Selah

This mystery word from the psalms often appears untranslated in our modern texts. It is probably a musical term, and comes at transitions in the text, such as between stanzas. So think, “Bridge” or “Musical Interlude” or maybe even “Dance and Scream Until the Lyrics Start Again.” I have a friend, a contemplative, who was convinced it meant “Pause and Reflect.”

We have been in a busy season, taking on teaching from absent teachers and administrative duties from absent administrators. We were persevering, in the strength of the Lord, and refusing to burn out, rather letting the extraneous “work” fall away in this season. And yet, we did not see light at the end of the tunnel.

2019-07-11 Grace Rayna tunnel 2.jpeg2019-07-11 Grace Rayna tunnel.jpeg

Notice

Rwanda has been seeking to regulate churches and has required that Rwandan Church leaders (National level representatives and local church pastors) must have education from an accredited religious school. Since 2017, the word has slowly morphed. Pastors should be educated. Pastors MUST be educated. Religious schools should become accredited. Religious schools MUST be accredited. And last month, the Higher Education Council of Rwanda widely published a notice that all non-accredited schools teaching at a post-secondary level MUST STOP.

Our CLIR program is a bit of a hybrid, since we do not offer degrees, but do offer an academic program. Our ministry exists to “help the church of Rwanda function as the body of Christ,” and does so with a primary strategy of discipling for church leaders using the mode of educational programs. We have always been happily below the radar, while impacting pastors, their families, their churches and their communities. This model has worked well for us over the years. Do we really NEED to change?

After three 12-hour days of meetings, the answer is a decided YES.

Selah

We’re in the musical interlude between one season and the next.

We MUST pause CLIR.

So we rejoice. Because of the government, the unsustainable pace will not continue. AND now we can focus on laying a solid foundation for CLIR as an accredited religious school. AND we can build something great. While we can’t keep doing what we have been doing, being forced to change will help us sharpen our edge, evaluate the context of ministry in Rwanda, and address our program to the current needs of the church. I believe that what an accredited CLIR program has to offer is a significantly better training for pastoral ministry than any other training available in Rwanda.

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Nick, Josue, Bosco at a conference

AND we also groan in our spirits. Transition can be hard. We have seen significant transition in leadership, and now we are seeing significant transition in ministry opportunity.

In the meantime, please pray: 

  • that our students wouldn’t become discouraged, but would be patient and faithful in the waiting; and that we find places for them to study in the interim.

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    One student giving a testimony of the impact of CLIR on his church

  • for discernment, perseverance, unity and joy for our staff team and leadership as we pursue accreditation, wade through bureaucracy, etc.
  • that meeting the requirements for accreditation wouldn’t require program changes that hinder our ability to fulfill NCM’s mission
  • that we do not act out of fear or “catastrophize,” but would seek the Lord for vision and direction
  • that God would provide for all of our needs (finances, connections, favor, staff, etc.)
  • that our ministry and work would come from the overflow of abiding in Jesus

Thank you for your partnership in this work! The Lord is using your prayers, words of encouragement, and contributions to have a profound impact in Rwanda.

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Our students took a mission trip to a rural area

Yahweh Yireh

Pastor Bryan Roberts enjoying a ferry ride to Seattle after our harrowing move.

Pastor Bryan Roberts enjoying a ferry ride to Seattle after our harrowing move.

God’s Provision is Great! In response to your profound and effective prayers for us, I can now tell you that God has answered our prayers in many ways.  You may have already heard in our “Quick News” email update on July 3 that our travels to Port Townsend were safe for all humans.  There is more!

Friends from Starbucks: Jeff and Dan

Friends from Starbucks: Jeff and Dan

In the past 6 weeks God has also provided us with jobs.  I was indeed able to transfer to the nearest Starbucks in Sequim, Washington, ensuring that we would continue to have health insurance.  I miss my friends from Aspen Grove and Belleview and Prince Starbucks, but I am making friends and connecting here.  Since being hired, three customers have called my manager to complement my service.  Many of you know that I work at Starbucks to make real connections with people I wouldn’t otherwise meet.  These complements indicate to me that this work of making real connections with people is not in vain.  God is blessing me in this season. Krystal, also, was able to find work as a part time night labor and delivery nurse in a nearby hospital.  Because it is a newer area of nursing for her they are giving her 12 weeks of orientation, extra training we prayed she would receive even before she interviewed.  She has made friends at work and been a blessing to her patients even during her orientation. The drawbacks with these jobs are few, but significant.  For me, I commute 40 minutes each way.  Krystal commutes 50 minutes each way, and her orientation has her working full time hours during the day for the next three months.  All this cuts into the hours that we want to dedicate toward building relationships in Port Townsend and partnership development.  Pray that our time would be multiplied.

