The Move (part 1)

Well, we made it off. Thanks to the help of some wonderful friends we managed to leave College Station and make it up to Denton, TX on Friday night. We hung out with my mom and grandma Saturday morning, then left around noon for the twelve hour drive to my brother’s house in St.Louis, Missouri.

We’ll hang out here for the day, then get an early start tomorrow morning on our last leg to Jackson, Michigan (we should arrive around 4pm). So far God has blessed us with ideal conditions and absolutely no vehicle problems. Please pray for the same for our final day.

We’ll be sure to give an update from our new apartment.

Prayer Cards

Well, tonight was our last church night before we leave.  Of course we have mixed emotions; we will miss you all terribly, yet we are so excited to get going with this thing.

Click for full size version
Click for full size version

We were able to print out some prayer cards and give them out at church, but if you didn’t get one (or you want another), you can download one to print, or print one off at WalMart (for a dime).

While we’re at it, here are some ways you can be praying for us this week:

  • That we would praise God in all things, even packing.
  • That we would be wise about getting rid of the stuff we don’t need.  And, as Jason preached tonight, that our possessions would have no claim on us.
  • That our trip would be free of complications and that we could settle into Jackson and find jobs quickly.
  • That God would heal Rachel’s headaches & receive so much glory for it.

We praise God for your prayers and support.  We have been overwhelmed with God’s goodness toward us as He has called us into relationships with such amazing people like you.

Thanks!!

The Time Has Come

It really wasn’t until I was riding home from work yesterday that the thought occurred to me: there’s no turning back now. If yesterday morning we wanted to change our mind about this whole thing, we could. But that’s the difference a minute makes. At 3:59 Rachel and I still had our jobs; at 4:00 we had clocked out of work and into unemployment.

Looks like a mitten
Looks like a mitten

That’s the funny thing about faith. What else would cause a family to quit their jobs, move from Texas to Michigan, and pay tuition to train for a career in which they will rely on the financial support of others – what, besides the belief that they serve the God who is sovereign over all things.  If we did not believe that God’s plan was to call people from all nations to himself, we would not be packing right now.

But we do believe it.  The Bible says that not only is God worthy of all praise, but that he will be praised by people from all people groups.  And He has decided to use broken people like us to proclaim that glory to the ends of the earth.

It is with joy that we can say our time has finally come.  I will pick up the rental truck on Friday (8-7-09) at 4pm, and we’ll leave as soon as we’re loaded up (and you’re welcome to come see us off).  We will miss you!!

Missions Meeting

Update: We are grateful to those of you who were able to make it to our meeting.  Rachel and I certainly enjoyed the chance to share our hearts with our church, and we look forward to what God has in store for us.

Tuesday, July 28 @ 6:30pm we will give a short(ish) presentation about our upcoming departure to start training with New Tribes Missions.  You are invited to come have some coffee and dessert as we talk about how New Life and other believers can play a key role in our future ministry to another part of the world!

When: July 28, 6:30pm

Where: the Bacaks’ home

We’ll see you there!

How can they hear?

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14

I want to share a quote with you. This was said by Ekapitaa, who lives in an unreached tribe (meaning they do not yet have any of the Gospel in their language) in Indonesia:

“We want to hear this Creator’s Talk [Gospel message]. We want it so much that we are waiting for the time that you, along with the Bible teachers, will bring it to us. When the time comes that you are ready to tell us of the Creator’s message just send us word and we will come. We will gather everybody from our area. We will all hike the trails all the way down to where you are and we will live in your area for as long as two moons [months]. We will do this all just so that we can hear the Creator’s message. If you would rather hike to our territory and tell us in our own houses, we will wait for you here. When you come we will provide everything you need, including food, so
that you can live among us. We will provide for you so that you can stay and we can finally hear this message and we even now wait for the day you can teach it to us.”

