A Cloud of Witnesses

…a scene of dust and blood, of body parts strewn haphazardly, some still twitching, disjointed, bleeding out. Not one piece is connected to another and thus the entire body, broken apart and moments from death, lies collapsed in the sand, unable to move, unable even to seek help.

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Moving Forward

In every instance, in every worry or every concern, God’s taken care of things. Now it’s time for me to fly to Madagascar to continue this process; to prepare the way for our whole family to return to Madagascar soon.

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The Rest of God

God is simply reminding us that our roles are limited. He’s giving us a gift of rest and he’s reminding us that it’s him, and it’s always been him, who will bring this work to fruition. And when God works, it is always good.

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Video Introduction

Watch this video for an introduction to the Antakarana people and our work among them

Latest News

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It's been some time since we've had an opportunity to speak with Nuckiline on the phone, but we were able to do that this morning. She shared some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that she's continued to translate some new Bible stories into Antakarana language and to share them with the discipleship group in Antanamazava. The Holy Spirit has led her to select stories based on the specific needs and circumstances of the members of the discipleship group there. As a result of translating and sharing the Jonah story with them, they've has taken a greater interest in sharing the Bible stories they've received with others they believe need to hear them - and now they have two men who've joined the discipleship group as regular members! Praise God for that, as it's long been a challenge to have men show consistent interest, and hopefully this will be an opportunity to have a broader impact in the local community and in villages further away (because in Antakarana culture, men are the ones who more often do the most frequent traveling).

The bad news is that a coronavirus variant has spread in Madagascar in the last few months and this "second wave" was worse than the first one. As a result the government has created much stricter travel and meeting lockdowns than previously. Not only that, but several people died as a result of covid in villages not far from Antanamazava (and several more from Ambilobe also). So Nuckiline wasn't able to visit them for the last few months, because of the risk of spreading this deadly disease during the time that it was spreading rapidly. However, the second wave of covid seems to have passed in their area by now, and the rainy season is also ending there (meaning the country roads and paths are easier to travel again), so Nuckiline is planning to go there and start visiting regularly again beginning next week.

Please pray that the group has been doing well and continuing to meet regularly amongst themselves over the last few months, even while Nuckiline was unable to visit and be with them. Pray that the stories they've received will have by now been passed to many more people in the area, and that many others will be feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, drawing them to follow Jesus and commit themselves to him. Please pray for continued good health for Nuckiline and her family, for her to have continued motivation and perseverance in this work, and for continued wisdom and discernment by the Holy Spirit to know how to lead these disciples into greater knowledge of and obedience to God - that they will multiply far beyond themselves and that it will result in many generations of Antakarana people (and beyond) following Jesus.
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This last year has been pretty tough on most people I know. We've had some tough times in our family too, including right now - trying to determine new careers and new lives here in the US (something we never planned on) and even by this point still being not at all sure how that's going to end up.

But that's one thing that's so amazing about this holiday today, Easter. It's the declaration that one man's defiance of the natural order of things: accepting a punishment he didn't deserve, submitting to a death he could've easily avoided, and demonstrating that death itself has no lasting hold over him - that this declaration applies not just to him but to *all* of us who find life and identity in him. Jesus did these things as a foretaste of what *all* of us can have in him.

Life is tough. Even the best of us are brought low by the natural decay inherent in this creation, and by the combined apathy and antipathy of others - no matter how hard we might struggle against it. The story of Jesus acknowledges that fully - there is no denial there. But Jesus has a different response than most of us would - instead of fighting against all this as if it's a struggle he could possibly win, he chooses to let it go, and let God his Father take the reigns and take the glory, and in so doing he defeats death and decay itself - not just for himself, but once and for all, and for all of us.

So in this tough life, and in this tough year that so many of us have experienced (and so many have had it harder than my family has), I take comfort that we're living with the continual hope of Easter. That Jesus's resurrection is a foretaste of what's to come. That death and decay has its moment (and so many of us are living in that moment right now), but it's only momentary. If we choose to be in Jesus, we can release our struggles to him, knowing that in him resurrection has the final say.

I hope that Easter this year can be a transition point to a gentler year, one with a renewed and more realized hope in each of our lives. I think we have at least a few reasons to expect that might happen. But even if that doesn't happen for all of us, or for any of us... at least let Easter remind us that these trials and these challenges will not have the final say; it's neither our responsibility nor in our strength to fully overcome these things ourselves. But in Jesus we *will* have resurrection. That much, at least, is already determined.
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We spoke briefly with Nuckiline this morning and she said things are still going well there with the discipleship group in Antanamazava! She said that tomorrow they'll be starting a new Bible story set, one that Nuckiline will be starting the translation for (into the Antakarana language) herself. We're excited to hear Nuckiline taking the initiative to move forward into the next stage of ongoing discipleship with the people there! We were also able to connect her with colleagues of ours that are doing similar work in eastern Madagascar, so they can visit and encourage one another.

After being in the US for several weeks now, it was so great to hear her voice and hear that things are going well!
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We're wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! This is our first thanksgiving in the US in 10 years!

We're thankful most of all for our God who takes care of us in all things, the big and the small. He doesn't always promise that the paths he leads us on are easy, but he promises to be with us and take care of us along the way, and we've seen that to be so very true in our lives!

We're so thankful that God has directed us these last months, and he's opened the doors for us to leave Madagascar and to return safely and relatively smoothly to here in the US, and he's taken care of all of our needs along the way.

We're very thankful for incredibly generous friends and relatives who helped us get here and who've provided hospitality and transport for us (both transport along the way and also a great long-term vehicle for our family).

We're thankful for friends of family (people who don't even know us personally) who've provided a great place for us to quarantine as a family here in the US - right next door to Lora's parents. They've even offered for us to stay in this home for the next few months until we discern our next steps and get our own place. What great generosity to come from those who are strangers to us!

We're thankful that though our personal plans for life sometimes change suddenly and drastically, none of this catches God by surprise... he knows what we've been through, he knows where we're at now, and he knows what's ahead. He's with us through it all and he graciously offers us one opportunity after the next to participate with him in the advancement of his Kingdom here on earth, in all things to draw us and those around us closer to him in Jesus and to empower us for his good works by the love and strengthening of his Holy Spirit.
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