A Symbol of Being Rooted in NY-The Pond and Waterfall Ben Created
I just passed my 11th year anniversary as your missionary! It has been a time for reflection. What a joy to remember:
-when Emma found a job and was assured she would never have to return to the street
-preaching my first stuttering, stammering sermon in Dutch and seeing that, by the power of the Spirit, people understood
-being God's representative to tell a 40-something woman in the Red Light District that God doesn't see her as a lost cause and neither do you
-bringing people from different cities in Italy together to minister to women in prostitution in Italy
-seeing people from 15 European countries (Easterners and Westerners) join hands to pray for women exploited in prostitution at the end of the Spain conference in April
-going out with church members and two pastors in Italy on Thursday and Friday night in June to invite women in the street to their women's conference. We had so many volunteers we couldn’t all get in the van. One tall man--the evangelism director for the church--rode for two hours in the floor of the van!
-I could go on...and you know I usually do go on...but...
This email is to tell you about a new direction in my ministry:
Since we moved to NY State, I have felt an incredible calling to be rooted here with Jim and Ben. I continue to love my missionary service, and I deeply appreciate International Ministries’ "out-of-the-box" support of the new model my work took over the last year and would continue to take. But, the opportunity to serve as interim pastor in a fabulous church here in our area has opened itself to me. So, my last day with International Ministries will be the last day of September.
The work in Italy will continue without my attention. Those outreach groups that have begun are well on their way. My colleagues on the European Baptist Federation's Anti-trafficking Workgroup will find Europeans to carry my part of their work. I leave behind a 30-page book in Italian and English that outlines the situation of human trafficking and prostitution in Italy. It will be a "starter resource" for newbies who are on the ground and want to prepare for ministering to women in prostitution in Italy.
I could never say “Thank You” enough to all of you for your prayerful and financial support of our work in these last years. You have been faithful partners, and it has been a joy to get to know you and to serve on your behalf.
I hope those who financially support my work will begin to channel that support to one of my International Ministries colleagues who does not have 100% of their support pledged. See www.internationalministries.org and click on “Give” to see where colleagues stand in their financial support goals. Or, call International Ministries at (800)ABC-3USA and ask for Ruthann Stevenson or the IM Development Office for help in deciding whose work most closely matches your missions passion. You might choose to support someone who is working in Europe, like I did, or someone who is doing anti-human-trafficking work, like I did, or someone who has been on the field for a long time and might find it harder to find donors, or someone who has just been endorsed and will not be able to go to the field until they are at 100% of their support.
I am excited for this new direction my work is taking. I have a lot to learn about "being the pastor", but I am keen to do some growing in this lovely lush green (and sometimes snowy white) NY setting. Having been your missionary will always impact how I do pastoral ministry: in fact, I hope to always work with a missionary mindset.
Always thanking God when I remember you,