2018: Week #3: What Do You Do?

Tags

, , , , ,

“I’ve been meaning to ask you just exactly what is it that you and Brian do,” my friend  offered during a recent coffee shop conversation. I smiled and replied, “Well let me tell you…”2017-08-01 10.17.56

On a frosty afternoon warmed by friendship and a steaming cup it felt good to talk about our line of work. We are pastors to missionaries, serving on the Member Care Team of ReachGlobal, the mission arm of the Evangelical Free Church of America.

The Member Care Team:

  • Has been established to oversee and coordinate the ongoing care of our global missionary family.
  • The care is focused on the well-being of our missionaries, providing a ministry of presence; and as such, is preventive in nature, as well as responsive to needs.
  • The desire is to have contented and effective missionaries carrying out ReachGlobal’s mission statement through the development of a nurturing environment, provision of personal care, policy care, personnel care, peer care, pastoral care, and when needed, professional care.

In short, we love and care for missionaries.

We travel to their homes – primarily in eastern Europe and MENA – visit their places of ministry, spend time with their families, cry with them, laugh with them, listen to them and love them. A ministry of presence in person. And, a ministry of presence through Skype, emails, Zoom, What’s App, and more.

And, on the Minnesota end we assist in training missionaries before they reach their places of ministry. And, debrief them during, and at the end, of their terms of ministry.

We comfort, console, advise, and respond. Care, responsive in nature. At times we challenge, warn, and caution. The care of prevention.

Missionaries are just like you and me. Life concerns. Elderly parents. Children. Concerns with the added elements of a foreign culture and a foreign language. Disagreements. Human nature. Needing care.

There we are. Providing care.

Our moniker, or brand. ShelteringHaven. Our desire. Sheltering. Providing a haven of love and care in the name of Jesus for our missionaries.

Advertisements

2018: Week #2: Details

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

IMG_7297.1The second week of January, 2018 was a week of managing details. Or. Attempting to manage details.

We all have them. Details. Paying attention to life. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Using our calendars, phones, computers, and pen & paper we put together plans. We make lists. We work out problems and fine tune projects. We flesh out ideas. We present proposals, strategies and procedures. And. We arrange doctor visits, dinner dates, family time, and grocery shopping.

We can get lost in them. The details taking precedence over the bigger picture. We can be lost without them. The bigger picture never accomplished without the daily details. Gratifying and frustrating. Details.

This week we worked on the details of planning our first trip of 2018 to care for missionaries. Sending out emails. Waiting for responses. Making phone calls. Checking the calendar.

Daily life details of the week meant subbing in the school district for both of us. Changing our schedules to accommodate. Seeing a doctor. Visiting a brother. Writing thank you notes. Submitting reports. Praying with a colleague. Attending a workshop. FaceTiming with a granddaughter.

Frustrating technology details drew the week to a close. A failed Skype call. A computer in serious need of help.  Working around the loss of WiFi.

Details. We serve a God who is in the details. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:29-30

Managing the details. Trusting. Resting. He is God.

2018: Week #1

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

First Sunday of 2018. Thoughts bounce from here to there. And, back again. It 2018-01-06 14.22.00.1seems natural to look back while also looking ahead.

2017. Life in 52 weeks. Snippets of life caught in blog posts. But. The practice of studying each week’s moments in preparation for posting became a practice in amazement.

Much more happens in a week than realized at first glance. Travels to care for missionaries bring surprises all the time. Beautiful glimpses of a magnificent world. Uncommon relationships.

And yet. Ordinary life in Minnesota brings revelations as well. Growing family. Friendships. Experiences in God’s Word. Life. Death.

And, so begins 2018. A blog post a week seems wise. Reflection. Amazement. The ordinary and the extraordinary. Without reflection the abundance goes unseen. Psalm 65:11. “You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”

Project 52: 2017: #52

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

2017-02-27 03.37.15.1Steadfast. A word for the old year. Through 52 weeks of travel, family, coaching, teaching, adventure, mentoring, learning, more travel and plain old living our Lord has been steadfast. His love and strength have never failed us.

Our family has been steadfast. Three daughters. Three sons-in-law. Grandkids. Extended family. All of them. Offering prayers. Giving encouragement. Extending love, shelter, provision.

And then. The steadfastness of those who sustain us. Advocating in prayer. And, yes, in giving. In moral support. And friendship. Holding the ropes. Making this ministry of caring for missionaries possible. We are blessed by this steadfast company surrounding us.

Steadfast. Strong. Immovable.

Looking back. Our Lord. Our family. Our company of sustainers. We are incredibly grateful; and now, abiding in our Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness, we move into the new year.

Because He is steadfast…“For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:2) …

It is possible for us to be also be steadfast …   

“…steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58

Project 52: 2017: #51

Tags

, , , , , ,

2017-12-24 07.39.56.2“He will bring us goodness and light.”

Mary whispered his name in the darkness. A mother blessing her baby boy. Mary, a servant of God, continually pronouncing, “May it be to me as you have said.” 

So too, I, whisper the name of Jesus. In the darkness of a winter night. On the cusp of a new day. He is goodness and light. The answer. Given to the entire world. And. Given to me.

Christmas. Singular and personal. And yet. Corporate. For the masses. For all. I whisper his name.

“Jesus.”

“God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12)

“He will bring us goodness and light.”

I whisper his name.

Project 52: 2017: #50

Tags

, , , ,

There is a pulse, a rhythm, to the rejoicing of Christmas. At first, almost2017-12-16 08.18.18.1 indistinguishable. But. Ever-growing. Sweeter each day. Anticipation of celebration. Honoring the day our Lord became man. A baby. Born for us.

