Rest brings Results

Resting on the Vine

The biggest challenge in front of us right now is building partnerships with other people.  We need people who want to join our team to pray for us and send us to Africa through their financial support.  This requires that Autumn and I first prayer for God to speak before us and on our behalf; that he will call out to the people he wants to join our team.  The next requirement for us is to do the asking.  We have to call, write to, visit, speak with, or in some way contact the people God puts on our minds or brings to our attention.  This requires action on our part.  We know that God is doing the bulk of the work (and we thank him for that!) but we also know that he wants us to partner with him in this mission – to co-mission with him.

Even with God on the team, co-missioning can lead to stress and extra busyness.  We already have a full schedule in life with jobs, raising kids, teaching kids, training kids, community volunteering, and everyday fellowship with friends and family.  These are all good things and none of them can be cut out of the schedule (although reworking the schedule is sometimes needed).

So how can we do it without the burnout?  Some people say that “God won’t give you more than you can bear.  So, just keep working at it.”  The truth is that God loves giving his children more than they can bear because it forces us to realize that we cannot do life well without his help.  Jesus taught that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26), but nothing is truly possible without him (John 15:5).

Going further, Jesus continued that the only way to accomplish anything of lasting value is to first rest in him.  To do, you must be still.  (Master Jesus was teaching this sage advice long before Master Yoda came around!)

Jesus didn’t say we must not do; rather he taught what we must do.  We must stop trying on our own and rest in him.  Read John 15 and notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “the one who does good things bears fruit.” Neither does he explain, “the one who works for me bears much fruit.” He didn’t say, “the one who tries earnestly and intentionally will bear the fruit.”

He says, “the one who abides in me will bear much fruit…the one who abides in me and I in him.”

Abide means:

  • to stay or live somewhere
  • to remain or continue to remain with/in
  • to accept or bear (someone or something bad, unpleasant, etc.)

If I remain, stay, and continue in Jesus and he remains, stays, and continues in me, then I will bear much fruit.  Yet, abiding is still not a work for me to do in the sense that I know work.  Abiding is an action, but it is the action of staying.  Don’t move to work, but stay and be worked through.  Using Jesus’ analogy, a vine produces the fruit and Jesus said he is the vine.  Does a grape have to do anything itself to become a grape?  No.  As long as the grape stays connected to the vine and the vine remains healthy, then the budding grape will form into a fully formed grape.  The true vine will always be healthy and full or produce – it’s the grape in this case who has the choice to remain connected or wiggle itself off.  Jesus wants me to simply stay on the vine, remain in the vine, live on the vine and the fruit which the Vine produces will be counted as mine.  The fruit produced by Jesus becomes mine.  More certainly, what I become in Jesus is the fruit he produces.

The Stewart family has a huge task before us and Jesus wants us to stop doing without him and let him work.  As we learn to rest in him, he will show us what to do.  This kind of work won’t lead to burnout but to glorious joy.  This principle is as counter-intuitive as when Jesus said, “to find your life you must lose it” (Matt 10:39).  To live I must die and to produce I must rest!

How well are you resting in the Vine?  Today, seek God in prayer asking for the light of the Holy Spirit to illuminate this great mystery of abiding.  Jesus has work for you to do.  The vine gives the instructions to the grape and the grape simply does what the vine provides.  What does Jesus want you to do?  How does he want you to be on co-mission with him?

If he is stirring your heart to pray for the Stewarts, let us know by signing up for the prayer team and start praying.  We need it!  If you are moved to provide financial support, we welcome you to the team as a monthly partner or one-time financial supporter.  See the Monthly Partner page or the One Time Gift page for information on how to give.

To truly live is to fully die and to abundantly produce is to wholly rest.

Your faith will rise and your joy increase as you go after Jesus.

-Evan

Advertisements

Emma the Brave: Emma’s Story

Emma the BraveAs Autumn and I decided to say yes to Africa, we knew we had to include our kids in the process.  God is not calling only the adults to missions.  He called our family.  The culture shock alone will cause plenty of stress on the kids.  We didn’t want them to have to spiritually prepare for the mission work once they got to Africa.  So we asked them to join us in prayer and discussion about the upcoming adventure.

Emmanuel is our quiet thinker.  She thrives when things are in order.  The uncertainties of planning for a two year trip with a yet-to-be-determined move date doesn’t sit well in her orderly perspective.  Autumn and I knew she was interested in going, but we weren’t sure how she was processing the change.  She prefers to think it through rather than give hollow answers.

Last night, she came to me with a smile and asked me to read her story.  I thought it was one of the many short stories she loves to write.  Instead, she handed me a deeply thoughtful journey of faith.  This is a proud parent moment.  Below is Emmanuel’s story, written by her with no input from us.  A little girl, with strong trust in Jesus – Emma the Brave.

