“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

We never thought it would be this sad to say goodbye to something that has caused us such grief over the years!  When we began this journey in 1998 we started writing quarterly “snail mail” prayer letters…you remember those? We would write the letter and a dear friend from our home church in Ohio would print, sort, and mail them — all 600.

Then in July of 2011, we went digital and started communicating through the ONERWE blog.  Each month we posted an article to keep you, our team of supporters, engaged in our ministries and praying. That’s nine years of monthly articles and nearly 29,000 hits.

If you followed the blog last year then you know we made some huge transitions in 2019, most notably, our move from Southern Africa to South Asia. That transition has also brought about a change in the way we will continue to communicate with you from now on.

So today we officially say good-bye to the ONERWE blog and this is our last post. For us, it was a wonderful opportunity to scroll through the archived articles and reflect on the many answers to prayer, the joys, and yes, the heartaches, too. What a reminder of God’s faithfulness!

But we also have some exciting news! While we say good-bye to the ONERWE blog, we are definitely not saying good-bye to you!  In fact, this final article comes with a heartfelt plea not to abandon us now, but to take one small step to remain in touch as we move forward into the future.  To do that, we need you to do one small favor!

Go to “Leave a Reply” at the end of this blog and say “I’m still with you” or email us at twolf@abwe.org. We’ll capture your details and begin sending you our new information from South Asia. We do hope you’ll stay connected so you can see what’s happening in this part of the world – It’s Amazing!!

We are looking forward to sharing this next leg of the journey with you, and we’d like to say “thank you” for the many years you’ve supported us by reading our blog, praying for us, and supporting us financially as well.

His Ways Are Higher…But Sometimes They Aren’t Easy

Nancy and I wanted to pass along a quick update, just three Pictures, and three Stories, as we head for South Asia. It would be a gross understatement to say that our time in the states this summer didn’t go as planned. We had the schedule set well in advance with numerous speaking opportunities, meeting with ministry partners and churches, receiving additional training, etc. And while some of that did happen, most of it was sidetracked — God had another plan.

#1 – I Lost Both Of My Parents This Summer

At the end of April, you may recall, I was detoured while returning to South Africa from a ministry survey trip to South Asia.  Although I prayed, asking God to allow me one last visit with my Dad, he passed away before I arrived in the states. Leading my Dad’s memorial service was a hard thing to do, but also a real blessing.

Then, just two months after Dad’s death, my mother was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. Within three weeks, her God-ordained battle was over and she, too, entered glory.  It was extremely sad and yet comforting, as my mom and dad were married for 63 years. This time I preached at my mom’s memorial service — same clothes, different message. It was like a déjà vu experience.

Living overseas for almost 20 years separated from our family most of that time, we experienced the days we always knew were coming. I rejoice that both of my parents had trusted Jesus for salvation and I know I will see them again. His Ways Are Higher…But Sometimes They Aren’t Easy.

Would you pray? Many of you have experienced similar life events and are familiar with grief. Dave Furman, someone who knows suffering as much as anyone, wrote in his book Kiss the Wave a statement that expresses what I’ve been feeling. “I have a deep experience of loneliness, but I have never felt alone.”

#2 – We Moved From South Africa This Summer

As we shared in a previous blog post, Nancy and I have been called from our ministries in Southern Africa to the region of South Asia. In addition to everything I just mentioned, God planned for a much quicker transition from one region to another than we had planned or envisioned. Nevertheless, He enabled us to hand over our ministries, sell our home in South Africa, and ship some of our household items back to the states.

God also gave us an opportunity this summer to meet with our new South Asia teammates and begin preparing for our new role. We are excited about these new opportunities as we prepare to minister to unreached people in the Muslim-majority, limited access countries of west South Asia. His Ways Are Higher…But Sometimes They Aren’t Easy.

Would you pray? Pray for us as we begin traveling to our new region this week. Pray that we adjust to a “new normal,” adapt to new cultures and find a new home, etc.

