WAGNER URGENT UPDATE: Ebola & Evacuation

WAGNERS update 7-29-14ACTION: With great sadness we inform you that we have to leave Sierra Leone for a short time until the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is controlled.

WHY: The Ebola virus has begun infecting people in our city and civil unrest is a growing concern. Up until this week, we’d been planning to stay and were taking appropriate safety precautions. Unfortunately the outbreak has reached a point where our work and family activities are significantly restricted. It appears that things are likely to get worse before they improve.

WHERE & HOW LONG: We are initially going to LBT’s home office in Aurora, IL for debriefing and discussion of plans while we wait to return to Sierra Leone. We are evacuating with essentials and valuables and saving everything else in Sierra Leone for our return.

HOW WE FEEL: Heartbroken. We write this with tears and deep disappointment. We were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of cultural stress and adjustment, a difficult pregnancy, and much sickness. We were seeing a way forward. Now we have to leave. While we know God’s ways are greater than ours, our emotions are raw. It’s especially difficult to leave our local partners, the work, our neighbors and friends. Most people don’t believe that Ebola is real or that it’s as bad as it is. We feel burdened to plead to God for their physical lives but also their spiritual lives. We plan to return. We plan to see the Word going forth and touching lives… in Themne.

FINANCIAL SITUATION: As evacuation plans continue to develop, we don’t know what our situation will be for the next several months. We know we have unexpected travel costs and living expenses as we keep our home in Sierra Leone and live in the USA for a short time.

URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray…
– we can obtain an emergency passport for Isaiah (2.5 weeks old).
– we would be able to get tickets to travel with family visiting—Ruthie’s mom and Josh’s sister and brother-in-law. (Praise God they’re here to help us!!!)
– for the epidemic to be controlled and that people would believe!
– for encouragement, strength, and protection for the Themne translation team.

Thanks, Team, for standing with us,
Josh, Ruthie, Elijah (2yo), & Isaiah (2.5wks)

Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone

http://www.lbt.org/missionaries/jrwagner.php

WAGNER UPDATES

Weekly Texts for Prayer: Text “BIBLES” and your name(s) to 612-208-7680

Facebook Updates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/wagnerupdates

Monthly Email: Sign up!

Quarterly Newsletter: Sign up! 

Support: Here

 

 

PRAYER AND PRAISE

By Lori Willard

If a family member answered the phone and they discovered the person on the other end of the line was Billy Graham, and he was calling for you, would you drop everything to speak with him?  Well…The Lord of the Universe – The King of Kings – is calling for you to exchange words with you.  Will you answer His call?

31 Days of Prayer and 31 Days of Praise by Ruth and Warren Myers have influenced my times of prayer and praise over the past few months.  The prayers and praises are broken down into daily times with God based on the scriptures that guide you.  In the books, they record Bible passages so you can rewrite the prayers if you choose to do so.  A few thoughts from their books have given me new insights or have reinforced ideas already known.  I have modified some of those thoughts to share from my perspective.

The Word and prayer keeps us connected to God – then links our lives with God’s purposes and power.  The Word and prayer bring us into a loving relationship with God.  We also realize through this relationship, how much we need Him so we prayerfully choose to depend on Him.

Praying for others – intercession – moves us from “give me” prayers to partnering with God on others’ behalf.  Philippians 4:6 says that He desires to hear our needs, but wants us to move beyond those prayers.  The Lord’s Prayer has 7 petitions – 6 of them focus on God’s purposes and our spiritual needs – 1 focuses on our practical needs.  God wants us to grow in prayer as we continue to commune with Him.

There are all kinds of prayer, for example:  praise, thanksgiving, confessing our sins, quiet communion, our needs, loved ones and others.  However, God desires us to partner with Him in our prayers.  What does God want me to pray about?  Jesus prays for us in John 17 and Hebrews 7:25.  The Holy Spirit helps us in prayer according to Romans 8:26.  How awesome to join His inner circle of prayer with Him!

Praise and Thanksgiving helps us rise above our self-centeredness to a God-centeredness.  It focuses our hearts and minds on the Lord and makes us more dependent on Him.  God gives us joy, spiritual vigor and an overcoming attitude as we focus on Him.

Praises allows the Lord to turn grief, distresses, and struggles into peace.  Praise during times of blessings and during times of trials enables us to “rise above” because we know that the Lord has promised never to leave us or forsake us – Hebrews 13:5; so we can say, along with David, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” NKJV

God chooses to use prayer, praise, reading His Word, Bible study, and fellowship with true believers, etc. all to bring us closer to Him.  May we not neglect the most important details of our relationship with Him but instead – PRESS ON, PRAY ON!

