With Jessica and the boys having their visas denied at the last-minute and my work permit already expired we have really had to hit the ground running to get everything in order to start our visa extension process a bit sooner than planned.
I want to start by saying thank you to everyone that hosted us and gave of your time to visit with us. While we didn’t see everyone that we would have liked to, having quality time with the ones we did was such a blessing and being stationary (for the most part) in one area made it so nice for the kids as well. We had a blessed time on our “actual” rest trip and it is a good thing because we had a lot to come back to. Lets start with the visas
We sent off the passports for Jessica and the boys just over 2 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, being normal protocol. Well everyday I woke up and made sure the phone was on and waited for a call; never got one. Finally we were headed to Faithcamp and the tracking number still hadn’t been activated; I was getting a bit worried. On Thurs, 3 days before we were leaving for Seattle we got a call, on Jon Woods cell phone. The lady was very rude and said we didn’t send in enough documents for our visas. She asked when we were supposed to fly out and when we told her Tuesday. she said “I am just sending everything back then.” Ok I thought, I sent a prepaid overnight return envelope with them so I figured I would get them and drive to Portland on Sunday to get them a 60 day tourist visa at least. But the tracking number was never activated. Saturday morning it still hadn’t arrived and we needed to readjust plans. Jessica and the boys left Sunday with her mom for Seattle and I stayed in Spokane to follow after the mail arrived Monday afternoon. When it came I noticed they sent the money order back with it, which is a whole other story, but God blessed (after much prayer and many challenges) and had the store cash it for me 1 hr before we left for the airport. Without visas they were entering in on 30 day visa on arrival stamps and we would have to figure something out in that time. Thankfully our lawyer knew how to handle it and is currently getting my work permit re-issued and the documents in order for us to get new visas in Malaysia. If the work permit application is denied we will have to go to Hong Kong. Please pray the work permit is accepted as the time and money will be so much less going to Malaysia, but God’s will be done.
I was tempted to feel discouraged that the passports had not arrived but being at Faitcamp had given me a renewed, well, faith and I knew there was a reason behind it. As I went into town Monday morning to do a last errand I felt God impress me to pull into a store. As I did there was a homeless guy walking across the parking lot and I stopped to let him pass. Right away I felt strongly impressed to talk with him and give him some money. Now I had just received an envelope with some money in it for splitting wood while we were there and so I thought I had something to give. But as I found him in the store he was in the back buying two beers. Immediately I turned around and went and got what I needed there thinking, “I must have been confused, God wouldn’t want me to give HIM money. I am surely going to use it better than THAT GUY.” As I found what I needed and left the store I remembered the sermon I had just preached two days before, I will link it below, about how true Christianity is serving those in need. God impressed me again to go talk to that guy. I found him sitting on a curb eating a sausage McMuffin and drinking his beer. I sat down next to him and apologized. I said, “I saw you over here and God impressed me to give you some money but I saw you buying beer and immediately judged you as if I knew your heart. I thought I was better than you and that you didn’t deserve the money.” I shared with him how just 10 short years before I was in the same position he was, drug addict, alcoholic with no hope in life and how it was the love and kindness of people reaching out to me when I didn’t deserve it that really helped to change my life. I asked his forgiveness and handed him a hundred-dollar bill telling him it was his, God gave it to me and told me to give it to him and he had every right to do what he felt was best. I gave him a hug and asked if I could pray with him. He agreed and I began praying. Part way into it I wanted to use his name specifically and asked what it was. When he said “Bill” I started crying. For the sake of space I will just say that when I first got sober I really wanted to help the ones who were down like I had been. So I went to the train station where all the homeless drunks slept a couple of times a week for 6 months or so. There was a guy there that really took to me and we would sit and talk a lot. The last time I saw him I was upset with him for being irresponsible with a tarp I had bought him and I was pretty rude. He was never there again. His name was Bill. It may seem little to you but at that moment I felt God was showing me he had placed me in the same test again and this time, though begrudgingly, I had followed His will. I gave him a Bible and as I drove back through a while later it looked as if he was reading it.
