Good Friday morning ...

Today should be a day in which I am scurrying around making final preparations for TEAM TANZANIA 2020 to leave for a three-week short-term mission trip to the Serengeti village of Piaya, Tanzania. Instead I am trying to get a refund of over $20,000 from Ethiopian Airlines for tickets purchased on March 3rd for our eleven-member team. The tickets were for a departure on June 14th ... but are unusable because of suspended flights into and out of Tanzania due to the COVID-19 virus. What a bummer!

It’s stunning how so much has changed in so little time. Three months ago, everything was in order, plans were on schedule, arrangements through my Tanzanians contacts had been made and confirmed. Everything was a GO!

Now smiling faces have been replaced by masks. Travel plans have been interrupted, cancelled and, in some cases, forgotten. Worship services have been moved online and are only now beginning to regather in small groups in what used to be sanctuaries alive with Sunday morning worshipers. Airports are empty, stock portfolios are diminished and businesses throughout the world have been shut down and are only now beginning to revive with small, forward-moving baby steps.

Never in our lifetime has the world’s confidence been so shaken. The we-can-conquer-anything-and-everything attitude has been tarnished. We have been humbled, deflated and confused. The future is not what we thought it would be. Uncertainty looms before us every day and the desire to return to normal eats away at our core.

And I, for the first time in twenty years am prevented from doing what I believe God called me to do … visit, encourage, motivate and uplift Maasai evangelists and pastors in their work for the Kingdom. The faces of these men awaken me at night as I recall their inquiries about the health and safety of my family … while I am just as concerned about that of their own. My annual treks to their villages, though brief and cluttered with many people to see, are nonetheless significant encounters, even milestones in their lives. They are bolstered, emboldened, encouraged by a simple visit. Some I have known for twenty years; others are recent acquaintances who are now recipients of funding for studying to become evangelists and pastors. In either regard, these men have become a very special bulwark of front-line workers for the Kingdom … and the results of their work is astounding. For this I praise God!

From my home I can still pray for them; and I can have sporadic communication with those few who have access to email; but most of my contact is through my dear friends, Dr. Steve and Bethany Friberg, who hear from these men and pass along their prayers, well-wishes and concerns.

I long to see them … but cannot. I wish to saddle up beside them and take a walk through their village … but cannot. I desire to sit with a cup of piping hot chai and share a conversation … but cannot. But most of all, I just want to be with them and pray for them and encourage their spirits in what is a mighty work for God … but I cannot.

So much of what we are used to is it of our control. But the one thing of certainty that we can cling to and be confident of is that God is ultimately in control of everything. So a delayed visit is but a blip n the scheme of everything.

As my dear teacher friend, Laura Hillman (member of TEAM TANZANIA 2020 for her third trip) wrote in a recent email: “I do grieve what this next month would have brought with the original trip as planned. However, I do step back and recognize that God is greater than me and my understanding, and I pray that He is preparing for even greater ways for His name to be proclaimed in Tanzania next summer. Will it be revealed to us later additional reasons why He has chosen for this mission trip to be delayed a year? Will there be new opportunities or people to touch that would not have been possible this year?”

And, of course, Laura is entirely correct. God is in control and though our plans are thwarted, His are not. Ultimately, in His time, what needs to be accomplished by another team visit to Tanzania will be accomplished … as He wills it. In the meantime, we pray and seek to be available for service here where we are. We are here for Him …  to serve, to sow the Word, to minister in His name, to be available in His time.

Have a blessed weekend as you do so …

PR

“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” [Psalm 73:26]

Service Times

8:00 AM - Traditional Worship Service

9:40 AM - Sunday School & Bible Study Classes for all ages

10:45 AM - Contemporary Worship Service

Holy Communion is celebrated at both services on the first and third Sundays of each month.

Location

Grace Lutheran Church & School

12200 McCormick Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 928-9136

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