Looking Back

Last year began with much anticipation and excitement as we looked forward to beginning the process of foster care and the hopes to get pregnant and have a baby. We were thrilled with how ministry was growing with NLGM and we had many new opportunities to train and disciple.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

The Lord quickly showed us 2018 would be nothing like we had thought and instead it would be full of many challenges, many tears, and many difficult days. But we wouldn’t trade this year for anything because we had the opportunity to grow—in our marriage, in parenthood, in trust of the Lord, in patience for His timing, and in even greater understanding of His character.

In March we got the call for our first foster placement of a little girl and about a week after that we got called to take her sister as well.  Life quickly changed as we went from one child to three! It became very chaotic and busy as we began to embrace the life of foster parents. Our hearts broke so many days as we further understood the trauma our girls had gone through and as our eyes were opened to the brokenness of the foster care system.

In the midst of fostering we also felt like it was time to try to get pregnant again. The Lord blessed us with two pregnancies in 2018, Gila and Athalie. Our hearts hurt even more as we lost both of these sweet babies at around 6 ½ weeks.  We grieved while also continuing with ministry and parenting three toddler girls.

As life just seemed to overwhelm us, things continued to stretch us even more.  Ministry continued with Ryan going to Bolivia in July. We also had the privilege to do several gospel conversations trainings locally. And in December we both went to the Dominican Republic. It was so busy that there were many nights that we stayed up until midnight just to get all of our work done.

And in the middle of all of that, God spoke so clearly to our hearts that He was in control and we could trust Him. Because of the chaos we were able to be even more intentional in our marriage which allowed us to grow even closer together. The opportunity to be foster parents allowed us to grow in how we parent and change our perspective of how we reacted to situations. Losing two babies showed us that God has an even greater plan for when and how we will expand our family.  And all of 2018 has revealed to us how much the Lord cares for our hearts and our ministry. He continues to provide exactly what we need!

We look forward to 2019, not because we of what we have planned, but because of what God has planned.

“The Lord’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken.”
-Psalms 33:11

And His ultimate plan is that all nations would hear the truth of the gospel! We are thrilled that our little family of three will be traveling to Dominican Republic in February for more training opportunities with the leaders that we met in December. Ryan has the privilege of going to Honduras in March with a team. And NLGM has many journeys on the horizon for summer and fall! We couldn’t be more excited for the growth that is coming in the next 12 months—growth in our ministry, our family, and our faith.

Thanks for taking this journey with us as you support us prayerfully and financially.

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Too Much At Stake

I apologize for not writing any blog posts while we were in the Dominican Republic. I like to do that as often as I can but this journey had very long days for me and my blog writing brain was out of order by the point in the day when I had the time.

Rest assured, God showed up in a BIG way.

I traveled down before the team since we had never been there as a ministry. My goal was to build some relationship with Carlos (the main person we’d be working with) and make sure all of the logistics were in order. We quickly realized that Carlos and I were cut from the same cloth. We were able to have some awesome discussions about what it would take to fulfill the great commission and how we could actively be a part of that together! We are now praying hard that the Lord allows us to partner in the years to come.

Our small (and young) team arrived and we hit the ground running. We had three people on our team under the age of 20 and our oldest was just barely over 30. Every person on the team stepped up and set aside any fear and uncertainty to share the gospel and train disciples to make disciples. It was AWESOME to watch as individuals made the choice to make the most of every opportunity. 

Once we entered the community to share the gospel, we quickly found that almost everyone said, “yes, I believe in Jesus but don’t want to follow Him.” Many people were even willing to accept Jesus as “their savior” but not as “Lord of their lives.”

We had a choice to make. 

We could’ve easily chosen at that moment to “make decisions” and not “make disciples.” We could’ve lead hundreds of people in empty prayers of repentance and continued on to the next home with another faux notch in our belt. I’m proud to say that each of our team chose the road of making disciples. They invested much time in explaining the truth of the gospel and the storyline of scripture that points to God’s redemption of people. They focused their attention on training the translators and church members that joined us in the community in gospel conversations and disciple-making tools. 

At the end of the week, we had only a handful of true decisions to follow Jesus (which we can still praise the Lord!), but we had trained at least 50 people who immediately put into practice the tools they had learned. 

A common phrase for the week was “too much at stake.” We decided as a team that in light of God’s redemptive plan for all people, His call on us to make disciples, and the eternal destiny of each individual, that there was too much at stake to make the easy choice. Too much at stake to let people think that just “believing in Jesus” was enough. Too much at stake to just let pastors and missionaries focus on making disciples. 

It was a true honor to join God in making disciples in the Dominican Republic on this missionary journey!

If you would like more information about joining God on a missionary journey, visit gonlgm.org

Can I Be Honest?

