Friday, August 31, 2012

That Day...This Day

That day...rain poured.  The ground grew soggy and the outdoor reception did not seem like the great idea that we had planned on for six months.

That day...the doors opened, I saw you standing tall, your face beaming.  I could not to get to you fast enough.

That day...tears flowed as we knelt before the Lord, sealing our union in His hands.  Forever each others and forever His.

That day...the rain stopped as we left the church.  A perfect touch to a wonderful day.


This day...ten years have now passed.

This day...I was thinking about how I said right after we were married I expected to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a big way...a cruise, big vacation, or something like that.

This day...I know God has better plans...and I am thinking now maybe we can celebrate with a trip to Brazil for language school.

This day...I am more in love with you than ever before.  You are truly my best friend and I cannot imagine living this great adventure with anyone else.  

This day...I praise God for you and for the past ten years.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Momentary Crossing


It has been but for a moment that our paths have crossed,
But it has been for eternity that our hearts have been changed.
For with you we have seen the face of God and
Through you we have been touched by His presence. 
Together we have wrestled through a lifetime of hard questions
And together we have lived in joy and tears.
Because of this momentary crossing we now
Love deeper,
Live fuller,
Hope higher,
Pray bolder,
Believe bigger.
And as our paths lead on apart, but always together,
May we forever cherish this momentary crossing.

 -written in honor of those to whom we say goodbye as our training ends today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Presence

Putting words to this last month is very much the same as wrapping my brain around the sovereignty of God...far too deep/big/much for me to fathom, let alone communicate with any type of clarity.  I am a firm believer that one is forever changed by spending time in the presence of God...and this month His presence has been all over the place...

His presence has been seen in us meeting new friends...
Before coming, we prayed intently for friends for ourselves and for the boys.  Friends who would walk through the stretching and craziness of life and still laugh and smile with us.  This month we have made several forever friends.  While these friendships will span the globe from Asia to Africa to the US, our hearts will be forever tied together in Christ's love.  My heart is larger and my prayers more global because of their touch on my life.

God's presence has been seen in our growing relationship with Him...
After this month, we are walking away with some clear goals and prayers for our faith walk.  We desire to daily experience the love of God personally.  We will strive to know and trust in the sovereignty of God, understanding more of who we are as we understand more of who He is.  We hope to grow in the depth of our relationship so that we can go through life and all its sufferings with Him, not on our own.  And in the end, we hope to intentionally train our children to know these things as well.  

We have seen it in a the strengthening of our marriage...  
We have explored our behavior types and how they interact.  We have talked about our strengths and weaknesses, learning to set up boundaries to guard our hearts and marriage.  We have learned once more of the vital importance of deliberately working on our marriage.  In the midst of all this, we have laughed, cried, prayed and loved each other deeply.

We have seen the presence of God in the generous partnering of individuals with our ministry...
Since we have been here at training, our monthly budget funds have increased 11%.  We now have over 2/3 of our budget met.  That is a huge praise!!  We have had new partners come on board, as well as some who have given once commit to giving on a regular basis.  As we said in our last newsletter, our faith goal for full financial partnership is September 10th.  We fully believe that God is working out His perfect plan and His perfect timing to bring our partnership team together.  We wait with an eager and expectant hearts to see how He accomplishes this great task!

God's presence has reconfirmed our desire to serve the nations...
2 billion unreached people.  2 billion men, women and children who will be born, live and die without ever hearing the gospel or even the name of Jesus. Within that 2 billion, millions upon millions upon millions exist who cannot hear God's word in a language they understand because it simply does not exist.  Their Bibles are blank and their lives are empty of the fullness of God.  

Wrapping our thoughts around this is similar to that of God's sovereignty.  While we cannot change the lives of all 2 billion, we can be used by God to bring His kingdom to the men, women and children of Mozambique.  (Note, that "we" is far more than the Richards family...that "we" includes you. You are being used by God to bring His word to the people of Mozambique as you partner with us through prayer and regular financial gifts.)

