Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Big, Big Summer

A few Sunday's ago Derek Thomas preached from Romans 8:28-30 - "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose..."

Near the beginning of the sermon he quoted from John Piper's book, Future Grace:
“If you live inside this massive promise, your life is more stable and solid than Mount Everest. Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside of Romans 8:28 is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty. Outside this promise of all-encompassing future grace, there are straw houses of drugs and alcohol and numbing TV and dozens of futile diversions. There are slat walls and tin roofs of fragile investment strategies and fleeting insurance coverage and trivial retirement plans. There are cardboard fortifications of deadbolt locks and alarm systems and antiballistic missiles. Outside, are a thousand substitutes for Romans 8:28. Once you walk through the door of love into the massive unshakeable structure of Romans 8:28, everything changes. There come into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown away anymore. The confidence that a sovereign God governs your good and bad and all the pleasures you’ll ever experience is an incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life.”

People wonder how we could adopt a teenager from another country that had been abused as a young child... it is because we live inside the walls of Romans 8:28.

People wonder how we can now leave the comfort of the ministry I have served for 12.5 years with a steady paycheck, a nice place to live and a beautiful place to work to face the uncertainty of support as a missionary especially under the current economic times... it is because we live inside the walls of Romans 8:28.

What an incredible promise Romans 8:28 is. It is the promise we rest in... it is the promise we live in... it is the promise we take the next step in... it is the only way we can go on.

God has given us a big, big summer. He blessed camp in many ways... over 1600 children, 130 Leaders in Training, 70 staff... good health, safety, dozens of professions of faith, growth in Christ, growth in the desire to serve others sacrificially, lots of fun... some kids being put, for the first time in their life, into an environment where they see how Christians live... and a great program featuring the story of David and Goliath.
My children had the privilege of being Philistines along side of our 6'9" Goliath (thanks, Paul!). Above you see Harrison, Noah and Karina just before David came in the name of the LORD and conquered the giant and then the Israelites slayed the Philistines.
The children were taught not only that the battle belongs to the LORD - that God fought for his people, but also that the judges and kings of the Old Testament were not enough. They could not bring salvation to God's people. The judges and kings saved the people for a short period of time but something so much more was needed. The judges and kings point to something much greater... they are just a small picture pointing us to Jesus... the one who came to truly save his people.
I thank God for a great summer at Twin Lakes. Here are a some pictures of our children at camp:
Even Storey Grace was able to attend camp this year. She was ready, so at four years old she spent the night for a whole week at camp... she loved it. All the kids attended and had a blast. Karina is too old to be a camper so she served as a Leader in Training - a program designed to train young people from Scripture to lead by serving others. Karina thrived in the program and served for two weeks. She loved all the friends she made, the Bible studies and the work.
Karina had a great summer and is doing well. Her English is excellent. She is growing both physically and spiritually and we are thankful for God's grace in her life. Today marks seven months with her family.
Many of you know that this was our last summer at Twin Lakes and that we have been planning to move to Peru to serve as missionaries with Peru Mission under Christian Missionary Society.
Peru Mission is an incredible mission that proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ along with deeds of mercy. Church planting, training pastors, seminary, schools, language school, medical clinics, economic development, agricultural development, micro-financing, disaster relief, university ministry, music ministry, summer camps, publishing of Christian materials and orphan ministry are just part of what Peru Mission is involved with in order to renew Peru through the power of the gospel. It is exciting to see how God is using this mission to draw people to himself both in Peru and the United States.
This summer the camp pastor at Twin Lakes preached a sermon where he said that God's plans are deeper, wiser and bolder than ours... we have truly seen that this summer... God has orchestrated life for us in a way that will change us from serving primarily with Peru Mission and being based in Peru to serving with Christian Missionary Society (the mission organization that oversees Peru Mission) with a focus on Peru, Ukraine and expanding missions to other lands as God leads while being based in the United States. We are so excited about the direction God is leading and the scope of his plan.

Here are some of the ways God led us:
This summer we found out that we are expecting a new addition to the family! We are all so thankful and joyful about the coming of a new baby Nasekos. Karina, especially, looks forward to having a baby to help care for. She told us that she has never been taught how to care for a baby and is glad she will be able to. The kids are pulling for a girl to even the number out at 3 and 3.

Just a few weeks after we found out about the baby and just three days after camp ended, Sheila was hospitalized with a blood clot. It was a scary time for all of us. Karina was afraid for her mother and said, "I need my mommy. I just got a mommy and I do not want to lose her." She was very concerned for her mother and prayed continuously for her.
After several blood tests we learned that Sheila has a certain condition that makes her prone to blood clots and the loss of babies early in pregnancy. The fact that we have four biological children with one on the way is amazing.
We thought the adoption of Karina was a huge step of faith for us... we realize that step was only the beginning of what God has been doing with us this year.
Camp had ended and it was time for us to prepare to leave Twin Lakes and begin our mission work. In the hospital the doctors told Sheila that because of the blood clot, the condition of her blood and the pregnancy, she cannot get on an airplane for about a year... major change in our plans... what was God's plan for us?
We also learned that there was one medicine she could take that would help her condition and not harm the baby... one medicine that was incredibly expensive with no generic. Our insurance was maxed out immediately... then our savings... how were we going to pay for the medicine?
Next we had to find a place to live since we were already planning on leaving Twin Lakes. Where could we find a house that would fit us that we could afford in the States?

We had several questions... several major things in our life that we had to trust God for... and he has provided in amazing ways. He always does. He was growing our faith.
With Sheila's health condition keeping us in the States for now, we will be doing development work for Christian Missionary Society - a great need that they have. In a nutshell, we will be raising awareness in the States for all the ministries of Peru Mission and the developing mission in Ukraine, growing the prayer support, raising money for the mission, recruiting people to help and developing the orphan ministry both in South America and Eastern Europe. Being based in the States will allow us to do all of this which meets many needs that the mission has and uses the gifts God has given us. His way is better than our way... bolder, wiser, deeper.

Sheila is recovering from the blood clot and the baby is doing well. We were able to have a sonogram and see a healthy, wiggling little baby.

We let the drug company know our financial condition and they sent a 90 day supply of the medicine at no charge... telling us they might send more later... we are thankful for God's provision and pray that they will supply the medicine for the duration of the pregnancy.

A friend called to offer a house that we could afford to rent, it is large enough for our family and in a great area.

God has provided... and cared... and shown us a better way. He has stretched our faith and shown us how much we must rely on him... and trust him...
and TRUST him.
A few days ago I returned from a trip to Peru where I was able to share the good news of Jesus Christ, map out the coming year of ministry, visit all aspects/ministries of Peru Mission and spend time with the orphans that we support and work with.
When we learned that Sheila could not come with me on this trip we decided that Karina would go. Seven months after coming home from an orphanage in Eastern Europe, Karina flew to South America where she was able to minister to and love on orphans in Peru.
When I was packing before the trip she came into the room, looked at what I was taking and asked, "Daddy, where is the stuff for the orphans? What are we taking for them?"
I am thankful that she thinks of others and that her heart is to care for others that are still in the situation that she once was in. I pray that she always cares for others and always reaches out to them in mercy.
We packed a suitcase of things for the orphans.
It has been a big, big summer. A summer of conversions... a summer of growth... a summer of new direction and expanded ministry... a summer of faith in our great God... a summer of remaining inside the walls of Romans 8:28.