#3 – We Had the Vacation We’ve Been Dreaming of This Summer

God blessed us with the first-ever Wolfpack Family Reunion. It was a week at the beach with all four of our daughters (two of which live overseas), our sons-in-laws, and all the grandkids (19 in all, in the same house!). It had been nearly seven years since we’d all been together, which means most of our grandkids had never met each other. It was an absolutely crazy week, and yet awesome all at the same time!

Would you pray? Pray for us as we continue to serve God in our call to missions. My heart, especially, is pretty tender heading back to the field this time. There is a strong desire to make an impact for Christ while continuing to maintain close and intimate relationships with those we love that are oceans apart. His Ways Are Higher…But Sometimes They Aren’t Easy.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8-9) 

Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to serve our faithful and sovereign Lord.  We would greatly appreciate your prayers — You can probably tell that we need them.

All our Love,

Tom and Nancy





10 BIG Questions & Answers About Our New Ministry

1. What are your new ministries and what countries are included in the Western South Asia region?

After nearly 20 years of serving the Lord and living in South Africa, doing church planting and also functioning as Regional Director for Southern Africa, we’ve recently accepted the role of Regional Director for the Western South Asia region. This region is part of the 10/40 Window and geographically stretches from Bangladesh, west across the Indian Ocean, and into the Persian Gulf area.  The position is designed by ABWE to lead our missionary teams and assist our national partners. We also provide soul care or “shepherding” of our missionary co-workers located in the region. This new position includes providing oversight to various ministries such as; medical missions (a hospital), Bible translation, literature development and production, church planting, theological education, camps, agricultural, schools, etc.

2. How did God lead you in this new direction?

God led us to this decision in much the same way as He did when we were first called into missions in the late 90s — through His Word, prayer, entrusted friends/mentors speaking into our lives, and confirming circumstances.  We were not unhappy with our lives or ministries in South Africa; we just sensed a Godly “push” and “pull” for something more He wanted us to do.  There was a “push” away (the feelings of being freed-up) from all we knew, loved, and felt comfortable with, to a heartfelt burden, or a “pull” toward the unreached, particularly Muslims. We felt like the Holy Spirit was creating in us an irresistible burden, asking us to stretch ourselves and go where there are not many missionaries or workers, and yet billions of lost people. In fact, approximately five billion people reside in over 8,000 distinct people groups in the 10/40 Window. Our South Asia region is home to the largest Muslim countries in the world. We believe God desires us to take our years of ministry, training, and experience to limited access or closed countries. Ephesians 2:10 became even more precious to us in the days of uncertainty and fear, eventually leading us to a willingness to step out by faith and trust God for His next assignment. It was not an easy decision but we have tremendous and unexplainable peace (Phil. 4:7).

3. How is this new role different than what you did before? Will you need additional training?

In many ways our new Regional Director leadership responsibilities will be much the same as in Southern Africa, however, there are also some big differences between the two ministries. Certainly, the variety and complexity of the ministries mentioned above will take some getting used to, however, the main difference will be ministering in Muslim culture. And yes, additional training is needed to better understand Islam and how to live and minister cross-culturally in Muslim majority countries.

4. You’ve been in South Africa for nearly 20 years, how do you feel about leaving?

We love South Africa, our ministries, and our family and friends who are there, but we also knew we needed to obey the Lord, and God made it clear that He was taking us in a new direction. At this point, we are transitioning. All of our ministries in South Africa have been handed over to our teams and their leadership. We’ll return to South Africa for three weeks in late August for an official time of farewell. South Africa, the people, our churches, and the missionaries will always have a special place in our hearts, but we are also very excited for the opportunity to build new relationships and see what God has in store.

5. What do you actually do as an ABWE Regional Director?

An ABWE Regional Director is responsible for the ministries and missionaries in their region.  Ideally, they are located in or near their region in order to be available and helpful to their missionaries. The Regional Director’s responsibilities include administration, i.e., recruiting personnel, handling policy and financial matters, opening new countries in the region. We also lead the various teams in the region to implement strategic plans aimed at carrying out ABWE’s vision to “fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.” More importantly, and the part we like best, is that the Regional Director functions as a pastor/shepherd for the missionaries in their region.  We seek to provide soul care, promote spiritual growth and wellbeing, bring encouragement, pursue accountability, and provide counsel when needed.

