Encounter

This Sunday the leadership at Encounter Church in Quarryville Pennsylvania prayed over our family, as they officially welcomed Justin on board! Thank you for your prayers for us during this process. I won’t promise frequent updates, but I do plan to continue posting about what God is doing in our family and ministry {and will get around to adjusting the info on our site}. We aren’t in South Africa, but we are still in need of your prayers as God continues our ministry in a new mission field ♥

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Retrospect

∼I started this in September, but couldn’t find the words to finish it. I’ve since added a little more, but I think it will always feel somewhat inadequate∼

rent-1As I {tera} sit down to write this post, I feel overwhelmed. How can I sum up these past 4.5 years? How do I adequately express what we have experienced; what we have learned; how we have grown and changed; who we have loved; the tears that we’ve cried; our successes and failures; the laughter; the friend-family we’ve gained? I am sure that anything I write will fall short of expressing the joys and pains of our seasons here.

We came here because God was calling us to be further equipped for ministry. We can say, with certainty, that we are far more equipped for God’s calling on our lives than we were 4.5 years ago:

Justin has had the opportunity to lead 4 schools and 5 outreaches, and taught/preached innumerable times in local churches, other African nations, Bible schools and more. Through this he’s gained a deeper understanding of God’s Word and character, and how to apply it in different spheres of life. He has grown as a leader, learning to set his insecurities aside in order to better serve his staff and offer them the support and discipleship they need in order to flourish. He also uncovered pioneering and administrative gifts, rising to every challenge that presented itself.

HITACHII was also a part of 4 Titus Project school’s and outreaches which expanded my understanding of how to train and teach effectively. I was a part of Bethesda House for 2 years, where I gained more experience with intercession and worship, having the opportunity to lean into relationship with God and pursue spiritual disciplines. I became trained with Inner-healing ministry, which has given me a tool to help people find healing and freedom in Jesus, which is my life’s passion.

And now that God is calling us back home to utilize all of this, I am filled with a combination of excitement, sadness, anticipation, and loss. All of the experience doesn’t add up to the love and people that we have gained. I am a better, fuller person for having had these 4.5 years with these people, and this ministry. I do not want to say goodbye, to close the book on this chapter of life. I will forever be leaving a piece of myself here. I will forever treasure these precious people in a dedicated place in my heart.

I was searching for a souvenir to bring back with us, something to be a memento of our time. I found a few trinkets that I liked, but everything just seemed to fall short. Then I had an epiphany – Tenley is our souvenir. She is the unforeseen outcome of all that God has worked in us and through us in this season of life. She was wanted, conceived, and birthed in South Africa, I mean really, is there a more incomparable souvenir than our miraculous Tenley Eliya?

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This post will be a little different from what you expected from us – it’s definitely different from what we expected to be communicating!lancaster-1

In our post The Road To Seminary we shared about the Partnership Program scholarship that Gordon Conwell Seminary offers. Our plan was to finish our term in South Africa and return to the States on October 4th 2016 as Justin is enrolled to begin studies in January 2017.

Since then Justin has been presented with a possible job opportunity working at a local church back home. The church is still discussing the details and will continue to meet with Justin when we return to the States.

As you can imagine, this potential opportunity had us re-evaluating our return to the States. We were certain that Gordon Conwell was the next step, but over the past few months we have realized that it will cost much more than we previously thought and as we’ve said before, we will not go into debt.

lancaster-3In addition to the financial uncertainty, we’d been battling with the true desire of our hearts. For some time, the longing of our hearts has been to settle down and begin putting roots in one place. Although we have loved our travels and have grown immensely through the opportunities, we are ready to leave the nomadic life behind and stop saying so many goodbyes to friends, communities, and ministry efforts. As we’ve begun expanding our family, we realize more than ever how much we would like to settle around grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

So, we found ourselves in an interesting, and somewhat confusing place. What is the right decision for our future and our family? What does God want? Well, after many conversations and much prayer, we have come to a decision. We will be moving back to Lancaster County, Pa permanently/indefinitely. We are so excited about this decision, and feel such a sense of peace. But as always we continue to keep our hearts and ears open, and trust that Go will redirect us if we are moving in the wrong direction.

lancaster-2Justin still wants to pursue a degree and we are in talks with Lancaster Bible College about what credits they will offer based on his training and ministry experience. We are hopeful that, like Gordon Conwell, they will recognize what he has gained over these past 9 years.

As you can see there are still a lot of unanswered questions that we have in returning home and settling down in the States. Although it isn’t easy to live in limbo (especially now that we’re responsible for Tenley), we sincerely trust that God will take care of us and make it possible for the dreams and desires He’s placed within us to come to fruition.

lancaster-4Although we only have 2 weeks left in South Africa, we still need your support as we transition from this mission field to the next. It is not easy to say goodbye to the friends, colleagues, and ministry that we have established here. We really appreciate your prayers of support as we maneuver through this time. We will continue to keep you posted as we get more answers.

We cannot express in words how much you all mean to us for your loving support through relationship, prayer, and funds over the years. We are truly blessed and witness God’s work through your sacrificial generosity – Thank you!

Peace That Surpasses… Accidents

A post from Justin (with a few wifely edits)

Today was crazy and eventful! God is so good. Life with God is awesome. Following Christ is not something I do, it’s someone I am. The peace of God is so real and it surpasses our circumstances. Today I actively experienced God’s peace, and it was awesome!

