Relationships

God's Heart for You

elizabeth-tsung.jpg

When Jack and Laura arrived in Central Asia, they were open to the unknown as they entered two years of language learning and ministry-team building. It all began as they awaited the arrival of their firstborn son.

They gained their bearings. In the early stages of their transition, new sights, sounds and smells became more familiar. Jack and Laura* began to recognize neighborhood faces on frequently-traveled streets that lead to and from home. This was their life, their new normal. Then, they suffered a miscarriage.

In the months that followed, Laura’s hope spiraled downward. “I felt like the only person I had here was [Jack]. My [language] wasn’t there yet. We didn’t know our team leaders well before we came.” She said she wondered in those moments if God even cared about her.

In her darkest hours, Jack spoke truth of the Lord’s promises and character to her. “He never thought less of me and we became closer through it,” she said.

Months later, the couple was ecstatic to learn they were pregnant with their daughter. She was born in October 2017 and they gave her a name which means, ‘life.’

Shortly after she was born, amidst the excitement and the praise for their new joy, Jack began to feel increasing loneliness. The thoughts and feelings which brought him lower came and went but he said the way he felt in their second year of living in this country was significantly worse than their first.

The ever-present reminder that Jack was not in a culture or language he knew, with few friends other than his family, was paired with emotional wounds from his childhood he did not realize would affect him. 

“It’s hard remembering you do have a purpose when the day is menial or tedious,” he said. There were moments he could emotionally engage and be mentally present but then other times he simply could not.

Then, in a conversation with a friend, the couple was reminded of something they were told many months before.

The Lord brought you here not just for Central Asians. He brought you here to draw your heart closer to Him as well.

The trials which bring growth and perseverance only continue and at times are more stressful when living in a completely different context. Hearing friends’ and family’s encouragement from the States filled the couple with hope. Wisdom and love shared from near and far helped Jack and Laura to press through severe struggles, doubts and bouts of loneliness.

Through The GO Fund’s Ropeholder Event, after conversing with friends about who the unreached are and about the unfinished task, participants will have the opportunity to learn ways they can specifically pray for partners like Jack and Laura. Then, they can record themselves as a group and send videos of encouragement to the field workers they prayed for. 

It’s an event that not only brings you closer to understanding God’s heart for the nations, but also his heart for those who have gone out to them.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:4-8

Jack and Laura are now finished with their intensive language program and they continue to grow in their understanding of Central Asian culture. Jack has been working through parts of his past that need healing. Their family joyfully pursues ministry opportunities and have seen the Lord consistently bring people into their path who are seeking truth. They are also expecting the birth of their second child in November.


*Names changed for security

Hopelessness Exposed - Suicide in Japan

blogpost.jpg

Before Ben knew when or how he would begin a ministry in Japan, before he knew he would be married to Grace* and prepare to live their life overseas, he was aware and burdened by a number. Every 15 minutes, someone in Japan commits suicide.

The Japan Times and Japan Today both reported the same numbers in 2009. An editorial written in The Japan Times states, “This suicide rate, compiled by the National Police Agency, means that more than 30,000 suicides occur every year, a third of a million people in a decade … It is a clear indication of serious social and psychological problems that deserve immediate, sympathetic and effective solutions.”

The tragic reality that thousands of Japanese are left feeling without purpose or a will to live is paired with another statistic that sheds harsh light on a lack of response. According to The Joshua Project, 3.1 billion individuals are unreached by the Gospel. In Japan, there are 123 million unreached people - Four percent of the world’s unreached people are in Japan.

From a young age, this information developed in Ben a desire to share the Gospel with the Japanese and show them how much they are loved and valued by their savior.

He and Grace met while earning their bachelor’s degrees and the two connected over their love for people. As they continued dating, Grace realized her heart was being specifically softened and burdened for the people of Japan. 

How would they get there? When would they know they would be ready? What could they do to help reach Japan’s lost?

“In Japan, you need to have education,” Ben said. “A Bachelors is basically a high school diploma.”

Their vision is to come alongside established churches and missionaries in the country and give them support they need. Eventually, they want to see a Japanese church planted and somehow incorporate a mental health and wellness program that promotes suicide awareness and prevention.