6. Where will you live in the new region?

We visited our new region in April to meet the missionaries, see the ministries first hand, and help begin a strategic planning process for the region. We’ll head back again in September to continue that planning process and spend some extended time getting to know our missionaries and their ministries.  This trip will also give us an opportunity to determine the best place for us to live. It’s a large geographical area, so we are looking for a city that is located in the region, where English is a primary language, housing is affordable, and we can engage in local ministries that suit our gifting, such as, church planting, training and equipping leaders, counseling, etc. We are currently investigating living in the Persian Gulf area.  As we’ve been doing, we will continue to come in and out of America, as needed, to fulfill our leadership responsibilities with ABWE, minister in our supporting churches, and recruit/mobilize new missionaries.

7. Why do you speak in generalities or refrain from using names and exact locations?

Controlling the information we share is something we will all have to get accustomed to, as security in this region is much different than we’ve previously experienced. Ministries in limited or restricted access countries require caution. There are new rules and reasons to protect our identity and the identity of those with whom we serve. We will eventually limit and/or discontinue our website/blog as well as implement new social media boundaries. As our partners, we will make the new communication guidelines clear and easy to understand. Thank you, in advance, for honoring our requests to secure any information you receive from us.

8. What does limited or restricted access mean? Will you be ministering in places that are unsafe?

We will be working in parts of the world where traditional evangelical methods of reaching people with the Gospel are not advisable, or in some cases, prohibited. Because these areas are often difficult places to obtain visa or travel permits, they are referred to as limited access countries. Creative and innovative ways to reach people with the Gospel are used with caution, and deliberate measures are taken to protect those who live and work there. ABWE works in many different ways to share the life-saving message of hope through compassion ministries, business, education, healthcare, etc.

9. What does your schedule look like for the remainder of 2019?

We are in the states until mid-August with plans to minister at our home church in Columbus, OH; speak at my Dad’s memorial service, spend a week of vacation with family; minister at a church in Mt. Laurel, NJ that is new to us; participate and teach at ABWE’s Ministry Enrichment Conference in Baltimore, MD; attend security training in Harrisburg, PA, visit our friends and ministry partners in St. Louis, MO; and attend the South Asia Regional Planning Meetings in Portland, OR. From there we will fit in a visit to our churches/teams in South Africa and take a ministry trip to our new region (Sept. –Nov.).  We ask for your prayers during this season of growing, adjusting and getting resettled. As you can see, we will be traveling extensively through the end of the year and would appreciate your prayers.

10. Do you need to raise additional financial support?

Every missionary I know hates to talk about money, which is partly why we saved this question for last.  However, I have also learned that people want to know so they can help. But and before I pass along our specific needs, let me assure you, even as I preach this to my own soul, we are confident that God will provide all that we need to accomplish what He has called us to do (1 Thess. 5:24).  It’s a big assignment but He is a big God!  When we took this position, we anticipated the need for additional support funds. Specifically, in the area of monthly support, as traveling and the cost of living in our new region is more expensive than in South Africa. We also have more missionaries to care for and a larger region to reach.

How can you be involved and engaged as you support and pray for us?

  1. Email: Make sure we have your current email address, as this is the best way that we will be able to communicate directly with you about our new ministry going forward. If you are not sure we have it, please send an email request to twolf@abwe.org and we will make sure you are on our new mailing list.
  2. Give: Consider a financial donation and join the Wolfpack team. People often give to missions through regular monthly gifts while some prefer periodic one-time donations. Our support team is currently made up of an amazing group of 25 churches and 20 individuals/families. All of the gifts received are tax deductible as a charitable donation. Our ABWE account number and website are listed below.
  3. Pray: We are thankful for so many who have faithfully prayed for us through the years. Don’t stop now! As we move into one of the enemy’s darkest areas of the world, we need your prayers more than ever. Satan has a stronghold in this region and most have yet to hear how Jesus came to bring them life. Please pray. Everyone on our email list will regularly receive specific prayer requests related to ongoing activities and needs in our ministry.