This month God's presence has touched our lives in many ways.  As we close out this our last week of training, drinking the fullness of our final moments here, may His presence bring peace, revelation, wisdom and hearts forever changed for the glory of His presence alone.



 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Life Surrendered


I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what you will.

Put me to doing. Put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,

Exulted for You, or brought low for You.

Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to
Your pleasure and disposal.

And now glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

You are mine and I am Yours.  So be it.
And this covenant now made on earth,
Let it be satisfied in Heaven.
                -John Wesley

Let this be my prayer. 
A life surrendered,
Fully.
Answering, “whatever”
Till I am yielded.
Till I am Yours.
Fully surrendered.
Fully Yours.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

3, 30 or even 300

In our latest newsletter, we wrote that our faith goal is to have full financial partnership by September 10th...34% in 30 or so days.  After I sent it out, I made the comment to David, "Wouldn't it be awesome if God completed our partnership team in not 30 days, but 3?"  He said, "Of course, but what if He chooses to do 300 instead? Would you still praise Him?"

300 days?  Almost another year before Brazil, making it two before we step on to the soil of Mozambique.  My heart sinks at the idea.  Correction, my heart nearly breaks at the idea.  My breathing stops and eyes fill with tears as I try to wrap my brain around not being there for another year.


Don't get me wrong- I fully believe and have faith that God can and will do an amazing work to bring our partnership to completion by September 10th.  Each day, I look to see what part of the work He has done, eagerly and expectantly seeking to see Him move.  I think we will have one amazing story to share in the next few days as God moves hearts to call up His team to join us in reaching the Bibleless of Mozambique. 

But what if September 10th comes and goes, will we praise Him?  What if next September 10th should come and go and we are not in Mozambique, will we praise Him?

There is a group of guys in the Old Testament that are faced with a similar question.  The dictator of that day is about to execute them by burning them to death.  He looks to them one last time and basically says, "Where is your God now?"  They respond back that their God can and will save them, and even if He doesn't, they will still praise Him.  (See Daniel 3.)  They will still praise Him. 

They will still praise Him because He alone is worthy of praise.   
His worthiness is not dependent on our circumstances matching our expectations.  
His sovereignty is not dependent on our desires. 
His faithfulness is not limited by our own faithlessness. 

300 days? Would I still praise Him?  Is He still faithful?  Is He still trustworthy?  Is He still sovereign?  Absolutely.

We eagerly watch for Him this month, resting in His sovereign power to accomplish His purpose in His timing.  Whether it is 3, 30, 300 days or (gulp) never,

We still believe in the goodness of God and we will still praise Him.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Done, Yet Not Complete.

Done.
Chosen.
Blessed.
Predestined.
Adopted.
Redeemed.
Sealed.
Loved.
Brought from death.
Made alive.     
Saved.
Raised up.
Seated.
Brought near.
Created.
United.
Reconciled.
Given access.
Done. Complete. Finished.

Not Yet done.
To know the hope of His calling.
To know the riches of His glorious inheritance.
To live through the surpassing greatness of His power.
To be strengthened by His power living in me.
To have Christ dwell in my heart.
To be rooted,
grounded in love.
To understand the breadth
length
height
depth
of God's love.
To know the love of Christ.
To be filled with His fullness.
Not yet complete, work in progress.

We are done, yet not complete.

Take heart, He who started this good work in you is not done yet.  
He will see it through to completion.

(Gleaned from the book of Ephesians.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

For His Glory Alone (August News)

August Highlights:
  • 60% of our recurring monthly budget has been committed to.
  • 100% of our one-time launching expenses has been received!!
  • September 10th has been set as our faith goal for full funding.
  • The boys need a picture of your family!
  • We hope to see some of you on Saturday, August 11th for JAARS day.

Greetings from Waxhaw, NC!

This month we are here at JAARS (a partner organization to Wycliffe) completing our final training before we are able to attend language school.  This time has been full of spiritual preparation, culture and language training.  Our days are busy, our brains full and our hearts tender to God’s voice.  (If you would like to read specifically about our days in training and just how much David enjoys dancing, visit our blog here.) 

