The Ladies Retreat went well in February. Prayers were blessed! A big thanks to North Georgia Christian Camp, Clarkston International Bible Church, Friends of Refugees and our supporters for helping The Refuge make the Ladies’ Retreat happen!!
The lady leader for the retreat wrote: “We really had a blast. Thank you for making the retreat happen! The girls had so much fun (most of them haven’t done something like that before) and we hit all the things we had hoped we’d be able to talk about. I’m excited for what God is doing in the hearts of the girls and for an opportunity to spend time talking about our identity in Christ and how that plays into being women. We have a lot of good stuff to build on as we look forward. It was sweet to see Sunny share during our Q&A time from a place of maturity and wisdom regarding a couple of different topics we discussed…she has grown so much since I’ve known her. Her leadership and commitment to Christ is evident in how she talks about her relationship with Jesus. The others were delightful as well.” (You may remember Sunny went on the mission trip to Africa with us.)
Thoughts on The Kingdom in Matthew 5:3-11.
We at times have brokenness and hardship and mourning in our lives, but God does not keep us there.
When we are broken, we will belong to the Kingdom (5:3)
When we mourn, we will be comforted ((5:4)
When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled (5:6)
When we have pure hearts, we will see God. (5:8)
We can live in His Kingdom, be comforted and filled, and see Him. And when we are broken, mourning and feeling spiritually bankrupt, God will again fill, comfort and heal. We can live in fullness and comfort and healing. That is what Jesus wanted – John 10:10.
When I mess up, I get broken. When I have loss, I mourn. When I am distant from God and don’t have a pure heart, I eventually get hungry enough to turn back to Him. And I see Him.
Then there are ongoing qualities we can have – humbleness, mercy and peacemaking. Micah 6:8 says that the Lord requires us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
The humble will inherit the earth. (5:5)
The merciful will be shown mercy (5:7)
The peace makers will see God (5:9)
We can be sure that when we are humble, merciful and peacemaking, God will fulfill His promises of giving us an inheritance and showing us mercy. And we will see Him.
And when we are the children of God, regardless of how good we are, people won’t like us for our faith. But we are blessed to be His children. (5:11-12).
You are blessed…
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make is face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He turn His face toward you. And give you His peace (Numbers 6:24-26)
Many years ago, when we were raising support to church plant in Kazakhstan, we were doing a presentation for a local church when one of the members asked, “Why? Why go to Kazakhstan? Why not just stay here and minister here? There is plenty to do here.” My response was simply, “Acts 4:12.”
Act 4:12 states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
I still believe that. Now more than ever…because His love and grace has been so life changing for me.
I believe Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Anyone who knows Jesus, knows the Father (John 14:6-7). Since this is true, then we should share about Jesus has much as we can.
We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). We are taught that pure religion is caring for those in distress (James 1:27). Jesus taught and modeled love, compassion, grace, kindness. We should follow His teaching and example. But loving only through acts of kindness is not enough. At some point, we need to share Jesus.
Now in our 22nd year of cross-cultural ministry, I am more convinced….
- Good deeds are not the Redeemer.
- Jobs are not the Healer.
- Food banks are not the Creator.
- Government is not the Prince of Peace.
- English classes are not the Messiah.
- Schools are not the Answer.
- Kids programs are not the Friend.
- Church is not the Rock.
- America, as great as our nation is, is not the Resurrection and Life.
I am not the Savior.
Jesus Is. And anything we do should point to Him.
Yes, we need to be kind to the needy, serve the vulnerable, and work towards redeeming our culture. But doing good is not enough. Our compassionate ministry should point to Jesus.
Refugees need Jesus. And if bringing them to America gets them closer to the message and reality that Jesus loves them, a lot, then bring them on. But if bringing them here means we put them in the worst communities in America, which the resettlement process does, and then do some really nice things for them here and there, then refugees will not be entirely better off. They will be better off, but not entirely. A lost person with some nicer things than what they had overseas is still lost.
Refugee resettlement and what is best for our nation is complicated.
But God keeps it simple for us. If people pursue the Father through Jesus…they will have life (John 10:10). If they seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness…all these things (His care) will be added unto them (Matthew 6:33). If they trust the Father, He will direct and provide (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The best thing we can do for a refugee? Acts 4:12. Jesus. There is no other name where refugees can be saved.
So here is your action item: Share Jesus. Share with invitations and meals and help and compassion. But also share with words. Someone around you needs to hear that Jesus loves them, a lot. And it might even be a Muslim refugee.