Why God is sending me to Tanzania Africa

By Emmanuel Stewart.

One day my family got a call from God to go to Tanzania Africa. So we (my brother and sister) have to tell people why we think God called us to Tanzania Africa. We have to speak in front of a lot of people. Sometimes we have to speak in front of children churches. Most of the time I don’t have to say anything, but other times I have to say a bible verse or two. It is kind of embarrassing, but I can handle it.  Sometimes I am embarrassed to go into a store by my self.  I have to work on being brave because there are going to be a lot of scary things in Tanzania like red ants, green slimy bugs that fly and black mamba’s.  It can be scary, but I am willing to face that when I go. God sent my family to teach other pastors to keep following Jesus even in hard times and to teach children churches because they don’t have them. And to help the people there to learn more about Jesus.

I think God called me to Tanzania to teach children to read and write and to tell people more about Jesus. And, I would be willing to teach children church classes.

“Be strong and courageous don’t be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Like Emmanuel, how is Jesus asking you to say yes to his mission?  Have you heard him calling, but the road ahead looks scary?  A mission of God-sized proportions wouldn’t be a true mission without huge obstacles.  God doesn’t want you to do the work on your own; he wants you to join him.  It’s not the Great Mission, but the Great Co-mission.  Partnership with him is required.  The lesson Joshua learned thousands of years ago is the lesson Emmanuel is learning along with the whole Stewart family.

Whatever Jesus asks of you, learn to say yes.  If he asks you to go, then go.  If he asks you to give, then give with cheerfulness and joy.  If he’s placed the Stewart family on your heart for monthly financial support, we would love to welcome you onto the team.  You can submit a Commitment form for monthly partnership or sign up to start giving now.  Either way will help us reach the monthly goal.  See our Partnership page for how to join the monthly team.

The goal is to always be ready and willing to say yes to Jesus.  You aren’t expected to do it alone; he invites you to do it with him.  Be blessed as you say yes.

-Evan

No Rain Catcher? No Church.

What would you do if a new zoning rule in your city forced your local church building to close?  Maybe you would:

  • quickly comply with the new rule?
  • petition the City Council?
  • call a religious liberty lawyer?
  • be content and go to another church?

But, what if you couldn’t do any of these?  This is what Christian brothers and sisters are facing in Rwanda.  A new zoning rule enacted by the national government effectively closed many churches around the country.  Our team in Tanzania provided this report:

To help meet the demand for clean water in Rwanda, authorities are now requiring public buildings to install rainwater catchment systems to provide clean water for the population and to cut down on erosion from runoff. This requirement, if not met, will mean the churches without water catchment systems to be closed.

Most Rwandans are subsistence farmers, cultivating a small portion of land and making ends meet day to day. They do not have any margin for unexpected expenses such as this. Currently, more than 50 of our Rwanda Pentecostal Assemblies of God churches have been closed or are being threatened with closure due to increased government regulations. One of their biggest hurdles is their inability to afford a water catchment system. (sourceThankful for the Gift of Water“)

Right now, 50 churches within the Rwanda Assemblies of God network have been or are facing closure.  That’s just within the AG network! Not to mention any other place of worship in the country.

What might look like a minor rule upgrade (and even a well-intended one) has the long-term effect of closing the door to many Christian church buildings.  In most cities and towns in America, this wouldn’t be a huge obstacle to overcome.  Many congregations have the money in their budget to hire a contractor to install a new gutter system.  Many congregations have members who work in construction who could design and install a rainwater catching system.  Not in Rwanda.  Something you might take for granted in America is a serious hurdle for Christians in Rwanda.

Our team in Africa is there to help church leaders find solutions to issues just like this.  The Stewart family is excited to go to East Africa to not only offer help in completing projects like this but to offer encouragement to the leaders who feel discouraged by these setbacks.

Want to help?  One way you can help is by sending financial support to the Africa Oasis Project by way of the Assembly of God World Missions organization (our sending organization).  Follow this link to find out how. (it takes you to our team leaders’ blog!)

Second, you can join Team Stewart by becoming a monthly financial support partner.  By pledging your commitment for monthly support, you will get us to Africa.  We must form a team of partners to fund $5,405.00/month before we receive final approval to move.  The faster we recruit team partners, the faster we get to Africa to join the help.

Whether you send financial support to the Africa Oasis Project or send it to us, your gift will make an impact in the lives of many people in Rwanda and the surrounding regions.

You may not be able to go to Africa and you might not feel called to Africa.  But God might be calling you to support the His work happening around the world.

Pray and consider how you can say “yes” to the mission of Jesus.

