July 18, 2023
The time of prayer and fasting July 7-8 was a rich and meaningful experience for many in our MB family. I pray we continue to seek the Lord through prayer and fasting, simply being in His presence and worshipping Him. It’s a “hungering after God” rather than being hungry and then pursuing food. Hunger pangs are just the reminder to pray. May the Lord change us and help build His Kingdom through us!
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12
1. As I’ve been saying for the past many months, thank you to so many of you who continue to pray for my wife, Janna, and her health issues. Praise the Lord that much of the swelling has dissipated in her left leg and ankle. We now believe the cause, or at least part of the cause, is a defective heart valve. Please pray for wisdom as we navigate this next step (medicine or valve clip insertion) in her health recovery.
2. I’ll be heading to Birch Bay, Wash., on Thursday to spend some time with the good people at Birch Bay Bible Community Church over the weekend. It’s about as close to Canada as you can get and still remain in the U.S. With temps at 100+ here in Oklahoma, I’m also looking forward to some cooler weather.
3. Please pray for our USMB staff as we begin making some transitions. J.L. Martin, current pastor of children and families at Hesston (Kan.) MB Church will begin serving full-time as USMB bookkeeper/event planner on Sept. 1. He’ll serve alongside Donna Sullivan for a time as he learns the financial system and tries to glean at least a portion of the many, many things Donna knows about “pretty much everything USMB.”
4. The new line-up of LEAD Cohorts is taking shape for this fall. Be watching for the new listing, and make sure to sign up for one. LEAD Cohorts have been a fantastic way for our USMB family to connect and learn together. There are countless stories about people developing close relationships through these cohorts even though they might live a long distance geographically from each other.
5. The Southern District Conference will hold its biennial convention July 27-29 in Hillsboro, Kan. I’ll be attending, and I’m looking forward to being with pastors and leaders from this district. The Eastern District Conference will hold its convention in mid-September in Lenoir, N.C. I’ll be attending that convention as well.
6. You may have already heard that Rudi Plett, current ICOMB (International Community of Mennonite Brethren) executive director, will be ending his tenure Dec. 31, 2023. Elton DaSilva, current executive director of the Canadian MB Conference of Churches will take his place beginning Jan. 1, 2024. Elton will conclude his service with CCMBC this fall in preparation for taking on this new role with ICOMB. Bob Davis is now our USMB ICOMB representative. Be sure to connect with Bob if you have any questions about ICOMB.
7. The CORD program, with oversight from the Integrated Immigrant Council, continues to gain momentum. This is a platform where existing MB churches can partner with a Congolese church (MB). We have had donations of almost $22,000 toward the MB Foundation match of $27,500! Several individuals/couples and churches have made significant donations to this exciting program. Please feel free to join in. But, please, please, please don’t shift your support for your church, district or USMB to give to CORD – make this an additional way of serving and giving.
8. My wife and I decided to change out several square feet of carpet for “wood-looking” tile in our home. Although we had some help for laying much of the tile, it has still required a lot of work on our part. Some of you can empathize with my sore knees (even though I wore knee pads) and sore hands (grouting).
9. Several Zoom meetings and on-site meetings are on my calendar in the next couple of weeks. There are always significant issues (concerns) that are on my plate – prayers are appreciated.
10. The plan for our next USMB pastor’s gathering and national convention is taking shape. Mark your calendars for July 23-25, 2024, for the pastor’s conference and July 25-27 for the national convention. This is known as USMB Gathering 2024 and will be held at the Doubletree Downtown Hotel in Omaha, Neb. The theme for this gathering is “Salt and Light: Faithful Living in a Secular Culture.” There will be some top-notch guest and in-house speakers, inspiring worship, informative breakouts and great fellowship. Please join us!
11. The search for the next national director has begun. The USMB leadership board has hired a consultant to help with the process of finding just the right person for the task at hand. Please pray for this process and for finding the right person! Again, I’ll be retiring Aug. 15, 2024, just following USMB Gathering 2024 in Omaha, Neb. The plan is for me to work alongside the next national director for a short season prior to the convention.
12. Please pray for our expanding USMB staff. God has sent us amazing workers, and the staff continues to slowly grow. These people are dedicated to serving Jesus through serving our USMB family. They work hard and are so very gifted. I thank God for each one: Donna, Connie, Janae, Brian, Henri, J.L., Lori.
13. By the way, Brian and Henri need to raise funds for their ministries as do I. Church giving continues to wane or is at minimum static, so fundraising is becoming more and more of a necessity if we are to provide the many ministry initiatives that truly make a difference. There is much to do. You can help us by going to our website.
14. Overall: Please pray for me that the Lord might grant discernment, direction, stamina, energy (added to the list), wisdom, compassion, understanding, gentleness and grace. Thanks for your prayers!
USMB National Director
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