Help, Too Many Good Options
On a regular basis, we receive numerous requests for support from organizations reporting impact of thousands of lives. You may have received the same. The need and potential impact with our dollars can sometimes be overwhelming. You may have felt the same.
To help us decide where to give, there are four things that we consider when deciding to send support:
- Is what they are doing in line with our heart to see people come to Christ and grow in their relationship with Christ?
- Do we know them personally? (We believe God puts relationships together).
- Do they stay in touch besides communicating support needs (including expressing gratitude)? It’s about relationship.
- Is the Holy Spirit leading us to give? If God is leading us to give, then we give, regardless of other considerations.
If we answer to these questions, then we give. And we believe giving in such a matter makes a difference.
Impact and Numbers
How much impact does an organization make with our dollars? It depends on how impact is defined. I ran a summer camp for 5 years in a refugee community and reported that we impacted hundreds of lives. But over the years as I kept up with the kids, I saw kids down the road end up as pregnant teens, as prisoners, as gang members, as school dropouts… Yes, there were kids down the road who were thriving, but the difference was not because they came to my summer camp, it was that they had a family and a community that was offering the love and guidance they needed to be well-adjusted. The difference was family. The difference was community. So what impact were we really making? Asking this question led to the start of The Refuge. We started The Refuge because we wanted to make a deeper impact through discipleship instead of a broader “impact” through programs that met temporary needs.
Life-change is unmeasurable. We cannot report that we saw someone have a 20% increase in their walk with Christ, or anything like that. That would be unrealistic. Even someone coming to Christ, which we have seen, does not necessarily mean they will thrive in their relationship with God. A growing relationship with God takes some effort. All we can say is we have seen the result of life-change: people finding hope, loving more, forgiving and being forgiven, giving back and going on mission trips. We are seeing kids from tough home situations making wise choices. To us, that is impact. Yes, it is unmeasurable. But God is real and alive and active and He is working in The Refuge.
So may we simply encourage you to continue to be sensitive to God’s leading in how he would have you be involved with the relationships that have crossed your path. As you do that, you will help make an impact. And if you’d like to give to The Refuge, the information is on the left of this page and your gift will be received with grateful hearts.
- 501c3 acquired!
- Spring Break Youth Retreat – April 2016
- Tanzania Mission Trip – June 2016
- Wild at Heart Young Man’s Camp – July 2016
- Washington DC / Virginia Youth Trip – July 2016
- We become guardians of a beautiful young lady – August 2016
- Youth Weekend – October 2016
- Ladies Retreat – December 2016
- Ministry to refugee families
- God graciously continues to provide needed resources confirming calling and leading to glorify Jesus among refugees.
We are Grateful.
We are back from Africa! The two weeks we were in Tanzania went by fast. We were in one remote village for one week and then moved to another remote village for the next week. Every day brought God stories. Every day God did something to bless, encourage, love or heal. It was awesome to see Him work.
Our team had 26 Americans and approximately the same number of Africans. Our team of Americans ran a clinic and pastor’s conference and helped the Africans with the Jesus Film ministry and the kids ministry. The Americans included 4 doctors and an American nurse. The Africans included one doctor, many translators, and a few national pastors. Several other Africans helped with camp logistics and security. One praise was that our team worked very well together. Everyone got along in a spirit of love and grace and communicated well. As a result, much was accomplished for God’s glory!
Abby and Sunny
This was a great experience for Abby and Sunny. Abby and Sunny helped in the clinic every day in both villages. The doctors took the time to carefully explain and show Abby and Sunny how they were treating the patients. On one occasion, the doctor was stitching up a patient with a machete wound on his arm. It got to be too much for Sunny and she passed out. The doctor was very gracious and said that she has seen many in training for their medical career pass out, including herself. Both girls were very helpful in processing and treating patients. They prayed over many patients as well as they interacted with them. As a result, over 1,500 patients were treated! The girls will be sending out their own updates soon.
God Saves and Heals
I spoke in the pastor’s conference in each village, shared about Jesus and the assurance of salvation at the Jesus Film showings, prayed for villagers, and shared the Gospel several times to groups of people waiting to see the doctor. These opportunities were tremendous privileges that produced positive responses. But a highlight of my time in African was when people were healed of their sickness, including deafness! During my many years in ministry, I have seen many people healed over time and many lives changed over time, but I had never personally witnessed an instantaneous, miraculous healing. But it has never stopped me from praying for people and seeing God work. But on this trip, God worked quickly. For many of our days in Africa, an African and I prayed over those waiting in line for the clinic. (While I had only one prayer partner at a time, over the two weeks, four different Africans were prayer partners, two from our team and one from each village. God’s provision of those prayer partners are God stories for another time).