The Wolfs’ New Ministry

This week ABWE International formally announced that Nancy and I are changing our ministry from leading the Southern Africa region to being the Regional Director of West South Asia. It’s been an amazing journey, and one that we’d like to share with you more intimately as we hope you’ll continue supporting us as ministry partners and faithful prayer warriors.

The journey leading up to this change, at times, felt a bit like a roller-coaster ride. Slow, then fast, with heartstopping movements and a couple of corkscrews thrown in along the way.  It’s all still very new and there are questions yet to be answered about the days ahead, however, we are very excited about this new role and ministry opportunity. So, here are a few details for now.

 Our Roller-Coaster Ride Of Obedience

About this time last year, we started feeling restless and we didn’t know why.  We loved our life in South Africa. We loved the people, our ministry, our home, our friends…everything was good.

So…why this feeling?  Were we discontent? (Because I’m pretty sure the Bible calls that sin.) Was this what everyone refers to as a “mid-life crisis”? (Nobody wants to admit to that…but we are about that age!) We weren’t unhappy, we just sensed God was up to something and we wanted to be obedient. We honestly weren’t looking for a change in our ministry…and then suddenly, we were.

One day, a long-time friend and leader at ABWE, Harry Gebert, approached us with a need in his region of the world, South Asia.  At first, we didn’t give it much thought as we felt like we were right where God wanted us to be — in South Africa. Then, without even intending to, we started considering a ministry change that would soon change EVERYTHING!

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do?

Now, we can see how God was using several factors in our lives to redirect us, but when this all first started, it was hard even to admit to ourselves that we felt fidgety and spiritually restless. Looking back, it was a lot like 20 years ago when Tom had a job he loved in Ohio, Nancy was a stay-at-home mom with our four daughters in tow, and we were happily living the “America Dream.” That’s when God changed EVERYTHING the first time, and we accepted His call to full-time cross-cultural ministry, packed up our girls and all our belongings, and moved to South Africa to be church planters. Our first big “drop” on the roller coaster of obedience!

Like riding any huge roller coaster, it can be scary. At the beginning of this process, we agreed as a couple to pray and not tell a soul what we were thinking about, as we desperately wanted and needed to hear from God first. After diligently praying together, we approached a small group of trusted mentors, as well as our family and pastor, to pray with us as we began a series of deeper conversations with Harry and his wife, Jan. That’s when God revealed His plan.

As it turns out, for three years they had been praying and looking for a Regional Director for West South Asia.  And guess what?  We were the answer to those prayers. While we were open to anything God wanted us to do, God clearly laid this part of the world on our hearts, and although we never went looking for a new ministry, our new ministry found us.

Along For The Ride!

Our family, pastor, churches, mentors, and ABWE leaders alike, all agreed the position was a good fit. God confirmed His call to this new region in so many ways…all we needed to say was yes. And we did!

In April, we visited the West South Asia region and met the people we will be working with. Praise the Lord, our hearts united with these new teammates. We also began to survey a possible place to live. (Please forgive us if some of this sounds vague and void of names and specific locations, however, we’re already beginning to operate in a new state of disclosure for security reasons.)

When God Calls, God Provides

The remaining months of 2019 will be a time of transition for us. We’ll be coming and going from the states, moving in and out of our new region, and we’ll also begin extensive training, all in an effort to prepare for working and living in limited access, Muslim-majority countries. We also need God to raise-up new ministry partners and additional financial support.

We’ve no doubt that God will provide. In fact, He already has in some ways. For instance, we put our house in South Africa on the market. Within a week, one person phoned, came to see it, and bought it…with cash. (God’s provision during a time when the market was slow!) At some point in the future, we will establish a home in the area of our new region, but for now, we’re taking it one step at a time. It kind of feels like that frantic climb to the top of the roller-coaster…click, click, click… Hold On!

What God Says He’ll Do…He’ll Do

We are grateful for words of truth, like those in 1 Thess. 5:24, He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Although this passage is not speaking directly about one’s call to a new mission field, it is a wonderful description of who God is and what He can and does do.