It’s been a hard year. I entered into 2018 with HUGE expectations and was met with a very different reality. As many of you may know, we were licensed as foster parents early in the year and welcomed two little girls into our hearts, home, and family. To say that it disrupted our life would be an understatement. We’ve seen things we can’t unsee and experienced things we can’t communicate. In the midst of the almost 8 months that they were in our home, we also had two miscarriages. As so many people know (lots of pregnancies end in miscarriage) the pain and grief is very real. As we dealt with those situations and the array of difficulties that come with them, our job of raising ministry partners (financial and prayer supporters) has not received much attention. So as you can expect, our ministry finances are lacking pretty significantly. 

So if I’m honest…I don’t really want to be here. 

I woke up at 2:00am. It’s 4:35am. I’m in Starbucks at Dulles Int. Airport eating an overpriced muffin and despite what my life choices point toward, I don’t really like flying.  So why am I getting ready to board a plane to do groundwork training in the Dominican Republic?

I’ve learned something this year that seems so simple and obvious. 

Our world needs Jesus. 

I mean, the real Jesus. As King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Not social justice. Not democracy. Not world peace. Just JESUS. Until Jesus is seated on the throne there will ALWAYS be miscarriages, pain, children in foster care, terrible health insurance, lack of resources, disease, and death. 

But there is GOOD NEWS! Jesus IS the answer and this Good News comes with a promise. 

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:14

That means Jesus IS COMING and there will be NO MORE miscarriages, pain, children in foster care, terrible health insurance, lack of resources, disease, and death. 

So if I’m COMPLETELY honest…I DO want to be here.

I want with all of my being to see the GOOD NEWS go to all the nations so that we get JESUS as KING. I also want to be here because I get to know Jesus NOW and I get to know Him more and more as I obey his call and invitation to just follow him. 

I want to live today like Jesus is coming back tomorrow. I haven’t done a great job of that this year. But I find hope that Jesus still desires to use people like me (and like you) when we choose to simply follow. I want to be here. And I’m grateful to get to do it with people like you!

Don’t Worry About That Right Now

This week has been an interesting week on a bunch of levels for me. Typically as a leader, I “float” between all of the teams and spend a little time with each of them. However, this week we decided that I would actually lead one of the teams and stay at one site. This is a role that I haven’t been able to play in many journeys so I was actually very excited about it. Being with one team for the entire week allows me to experience the whole range of ups, downs, and all the emotions that come with walking through the week with one group of people. It’s been very exciting to watch as the team I have been with has grown, obeyed, struggled, and overcome through the process of making disciples.

In the village of Ushpa Uspha, we have seen many hear the truth of the gospel, many nationals be trained, and many understand the Great Commission to go and make disciples. We are excited to see what God does in the days to come with those that have committed to continue the work of making multiplying disciples.

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Each journey is very different because each team is very different. This team is no exception! The process leading up to this journey has also been very different. Because of all that God is doing through NLGM and my family, the weeks and months leading up to this journey have been very full with many new challenges. Most of the journey planning had to “take care of itself” because that was just the only way. As a result, we have been required to be a little more flexible in our decision making with less information to go on.

I also cannot deny that our current family dynamic has greatly impacted this week for both myself and Abigail. There have been some major developments in our foster kids’ case and some major repercussions. We have also seen our eldest struggle mightily with separation anxiety as I have been out of the country. Our hearts have melted as we’ve seen her fears (that are honestly quite justified given her life experiences thus far) cause her character to change.

In ALL of these things, we are tempted to look at “results” for affirmation. Whether it be disciples made or the health/situation of our children, we are constantly reminded that FAITH is the only affirmation that we need. FAITH is what the Lord deems as successful. FAITH is what allows us to walk in obedience and say “yes” when the Lord says “go.” When we know that the Lord says go, our only response should be YES!

“God will intentionally, lovingly, and mercifully refrain from providing us with certain pieces of information at certain times along our journeys—not to deprive us of knowing things but to protect us from the burden of knowing too much too soon—a seemingly subtle distinction with significantly different implications. This mercy of not knowing, in fact, is one of His most profound acts of mercy toward us. He says go, we ask where, and He simply encourages us to not worry about that right now.” -Jason Johnson, Reframing Foster Care.

Please Pray For:

  • The last day on the field with each team
  • The nationals to continue the work
  • Our team to be disciple-makers at home the same way they’ve been here
  • The emotions of our team (this last day is VERY tough)
  • The emotions of our family (we are feeling quite overwhelmed with all of the emotions from home and the field)

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Update From The Field

The first two days of this journey I have been blessed to work in the village of Ushpa Ushpa with a church called Roca Fuerte. It has already been an exhausting journey (up early and down late) but I believe that God has some big things on the horizon for each of the three villages that our team is working in.

My main goal is to equip and train the nationals as well as help our team to do the same so I’ve spent the last two days training and then helping people practice/implement immediately. Yesterday I spent a few hours catching all of our translators up and today we worked primarily with the people from the local church, Roca Fuerte. We have been super blessed with a number of nationals that have come and joined us in the harvest fields of their own communities. Today we had TEN nationals so we had a total of TWENTY people heading out into the village armed with the truth of the gospel.

One of the ladies that came with me was hesitant at first but stepped out to share the gospel and lead one lady, and a sweet couple, to express Faith in Jesus Christ! It was a great example to show that success is defined by OBEDIENCE! Our job is simply to obey and trust God to take care of the “results.”

