Hi friends. From the beginning, I have tried to use this place as a means for partners and loved ones to stay connected with us and the work of AIM Air here in East Africa. It hasn't always been easy to share honestly, but I have tried to do just that. Recently, however, I have done a poor job. As it turns out, the hardest thing to share is actually that bit about not staying. Over the past years, I've tried to use our journey as a way to make this life real and relatable, to wrestle with complicated things in overseas life and missions, to be humble about misconceptions and lessons learned. The thing is, this last step has, and probably will continue to be, the absolute hardest to figure out in our own selves, never mind trying to explain it publicly. If you're wondering why we didn't give much warning, it isn't because we were trying to keep anything a secret, or because it was a last minute decision. We have been praying about this for months. It was just very difficult to try to come up with the right words. Still is. But this isn't just our story, it absolutely isn't just our work or ministry. Since we first shared with our (then) pastor, something like 7 years ago, that we felt led to move down this road, we have been surrounded by the love and support of others. The vast majority of those people are still a part of our ministry today. So even though it is difficult to feel some of these things and even more difficult to talk about them with others, we are still on this journey together. You are still a part of it. I don't have it in me at the moment to talk too much about the process of closing up our life here and starting a new one. Hopefully I can revisit that in a few months, with one last post. For now, here are some pictures from the last few months.
Hello, and thanks for checking in with the Crisp family. We appreciate your partnership with us in various ways, as we strive to do our job well here in northern Kenya and the surrounding areas in support of Kingdom workers. No matter where on the rope you are, it is important; we've each got our handhold. Perhaps your particular role right now doesn't feel all that glorious or sacred; mine doesn't always either! We just want to be obedient and faithful.
The kids and I are finishing up an Apologia study on Astronomy, and I found Loui Giglio's "Indescribable God" message from some years ago, to reinforce some of what we've learned. (If you are unfamiliar with it, the speaker uses the universe and the study of astronomy to remind us of the incredible, indescribable glory of the Creator God.) Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty; we are so small. Sometimes we hear from people, "Wow, your life is so interesting; so full of adventure; so meaningful, with so much impact; it's so great what you're doing." Let me tell you, it doesn't always feel that way, any more than your life ever feels that way. I'm not aware of any special dispensation that falls on someone when they answer "the call" that makes us more spiritual and less susceptible to, well, any number of things . There is always the temptation to get caught up in our own story, our own daily life, striving to have our own needs be met, our own successes or failures, our own disappointments and disillusionments or stubborn pride. Thank God He rescues us not just from the hopelessness of sin and death, but also from being the center of our own stories. His story is so much more amazing and worthwhile and satisfying than what I would have ever come up with for my own life. I just need to be reminded to back up a little and see beyond myself and my own little world.
So as usual, I'm not sure where the last few months have gone. Here are a few highlights:
-The rains have come in a big way here in Kenya, more than we have ever seen, especially in our area. It is good, it will be so beneficial for the water table level here, and it is so green. But there are challenges that come from this much rain as well. The dry riverbed crossings have been washed away, and standing water leads to so many mosquitos and other health risks. There is significant flooding going on in the south of the country.
-Our family is good, and healthier than we had been previously. Being human, we have a tendency to put alot of expectations on each other, especially in this environment. Spouse to spouse, parent to child, sibling to sibling. We pray to continue to grow in grace for each other, and accept each other in our brokenness, good days and bad, joy or sorrow, kind or grumpy . Praise God for His great love that He shares, without which we would have nothing good in ourselves at all. Thank you for prayers for our family personally, not just our ministry.
-We will go down country in a few weeks for Educational Support Week, and the kids will do testing. This year has been full of changes, but I think this spring semester has gone well. We've seen growth both academically and personally in the kids in various ways. They each have really different needs right now, with Caroline starting more formalized education and needing pretty much constant supervision to stay on task, and Hannah needing help with higher expectations and more challenging academics. We have decided that Hannah will start a few classes in an online school next year, gr. 6. I hope this will give her the support and inspiration she needs in a few areas, and I can feel not quite so overwhelmed that I am not doing this school (ok, to be honest, parenting) thing very well.
-Patrick has had some really great flights this month. I hope you had a chance to read his latest newsletter. One young lady, a third generation missionary, was delivered to her ministry location for the first time. That's always exciting! Just as I write this, I'm thinking we haven't done any evacuations in awhile, which is good. We are preparing for the South Sudan Unit conference here in Loki in a few weeks, so every single person from Unit Leader to babies will be coming out at one time. Prayers for that.