The prayer partner and I would go down the line at the clinic and individually pray for people and their concern. Over the two weeks, I had the privilege of praying for about 300 people. One day, the African prayer partner that God provided for that day and I prayed over a 12 year old girl who was partially deaf. And she was healed!! After testifying to her healing, she ran off without going into the clinic. I asked the translator where she was going. The translator said she was so excited she ran to tell someone.
The next day, a different African prayer partner and I started talking to a woman who did not respond. Those sitting next to her said she was deaf. My prayer partner tested it and went right up to her ear and said something loudly. I thought it was rude, but it confirmed she was deaf. So we prayed over the woman and she began to hear! We started to celebrate when I asked my partner to ask her, “Can you hear a little or a lot?” She said she could hear a little. So I said, “Let’s pray again.” We prayed over the woman again and God opened her ears even more! My partner was just as shocked and excited as I was. Just as he tested her deafness, he tested her hearing. He would say something, confirmed she heard and backed away. He repeated this process several times until he had backed away about five or six feet and confirmed she could hear him! It was amazing! We testified to God’s goodness. At other times, we saw people get healed of other sicknesses.
Healing did not happen absent of His Word. The Gospel was shared with everyone who came to the clinic, including those who were healed. God’s healing was a testimony of His love and grace and power in the lives of those He touched. Many placed their faith in Jesus; local pastors will continue to reach out to them. Healing also did not happen absent of prayer. Much prayer was put into this mission both before and during the trip. We appreciate all those who prayed with us and for us!
My faith was bolstered by this trip. Seeing God heal and change lives was a tremendous encouragement to me. The girl’s lives too were changed by this trip. They had new experiences that taught them much about loving and serving others.
We greatly appreciate all the love, prayers and support of this trip. It was a trip that brought glory to God.
Love in Christ,
In the interest of preventing an even longer update, I’ll try to send or post shorter updates. You can see post and photos on my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009318010182. The girls will be sending out their own updates soon.
Thank you to those who have been a part of our mission to Tanzania through your support and prayers!
100% of the funds needed for the mission were provided. We were healthy and had a great team.
And we experienced God’s Presence and Power in Tanzania.
God was with us!
Jesus Renews AND Sends
We have a heart to see others return to their own communities to share God’s love. The Refuge would love to see many ethnic groups in America return to their home nations or communities as missionaries to their own people. Our mission is Families experiencing abundant life in a growing relationship with Jesus. Our mission is important because having an abundant life in a growing relationship with Jesus precedes having the love and interest and commitment to reach out to our neighbor with His love.
Abby and Sunny
We want God’s mission heart to be realized by those we love and serve. God is working in the hearts of two very important young ladies in our lives. Abby, 16 years old and in the 11th grade, has expressed interest in the medical profession, possibly as a medical missionary. Recently at a missions conference, she spent a considerable amount of time talking with MedReach, an organization that does medical missions and outreach in Africa. She learned that MedReach is leading a medical missions trip to Tanzania this summer.
Sunny is a young lady from South Sudan who we have mentored for the past eight years. She fled with her family as a refugee to America when she was a young child. Sunny, who is 17 years old and in the 10th grade, has also expressed interest in the medical field, including medical missions.
After much thought and prayer, God has opened the door for Abby, Sunny and Scott to join MedReach this summer.
The trip is June 4 – 19th. We will be on a team of 24 other medical professionals and adults (only three teens will be on this mission – Abby, Sunny and one other). We will be involved in medical care / evangelism, hygiene education and kids and family ministry. We will also be showing the Jesus Film. We will be quite busy.
Your Important Role
Short-term mission trips change lives. While it is uncertain how God will use this trip in Abby and Sunny’s lives, we do know that they will be changed forever. We do know that God will use us in Tanzania.
Could you help through your prayers and support?
Please pray as the Spirit leads. Please pray for good health, financial provision, life changing conversations of faith, healing for the sick, renewal for hurting, team humility and unity…May His will be done.
We are funding this trip through The Refuge. Donation information on the left sidebar of this website. Please give as God leads and provides.
We are excited about how God will use this trip! We appreciate your prayerful consideration to be a part of it. We also will be busy with other ministries this summer. We will keep up updated primarily through email.
Love in Christ,
Scott, Abby, Sunny and our families