Author: Beth
•Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The old adage says that you learn something new every day. Spend a day in a third-world foreign country and you're guaranteed to quadruple your chances of doing something you've never done before.

I came to Sudan with a construction resume that accurately depicted my level of expertise: I could name a few tools in the box and had pounded a few nails. However, the combination of necessity and an excellent teacher (Julie Ward) breeds opportunity, and thus I found myself behind the Darth Vader-isque mask with a welding rod in my hands.

Welding is one of those trades that carries remarkable intrigue, especially to someone like me that knows little of the complexities of electricity or coalescence. It requires a steady hand, a little bit of know-how (which didn't come from me, obviously), and a few safety measures here and there. Many weeks and a dozen metal shutters later, I reemerged from behind the mask with a new respect for the craft (and the people who can make it look so easy) and a few sparks of thought that were starting to mold something permanent in my head.

Back at our little hut one afternoon, I picked up my small travel Bible and a few verses caught my eye.

" that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)

That simple phrase "rooted and grounded in love" stood out to me like the bright light that I had seen behind the welding mask.

In welding terms, a "ground clamp" is attached to the work to complete the current and allow the electricity to pass through the metal being welded. Without it being properly attached to the pieces, the welder runs the risk of electrical shock.

To be "grounded in love" therefore presented a challenging mental picture, bearing a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of resemblance. I may be able to speak and communicate with brilliant eloquence, but the words mean nothing unless they are spoken in love. I may have the faith that can obliterate obstacles, but without love, there is no point. I may live in Africa (or anywhere else in the world) and give all that I have, but there is no true gain without love. It is love that gives sense and bearing to work; it prevents burnout or injury from energetic efforts without any foundation. To be completely "filled with the fullness of God," I have to know this Love and be firmly grounded in it.

What wondrous love is this?

"God saw Abraham's sacrifice and said, 'Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.' (Genesis 22:12). But how much more can we look at His sacrifice on the Cross and say to God, 'Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold Your Son, Your only Son, whom You love, from us.' When the magnitude of what He did dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in Him rather than in anything else." - Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods

In the light of the gospel of this glorious sacrifice, the foundation and "grounding", everything else is "electrified" and made useful in His sight. Why are these families here in Sudan, giving up successful careers and comforts, for the sake of their Dinka neighbors? Why are there tireless efforts put into training men, building churches, raising children, running households? Why is there hope in the midst of discouragements, perseverance in trials, joy in hardships?

Behind that welding mask, watching the sparks fly, I caught a glimpse of it.

It's all because of Love.

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, that we might live through Him." - 1 John 4:9

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, December 01, 2010

If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be writing this from a small white plane flying over barren African plains, I don't think I would have believed them. But now, I'm looking out of small windows at the brush and sparse greenery below, with an occasional dirt road snaking into the distance. Occasionally, a small cluster of thatched roofs appear, but that is the only sign of civilization below. In an hour or so, my feet will be touching the ground and the adventure will begin.

What does faith look like?

That's a question that coursed through my brain as I sat in the airplane seat. A few hours ago, I had boarded the plane without a second thought. I had buckled myself in for the ride, grinned at 6-year-old Samuel sitting next to me, and soared into the sky headed for Southern Sudan. The two international flights that had brought me to the other side of the globe a few days earlier were much the same. I didn't think about the pilot who literally held lives at his control. I didn't give a second thought to the plastic and metal being the only things that protected me from the elements. I didn't even reconsider the laws of science that held the plane thousands and thousands of feet in the air.

In our culture, flying is just how we get from one place to the next.The "radical faith" that takes is widely accepted and hardly questioned.

Can I live with that kind of faith, in the spiritual sense ... on the ground?

Thankfully, I didn't have to look too far into my past to see that the Pilot had already been faithful to navigate through some storms. Recounting the events of the previous few months left me with no other choice than to look confidently into the future.

It had been exactly eight weeks since the day an email appeared in my inbox, asking if Laurie and I would consider going to Sudan. At the time, we were both shocked that God would answer our months of praying in that way. Our small faith was about to be tested in every possible sense.

Me? In Africa? What about my responsibilities here? What about the money? What will people think of such a quick decision? Am I doing the right thing? What if I don't come back? ...

Each question that surfaced demanded a miracle in its own way. God was answering prayers, but He was doing it in such a way that stripped us of every ounce of ourselves and caused complete surrender. A.W. Tozer once said, "If something is of God, then your dependence on God will increase." That became our heralding cry for needed grace. If God was going to have us on a plane in a few short weeks, it would be nothing short of a miracle.

Faith. Can you do this, oh my soul? Has He ever failed you yet?

From my reflections on that little white plane, I began to see the shadows of three pillars that gave my shaky faith the wings to fly.

Peace. When God calls His children to things much bigger than themselves, He knows our weakness and inadequacies -- which is why I believe He fulfills His own words to give backbone to the task ahead: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you...let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27). After praying intensely about the decision, Laurie and I found that God had given an deep-rooted and inexplainable peace, even against all odds.

