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Chapter 24: The Plan

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered,”before Abraham was born, I Am!”  At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple guards.

John 8:58-59 NIV

Jesus has plans. With this understanding we find peace.

Every time I write a newsletter, I begin with rereading my last post.  I would like to repeat some thoughts that I ended with last month:

Since the last time I wrote you all, God has revealed one major truth: He is faithful.  No matter what the circumstance, the trial, the challenge, our God is faithful.  Praise The Lord!!

This truth holds us.

Our God is faithful.

I had planned a staff meeting for Thursday the 10th.  After rescheduling multiple times, this was my last option.  Little did I know, 18 hours before this meeting I would receive an email that would inform us that the shop would be closing for 1-2 months.  (Remember, God has a plan!).

It is never easy receiving or sharing such news.  Saying goodbyes to people you have been ministering to, building relationships with and sharing life with is a difficult time.  We always know that our young staff will be transitioning away after they graduate school, this is a challenge in Youth, College, and Young Adult ministries.  Change and transition are difficult waters to guide through, but God is Faithful.

Next week we travel to London to participate in the Hillsong Conference, No Other Name.  We will explore the name of Jesus, our presence in this world, and how to incorporate Worship in all aspects of our lives.  After this conference, we travel to Scotland for a vacation and time of fellowship with our Coffee Shop ministry partners here.  On our way home, we will travel to Poznan to visit our partners in Poland.  We will have many opportunities for reflection, prayer, fellowship and seeking God’s direction.  When we return home, we will then close out Sweet Surrender and prepare for the shop to be reopened.

This means that we will have increased time for ministry.  With roughly 6 months before we return to the States, we have plenty of time and energy to actively seek where God would like us to invest this time!  We would like you to keep our family in your prayers for the upcoming months.  Scripture encourages us to take to our knees before the Lord.   Phillipians 4:6-7 says,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Sweet Surrender and our family are going through some major changes and transitions; we pray for peace and wisdom.  We are in need of new clothes for all the kids and a few items for Michelle and I, but we need personal funds (not Church donations) to provide for these items; we pray for financial provision for immediate needs.  We are helping cover the costs of our staffs final weeks in the shop, some needs for our new apartment that we don’t have, and for monthly supporters; we pray for financial provision for ongoing and future needs.  Ideally, we would like to have enough monthly support that we could stay in Poland until next July; we pray that we can obtain 100% in monthly supporters (we are $2000/month away from this goal). 

You all are awesome people and we are thankful for your presence in our lives.  We have come to appreciate that we are not just here in Poland because of one or two people, we are here because of a large network of supporters.  If you would please join us in prayer and if you feel led, in financial support.  A simple prayer, a $10/month donation, a huge impact.  Sometimes we get caught up in grand gestures.  But it is the daily grind, the simple habits, that we can experience real growth and renewal.

We love and appreciate you all.

We would love to be praying for each and every one of you.  Please let us know how to direct our prayers while we are in prayer and petition before the Lord!  Just as we are not alone, neither are you!!

Chapter 23: Ever Faithful

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (My cousin Callie got me thinking about this one. – Thanks Callie!)

 

 

This verse is a promise.  When we fully trust God with our lives, surrendering all to Him, He will fill us with His peace.  If you have never experienced the peace of God, know that is all consuming, life changing, and settles you to your core.  It is a burden lifting, life altering presence.  Praise the Lord!

 

We had a choir visit from NNU that went really well!  They visited a few schools, our children’s kindergarten, and preformed at Sweet Surrender.  It is always a joy to see the way in which people respond to music!  It was great seeing these students pursuing their love of Christ and music and using this for ministry.

 

Kristen and Amanda, the students from Trevecca Nazarene University, were a blessing to have.  They came for cultural immersion studies, and immerse they did!  They had classes three days a week, worked in the shop, and volunteered with every ministry we could plug them into.  Not only that, they gave their time selflessly to any event or group that we had come into town and made our lives much less chaotic!  Thanks ladies!

