It is hard to take in the brevity of these last two years. Transition is coming very quickly in my life. Exciting, yes! Fearful, yes! To be honest it has been a challenging last two months. My internship is concluding and I have no clue what I will be doing come January. I am in place of transition where I cannot see very far ahead of me, yet it is here that I have found that the Lord has deeply ministered to me amidst the uncertainty. Yes, anxiety has come and gone but I have found solace in Paul’s words,
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
What a magnificent promise! Again and again the Lord has confirmed that in His Word there will be rest. Indeed, I have found that rest is available for the weary, in His Word. Even as the storms of uncertainty rage all around me there is rest and peace.
But I would say at this point I am feeling more excited than any other emotion because I have a no idea what is next. That seems crazy, but I know that it is during the times of uncertainty I am most reliant upon on the Lord. Feeling the fall of uncertainty is difficult to bear when you have no faith in the One who is in the business of being intimately involved in the small details of our lives. But there is great peace knowing that one of the names my Father is known by is Provider. Indeed I have continually come to see that He is my Provider. So here I am today uncertain of the exact place that I will land but taking the steps to get to that place all the while trusting the Lord will divinely direct the process.
Currently I have re-enrolled in school at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary to work on another Master’s degree. At this point I am certain I will work towards a Master of Divinity as I work full time, wherever that may be. However, right now I am thinking through when it will be best to start courses. It will be either this Spring or during the Summer. My hopes will be to complete this degree in a year and half where upon completion I will most likely move towards starting work on a Doctorate in missiology (Theology of missions).
Yes, my plans are to remain here in Southern California after January. I am sold. Once you move to California it is hard to leave! But really I am not being led to move away quite yet. I believe the Lord still wants me to remain here for another season or so. As I sit tight for further direction I am actively searching for a job primarily in ministry but also considering jobs outside of the church at least for a season. Right now I will go where there is provision. I will keep you informed as the process continues.
During the last six weeks of my internship I will continue to be working with the missions team here mobilizing our members to live a life on mission. I am working closely with our college ministry as well as we begin thinking through and planning for the global PEACE trips that our college students will be taking this summer. Currently we are considering taking a big group down to work with churches in the Dominican Republic where I visited a little over three weeks ago.
We have just concluded a campaign here at Saddleback called 40 Days of Love. It has been an incredible series about the relationship principles of Jesus. I would encourage you to listen to the series online at www.saddlebackfamily.com in your spare time and also to pick a copy of The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay, a book that the series was based off of. Incredible stuff!
How grateful I am for you! I praise God for you! Thank you for your faithfulness in supporting me through praying and sending in financial support over the course of this journey. For those who have supported me financially thank you for maintaining your financial commitments over these last two years especially during a time like we are facing in our economy now. Your gifts and sacrificial giving has been the reason I am where I am at today. I am greatly humbled and can never say thank you enough. May God continue to provide your needs according to your riches in Christ. My prayer for you is that God may fold ten times that which you have supported me with over these last two years.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
It seems that the summer has quickly come and gone, as it seems to always do. Although a great benefit to living in this part of the world is that summer lasts a little longer than for the rest of the country. Something I am very grateful for. However, I have noticed that I have quickly acclimated to the weather here as even when it becomes slightly cool I am running for a jacket! Christmas in Arkansas will be a cold one this year for me!
Anyways, summers end proved to be a busy time in my life with a big outreach we do every year called Operation Backpack. During this outreach we had our members buy backpacks and fill them with school supplies. Once members brought the backpacks back we delivered the 2300 backpacks to dozens of schools and community centers around Southern California. It proved to be an incredible outreach as hundreds of young students in low income families were shown love by being given a backpack filled with school supplies for the school year. It was a great opportunity to watch the church be the church.
As summer time has come to an end Saddleback has been gearing up for the fall. We have kicked off our fall season of ministry at Saddleback with nothing more and nothing less than 40 Days of Love. 40 Days of Love is focused on teaching the relational principles Jesus taught and lived out. For the local team and myself the campaign has given us a great opportunity to mobilize Saddleback to be apart of the many local ministries our volunteers are leading. From down south of the border in Baja Mexico to the streets of Los Angeles we are encouraging people to move outside the comfort of their homes and the church building itself to put the love of Christ on display to the local community and beyond.
As of last week I found out that I will be traveling to Dominican Republic with several of Saddleback’s pastors for a three day tour of some ministries going on there. Our goal will be to see how Saddleback can get involved and partner with a group of men who are creating some community development ministries in and around Santiago. Going on this trip came as a surprise to me, so I am very grateful to be apart of this vision trip that will prayerfully result in Saddleback sending many mission teams to the Dominican Republic.
This year is going by at such a rapid pace! I cannot believe that we are only days away from October and a month away from the start of the holiday season, my favorite time of the year! This means that I am now only three months away from the completion of this two year join that I have been on. I cannot thank you enough for how much you have supported me on during this time both in helping me financially and through your support in prayers. They are always felt. I have been able to see God supply all of my needs according to my riches in Christ on all levels!
Thank you again for all that you do and for being my support through this season of life. God is good!
Please be praying for me to have wisdom, discernment, and courage as I begin looking at what is next for me after my internship concludes the first of January.
Posted by Shawn at 1:51 PM
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Well it has been a two months since my last letter to you. I will attempt now to bring you up to date on all that have experienced over the course of these last two months and am currently doing.