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The two nationals and the couple they lead to express faith in Jesus!

Today our team focused on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (specifically verse 18).

“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Update From Home

Abigail is doing a GREAT job holding down the fort with lots of needed back-up! It’s important to remember that the enemy we fight against is NOT flesh and blood. The day I left, our eldest foster kid got some type of bite on the cheek that became infected to point her face was super swollen. The day after that, when it was 95 degrees, our AC WENT OUT! Praise the Lord that I was able to make some phone calls (from Bolivia) to get someone there to fix it the next day. Today, our eldest foster kid (who suffers from what can be very serious separation anxiety) has been very concerned about me not being home and even expressed fear to Abigail about it.

Pray For:

  • Abigail and the girls
  • That our house would remain in one piece until I return!
  • Nationals to be trained
  • Disciples to be made
  • The Great Commission to be advanced
  • Energy for me. It’s been a very busy few days and I don’t see it slowing down. Gloria a Dios!

Gila – Eternal Joy

A few short weeks ago Ryan and I were ecstatic to learn that we were expecting another baby! We had been praying and seeking the Lord about when to try to have another baby and felt like it was the “right time.”  We started telling our family the exciting news and began to imagine what life might look like in 9 months. We joked and dreamed about {finally} having a boy.  The anticipation was growing as we awaited our first doctor’s appointment.

And then everything changed.

We woke up on Father’s Day weekend to the realization that we were probably losing this baby. The day that we were planning to celebrate Dad and instead we shed tears of heartbreak thinking that our baby was gone. And in the days to come, we were told that it was definitely a miscarriage. How is it possible that a baby we never even met or saw can be missed so much? How do our hearts ache so terribly for a child we only knew for a few weeks? But what I have found as I grieve over this child is that God is still in control!

“The Lord has given me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21

In the midst of this sadness and grief over our precious baby, the Lord is standing by our sides and is teaching us even more about His character and love for us. And daily He continues to teach us that He is faithful! We don’t have to understand why things happen the way they do, but we have the hope of knowing that our Father who loves us immeasurably more than we can imagine is in control! He is worthy of our trust, especially on the days that we hurt.

We believe that our joy comes from God alone and so we decided to name our baby in light of that truth. Gila, pronounced Hee-luh, means eternal joy.

“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” -Neh. 8:10

As we seek God in the midst of heartache we also look forward to the opportunity Ryan has to return to the same location that we went as a family last November. He will be leaving for Cochabamba, Bolivia on June 28th. If you would like to receive specific prayer requests and updates through email while he is gone, click here. Ryan will also be updating the blog throughout the week so be sure to subscribe to our blog and you’ll receive emails when it is updated.IMG_5806

The thing we need most and even beg for your help, is supporting us in prayer. Here are some very specific ways that you can be praying for us:

 

  • Ryan and Abigail: Experiencing this loss on Father’s Day and with such a short period of time before a missionary journey has been challenging to say the least. There is a great temptation to hide from dealing with the hurt and make excuses. Pray that we would run head first into God’s grace.
  • Our Kids: The last few weeks of foster parenting have turned down a very rocky road. Our girls are struggling with some of the things happening in their case and we are struggling {with many tears} asking God what we can do/should do to help them.
  • A Week Without One Parent: As Ryan leaves for Bolivia, we can’t ignore the extra weight of parenting that will fall on Abigail. We are blessed with a great group of people that are already lined up to help, but nonetheless, there is a great need for prayer to guard our hearts and actions as we spend these days on different mission fields.

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Please pray for our Cochabamba Team!

Pray For Global Focus Week

This week New Life Global Ministries has the great privilege to be a part of Liberty University’s Global Focus Week. We get to set up a table (along with a number of other ministries) in the student center and catch students as they study, hang out, or transition between classes. We are incredibly excited about the opportunity the Lord has provided us and the possible growth for our ministry in the days to come. The entire week on campus in focused globally. This includes their weekly hall meetings, convocations, and even classroom lectures.

Our ministry has an immense burden to see the Great Commission fulfilled and see all the nations hear the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but we often think of Romans 10.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Rom. 10:13-15

Our prayer this week is that God would allow us to intersect some current/future disciple-makers and give them an avenue to be sent. Liberty University (and many colleges in general) are filled with young people that are making decisions about the trajectory of their lives. Imagine if they made the decision to be sent as multiplying disciple-makers to the nations!?

Would you join us in prayer for this week? Pray that God would:

  • Raise up workers for His Harvest
  • Stir deep passion for simple and obedient disciple-making to the nations
  • Provide summer interns
  • Provide summer/fall journey participants
  • Provide potential future staff
  • Provide social traffic through our social media challenge giveaway
  • Build relationships between NLGM and other like-minded, Kingdom-advancing, ministries (and potential partners)
  • Give NLGM favor with Liberty University so that we may participate in future mobilization opportunities
  • Allow our team (Ryan, Abigail, Adaline, and Steven Clemmons) to make the most of the time

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