God really spoke to me through this experience. I can get in front of a church and expound ‘principles’ from the Word, but can I get out in the real world and expound those same things in my LIFE. Because God is looking for demonstration, not simply proclamation. I judged that man and deemed him unworthy of anything that I had. I set myself above him and wrote him off. I judged that first Bill and treated him as if he was unworthy of my kindness. Never once, until my hard heart finally listened to God’s voice, did I consider the fact that I had been that guy. That in my homeless condition a family that knew nothing about me took me into their house and accepted me as part of their family. Undeserved, unworthy. Those words describe me perfectly. But Christ in them reached out to me and God is calling us to do the same thing. In Luke 10:30-36 Jesus gives us an example of how to keep the 2nd commandment. Are we living this way; loving our neighbor as ourselves?
There were many lessons learned during our time in the states but none more important than the lesson of surrender. We can try to fight with all our might against the temptations and challenges that come our way; and we are commanded to do so “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7 but if we leave out the first part of that verse “Submit yourselves therefore to God” then we will never succeed. Coming back that has been the biggest blessing we could have gained. I have been struggling to get this building done, but it is because I haven’t surrendered the plans to God. When I did, it was simple. I have been waiting to do anything more because we don’t have the money to finish it. God told me to just do something. So I began putting primer on the walls. In only two days of working the whole first floor is finished and painting will begin tomorrow. The trials help us to see our need of God and turn from self-confidence to faith. This quote by my favorite author really spells out the flip that needs to take place in our lives in order for us to be successful. “Self-renunciation is the great law of self-preservation, and self-preservation is the law of self-destruction.” Signs of the Times July 1, 1897. If we will give ourselves fully to God to be used HOWEVER He calls us to then our lives will be preserved by Him. But if we continue seeking to preserve our own lives, trusting in our own plans and means, then it will eventually lead to destruction.
Please keep us in prayer as we seek to meet the governments requirements for our work permit/visa renewal. Being at Faithcamp and recalling all the ways that God has led gave so much strength to our hearts as we remembered that God is in this; He called us to this project and has sustained it thus far and He will continue to. Not for our glory, but for His alone. So we are not fearful about the steps ahead but we ask that you pray our hearts would be so surrendered to Him that as we face the next challenges we will simply obey right away without question, trusting that He is our strength and our portion. Below are some pictures of the 1st floor after primer and links to the rest of our talks at Faithcamp.
In His service, by His grace,
Brian, Jessica, Asher and Joseph (and Jenny)
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord.
- That we can remember where OUR actions brought us and that the only reason we are where we are today is because of His undeserved, unmerited grace that lifted us from there.
- That I can finish the first floor in the next month as the government will require pictures of a usable space before granting extension status on our visas.
- For donors to sponsor the fitness center/climbing wall construction (Roughly $40,000 needed to complete)
- For the funds to finish the renovations and furnish the center (Roughly $30,000 needed to complete
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- For humility of heart
- Please say a special prayer for direction. I have been studying the Loma Linda messages and feeling somewhat impressed that we are in a similar situation here and with the hindsight have an opportunity to follow the council in a clearer way.
- Pray for Jenny to raise the needed funds to bring her here. (Jenny is assimilating well to life on this side of the world)
- God has impressed us that we need to open an official call for someone (or a family) to come and join our team to help with the climbing side of things. Please pray that God opens the right heart. If you know anyone with a passion for climbing, route setting skills and a heart for missions please send them our way
- For people to help support our sister project in the slums to bring education to these oft neglected youth. Only $1000/year could send them to a private Christian school with room and board, less than $85/month. They are also planning to start a Pathfinders program but have no experience with this. Any help in this regard would be much appreciated as well. If you would like to find out more check out their website here http://jesus4slumkids.org/ or email the Project Director Joshua Bauder at Joshuabauder@hotmail.com. (Praise: Someone has donated a van for this project so they can do church trips and get the young people out of the city for some time in God’s creation.