Remembering the words of the prophet Habakkuk-'how long, Lord, must I call out for help, but You do not listen'. David, in Psalm 13 asks the Lord the same...How long oh Lord. Will You hide your face from me, will You forget me?
Have you been there? Have you cried out to the Lord over and over again and yet saw no change in the circumstance and began to feel that God is not listening? If we are honest, I think most of us have been or even are in that place right now.
It seems my last 4 or so posts have been about winter passing and the expectation of Spring. The long dreary Winter will give way to the beauty and the sweet aroma of Spring. Yet, there are times that Spring is delayed and we cannot understand why. Here is a picture a friend posted yesterday. It is just an hour from us. Keep in mind it was May 24th when this photo was taken.
It would not be so this May. For whatever reason, Spring has been delayed. Oh, there were glimpses of it, days the windows and doors were wide open, laundry was seen hung out in every yard and terrace. Boots, heavy coats and sweaters were carefully packed away not anticipating to be needed for another 6 months or so. But, yesterday, the heavy coat was worn and the winter boots yanked out of their resting place to be put to use yet again.
There came a time yesterday in the midst of begrudging these cold temperatures, walking carefully as to avoid puddle after puddle, watching the downcast faces of a people who had not expected to be braving this kind of weather at the end of May, for an instant I thought "Lord, are You speaking to me through this storm? Are the winds and the rain for me? Did You in Your tenderness allow Spring to be delayed so that You could speak to my heart?" It was as if for a moment, the clouds were lifted up and the light of His glory shone upon my heart. 'But Lord,' my desperate heart cried, 'it's supposed to be Spring. The calendar even says it is supposed to be Spring. We endured the Winter and anticipated Spring. You gave us glimpses of Spring but as quickly as it came You took it away. It's not just raining, it is pouring, it is cold and dreary. Why, oh why aren't You letting Spring come? Why are You seeming to be messing with nature and the way that things are supposed to be? Why God, why????" And I believe that our intimate God, our gracious and patient King, sat and listened and He had a bottle for every tear that was falling and He, in a way that only He can, wrapped me in His arms and let me know it was going to be ok.
He reminded me that it indeed rains on the just and the unjust. That He does not look at things the way man looks at them. His ways are different than ours, His thoughts higher.
This morning when I awoke, the skies were blue. By the time I sat to write this, grey covered the skies, the cats came running in to seek shelter as the sound of thunder echoed in the background, and once again, the heavy rains came down. Perhaps with sadness, some will look after the rains and see their crop destroyed, their planters overturned and flower petals tossed violently across the lawn. All of their hard work seemingly to no avail. 'Why bother?', some may ask. Perhaps they will give up and stop planting. Perhaps they will become so discouraged and think gardening or farming isn't for them. But, we know that we will sweep up the mess, salvage what is left to be salvaged and start again to dig, to plow, to plant to water. Why? Because that is what the Lord tells us to do. The labor and obedience is up to us. The harvest is up to Him. And, one day, we will reap. It may not be here in the physical life. We may never be able to enjoy a harvest this side of Heaven. But, we are promised in His Word that we will indeed reap if we faint not.
Spring may be delayed, but our God is never delayed. He makes ALL things beautiful in His time!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The Mister wrote an update so for all of you who would like to sit back and have a read along with some pictures here you go. Thank you for your love, prayers and support. Without you, we couldn't do what we do!!!
Wow, can you believe it has been a year since we were in
for a visit? We truly do miss you all
and want to thank you for your love, prayers, and support. The fall season came
and went without a trace after the annual CC European Missionary Conference in Cali and
then we hunkered down for a long, cold, and sometimes lonely winter. We thought
it would never end and other than the Holidays, it really was quite uneventful.
However, Margie was busy with the annual Women’s Christmas Tea, which was a
great success with 120 ladies attending. We were blessed to have our daughter
Marla reunited with us in December and she is such a help with our ministry and
household. Reminds me of those priceless years she assisted us on the mission
field at CC Baja, Austria .