Providence. How else can you explain the acts of God, when you have no other alternative -- no "plan B"? How do you account for details falling into place, jobs being covered, money being provided, and needs being fulfilled? It is, as the Westminster Catechism puts it, God's works of providence: "His most holy, wise, and powerful, preserving and governing all His creatures and all their actions." When God has His fingerprints all over something, even preparing me months and years in advance, it's hard to look the other way.

Promises. Faith is not easy for us nearsighted, fallible, insecure creatures, which is why God gives us firm foundations to rest our weary feet. He then gives us times such as these to prove that that every word of His is actually true. For my little faith, stepping forward into to this desire of my heart meant that His promises would have to be more than just letters on a page. Thankfully, but not surprisingly, every single promise is always kept. Always.

With those three pillars holding us up, we turned our faces towards the wind and our Pilot put us... on... that... plane.

Weeks later, as I sat waiting to disembark and feel the hot African sun on my face, I returned to that question of faith.

What is this going to look like for the rest of my life? Can I take my faith so seriously that flying clear around the world will seem like nothing in comparison? Can I trust that God, my Pilot, will keep me above the clouds, above the terrifying depths below? Can I have the kind of confidence that when He does "land the plane," He will not leave me to wonder where to go from here?

A few hours later, not only was I on the ground, but I was standing in front of the little round hut that was going to be "home" for the next few months. As I looked upward, I saw a rainbow that stretched delicately across the blue expanse, as a welcome banner from my Lord.

There was no doubting.
No turning back.

A radical life of faith, with Jesus as the author and the finisher, is the only life worth living.

Author: Beth
•Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear friends,

After a summer hiatus[and then some], I’m now dusting off this blog once again. If you were following the updates over at 73 Days, you will have heard a few tales of the African adventures from this past summer. Hopefully, those words (written from our little thatched-roof hut) gave you a tiny glimpse into what turned out to be an incredible God-breathed, grace-saturated, ripple-making, faith-building, joy-filled adventure.

We (my dear friend Laurie and me) touched American soil again on September 8, 2010. The pictures have been sorted through, a few videos done, and reports have been made, and life has swept us away in a fascinating flurry back on our homeland mission field.

However, my writing pen has been largely silent.

There’s been a reason for that. Well, more than one. :-)

It’s impossible to go on a trip like that and not have it change you. Sometimes that change isn’t realized right away; sometimes it just takes awhile for it to surface into [words that can be shared.] Now, over two months later (has it been that long?!)…… the words are finally coming.

SO, here’s to ‘remembering the deeds of the Lord.

Remembering His wonders of old.

Pondering all of His work.

Meditating on His mighty deeds.’

In the next few weeks, by God’s grace, I’m going to attempt to share a few stories with you. Some of them are from my journal. Others are from the updates that you might have already read. A few are the result of living back at home and seeing things there with new eyes.

I’m just gonna say – God has this way of writing stories that always leave me speechless. However they might come out, it is my hope that you’ll see God Himself in a way that you’ve never seen before. He deserves far more glory than can ever be expressed here.

What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known your might among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:11-14)

So, here’s to celebrating that.


P.S. With a new season comes a new blog look! Web design is not my forte, but I've been playing around here to make it a little more navigatable... so pardon the "dust." :) Any suggestions, comments, or helpful hints would be appreciated.

Author: Beth
•Thursday, September 02, 2010

“Make sure you have good walking shoes!”

A good piece of advice for any traveler, yes. Just a few months ago, I was hurriedly throwing a few things into a suitcase in order to catch a plane that was Africa-bound. In went the old familiar brown sandals. The ones that had climbed mountains in India, ran beaches in Mexico, and now would soon be shaking Sudanese dust off of their worn soles.

Now, over two months later, I looked down at those old brown sandals as I walked to some surrounding neighbors to say some final goodbyes. The packed dirt below had bare footprints (along with a random smattering of cow, goat, donkey, and chicken prints) etched into the soil of those who had walked the path before me. The pathway kept going – winding in between compounds and disappearing into fields that were tall with sorghum ready for harvest. Part of me wanted to keep going – to look beyond the next bend in the path, to find more faces, to see new things. The other part of me knew that the sun would be setting soon and it was time to turn back.

Now, I’m turning back … going home.

But the journey doesn’t stop.

Because with every day that passes here in Sudan, the more I realize just how much of this life is truly an adventure with my Jesus. Every step of the way.

Next Wednesday, a certain plane will land in Indianapolis. Lord willing, both Laurie and I will be setting foot into a new chapter and a new adventure back in our homeland.

I just wanted to send you all a heartfelt “thank you” for being faithful prayer warriors during this African leg of the great adventure. It has been so full and so rich with His abundant care and grace. Our time here has drawn to a close, but we go willingly on to the next – knowing that following Him means truly living the abundant life.

The last week with the Cush4Christ team here has been mixed with joy in all that God has done, along with some sadness at the thought of parting. Things like screwing the final screw into the completed shutters at the Ward’s house or topping off our project blitz by the construction of a new latrine (“cho”) this week has given a sense of finality and completion to this trip. Many things still continue, however, and will the time to come within our own hearts. God has blessed us with so many relationships and friendships here that it is difficult to say goodbye. They ask us when we will return, and we can only say “The Lord knows” (and then we think a little less of earth and a little more of heaven.)

