo reminds me that that life will never be the way it was. And that is OK. You know why?
GOD IS STILL THERE.
We are not. But He is.

Samuel, the GTC boat driver
 I wrote an article about Samuel sometime late in 2013. I wrote about Samuel because he is a remarkable fellow that has surprised us in many ways. God brought him to us at GTC in July 2013 when we desperately needed a trustworthy boat driver to run the "ministry" of using the college's boat  to bring in revenue for the college as it shuttled people around the Nile River. Samuel has gone above and beyond our expectations! And we heard this week that Samuel is still there, working hard on the GTC boat, continuing his service to the Lord and to Gideon Theological College. What faithfulness!

Faithful Samuel

Our teammate in the market

Seeing this bounty that is available now in Melut just blew me away!

I know my thoughts and feelings have been all over the place in this blog post. I think the main point I want to get across is:
- God is so faithful. 
- He is working in Melut. 
- And we are thrilled and encouraged.

Do we know what 2015 holds for our family? Not yet.
Are we ready to make a decision? No. Not yet.
Are we at peace and confident that God has a beautiful plan for Gideon Theological College? YES!
For the Fader Five? YES!

Thank you for going on this journey with us. We would so appreciate your prayers for continued peace and stability not only in Melut but in the whole region and the whole country. And we would also covet your prayers for our family as we are homesick for Melut and as we wait on the Lord.