Pic. Journal 2
For us as a young couple, African naturalized U.S citizens, the call to serve as missionaries in France was a challenge: a challenge that we need to pray and hope to overcome. On this journey, the more we doubt, the more we see God's fingerprint all over the call; and the further we go, the stronger the call gets.
The week of July 21 through July 25 was a special week, a week we spent at the Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin, celebrating the 200th anniversary of American Baptist International Ministries. The theme of this celebration fits our call into mission perfectly: “Rise to the Challenge.”
I don’t think our own rise to the challenge would have been possible without that celebration, which was prayerfully and thoughtfully planned by the IM staff, and wonderfully led by the Holy Spirit.
Something funny, though: A portion of our name tags called us “New Missionaries.” And there were many times that another missionary would say to us, “Oh, you’re the new missionaries to serve in France!” We were never quite sure what to say in reply. Should we call them "old" or "used" missionaries?
Friends, we should not call them old. Why? Although some of the retired missionaries may look old, their works over the years as missionaries are still speaking highly of their love and passion for the work of God. Nor should not call them "used," because they still have so much to offer with their compassionate hearts to God’s people in a broken world. Awenam and I have decided to call them "Blessed Experienced Missionaries." Why? Simply because they can relate to our call, cause and challenges. They show us a lot of love and support. They would hug us, welcome us and tell us that everything will be just fine; they shared their life experience before, during and after their ministries.
All that and much more happened at Green Lake:
- We had a great opportunity to meet people of all ages and races; people who displayed their diversity and cultural pride while living out the Christian unity in one and same Spirit of God.
- We were moved by the worship, fellowship and morning Bible studies through which the Holy Spirit continuously spoke to us in His sweet whispered voice saying, "Awenam and Holale, you are not becoming one of them; you are one of them."
- We were blessed to lead morning devotions at different place (the Rose Garden, Vesper Circle, Lone Three Point and RWI Patio) with different people every day. We also led two workshops and set a shared a display table for five days. The Holy Spirit has used those devotion times, the workshops and the display table to testify to our call to mission as He did at the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministries using a dove and a voice from heaven after Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:16-17).
- We had the privilege of meeting many missionaries, retired missionaries and missionaries’ kids who gave us tips to becoming better missionaries; and we shared our joys and concerns with new missionaries.
- Hearing testimonies from many missionaries who serve everywhere from Africa to Asia and America to Europe makes us say that God is still making difference in the life of the church and its communities by moving faithful and Spirit-led missionaries around the globe and around the clock. After each testimony, Awenam and I would hold hands, pause and ask, "Why not be one of them?"
- We've met our partner, the General Secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France. He shared stories, websites and books that brought tears to our eyes and made our call a "must” as they led us back to Luke 10:1-2.
- We were surrounded by cheerful supporters. Seeing supporters yearning to hear our stories, shaking their hands, sometimes hugging them and saying amen to their wishes and prayers made us believe that God will use them in our ministries, both spiritually and financially.
- We are so pleased and blessed to announce that missionaries both New and Experienced, whom we only met for the first time at Green Lake, were the first to support our mission financially.
- Furthermore, we were humbled to participate in that great celebration by passing the offering baskets and by providing English-to-French interpretation to our French partners.
These nine points enable us to get rid of the question mark that has been weighing on our mind as we declared boldly in faith: YES WE CAN “RISE TO THE CHALLENGE.”
What an experience! What a blessing! What a joy! And what a grace—that immeasurably amazing grace that calls us to serve the holy and great God! And what a blessing to have you journeying with us as we build our network and raising our personalized supports.
To you who show prayerful and moral support, we say thank you. To you who have already invested in our ministry financially, we say thank you. To you who made a promise to support us either financially or spiritually, we say thank you. May the Lord richly bless you.
We are still reaching out to you; together, let’s “build the church of France and the gate of hades will not overcome it” Matthew 16:18. Amen!