Helping the People

Thanks for your prayers for my family while I was away from Rwanda. Being in Naples was exciting, educational (both for the conference and tour of Pompeii), and restful. But it was also hard to be away from my girls for seven days. Not as hard as it was on Krystal for me to be away for seven days, though.   We all made it through.20161019_170400

 

Conference

Though I studied to be a teacher, it was excellent to refresh my education in the context of theological education. I enjoyed the camaraderie and networking opportunities allowed by meeting other theological educators who work in formal (seminaries) and informal settings (non-degree or church programs). Because New Creation Ministries has programs in both realms, what I learned will be especially helpful.

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New Creation Ministries

In our undergraduate program (CLIR), we are on the last term of the second year, with classes “Teaching Jesus” and “Missions.” In January, God willing, we will start another cohort into Year 1 courses. Pray with us for the right 25-35 new students.

The first year students in our Pastor Training School (PTS) have just begun “False Teachings” and “Intro to the Bible.” Pray for all our students to be transformed by what they learn in the classroom, that they would come to know Christ better, and be better equipped to lead their flock. 20161026_145625

Matching Donations!

We have just received word of a matching donations grant. We have a pastor sponsorship program for the pastors and church leaders in PTS. From now through December, any new sponsorships (full or partial) will be matched, up to $16,000. Click here to learn more about this program. Currently, our budget is heavily dependent on missionary teachers. As we find highly skilled Rwandan teacher/ theologian/ discipler/ pastors we like to bring them onto our teaching team. These sponsorships enable us to realize the dream of Rwandans trained to teach and disciple Rwandans. Click here to see the brochure. Here to give through WorldVenture.  Here to participate through our GoFundMe page.

Drought!

After an unusually long dry season, we are having an unusually hot and dry “rainy” season. I have heard reports of dead grass and dying cattle in the eastern province. Farmers near the city watch their crops wither in the heat. Additionally, the price of staples (plantains, potatoes, beans) has been increasing in the city. In the village, families go to the market and find no food to buy. Pray with us for rain to sustain Rwandans.

Grace and Rayna

Pray for Grace. We have her on various medications to help her kick a lingering cough that might also be allergies that might also be asthma. Pray with us that she recovers completely.

Pray for Rayna. She has four full teeth, but is cutting three more. She is so sad and is having trouble sleeping.

Finances

Pray for our finances. While we left for Rwanda with commitments to cover 102% of our monthly support, some of our supporters have lost jobs and can no longer participate in this way. Pray about becoming a financial partner with us. Click here to join.

We are grateful for each of you for your prayers and sacrificial giving.

Blessings,

Nick, Krystal, Grace and Rayna

Amazing News & Hard News

On Friday morning, we received the glorious news that verbal and unexpected commitments have come through and that we have reached 100% of our financial support. We praise God for raising up this team of financial partners. Rejoice with us in this gracious provision!

Hard News

Later that day, we received a call from Krystal’s doctor telling us that Krystal cannot be cleared to fly before the baby is born.  After having a mild increase in her blood pressure, Krystal’s doctor ordered a few more tests. These tests came back positive indicating a diagnosis of preeclampsia. We discussed the diagnosis with our doctor Monday (8/31) and for a third time Krystal’s blood pressure was higher than normal for her, this time fairly significantly. This type of diagnosis definitely takes Krystal out of the “low-risk” category for pregnancy and will prevent us from flying to Rwanda in September, as planned.

You might imagine how this feels. First, a potentially dangerous diagnosis is never welcome, but praise God that, should this turn dangerous, we have excellent medical care available. Second, we are reeling from this change from full speed ahead on September 23 to slowing that train down, praying for a different kind of miracle, and waiting on God and our baby to show us when can go.

The natural question people will ask is when will you go?  It depends.  Krystal is due in early November.  If mom and baby are healthy, and baby is delivered at term, we might be cleared to go in a week or a month, and have the biggest delay be baby’s passport (Christmas in Kigali?).  If baby is born prematurely, she may have lung issues, and we will be delayed longer.

Our hearts ache to get to Rwanda, but God has delayed us for his good purpose, yet, we wait not knowing what this chapter holds. And we don’t know how long this chapter will be, yet we have confidence that the next chapter holds our departure to Rwanda.

Wanted: Prayers!

Before Friday, we thought the limiting factor was financial partners. Now we see that God is pressing us to rally the prayer warriors to intercede on our behalf.

First, again, to God be the glory for answering our prayers to become fully funded. This is a blessing in itself, and while the timing was ironic, it is a blessing to enter into this time of uncertainty without the added stress of support raising. Again, praise him that we did not arrive in Kigali with this potentially fatal condition!

Now, pray with us that God heals Krystal and that she is able to deliver our baby naturally and at term at our local hospital.

PLEASE PRAY

  • Pray for the health of mom and baby.
  • Pray for baby to stay put until at least October 20th (37 weeks)
  • During this time of modified bed-rest for Krystal, pray that we will know how to invest ourselves wisely.

Walk with Us

As our friends and family, as our partners in ministry, you are invited to walk with us.  Please tell us your stories; ask us questions; pass on encouragement.  Our hearts will be made lighter by your company.  And as always, let us know how we can pray for you.