The rocks were painfully sharp and I forgot water shoes.

Grace enjoying the water at Cougar Campground on my family campout.

Refreshing Time with Family We have enjoyed extended time with my family camping in Cougar, WA in early June.  Then, in late June we a special visit with my Grandma Grace, and Aunt Diana and Uncle Forrest.  Krystal was able to spend some special time with her cousins in Seattle the day she arrived in Washington.  Also, we have thoroughly enjoyed spending regular time with Krystal’s Mom, sister Kendra, brother-in-law Danny, and niece Hayden.  We came back to spend time with family, and God is blessing this time.  (I’ve been able to write this because Danny and Kendra are watching Grace, today.)

Kirabo means approximately: gift or grace.

Our friend, Olive, from Uganda, gave Grace a beautiful doll who she helped us name “Kirabo.”

God Reveals His Grace through My Grace
God amazes me by continually revealing his character through my daughter.  This morning, Grace was playing with some q-tips, pulling them out of their container and trying to put them back.  (She’s 14 months and loves pulling things out and putting them in.)  Her manual dexterity is not quite there.  She had difficulty putting them back.  But she tried, first one way, then another, then another.  I realized that she had little expectation of excellence in this task.  She was having fun and learning, and was perhaps too young to be frustrated by her own incompetence.  And I, too, had no expectation for perfection on her behalf, and when playtime was over, I helped her pick up the remainder. As Krystal and I stress about Partnership Development and our own incompetence, God looks on us without judgment, but joy as we learn this skill.  God is our provision, and does not have unrealistic expectations of us.  He is our helper.

God’s Provision while We Rested
These last 8 weeks have been a break from Partnership Development as we discovered a new normal in Port Townsend.  While we rested, God did not stop working.  We were extremely blessed to have four families step in and support us financially. We are officially at 8% of our monthly support.  We also have a few families that are giving without committing or who have given verbal commitments but cannot yet start giving.  Both are fine, and we trust God’s provision for the 92%.  Before we leave, WorldVenture needs us to have monthly committed support at 100%.  If you would like to commit click this link:  Donate Now! 

For their vacation we were able to camp at Kalaloch, WA for two nights.  It rained, but we had loads of fun.

For their vacation we were able to camp at Kalaloch, WA for two nights. It rained, but we had loads of fun.

Guests We were blessed with guests from Wyoming: Pastor Brian (who helped us move) and Shauna Roberts, and Heyden and Peyton.  In their week of vacationing we went camping in Kalaloch, toured the upper bunkers in Port Townsend, and even went to Seattle Aquarium and Pike Place Market.

Silas and Grace have a last play date in Denver before we left.  This was her first first birthday party, and with her best friend.

Silas and Grace have a last play date in Denver before we left. This was her first first birthday party, and with her best friend.

Also our friends from Denver, Jason and Amy Mitchell and Silas took a mid-morning away from family to visit with us in Edmonds, WA.

Grace
Grace is a competent runner and loves to climb up stairs and bedside tables.  Unfortunately, she is oblivious to proper stair descent technique.  She still loves to dance to music, and has found a best friend in Port Townsend: her cousin Hayden.  She has learned “up peez,” and loves to wave and say “bye” when people leave.

One of the benefits of the retreat is time to bond with each other away from their children.

We visited this pastor two years ago in Rwanda. He and his wife are participating in the retreat this week.

