Most Excellent Theophilus,
Christmas is upon us, that glorious time of year when it is cold and snowy outside, but all is warm and full of cheer inside, with the family and friends around a table that groans with the burden of delights mounded upon it. Susan and I enjoy the festive season, and indeed, it is an absolute delight to be able to spend it with our children and family. But the days are few and they fly by so fast, and we’ll all be on the road again. Immediately after Christmas Emily and Andrew will go to the Urbana Missions Convention in St. Louis. And the next day, Dec 27th, Susan and I depart for Mozambique.
We have heard very encouraging reports from the field these past months. Jacob and Amisse and their families have been in good health and are working hard together. In October Amisse graduated from Bible school and in November dedicated a new church building in Balama. Congratulations! Gonçalves has been working well with the team for a few months now and in January I’ll write more about him.
Just days before our departure from Mozambique in late September, Mr. K called me to his home. He is an elderly man and has sought to do what is right throughout his life – but he needs Jesus, and now he is feeling that need more than ever. At our last meeting we had a private conversation in which he expressed to me his concerns about the future, especially about the reality that he will soon face his creator. His immediate concern was about an old debt that his nephew had with me, and especially about what repercussions that debt would have for him in the final judgement. There wasn’t much time that day to talk, so we made a date to continue the conversation in January. Pray with me for Mr. K and I’ll let you know where things stand with him next month.
And there is rumor of hunger in the land. To my knowledge, it is not a major famine, but last year the harvest in staple crops was very poor throughout southern Africa. Right now it is planting time in Mozambique and thus, three months before the first harvests. This year basic food staples are in very short supply and very expensive. Pray that God our sustainer would meet people in their need and that he would give us patience, compassion and wisdom in dealing with those who suffer the most.
Translation issues that need prayer:
In every language there are concepts that are difficult to communicate with the words available. (e.g. what do YOU call the eldest grandmother in your mother’s lineage?). Sometimes a word can be borrowed or a descriptive phrase used to explain the concept. But sometimes the concept just isn’t there. That is our situation with the idea of heritage and inheritance, heir and inherit. Strangely enough, in the Meetto society we do not find the idea of passing something, whether material or positional, on to a descendant simply because of the relationship between the two individuals. Obviously it happens, at some level within a family, but it is not explicit. In the New Testament these are powerful concepts and we want to communicate them accurately. Please pray with us on this. You’ll hear more from us on this theme as we close in on the final checking of the New Testament.
Well, that wasn’t a very “Christmassy” letter (see, there’s a new word, and you knew what I meant!), but that’s where we are right now. It has been a pleasure to be able to visit with so many of you in recent months and we go back to Africa a few pounds heavier, some around the waist, and some of the weight in our hearts as we once again say farewell to our loved ones. But we rejoice in fast communication technology, the ability to travel and the promise of more reunions to come. Most of all, we rejoice in God’s abundant goodness to us and the promise of his continued blessing on those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He who calls us is faithful and will bring it to pass, not just for us, but also for those who long to know their Redeemer with a hunger that they cannot yet understand.
Thank you so much for walking this long road with us,
Together, we’re pressing on,
John and Susan