They want to bring psychologists, doctors and counselors into the work that needs to be done so they can see a generation of Japanese healed in a holistic way.

A halting weight they could not escape was their student loan debt from the degrees they need to be truly effective in Japan. By their estimation, it would take them eight years to pay off the debt that holds them from going.

One night, Ben stumbled across The GO Fund’s website. He thought, “there is no way this can be real.”

He and Grace did apply with The GO Fund’s student debt repayment program and were contacted one week after pushing the ‘send’ button. Program Director, Matt Sonke, greeted them over the phone and dispelled their doubts. Yes, the Lord is using a generous group of believers, Champions, to lift their barrier.

“It was further confirmation of our plans,” Ben said. “It solidified our calling in a way. We thought, ‘God wants us to go sooner than it would take to pay off our debt.’”

The couple is finally there and it's thanks to you, our Champions. Champions give their talent, time and treasure to The GO Fund and it allows this family to reach Japan, completely unhindered to love on a people who desperately need to know their own value.


*Names changed for security

Faithfulness in Singleness

20180323EG0153.jpg

It’s a question she continues to wrestle with as she strives for contentment in a phase of life that remains uncertain – “Will I still be single in the next few years?”

Living in her new African home with her team was merely a dream and prayer for Mary* a little more than a year ago. Now, two months after her arrival, she can look back at the long and exhausting journey that brought her to this point in her ministry. It took years of praying, seeking the Lord’s open doors, training, and waiting.

However, as her new normal begins to settle and daily routines slowly but surely become reality, a restlessness seeks to consume her thoughts in quiet moments.

While Mary hopes to be married, her first desire is to obey the Lord’s leading whenever he tells her to move. This meant that instead of waiting in the comfort of her own culture and language, she remains hopeful while wading through the difficulties of preparing for long-term ministry. “I think that’s something the Lord is teaching me to place in his hands. I’m prayerfully waiting on it,” Mary said. “It has remained consistently the thing that causes anxiety, worry, fear.”

The concern for what’s next and balancing our desires with seeking the Lord’s will has been the struggle of every age and every stage of life. It’s a human pain caused by anticipating something while trying to hold loosely the gifts that may never come – Abraham and Sarah waited for a child and didn’t expect it by the time the Lord blessed them with one (Genesis 18). Jacob waited seven years for Rachel, then worked another seven years to earn her (Genesis 29). Simeon was promised an introduction to the Lord’s Messiah before his death but waited several years before Mary and Joseph walked with baby Jesus into the temple (Luke 2).

While every desire and each persons’ ‘wait’ is different and to be considered from an individual perspective, there are a few things that hold true for everyone who understands what it means to hopefully wait on the Lord.

Your feelings are true, real and valid and the Lord wants to meet you there.

The Psalms overflow with lines of lament, confusion, mourning and questions for direction. We can resonate with brothers and sisters whose stories in scripture reveal similar hurts from patiently waiting.

“I do think the Lord has really met me,” Mary said. “I think in all of that, I have experienced his comfort and his grace. I think I’ve experienced extra measures of his grace through teammates, people from home, and locals.”

There are things you can do in this season you cannot if you get what you asked for.

Whether it be in ministry, your personal circumstances or any area of influence in your life, when the Lord says “yes” to what you have been asking for, things will change forever. Specifically in singleness and ministry, there are opportunities single men and women can take that are more difficult for those who are married. This is how these phases of life are intended and it is good but cherish the things that will change when that next phase comes.

There is purpose and intention in this waiting and it is never wasted.

While the Lord understands and empathizes with our hurts, desires and waiting, he is never surprised by our current position. However long or short it may be, the Lord is using the period of time his children sit in waiting to produce a trust, faithfulness and perseverance.

As Mary contemplates the ways in which God prepared her to be in this place and she peers into the near future when she will see him transform lives with the Gospel, she points to his faithfulness and provision.

“Above all, I am a beloved child of God. That’s what my identity is rooted in,” Mary said. “It’s a privilege and honor to serve with the lost here … Our Father is the one who provides and sustains. To cultivate faithfulness doesn’t come naturally to us as human beings. I think that’s something I’ve been encouraged in. Whatever that ends up looking like, I’m going to strive to cultivate faithfulness.”


*Name changed for security