We love South Africa, our ministry, friends, and family that are there. It’s been an amazing place to have invested the last 18 years of our lives! And now? Well…now there is a new place to call home, unreached people to reach, and new heights to climb. As our ministry partners, that means you get to go with us. Are you ready for the ride?

What’s love got to do with it?

Pure Love – Valentine’s Day is traditionally set aside for celebrating the people we love. Today, many of us will express how grateful we are for them and their presence in our lives. We will attempt to demonstrate our love in a variety of ways, including cards, flowers, or a special culinary treat. The truth is, we are only able to truly love others because God showed us what pure love looks like.  Sometimes I think our attempts to love others, when compared to God’s love looks a little like this Nailed It picture!

What’s love got to do with it? The lyrics to the 1980’s song ‘What’s love got to do with it?’ would ask us to believe that, “love is just a second-hand emotion” and “only a sweet old-fashioned notion.”  What a shame that many people today still do not understand pure or true love, and by that, I mean the love of God.  What does love got to do with it?  Everything!

It was the love of the Father who sent the Son from heaven to earth to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sin. We wouldn’t even have the faith to believe this truth, but for the love of God and His grace.  As believers, we recognize that love is not second-hand, nor is it old fashioned. It is who God is and at the heart of who God wants us to be.

The Greatest Commandment is Love. “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Luke 10:27

We thought we’d share a few highlights with you of those we love and what we have loved doing these past few months:

November – We love our ABWE missionaries in Tanzania and were challenged by the amazing team God has assembled in this region. It was a joy to see them sharing the pure love of God, demonstrating it sacrificially each and every day. Check out just one of their ministries at www.sifathreads.com and see what it looks like to share the love of God in East Africa.

December – Tom loved preaching with the team at Mountain View in Cape Town during the annual ‘Anticipate’ series. This year, we also got to celebrate Christmas with our kids and grandkids on both sides of the ocean. We even got to see our newest grandchild, Harrison.  We love our family and thank the Lord for the time we get to be with them.

January – Thank you Lord for the love of both family and friends! Our time in Ohio included: Celebrating the first Price Christmas without Nancy’s mom (they waited for us until January!), preaching at our home church in Columbus, and sharing with students at the Cedarville University’s Missions Conference. We also attended ABWE’s Global Operations Summit in Orlando, FL with leaders from around the world – we love these guys!

February – Last Sunday we were privileged to share our ministry at a church in Coconut Creek, Florida.  This church exhibited a love for God, a love for each other, and a love for God’s mission. They won us over big time!

Today, as you celebrate Valentine’s Day, take a minute to thank the One who loved you first, and who loves you still (no matter what!). He’s the one who gives us the gift of love, first, so that we can love Him, but also so that we can love others. 

The Bad News of Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Wolfs!  Nancy and I wanted to pass along a Christmas greeting with our best wishes during this special time of year.  During the Advent series at Mountain View this year, which we now refer to as the Anticipation series,  my preaching time at both churches was focused on the word “Adore.”  As we remember Jesus’ birth…O Come Let Us Adore Him…and gather to celebrate by praising, worshiping and rejoicing, we do so with anticipation of His second coming. Both miraculous events should fill us with pure adoration for the Savior of the world.

This year Nancy and I have enjoyed reading together from a book written by one of our favourite authors, Paul David Tripp.  He has a new Christmas devotional appropriately called Adore. I wanted share to with you one of my favorite daily readings. It is a fitting reminder to all of us about the good and bad news of Christmas. So, instead of “re-gifting” anything this year, we are “re-posting” Day 12 from Tripp’s book.

Nancy and I pray you’ll be blessed by reflecting on all that Jesus has done for us and who we are in Him.  I think you’ll find that when we recount the bad news of the Christmas story, the good news becomes even more amazing. Merry Christmas!