The boys are doing well and are truly enjoying the summer camp classes they attend Monday through Friday.  Caleb swims daily and Nathan has taken a fondness to the two box turtles his class keeps on the playground.   They spend their spare time playing with their new friends as well as fishing with "Da" in the pond by our apartment.

One of their favorite things to do while in our apartment is to watch the screen saver on the laptop as it cycles through our many pictures.  We all enjoy seeing pictures of the boys growing up, but even more than that, we get excited when we see pictures of friends who are now all over the globe.  Could you help us surprise the boys with even more pictures?  Please email us a picture of you and your family to add to our collection.  We hope to also use the pictures as prayer tools as we praise God for you regularly.  We thank you greatly in advance!!

We are also looking forward to JAARS day on Saturday, August 11 and hope to see some of you on that day.  JAARS will open up their center to allow you to get hands on knowledge of Bible translation and how information technology and aviation are used in the process of getting God’s word to the nations.  You can take helicopter and airplane rides and see how the Jesus film is dubbed (like Caleb is doing here.) If you will be coming, let us know so we can be looking for you!

We have spent much of this month asking God to turn our hearts to Him, to give us the correct focus for our ministry and to continually be glorified in us.  A verse that has really sung out to us during this time is, Isaiah 42:6-8,
“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another…”

Friends, this verse is not just for us as “the missionary.”  This verse is for all who know Christ as Savior.  God has called each of us who are His children to be a light to the nations.  As we surrender to Him, He will take each of us by the hand as He works through us to bring His promise to all nations, tribes and languages.  He desires to use all of us to open the eyes of the blind and bring others out of the bondage of sin and death.   And in the end, while He will work through each of us, it is He alone who deserves all the glory.

We are learning it is God alone who will bring us to Mozambique.  God alone will provide in His perfect timing.  God alone deserves the glory for this great work.  He will not share His glory with us, for it is His work alone. 

So what is next for our family?  Our training ends the final week of August.  We will then return to Virginia for a short time before our commissioning/spaghetti dinner benefit in Thomasville, NC on September 8th.  We will continue to share with churches and individuals about the needs of Bible translation and our specific need for recurring financial partners. (We are currently scheduling opportunities for September. If you are interested in having us at your church or small group, please email us.)

God has provided for our one-time costs (such as plane tickets and visas) through your gracious and generous gifts.  Our desire is to leave for language school in Brazil by the end of September.  For this goal to be achieved, we must have financial partnership to cover our monthly budget by September 10th.

Currently we are just under 60% of our monthly budget needs.  Our most urgent need is for people to commit to praying for us and commit to give regularly to our ministry.  For us to meet our faith goal to depart in September, the remaining 40% of our budgetary needs must be pledged within the next 30 days.  40% in 30 days is a huge task that is completely unrealistic in human terms.  Still, God is so much bigger than this 40% and will accomplish His purpose for our ministry in His perfect timing.  Even now He is working in hearts to raise up a team to join Him in this adventure of bringing His word to the Bibleless people of Mozambique!
We need people who are willing to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:20-21)  Our hearts' desire is to be used by God to bring His word to the people of Mozambique.  Just as He has called us to go, He is calling many of you to send.  He can use each of you for His provision and glory.  No amount is too small for God to use.  Our need at this moment is for recurring gifts that can be given monthly, quarterly or annually. Together we are a team that loves Jesus and seeks to make His name famous.  If you believe He is calling you to be a part of our team as a sender, please visit here.

This month join us in asking the Creator of the Universe to show off big time.  Pray that He moves in hearts and provides for our ministry in His perfect timing.  We are honored and humbled that you have chosen to be a part of this ministry.  We are grateful for the many sacrifices which you have made.  Excitedly, we look forward to September and the opportunity to share with you again the great things the Lord has done for us as we are filled with joy.

