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We have an Announcement: It is Hanoi!

We are, of course, excited to tell you about our next place of service Hanoi, Vietnam but first we wanted to tell you how we decided to go to Hanoi.  So we each took turns at telling our story, each from our own point of view.  We also have a new website that tells the story of what we will be doing in Vietnam since our last one, ServingInGhana.org, was rather location specific we decided on a more universal name: 
 

Steve: This Wait is Over, a New One Begins...

"For you I wait all day long."  Psalm 25:5
JULY 2, 2019   A good friend once told us, “Hope is not the belief that everything will work out as you want it to. Hope is the belief that however things work out, God was in the process.” After almost a year of searching, we have felt called to join Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF) on staff. We were so blessed by a year of rest & recovery, time with family, and transformational experiences. God very gently led us on the path that He knew we needed, and we are much stronger and even more secure in following His path than we were before.

“Hope is not the belief that everything will work out as you want it to.
Hope is the belief that however things work out,
God was in the process.”

After about 5 months of re-entry, which included a road trip around the country, time with our new granddaughter, and several Skype interviews, we embarked on our first overseas vision trip, to Hanoi, Mauritius, and Beirut. We received two job offers after that trip, but we felt God saying either No or Not Yet to those. We then began several months of discernment, which included different formats of prayer time and Bible study, and a daily Ignatian Examen. Toward the beginning of that time, we found we were interested in a missionary training organization in Colorado Springs, and they were interested in us. We were later connected to a church and small mission-focused organization in the Middle East. We visited both of those as well and began extended interview processes with both. Then the Colorado Springs door abruptly closed, and for a few weeks we thought that the Middle East opportunity might be The One, but soon that door also closed. 

We learned that hope is the assurance that in however things work out, God was a part of the process, which brought us back to Hanoi.  Looking back on all the possibilities, we see that each had something to teach us. some component we would someday need in Hanoi.  In the end, I guess things did work out as we wanted them to because it was God's process. It is like what David wrote in the Psalms:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go,

I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” - Psalm 32

In the previous eNews, Suzanne wrote about hearing God say, “It’s not that you are not ready to know (what is next), it is that the place is not yet ready for you.” In truth I think it was some of both – God was counseling us with His loving eye, and God was working on HIF, to prepare us for each other.   We are so thankful that we trusted Him during this year, and that we submitted our time and lives to His instruction, counsel, and care. We feel overflowing with God’s blessing, and ready to launch into this next phase of our ministry and lives in Hanoi.
 
Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Suzanne: The Other Spiritual Side of Waiting: Hope

“If the way you are praying isn't working,

change the way you are praying.”

I have been reading through Romans the last few weeks. At the same time, during the last few days our devotions have come from Romans 8. I feel like God has used Paul’s larger journey with the Romans together with portions of Romans 8 and our recent experiences to hammer home a truth that I knew before, but didn’t really know. That God has our backs, each and every one of us, individually and as part of a community. God doesn't always have our backs the way we want or think He should, e.g. not in getting our wishes of how we think things should work out, but that in how they actually work out, God was there all along.

“If the way you are praying isn't working, change the way you are praying”  turned out to be a huge breakthrough.   We changed from praying for discernment to prayerfully ‘trying on’ a place, in our hearts, minds, and souls. To see how it felt when we imagined ourselves living there. 

After Easter, we ‘tried on’ a ministry opportunity in the Middle East, working with a small upstart organization to help equip missionaries with the supervision and tools needed to be healthy, long-term workers in the Arab world working in teams. It seemed right  and consistent with what we had heard– it was not yet on the table when we were desperate for discernment in January and heard, “It is not that you are not ready to know where you will go, it is that the place is not yet ready for you.”

But after prayerfully ‘trying it on’ this Middle East opportunity, which would not include a church component, we felt Steve's call to be a pastor in a church-based ministry reaffirmed, which we had thought all along.

It didn’t feel right.

Then at the urging of a future good friend from Hanoi, we (re-)’tried on’ Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF). We’d had the offer for a while, and felt like we’d thoroughly prayed about it and asked for discernment, but this was different. This was more like, “let’s FULLY assume this is where we’ll go". We Imagined raising full support, learning the language, getting permission from TMS Global, telling our family and friends, packing and moving there, finding an apartment, living in the bustling, polluted city, walking or scootering to work, working with the pastors and staff of HIF, ministering to the congregation and the international students, doing the administrative work,  and… missing our grandbaby. Try it ALL on. And we did.

Really ‘trying on’ Hanoi was easy and felt blessed from the start in some ways (asking permission from TMS Global, and working with the pastors and congregation). Some of it was a little more of a… GULP: Suzanne leaving academia; adapting to city life; learning enough of a language as difficult as Vietnamese in order to shop, live, and navigate in a place like Hanoi; telling family and friends, some of whom lost loved ones in the Vietnam war, that we were moving to Vietnam to minister there. Moving away from our granddaughter. GULP.

But pretty soon after… peace. Of course. This is it. Wow, it was surprising and real and unexpected, and... of course.

The wait was over. We made a decision, and soon that decision would make us. Coming back to what Paul wrote in Romans was timely:

“Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit…”

--Romans 8

And also the well-known 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 does this not just for me and Steve, but for you, your friends and family, and also the least of these in our towns, cities, and countries, for refugees, for those who cannot afford necessities let alone simple pleasures, for those with past lives they’re trying to overcome. For each and every person who loves Him.
I have been feeling so blessed, so thankful. I can’t help but feel it. I don’t know why God has blessed us so much and called us in this way, according to His purpose, but the least we can do is answer this call to live out His will. And after this amazingly blessed time back in the US, we are ready for the next Godventure, to Vietnam, and we invite you to join us in it. 
Follow the journey at ServingTheKingdom.org

Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF)

HIF is a healthy, growing, multi-site church, in Hanoi, a city of 8 million (or 11 million, depending on the source of your data). The pastors have a clear idea of what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where they want to be in five years. HIF's mission is "Light to the nations in Hanoi and beyond" and their purpose is "To glorify God among the nations through Christ-centered worship, genuine relationships, and transformational outreach." They have very good relations with the local government because of their loving outreach to the city, including the homeless and elderly. Christian foreign missionaries are still not allowed to proselytize or perform religious activities without government approval, but approval to perform religious activities and exist as a religious body has been given to HIF, which is remarkable in Vietnam, an officially atheistic state.  About 70% of Vietnamese express no faith, with less than 10% of the population Catholic or protestant.
Learn more about the ministry of HIF.vn
 

We need your help

Our last ministry setting included housing and this one doesn't, plus some folks have dipped, suspended, or dropped their funding of us, so need to raise a little over $2000 per month in support.  

Thanks to all of you that have been giving, or will re-start giving, to us, or who are planning new giving. We are wholly supported through people like you, and we so appreciate the trust you put in us to be Christ’s and your hands and feet in another part of the world.  We look forward to what God will do at HIF and Vietnam through your support of our mission.

Pledge Your Support
 

 

Updated Sending Agency Name and Address

In 2017, The Mission Society became TMS-Global. In 2018, the address for support checks also changed. If you have not updated the address to which you send support, please do so as we are no longer receiving checks at the previous address!

New address to send support checks:
    TMS-Global
     P.O. Box 936559
     Atlanta, GA  31193-6559
     Attention: Buchele - 0342SUP

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