During a recent 'tour of service' with Langham Preaching in Vanuatu I was impacted by families - four families, to be precise.
from england and germany to new zealand
The Shudall family. I like to think of them as missionaries to New Zealand where Andy works as Head of Training for TSCF (the IFES-affiliate) - but is also involved as a trainer with Langham Preaching in Vanuatu. Whether it is the warmth and directness in the parents or the intriguing diversity among the children, I enjoy coming back for more with this family. Parenting is tough today. Rarely have I seen the full love combining with the clear boundaries, so integral to good parenting, as I saw demonstrated by Andy and Ines this past week.
from australia and the usa to vanuatu
The Gibb family. Steve, Jane, (Matt? - at uni), Tiffany, Jennifer, Emily, Ethan, Rose. Despite all the flack which missionaries attract in the public world from the media and in university departments, in this job I encounter, again and again, such fine missionary families doing superb work. The Gibbs have only been in Vanuatu less than three years. Steve is already preaching in Bislama, giving himself to pastoring a church as well as strengthening the student work at the local university ... and is pretty much the polar opposite of the stereotype. When he preached from 1 Peter 5 (which I was preparing to do, but I am so glad I passed it on), it brought tears to the eyes. He visited all four corners (for those of you who are former students of mine!), exegeting both text and context so well. The church in Vanuatu is blessed to have such a model in their midst...
from korea and new zealand to vanuatu
The Won family. Chun Hee, Nan Joo, Justin, Christopher. One day during the seminar Chun Hee just walked on into morning tea unannounced. My memory bank went into overdrive. His name was on the tip of the tongue but I didn't have the confidence to speak it out! He and Nan Joo had been students of mine at BCNZ/Laidlaw almost 15 years ago. We ended up spending a whole day together. Chun Hee is dedicated to 'bush mission', spending almost half his time in the dispersed villages of Santo - building water tanks and kindergartens and churches, not to mention baptizing people and training leaders and starting businesses. 80% of Vanuatu's GDP is controlled by 500 Chinese businessmen and the 2000 white people who control the tourist industry. Virtually nothing trickles down to 'ni-vans' (indigenous people). It is shameful. The Won family are determined to break this monopoly and build God's church as they do so. It was inspiring...
from everywhere to everywhere
The family of God. Aussies, Kiwis, Americans, Ni-vans...it goes on and on and on. Experiencing this so regularly is one of the great privileges of my life (this time next week I am in Cambodia!). To hear God's word read and preached in another language ... to sing songs together like "I am your brother; you are my sister" with Ni-vans ... to hear them burst out in song with "never failed me yet, Jesus has never failed me yet" (when the foreigner might conclude that he has failed them. But if anyone has failed them, it is not God, but members of God's global family) ... to have one of those intercession times where everyone prays at the same time in a grand chorus pounding at the gates of heaven ... and to enter it all with my own son from my own family, Joseph (who entered fully into the training), was so special for me.
PS - Joseph did have time for some fun as well. Check out this photo as he jumps into a pool (I jumped as well, but ended up with a big bruise on my but-bone):