Sunday, June 6, 2004
I must confess that I've been procrastinating in regards to writing this letter.
This letter is actually difficult to write; it being our last update from Suriname, Only a few short days and we will be flying
home to the states. These last 2 weeks have been extremely busy and emotional with all of our "Last This" and "Last That"
and saying our goodbyes.
Humor me as I expound on our last 2 weeks... 2 Saturday evenings ago, we had
our last home discipleship group meeting with our teens. This ministry was our main focus this year and we have been blessed
by it. Thanks to Mr. Adam Reeck's musical talent, we were able to open each session with about 30 minutes of praise and worship,
followed by me leading about an hour's worth of bible study. It has been good. Good getting into the Word. Good seeing the
kids take an interest. Good seeing them ask questions. And ultimately, good seeing them grow in their relationship with Christ.
This Tuesday evening will be our final farewell with this group, as we take them out for dinner and spend a special evening
of fellowship with them.
Last Saturday evening was our last bible study with our group of Guyanese
teens from our local church. It was emotional too for us. They have only been under my direction since December but I can
see how hungry for God some of these teens are. We had a good time of fellowship and study.
Last Sunday was my last sermon at our local church. It was more personal than
usual. The sermon was about personal evangelism and I actually shared my testimony with the church body. Well, I'm humbled
to say that they took the sermon to heart because they rose to the challenge of inviting people to get to know Christ because
when we walked in the church this morning, we thought that it was Easter or Christmas with all the new faces and crowded seating.
Praise God for that awesome encouragement.
Friday evening, we had our last senior class graduation. This is Patricia's
territory. We had 5 seniors to graduate. It was very emotional. They all paid tribute to Patricia, who was on stage, leaking
like a broken water faucet. I am so proud of Patricia. We also watched our last ACS drama after graduation. It was the last
time that I do the stage makeup for an ACS drama. The kids performed a decent rendition of "Snow White" sans the kiss to revive
her. I guess it was rated G.
We've been invited to eat dinner at several parents' homes. This afternoon,
we spent a lot of time with Brother Arjune, the head pastor of our local church. He and his wife had us over for lunch and
then we drove out the muddy roads to New Amsterdam to look at his new house that he has been building for over the last year.
He designed it and basically he and his son and one other guy have built it from the ground up. You can see that this new
home is such a blessing from God. It was good to spend the afternoon with this family.
We have school Monday and Tuesday. The family picnic is Wednesday-the final
day of school. My report cards are finished, but I still need to pack my things. That's the hardest part--packing up.
These past 3 years have gone by so fast. We came to Suriname prior to September
11th and now we return again to a somewhat different country. We have no regrets, except for leaving our good friends here
behind. Throughout our ministry here, we have touched many young lives for God. I am still amazed and humbled on the "hows"
and "whys" God chose me to join Him in His work. Words can't describe how thrilled Patricia and I were to see young people
come to Christ. Especially those from the muslim or hindu backgrounds. We are overcomed with joy, seeing young people strive
for a deeper relationship with Jesus. And we are so humbled to be used by God for His kingdom's sake. What an honor.
Oh, but our work is not done. It is just beginning. We have an extremely busy
summer ahead of us. We are bringing one of our students home with us. Jenny Nath will be flying to Miami with us on the 18th
of June. From there, we will be taking her to Camp Lurecrest in NC. She will also get to travel some with us through NC, VA,
and WV. Pray for us in our travels and pray especially for Jenny as she attends this week of Christian Camp. Pray for God
to speak to her in a mighty way. We will be taking Jenny back to her parents as they visit relatives in Florida and then Patricia
and I will begin a new phase in our life as we head off to Dallas. We really covet your prayers in regards to housing and
employment and as I enter Dallas Theological Seminary. I will be working on a Masters in Christian Education with emphasis
in Youth Ministry. God has laid full-time youth ministry on my heart. And yes, that is what we've been doing now, but I want
to strengthen my leadership skills and my biblical foundation and after much prayerful consideration, we both agree that DTS
will be our home for the next 2 years or so.
I want to personally thank each and everyone of you for holding us up in prayer
during these past 3 years. Thanks for praying with us throughout the spiritual warfare, the various sicknesses, and sharing
in our praises to God the Father. Without you, we would not have been effective--perhaps we would have never been here. You
are definitely part of our team. You will share in the eternal fruits of our labors. You will see our former students someday
in heaven, and then, after they greet you, you will know why God chose us to come to Suriname. So thank you dear prayer partners.
And many, many thanks for any financial support you may have sent. You can continue to financially support us through the
month of August.
If you would like us to speak at your church in June or July, just email me
and we can schedule a date. Now, I will ask you to pray over these specific needs: First, pray that all of our exit paperwork
is in order and we have a smooth transition through customs. Please pray for our safety as we travel. We will be flying to
Miami and then renting a car to drive to NC. Please pray for Patricia as we travel with our pets--she stresses over their
travel conditions and paperwork. Please pray for Jenny during this time away from her home and family. Pray for Jenny's parents,
because this is the first time that she will be apart from them for an extended amount of time. Once again, please lift us
up in prayer as we locate housing and employment in the Dallas area. Pray for provision from God in the area of finances for
seminary and housing. Continue to pray for all the staff and students here at ACS in Suriname. Pray for the Network of International
Christian Schools (NICS-our sending agency) as they continue in their ministry of providing Christian educators in their schools
around the globe. And finally, a bit of tragic news, one of our school employees, Hanock, the groundskeeper and guard, had
a house fire this past week. They lost everything. Please pray for Hanock and his family during this time of loss. The school
will assist Hanock some, but please pray for a sense of peace and calm during this time. Pray that God would provide for this
man and his family.
Now to wrap this thing up. As I sit here trying to think of something profound
to say, I can only imagine what Jesus's apostles were feeling as He ascended to heaven. These guys spent around 18 months
with Jesus and they never quite grasped what His purpose was until after His resurrection. I imagine that they felt a sense
of awe (in finally understanding all they had been taught), a sense of wonder at all they had seen, a sense of humbleness
by being chosen and used by Christ, a sense of loss (doubled) as He ascended (doubled because Christ died and they thought
everything was over, then to have Him again in their midst only to see Him ascend into heaven). I'm sure they even felt more
than what I've described here...but, that is in a sense, what I am feeling now too. But Christ left them and us with some
great comfort: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions;
if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3 NKJ and "I have told you these
things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 NIV
John and Patricia