Hi Friends and Family,
I’ve held off on this update for a while because I wanted to figure out some of what the next season looks like in my journey toward missions before writing to you all. The reality is though that there are still things up in the air. However, I want to let you know some of what’s been happening and what’s likely coming down the pipe.
First of all, thank you so much for the way you’ve partnered with me over the past year. I’m so incredibly grateful for that.
In regard to the things, I asked you to pray for last time, God has been so good in working through all of those. God did help the Carpenters to plan the Kumbya missionary conference and helped me as I supported them in that. It was exhausting, but we made it. God gave me so many sweet times of fellowship with dear friends before I left Rwanda. It was bittersweet because I knew I was leaving them but that I would get to see and be with many of you again. Every time I’ve lived in a new place, I feel like I’ve made a new home, and now Musanze, Rwanda is home too.
As for readjusting to life in the US, I’m surprised by how little reverse culture shock I experienced. There were a few small things, but for the most part, there are things that are normal in the US and things that are normal in Rwanda, and I don’t expect what’s normal in one place to be normal in the other.
Okay, so now to what’s happened more recently. At the end of September, I had the chance to participate in the second Luke 10 Exploration Trip to Greece with EFM. (As a refresher, Luke 10 Exploration Trips are trips that EFM is using to help discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us to start new fields.) We got to spend a good amount of time talking with Iranian and Afghan refugees and those working with them, and God’s definitely working among the refugees there.
Let me give you some context. The refugees in Greece are usually passing through on their way to somewhere else in Europe where there are plenty of jobs and they can make a life for themselves and their families. They’ve typically left everything behind but the clothes on their back to make the journey and have used most (if not) all of their money to pay smugglers to get them to Greece. Many of them are also disillusioned with Islam since they had to flee their country because of Muslim leaders.
In that context, God has given mission organizations and churches the opportunity to step in and be his hands and feet. Muslims are getting to experience God’s love as they receive food, clothing, and other necessities through these workers and as they hear these workers teach them about Jesus. But the situation seems to always be in flux in Greece, both because where the refugees are coming from changes based on what’s happening and because of the Greek government’s ever-changing policies towards refugees. It requires a lot of flexibility for those working with these refugees. As a discernment team, we felt God pulling us towards Greece and will be sharing more at EFM’s National Luke 10 Think Tank (more on that later).
Now for what’s happening in the near future. I’ll be going on another second Luke 10 Exploration Trip in the second half of October to Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar. (You might remember that I was able to go on the first Luke 10 Exploration Trip to these locations a year ago.) We’re going back to meet with some of the people we met with before, get a clearer idea of what God’s doing among Nepali people there, and help discern if God’s leading EFM to send missionaries there. Additionally, our Evangelical Friends from Nepal will be discerning if God is leading them to send missionaries. If we went here as EFM, there’s a chance we would be going in partnership with missionaries from Nepal.
After this, I’ll join the National Think Tank in early November in Portland. The Think Tank will be made up of people who went on these trips and other Friends leaders, and together we’ll look at all the Luke 10 Exploration Trips that took place and make a recommendation to EFM’s board. The board will meet the next day to further discern, discuss, and make the final decision on what new fields we’ll start as an organization. We’re hoping that the Holy Spirit will show us at least five new fields to launch and that we’ll know which ones they are by the evening of November 9.
Finally, in the more (but not too) distant future, I’m anticipating moving back to Southern California in early January to reconnect with Granada Heights Friends Church and all the other people I know out there. I’m anticipating being there for at least six months although the exact timetable is still up in the air. If you’re living in SoCal, I’m looking forward to seeing you soon. If you’re living in Florida and I haven’t had the chance to see you yet, I’d love to get together before I move.
Friends, through all these trips I continue to be grateful for how you’ve supported me financially. Thank you for your generous support that helped me serve in Rwanda and go on these Luke 10 Exploration Trips.
Whew, this is a long update, even by my long-winded standards! Here’s how you can pray for me.
- Pray for the team going to Dubai/Doha to help discern God’s will for EFM and EFC Nepal in that context.
- Pray for the National Luke 10 Think Tank and EFM’s board as we (and they) look at all the trips and discern further what God’s leading us into as EFM and Friends churches in America.
- Pray for my personal discernment process as I consider Greece, Dubai, and Doha and look for where God’s leading me within where he’s leading EFM.
Thank you again, dear friends and family. Looking forward to this next season and whatever God has for EFM and me personally within that.
In Him, Thomas