“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth…
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
So it’s raining.
We've been blessed by beautiful weather in these first ten days, but that may soon be coming to an end. To quote a new friend, “it’s winter from here on out!” Pray that we might give glory to God in all weather conditions. Pray that we might recognize the goodness of God to send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. And most importantly, as that rain comes down on Sheffield, pray that God’s Word would “not return to [Him] empty” here in England. It’s hard for me to be excited about rain. It’s dreary and dampens my spirits. It leads me towards apathy and away from ministry. As the rain continues, pray that our team might recognize the metaphor from Isaiah and trust completely in God’s unfailing promise to fulfill His mission on Earth among “every tribe and language and people and nation”!
Alright, while it wasn't my intention to write a devotional, walking 15 minutes through the rain makes you think about it. But honestly, we've been blessed by the weather. Friday it was about 21 degrees Celsius (about 70 Fahrenheit) and sunny and we spent time at the park playing Frisbee and rugby with students; I even met a juggler! By the way, I juggle J; and our team got outside to play cricket! We looked more like silly Americans whacking at a ball, but I’d say we are pretty good after only an hour of work! The bowling (equivalent, sort of, to pitching in baseball) is the hardest by far.
This past week we've begun spending time with international students on campus. We met about 30 students in the past week and have been working with them on their English, as well as playing football (soccer of course!), and going to museums and birthday parties with some of them. Personally, I sat with a few South Korean students for nearly 90 minutes on Tuesday and learned a lot about their culture as well as their perceptions of Brits and Americans! It was very interesting to discuss everything from health care to driver’s license tests! Here’s a factoid for you. Did you know that all Koreans grow a year older on January 1st ?! They still celebrate their birthdays throughout the year, but their legal age increases only on the first day of the year! Isn't that interesting?
We spent more time on campus from Wednesday through Friday, probably about ten hours combined, and got to meet many new students and begin some great friendships; we even reconnected with some other students from earlier in the week. Our intention since Wednesday’s ministry training was to share our testimony with students on campus. Speaking of our own lives might be the only time some students will ever hear about the tangible effect that the Lord has had on someone’s life. It adds a new dimension, a new depth to our conversations. Since in this culture, so many Christians at Uni have been raised in Christian homes, it’s rare, if not completely unheard of, to know a Christian who hasn't been that way forever. Obviously, our team is made up of many personalities, and many stories. Some have been Christians as long as they can remember, some were awakened to what their faith truly meant at University, some came to faith without investigating it in childhood. Nonetheless, at one point we were all “dead in our trespasses” and it’s a miracle that He would bring any of us to Himself; so we shared, confident in God’s power to save sinners!
While most of the group had their Life Groups Wednesday evening, Kevin and I spent Thursday afternoon and evening in our group and we continue to be amazed at the faith of these brothers and sisters. Thanks be to God that The Crowded House exists to bring glory to His name and lives to make His name known throughout Sheffield and to the ends of the earth. The Stovell family has welcomed Kevin and me into their group alongside Dan, Oksana, Angie and Amer, Shazia and their children. We've heard numerous stories now of their ministry among Muslim immigrants to Sheffield. From seekers who have been attending a Bible study nearly every Sunday evening for over six years to individuals who wish to know about the other books that Islam promotes but never addresses, including the Injil (the Gospels); this Life Group has required extreme patience in their ministry for the past decade. Please pray for our Life Groups, that their ministry would be effective and fruitful, that the children would grow up as believers who are passionate to share the Gospel, and that the Lord would bless the older men and women in their discipleship of the younger. Furthermore, continue to pray for our involvement in the Church! As a short term mission we are seeking to encourage and build up the local church, coming alongside them in any way we can.
It’s amazing how, after only ten days in country, I feel almost at home. We've made the adjustment to having cars on the wrong, excuse me, the left side of the street. However, seeing empty left hand passenger seats still scares us, as we assume these cars are driving themselves! Thank you for your continued prayer support for our team! It is immensely comforting to know that we have an army of senders partnering with our team. God loves it when we rely on Him so let us hear the Lord’s command,
“Call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)
- Chris Lovdal