A few final prayer requests as we embark on our journey home:

- For safety and protection in travel: Jan, Laurie, and I leave on Friday morning from Aweil, spend the night in Juba, and do the second half of our flight to Nairobi on Saturday. Our flight to America begins on the following Tuesday (September 7).

- For the C4C team: especially the Wards as they remain behind in Sudan and continue on the work here so faithfully. Also, pray for Scott (returning next week) and the Faris family (still, as far as we know, are awaiting the arrival of baby in Nairobi). Being able to live and work alongside these servants for the past few months has been such an encouragement to us – God is in the process of doing great things through the people that He delights in calling His own.

- For our own hearts: as we say goodbye to people we love so dearly and transition back to life in America. Pray for good times of reflection and joy as we remember what God has done and look forward to what He will do in the next chapter of our individual lives.

The words from Psalm 117 (the psalm that we love to sing quite frequently with the Ward family here!) come ringing back into my ears as we say goodbye and look forward to home.

 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! 
All you nations, extol Him; Extol Him, all you peoples! 
For great is His love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever!”

His love truly is great toward us – we have seen it in countless ways. His faithfulness has guided us every step of the way and will continue wherever else He may take us on the face of His earth… until we are finally Home.

It is exciting – this life, with Jesus holding on to us!! I’m sure each of you have your own stories of how God is leading you even now. So, from one traveler to another, on this journey with Christ -- make sure you have good walking shoes … because the abundant life with Jesus is always an adventure.

Praising the Lord with you,


Author: Beth
•Friday, August 20, 2010
Dear Friends,

The sun has now set on Day 50 here in the Sudan. Right now, Laurie is lighting our little kerosene stove to brew herself a cup of chai and I am listening to our resident cricket sing his little heart out somewhere in the thatched roof above my head. Life here has been an incredible grace-saturated adventure.

I’ve shared a few of the spiritual lessons in some previous emails, but tonight I thought I would just invite you to our little “baai” for a peek into life as we know it here in Sudan. 

The C4C compound has become more empty lately, as we waved goodbye to our dear friends Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel – who are off to Nairobi for the birth of the baby. We’ve missed them here - and Georgie (the dog) does too, but he’s consoling himself by curling up by one of our beds at night. We have been keeping quite busy along with the Ward family and Jan, as we approach our final few weeks. 

This week has launched us into fast-forward motion with the various projects to be completed here. One thing I’ve learned about being here in Sudan is that nobody here has just “one” job – and our experience here is giving us a myriad of things to increase our resumes. *smile* The Minion Department (as we are affectionately called) has taken on many different roles: babysitter, dishwasher, chef, farmer, welder, grinder, plumber, tea connoisseur (Laurie), pole digger, photographer, general source of Kowaja amusement… and the list goes on. It has been quite enjoyable, and we go to sleep every night thanking the Lord for the opportunity to use our hands in service here. 

Just for fun, I thought you all might enjoy an ongoing list that is being compiled by a few of us (something akin to “you know you live in Sudan when…”) – taking note of the somewhat unusual things that this land offers. Who knows, maybe some of you will end up in Africa someday too and this knowledge might come in handy.

- A common dish served at a local restaurant is cow intestines- Praying for rain at the dinnertable is a common occurrence- The currency is a Sudanese pound and there are no coins- Recreational activities include spear throwing and chasing goats out of groundnut fields- Kids have little attachment to clothes and even less for “indoor” toilets- Chickens, goats, and cows are often the welcoming committee on your doorstep (not as much anymore since Daniel constructed the fence though!)- Digging a new “cho” (outdoor toilet) has many benefits, including a full body toning routine (my muscles are singing volumes right now!), golden sun tanning, and clay mud pedicures.- Waking up in the morning to an energetic scurry of little feet overhead is no cause for alarm – it is just the lizards having a “good morning” dance on your mosquito netting.- Waking up at night to the energetic scurry of little feet, however, often means that the resident mouse is having a midnight snack on your granola bars.- Cameras make instant friends, even if they don’t know to smile until AFTER the picture.- Land rovers + mud x full night of rain = flexibilityyyy in the schedule! (Or flexibility in footwear when the next day’s jaunt to the market left Jan stuck in the clay!)- Every night, there is either a gorgeous sunset, a sky full of stars, or a majestic lightening display that you can watch while taking a shower – can’t get much better than that!- Two boards nailed together make a perfect plane swing, an empty plastic bottle hanging from a string is great for “tetherball”, and countless hours can be spent digging holes in the sand and climbing trees. No need for televisions here!- Onions and garlic are the staple ingredient for just about any recipe.- Taking your dirt-christened work skirt out of the laundry for the third time in a week is perfectly fine – it’s just fitting in with the latest fashions!- Your “tan” often comes off in the shower every night.- … and much, much, much more!

We are continuing to live every day here to the fullest and are looking forward to our final two weeks here. Thank you for all of your faithful prayers over the past few months – it has certainly been God who had made this trip so profitable. Lord willing, we will have a few more things to share with you all before we return. Please continue to pray for the Kingdom work – that God would “establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90) as we finish up here. 

