Thankful for Training

It might surprise you that not all missionary sending organizations prepare both the missionary and their kids.

AG World Missions prepared all year to host, train (and even entertain) “missionary kids” while their parents receive training. The Stewart crew is spending the next 3 weeks in Springfield, MO for missionary training classes.

Missionary life isn’t just an adult thing. Everyone who goes is a part of the work. The Stewart kids will make friends with other African kids, they will get know Tanzanian adults. Just by being kids, they might positively influence others more quickly than any adult missionary.

The AGWM mission kids program is a huge blessing! Members of Team Stewart have not only raised money for us to go to Africa, but also for amazing state-side opportunities like this program. Our awesome team is helping prepare our kids for success.

The growing support team encourages our faith to rise, which causes our joy to increase, and stirs our desire to go!

~Evan

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We Almost Can’t Believe It!

Yesterday we hit the long awaited milestone of 80% raised in monthly partnership pledges.  That’s just 80% in the officially recorded pledges (received by AGWM).  The better news is that we are at 93.6% in total pledges (recorded and verbal)!  All of the remaining verbal pledges are working to get their paper work in.  We should soon see that 93% become the new official level.  Thank you to all of our partners (monthly, one-time, and prayer partners) who are on this journey with us.

And now for the even better news!  Reaching 93% means Team Stewart only needs $346 in monthly pledges before we hit 100%.  3-4-6 dollars!

If you haven’t joined the team, today is a day to do it.  By joining the team with a monthly pledge, you’ll be directly involved with what God is doing in East Africa.  God is at work.  Join the team today as a monthly partner, one-time gift partner, or a prayer partner (click the links to find out how).

God has made the impossible, possible!

In August of 2018, Autumn and I received the final budget and our hearts sank when we read the total monthly budget required – $5,403.  We both thought that was an impossible number to reach.  How could two parents, with one income and busy schedules possibly fundraise over $5,000?  And don’t forget the additional $37,000 needed for the one-time cash fund.  I thought it was impossible.

God taught me it is possible.

It remember the day, last September, when it all changed.  I was reading my bible and found the story of Elisha and the king’s messenger in 2 Kings 6-7.  The capital city of Israel, Samaria, was besieged.  Things were bad.  The king’s army was powerless.  The people inside the city wall were starving.  They were so desperate for food, some even took to cannibalism.  Life was terrible inside the city.  Instead of blaming the enemy for the current tragedy (or even blaming himself), the king blamed Elisha the prophet and he went as far as to blame God (v 6:33).  The king sent a messenger to sneak out of the city and find Elisha and murder him.  Elisha was miles away at his home.  When the messenger arrived, Elisha quickly got to the point and told the misguided messenger that God would rescue Israel.  In essence Elisha said, “You want to be rescued?  All you have to do is ask.  God will rescue you by tomorrow evening.”

The messenger then made the biggest mistake of his life; he doubted God’s faithfulness and kindness.  The messenger boldly declared, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” (v 7:2).  God wanted the messenger to see that “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26), but the messenger could only think “with God no things are possible”.  Elisha told him that God will deliver his promise, but that he (the messenger) wouldn’t receive any of it.  The next day, as promised, God routed the entire enemy army and delivered a huge flow of food and necessities into the starved city, but the messenger died before he could partake in the provision.

After I read that story, I knew I was viewing my situation like the messenger.  In my heart my lack of faith was propelling me to declare “some things” are impossible with God.  God reminded me of the truth.  I went to Autumn and told her that I didn’t want to be the messenger.  I didn’t want to miss out on the amazing, awe inspiring provision of God.  We prayed that night and asked God to open the doors of heaven.  Within three months, by the end of November 2018, God raised the $37,000 for the cash budget.  By January 2019, we were at 50% of our monthly budget goal.  Four months later, we are at 96%.  We are in awe of God’s provision.

In God’s way and in God’s time, he’s inspired numerous people to give their hard earned money and valuable time to partner with us.  Because the financial milestones are being met, we are on track to be in Africa by mid-August.

Don’t be like the king’s messenger.  When he saw difficulty, he thought impossible.  Be like Elisha who saw possibility even in the worst of circumstances.

Your perspective of possibility is directly tied to your perspective of faith.  The Stewarts are daily learning that as our faith rises, our joy increases, which gives us more desire to go after Jesus.

-Evan

 

So Close! At 86% but…

Team Stewart is getting sooooo close to the Monthly Partner goal!  We are at 86% in monthly partnership.  Our giraffe friend is almost completely full.

We are at 86% including verbal pledges.  But we are at 70% with confirmed pledged received by AGWM.

AGWM won’t approve us to go to the next stage (visa paperwork) until the 80% mark is reached in “received” pledges.

We are so thankful for everyone who has sent in their pledges (by mail or online) and very thankful for everyone who has told us they will join the team (we’re already counting you as a team member!).

If you haven’t mailed in the pledge form or filled out the online giving form, we would greatly appreciated you doing so this week.  This will help clear an important administrative step in the process.

We are always looking for new partners to join the team.  The work of Jesus is a team sport.  There is a part for everyone to play.  If the work in Tanzania excites your spirit, then join our team today.  You can be a financial partner (one time or monthly), a prayer partner, and even a story sharer (share our story with others in person or on social media).

When you find life in Jesus, faith will rise, joy increases, and you’ll want to go after Him.

~Evan

 

 

Catch and Release

One evidence that you’ve received a calling from God is that worry will come with it. Sometimes in overwhelming waves.

