a note from LCMS Missionaries James & Christel
Over this last year James and I have had the opportunity to talk with our dear friend Liz Garcia’s Spanish classes at St. Paul in Flint, MI. It was such an incredible blessing to talk with each of them and share things about the culture and what it was like living here, but more importantly to share with them their ablity to share their faith with the people around them. Well, towards the end of the year Liz had her students write letters or draw pictures to share a little more about who they were and their experiences in talking about God. I was overwelmed in reading these stories that the students had written and the pictures they had drawn. James and I both were deeply encouraged and so joyous to read the stories these students had shared. All of the letters were great and had incredible stories. However, I wanted to pick one that stood out to me as I feel as it is a great reminder of how being a friend first can really open doors to share your faith. I have learned a great deal over this last year, however one thing that has stood
out time and time again are relationships. In a relationship there is trust, there is openess, there is room for sharing. Sharing your faith can be a one time conversation with a person you do not know, but usually it comes over time, over many conversations, over many experiences. Through those relationships people are able to not only trust you but see Jesus in your actions. They are able to see how things in life are not easy but it is in the way you handle those things that is a witness in itself. As the student wrote above, they have a “friend” who is a muslim, not an acquaintance, not someone they saw on the playground, a “friend.” This allowed the student room for openess to share about their game and their faith in the true God. The student wrote hoping they did the right thing. There was no rapid conversion, but a conversation. I pray there will be more conversations and times together to share with each other. It’s all about developing a relationship and having a child-like faith that the Holy Spirit will guide your words and ignite a spark in your friend’s heart. - Christel
The Letter Lives On... August 8, 2008 seems simultaneously so long ago and as though it were just yesterday. It was a Friday and the weather was perfect, Christel and I were married and a month later were on a plane to Panama. Looking back on this last year we see so many ways in which we have grown, ways God has blessed us and ways that we have struggled. As a family we have been through a lot of changes: distantly we suffered through the loss of a family member (James’ Grandpa) celebrated the birth of a new one (our new neice Elise) and the slow steady recovery of Christel’s father. Here in Panama we have seen so much to celebrate, but have also seen much pain and adversity, at times we have been excited, at other times depressed, this has been a very full year. At our wedding ceremony we focused on the concept of being a “living letter” through which God communicates His love to all people through our lives. Today we find that more important and relevent than we realized even then. We have endeavored to communicate the amazing message of the Gospel not through clever words or speeches, but through our daily lives and struggles we hope to let the Lord speak His message of love to us and others.
Prayers - Guiding the Panamanian churches in leadership and independence. - English Students - Anthony DiLiberto as he continues work in Peru guidng short term teams. - A missionary to serve in Peru
The more time we spend in missions and in marriage both the more we see that none of it would be possible without His love and mercy. To live in love is to live in such a way that despite any hardship or frustration, the other comes first. To live in love is never to do the easiest or quickest thing for someone, but the healthiest and most fruitful for the long run. More importantly we have learned that it is not our letter to write, but to live out. Christ is the one that has sent us out into this world, and it is Him that spreads His eternal and merciful love to all people. We are called upon to be the human vessels of this great message, to be the jars of clay that bear the priceless treasure of His mercy. I hope that as you have observed in a small way the bits and peices of our lives here in Panama, that you too have seen the love of Christ which God has written into our lives. We are eternally and infinately blessed by His presence, and throughout all hardship we are honored to be able to carry his message out into the world. Love in Christ, James Neuendorf