Hello Friends and Family,
Alicia and I are so grateful for the support and love that each of you have given us. It’s because of you, our extended community, that we are able to do what we do. And we hope you are able to do what you do because of the support and love that we give to you. We want to keep you all connected with our mission work, here in “Saudi Aurora.” Many of you ask us how you can help or what you can be praying for. We hope that this periodic newsletter will help you do so. Thanks for all of your love. – Derek.
“In every community there is work to be done.In every nation, there are wounds to heal.In every heart there is the power to do it.”— Marianne Williamson
“Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile.Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”— Jeremiah 29:7
Our dad(-in-law) tells a story about a pastor whose congregation wanted to reach out to the local high school. The principal wouldn’t let them work with the students, but permitted them to rake the leaves. After the church raked the leaves for sometime, the student body president committed suicide. In that crisis, the principal didn’t know what to do. So he called that church group who had so lovingly raked the school’s leaves to come and be with the students. When jealous pastors asked why his church was called instead of theirs, he answered,“you have to rake a lot of leaves before they call you in crisis.”
After 10 months into our marriage, we find ourselves in the unexpected role of foster parents to an at risk 14-year-old Rwandan girl named Christele. We’ve been friends with her family for years. Recently crisis erupted in the family and Christele needed a safe alternative home until the state decided she could return to her home. Given the vast imbalance of supply and demand in the state’s foster care system, they called us. Neither of us wanted to board a very difficult high school girl in our one-bedroom apartment. We didn’t want to serve in this way, not right now. But we felt compelled to answer the call and give everything up to God in reckless abandon. Then on Saturday, we tuned into our church’s live feed and heard Pastor Dany’s powerful message: “Faith is trusting God more than you trust yourself.”
So instead of trusting in ourselves and our plans, we’re trusting and depending on God more than ever as we walk in His plans. For God sees both our and her deepest needs. To us, this isn’t the “fun” kind of service. It disrupts our lives, steals intimacy, and requires energy and skills we lack (trials we are certain all you parents out there can readily identify with!).
To say the least, Philippians 4:13 has new, significant meaning now!Although we’re struggling already with working together as a team, laying down boundaries, and giving up our precious free time, we feel this sacrifice in the name of hurting people is what God calls every believer to. This is the kind of worship he asks of us in Isaiah 58, but it comes with a wonderful promise: “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” If we can’t stand for this suffering child who has experienced difficulties that we cannot fathom, we don’t belong among Jesus’ followers.
If God gave his all for us, and calls us to do the same in non-common sense kind of ways (Genesis 22), what should we withhold from Him? Christele has played the passionate song Word of God Speak by Mercy Me over and over…and over again. For some reason, it speaks to this girl who is hurting, angry with herself and the world, and longing for God. So despite the spiritual battles and reluctance, when we are able to see Christele’s genuine, priceless smile, the Spirit fills the room, God reveals His fingerprints, and it’s all worth it.
BIBLE STUDY CORNER
In wrestling with the events and trials of the last week, these verses have sustained us, held new meaning, and compelled us to do (even more) crazy things (i.e., not “common sense”).
2 Chronicles 16:9
Isaiah 51:12, 16
Matthew 25:40, 45
Luke 10:25-37, 41-42
Luke 11:42-43, 46
Luke 12:15-21, 32-34
1 Corinthians 2:14
2 Corinthians 4:8-12
1 John 3:16-18
1 John 4:18-19
COMMUNITY UPDATES, SUBJECTS OF PRAYER, AND SPECIFIC NEEDS
1 — Community Garden. We are the new leaders of a 36-plot community garden in the poorest part of Aurora. We know zero about gardening but healthy community can grow around a garden! We have about 20 interested refugees from Burma and Congo who have grown their own food for generations. They’ll teach us a lot! Pray for opening day festivities—May 5.
2 — Women’s Group. Alicia’s women’s group is a blessing to a diverse group of women made up of N. African Muslims, Sub-Saharan college students, and American suburbanites.
Women from different backgrounds are finding common ground and companionship.
3 — D. White Law. Derek is neck deep in some very emotional religious and political asylum cases. Pray for his clients who have escaped some of the worst situations you can
4 — Christele Tutoring. Christele is basically illiterate. She has a 2nd grade reading level and is in South High’s special ed program. We are looking for a reading tutor, they run about
$35 per hour to hire.
5 — The Team. John Maxwell writes: “Nothing of significance was ever achieved by an individual acting alone. Look below the surface and you will find that all seemingly solo acts are really team efforts.” Many of you have expressed your inspiration and admiration for what we do. Know that it wouldn’t be happening without your support. We are blessed with a great team that supports and encourages us. Thank you, we pray for you daily.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help… The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” – Isaiah 58:6-7, 11.
Derek & Alicia