Soli Deo Gloria

Plane Ticket!

travelafricaBig News: We have plane tickets for Rwanda!

A friend offered to use his airline miles to buy our tickets. (Thanks, Josh!) On September 23, we leave Seattle and travel for 40 hours to Rwanda, that is about 25 hours in the air and one evening layover in Philadelphia. We are feeling blessed that we have tickets, and that we get to fly “business class” with fully reclining seats, which will be an extra blessing for Super Pregnant Krystal. God gave us something more than we could have ever asked for. (Eph 3:20 speaks of “Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”)

HOWEVER : 13% LEFT!

While we have tickets, we can’t board the plane without being fully supported. As of last Monday, we are officially over 80%, which means that we are entering the third and final phase of Partnership Development. This is the phase when we finalize travel itineraries, ship what we need to Rwanda, and say our final good-byes. We currently have commitments to cover 87% of our monthly expenses. This is great news! While we hoped to be at 90% by July 5 for a departure in late July, several wise counselors noted that we will need at least 8 weeks to take care of the last logistics, not to mention taking time to “fill our tanks” before embarking. (Pray for the logistics, and the refreshment, and trusting God and his timing.)

  • If you have committed to give and haven’t started, now would be a good time.
  • If you are considering regular giving, let us know.
  • If you want to hear more, you are running out of time! We leave in 8 weeks! Let’s get together.
  • Now would be the time we need folks to introduce us to their pastor, to their family, to their home group.

Help us get on that plane on September 23!

Not to be confused with Strawberry Shortcake.

Not to be confused with Strawberry Shortcake.

It’s a Girl!!! In case you didn’t hear, #2 will be a girl! Grace wanted to name her Grace, but we convinced her that that would be confusing. She settled on “Strawberry Baby Cakes.”  We haven’t decided on a name yet, but this baby might just be stuck with a nickname…

Posing with the local wildlife.

Posing with the local wildlife.

Thanks for Prayers Thanks for your prayers for us in this past month. We were blessed to celebrate Grace’s 3rd birthday and Nick’s family reunion.  We have also experienced God’s grace on us as we prepared and presented to folks over the last month.

Travel

Around August 8-18

Around August 8-18

Our trip to California will take place in mid-August. If you are from California, would you pray about this? So far, we know we are visiting Los Altos, Stockton, and Santa Rosa.  Would you like to visit with us, or host a group at your house, or even let us stay the night? We are praying that God brings in this final 13% using friends like you! (I’m looking at you, Bethany Alumni and San Diego First Assembly folks!)

In Rwanda

Please keep our colleagues in prayer. This summer three of the six families on our team are in the US, two for normal Home Assignments and one for a medical emergency. (Check here to learn more about how you can pray for Laurie Sheer.) Of the three remaining families, two are still in their first term. The bulk of the administrative and teaching burden has fallen to our new team leader, Tim Brubaker. Please hold him up in prayer as he negotiates so much, not to mention being a husband and father of four! As always, thank you for your prayers. If you got an email, send a quick reply telling us how you are doing and how we can pray for you. If you didn’t get an email, subscribe here so you can keep up with us.

Feeling Blessed this Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Pirate GraceEvery night I tuck Grace into bed, we pray, “God help us get to Rwanda soon!” As we work hard doing our part in this place, we feel abundantly blessed because we see God answering that prayer. He is providing for us. He is preparing us. He brings the right people into our lives to help us in perfect ways.

Gratitude for Our Partners

We are so grateful that you are partners with us in this ministry to Rwanda. We hit a milestone on Sunday! We have reached 70% toward our monthly expenses! Thanks to those who are giving; thanks for those who are praying! God is opening doors.

Favor and Opportunities for Krystal

Most of my (Krystal) colleagues and supervisors at my hospital have heard that I will be moving to Rwanda for 10 years (or more) to contribute my skills as a nurse there. Even still, they paid for me to attend an important conference in Seattle. The speaker was a Certified Nurse Midwife who spoke on The Latest Interventions for Childbirth Challenges. I came home from the conference enthusiastic about all of the information I gained that will help me in my practice as a labor and delivery nurse in Rwanda.

Another God-Ordained Set Up for Krystal

Every month my hospital sets up a one-hour case review where doctors, nurses and neonatal practitioners get together and discuss a challenging case we have had. Last month, the topic was about HIV/AIDS in pregnancy. Talk about a practical topic for OB practice in Africa.

This month, I heard the topic was going to be on neonatal resuscitation, another relevant topic, so I attended. I was thrilled to discover the speaker was a doctor who works for an educational program called Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics to teach neonatal resuscitation techniques in resource-limited areas of the world, including Rwanda!

HBB Training 2012 Rwanda

Every year the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one million babies die from an inability to breathe immediately after delivery. The doctor teaching the course showed a picture of a good sized beautifully developed African baby who immediately after delivery was limp, gray and not crying. He said that because the baby was limp and not crying the midwife and nurses believed that the baby was stillborn so it was wrapped in blankets and taken away for burial without any form of resuscitation. All of us in the room gasped at the thought. One out of 10 babies are born needing some help to start breathing.  From my previous experiences, I knew his stories about newborns not being resuscitated after delivery were not unusual in the developing world.