-As you probably know, we often question how this life will affect our children. How to know whether we're doing the right thing? There seem to be so many losses. In our study of world history, this week we got to Mohammed and the beginning of Islam. We learned about it from a historical and cultural point of view, which is valuable to one's understanding of our world in general. That very afternoon, Caroline came to the shop with me, which is owned by Somalis. She started playing with the shopkeeper's son, a friendly little 7 year old named, coincidentally, Mohammed. Of course we've been in there probably 100 times, but she was excited this week to notice a connection with what we'd learned. She asked sincere, polite questions (through me, because of the language barrier) about his religion and how he practices it, such as is he is required to do formal prayers. I was proud of her, and it reminded me how grateful I am that I think the kids will always see people as people. I doubt they'll see skin color, language, different styles of food or clothing, or even religion, as barriers to relationship. I doubt they'll have fear of things or people who are different from them. They know what it's like to feel excluded and uncomfortable. They know what it's like to be stared at and stereotyped. They know what it's like to not understand anything going on around them, and I think they will have compassionate, understanding hearts for people. Although aspects of our life are very challenging for them, I believe they are growing in some ways they might not have otherwise.
-Thank you for your prayers and encouragement regarding Patrick's training in a new airplane. That has gone really well, and we were able to be with him for a few days of that, in Nairobi. He is done with the ground school and the tests, and will be moving into 50 hours in the airplane with a training captain. That will take place over the next few months. He's been away all week, but keeps promising me a picture . . .
We have been back in Kenya for over two months now, and definitely back into the routine of life and work. Just want to give a disclaimer. Two, actually. First of all, if you keep up with FB, you probably have seen most of these pictures already. Second, this update is personal not professional, and primarily focused on the family. Patrick has a busy few weeks, but will be writing a newsletter soon. Promise!
Honestly, it doesn't seem like I have alot new to say, from a personal front. I feel like a theme is emerging, which is the pursuit of faithfulness. The day in-day out of life, some of which would be the same anywhere, and some unique challenges. Our second term is stretching out ahead of me looking kind of long, and it is already requiring a different kind of commitment and perspective. The first time around, everything was exciting. It was all new and thrilling. There were also alot of changes. So many changes, and we talked about what it was going to be like when we were just HERE. With nothing too different in sight. I probably thrive on change more than some people, I feel like its made my life interesting. And my much-more-rooted husband asked me, some years ago, how are you going to feel when there is no change on the horizon? Well, now I know! Our first term, we lived in three different houses, had one mid-term break back to America, had family come to visit four (yes, four) times, and just had the excitement of Patrick going through the training and testing and finally getting on the flight lien and realizing the dream we had been working towards for some time. (More on that later!) I guess some people thrive on routine, and some thrive on change. So what to do? As usual, I have more questions than answers, but am trusting the Lord to grow us through every season, whether it be foreign or familiar, exciting or not as much.
Being in a routine does not mean not busy! Here a few important things to know as you partner with us in prayer, financial, and relational support.
Karibuni (Welcome) to the casual, personal and somewhat haphazard blog of the Crisp family in East Africa. Perhaps we connected with you for the first time during our recent home assignment. If that’s the case, take a moment to explore previous posts from the first 3 years, if you have time. If you have already been in the habit of keeping up with us through the blog, thank you. And I apologize for the break. I should probably introduce us again anyways, it’s been so long!
Patrick and I (Jana) became full time missionaries with Africa Inland Mission in the fall of 2014, and began our ministry in Kenya in January 2015. AIM is an international, interdenominational organization committed to planting indigenous, Christ-centered churches among all African peoples, with a focus on the unreached. We serve in a support role through a special department of AIM called AIM Air. AIM Air exists to provide aviation and logistical support to our own missionaries, those of other like-minded organizations, and African church workers. We love our job, and are humbled regularly by the amazing, dedicated people we have the privilege of serving. We live in a hot, dusty border town called Lokichoggio in northwest Kenya, close to South Sudan and Uganda. 95% of Patrick’s flying is in South Sudan.