The Good News and Bad News of Christmas

The birth of Jesus was bad news. It wasn’t just your typical piece of bad news; it was the worst news ever. Maybe you’re thinking right now, “Paul, what in the world are you talking about? How could there be any better news than the coming of the Messiah to earth?” Well, you need to understand that there are two parts of the Christmas story, and you need both parts to make proper sense out of the whole story. The part of the story that tends to get the big billing (and it should) is the amazing, miraculous narrative of God putting on human flesh and coming to earth in the form of a baby. How amazing it is to think that God lay in that manger. God was suckled by Mary. God grew up in Mary and Joseph’s house. God walked the dusty streets of Palestine. God endured hunger, rejection, physical pain, injustice, and yes, even death. Remember, the miracle of Jesus’s birth is that he was fully God and fully man. God gave himself to us in outrageous redemptive love. God exposed himself to what we all face in this terribly broken and dysfunctional world. This story is so amazing, so beyond our normal categories for making sense of things, and so beautiful that it is hard to wrap the thoughts of your brain and the emotions of your heart around it. God has come to earth. Could there ever be better news than this? But there is a second part of the story that makes God’s shocking work of intervention make sense. Why would God do such a thing? What would motivate him to go to such an unthinkable extent?

Whenever you see people do the unexpected or the unusual, it is natural to ask yourself why they thought that their radical action was necessary. This is where the Christmas story is the worst news ever. I’m going to ask you to humbly open your heart to this second part, the bad news part of the Christmas story. God has to invade our world in the person of Jesus because there was simply no other way. And why was there no other way? Prepare for the bad news. There was no other way because our big problem in life is not familial or historical or societal or political or relational or ecclesiastical or financial. The biggest, darkest thing that all of us have to face, and that somehow, someway influences everything we think, say, and do, isn’t outside us; it’s inside. If you had none of the above problems in your life, you would still be in grave danger, because of the danger you are to yourself. If the only thing human beings needed were a little external tweaking of their life circumstances, then the coming of Jesus to earth wouldn’t make any sense. But if the greatest danger to all of us lives inside us and not outside us, then the radical intervention of the incarnation of Jesus is our only hope. Sure, you can run from a bad relationship, you can quit a bad job, you can move from a dangerous neighborhood, and you can leave a dysfunctional church, but you have no ability whatsoever to escape yourself. You and I simply have no ability to rescue ourselves from the greatest danger in our lives. This means that without the birth of Jesus, we are doomed to be destroyed by the danger that lurks inside us from the moment of our first breath. You don’t need to look far in the Bible to know what this danger is. Its stain is on every page of Scripture. Romans 3:23 exposes this danger with a few simple words: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sin is the bad news of the Christmas story. Jesus didn’t come to earth to do a preaching tour or to hang out with us for a while; he came on a radical mission of moral rescue. He came to rescue us because he knew that we couldn’t rescue ourselves. He knew that sin separates us from God and leaves us guilty before him. He knew that sin makes us active enemies against God, and what he says is good, right, and true. He knew that sin blinds us to the gravity of our condition and our dire need for help. He knew that sin causes us to replace worship of God with an unending catalog of created things that capture the deepest allegiances of our hearts. He knew that sin renders all of us unable to live as we were designed to live. And he knew that sin was the final terminal disease that, without help, would kill us all. But the Christmas story tells us something more. It tells us that Jesus knew that even if we were aware of the great danger within us, in our own wisdom and strength we could not help ourselves. To every human being, sin is the ultimate undefeatable enemy. It captures and controls us all, and there is nothing we can do. It is either the height of arrogance or the depth of delusion to think that you are okay. None of us is okay apart from the invasion of grace that is the core purpose for the coming of Jesus.

Now, if you’re like me, you have trouble believing this bad news. When you do something wrong, you probably try to blame it on stress or sickness, a bad boss, a troublesome spouse, a nerve-racking child, or just the generic pressures of life. When others come to you to point out a wrong, your initial response is probably not to be thankful. If you’re like me, you jump to your own defense, because it’s hard to believe that you’re the sinner that they’re describing. So I want to encourage you today in a fresh way to accept the bad news of the Christmas story because, if you do, the good news becomes all the more comforting and glorious. The Christmas story tells you that you have been freed forever from denying or minimizing the danger that lives inside you because Jesus came to rescue you, forgive you, transform you, and ultimately to deliver you. That baby in the manger carried with him to earth everything that sinners need. It’s only when you admit the need that you will be able to fully celebrate the solution that is Jesus.