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Monday, August 09, 2010
Hello from Sudan once again! 
As I sit down to write to you all, I still wonder if I will ever be able to adequately express all the work that God is doing here in Africa. Yesterday, as I was sitting under the shade of a nice tree, God was reminding me of so many of His commands in Scripture to declare the wonderful works of the Lord. “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to you among the nations…” (Psalm 108:3) So, even though my words are rather inadequate and time is lacking to tell you of everything, it is my hope that you are reading these emails and finding your heart drawn to praising His Name with us.

This afternoon, I’ve been thinking about light and how important it is in our daily life here. The sunshine that is so well-known here in Africa becomes a welcome sight, as it is often our “alarm clock” to wake us up in the mornings. At night, that same sunshine becomes appreciated in a new way when we use our solar-powered lanterns. The stars that you can see from here are absolutely breathtaking – sometimes it is almost light enough to see the path without extra help. Flashlights do come in handy to keep our eye out for snakes when we walk back from the shower, however. *smile* And yes, Laurie and I have been known to read our emails by candlelight as well.

You probably know where I’m going with this. All of these various forms of light that shine brilliantly into the darkness are visible pictures of what God commands His children to be: “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," [Philippians 2:15]

I just thought I would share one example (out of many) of this spiritual light and darkness that may give you a better idea of ways to pray as we continue on this mission here in Sudan.

On Friday, as Daniel Faris, Laurie, and I were getting ready to leave for Aweil Town (to pick up Jan, a new team member for the month), there was a great commotion outside the gate. A woman had been attacked by a stray dog and was having violent reactions. Daniel was able to drive her to Aweil town for medical attention, and Laurie and I rode along and prayed. [It was uncertain if it was the result of demon possession.] This was the first time that I have witnessed something like that so closely, and it has caused us to think much upon Jesus, His victory over the powers of darkness, and the impact that the gospel could have in this land. Please pray for Adoot and her family, as well as the many, many people in this area who are still bound by the chains of fear and have not yet experienced the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ.

In contrast, this past Lord’s Day, we had the privilege of worshipping with the saints in Mangar-Aquach, which is the village of the first organized church in this area. Every time I visit that area, I am amazed at the joy and sincerity that radiate from their faces. This week, we had the privilege of witnessing two important milestones in the church: the ordination of five deacons, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper with them. Both of these events, along with the preaching of the Word, singing, and praying, was a beautiful picture of how God is continuing to grow and build His church.

"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."  [Daniel 12:3]

So yes, there is darkness, but there is also a glorious light – and how great is that Light! I marvel at the ways God is continuing to shine His gospel even more brilliantly into our own hearts as we witness it going out into this community. He truly is worthy of our praise.

Her smile just lights up the world!

As some of you have requested, here are a few more specific prayer requests as we start off this new week:

This Friday, we say goodbye to Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel as they fly to Nairobi for the birth of their little one. We will greatly miss their presence here in Sudan, but look forward to hopefully seeing them in Nairobi in a few more weeks when we pass through. Please pray for their safety in travel and the birth of baby in God’s appointed time!

We are also grateful for Jan, who has come for a month. We have enjoyed getting to know her! Please continue to pray for her as she adjusts to life here and discerns God’s calling on her life.

On Tuesday (tomorrow), Jan, Laurie, and I are going to do an impromptu workshop/discussion with the women of Manach-Aquach, talking about womanhood and discipleship. Please pray that God would give us the words to say and that we would communicate effectively to a culture and a mindset that is so different from our own. Pray that relationships would be established and that long-lasting fruit would be seen.

Please pray that we would continue to treasure the moments here and use our time wisely as we anticipate the next few weeks ahead.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. We praise God for each and every one of you!


[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Friday, July 30, 2010
Hello dear friends,

As I write to you, a golden sunset is just disappearing across the western sky. Nearby, cows are bellowing in low tones, and the sounds of the night are starting up their calming chorus. My hands and face are bearing tell-tale signs of plenty of African sunshine, and I’m breathing a sigh of contentment after a full day here in Sudan. 

The calendar says that we are well into our fourth week here. I was writing a date in my journal the other day and stared at it for a few moments – it’s hard to believe that it’s the end of July and exactly a month since we left the States! At the team meeting last night, Laurie and I were remarking at how “normal” it feels here – which is a testimony of God’s continuing grace and many prayers on our behalf. We are so grateful. 

As I was thinking about what I could write to you this week, the theme that has come to mind several times is BUILDING. 

Perhaps it is on my mind because we built a house today. 

Well, more accurately, we *helped* Daniel Faris and Lual (the day guard) screw together the sheet metal for a tin house on the compound – in preparation for some upcoming guests in the next few weeks and months. The walls are now standing tall and the roof awaits its completion tomorrow! But still, for someone who hasn’t had too much experience in the construction department, even passing screws and wielding wrenches gave me a sense of achievement. 

