Saturday, June 27, 2009

Prayer letter - June 27, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear friends,

Grace and peace to you in Jesus! Here’s an update from the Palmers…

Fountain of Life Covenant church update

Our church plant in Long Beach is experiencing a big milestone this weekend, as we are inducted into the Evangelical Covenant denomination as an official member church at the Covenant’s annual meeting. We’re transitioning out of “church plant” status as the church has become established and strong. Praise God for causing this planting to grow and thrive! We are a multi-ethnic, multi-class fellowship in the midst of the city, reaching many new unchurched people from all sorts of different backgrounds. It is a very exciting place to be and I am so grateful we can be a part of this ministry.

As I mentioned in my last letter, our church’s camp was June 5-7. It was a very inspiring and powerful time as we studied Luke 10 together. Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending out the 70 to be laborers in God’s harvest (verses 1-24), and ends with the passage about Mary and Martha (verses 38-42). Martha is distracted and troubled by all her serving, and Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to his teaching. We talked about deepening in our intimacy with Jesus, sitting at his feet and listening to his teaching, and having that be the thing that directs and fuels us as “Kingdom workers” and laborers in God’s harvest. We talked about how easy it is to go to one extreme or another – either the extreme of burning out like Martha because all we do is work, work, work in service and ministry, to the detriment of being with and receiving from Jesus (John Piper has a great quote that it is not temptation that hinders his life of prayer, but service); or the extreme of only contemplating, praying, and worshipping God, to the exclusion of actually getting out there to love, serve, and speak of Jesus with our neighbors. So, as a church our goal is to hold action and contemplation, service and worship in the proper tension, so that we are all personally experiencing deeper and deeper intimacy and life in Jesus, and then allowing that life to overflow to those around us who need the gospel.

Sandwiched between these opening and closing sections of Luke 10 is the famous parable of the Good Samaritan (verses 25-37) – a person who actively loves his neighbor, at personal risk and cost, across barriers of race and cultural prejudice. We talked about how direct the application of that parable can be in our ethnically and culturally diverse city. We saw how the traveler was robbed and abused in the streets, but cared for at the inn. We pray that our church would be such an inn – a place where the wounded may come and receive compassion and care until they are whole. God is definitely doing that in these first years of our church’s existence, and we pray it may continue and increase. PLEASE PRAY for us, that God’s Kingdom would flourish in us and through us for the blessing of our city and beyond.

Servant Partners update

Our annual training for new Servant Partners’ staff, the Global Urban Training School (GUTS) starts in just three weeks, on July 18. PLEASE KEEP PRAYING for my teachings and preparations, as well as for our eight new staff members who will attend the training: Jed, Mel, Tim, Philippa, Amy, Laura, Andrew, and Nate.

They will put some of you to death . . . yet not a hair of your heads shall perish (Luke 21:16, 18)

You may have heard about the murder of an American missionary in Africa this past week. Attackers tried to kidnap him by forcing him into a car, and when he resisted, they shot him in the head. He was a personal friend of some of us in SP. He had devoted his life to serving the poor and vulnerable, and sharing about Jesus. He leaves behind a wife and 4 children. Please join us in prayer for his family, for the poor to whom he ministered who no longer have his compassionate presence, and for the ones who murdered him, that God in his grace would open their eyes and call them to repentance and life, just as he did the Apostle Paul.

I have often thought about the verses from Luke 21 in the heading above. Immediately after telling his disciples that they will be hated by everyone because of his name, and that some of them will even be put to death, Jesus reassures them by saying not a hair of your heads shall perish. By referring to each individual hair of their heads, Jesus hearkens back to his earlier teachings (recorded in Matthew 10:30-31 and Luke 12:7) where he says the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. If God does not forget one sparrow (Luke 12:6), and no sparrow can fall dead apart from our Father (Matthew 10:29), and we are of much more value to God than they; if we are so known and cared for by God that he keeps track of how many hairs remain on our heads at any given moment, then we can have confidence that no harm may befall us but that which God sees and superintends, and we truly can live our lives free of the fear of death and in joyful anticipation of entering the presence of a great and loving Father. I am grieved that this man was murdered. I am also inspired by his faithful example, and reminded that all that truly matters and will endure is blessedness in God’s eternal Kingdom. May we all devote ourselves in our own ways to those things that will endure eternally!

Financial update

I thought I would share a mid-year update with you all concerning our financial support. With the economic downturn we have lost over $600 per month because of donors who have had to suspend or stop their giving. We have recouped some of that lost support with new donors who have come on board this year as well, but we are still encountering a shortfall each month. Our situation is not remotely as difficult as that of many who have lost their jobs entirely – including some of our former donors – so we do recognize and are grateful for how blessed and provided for we are even now. And, of course we totally understand if any of our donors need or choose to stop giving at any time. But we do need to work on some additional fundraising this summer in order to sustain our work. So, I want to request your prayers for that. And, if you are interested in hearing more about our ministry, or joining our financial support team, please let us know. That would be a great blessing to us!

Lisa B. update

In previous prayer letters I told you about Lisa B., a Servant Partners intern who suffered spinal inflammation and paralysis in March. She is still paralyzed, slowly improving, and expected to recover in 2 to 3 years. She can move her head, and has some movement in her shoulder, wrists, and hands. She has a voice activated wheelchair and a voice operated computer that she can work on. She is holding onto the goodness of God in the midst of her suffering and trusting that he has a purpose in it. Please keep praying for Lisa.

Family Update

We celebrated Lily’s third birthday on June 11. Emily will be a year old on July 28. You can see pictures of them on our blog.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family and our ministry. We are grateful to be able to share our pilgrimage with you, and are always happy to hear from you!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

A quote to ponder:

I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted, and behold, service was joy. -- Rabindranath Tagore

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