For His glory alone,
David and Wendi
Pray with us:

-to recognize God's love in a personal way each day

-for 100% of our monthly support to be reached

-for us to find our identity in Christ

-to have courage and faith to tackle the issues we are discovering as we prayerfully search our hearts and respond to this time of training

-for the hearts of Mozambique to be eager to receive God's word

-for ongoing translation efforts in Mozambique
Praise with us:
 
-for friends and partners who have poured great wisdom and love into our lives

-for our time in training on many needed topics

-for those leading our training and for new friends made

-for God teaching us about our identity in Him

-for His faithful provision
What's Next for Us

7/25-8/25
ICC training
JAARS Center, Waxhaw, NC

8/11
JAARS Day
Waxhaw, NC

9/8
Spaghetti Dinner & Silent Auction Benefit
Commissioning
Rich Fork Baptist
Thomasville, NC

9/10
Faith goal to reach full financial partnership

Would you like to see your group added to this list?   Let's set something up!  Email us today!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Glimpse

A glimpse at one of the planes here at JAARS
As we walked into our training classroom for the first time, we were greeted by shouts of "HALLELUJAH!" with echoes of "Amen!"  At the front of the class, were a group from a west African church who had come to share with us how church might look like in their culture.  

After explaining that in their church the offering was brought up to the front by individuals dancing excitedly, they asked the class to model this by dancing around the room.  The combination of disbelief and fear on David's face was priceless.  As you might expect, dancing is no where near his comfort zone, but nonetheless dance (in the loosest terms of the word) he did.  
 
For a moment, we had a glimpse of what our life would look like, not only for the next month, but for a lifetime of cross-cultural ministry. 
 
The title of the training we are in during this month is "Inter-Cultural Communication" (ICC).  While we have joked before that this is the training that will keep us from starting another civil war in Mozambique, truly it is much more than that.  

The purpose of ICC is to produce longevity of mission service.  Its goal is to give us the tools and training to prepare us to face some of the issues that we will more than likely face while serving in cross-cultural ministry.  The four facets we will cover during this month are spiritual vitality, interpersonal skills, world view and language/cultural acquisition.  Each of these topics plays a key role in preparing us to serve long-term in Mozambique. 

Our time here has the opportunity not only to serve in stretching our understanding of cross-cultural ministry, but our understanding of ourselves and our God.  

So what does a glimpse of our daily life look like?  

8:00-12:00- Class time for all of us
    Our class today included worship, work on memorizing scripture, language learning tips, and learning about different personality types (Those who know us would not be surprised that David and I tested as almost complete opposites on the typing.  Guess opposites really do attract!)
 
    Caleb and Nathan are attending summer programs while we are in class.  Both boys have had a  BLAST so far.  They enjoy their teachers and friends...and it doesn't hurt that Caleb swims almost every day.  (Caleb did run a fever earlier this week, but has rebounded greatly thanks to all of your prayers!)

12:00- lunch in our apartment- While here at JAARS, we are staying on campus in a two bedroom apartment.  The accommodations are very nice and it is kind of fun to have my own kitchen again.  

1:00-4:00- Some afternoons we continue with class, some afternoons we have optional topics such as health care and 4 wheel driving.  Some afternoons, we might even get a moment to rest. :)
 
4:00-bedtime- time with the boys playing at the playground, riding bikes or just going for a walk.  Eating together as a family...and after the boys go to bed, homework time for mom and dad.  Yep, what class wouldn't be complete without some homework. 

Weekly, you will find us attending church at a Brazilian fellowship in nearby Charlotte on Saturday evenings.  This exposure to Portuguese and to the culture in which we will be living in just a few months is priceless. (It was scary/exciting to visit the first time, but priceless in the end.)  
 
Daily, we are praying that God would give us a glimpse of who He is, a glimpse into His perfect plan for us and a glimpse into the life He has called us into.  We are praying that our hearts would be open to learn all He desires to pour into us.  Thank you for joining us in these prayers and for sharing in this glimpse of our life these days!
   


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