 

We also said, “Do zobaczenia” (See you later), to our good friend and staff member Martyna.  What an awesome example of what our ministry is here in Poland; a healthy mixture of relationship and lifestyle evangelism.  From the very beginning God has built our relationship with Martyna on a solid foundation of why we are here.  She has given me (Brad) many opportunities to pray for her before big changes in her life.  Though Michelle has impacted her the most, bringing Jesus ever closer to her heart; you can tell this by the smile and joy she has when Michelle enters the room.  Within the first few months I gave her my copy of The Shack to read and practice her English with.  A few months later, a Polish version of this book showed up in the shop.  Two weeks ago she mentioned that she would now read the book because a person she respects recently suggested the read to her.  Often our friend talks about a higher power but does not give this higher power a name. Michelle explained this higher powers name was Jesus!  She is slightly less skeptical but we had such an awesome connection in our last meeting.

 

For the longest time I never really understood why, as Nazarene’s, we are so strict on our lifestyle.  Our fellow Volunteer Dave G in Poznan described it best to me as Social Holiness.  Since we came to Poland, we have really come to identify why we exclude alcohol from our lifestyle.  For example, on our family walks we often walk past 24-hour alcohol shops; the same benches, the same aroma, the same disease.  Talks with my staff make it clear that even the school system teaches that beer is not alcohol.  The social acceptance of alcohol on a deeper level makes it clear why holding to a “social holiness lifestyle” is an important part of our lifestyle evangelism.  Each time I get to explain why I will not accept a beer, a wine, or vodka, is another moment of sharing my love for Jesus.  I get to explain that there is not judgment from me, just a choice I have made.

 

Past volunteers, like Aaron and Brittany, have set awesome examples of the type of Ministry we want to be a part of in Poland. Three years ago, Aaron and Brittany offered Black Coffee Nights at the Sweet Surrender location in Poznan, Poland.  It was on these nights that they would foster community though service, pizza, and coffee.  Our coffee suppliers, founder happened to attend one of these events and loved what they were doing.  It was from this start of their relationship that progressed to something so much more.  He told me that he was raised Catholic, but didn’t really practice anymore. He explained that though he didn’t’ necessarily believe in what we believed in, he knew that there is something special about Sweet Surrender.  Because of this night and the home style welcoming community that they were creating, we have a personal and business relationship that would never have existed.  Today, we have a community partnership with this company.  They provide equipment and training and we provide space for meetings, community events, and training for other coffee businesses.  All our current coffee equipment needs have been met because of our partnership with our coffee supplier friend.  Praise God!

 

This same spirit of community we want to continue.  Not just in the shops environment, but in our home as well.  When we signed the rental agreement for our apartment 2 months ago, we prayed that God would bless this place and use it for His glory.  He did.  Praise God!  We moved in to our new home in less than 2 hours, start to finish.  We could only do that with the awesome presence of the John Day Work and Witness team and some help from friends who are missionaries in Krakow as well.  Talk about a breath of fresh air!  We loved hosting this group the John Day team!  Though we may not have had a lot of work for them to do, they accomplished their main goal; to encourage the missionaries on the field.  We cannot wait to stop in John Day while we are stateside next year!

 

Since we last wrote you all, God has revealed one major life truth:  He is faithful.  No matter the circumstance, the trial, the challenge, our God is faithful.  Praise the Lord!

 

Here is a list of some ways in which you can be praying for our family:

  • Sweet Surrender is soon to go through organizational changes, this means Brad’s role in the shop will change.  That he will invest his time wisely
  • Our presence in the shop, the community, in the lives of those around us
  • As we plan to return stateside; church assignments, open doors, smooth connections
  • As we look to raise monthly support, raising 100%

 

We are reminded daily that we are not alone.  Your support, in everyway, has encouraged us, uplifted us, and helped us continue forward in our family’s quest to seek God in Poland.  Thank you!

 If you would like to financially support us, please go to http://web.nazarene.org/goto/TheGraves

 

 

Please let us know how we can be praying for you!

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