-Evan

Matching Challenge

When God calls you to a task, he will give you all the tools you need to compete the task.  The process of becoming Missionary Associates has taught us this truth time and again.

Yesterday, our home church family, Life’s Journey Christian Fellowship, blessed us with a surprise gift – a $10,000 matching challenge!  Pastor Casey and the elder team will match up to $10,000 for our cash fund goal.  Our family at LJCF can give financial support for our team directly to LJCF by noting on their check or payment that the money is intended for the Stewarts.  Each dollar given will be matched by the LJCF missions fund up to $10,000.

Not a member of LJCF?  That’s OK.  You can join the blessing too.  Send your support to:

Life’s Journey Christian Fellowship
PO Box 1915
Colstrip, MT 59323

Our one-time cash goal is set at approximately $37,000.  In two months, we already have $5,400 in cash support locked in from other awesome team members.  With this new matching challenge, that means we could be at $25,400 by the end of the holiday season (if not sooner)! We will be at nearly 70% of our cash goal raised within 4 months of being approved for the mission work.

This is God at work in the lives of his people! When this journey started we were over whelmed by the amount of money needed.  We told God that there is no way we can raise this money on our own.  He answered back, “I know.  You’re exactly right – you can’t do this on your own.”

A Bible story read at Sunday service a few days later gave us the answer.  In 2 Kings 7, the people of Isreal were surrounded by an army and the city under seige.  This was a desperate time with famine and the people never once turned to God.  Finally, in the hour of severe despair, a servant of the king went to the prophet Elisha and mostly complained that God wasn’t helping them.  Elisha responded like, “Oh, you want God’s help.  Sure, he’s been here the whole time.  He’ll solve your problem in 24 hours.”  But the servant boldly declared, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” (2 Kings 7:2. NLT)

I was convicted by the faithlessness of the servant.  I read it to Autumn again and we both agreed that we wanted to be opposite of this guy.  That night we prayed for God to open the heavens.  He is a good, good Father and the best program director.  When he says go (and he has clearly said it!) he provides all the supplies needed to make the going happen.  Since that night, we have seen the heavens open up and God pour out all that we need in amazing, we-never-could-have-imagined-it ways.

We want you to be encouraged and your faith inpsired by these stories.  When God tells you to go do something, don’t let the impossibleness of it keep you from going.  He will provide what you need to accomplish what he calls you to do.  You trust him and walk forward knowing he will keep your paths sure.

As God is stirring your heart to join our team, be apart of this match challenge.  It doesn’t matter how big a gift you send.  First pray and ask God how he wants you to join our team and what he wants you to give.   Then do it.  Keep us in your prayers and keep saying “yes” to any opprotunity to follow Jesus that he places in your day.

-Evan

If You Missed it, Catch the Podcast

Our radio interview just aired on Montana’s own Christian radio station, Your Network of Praise.  If you missed it, you can listen to it on YNOP’s podcast site.

Thank you to the YNOP staff for blessing us with the opprotunity to share our story and for the additional encouragements.

YNOP podcast featuring Evan and Autumn Stewart

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/ynop/episodes/2018-10-01T13_47_12-07_00

 

There were other interviews aired on the Day of Hope too and you can hear them again on the YNOP Podcast home page: https://ynop.podomatic.com/

Radio Interview today – 2PM Mountain time!

Be sure to tune into Montana’s own Christian radio station, Your Network of Praise, to hear our interview with the YNOP staff.

Find your station or listen online at ynop.org.

After an already awesome lineup of guests for the YNOP Day of Hope, our interview is air between 2 PM (Mountain time).

Start listening now to hear more about the ministry of YNOP.  Online at https://radio.securenetsystems.net/cwa/index.cfm?stationCallSign=YNOP

Freedom in Preparation

The following was written by the oldest Stewart kid, Abigail.  This is a proud parent moment when your child can see the bigger picture in life and find peace in it.

Abigail Freedom

FREEDOM!!!!!! I decluttered my room today (also my mind). For the first time I was actually 100% exited to go to Tanzania! I was like WOW it is sooo clean, then as I was eating breakfast I looked at all the stuff I got rid of and thought of how it was before it was clean. I thought of going to Tanzania with all the stuff I got rid of in my room…… And I felt depressed about going. Then I thought about my clean room and Tanzania and felt good. Then I realized that all the stuff in my room was controlling my mind to think I couldn’t leave that stuff behind. All the stuff that I thought I loved really was just making me feel trapped and not ready to follow Jesus. So if you feel like you can’t get rid of stuff just know that you NEED to clear that stuff out so you can have a free mind and be ready to follow Jesus. (and so it’s more enjoyable).

– Abigail

Continue reading “Freedom in Preparation”