There are 6,500 language groups in the world. 2,500 of them do not yet have any of the Gospel in their language. Yes, you read that correctly. 2,500 people groups are completely unreached, and what that means is that even if they wanted to hear “The Creator’s Talk,” they can not. That is hard for us to imagine here in the United States, where on every street corner there is a church, and a Gideon’s Bible in every hotel room. But try for a moment to imagine how many people, just like Ekapitaa, would give everything they own to hear the good news of God’s Grace, and yet until somebody brings it to them in their own language, they continue to die and go to Hell.

As you may know, this August, Jim and I will begin training with New Tribes Mission (NTM). NTM helps local churches send missionaries to unreached people groups around the world so that every tribe, tongue, and
nation can hear the Gospel and will be able to praise Jesus Christ as Lord.

Read more about New Tribes Mission here.

Read about the first part of our training here.

Or ask Jim and I about it the next time you see us – we would love to
share with you more about NTM and about our passion for every tribe tongue and
nation to be reached in our generation!

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where
Christ was not known.” Romans 15:20

Some things are convicting

Not long ago Rachel and I received a letter from our Gospel for Asia missionary in India (if you haven’t heard of GFA, go here and get your free book). As a native missionary, he has taken his family into the darkness of his region and faithfully followed Christ in his calling to preach the gospel among his people. But that’s (mostly) not the convicting part.

He talked about the last six months, how his daughter-in-law became very sick, but with much burden and prayer and fasting they brought her home and watched the Lord heal her. At present he is working in an area with a large Hindu majority. Already six famlies have shown interest in the Gospel and are attending prayer meetings.

“One day during outreach I met a man named Alberth. He was going through some mental tensions due to the sickness of his family members. He had no money for their medical treatment also. By faith he called me to pray for their healing. With some believers I went there and prayed for them. The Lord was so faithful, that He healed them completely. Now the whole family received Jesus Christ as their God and are attending our worship service. Praise the Lord.

Though it could be, that’s not the convicting part, either. That part, the part that convicts me, is the part that I easily passed over the first time I read his letter. I didn’t notice the depth of his words as they practically weighed the page down.

There are two statements:

“In the last six months we as a church have distributed a good number of Gospel tracts and booklets. By our ministry many people are believing in Jesus, but due to the oppositions from the society, they are not able to receive Jesus as their Savior.”

And elsewhere

“Some people are believing in Jesus, but due to the oppositions from their family and relatives they are not able to profess their faith in Jesus.”

That is tough for me to swallow. They believe, but because they are not able to profess that belief (possibly because of fear…a profession like that would likely lead to being kicked out of their families, losing their property, or even death) they are not able to receive Christ’s gracious salvation. This is not a works thing – whereby the act of profession results in salvation – but a trust thing. Romans 10:9-11 says “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'” Trusting that God is worthy of your trials is important to God, who happens to be worthy of so much more than anything this world can throw at you. This is hard stuff.

Hard and convicting, because I can see how many people in the west might let something like that slide. I fear we might forget the part about counting the cost. Even with far less persecution (though persecution of a different type), people in the church (or who just go to church, or who just say they go to church) are willing to talk all day about how great God is and how he blessed them with many blessings, and helped them get a good parking spot at the mall; but at work, or anywhere else, they are silent. No one but thier church friends have ever heard them talk about God, because talking about God might make you lose your street cred. People might make fun of you, or call you ignorant. They might believe in science or something like it, and question your scientific method. So we try to make our faith out to be a purely internal thing, where we can believe that God is worthy so long as we don’t have to prove it. Even when God corners us and sets before us a person who really wants to know God and wants us to tell them how, we focus in on the good (that is indeed good) but forget to mention the part about us being aliens in this world, that we are promised persecution, that we must endure in the face of it.

The worst part of our omission is that it keeps us from the best part of God’s promise to us. Sure, trials are hard. Persecution is tough. But God IS WORTHY of them! Until we are able to see God’s true worth, trials will continue to be trials. But the promise is so much better: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

This is not our baby

Just so we’re all clear…No, Rachel and I are not pregnant. This little baby belongs to some friends of ours, and we are incredibly excited for them. Not only are they awesome friends, but we have seen them trust in the Lord and wait on him for this very moment, and we rejoice with them in this wonderful blessing. I already love that baby, because I love my friends.

