As I sit and listen to the sweet hum of road construction outside of our my bedroom window and slap at my legs trying to get the noseums (they truly are no-see-ums) that continue to bite at me, I am thinking through what a busy and crazy month it has been. I have led two trips and we have had over 475 people serve in Belize since my last post. In fact as I am sitting at my desk writing this, there are 150 people on 6 different trips serving with us! Praise God for the activity and ministry happening all over the country.
But that’s a post for another time. A summer recap if you will…when all the activity is over, when all the praise reports are coming in.
God Knits it all together…..
Laundry: I don’t mind doing laundry. Starting the washing machine, putting the soap in, taking the wet and clean clothes out and putting them in the dryer…all of it doesn’t bother me. I don’t like folding laundry, and what’s more I REALLY don’t like putting clothes away. It’s an unnatural desire. I really don’t understand it. The other day I was putting away my t-shirts and thought to myself. I have too many t-shirts. I crammed them all to one side of the drawer and then tried to fit in the others and it just wasn’t working. Fed up I started taking out all the shirts, looking for the ones to give away. They all had meaning…almost like they were part of me.
I remembered, as I looked at the heap of unfolded t-shirts, the philosophy of life one brother shared with us and it was based on his t-shirts. My life is laid out in those shirts….I can’t give them away.
There was the old Clemmons Cougar basketball shirt that somehow still fit, (strangely nothing from high school in the t-shirt selection), the NCSU gym shirt, the “Bike seat” shirt, the Come Bare it all Founder’s shirt, the shirt Amy and I got on our honeymoon, the shirt from our first mission trip in 2007, the Starting Point Church shirt, and then all the other mission trips since. They are me and I am them….there’s got to be a way to preserve them.
SO I called in Amy and she, in her infinite wisdom, said “I can make a quilt out of those.” Aha. Decision-made. Not the most practical use in Belize but it’ll do. The shirts must be knitted together, much like those stages in life represented by the shirts knitted me to who I am today. God knits it all together.
SO fast-forward from that revelation to last week Wednesday when I was speaking with one of our staff. He was challenging me on the relevance and effectiveness of short-term missions, really wrestling with the value they are bringing to the local church. I pushed back saying that the encouragement locals receive by the team just “being there” cannot be overstated. I know I have heard the stories. But then I said, short-term missions matter because they impact lives. Period. I tweeted the other day: “Mission trips change lives. Go on one.” My life was changed by a mission trip. My friend Judson’s life was changed by a mission trip. My friend Tony, same story. My friend Jeff, My friend Steve. All of our staff at Praying Pelican Missions. And then the thousands of participants that have served all over the world this year. All of these people and many more have been changed because of a mission trip.
Could we be doing more to equip and encourage the local church in the locations we serve? Yes, of course. And God willing we are continuing to identify those opportunities to do that. But even if we miss the mark from time to time. God uses mission trips to change lives. Period.
Amy asked me one time why do we measure or count or track the number of people that go on mission trips with us. Fair point.
Here’s the answer:We measure the number of participants that come on trips with Praying Pelican Missions because like Pastor Perry Noble says:
Every Number has a Name
Every Name has a Story
Every Story matters to God.
Going on a mission trip is just part of our participants’ stories. It’s a moment, a significant moment, a moment that God uses to knit it all together.
Amy and I will be married 9 years in December and we were talking one night about did we ever imagine we would be here, living in Belize. The answer was absolutely not, of course, but God was using our life events to knit it all together. I can trace actions in my life from middle school that directly impacted and resulted in us moving here.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”
God knitting it all together:
- 8th grade I decide to take band in high school and join marching band, which led to…
- 9/10th grade befriending Catherine and Steve, among others. in marching band, which led to….
- 11th grade – dating Steve’s sister and then us breaking up and me being “devastated” (I am talking HUGE snot bubble tears, seriously the worst), which led to….
- 12th grade – a lot of free time on AOL instant messenger, talking through a mutual marching band friend to Rachel and we start to date, which led to….
- Sophomore year – Rachel convincing me to join a fraternity for a resume booster which led to…
- Senior year – meeting Amy through that fraternity which led to….
- Amy being at a one of my parties when we had a friend going through some suicidal thoughts at the party which led to….
- Amy and I talking over AOL Instant Messenger, which led to…
- Amy falling into my web of suaveness at a New Years party or my own dumb luck, which led to…
- Amy and I dating, the Lord redeeming and rescuing me from my life of sin which led to….
- God knitting our stories together….which led to…
Sitting in church one day and seeing the bulletin say “Belize mission trip meeting.” Belize might as well have been in Africa. We had no idea. We knew it fell during one of Amy’s 3-week breaks from teaching and they spoke English and played basketball / futbol. Why not? We went and there was a Category 4 hurricane that passed through Northern Belize. Instead of doing what we planned to do, we did Hurricane disaster relief. We had to go back; God knits it all together.
2008 – we have a miscarriage and Amy is able to return to Belize that summer. It was this trip that gave her the confidence later to move to Belize. God knits it all together.
2011 – I meet a new to me employee at Praying Pelican Missions and he becomes my advocate, friend, boss, and mentor
The rest you guys know. God knits our story all together.
Literally, I can trace back how God used moments of my life and moments of Amy’s life separately to get us together and then used moments in our life together to get us here. God is knitting, always.
As I look at our participants, our staff serving this summer all over Belize, I can’t help but think what moments has God used to get them here for this time. And I can’t help but pray for them as God uses the moments of Belize this summer to knit together His perfect plan for their lives.
As you look at your own life, take a second and look back. Look back to how the Lord knitted it all together to get you where you are. And then get excited and don’t miss the opportunities for how the Lord is knitting together these moments for where you are going. He truly does work all things for the good of those who love him. God knits it all together.
Praises / Prayer Requests:
- Praise: We had over 15 people come to know the Lord on a trip that I led to Armenia Belize!
- Praise: We have introduced chicken cooping and gardening as two new ministries for our mission teams serving in 3 different locations in Belize. These are HUGE steps to maintaining sustainable ministries for these villages.
- Prayer Request: HEALTH – Madeline has been dealing with SEVERE constipation and in return poop fright for the last 5 days. Pray that this is taken away from her IMMEDIATELY and Pray she poops!!
- Prayer Request: HEALTH – I, Josh, woke up this morning with significant back pain. I am in bed and cannot look to the right or left. UGH! Pray for healing
- Prayer Request: Community – Amy and I are still struggling with how to minister to our local community. We are doing a Vacation Bible School next Monday – Friday, so be praying for 100 kids per day. Be praying how we can develop greater community with moms for Amy.
- Prayer Request – Marriage and Rest – Pray for our marriage. We don’t ask because it alarms people that “y’all are in trouble.” We aren’t in trouble. We are just asking for our marriage to be richer, more fulfilling and realize it’s full calling to be the example of Christ’s love to others around us. Pray for that please!
- Prayer Request – Financial Support – We are in need of 3 more individuals to support us monthly. If you have questions about how to contribute, please ask and I would love to get information in your hands.
You are loved by our family and The Lord has knitted you all to our story, and us to yours. Seek the Lord and watch how He knits it all together for you.