The cadence of that Christmas joy beats in our hearts. Do we hear it? Do we feel it as the bitter January winds arrive and then soften as the days turn into weeks. The rhythm of rejoicing. Present in the bitter days. Just as often in the sweet days. For the Savior, if we choose, now lives within.

The rhythm of our Savior’s love. As much cause for rejoicing on a hot summer day as on the precious day of Christmas. Pulse. Cadence. Rhythm.

Choosing the rhythm of rejoicing. Choosing praise. In preparation of Christmas. And. In the march of every day.

The candle and lights of Christmas stir that rejoicing. And. Continuing. Flowing. If we allow. There is, and will be, a rhythm of rejoicing. Holy rejoicing. For our Savior was born!

Project 52: 2017: #49

Tags

, , , ,

2017-02-18 07.58.55.4Coffee. Or tea.

Conversation dates. Chatting. Learning. Stretching. Growing.

Sharing life. The good and the bad.

Working out the knots. Celebrating. Mourning. All of life. Together.

The coffee dates in which we share often are in person. But not always. This week’s coffee dates began, via Skype, in Greece, stretched to Chicago, and landed in Ukraine. While the face-to-face conversations brought Prague visitors to our home in Minnesota and took us up the road 60 miles or so to a country farmhouse.

The conversation of relationship. Often sweet. Sometimes difficult.

In the gospel book of Mark the risen Christ enters into a crucial conversation between two men on the road to Emmaus.  “They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them.”

In the middle of their talk Jesus walked along with them. And so he walks with us in our conversations which stretch over the miles as often as they occur in our own living room. The goodness of the Lord.

Project 52: 2017: #48

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

The week of the Christmas Letter. Choosing words. Selecting a photo. Out it goes by email. Then. Printing. Stuffing. Labeling. Stamping. Out it goes by postal mail. Sending out our hearts. ‘Tis the season for joy!

2017-11-28 12.19.00.1

Merry Christmas Dear Ones,                             December, 2017

     Joy to you! Joy in the adventure of life. Joy in the ups, the downs. Joy in the coming, and the going. Joy in Him, our Savior. “The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.” Psalm 19:8

      Joy of Family: Little kids. Big kids. Our joy of connectedness. All together as a family: oldest daughter Inga and Darren, with Chara (almost 15) and Tucker (2); middle daughter Britta and An, with Asher (7) and Penelope (3); and, youngest daughter Anna and Dan, with Sonja (6 months, Dec. 23rd).  “Celebrate all the good things that God, your God, has given you and your family…” Deuteronomy 26:11

     Joy of Ministry: Here. There. In places we never imagined we would ever see. Ministry of presence, providing a sheltering haven for missionaries and their families, as we interact individually, in families, and in teams. Our primary responsibility is to be there, to listen and to provide whatever support might be needed. Over the past year we have spent time with missionaries in their homes, in their places of ministry, at conferences, pre-field trainings, debriefings, and in our home. We have visited over a bowl of soup on a sidewalk in Sofia, Bulgaria; chatted while hiking through the ruins of Petra, Jordan; and picnicked together on the grounds of Titan Park in Bucharest, Romania. We provide a ministry of support, for as author Tim Challies says: “A missionary without a network of support is a missionary who cannot long survive.”

      Joy of Partnership: You. Us. Working together to provide that network for missionaries. Us going. You making the ministry of going possible through prayers and sweet giving. Many of you know our ministry account has needed some encouragement in the last months and, in turn, you have given it a boost. Thank you! We realize you have countless choices for financial partnership and we thank you for considering us in your end-of-the-year giving. Presently we are limited in making ministry plans for 2018 until our account receives more monetary encouragement.

     Joy of Life: “We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy…” Psalm 33:20

In celebration of His joy,

Brian and Diane Harris

If you would like to receive our periodic email updates, please register at: http://eepurl.com/cIPZM9.

Online Giving: http://www.efca.org/give

Postal Giving: EFCA, 901 E. 78th St., Minneapolis, MN 55420, Attention: Donor Services.

Important Information: In communication regarding our account, please reference Harris IMA #1850.

 

Project 52: 2017: #47

Tags

, , , , , ,

What makes life good?2017-11-23 15.03.27.2

Prayers answered as we would like? Lack of worry? More than enough money to handle the day’s circumstances? Living in a first world country?

Maybe.

And yet. There is a goodness in seeing God work when the answers are not as we would like. A blessing in finding His hand sifting through the worry, providing peace. A sweetness in experiencing His provision for the day. And, an assurance of His presence throughout the entire world.

A good life. A thankful life. Watching God work out the details. Unexpected details. Pain. And joy.

In the end. Thankfulness. Gratitude for an ever present God. In our home where three daughters grew to womanhood. In your home full of your own story. And, together we are grateful.

Project 52: 2017: #46

Tags

, , , ,

November cohortMonday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Four days of pre-field preparation for eleven short term candidates headed to various parts of the world with ReachGlobal.

Interacting with these candidates, first in on-line training and then in the four days of preparation, we were ever mindful of the establishment of their plans by our Lord God. We, along with other long-term ReachGlobal staff, explored many topics with these eleven.

It was our privilege to share and teach concerning soul/self care, entitlement/expectations, and resilience. Discussion, laughter, and prayer surrounded the themes we presented, as well as those shared by our colleagues. Together we talked of calling, EFCA ethos, culture shock, spiritual warfare, purity, transitions, and more. As we talked together it became clear that our Lord has chosen a remarkable group of eleven.

Our four days together were an uncommon privilege.