–Akward segue–

Lately, I’ve been spending alot of time thinking and praying about the church plant that Rachel and I are apart of. As a group we have already been through so much, experiencing the full range of emotions from elation to great pain. We’ve had healthy babies born contrasted by tragic pregnancy complications. In our core group, we’ve had the joy of making exciting unified decisions contrasted by crushing allegations of disunity and rebellion by outsiders. Some edified, some hurt.

And yet, through all of this – the joy and the trouble – there has never been any question of God’s goodness towards us, and the task ahead of us. I have been blessed to see how our entire group responds to those who are hurting. I love it that our response to allegations is most often humility. Most of all, I love how all of our circumstances have overwhelmingly led us to depend on God for everything. In the good times and bad, we know that the success of this new church will not depend ultimately on us (our wisdom, abilities, marketing) but on the power and will of God.

We love this church, and the people involved, but it is important for us to remember that its not our baby. And praise God for that.

Hurricanes & Perspective

Last week our church set up as a shelter for people in the Beaumont/Galveston area trying to get away from Hurricane Ike. While the circumstances were terrible, it was definitely a blessing for our church to get the opportunity to pour our energy and resources into meeting these people’s need. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the body worship the Lord with their hands, and even learning some things about just how worthy God is of our lives. Butch (my pastor) was telling us about a guy who had a (rather nice) cell phone stolen while he was helping out at the church. And this guy, before he had a chance to complain, had a chance to minister to a man who had just found out that his posessions were being stolen from his hurricane ravaged home. What a story. God deserves our worship so much more than we deserve our “stuff.”

The Man Himself

A friend of mine wrote something recently that reminded me of this experience, so I figured I’d take the time to write it out.

The following is true; just ask my grandma.

Back in February my mom, grandma and sister came down to College Station for a weekend visit. Being the good son/grandson/brother that I am, I took them around our fine town to see the sites. Eventually we made it out to the George Bush Library to walk around the pond and enjoy the sunshine. As we were getting ready to leave, we just so happened to see the man himself making his way toward us. George Herbert Walker Bush, President #41, with his wife Barbara and their small dog.

As he walked down the path toward us, we pretty much froze in our tracks. I mean sure, we were at his library and all, but I’ve been there plenty of times without seeing anyone of note. He came right up to me and shook my hand and asked my name; I introduced him to my family. They had just come from the Texas A&M vs. Nebraska basketball game only blocks away, and they were there to let their dog get some relief in the grassy lawn before they headed back to Houston. After several minutes, some other people in the area caught on to what was happening and a small crowd began to accumulate, so we thanked them for their time and moved on.

As we were leaving we passed a Korean couple walking down toward the pond. Korean, I remember, because the girl had part of the Korean flag on her shirt. I wondered if they would recognize 41 when they got to the end of the path, but the thought stopped there.

And as we drove away, it occurred to me that I have played this part before with a different cast. You see, I had the opportunity to shake George H.W. Bush’s hand and look him in the eye and hold his attention, and I made the most of it. How could I not? After all, he was the President of the United States when the Berlin Wall fell. The cold war ended on his watch. I know that I have never shaken the hand of a more influential man. But when I passed within feet of that Korean couple who may have known, but probably did not know who he was, I didn’t say a word. Didn’t want to bother them (by making sure they knew the rare opportunity before them). It was easier to just smile and walk.

I do this with Jesus, too. Sometimes even while I’m at his house. I walk away (sometimes wondering, sometimes not) without intruding on someone’s life to tell them who’s house they’re in and why he built it. I don’t want to bother them with something trivial like the “King of Kings” or the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” They might be put off if I try to make sure they understand that through Christ they, “being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

They might know him already anyway, right?

How many opportunities will we miss?

George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush