Dear Prayer Family,
'These are exciting days!' A dear friend of mine uses this phrase frequently as he faces the challenges of ministry. Back several years ago in my other life on the staff of First Baptist Church Oxford I could count on Robert Allen to use that phrase at some of the most stressful times and on some of the darkest days. It was certainly comic relief but also reminded me that God is in control. As Liesa and I have walked through the past few months with the IMB we have both used the 'these are exciting days' phrase.
I don't know of any other time in our lives when things in our work have been more stressful. We have watched as dear friends have left their missionary posts to return to the USA. We have wrestled with our own call trying to decide where the Father can most effectively use us. The Father has used His Word, His people, and His timing to confirm that, for now, serving with the IMB is where we can best be used by Him.
In just a few short weeks we will once again leave our home base in Oxford, MS and obey the leading of the Lord. The emphasis here is on 'obey' and not 'leave.' There are folks much more committed to obeying the Father than we are that we are leaving behind right here in Oxford. So, leaving is BIG but obedience is so much BIGGER. This is our third time to 'leave' for the mission field but this time is so different in several ways.
First, we return to the mission field knowing familiar faces will not be there. Second, we return to the mission field leaving Haylee behind in the USA in college. And, we return to the mission field knowing that our work will be different in the days ahead. These days of transition are common and we never get used to them.
This year my focus verse has been Proverbs 3:5-6 and the word I continue to turn to is the word 'Trust'. I must trust Him. Trusting the Lord always will mean an encounter with Him that will force me to lay down my agenda for His. I am trusting Him to lead. I'm trusting Him to use us. I'm trusting Him to answer the questions and fill in the blanks about the future.
We need your prayers. The task before us over the next few months is a huge one. We desperately need you to pray for us to have wisdom and discernment. We believe God is up to something BIG in our world and we want to be a part of that. We need the courage and willingness to adjust our lives to what God has planned. It will be painful but it will be so good. Will you pray for us? Most of all, will you pray that those in our world who do not know Him will hear and understand the Gospel?
Thank you for your prayer support. We need you now more than ever.
Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson