The Birkenfelds TomLand Update
Don't Stop Believing!
I must admit I couldn't type that heading without belting out the Journey classic. And while most of the lyrics of that song have nothing to do with God's Kingdom, the title is certainly a rally cry that needs to be present in the hearts and minds of those who do this work.
According to the words of our glorious King, having faith--believing in what God has done, is doing, and will do--as small as a mustard seed allows us to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). He even expounds later that if we don't doubt (aka don't stop believing), we can even toss those mountains into the sea! (Mat. 21:21)
So, as we continue in the work of trying to pioneer a movement of Tom people to a saving, life-giving, and God-glorifying relationship with Jesus, we pick up that rally flag and shout it out, because "we live by faith and not by sight!"
This month please join us in asking the Father to help us see the unseen. The harvest fields that are just under the surface of this land. The unseen people who we cross paths with who are asking questions in their hearts, wondering who God is and what he desires from their lives. That He'd help us to see the spiritual war that the Prince of Peace has already won in the cosmic realms and that He's now bringing to fulfillment in this place.
We believe a movement of Toms to Him is in the works. Ask Him to help us in our unbelief! (Mark 9:24)
As most of you are aware, in the past week, the US State Dept. announced the removal of all dependents from three areas of TomLand (meaning military personnel's families). This obviously brought concern to everyone -- both us on the ground and you caring supporters back in the States. I wanted to provide an update on the situation and how we're doing/feeling here.
1)Overall, in terms of safety, for us in our area we feel the same as we had before. YES, in general, TomLand has became more unstable over the past year with the conflict in the southeast and potential terrorist threats. But we haven't felt much change of environment.
2) Back in Sept. 2015, the US government issued a voluntary evacuation for its employees' families. The protocol for such a measure is that it must be either removed or made mandatory after 6 months. Because the situation here hasn't improved, the State Dept. moved forward with the mandatory order. There is not necessarily any specific intel or threats that led to this order. Furthermore, the inclusion of of our city was strictly administrative.
3) If the need arises for general citizens to leave Tomland, the US government will clearly give advisement of such. At this time, the Consulate services here DO NOT expect things to escalate to that point.
4) Furthermore, our company EW has a dedicated security team that is tapped into several security/intel organizations with much experience in this area. We are in consistent communication with the security director and EW is going to great lengths to ensure our safety in the work here.
Three-legged, wheelbarrow, sack, and dizzy bat races galore!
Two ladies from Austin are officially in the pipeline to join us in the Fall.
Erkan - POP?
Please lift up this man as a potential gateway into an untapped town of 100,000
Ministry and Life Updates
- The night before Easter we hosted an in-home Easter celebration for the elementary school teachers and principals. We had a great turn-out and all of the kids on our team did amazing putting on a small play reenacting the Easter story and singing a few songs for their beloved teachers. After the play we had a great time of fellowship and games. Two teachers are very interested and seem hungry to learn more, pray these seeds can continue to be watered and that there will be growth.
- We were able to host our 2nd annual neighborhood Easter celebration this year as well. This year, we invited people to attend our worship service beforehand and then had a big party at the park like last year. We had a few new visitors to our service who were able to clearly hear the gospel for the first time and had about 100 guests attend the party at the park. Overall it was a sweet time of community, fellowship, and sharing.
- There are two men Brock has met, Erkan and Eyup, that we have high hopes to see Dad use in this place. Eyup is a young believer that is bold and on fire for the Lord - we are hoping Brock can come alongside and disciple him and that the Lord can use him as a great catalyst here. Erkan is not a believer, but is a local in a nearby town of 100,000 people that Brock feels could have the potential to be a gateway into that community. As Brock continues that relationship pray that Erkan's openness would increase even more and that the can come to know the Lord.
- The past few months have been full of visits by family and vision trippers. From Febuary until the end of April we will have hosted overnight guests for 55 of those 89 nights. As we transition our role to team leaders we are learning how to balance ministry here with the locals as well as the new job of hosting, equipping, and preparing new people to come and join the work here. It is a new (exciting!) part of our work here that we are learning and adjusting to and would love prayer for.
- At the end of this week we will head to a city about 5 hours away for some business meetings and a time to gather with all of our company's country-wide laborers here. We are asking for this to be a time of refreshment and encouragement to continue in the work here.
- We are excited to announce that our team is expanding, we are so thankful! We have had 2 women commit to officially come and join us in the Fall (praise Him!), we have a woman coming on a vision trip next week that we are all hopeful can join in late Fall as well, our new teammates from our home fellowship will land here and join us in June, we have two couples coming for their vision trips in July, and another new teammate will be joining us early in the Fall. We are very excited for this growth and are praising Him for stirring so many's hearts towards the work in this needy land.
- Our kids are thriving and doing great overall. We feel so blessed to have gotten such sweet time with grandparents from both sides these past few months. We are forever grateful to our parents who are willing to come and make the trip to love on us and spend such valuable time together.
As we continue to wait on an adoptive match from Kyrgyzstan, we have some other family-related news.....to our delighted (but quite unexpected) surprise, we're PREGNANT!
We haven't had a surprise pregnancy before and so the nature of this one caught us a bit off-guard to say the least! But we're super excited to be welcoming another little Birkenfeld in late September/early October. We still believe we're called to move forward with adopting. Of course, the timing of that will probably be affected some but we'll just have to trust Father with all of that.
Please lift up Megan as she's had a pretty rough first trimester. She's been super sick and nauseous and is also fighting kidney stones again. Also, we're asking the placenta to shift some so there will be as little risk as possible for this 4th c-section. Please join us in petitioning the Lord for a healthy baby and problem-free delivery. Thanks everyone!