March 2017 Update

One of my favorite spots in my favorite city.
(Note: If you don't want to read this - just skip to the very end for the "Summary".)

Sometimes, working for EMI out of the Global Office in the United States isn’t the most gratifying work. We often look back on our time overseas in Uganda and the UK as times where we ‘felt’ more a part of the ministry work we set out to be a part of just over 9 years ago. I would like to say that’s not the case, but that wouldn’t be true.

And actually, that’s ok to admit. It’s not a terrible thing to want to ‘feel’ like you’re doing something important. I think everyone wants that.

5/6 of the UK Board of Directors (EMI CEO John Dallmann
joined via Skype from the US)
But we can’t let those feelings confuse us into ignoring what the actual facts are. Because while sometimes those feelings serve as an important ‘nudge’ to get us to consider making a change, other times they will deceive us into believing that we need to make a change when in fact that isn’t the case.

A few weeks ago, we held a weekend-long board meeting and
time together. A very enjoyable time with this good group
of guys, despite the bitter cold front that blew through the UK
that day.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that our family hopes to move overseas again at some point in our work with EMI. And, we’re open to that being an indefinite move. In some ways, we’re looking for signs or opportunities that would lead us to conclude that God is saying it’s time. But the reality is, it just hasn’t come yet.

If I’m honest, what I actually feel is that the work I’m doing right now with EMI here at the Global Office in Colorado is the most important work I’ve been a part of since we were appointed to EMI staff back in 2007.

A 'prayer dice'. You elect someone to pray for the meal, roll the
dice, and read the prayer. I'd never heard of such a thing before
but kind of liked it. I felt it was done in a very sincere way.
There’s a term I’ve heard a number of times in the mission community. It’s called, ‘sexy ministry’. I’m sorry if that’s offensive to some, but I actually kind of like the term because it’s a perfect descriptor that helps categorize mission work in the minds of those involved. It acknowledges that some mission work is more popular and attractive for people to get involved in than other mission work is, sometimes irrespective of what might actually be most helpful. At times, this distorted view and desire to be in ‘sexy’ ministry has the potential to lead us down wrong paths.

Bringing water to the poor is sexy ministry. Fixing unsafe buildings and making them safe again is sexy ministry. Directly sharing the gospel message to unreached people groups is sexy ministry. Living in Africa is sexy (whether ministry or not!). So what isn’t sexy? Working for a mission organization’s home office inside the United States – even if that work is critical to the success of those participating in the ‘sexier’ aspects of the ministry.
The Thames in Windsor - 90% of the time, you fly directly over
Windsor castle about 1 minute before landing on approach to
London Heathrow airport.

Ok, I’ll stop using the word sexy now (my kids might actually read this post!), but I think you get what I’m saying. This season of work with EMI’s Global Office in Colorado will undoubtedly not last forever. I really believe God will one day allow us to return to the ‘field’ since our desire to do so is strong.

Heresy alert! No, I’m not saying God gives us everything we want. Apologies to the prosperity gospel faithful, but that just isn’t true. What I do think though is that God very often gives us the desires of our heart when those desires involve feeling a calling to join in his work. Not always, but often, and this is the sense we have.

We live in Colorado Springs! Most Americans think of the Springs as a mecca of Christianity, and one of the most beautiful/desirable places in the country to live. Our feelings? Well, yes, it’s ok (though we think Oregon wins the beauty contest!)…but mostly, we’d much rather return to Africa, or even post-Christian Europe, or even somewhere else EMI is working if it means we can be more closely connected to the ministry work of EMI. Why? I can only chalk it up to the sense of calling we first started feeling back in 2007. In other words, it doesn’t fully make sense apart from seeming like it’s God’s doing.
Whoever says it's never sunny in London is lying. This photo,
snapped in 1997, is proof otherwise. (Kidding - I took a walk
in Hyde Park near Kensington Palace.)

So what’s my point? Admittedly, I’m having a bit of moan. But I also wanted to communicate that right now, I really do feel like God is using us in big ways at EMI. How?

A house I stayed in, in Guildford. It's an old carriage house that
was recently remodeled by the architect who lives in it.
Pretty amazing.
We are in the process of transitioning EMI into a truly global entity – one that employs up to 50% local nationals in our now 10 worldwide offices (we’re growing fast – just 3 years ago we only had 6 offices!). The ramifications and complications of this are widespread. If we don’t get this right, we could sink the whole ministry of EMI and the incredible work God is doing in and through us and the people we serve.

And while the work of EMI continues on stronger than ever around the world (I’m trying to post about this as much as possible on our Facebook page and elsewhere), the fact is that structurally, as an organization, we are changing, and changing “bigly” (I never knew this was a word!). And by the way, I believe these changes are absolutely essential – and more importantly, I believe it’s God who’s ultimately stirring these things.
It's an Abercrombie Kids store now, but this
non-descript little row building at 3 Savile Road
was a famous place to be on 30 January, 1969.
(Google it!)
Summary:  1) we’re not very sexy right now, though 2) we feel strongly that God is using us right where we are; 3) we’re not going anywhere long-term anytime soon, that we know of; 4) we’re hoping #3 changes, in God’s timing; 5) ultimately, we’re content with 1 – 4 and thankful that God’s in charge, despite what we think or feel.

Welcome home dinner after my 5-day trip to the UK

CEO John Dallmann celebrated his birthday at the EMI office
recently. John treated us to a speech in West African pigeon,
complete with translation from Nigerian intern Tolu!

This may be the first non-soccer picture posted on this blog,
but Jonah (#24) has for now decided to hang up his 'football
boots' to play basketball instead. He's loving it!

Graysen's soccer team put together a basketball team in the
off-season at the YMCA too. It was fun to watch
such a good group of little athletes dominate games
with athleticism despite shooting about 10% from
the field! Ha!

Graysen (far right) guest-played on a tournament team in Pueblo
last weekend. The spring Soccer season has begun!

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