Tuesday, 26 May 2009

May Prayer Letter!

“Clearly my job here is not to go to the town plaza and convince people to change their
religious beliefs or to win a theological debate…
My job is to live wrapped in God, trembling with His thoughts, burning
with His passion.”
--Frank Laubach

Dear Friends—
I write to you from over a month into my life in Sweden with tremendous amounts of
praise to the God who knows what He’s doing and lovingly leads us to see it too… I am
so thankful for His gracious guidance!! And I’m so thankful for YOU and for your
concern for His kingdom all throughout the world. You cannot know what your prayers touch…

The Day-to-Day—
Having finally settled in to my little life here, a sketch of my average day starts with about a 7am wake-up—usually to two of my gorgeous little housemates calling out “Auntie Lay-la!” I have a commute of about an hour into Rescue Mission, beginning with a refreshing 15 minute walk through the mountainous woods to my tram stop. I quite like the tram ride because it gives me a few minutes for reading—through the generosity of one supporter and friend, I have so many fantastic books to read, but so little time to read them in!

Then at ‘The Shop’ (Rescue Mission Secondhand), every day is full of various tasks and, more importantly, various people. Last time I’d asked you to pray for two volunteers who had been working with us, Kim and Gabriella. A progress report? I feel like we’ve had a few breakthroughs with Kim. She is adamantly atheist, but she isn’t hostile to ‘God talk’ and we have them often. She is admittedly curious and admires the faith she sees… So please keep praying for a burning curiosity and softening of heart!! And that I, or any of us at Rescue Mission, would always have an answer for this faith He has called us to!

I’ve been a bit discouraged by interactions with Gabriella. It’s come out that he seems to have mental problems which he’s medicating and which make it very difficult to have a proper conversation—and I find it difficult to discuss clothes and jewelry all the time, especially as he’s a man… So, still praying for breakthroughs and patience and that he might come to church sometime and perhaps be touched there. You just never know how God may work…

The evenings after work always seem to fill up with one thing or another—bible study, worship team practice, a meal or coffee & Fika (a lovely Swedish tradition!! It’s basically just a snack with coffee or tea and they call the event Fika) with friends or someone I’m reaching out to. Having committed myself to being available to the people God places in my path, I find myself never knowing what each new day will bring! Which makes for a crazy schedule, but it’s such a beautiful honour to give Him my time, you know? And so this normally very introverted girl who needs time on her own to recharge her batteries, is actually doing quite well with very little alone time. Isn’t that just like God?? To provide in unexpected ways when we’re doing His will…

Some of you will know of the difficulties I came back to in our little Rescue Mission Church and how heavily it has laid on my heart and how many tears I’ve been shedding. I knew things had gone wonky while I was away, but I didn’t know how deeply until I was back to see for myself. In my first few weeks back, I found myself being confided in by many different parties to the same issue, who were talking to me, but not to one another, making it very awkward for me. But the awkwardness was really just right as it threw me down before the Throne of Grace for this little church I so love.

Churches breed conflict, I know, because we are made up of broken, messy people. But it’s been a new experience for me to be so involved. Plus, we are a very small group so everything is felt by everyone. It’s been difficult to talk to the leadership about, as well, because we are all hyper-sensitive about not naming names and casting blame and speculating, so communication has to be very veiled. But we have a great sense of God’s movement here and His refining process… In a group like ours where we are all from different cultures and different stages of faith, it’s a wonder God’s put us together at all : ) I’ve personally struggled with seeing some people’s seeming ideas of what is and is not immorality, and the line between correction and judgment. It’s always interesting to see where God has us in Scripture on bible study nights—we’re just going straight through Paul’s letters a chapter at a time, but whatever we study each week is always PERFECTLY timely to the state of our little gathering : )

He is growing my passion for Holiness—for taking His hand and drawing up as close to His heart as possible…

The pastor speaks often of our role here—simply to teach people to walk with God. And when I see it like that, I relax a bit. God knows what He’s doing and knowing Him IS a process. My areas of growth are just different ones from some of the areas of some of the others in our church right now. We’re put together to help one another to draw in closer to that heart of God.