Now, a nice round dwelling stands glistening in the evening sun, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different kinds of building that I’ve witnessed going on this week. A few afternoons have been dedicated towards various “home improvement” projects – like tying grass mats (jargonia) to the newly constructed fence, cementing posts in the ground for Julie’s laundry line, or helping with the construction of new house shutters for the Wards. It has been quite fun to get “our hands dirty” in some small ways to help with the settling-in process. 

However, tin huts and fence posts aren’t the only things that have been building around here lately.

Yesterday, Daniel took us over to a nearby village to witness some deacon training in one of the churches. We’ve been hearing about the discipleship work that Vince has been doing with the pastors. Also, earlier this week found us listening to one of our newfound friends, Achol, read from her Dinka Bible and discussing spiritual things with her. Being able to see some of these things firsthand has reminded me that God is continuing to build in the hearts and lives of people here in His own ways and time. What a blessing it is to see His Kingdom continue to expand in this vastly different corner of His globe!

As Laurie and I can both attest, God is also continuing to do a building work deep within our own hearts. We can wait on Him, joyfully confident that He is faithful to complete His work.

In His Strength,

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain
Author: Beth
•Friday, July 23, 2010

The warm evening sun beckoned me out for a brief walk before dinner. In the distance, I could hear the buzz of voices coming from the community well. The small crowd of women looked up as I approached, and curious dark eyes matched my own. I was interested to see more of this daily chore of Dinka life, and they were equally as interested in the strange white girl who found such fascination in an ordinary thing.

I watched for awhile as the women took turns filling their yellow gerry cans with the clear water. Young girls were systematically pumping the long metal handle, using their weight as leverage and jumping up and down along with the motion. One lady laughed and motioned for me to try. I could feel the tension of the water as I pumped, and my inexperienced hands only brought out a rather haphazard trickle from the tap (much to the amusement of my audience.) When the 20 liter cans were topped with water, the women would lift them onto their heads in one swift motion and balance them effortlessly. As I waved goodbye to the newfound friends at the well and continued on my walk, I thought more about this necessity of fresh water that helped the community to thrive. Even more than that, I was reminded of the work of the gospel here that quenches the thirst of the soul. 


It has been such a blessing to see how the team here has dedicated themselves to this gospel. I have learned so much from them so far, from both watching their daily lives and also hearing the stories of how God has built up this ministry in Sudan. Although we have only been here two weeks, we have been privileged to take part in some small ways – especially seeing the fruit of the team’s long-term labors in our own short-term endeavors. We had the opportunity to do some English work with two pastors-in-training here on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. We spent an afternoon with Peter and Ajo on Monday, helping them with sermon preparations and discussing several Bible passages to answer their questions. It was tremendously encouraging to talk in our own native language and be part (in a very small way) of the gospel going forth in the surrounding churches. To me, that was a celebration of the Lord’s work thorough the faithful service of the mentors who have invested in these men’s lives for such a long time.

Yesterday (Thursday), we were also privileged to be part of the “Grand Opening” ceremony for Weer Bei, the radio station that transmits a gospel message to thousands of listeners in this area. Cush4Christ has partnered with this ministry since the very beginning, and the majority of it is made possible through the work of Scott, Vince, John (pastor) and Carlo (pastor). Although they have been on the air for several months already, the “official” ceremony took place - complete with dedication speeches, singing, preaching, and a “ribbon” cutting. Quite a day! It was likewise a great celebration of God’s work through the faithful service of these men who have been dedicated to the gospel message.

These two events this week reminded me of the beauty and refreshment of Living Water upon the souls of people. It has also reminded me to be dwelling on this gospel and its glorious meaning for my own life. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support as we settled into a varied schedule here. Every day has seemed to provide us with new experiences, new faces, new encounters, and new grace, while still allowing us to be part of the daily routine of the team. I have learned so much about missionary life and greatly look forward to what God has in store for the next six weeks. 

Wherever you are, it is my prayer that you will stay encouraged and treasure this glorious gospel in your daily life as well. It is truly worth everything. 

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14

Rejoicing in Sudan,

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The thunder rumbled in the distance. Eagerly, all of us looked up from where we were gathered for prayer, as the wind suddenly picked up and whistled around the house. The strong, envigorating winds blew dust in swirling hordes as the dark clouds promised something more. 


The kids squealed in excitement as the first droplets came. As we danced around in the rain, feeling the wet spray on our faces, I could almost feel the invigorating refreshment that it was bringing to this thirsty land. Laurie and I have ended our first entire week here in the Sudan, and I just have to smile at how God sent this little rainstorm as a celebration of His continuing grace. A few minutes ago, as I made my way through the little winding dirt paths to our little bai (and shooing away the cows and goats off the front doorstep), I began to think about all the ways that God has shown us His grace this past week, and they are really too numerous to count.

One common theme that I’ve been noticing is that God tends to show me particular things about Himself as I move forward – walking one step at a time. So, here are a few places that I’ve walked this week and some glimpses of Himself that He has shown along the way.

I saw His gift of life this week as we walked around the village in prayer on Friday, and stopped in to visit a newborn baby who had been born a few hours before. The precious dark tiny face looking up at his mother reminded me in a particular way of how God sustains life here and holds all of His children securely within His hand. This is grace.