In January I attended the annual Pastors conference at CC Hungary ,
a much needed time of refreshing. I also had a couple more opportunities to
play electric guitar gigs for a friend’s band doing DMB covers. It’s a lot of
fun and thru music I have been able to make a lot of contacts and new friends
and have had countless opportunities to witness and share the gospel. I am
putting a group together for the summer and I pray for a fruitful season of extra
money, sharing my music and faith, and church growth thru new relationships. Most
people consider themselves to be Christians by birthright here, so I build upon
the doctrines and common beliefs that we can share, i.e. the Finished Work, God’s
Grace, and The Bible. It is a challenge for people from this region to let go
of their tradition and try something new, especially a Protestant approach,
since it really is completely foreign to them. We’ve also noticed that most Evangelicals
here in northern Siegen, Germany Italy are
transplants from the South or foreign immigrants from Africa, South America, or
Our region of Philippines
seems to harbor resistance to Evangelical Christianity. Please pray for
developing friendships and for perseverance in ministering to people with love
and patience. Statistically, 98% of Italians claim to be Catholic Christians, but
only 20% actually attend church regularly. In contrast, professing Americans
attend church regularly at a 40% rate. Is it any wonder that we are burdened to
reach people for Christ here in Christian Italy? Veneto
Recently, we’ve been quite busy finishing up our citizenship and residency process. I am happy to report that I am an Italian citizen and so are all of our children and grandchildren. Margie has a 5 year residency card and can become an Italian in a couple years. Somehow I like the idea of holding dual citizenship, especially in this day and age that we find ourselves. Italian passports are the most welcomed in the world. As much as we miss our children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends, so much that it hurts, we want you to know that we are here for the duration, that is, until the Lord tells us otherwise. So we pray that God will continue to bring to your remembrance our mission here in
. At my
age finding a job is difficult, but with my music connections, I hope to find
side work performing from time to time and in the process meet and make new
friends and share the Lord with many people. Also, Margie and Alice from the
church are volunteering in an organization that helps young women, mostly from
the South, Eastern Europe, and Italy Northern Africa,
get off the streets.
As Spring broke we were blessed by our dear friends Doug and Rose Martin from CC DC Metro, who treated us on our annual “Stewart-Martin Road Trip”. This year it was in conjunction with the annual Pastor’s Wives Conference that Margie and Becky Dente from CC Paris put together. Rose was one of the guest speakers and Doug and I tagged along to help shuttle guests to and from the airport and haul luggage and supplies. Then after the conference the four of us took in
Paris for a couple days and then my long awaited dream
came true of visiting .
At the Normandy American Cemetery
and Memorial at , I was
uncontrollably overwhelmed with tears as we walked through those endless lines
of stark white tombstones and read the names of so many brave young Americans
that sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom. An experience I will never
forget. We were able to hike down the hill and traverse the remnants of the
German trench lines, gun placements, bunkers, and ruins that remain. I was
solemnly transfixed when we reached the hallowed sands of Omaha
and walked along the expanse with the tide far out just as it was on the
morning of June 6, 1944. We also explored the bunkers, cliffs, and hundreds of
bombardment holes left at Pointe du Hoc. We ended the day at the Naval Memorial
at Omaha Beach , after closing time, with only the
sound of the flags snapping to the crisp sea breezes. After 12 years on the
mission field, just the sight of Old Glory makes me cry. The presence of God was unmistakable
throughout the day at every memorial, especially in the small Chapel and
throughout the gardens of the Utah Beach American
Cemetery at .
A trip I would highly recommend, to anyone that can venture it. Omaha Beach
Immediately upon our return in early April we hosted an outreach team from CCV that included their renowned High School Choir. The kids sang at numerous venues, including 3 High Schools, a Middle school, the Youth Dept. at the Pollini Conservatory of Music, CC Montebelluna, CC Padova, a
3 Pizzerias, a Gelateria, and various Piazzas throughout the center city of . We were so impressed
by their talent, commitment, courtesy, and energy to walk endlessly… without
complaint! They were a true testimony to the kind of genuine Christian
character and maturity that CCV is known for and seems to instill in its young
people. We are already benefiting from the fruit of their ministry with some
solid new friendships and acceptance by otherwise skeptics. Pray that God will
continue to move in the hearts of those who now have a much clearer view of the
Lord and their faith and that they will discover that faith and fun do go
together, despite Italian misconceptions of religious piety. Saturday night the
Choir sang to a full house at CC Montebelluna with people from CC Feltre and CC
Treviso attending as well. Several visitors committed and recommitted their
lives to the Lord at the concert after Pastor Rob spoke and gave the
invitation. The following morning at our church CC Padova, we were blown away
when around 50 new people attended the morning concert and service and heard
the clear message of the Gospel by Pastor Rob. Padova
(the theatre we are praying for)
Finally, we are now at a crossroads and really need to move. Although we are a small fellowship, I believe we are on the verge of substantial growth that will be facilitated and accelerated by our move to a more central and more visible and accessible location. We are searching for a full time location in the city center for the church since the community building we use is not downtown and used only on Sunday mornings. Join us in prayer and if God leads consider helping to underwrite the new building for a season. We see a great need for midweek opportunities to connect and evangelize our community. Padova is such a beautiful city and we have fallen in love with it and desire that CC Padova will be a real beacon of light here for the glory of God. We have our eyes on an abandoned Theater on a busy walking street downtown and we pray that God would open the door and windows of heaven for that or something similar. May the Lord richly bless you and with all of our hearts and deep gratitude we thank you for your prayers and faithful support.