So I keep saying “we.” When I say that, people often ask, oh, do you fly too? Um, no. I can barely remember how to turn my headset on, and can never understand the garbled voices coming from the tower. But we are most definitely a team, and my role is pretty important, if I do say so myself. I mean, who else is going to wash out and refill the water bottles 😉? An AIM Air pilot has a stressful, unpredictable, lives-depending-on-you, “always on” kind of job. I am able to
· help with hospitality ministry for weary travelers coming through Loki
· stay connected in the local church
· work with a small arts and crafts group for truly impoverished women in our community
· educate and disciple three awesome kids (Hannah 10, Charlie 8, Caroline 6)
· supporting my husband practically and relationally
· attempt to create a (relatively) peaceful, enjoyable home in which others can retreat and rejuvenate
· be a part of our small AIM Air team in Loki.
· stay connected with our family and partners in North America.
· prioritize my own spiritual, emotional, and physical health and look for ways to grow as a person
Our website as a whole focuses on our job with AIM Air. But we are more than that, so the blog is a mishmash of the following spheres of our life , in no particular order
· conversations about cross cultural ministry
· living in rural Africa
I am currently sitting in the MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) terminal at Wilson Airport, waiting to head back up north and be reunited with my family after this unexpected and at first very unwelcome extra trip back to Nairobi. As things turned out, it became an invaluable time of forced rest to meditate on things God has been trying to get me to learn. My thoughts are usually, if everything could just go the way I had planned, it would be so much better. Thank God for His grace, His faithful chesed love, His pursuit of us in the sanctification progress even when we are naively oblivious to our blind spots and stubborn ways. That has been a theme of ours. As if, if we are in full time ministry, we should be past that business of God teaching us, changing us, or at the very least past God disciplining us. But I would be remiss to only talk about "ministry" and leave out what God is doing in our lives. We can’t just be working as part of the AIM Air team, supporting the spreading of the Gospel, disciple making, and Christ-centered churches among the unreached of East Africa. The day the Gospel stops penetrating and purifying us from the inside out, we just need to pack it up and go home. (Or go back to America, which may or may not feel like home.)
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of how God has led us through things to help us grow. We are trying to submit to His hand in our lives instead of stubbornly continuing in our own way. Some of the painful but crucial ways we are trying to submit to God's way of doing things, or also known as, Crisp lessons from first term:
· Soul care. Find out what it is. Pay attention to it. Don’t neglect it. Work from a cycle of grace and abiding, you cannot add it as an afterthought. Your inner voice telling you things aren’t as they should might be quiet, and the work and demands of life may be much louder. Make sure to listen to it anyways. A weak soul, or inner spiritual life, is vulnerable to all manner of things, such as burn out, depression, loneliness, and temptations from the enemy.
· Build in margin. More than you think you need. More than you think you have time for. Respect the time you have allocated for particular things such as Sabbath/rest (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly). Make it a non-negotiable for your family.
· Speaking of family, you are a team. You are together. You are only as strong as your weakest link. If you are not together, re evaluate everything. Don’t compare your family to other families. Prayerfully seek the Lord, submit to each others’ needs, and pay attention to how every member is doing.
· Acknowledge your own limitations. Accept humbly what you can do, and be at peace with it. It is true that God wants to lead us into things that we cannot do on our own strength, so He can enable us. But sometimes it’s just pride that won’t let go of something, or a distorted perspective on what success in life and ministry looks like. Sometimes it really is a sincere heartfelt desire to do something, something good and worthwhile and worthy. But just like there is only so much money in the bank, there is only so much time in the day. You have to accept it, or it will only lead to frustration and feelings of failure when you can't accomplish as much as you think you should be able to.
· Community. Not just going to church or talking about ministry. But community, either in person or remotely, who is challenging you to grow, keeping you accountable in the hard things, who relates to you as a normal, flawed person needing to grow in Christ, not just a missionary. Be vulnerable with that community, even when it is uncomfortable and awkward.
· Time for study, contemplation, meditation, introspection, journaling, and prayer. Work is good. Team time is good. Church is good. Movie night is good. But absolutely foundational is to be regularly checking in with our most important relationship, our souls with our Creator. Are you growing closer, stagnant, or drifting away, in the business of life? It does not come naturally to some of us who are much better at “doing” than “being”, but withdrawing from life enough to listen to that still small voice is infinitely more productive and rewarding in the long run than anything else.
· The enemy is real, and out to destroy you and your relationships. Don’t let him find you weak, defenseless, and isolated. If he does win a battle, remember it isn’t the whole war. Don’t let a mistake or failure cause you to live in shame, which will only cause to you to hide from God and others. Run to the cross, find grace, stand up and fight again.