I saw His gift of community this week as we walked into neighbor huts with some of the team members and greeted people with our broken Dinka. After only a week of being here, we confess that our conversational language still relies heavily on patient translators and hand motions, but we have greatly enjoyed being a source of amusement as we learn from one another. As faces become more familiar, names stick a little easier, and the “light bulbs” of understanding turn on a little quicker, we see God drawing people and forming relationships. This is grace.

I saw His gift of the gospel as we walked out of the Weer Bei radio station, after seeing the first Saturday night radio program hit the air. This Christian radio station, which is connected with the Cush4Christ ministry here, reaches a 60-mile radius in all directions and has approximately 20,000 listeners. I am so encouraged by the dedication of the men here who organize the programs, and even more thrilled to see God working in such a powerful way to bring His message to this oral culture. This too, is grace

I saw His gift of worship as we walked to God’s house here in Sudan – a grass mat enclosure with branches for pews and a tarp for the roof – and listened to the voices of these saints raised in psalms of prayer. Although I only understood a word or two, it was a beautiful sight to see these people here worshipping the true God from their heart. It reminded me of the people back home who were doing the same thing around the globe on the Lord’s Day. This is grace.

And yes, I saw His gift of security as we walked throughout our days (and nights even). I just have to say that the necessary walks in the dark are still a little unnerving – even with the trusty flashlight. However, as I was walking back from my shower last night, I just had to smile at the confidence that had come to my step (for me, that is saying kinda a lot – especially with all the sticks on the ground that look like snakes in the dark!) *smile* Praise God for His protection, and yes, even if I do encounter one of those reptiles one of these days, I’m sure there is grace enough for that too. 

Finally, tonight, I saw His gift of joy as I walked back in the rain. The adjustments to this culture have been rather easy thus far (mostly thanks to the wonderful team members here who have patiently taught us so much!) but there is still that daily need to choose joy wherever I am. I just love those moments when it just can’t help but bubble up inside and spill over. That is a gracious gift from God as well. 

Anyway, I thought a few of these things would make you smile too – and hopefully bring to mind ways that God has shown you grace in your lives today as you walk forward into what He has called you. 

Thank you all SO much for your many emails! They are extremely appreciated and we are very grateful for the links of love that connect us to home. I continually thank God for all of you and look forward to responding as the time permits. Know that you all are being thought of and prayed for under this African sky. *smile*

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is as sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains water the earth…” – Hosea 6:3


[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hello everyone! 

We send you love and good wishes from a little round hut in Southern Sudan! The sun has just gone down on our first full day on this missionfield, and I am currently sitting under its thatched roof, listening to the sounds of the evening – some crickets, an occasional drumming, some soft singing in the distance (Daniel and Natalie having family worship), and the typing on this tiny computer (that last one kinda spoils the night atmosphere, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless!) I have just returned from a nice envigorating shower under the stars, and await another peaceful night’s sleep before another busy day!

So much has happened in the last few days that it would be rather difficult to sum it all up in one small update. However, I thought I would share with you a short snippet from my journal – my faithful companion that has kept a few of the many memories.

On the MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) airplane, somewhere in between Nairobi and Aweil:

“Right now, as my family and friends back in America are just waking up to start a new day, I am getting ready to set foot on a new missionfield. The small white plane is maneuvering through some fluffy white clouds as we head towards Aweil. Below, I can see a sprinkling of brush and some sparse greenery with an occasional dirt road snaking into the distance. Occasionally, a small cluster of thatched or tin roofs appear, but that is the only sign of civilization below. My heart has been singing words from Psalm 108: God, my heart is steadfast, I will sing your praises…Lord, among the peoples [the Dinka, specifically] I will sing your praises. And from among the nations [right now, it’s Sudan] my praise to You will rise. For your lovingkindness extends is above the heavens, Your faithfulness extends into the skies.” Lord, you have been gracious to give me a steadfast heart, and I am learning to let go and lay my burdens down – and just worship with my whole heart. Your lovingkindness and faithfulness go before me into this new land – it is even up here in the skies! May your glory be lifted above all the earth, Jesus!”
Those words were written just a few moments before God, in His faithfulness, brought us safely to the ground and we stepped out to feel the warm sunshine on our faces. Little adorable black children, with brilliant smiles and curious eyes, cautiously crept towards the plane with murmurs of “Kawaja!” (White person!) on their lips. We were met at the landing strip by Scott (one faithful missionary who is heading off for his furlough) and Daniel, the latter of whom whisked us away to our new “home away from home” – a cheery little hut that has been tastefully decorated by its previous occupant (thanks, Heather!) We have now settled in quite nicely, and the Wards are making fast progress to settle into their new home as well.

There are so many new sights, sounds, voices, and experiences that have stretched and grown our souls and senses in the last 24 hours…. like making friends with a few (more like a dozen) local children, finding a donkey in the church building, writing stories with the kids, expanding our Dinka conversational vocabulary (slooowly, but surely!), good long conversations around the dinner table, seeing the amazing stars that light up the night sky. We’ve also christened our resident mouse in the roof with the name “Remi” and have had only one snake sighting so far (and yes, I am quite thankful about that!) I’m sure more words and adventures will follow from this little hut here at Cush4Christ, but for now, I must close.

 Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support from afar. We have been so blessed by your encouragements and have seen God answer your prayers with His daily grace in ways far beyond what we can express. 

Secure in His Grip,
Beth (for the both of us!)

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Monday, July 05, 2010
Greetings from wintry Nairobi! The rooster that cheerily wakes us up every morning seems to be the only one not affected by the chilly air that we’ve experienced while here. The Kenyans have been walking around in scarves, hats, and jackets in this chilling, frigid, 50 degree weather. *smile* In spite of the rather brisk evening outside, however, we still enjoyed ice cream sundaes provided by our gracious hosts (the Morads) in honor of our last evening in Kenya.

This past Lord’s Day, we were reminded of some of the universal truths that transcend the thousands of miles between us and the places we call home as we celebrated a few special things along with the people back home.

Laurie & Amina after the Kenyan worship service
WORSHIP: I have never ceased to be amazed at how beautifully and uniquely people can worship our God from the heart, regardless of the country. Today was no exception as we worshipped at a local Kenyan Presbyterian Church and were warmly welcomed by new brothers and sisters. In the afternoon, while our small team (Laurie, Beth, and the Wards) spent time in prayer and worship, I was thinking about how my family and friends would be heading to their own houses of worship in a few hour--and how beautiful it must be for God to look down and see people from every tribe and nation lifting their voices to Him. What a GLORIOUS thing heaven will be, when we are ALL together in one place, finally able to worship purely and completely!


FREEDOM: While many of you back home were enjoying picnics and fireworks for the 4th of July, we were having our own celebration—not just for Independence Day but also for Canada Day (July 1st) that the Wards had not celebrated yet! Samuel and Zakari made country flags, and we celebrated by singing our respective national anthems, enjoying a smorgasbord dinner, and sharing things that we are grateful for in our countries. Despite the good-natured Canadian and American rivalry here (lol), we are truly grateful for the way God has blessed our countries and the freedoms that we have. And we admit that despite our American blood, Laurie and I have caught ourselves saying “eh?” several times already.

Chameleons provided fun entertainment one afternoon!

Today (Monday) has been a packing day, as we all gear up to fly to the Sudan early tomorrow morning. The kids have been telling us about all the fun things they do back at “home” and we are excited to be joining and learning from them. We are also looking forward to meeting Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel Faris – the family who is already on the field. As we have anticipated our departure date, we have been spending much time in prayer together, and we are so grateful for you all joining us in lifting this before our Savior’s throne. Please pray that:

Our 8 hr charter flight (with 2 stops included) will go without incident—and that no one will get plane sick!

God will grant us the flexibility, grace, and joy needed for the interesting changes ahead as we adjust to a new culture and ministry

God will continue to grant wisdom and strength to Vince and Julie as they lead the team and settle back into their ministry responsibilities

Good health for each of us daily

Thank you for the encouraging emails and prayers that we have already received. May God continue to bless each of you with His strength and grace for the ministry set before you, knowing that we are all co-laborers in His Kingdom! We love you all and look forward to sharing more of God’s grace with you in the future.

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Sunday, July 04, 2010
Happy Independence Day (July 4) and Canada Day (July 1) from your friends in Africa!

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Friday, July 02, 2010
We have now set foot on African soil! Thank you all so much for your prayers as we travel to this side of the globe. God has truly been gracious, and we arrived safe and sound – with all of our luggage, and even a few hours of sleep behind us!

Whenever a new adventure begins, the “first impressions” are always ones that stick out in my memory. The first glimpses of this beautiful country came from the airplane window as we descended into Nairobi. After a long all-night flight, one often looks out – eager to see something other than pitch black darkness. At long last, just as we were descending into the clouds, a fine streak of golden sunshine could be seen on the horizon. It was a welcome sight!
As the plane gradually dropped, we could see the sparkling lights of the city down below. Alas, the cloudy sky prevented the city from the rays of the glorious morning sun that had been shining above the clouds. As we landed though, the memory of the sunlight caused me to smile. It just reminded me that God is always present, even when it is hard to see. His providential works are behind every circumstance, and we can smile knowing that He sees beyond the clouds – and can see how all things work together for good!
God’s providence has certainly brought a smile to our faces, even in the few hours that we have been in Africa thus far.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: We praise God for giving Laurie the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a college student named, Rilke (“Rilk-ah”) on the plane flight. Please pray that God will the conversation to plant the seeds of hope, peace, and direction that Rilke is longing for. Rilke had lots of searching questions like “who is Jesus Christ” and “what is the Trinity”? She has a genuine desire to believe in God, but her biggest wall is that she sees herself as an anthropologist who views God as a creation of societies of men. Laurie gave Rilke her travel Bible and they were able to exchange contact information in hopes of planting further seeds.

We are now settled into our host home and are enjoying getting to know the Ward family. The children especially have already woven their way into our hearts, with some good romps on the grass, a few rousing “sword-fights”, and lots of hugs! Samuel (6), Zakari (4), and Amina (2) are going to be fun companions. We are so grateful for the way that Vince and Julie have already opened their hearts to us, as well as the Morad family (our host home for our few days here in Kenya) and look forward to working alongside of these saints in the weeks to come.