It is hard to believe that it has now been exactly one year and seven months since I have moved to Southern California! This time has flown by! It does not seem that to long ago I was packing up in Northwest Arkansas preparing for my adventures out here. Looking back then I would have had no idea of all that I would experience and learn. Nonetheless it has been an incredible time made very much possible by your generous gifts and support to me both financially and through prayer. Thank you! I am so grateful to have you apart of this season of my life.
Looking now on these last two months let me fill you in what I have been doing and have experienced. Summer at Saddleback means a season when most ministries slow down, except for the mission’s team. This is our high season if you will with many people going on global P.E.A.C.E. trips and getting involved in some local P.E.A.C.E. ministries. Transitioning onto our Local Missions Team in April I spent the last part of May and the first several weeks of June creating some opportunities for Saddleback members to be involved in urban ministry in Los Angeles on Skid Row. God opened some great doors for Saddleback members to go down to Los Angeles and partner with some local churches doing some incredible ministry to the homeless. I was able to see many eyes opened and new passions develop in people as they served the least of these on Skid Row on a couple of different ministry outings. I love this!
While I was focusing my attention on local missions I was also balancing my time preparing a team of nine college and high school students for a month long P.E.A.C.E. trip to India. This had been a long five months of preparation. Thus, I was grateful when the day of our departure had come. On June 19 the team and I boarded a plane headed for Delhi, India. For some of the team this was their first time to leave the country on a missions trip! For all of us, this was our first time to India, thus, I had no idea what to expect. However, God had some amazing things in store for us.
We arrived in Delhi June 20 tired but excited to be on the ground from a long journey across the world. Our first two weeks of the trip were spent in Delhi weaving in and out of traffic to visit different ministries around the city. We spent our time working with local Hindu university students, encouraging new believers in house churches in the slums of Delhi and visiting ministries in the slums that exist to both teach work skills to young men and women as well as to teach them about Christ. This proved to be an incredible time.
Moving into our third week in India we boarded a train in Delhi and traveled north. In the North we were introduced to some young pastors, and I mean young, who would better be described as modern apostles. We partnered with these pastors in their ministry in the rural villages of the north and were able to see and experience only what could be described as the gospel stories happening right before us. We were truly apart of the New Testament Church during our time in the North of India. God is doing great and mighty things through some young men and women who are sold on making the message of the gospel known to all in the small part of the world that He has placed them in.
Our last day in the North we traveled to Nepal were we spent the day in a village tucked beneath the foothills of the Himalayas that had never heard the gospel before. We truly had no idea what to expect (the we included the young pastors who went with us). Arriving into the village we stepped out of our SUV’s, prayed, and began walking throughout the village stopping and engaging in conversation with those we came across. These conversations led to invitations into homes where once inside we were able to pull out the Jesus Film and show to the household. The Nepalese villagers welcomed us with open arms as well as the gospel that we came to proclaim. The Lord opened up a great opportunity that day for the local pastors in North India to continue the work in this village freshly introduced to the truth of the gospel. Praise the Lord!
Leaving the North after a fruitful week of ministry we headed back down to Delhi were we would spend the night and the next morning board a plane for Kashmir for a time of rest and debriefing from our three intense weeks of ministry. In Kashmir which is primarily a Muslim region, we were able to connect with a true hero of the faith who is working among the Muslims in Kashmir. We were introduced to some young men who have chosen to follow Jesus after spending their early life as Muslims. I will forever be changed by hearing these men, who many were my age, tell their stories about how they came to follow Christ. Truly amazing! Persecution is very much a part of these men’s lives. What an inspiration they were to a crew of young western Christians.
My time in India was marked with many difficulties and failures, yet, with many learning’s and victories. The Lord reminded me of the power of prayer, the powers that seek to oppose us, and the power of the gospel that we are called to unrelentingly proclaim to those around us. Indeed my team and I had quite the adventure in India. Returning home on July 19 I quickly acclimated back to life in Orange County yet I have brought home a fresh perspective on life and the ministry the Lord has called me to. Thank you for your prayers while we were there!
Posted by Shawn at 2:25 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Ok not going to type to long. Really not going to write anything of importance. I am watching shark week on on Discovery. Man I love this channel really. It has all the best shows which includes Man vs Wild. I have realized that Bear Grylls is my hero. I think its annoying when people put Jesus as their hero. I man Jesus is worthy of hero status but he is so much more than a hero. Anyways Bear Grylls is my new hero. I just finished reading his book The Kid Who Climbed Everest. Good read. He is the youngest person to climb Everest at 23 years old. What the heck. I mean really. Quite inspiring. I have not yet added Everest to my bucket list I don't think I will just because it cost like $60,000 to climb it. First, I doubt I will ever have that much money to put into a hiking trip and second, I hate raising support. So I don't think that I will do it. However, I will definantly go trek through the Himalayas in the next 3 years, less expensive and should be pretty thrilling. I mean not as thrilling as summating the highest peak in the world but should come a close second. Does anyone want to go? Well anyways speaking of bucket lists I am now officially starting one.
1. Trek the Himalayas
2. Skydive solo
3. Purchase a round the world ticket and go for 6 months
4. Swim with a great white (I am watching Shark Week)
5. Summit the highest peaks in North America and South America
6. Trek the Andes
7. Catch a shark (I am watching Shark Week)
8. Sail the Pacific (well some of it)
9. Obtain my pilots license
10. Live on a deserted Island for two weeks
11. Save someone's life
12. Speak another language fluently
That will do it for now. More will be added later. So Bear Gyrlls is my hero. And Jesus is so much more than a hero. Amen.
Posted by Shawn at 11:47 PM