Thank you so much for praying for us. We have had a great weekend and have been really blessed. For those of you who receive our email updates, you will know that we had a stand at a missionary convention from Thursday through until yesterday; Monday. This was another new opening for us and we are so grateful to the Lord for allowing us this new opportunity.
It was such a privilege for us to be able to man the stand at each meeting. We met many new people who were interested in the work of Feed my Lambs and it was so encouraging to be able to share prayer cards and literature with them and answer their questions. We also appreciate those who signed up for our prayer letter and those who assured us they would be praying for us.
We laughed, cried, remembered and pondered on many issues throughout the weekend. We laughed with other missionaries and enjoyed their company. We enjoyed meeting again others who were representing their missions. We often don't see these dear friends between these events, yet we continue on as we left off and of course we met new missionary friends. It's also lovely for us to have opportunity to talk with those who understand the joys and challenges of missionary life.
We had tears in our eyes when once again memories of dad came flooding back. He would have been there in his FML uniform and we missed him as some spoke to us of him. It also meant so much to both of us; but especially for William; to meet people who knew his Uncle Bobby and also his Granda Aiken... a man whom William never knew but carries on his name. Such a blessing to be told by a man of 89 years old who knew them that he would pray for us.
There were also many things to think about, to talk about and pray about. God's Word over the weekend was challenging. A message on the closing night was particularly relevant to us (William and myself) in so many ways and certainly gave us much to think about. It was actually a ladies meeting on the closing night and as I sat amongst the ladies in the main sanctuary, William sat in the gallery with other men from some of the mission organisations. Although we were apart, we couldn't even see each other, or see each other's reactions.... yet we knew what the other would be thinking. It's amazing how God sees the need and speaks in the same way to a married couple. Such a blessing.
We were encouraged in our hearts throughout the weekend to continue in the work. Various songs and Bible verses quoted reminded us of how God had spoken in the past. Yet we were also challenged to do more and somehow, whilst FML has grown in the various ministries and outreaches it offers and we seem to be always busy, yet, in the light of eternity, we felt that really we are doing so little. Pray for us as we seek to serve the Lord and pray about various issues and outreach ideas and burdens which were put on our hearts over the weekend.
As we travelled backwards and forwards to the meetings we talked much and reflected on what we had seen, heard and experienced. As we talked more with the missionaries we found they were thinking just like us. As we all looked back over the past year and the various meetings, conventions and events we have attended; the same story was there that very few young people attend mission events. People in their thirties are few; People in their twenties are low; younger almost non-existent. Not even just in mission events, but ladies meetings too.... so many meetings and we have been the youngest or certainly amongst the youngest there. We spoke with many missionaries and we looked around the stands. With the exception of just a couple of people, again we were amongst the youngest. So many stands being represented by people in their fifties, sixties and older. Certainly there are many young people who love the Lord and are seeking His will and who have a desire to serve Him; but it has to be said that even we see a decline since we began representing FML. We spoke to more than one missionary over the weekend who said they were tired. Not tired with doing God's work, but tired physically. Tired because of the travelling to meetings. Tired to the point of ill health. Unable to do what they want to do because of illness.
As I write I have our mailing list beside me. Just those who receive our prayer letter by post. There are over 100 addresses. Now some of these people receive a quantity of letters for their Churches, groups etc. We also have many more who receive our prayer news by email and those who follow us on facebook. No doubt facebook and email is more appealing to younger people than a printed prayer letter and we certainly do have younger contacts via these ways. However, this list still tells a story. Forgive me if I am wrong... but as far as I can see, no-one of those named on our printed list is under 30 years old. Those in their thirties are just a handful. We are very rarely contacted by people under 30 in regard to the work, to say they are praying for us. We could probably list quite easily the number of people under 30 who have given financial gifts over the years. In fact, the majority of younger people who do contact us, who do show a real interest in the work are actually people from Africa! The very place we are trying to reach.
This post is not meant to discourage anyone of any age. It is just to relay the picture that so many missionaries are seeing as they attend meetings across the country. It is just to encourage the younger people to see the benefit of missions and of serving God. Of course this may be locally and that is just as important. It is to encourage us to pray much.
Noel Grant was a faithful servant of God. We were very privileged to have known him and privileged that he was on our mailing list. Hymns and verses he wrote were quoted over the weekend and we remembered him fondly. Noel has now gone to be with the Lord. His name was removed from our mailing list.... but he was not replaced by a young person. Yes we have added to our list, but not young people in their teens and twenties. He just represents a number of faithful people who prayed for us, who have gone to be with the Lord and the gap has not been filled. So many people in recent days have also commented to us about little mission halls dotted around our country. In so many cases they are being run by people who have attended maybe 30, 50 and even 60 or more years. It has been said to us in numerous places recently that the older people have died and they haven't been replaced.
Let us really pray that God will burden both young and old. There is a job for all to do for God. Each age group can learn from the other. We shouldn't always have to have separate meetings for young and old. One of the greatest blessings to me in FML was that I had the privilege of having my dad alongside me. He was 73 when he was last in Africa. A real privilege.
We have been challenged in so many ways. The message last night reminded us to be servants of God. So today, apart from this blog and updating our mailing list with new contacts from the weekend, what have I been doing? Well, there has been a challenge to serve and our heads have many thoughts spinning around.... but today, I have had a mop in my hand, I have washing in the machine and I have potatoes to peel. Because as well as being a missionary, I am a wife. That is also a privilege and we can serve God even in being a good spouse.
You may be 15, you may be 90. You may be a full time worker, a worker in your Church or you may be a mum who stays home to look after the house and the needs of her husband and children. It doesn't matter which you are. God has a plan for you. God has a way for you to serve. There is no position higher than another. The mother has a ministry to her children in the same way as a Pastor has a ministry to his congregation. One is not better than the other. Yes, we long for more young people holding the ropes in meetings and at mission events.... but the most important thing is that you know God's plan just for you and you follow it. That is the best way to serve Him.
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regular updates and thoughts from Northern Ireland and Africa...