Neonate Simulator

This doctor explained that his job is to take neonate simulators (little black baby dolls to practice CPR on), bags and masks and learner workbooks and instructional flip charts into developing countries and train doctors, midwives, nurses, community birth attendants and health volunteers how to help babies breathe after delivery.

At the end of the class he said that he was open to having people volunteer to travel with him to different developing countries and help him do training (several nurses did volunteer to travel with him but only if they could go to Rwanda to see meJ). After the class I told him I would love to work with him in Rwanda. I explained that I would be moving there long term and would eventually know the language. Excitedly he asked me if I would be willing to come to a short course he was teaching with a group of healthcare providers at the University of Washington and become a Master Trainer. He said that he would equip me with several neonate simulators and training kits so that I could teach healthcare workers everywhere I went in Rwanda!

Helping Babies Breathe Action PlanLately, I have been struck that in healthcare, in resource-limited areas like Rwanda, a little can make a huge difference and save numerous lives. Here in the US, we have people at every delivery with the knowledge of when and how to stimulate a baby or otherwise help a baby breathe. We take for granted that it is a normal practice for us. In many places in the world babies are born without someone with this knowledge.   I am so excited that I will be equipped to help teach others Helping Babies Breathe.

Rwanda Impact and Jan Plan

Rwanda Ministry Impact

Training Leaders in Rwanda

Training Leaders in Rwanda

I wanted to begin this post with some amazing statistics from Rwanda, specifically about the current class of pastors at New Creation Ministries, where I will be working in two years.

Currently 53 pastors are being trained (1st and 3rd year students in the 4 year Pastoral Training School).

Fifty of them responded to a survey yielding the following statistics:

  • 8099 members in their churches (average = 162 per student)
  • 677 baptisms (average = 14 per student)
  • 17 churches being planted (average = 1 church plant for every 3 students)
  • They are passing on their training to 560 other leaders (average = 11 leaders being discipled by 
each student)
  • 251 small groups with 3056 people in those groups (average = 12 people per group)

It is amazing to see how much of an impact each pastor has!

Reflections on a New Year

In some ways, January 1 is an arbitrary date, but it is as good as any to reflect on the events of the past year and plan for the future.  Over the last twelve months, I lost a father, gained a daughter, walked in graduation, celebrated five years with my bride, took up a new ministry position, and resigned from another.  Additionally, Krystal worked a ton, built a baby, and finished her final project for her masters.  There it is: 2012 summarized in about 40 words.

Looking ahead, 2013 promises to be eventful, chaotic, amazing,…  Krystal has one more class before graduation in May: church history.  Because it is an online course, she has 1800+ pages of reading.  She will continue working at Littleton Hospital, but now will only work two nights each week.  Thankfully, she will keep her benefits.  (Thanks to all who prayed for this!)  I will continue to work at Starbucks part time for the foreseeable future.  Unless God moves us otherwise, we will leave Colorado for Port Townsend, Washington in May.

We also plan to lose our “baby weight” by starting a “couch to 5K.”  We hope to run a 10K some time in the Fall.

Possibly the most consuming aspect of 2013 will be our preparation for Rwanda.  Krystal and I have been using January to begin, in earnest, “partnership development.”  We are contacting our friends in Denver to talk about Rwanda face-to-face.  On one hand, our goal is to give everyone we know an opportunity to participate in the work that God is doing in Rwanda, and to challenge everyone to invest their time, talent, and treasure in the eternal.  Randy Alcorn said, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead of you.”

First Baptist Church, Rawlins, WY

First Baptist Church, Rawlins, WY

On the other hand, our goal is to reach 25% of our monthly support by May.  To achieve that goal, my mentors estimate that I will have to make 80 phone calls, to get 20 appointments, and to partner with 9 families, EVERY MONTH!  Not to mention meeting with churches.  Pray for us that we stay connected to God and trust him for our motivation, joy and courage to boldly present the work He has called us to.

In addition to meeting with potential partners in ministry, we have homework and spiritual growth assignments, too:  Think Before You Look, by Daniel Henderson; Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster; From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker; Creating Understanding, by Donald Smith; and The Art of Crossing Cultures, by Craig Storti.  These will be due over the next 12 months.  Good reading, but with a cute baby to play with, it will take a lot of self-discipline.  Pray for us.

Finally, please be in prayer for our colleagues, Gary and Laurie Scheer.  (Gary is the missionary I met with that first invited us to Rwanda.)  They are back in the US on home assignment.  They have a busy schedule for next month connecting with people and churches.  Pray for fruitful times of ministry, and also restful down times.  Pray for their health in this hectic time.

Thanks for your partnership!

Moses Choi with Grace at KCND

Moses Choi with Grace at KCND

Last Sunday, we had a chance to speak at the annual mission Sunday for the Korean Church of North Denver.  I gave a short sermon on the sending of Saul and Barnabas as missionaries (Acts 13:1-3).  Here is the link, if you are interested:  http://www.kcnd.com/xe/KCND_Board_sermons/8451