Meanwhile in Rwanda
The pastors in their fourth year of training at New Creation Ministries and their wives are participating in a marriage retreat.  It is 8 days dedicated to building a foundation of Christian family living into this pastor family.  They will then model this lifestyle to their congregation.  Pray that they would learn to take joy in each other and work together to honor God in their marriages. We approach God with gratitude, but also an awareness of our utter dependence on him for his continual provision.  Pray also for Selah Ferguson, the girl mentioned in our last post.  So many miracles accompanied her, and she is mostly fine, but she is receiving delicate surgery in Texas on August 28 to address her hearing in her left ear and to “decompress” a facial nerve that will not recover naturally.  Read more about her here: Selah Ferguson. Thanks for your involvement in this ministry, Nick and Krystal

On the Road

Urgent Prayer RequestImageThe three-year-old daughter of one of our coworkers in Rwanda is in the hospital with brain trauma.  A heavy metal box fell on Selah’s head while their family was relocating from one house to another.  She has two skull fractures and spinal fluid leaking from her ear (which could lead to meningitis).  Since her injury, she is no longer on a ventilator, but is on pain medication.  On Sunday, she was stabilized enough to evacuate her to a specialized facility in South Africa.  Our prayer for her is that there is no long term injury to her eye and her brain, that the spinal fluid leak heals without surgery, and that apparent nerve damage to her face would heal.   Follow her story here: http://prayerwall.worldventure.com/lance-and-tiffany-ferguson/ 

Her story reminds us first, that kids get injured, no matter where in the world you live.  Second, in Rwanda, there are some resources, but we will need people praying to God on our behalf, seeking his protection.  Finally, we are thankful to have a sending organization that knows how to mobilize prayers and provides medical evacuation for emergencies.

Mileposts in lifeImageKrystal graduated from Denver Seminary.  Many of you honored us by coming to the ceremony.  Special thanks to Shari, Krystal’s mom, who came from Washington to visit. Thank you!

ImageI successfully completed the Bolder Boulder, a 10K run in Boulder, CO.  I was fighting illness the week before, but was able to run about 5.5 mph, or an 11 minute mile.  Special thanks to my running partner, Rick Herzer, who kept me training these last 5 months.  His other friend, Nick, who recently moved to Colorado Springs from Washington, also ran the race.

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Grace has gone from “cruising” to actually walking up to 20 steps at a time.  She is thriving on her two nap a day schedule and sleeping through the night.  She continues to be a joy to us. She points at things and says, “Oooo.”  She stares at people in public.  She loves playing chase and tickling.  And our favorite, she dances anytime music plays, especially “Elmo’s Got the Moves.”  Check out her moves at the BolderBoulder.  Grace has the moves!

Lessons on the Road

Both Krystal and I feel quite confident and competent in many ways.  She is a skilled nurse and nurse leader at her hospital.  She has been an A student at Denver Seminary.  I like to think that I do well at teaching, preaching and discipling.  I was an A- student at seminary.  And I am a great barista at Starbucks.  While life was hard at times, in many ways we were in our sweet spot in Denver; we had opportunities to practice the gifts God gave us.

Over the next three years, we are going through a “construction zone.”  First, we are leaving Denver for Port Townsend, WA.  Second, Krystal is looking for a nursing job in Labor and Delivery, a newer field of nursing for her.  Third, I’m trying to transfer to a Washington Starbucks, but don’t have anything secure yet.  Fourth, partnership development requires skills and abilities we don’t really have. Fifth, we are leaving Washington in November 2014 for Rwanda where we will spend a significant amount of our energy learning to speak and live in a new way.

All this to say, the path ahead will be really bumpy and hard at times, but it leads to the place God wants us.  Please pray for us along the way.

Going Away Party

In case you didn’t hear, we are having a get-together to say good-bye to Denver.  All are invited.  Open house format.  Meat and fixings are provided.  Bring a side to share and your own drink of choice.

Saturday, June 8 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

The Blomberg House
7850 S Race St
 Centennial, CO 80122

If you haven’t rsvp’ed elsewhere, please reply to this email if you plan to come.

Partnership Development

We are at the 6-month mark with WorldVenture for PD and the goal is to be between 15-25%.  If you have pledged to give monthly, or you would like to join our monthly support team, please take a moment to sign up right now: https://www.worldventure.com/donate. If you want to commit, but can’t begin giving right away, select the payment option “mail a check.”  (You can adjust this later.)  If you can begin giving right away, that money goes toward our outgoing expenses.

Our many thanks to those who have given and those who continue to give: finances, prayers, help, and encouragement.  We have been blessed beyond what we expected as we shared our story and listened to each of yours.

Blessings,

Nick and Krystal