Philippians 3:13-16 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” NKJV

The Little Things

by Jonni Sliver

It is exciting to see God’s hand in our lives! I have a friend here in Brazil who has undergone surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. There was an army of intercessors holding her up and expecting to see God move on her behalf. The peace we have, in facing huge challenges, is an amazing gift, something only a child of the Father can know. But somehow, there is a special sweetness in seeing God’s hand in the little details of our lives that reminds me that He isn’t just my champion in time of trial, but the Lover of my soul every day. The problem isn’t that God isn’t moving every day or every moment, but that I just don’t always pay attention!

About two months ago a project that the Miriam Home had presented to the city council was approved, to replace a very old computer tower and to buy a laptop. The laptop wasn’t an extreme necessity, but it was helpful for Pastor Silvio to be able to do the administrative work of the Miriam Home, Bible School and the retreat center. I was glad for the grant, especially because I knew how much Tibby (my Toshiba laptop) means to me, and that it would make ministry easier for Pastor Silvio.

Around that same time Tibby started showing signs of age. Little things like freezing when I would start her, so I would have to shut down and restart. A few times, when I left the desk for a while, without turning her off, I would come back to find her, not in sleep mode but with a blue screen, scolding me just a bit. Yes, there were signs, but I didn’t expect the end to come so quickly. Last Saturday I went to turn Tibby on and there was no response. Well, actually you could hear the motor running, but the screen didn’t even flicker. A crashed computer is always frustrating, but for me it was even more – maybe 75% of all I do is on my laptop, but I had hope! A young man from church is a truly gifted geek (I call him my techno-medic), and he took my computer Sunday morning – I was pretty confident that I would have it back on Monday! I was wrong. But with the help of my trusty (almost recent) backup and the borrowed desk top (with the new CPU) I was able to redo my class plans for the Bible School before my classes were to begin. In the meantime Mateus was trying everything he could to get Tibby up and running, but the system still didn’t work. By the end of the week it was clear that my computer was not coming back.

It just so happens that most of last week Pastor Silvio was in a series of meetings. For that reason I was able to use the new laptop we had just acquired. On Friday Pastor Silvio left for a week long ministry trip to a neighboring state giving me a few more days to work. And Mateus, my faithful techno-medic, has ordered my new computer, which will be here before Pastor Silvio returns and wants his laptop back.

I know something as small as a crashed computer doesn’t rate as a “trial”, but it has been sweet to see how the Father is concerned about my little things. Seeing His care over the details increases my faith for the big challenges that come up, and they always do!

The Important Thing!

By Jonni Sliver

We celebrated Mother’s Day last month. Lovely images came to mind – a precious little girl bringing flowers to her mom, a little boy proudly presenting burnt toast to mom for breakfast, the acrid but delightful love offering! But I am long past a precious little girl and it is five years since my mother received her reward; I’ve never had children of my own so I guess Mother’s Day doesn’t have much to do with me. Right? Wrong!

I received a gift that not everyone gets. As an adult I got to live with my mother. For five years mom and I lived in a two bedroom apartment and did just about everything together, from cooking to cleaning to putting together massive jigsaw puzzles (credit where it’s due, mom probably did 70% of them) and telling really silly stories (we were both pretty  good at that!). I got to know my mom as my friend and five years after her passing I still am blessed every day because of what I learned from my mom.

I learned about priorities. Mom didn’t answer the phone or the door for the first hour or so after she woke up (that was o.k., the people who knew her knew not to call then anyways). That was because she had her quiet time, right in her bed, before her feet touched the floor. She had her Daily Bread, her study Bible and a Bible encyclopedia all on the table by her bed. She would begin her devotional but it would quickly become a study as she looked up a city she didn’t know, or a practice she wasn’t familiar with in the encyclopedia. She would separate the verses that touched her heart and look up all of the cross references and then she would share them with me at dinner that night. And then she would pray. She prayed for her children and grandchildren, she prayed for her church family, she prayed for what she saw on the news last night. She had seen God move, she had seen His faithfulness, and she held on the promises of the Father!

But that first hour or so wasn’t “God’s time” in her day. Mom found moments all through her day to meet with the Father. She was the leader of our church prayer chain, most of the prayer request went out by e-mail, but there was a good size group of ladies who weren’t online. Mom would call them to share the prayer requests, and they would talk. All of the phone chain were a little older (like mom), many were widows, several had hard times getting out of the house. The calls mom made remind each woman that she was still part of the family, she still had a ministry and that she was loved. It only took mom five minutes to send the e-mail prayer requests, it took, sometimes, hours to do the phone chain, but for mom it was time well spent.