Here’s what happened:

We are leaving in 45 days to move back to the States. This means, among other things, we are selling our 2 cars.

A friend of mine is trying to get his license so I took him out to get some practice.Things were going very well until we came to a red light where he accidentally pressed the gas instead of the break; we ran into the truck in front of us and pushed it into the intersection. God is still good and I just felt peace.

I quickly put on the four-ways and got out of the passenger side to hop in the drivers seat and get out of the middle of the road. It just-so-happens that this accident was in front of a community with high crime. As I was getting in the car 2 guys came up, opened the door, and stole Tera’s jacket from the backseat. God is still good, and I just felt peace.

We drove up a bit to a somewhat safer location. There wasn’t much damage to the other man’s vehicle so he tells me if I give him R450 ($35) all is okay. I’m not sure how things work in South Africa so I decided to first call the police. Since February I’d been having problems with my phone, it would glitch and wouldn’t work unless I restarted it – this would happen multiple times everyday. About a month ago it just started working normal again BUT at this exact point, it died. God is still good, and I just felt peace.

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I borrowed my friends phone and the police said to just come in and fill out a report at a later time. I paid the man and he was happily on his way. We were still in an unsafe crime area so I wanted to leave but needed to call my insurance company before heading home. A tow truck showed up, the driver lived just around the corner and offered to tow us there at no charge. I called the insurance company and was told that they basically wouldn’t cover anything. God is still good, and I just felt peace.

The tow driver said it would cost R3,500 ($260) to tow it the 6km (3.7 miles) to my flat, which is outrageous. I declined and said I’d call a friend to help me out – so he said I owed him R3,500 for the 1 min tow to his place… Here’s where I couldn’t take the injustice anymore and I gave him a piece of my mind. I am not perfect but God is still good and eventually I just felt peace.

After some persuading he finally agreed to tow me home for R750 ($55). I am now home, safe and sound. I got to cuddle my little princess Tenley and chat with my wife Tera about the whole situation. It’s awesome having a godly wife who wasn’t upset by any of the news. We prayed together as a family and thanked God that we are safe and that He is our provider. God is still good, and we just felt peace.

Life is such a blessing. Sometimes accidents happen and things don’t go our way. I’m so glad that I have Christ in my life to give me peace in every circumstance. This is an inconvenience to both our time and finances, but WHO CARES!? Life moves on. As I told my friend – in Heaven we won’t remember meaningless things like this. I have a broken phone, stolen jacket, and a broken car but I also have a big God. Without Christ in my life my feelings about today’s events would be much different.

God is still good, and I just feel peace.

The Road To Seminary

To read about Justin attending seminary and our continued ministry in the States click here.

As we’ve shared previously, Justin is going to take a study sabbatical and begin seminary in the States in January 2017. We are so honored and excited for this opportunity!

Gordon Conwell offers a “Partnership Program” which gives missionaries, with the help of their supporters, the financial possibility of schooling with little debt. This is the only “full-tuition scholarship” that the university offers, and we have been accepted into this program!

In a nutshell, if we are able to raise 55% of our tuition through our committed network of supporters, Gordon Conwell will cover the remaining 45%. In addition to tuition costs and school fee’s, we will also have our normal living expenses (housing, food, utilities, healthcare, vehicle, etc.).  This is such a remarkable program and opportunity God has made possible for us! Through much counsel and prayer, we believe that this is the next step God is leading us into, and we trust that He will provide the way without falling into debt.

Would YOU prayerfully consider financially supporting our ministry during Justin’s time of study at Gordon Conwell Theological University?

If you want to support us or have any questions please email us at JustinandTera@hotmail.com. In the meantime check out the above video and click here for an online brochure about the program.

Thank you for considering, and please continue to stand with us in prayer that God will provide a way.

 

Have You Heard?

Justin has been accepted to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary!

As you might remember, we joined YWAM right out of High School and did several training and outreach programs prior to joining as full-time staff in 2012. Because of this, Justin does not have an official/accredited degree. Upon reviewing Justin’s biblical training and ministry experience GCTS has granted him an honorary Bachelor degree and accepted him directly into their Master of Divinity program; a big honor and exciting opportunity!

Why? What? When? Where? How?

We believe this is the right opportunity for us for many reasons. Although we have received much of our training abroad, and have spent the past 4 years doing ministry in South Africa, we have always felt that our long-term calling was in the States. While prayerfully evaluating the upcoming end of our commitment with Muizenberg, we felt that the season for transitioning back to the States was coming. We do not view this as an end to our time in missions or ministry but simply as a platform into the new season of ministry that God is bringing us. Therefore, we often refer to this time as a “study sabbatical”.

We do not have all of the answers as to what ministry will look like after Justin’s 3 years of study but our vision to equip believers with God’s truth and biblical understanding has not changed. We are excited to see how God uses this passion and vision in the future.

Our plan is to move from SA to PA in October of this year. This will be a time of practical transition back to the States and allow our families to meet and bond with the Little Monkey who’s coming in May. From there we will move to GCTS in Hamilton MA (about 40 min north of Boston) where Justin will begin classes in January 2017.

As you probably know, seminary is expensive (and we are unable to afford the cost)! Fortunately, GCTS offers a program that gives missionaries, with the help of their supporters, the financial possibility of schooling with little debt – but we’ll share more about that in another post!

So, what do ya think!?