I have that verse from the Bible hanging up in my bedroom. My mom gave it to me several years ago. I see it every evening before I turn out my lights and every morning when my eyes open. I don’t always notice it- but it is there. Reminding me that God is working- even when I can’t see Him in a situation. Taking my ashes and trading them for something beautiful (Isaiah 61:3).
I was mowing my grass just now and praising God for all the new life outside. It seems like everything is blooming, and I had a hard time just mowing and not stopping to admire all the new life in my yard that has happened in just the past week! (I actually did stop, right in the middle of mowing, to take the above picture. My neighbors are usually pretty entertained by how distracted I get mowing….)
The past few weeks have brought new life in more than just my yard- and I am reminded again of how faithful God is in His kindness to us when we wait for His timing.
Since I returned from Arizona, I’ve been “off” in my life in Fort Wayne. I still connect with my friends, but what used to be a natural community of people I did life with doesn’t exist anymore. I used to have a community of coworkers, a small group at church, a college ministry to serve. I had people doing day-in and day-out life with me. I also had my family in Michigan. My favorite times of refreshment came from spending time at mom and dads and taking long walks with my sis-in-law. Now my family is split up, and mom is gone, and it isn’t the same. It’s work to get together. Wonderful when we manage it, but not the same.
So I’ve been praying. I’ve been asking God for community here. I’ve been asking him to direct my steps to people I can do life with. People I can learn from and grow with on a regular basis. People who are on mission and involved in what God is doing in Fort Wayne. People who are passionate about the things I am passionate about. People who are real, and who I can be real with.
I’ve been asking God this for over a year, and waiting.
Last year, I started attending a Saturday night church service here in Fort Wayne. I was invited by friends from college, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel particularly connected, but it was set up as a coffee house with round tables, and it felt like a good place to invite college age students to- so I kept attending when I could. They became one of my supporting churches with JV, and I was excited to have this connection with them.
Three weeks ago, I went back to visit again and it happened to be the 1st night for their new pastor. My friend Chuck graciously introduced me to this new pastor as someone working for Jehovah’s something and I quickly explained that I don’t work with the Jehovah’s Witnesses….JOSIAH Venture… 🙂
This new pastor’s teaching immediately injected something incredible and beautiful into this group. He explained that he uses a method of Bible Study that he calls SOAP. Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.
He had us open our Bibles to Philippians and we read together a fairly large passage. Then he had us discuss it at our small tables and pull out observations that we shared in the large group. Then applications. Then prayer. It was beautiful. It is my favorite way to study scripture. Everyone is a participant, you allow the Holy Spirit to breath life into God’s Word, you come away with a fuller, richer understanding and you have things to apply to life.
And….you have community. Small round tables and coffee do not make community- but sharing scripture and life observations and prayer does!! We went out for pizza afterward, and the next week wings, and this last week we brought food in and talked of Christ, and cement trucks and kids, and faith and struggles. They wanted to know about Josiah Venture. I wanted to know about how they started cutting hair and why they like the Detroit Lions. No- seriously- why?!?
This new pastor told me- told us all- that the church is better because we are there- and I think he believes it.
I feel at home. Finally. After a year of asking.
Beauty in His time.
I have written these words before, and I pray God will enable me to speak this truth with my dying breath:
God is faithful!
I am so excited to see what comes next. It feels like He drew a curtain back at just the right time and said, “Here’s the next part of the journey!” I can’t stop thanking Him! 🙂 As much as I want to see a movement of God in Eastern and Central Europe, I want to see a movement of God in Fort Wayne, Indiana too!!!!
This week is the final week of support raising for our interns. By Sunday, all funds need to be turned in, and God- in His perfect timing- is providing. Every day, I get phone calls and emails asking me to pray and to ask God for the impossible, and every day I get emails and phone calls telling me of His Great Faithfulness.
My favorite this week- it hits close to home- is a sweet girl going to Hungary to serve this summer. Her mom was diagnosed with cancer several weeks ago and needed surgery. We talked and prayed for her mom and for the decision to either stay home or go and serve and I got this message from her this past weekend:
I just found out my mom is cancer free! She only needed one surgery to get it out! Praise God!
Thank you for all of your prayer and help during this time. A HUGE weight was lifted off of my shoulders!