· Often, there’s no way out but through. Struggling and fighting against a difficult place you’re in will just hurt more as you brush up on all the sharp edges. Be still. Ask God to help you submit to His will and to strengthen your faith through it. We often don’t get to decide what happens to us in life, so looking for answers or explanations before you can move to acceptance might be a fruitless endeavor. But no matter what kind of dark night of the soul you’re in, you’re not alone. He will never leave you alone. Don’t try to run away from to get away from pain. You will never go deeper with the Lord that way. He will not lead you where He has not already walked.
Praise God that He who began a good work in us will continue to the day of Christ Jesus. Praise God also that He can use us while He's still working in us. We are glad to be back, and appreciate your prayers and accountability as we try to live out these things one day at a time. Check back soon for ongoing news from this side of the ocean, and stories of Kenya, South Sudan, and AIM Air.
Obviously this is only a fraction of the people we spent time, things we did, and places we saw in North America. If I were more technologically inclined, I would have a map with arrows popping up tracking each step of our time. (North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Massachusetts, back to Kansas, Colorado, back to Kansas, North Carolina, back to Kansas, Minnesota and Ontario, back to Kansas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, North Carolina, Nairobi, Loki.) The kids enrolled in school for nearly one term, which was a good experience for them. Our time with family was so priceless, and I cannot begin to express how grateful we are to them and our churches and individuals who have faithfully supported us and took time out of their busy lives to help make our transitional lives a little easier, or connect with us. We did think that 6 months was a good length of time for us. We benefited from our time spent connecting with others as well as our time spent living the simple life in rural Kansas, recharging as a family.
I hope one day soon I will take the time to look back on this last 3 years, since we reported for Technical Orientation at JAARS in August 2014, until now, when we are preparing to leave for North America for 6 months, and have something profound to say. Something that can somehow encapsulate our experiences, growth, struggles, and journey over the last 3 years. Right now I guess there's too much on my mind between packing, thinking of goodbyes here, and mentally trying to prepare for the stress (both good and bad) that we call home assignment. And help my kids through that process as well. Alas, today is not the day for profound meditations. I did just want to take a minute to share our last few months here, and to thank you again for enabling us to be here. We consider it a sincere privilege to serve in this capacity, and we are humbled to do so. Patrick had two flights this last week, both which were really meaningful. One was the South Sudan run, to deliver important supplies and groceries one last time. This time he also brought out one of the team members whose 2 yr term is over. We've known him from the beginning, and have been able to pray for and be a small part of the investment he's made in this unreached people group. We can see the legacy he is leaving behind, and know God is bringing a harvest. The other flight was bringing out a mom and her baby, who is very sick with malaria. Knowing that we are here enables these folks to live in the places they do, so they can share the Gospel with those who have never heard. And that makes it all worthwhile!
I do keep coming back to that world "humbled." We're coming back on our first home assignment humbled. I wish I could say, "yay, we conquered the world, we're the best missionaries ever!" Obviously no body would believe me anyways. I guess it isn't surprising that getting out of our comfort zone can bring things to the surface in our lives that we may have been able to keep hidden under our usual masks of composure. I think, more than anything, we have learned that any "doing" has to spring out of "being." We can only give out of our own abundance, with whatever is inside us because of our constant abiding in Jesus. If we aren't doing that, then we won't have much to offer of any good to anyone. And even so, the ultimate goal has to be actually the relationship itself, not whatever we think we can accomplish out of the relationship. Our own relationship with the Lord, not just inviting others to have their own relationship. Anything else that happens out of that is what Jesus can do, not us.
And also, that our family is the most important thing. I know that sounds politically incorrect for people in full time ministry. But I stand by it. God didn't call us here to sacrifice our family in the process. He brought us here because He wants to use this as a vehicle in our life to bring about change, to bring about greater dependence on Him, and greater dependence on and love for each other. If we can't do that, then we really have no business being here. We have indeed learned alot these past few years. Not just about missionary aviation and Africa, but about ourselves. About the Lord. About who He wants us to be, not just what He wants us to be doing. For two motivated, strong-willed, relatively capable Westerners, that is not an easy lesson. But we trust that the God who called us is faithful. We are indeed humbled that we don't have to be perfect to serve Him; if we thought we were perfect we would probably need to disqualify ourselves. Good to know that won't be happening anytime soon! We hope to continue to grow in relationship with God, each other, and those around us here in Africa for quite a while! And we really do look forward to being with you all, and hopefully connecting in a real way, while we are in North America!