For Further Study: Romans 5:6–11

For Parents And Children: Central theme: Good and Bad News Ask your children what they think would be the best news and then the worst news they could ever hear. Talk about how the Christmas story tells us the worst news ever (our sin) and the best news ever (the Savior came to purchase our forgiveness).

Reposted from Tripp, Paul David. Come, Let Us Adore Him (pp. 58-62). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Desperately Needed: Someone Who “Gets It!”

All of us, somewhere along the way, have sensed when someone doesn’t quite “get it.” It often happens when we’re asked, “So, how’s it going?” or “How are you doing?” It’s easy to say, “Fine…I’m fine”, even when we might not be, because when someone doesn’t “get it”, it’s hard to give a clear and honest answer.

“Fine” can be a confusing word. I remember when our girls were teenagers and occasionally they’d asked us, “How do you like my outfit?” If we said, “It looks fine,” they would immediately retreat to their bedroom with a look of disappointment on their face and a slightly pronounced closing of the bedroom door in their wake. Saying “It’s fine” was definitely not the right answer.

The answer “Fine” might mean, “It’s just okay,” or maybe, “I’m too busy to invest in a longer answer.” It can also be assumed that the person asking the question just won’t “get it” anyway. Maybe it feels like they don’t understand how hard you’ve worked, the difficulties you face, the cross-cultural differences, or your personal limitations; and you may even fear they will judge you if you open up and say it like it is.

ABWE Central & Eastern Europe and Mediterranean (CEEMed) Regional Conference

We just returned from a ministry trip to Malta, where we were invited to serve at a Regional Conference for ABWE missionaries serving in Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region, and surrounding areas. What an amazing place! Malta is an island in the Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast. While only 17 miles long and 9 miles wide, it’s incredibly rich in history and biblical significance.  Acts 27-28 provides the incredible story of how the Apostle Paul, while en route to Rome, experienced a shipwreck. He and 275 other passengers swam for their lives until they reached the shores of Malta. It was awesome to be at the very place where Paul once ministered and brought the Gospel to this part of the world. What a joy to realize, that even today, we are part of the same ongoing mission!

One of the goals for our time at the conference was just to be a fellow missionary sojourner who, with patience and understanding, revealed we truly cared. Whether we completely understood or not, we went to hear their stories. And even if our paths are slightly different, our experiences seemed much the same.  We pray that we were good listeners and brought encouragement in line with the conference theme, “Serving Through Shipwreck and Storm.”

Tom had the opportunity to present a devotional to the regional leaders at their pre-conference meetings, as well as speak with the men at the conference on the topic of Leading Through Your Identity. Nancy spoke with the ladies on the difference between groaning and grumbling and how it potentially shipwrecks our witness and relationship with God. Tom also led a session on sexual integrity and pornography, and together, we taught a session on Balancing Marriage and Ministry, which is often a difficult task.

Grateful for Ministry Partners Who “Get it”

We also had the gift of spending meaningful times with a supporting pastor and his wife, Pastor Craig and Kathy Miller. These were precious times of fellowship with our mentors and friends who really do “get it.” After the conference, we spent a couple of days with fellow missionaries, Kelly and Sherri Fath.  Kelly is the Regional Director for CEEMed and has the same “job” Tom has in Southern Africa. Our days were filled with lots of collaborative questions, such as, “How do you do this? How do you handle that?” And statements like, “I struggle with… Pray with me about…” There are 14 Regional Directors scattered around the ABWE world.  It was so much more than “fine” to have this special time with people who actually do “get it”. It was very encouraging!  Like any truly meaningful collaboration, it required vulnerability, authenticity, and quantity time which led to quality time. In many ways, it was a huge investment. However, that’s what it takes to get beyond “fine” to “I get it.”  We returned home to South Africa this week uplifted and ready to apply what we learned.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for the ministries God has prepared for us. May He continue to bless you in your part of His vineyard!