When I get so busy with the “important” things that I have to do that I am irritated by drop in visits, I can just about hear my mom reminding me about what really is important. There really isn’t an age limit to learn from your mother!

 

No Planting, No Harvest

  By Esther Hylden

Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields.  That they are white unto Harvest.”  John 4:35

Without planting, there is no harvest.  Things have been very busy, hectic and sometimes tense here on the Hylden Farm this Spring.   Rain has delayed planting, day after day, week after week.  In a normal year, planting is usually completed by  May 25th.   Today it is June 17th, and planting is still in progress.  Our family income depends on a good harvest… without planting there is no harvest.

That is how it is with Disciple Making isn’t it, no planting means no harvest?  Without faithful parents, Sunday School teachers, VBS workers, godly friends, godparents and Pastors who pass along the Good News of the Gospel…planting… to children, co-workers, friends and neighbors… there is no Harvest.  No joyful meeting again in Heaven, no help for the weary here on this earth.

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all Nations.”  Matthew 28:19.  Today, let us go…to our children, to our neighbor, to our co-worker. Let’s do some planting… and then… let’s Harvest!

Planting Wheat near Park River ND

Planting Wheat near Park River ND

Heaven is for Real

By Velma Amundson

We recently watched the movie “Heaven is for Real”. I really enjoyed it. I have to say, I’m no expert on whether or not this little boy “went to heaven and back”. We know that God took Enoch and Elijah directly to heaven, and we know from Revelation that John was given a vision. I’m willing to leave it at that.

What struck me, though, was the title: “Heaven is for Real”. My first thought was “Duh”. I mean, after all, isn’t that what we hope for, what we look forward to? One of my husband’s favorite Bible passages comes from John 14:1-2, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you? (ESV). I think of all the songs we sing, “Beyond the Sunset”, “Mansion on a Hilltop”. The first verse of one of my favorite songs, and I have many, says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door and I can’t feel a home in this world anymore.” There are so many songs which tell us of the hope that we have that God has provided a place for us to be with him for all eternity. What a glorious promise and hope to cling to.

I hope that this spate of summer movies featuring religious themes has given you hope and inspiration. I hope that if someone asks you about it you can say, “Yes, of course Heaven is for real, God promised so it must be”. I hope most of all that as we live our lives we remember that hope and cling to our Lord, Jesus Christ, who made it possible for us to hope.

 

His Eye is on the Sparrow

John, Cris and Family-Jonni Silver Web readyBy Jonni Sliver

I come from a long line of worriers. That isn`t one of the qualities I am most proud of, but I see it popping up now and then (with more “now” than I care for.  Those of you not genetically inclined to fretting are probably already saying to yourselves “what’s the point of worrying?” You are right of course, and we know it, with 90% of our brains, it is the 10% that trips us up. Praise the Lord, He loves his daughters, even when we fret, and His has lovely, precious means to remind us that we really don’t need to fret at all. Cris is a good example.

Cris has been living in a house on the Miriam Home/Bible school campus for six months now. She is a precious young mom, born in the Philippines, married to a mighty North Dakotan, John, who happens to be an engineer working on international oil rigs. Through his job he got to know the AFLC churches in Brazil, and he decided to bring Cris (7 months pregnant when they arrived) and their two year old daughter to get to know this lovely country. The only problem was that John is six weeks on the ship and six weeks off. He was here just a short time before he left for his on ship time, because he wanted to come back in time for the birth of his daughter. Cris is a pretty brave young lady, being in a new country, with a language she was just starting to learn and a very active little girl. She fit in wonderfully to our family, and her little Leota won everyone’s hearts.

During the six months John had to do two shifts on the ship, but they were planned so he would be back to take his little family home. The timing was important because not only did Cris and Leota’s visas run out the beginning of June, but Cris had to be back in the U.S. by June 6th or she would lose her green card.  But plans don’t always work the way we want them to. Problems came up on the ship and John’s return kept getting postponed. By the middle of last week it was clear that John wouldn’t be here to accompany Cris and the girls home, but Cris is spunky and wasn’t intimidate.

Then Tuesday came – just two days before Cris and the kiddos were to take off, I received a call from Pr. Silvio, on vacation in the north of Brazil. He remembered that Cris would need authorization to travel outside of Brazil without John. This document required a notarized statement from John, hard to get in the middle of the ocean, and would normally take at least a week to be approved. But, since Cris is living on the campus of the Miriam Home our administrator, Surai, was able to ask for the help of the juvenile court judge. Based on his respect for Surai, and the fact that Cris had copies of every birth certificate back to her great grandma, the document was ready by today, Thursday morning. Four hours later she was in the van, on the way to the airport, with everything she needed in her carry-on bag.

His eye is on the sparrow, on Cris and on me. Why worry?