Wow, it has been a long time since I have shared what is going on with the Crisp family and AIM Air here in East Africa. (To make a very long story short, getting a replacement charger for an old computer is no easy task here!) So much time has passed, I'm not even sure where we left off. We went to the neighbouring country of Uganda for 6 wks, and had some neat flying opportunities. While there, my mom came to visit, and we took a short trip to nearby Murchison Falls, and enjoyed some relaxing time together. We all came back to Loki just in time to celebrate Easter, get my mom caught up on how things are going here and what has changed in the year since she was here last. Since then we have been preparing for and carrying out our part in a training conference/retreat held here in Loki, for all AIM S Sudan team members. We have been struggling to finish school, and this week we leave again for our annual Educational Support Week. We will be sticking around down country to attend a counseling retreat at the end of the month, and then will come back up to Loki for what promises to be a very busy July, before leaving for home assignment in August.
As usual, our pictures represent both daily life and ministry, just mixed in there together. Because really, isn't that the way it is?
Before I go, I want to ask you to pray for the insecurity that so many of our people are facing. We struggle to understand how God works, and to us it is so frustrating when people have to be taken out of their ministry locations because of insecurity. Recently, we have had a whole team who had to leave with no specific plans to return. Many others have had to come out for a time, and just been allowed to return. Others are still there, but in hostile environments. Its easy for me to say this, from my safe, cozy house just across the border in peaceful Kenya, but security is not the goal. Getting the Gospel out is the goal. The Gospel must go out. Because the rest of the world needs Jesus as much as I need Him. Which is alot. I'm learning just how much, the older I get and more life I live.
Please pray that the AIM teams working with unreached people groups would be given favour in their communities, and with local government. Pray that the power of the Gospel would start with an ember, catch on, and burn with a holy fire into the hearts of people living in despair and darkness, even in the places where the missionaries have left. And pray that we would all, every disciple of Jesus, be willing to give our all to make His name great.
Missionaries first arrived here more than 100 year ago. They came with incredible faith, having left their homes and families forever. The majority of these earlier pioneers served only a few short years before succumbing to fever, malaria, snake bites, or martyrdom. A century later, what is there to show for such a great sacrifice? Have they been forgotten? Did the seeds they sow take root? Is there any fruit to show from their labor and the labor of countless others since?
I recently had the opportunity to fly into the Congo for a 6-day mission. My flight would take me down along the western shores of Lake Albert, across a vast rainforest canopy, and into Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. I was excited for the opportunity to explore the unknown, and experience a kind of Africa that I had yet to meet.
My passengers for the next 6 days were 4 national church leaders—Congolese pastors, each with an incredible desire to serve and a passion to the the Gospel penetrate deeply into the heart of their country. As we set out our journey, little did I know that I would be steeping back in time, and that I would come face to face with those who have gone before me.
When we arrived in Banda, I was overtaken with the sheer beauty of its environment. On the edge of the rainforest, the landscape was a mixture of ripe mango trees, palm trees, thick grass and billowing spoke from the surrounding village. Over the next few days I would come to know this landscape and the people who occupy it much better. With warm faces, and kind eyes, I was eagerly welcomed into this isolated community.
As I walked through the village I wondered how those missionaries must have felt as they first arrived. Were they greeted with the same sincerity as I was? What challenges must they have faced?
Very few of us will be remembered. With the passing of time, each generation fades away into the pages of history, nameless. Lifetimes poured out in the pursuit of vastly different ideas, goals, and treasures. What remains of us once we have exhausted our resources and returned to ground from which we came?
“Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
As my passengers and I made our way through the community, we eventually came upon a church. Full of congolese Christ-followers offering worship to the one who created all things for His glory. The good news of the Gospel had been there—the seeds had taken root, and the vine is full of sweet fruit.
A century after those first missionaries came with their caskets on their backs, following the example of another who came before who carried a cross, the church in Congo is alive—it has been ransomed from the sting of death. Where there was once fear there is now liberty. Where there was once darkness there is now light. Where there was once death there is now life.
The story of what God has done in places like Congo is just a small example of what God has done in so many other places, and what he continues to do—won’t you join Him and be a part?
Hello from a still hot, dry northern Kenya. We did have two days of light rain, but are really praying a real rainy season comes ahead of schedule (April.) We are well. I can just share with you a few highlights of news these days, with a few related pictures down below.
Hello again dear friends and partners. I have felt compelled to come back to the blog again so soon, to share more details on some situations here. As much as I love to share cute pictures of my kids, we don't live here so they can play with monkeys. I know it is just so difficult to imagine things that take place so far away, both geographically and other ways. And there is always so much on our minds, it is difficult to fit in more. But if you feel led, please take a minute to pray for these things, and share them with your community of believers if possible.