I am often struck-dumb as I think of what a privilege He has given me (and you!) to be a part in drawing another closer to Him. There are a particular few members whom He has seemingly given me a wide window of influence for this season and I am amazed and humbled that He would use me so… I covet your prayers for wisdom and love and boldness and never a wasted opportunity!

“… While knowledge makes us feel important, it is Love that strengthens the
church…” --1 Cor.8:1
Praise the Lord for…Worship!—
I’ve committed to fitting in wherever the need is and so I’ve found myself up in front of the church far too much!!! But it is a blessing, however challenging, because I LOVE WORSHIP. It is one of my favourite ways to gaze into the face of God. There is a decided difference between my “style” of worship and the other worship leader's—as he can’t seem to play or sing anything without a bit of an Elvis Presley rhythm : ) So sometimes teaching the church new songs can be a challenge, especially as I am not confident up front and can’t play an instrument, only sing. Nonetheless, a few of us have been getting together nearly weekly now to prepare to lead the church in worship and it is such a beautiful honour to be given the role of drawing people into the presence of God on a Sunday…. And even more, to challenge them to live out the week in this same heart of worship! Would you please pray for my lovely little church to continue to grow in their walks with Him, and for us as worship leaders to live out the holiness we sing about and so desire to see in each of our lives in this church? And personally, would you pray that He might continue to unravel my fear and make me uninhibited before Him even in front of the church so as not to distract from heart-to-heart worship!!!

Praise the Lord for… Sunday School!—

I taught my first Sunday School class a few weeks ago!! It’s crazy how I’m nervous even for that… But it went well. I do so love our kids. Again, I just find it such an honour to be able to come alongside the people of this church and love on them and love on their kids. And even more honouring how they all take me right into their hearts and their families. That is so pivotal for mission, to be accepted in by the people you’ve come to minister to, and God has definitely smoothed the way for me here! A few weeks ago I spent a few days sorting out a room in the back of the shop to use for a Sunday School classroom— before we would just use a few tables for sale in the shop! So, last week in our proper Sunday School classroom with a baby on my hip and about 10 willing little students from 6 different countries, I taught the story of Ruth and Naomi and Boaz and how we can trust God to take care of families in every situation. Would you please pray for our kids? That He might captivate them from a young age and birth in them a desire for His holiness. And would you pray for teachers? We are attempting to raise up various members of the congregation to take turns leading Sunday School. Pray that we each might be obedient to His prompting to serve Him in whatever way is needed to build up the church!

The UN-day-to-day!—

A few special happenings between now and the last newsletter:

My friends from
Nigeria/Gambia had a
beautiful baby boy named Victor
and I attended my first African
Baby-Naming ceremony
when he was 8 days old!
Victor’s papa was Muslim when I first met him and asked
Jesus into his life during my first stint working with
Rescue Mission—they are a very special family to me!

My precious friend Teri-Anne turned 31 and we went out
dancing! My very first club experience! It was great fun, and
proof that one can enjoy herself very much without the aid of
alcohol, drugs, sex, etc :)

My cousin Emily came to visit!! She’s been
studying the semester in Norway. She is one
of my best friends in the world so having her
was such a refreshing delight!!!

Hej Då for now—
Every day is filled with so many lessons I can’t even begin to recount them. I can feel Him
emboldening me little by little, and I can see Him working in the lives of people around me, despite what often looks like hopeless circumstances. Again and again in His patience and love He
teaches us that all of life boils down to knowing & loving Him. And my purpose in serving Him is
to remind people of that, to shout out in my quietness that He has made a way for us to be holy as He is holy—even in secular, Post-Modern Europe. His name is Jesus Christ and the intensity of His love and compassion for you and for me led Him to the cross where He died that we might
live… May you know this Jesus and make Him known… Thank you for coming along with me to proclaim His name to all the earth!!

Yours and His in Sweden,
Love- Leah

P.S. UK friends—I’m afraid it’s looking like I won’t be able to make it over for Redcliffe graduation!! I’m so sorry… I had so hoped to go. All my love to you! I will visit as soon as I can make it work financially!

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