Saturday, January 30, 2010

Constant Blessing

I wanted to share a story:
Someone I've known for a long time had a birthday recently. When I called to wish him a Happy Birthday I asked him what he did to celebrate. He had gotten together with friends and sort of had the usual birthday stuff, but then says, "Let me tell you what else I did!" Instead of asking for gifts, he had told his friends to bring just money. He said he didn't really need anything, but rather wanted to use his birthday to raise support for Loren and Alaina Holland. When I heard that, I was floored. What a sacrifice. In the past I've heard birthdays described as the ultimate worship of self. Look at me! I was born! This isn't always the case as others want to appreciate us and tell us what we mean to them. But, to use the occasion to help others in need seems almost unheard of. What hit me more than that, was how he chose to give to us what we all hope for once a year. Not to buy something, but to share in what the Lord is doing. Thank you so much!
Let's take a good look at our every day lives. Our motivations are usually us centered. Even in our attempts at good, there so often lies an evil desire to gain something. This guy challenged me to look at my life. For me, it seems every day is like the celebration of myself. How far will I get today? Will I be happy? Will someone care about me today? Will I do the right thing and get some attention? So sad. Will you walk with me as we seek to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ? I have a feeling we are a long way from what that verse is trying to get us to do. In humility, let's approach the throne of grace and better see ourselves for who we really are. Then we can better see Christ for the redeemer He really is.


What a week we have had! We spent a night and day in Houston and visited former dorm parents Bob and Carol Snell and friends Jeff and Chelsea Swenson. Its been such a long time since I'd seen them. It was great to connect and share what God's been doing in our lives since we were in high school.
Something I realized while I was there, was how focused we have been in trying to get people excited about missions. For 8 months now we have been traveling and promoting the cause of Christ in foreign missions. Alaina and I are burning out. We need some people that would commit to loving and caring for us while we do
this work. Carol heads up an amazing ministry that provides support for missionaries from their church. Groups called Barnabas Groups are organized to care and support missionary
families. Not just for communication with the home church, but to really care for their spiritual and emotional health on the field. The group provides a caring community from a home team that is cheering them on. The tendency for missionaries over seas is to become discouraged in what their doing and feel the have no one who cares for them personally. This ministry seeks to encourage them as well as keep them
accountable. After listening to her explain how it all worked we immediately wanted to share the idea with Fellowship Bible Church, our church in Jackson, TN. Pray that the right group of people would commit in being our Barnabas Group.
Last Sunday we spoke at one of the oldest churches in Texas, Independence Baptist Church
where Sam Houston the founder of Texas found the Lord. Pretty neat story how all that happened. It was great connecting with some friends of Alaina's from Venezuela days!
Since it was Alaina's Birthday the 28th we moved on up to Ft. Worth and spent some time with her family. But of course we had to stop at the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, TX.
We had to be in Jackson, TN for church on Sunday since we were being commissioned by the church there. Unfortunately ice and snow covered over half of the way there between Ft. Worth and Jackson, so we went to Meridian, MS on Friday and drove up today (Saturday) to be here in time for tomorrow's service. God has protected us on this trip so far, but I sometimes wonder what He's up to. For example the moment we arrived in Jackson, we were informed that church was canceled for Sunday. Therefore we aren't sure why we rushed over here so quickly. Oh well. He knows what He's doing. Hopefully we will be able to connect with some friends and perhaps return next week for the commissioning service.
Thank you all for your prayers. We need them. Some days Alaina and I are reminded of how difficult it is to live all over the place. Because we are not in one place we so often feel alone and separated from any community. Emails are so encouraging, calls would be GREAT! Lord willing we will be in Ecuador before the end of February. We are still waiting for Visa work and last minute paperwork. May He bless and keep you.
-Loren (and Alaina)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Approaching Fears

Prayer and Fears,
Our departure date grows closer every day. We are still hoping for a mid-February arrival in Ecuador, but there are many details that have to come together first. Will you commit to praying for a few things?
Alaina's Visa - There is a lot of paperwork yet to be accomplished. Communication between continents can take time. Pray for smooth processing, quick and clear communication and patients as we know God's hand is on each of those involved in the process.
Homework - Alaina and I both have to finish several assignments that are designed to prepare us for the mission field. Pray that we can grasp what God has for us and accomplish them on time.
Responsibilities - Upon arriving in Ecuador we will both have responsibilities at the Alliance Academy as chaplains. Ministry will be demanding from the beginning. Pray that we can pace ourselves well and remain focused on our calling and not just filling needs. There are needs and there is our calling. Pray for constant discernment as to which is which.
Arrival - We will need a place to live when we get to Ecuador. There is an opportunity to house sit beginning in the summer that we may accept, but we will need somewhere to live before then.
Fears - Some days the life and tasks ahead of us cast long shadows over both of us. There is absolutely no way we could take on our future without having entrusted our lives to Christ long ago. Pray that our faith will be strengthened as we trust Jesus with every worry, fear, and doubt. Satan whispers and sometimes screams reminders of our inadequacy and I thank him for the reminder. Only Christ is sufficient to supply all we need for the life He gives us. It is by faith we live.
Support - It has become apparent that we will never be fully supported by people. There really is no 100% mark. Financial numbers rise and fall, but support comes entirely from the Lord. We have shared our stories and passions with hundreds of people across the US and continue to do so, but the money of men and will never get us to Ecuador to accomplish the task of glorifying God. It is God who sustains from the beginning and it is God that carries us to the end. We need your prayer. Pray for our daily strength. Pray for diligence and study in His Word. Pray for our testimony as we work with students at the Alliance Academy.
Thank you all so much for giving, it means so much. God has called us to His service and we will go. Thank you for sending us and going with us in your prayers and gifts.
(Illustration by Matt Mahurin)