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Hello dear friends,

This is just a note to let you know that posting for the next few months will be done at our Africa blog:

Lord willing, I will return on September 8, 2010 and look forward to catching up on life here once again.

Until then, may the Lord bless you and make His face shine upon you!

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last night, there was a thunderstorm.

One of those earth-shattering, window-pounding, thunder-rolling, intense kinds. I could feel the vibes from the thunder as I watched the rain come down in torrents from the black night sky. The lightening cut across the sky, giving a brief moment of reality to the shuddering, dark world below. It was intense. It was beautiful.

At 2 a.m., that thunderstorm was a perfect time for reflection. There is nothing quite like reviewing your own life when you have a visible reminder of the Almighty's power ringing in your ears.

The truth is... it's been raining. On the inside too.

Life isn't what I would have imagined it to be five years ago. Or even five months ago. Or even five weeks ago. Nearly everything that I know has been tested in some form. Tested for authenticity. For truth. For lasting hope. Who knew that this life after college would shake my very identity, causing me to run to Jesus with all the questions that can't be found in books? Who knew that working three jobs would show me so much of God's directing hand and rest for a weary heart? Who knew that taking on a new job to help an elderly couple would show me so much of Christ's sacrificial love and would strengthen my perspective of marriage forever? Who knew that having one of my best friends (my brother) move would just multiply the places that I call home? Who knew that linking arms with my girls, cooking food, worshiping with my whole heart would bring the Bride of Christ alive in a whole new way? Who knew that the unanswered prayers and the shattered dreams would produce such hope? Who knew that every tear that I've cried would be kept for something precious? Who knew.... except the Master of the storm?

But even the storms mean something beautiful is happening. This kind of "life" rain means many things.

It means growing. The hand of Abba Father is never quite as visible as it is when the rain comes. All the stretching that comes shows JUST HOW involved Jesus is in that moment. JC Ryle once wrote: "The Christian who is always at a standstill, to all appearance the same man, with the same little faults, and weaknesses, and besetting sins, and petty infirmities, is seldom the Christian who does much good. The man who shakes and stirs minds, and sets the world thinking, is the believer who is continually improving and going forward. Men think there is life and reality when they see growth." It's true. God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

Rain also means grace. Sometimes the flash floods come. The lightening strikes. Rain becomes uncertain and painful. But when I hear the thunder and feel the pounding rain, I'm reminded to look up and run into His presence. I remember who I was and, by the grace of God, what He has made me now because of His glorious gospel (Acts 3:19). Sometimes the mistakes hurt - and the pieces that have to be picked up have lasting consequences. But Jesus steps in and reminds me that He took that guilt and that shame. His love is unconditional and yes, He delights in me. Because of that, the rain is healing. Refreshing.

[I will praise You in this storm, Jesus...]

As I said earlier, life isn't what I thought it would be. I can plan my way, but the hand of Almighty God has the final say. When it comes to the thunderstorms of life, there are always ripple effects... sometimes they are seen, often they are unseen. This is where I need your prayers, your support, and your kindred battle spirit for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Next week, the "rain" will take on a different form -- falling from an African sky.

As some of you have heard, Laurie Filson and I are headed for Sudan next Wednesday for the summer. Although the trip has been planned in fast-forward motion (with only a month and a half to prepare), it is a result of many months of active prayer as God has been preparing our hearts to do more short-term international work. It has required much faith and dependence upon the Lord, knowing that His ways and timing is always perfect... and that He, as Jehovah Jireh, will provide for all of our needs. As the two of us prepare for this new season of growth and grace, I wanted to outline some of the details here for you as all of us continue in this advancement of His Kingdom together.

Our purpose for going is primarily to "lift up the hands" of some fellow laborers within the family of Christ. Cush4Christ is a mission outreach through the Reformed Presbyterian Church. This team has been living and serving in the region since 2006 in an effort to see Christ-exalting churches planted and people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Due to some recent transitions, the team consists of the Ward Family (Vince, Julie, Samuel -6, Zakari -4, Amina -2) and the Faris Family (Daniel, Natalie, Samuel -2, and baby on the way!). They asked if we could come to help with some domestic life responsibilities, field projects, teaching English, and hopefully throw in a few other experiences along the way. :) If the last year has been any indication, it is a thrilling and a humbling thing that God chooses to allow us to be the "hands and feet" in service to Him - wherever we are on the this globe. I look forward to going, and I look forward to being back at home again.

It will be intense. It will be beautiful. It will be totally and completely a God-thing.

Prayers are craved.

[More information will be coming shortly on how to stay connected while we are gone. For now, feel free to talk to me personally or email me at emagnuson87[at]sbcglobal[dot]net)]

Tonight, the world is at peace. The lumunous moon casts a soft glow as the refreshing smell of a past rain wafts through the darkness. The thunderstorm lingers in my mind, but there is nothing but stillness and quietness. Following the Master of the storm, wherever He leads, brings ultimate peace.

It is time to be still and know that He is God.