The worry isn’t from God (and it isn’t always from the devil), but it will come once you begin to take seriously what you have to do to achieve the goal.

When you surrender to God, he will begin to give you big visions for bigger missions. Missions that you never thought possible and missions you never considered yourself qualified to complete. You might not be qualified in terms of past experience, but you are qualified to succeed by virtue of God choosing you.

In Psalms 37:4 you’ll find ‘the premise and the promise’* to, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The logic runs, if you actively delight in God, then he will give you the desires of your heart. Or think of it this way: when you actively enjoy God (premise) he will grant you the desires of your heart (promise).
God is no genie in a bottle and you don’t have to worry if you’re desires are good or bad. The product is in the process. When you delight in God, your desires begin to take the shape of his desires. God loves Jesus, so you will begin to love Jesus more. God loves people, so you will increase in a love for others. God treats people with kindness and compassion, so will you. God thinks big with limitless faith in his power and ability, and so your faith in him will rise too. Your desires begin to match his own desires for your life – therefore he will grant you the desires of your heart because they begin to match his desires!

So, what about the worry? Worry or anxiety is produced when you put your faith in something other than God. When you trust in your own ability (without God’s help) or in the power or ability of someone else, then you should feel worried! The feeling is warranted because you have past experience with yourself and others. You know that other sources of strength will eventually fail. Yet, as you become more familiar with God, your perspective begins to change because you learn that “all things are possible” with God. God doesn’t fail. He never has and he never will.

So, what about the worry? You have the opportunity to release it. Jesus is compared to a Great Physician (Mark 2:17). Worry you haven’t yet experienced is like a broken part of your body that you haven’t yet discovered. Before the big mission idea comes, you’re feeling great and confident. Then the new idea comes and it reveals other deep seated anxiety. Like a doctor telling you to do more exercise and once you begin you discover that your back isn’t as strong as you thought. The new order from the doctor didn’t cause the back pain, it simply revealed the need for stronger muscles. If you stop the exercise, your back might stop hurting, but it certainly won’t get any stronger. Strengthening the muscle will eventually allow the pain to stop.

New anxiety will stop if you give up the mission. Stop following the call and you get to stay in the comfortable setting Jesus found you in. You could even achieve a more comfortable life by stopping, but you will never reveal the fuller life that Jesus has created for you.

Fear or feelings of inadequacy are not the problem! The problem comes once you surrender to them. Feelings of worry are meant to be indicators telling you that you need to move closer to God and lean on his power instead of your own. Like a built-in GPS navigator, God will use anxiety to remind you when you’ve let go of his yoke and are trying to carry forward on your own. Jesus was serious when he said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29-30)

Whenever you catch a vision to follow Jesus, be ready to release the worry.

As you continue to follow Jesus, you’re faith will rise, your joy increases, and the desire to keep going grows.

If Jesus is saying to you “Follow me to Africa”, you can join our team today as a prayer supporter or even a monthly financial partner. Find out how under the “Partner with Us” link in the main menu.

~Evan

*the ‘premise/promise’ framework credited to Rick Warren

Why We Follow Him

Imagine that you were awake early this morning praying when all of a sudden the police entered your home and arrested you on false charges. Instead of taking you to the police station, they take you to the private home of a judge’s assistant for questioning. After the secret questioning, they take you to the Chief of police, also in secret, who then convicts you of a crime without a trial. With a fabricated conviction in hand they take you to the court house, awaken the judge and demand that the judge sentence you to death.

In a matter of a few hours, you go from a free citizen to death row inmate. What would you say to the judge if you were in that position?

Maybe you would demand your rights. Or, demand that you see an attorney. Possibly, you would be live streaming the debacle hoping the legions of social network followers would cry foul and start a national boycott. More than likely, you wouldn’t feel calm.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, on a Friday morning similar to yours, Jesus was caught in this scenario. What did he say when he stood before the Roman judge who had the authority to set him free or sentence him to death?

“Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'” (John 18:37)

That. is. powerful!

Jesus had the moral and the legal right to demand justice. He was arrested in secret, tried illegally, and given a criminal’s sentence. His crime? Testifying to the truth and showing everyone that the love of God is the answer to every evil.

Jesus was focused on his mission. He came to rescue you from the affects of sin. People often blame God for the evils of the world without ever acknowledging that it is we who cause the evil. The human race, collectively and individually, continue to cause evil and suffering yet Jesus came to fix the problem. He came to die so that you might “be reconciled to God. [For] God made him who had no sin to be sin for [you], so that in him [you] might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

Remember his sacrifice today. The murder of Jesus makes this Friday so terribly sad. And yet, it is his voluntary death that makes this Friday so unimaginably good.

Have a reflective and joyful Good Friday as you prepare for an even Greater Sunday.

Houston, we passed 80%

Last week, in a humbling, awe inspiring turn of events, team Stewart passed the 80% mark in monthly partnership!

The Stewart kids offered a Jelly Belly “Bean boozled” challenge for the month of April. The challenge was meant to last all month but people responded quickly….within 48 hours! Our team gained $500 in monthly support before the first week was done.

Even now, we’re hovering around 85% in pledged commitments. This is so exciting!

We sincerely thank everyone whose been praying, providing funding and sharing our story.

God is at work and you can join over 70 other team members and be a part of it.

Our faith continues to rise, our joy ever increasing and our desire to go grows.

-Evan