Team retreat, visitors on safari, broken generators, gingerbread men, evacuating refugees, and world peace?
This month has been about as complicated as it sounds. Practically speaking, for sure. Me and the kids left Loki on Thanksgiving, were joined by Patrick a few days later, and moved around about 8 times before coming back home mid-December. Lots of moving parts, coming and going, AIM Air flying, things breaking, plans changing, trying to help visitors have a good experience, coming home to many issues, etc. Other than our 3 days on "vacation", life was pretty crazy. But looking back, that isn't the complication that stands out to me.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
This has always been one of my favourite Christmas songs, I guess because of it's honest assessment of the situation in which we find ourselves. Even before I was aware of things like Christmas Day attacks being somewhat of a cultural tradition, I've had a hard time at Christmas staying in the bubble of my privileged life, enjoying special food, gifts, beautiful ambience, precious relationships, even my relationship with God, and not struggling with the unfairness of it all. The misrepresentation, even, of the whole Christmasy spirit that we do. I love Christmas, the whole season, with all the cultural trappings, from Thanksgiving on to New Years. But it's always on my mind how the first Christmas was so messy, filled with so much pain, even as it was filled with joy. It would not have looked good in a Hallmark movie. But that's what God decided to do; to leave the Thomas Kinkaid picture and step into our mess. And what a mess it is.
There has turned out to be a bit of a theme for me this month, starting back at our AIM Air retreat. In a nutshell, our speaker reminded us that God's plan was for far more than just forgiveness of sin, and future eternal life. It was for complete healing and restoration of all that is broken, in many different directions: God with man, man with himself, men with each other, and men with creation. The ultimate fulfillment of that will take place in heaven, but we are called to work towards that now. What does that look like? How do we live in the mess, but remember we have been made for something more and that God is even now working in us to bring that about? The pain and brokenness in the world can take your breath away. And I'm not just talking about S Sudan. I'm talking about Kansas, Minnesota, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, and Canada. We know that its there. Inside of us, in our families, and our communities. How depressing is that? How overwhelming? Even as believers, we can often hardly stand up underneath the weight of the brokenness that is our world.
Knowing that my sins are forgiven and I'm going to heaven doesn't always cheer me up that much. That may be all well and good, but really, how does it help me right now? I know this sounds so simple and obvious, but I have been reminded so much recently that that initial step in restoring our relationship with God, when we come to Him is just that, one step. We agree with the situation as He sees it, that we are desperate sinners who are hopeless, purposeless, lonely and deserving of punishment, but instead accept the alternative He has to offer: forgiveness, a brand new start, new life, and the opportunity to see restoration and redemption of other things in our lives as well. But so often, we stop at the beginning, thinking that's all there is. And we continue to struggle with the brokenness and hopelessness inside oursevles, our marriages, other relationships, and in the world on a much larger scale. Most of sub-Saharan Africa claims to be Christians. But the tribal fighting, corruption, and injustices that go on beg to differ. How many of us, also, have only assented intellectually to this idea of Jesus, and what He can do for us, but not surrendered completely from the inside out? So when push comes to shove, our hearts are still our own, which means they are still broken, and the Holy Spirit has not been able to do that redemptive work that He longs to do. This has brought me to see everything differently, from my marriage, discipling my children, to interacting with the community around me, and our larger role in AIM Air.
Salvation is not actually the goal. Making a one time decision is not the goal. Making disciples who enjoy peace with God, themselves, and others is the goal, whether its in your local church, with my own children, or in Kenya and South Sudan. Walking this difficult life with Him and experiencing more of His intangible blessings is the goal. Restoring God's people to Himself, and replacing all the painful things of the world with the beautiful things of God's Kingdom is the goal. And I believe it's something He is patiently waiting to do in every area of our lives that are surrendered, not just the spiritual parts. The truth is that we are all too often unaware of where God is working, and we just see the heart wrenching bits and pieces of brokenness around us, and inside us. I am praying this new year that I can shut my eyes and instead see the beauty that God can bring from these ashes, and wait expectantly for Him to do that beginning here on earth, not just in heaven.
Thank you for sharing in the journeys of the Crisp family. We are ordinary people who know and love an extraordinary God, only because He first knew and loved us. Out of gratitude to Him, and a desire to see His name known, we follow where He leads.