Prepare the Way

We had our final evening of Lenten worship at Bethel tonight. From where I was standing it seemed like a wonderful time for reflection and prayer. I led the congregation through a few guided prayers while offering songs of worship and devotion. I also shared briefly a few thoughts that had come upon me this afternoon regarding Luke 10:1-3 and the call of preparing the way.

After these things the Lord appointed seventy-two others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go …

My thoughts went something like this: As one who has often had opportunity to guide others into moments of worship, I think I have often come to think of preparing the way as a call to ready our hearts. There is a tendency to want to sing the song Prepare the Way as a worship service begins – that we might open our hearts preparing the way for Jesus to meet us. Our small worship team at Bethel has even taken our name from this song. We are Prepare the Way. Here’s the thing … Jesus is already among us as we gather. While there is a sense of this preparation that may be valid, there is a greater call to prepare the way. In Luke 10, Jesus sends the workers into fields that need cultivation. He sends the 72 into the places He intends to soon go. They are to cultivate the fields. Ready the land. Till the soil. They are called to create a culture that is ready to welcome the kingdom and allow the word of God to find good root when it is scattered about. Such is our task. May we work to cultivate a culture wherein Jesus will be welcomed and within which the Spirit might move in power for the glory of God. From now on, I think I must consider the song Prepare the Way as one of sending, not of gathering.

May you be allowed times of reflection and repentance as we enter Holy Week.

Lifting the nations in prayer.

Praying the Way Forward

Today, we want to ask that you would join us in concerted prayer for our way forward in kingdom service. We are coming up on three years of service with WMPL in the home office. There are opportunities which continue to present themselves to us. We’ve begun a renewed effort to consider our possible involvement with freeWord and the Doyle family. Pray for clarity and clear direction as we consider this.

You may have heard that we will work remotely this summer. As Adrienne has three siblings getting married and I have one cousin doing the same, we figured it best to station ourselves in the state of Indiana. We still have many logistical issues to sort for this setup to work through the coming months. Pray that we might find time and ease in these preparations. Also, as we will be in the neighborhood of so many friends and family, we intend to devote some of our weekends to being with the church families with whom we have once been connected. During these weekends, we hope to share of our current work with the Prayer League. Let us know if your congregation would like to host us and give us such opportunity during the months of May-July. Ask God to provide opportunity for such kingdom connections.

We also continue battle illness. We’ve all encountered a good deal of it this winter. Thankfully, the weather has finally turned in Minnesota. Let’s hope it is hear to stay. Even so, still pray that we might find our way to some decent health.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our work and our family. If you’d like to begin receiving email notifications of new non-photo posts, you can sign up for those on the site. If you’d like to financially give to our work, you can find info at vandercar.net/give.

Here are a few recent posts that might be of interest:
Navigating Decisions with Spiritual Discernment
H
ello Old Friends!
Clarifying 72° & freeWord
Meeting & Celebration
The First WMPL Newletter

Please let us know if there are any concerns or joys in your life. May our faithful God watch over your coming and going this day. Be encouraged by these verses. We considered them this morning during staff Bible study.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

The First WMPL Newsletter

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Every so often I find my way across the hall and into the archive room of the World Mission Prayer League. The four cinder block walls contain a treasure trove of historical significance. Shelves are laden and boxes are filled with documents, photos, books, reports, obsolete technology and other intriguing items. Adam and I spent an hour or so this past week poking around. While he investigated a number of maps and other rolled posters, I randomly browsed old newsletters that had been boxed away in manila folders. One of the first I pulled was the very first newsletter distributed to those “among us” in the Prayer League. It is an advent-laden document. Written by Paul Lindell in February 1947 (months after Ernest Weinhardt’s death and within a year of John Carlsen accepting a call outside the Prayer League), it presents the foundation for a number of structures still in place and integral to the current identity & operational framework of WMPL.

Together in Prayer

Many requests have come to us both from our missionaries and friends for some sort of monthly news circular or report of what is happening in the Mission. Many things cannot be reported in WORLD VISION but should somehow be made known to “ourselves” and our praying friends so that we can be in closer touch all through the ranks and unite in prayer about them. To try to meet this need in a small way we hope to get together the most important matters each month and circulate them “Just Among Ourselves”. This will be the first letter. We hope that you will keep us supplied with fresh up-to-date information about yourselves and your work and that you will feel free to make any suggestions which will help to strengthen our fellowship in the furtherance of the Gospel.

The Directorate

The question was raised at a recent Council meeting as to how the Council and the Executive Committee could be relieved of having to meet so often to go over many detailed affairs … And so the suggestion was made that in place of calling the executive committee together so often a small committee composed of lay men could be formed to assist the General Director in caring for the details of the work and in making decisions.

The Mission Handbook

For a long while we have felt the need of having a handbook of principles and practices to cover the general work of our Mission. We lack that unifying factor and have felt keenly the lack of it when facing certain problems which arise. In a faith mission like ours it appears increasingly necessary and important that we adopt certain general policies of operation. Without any question one of the strong points of the China Inland Mission, for example, has been their careful and faithful adherence to the lines of their calling as clearly set down for all to see. You will be interested to know that a rough sketch has been drawn up for such a handbook and that the Council now has it under consideration. I suppose that after the Council has had an opportunity to work it over, it will then be sent to the fields for their consideration. It is still too rough to be sent out to all of you, but when it has been knocked around here first and cleaned of its rough edges then you will all get a copy to study and can make suggestions for its improvement.

Briefing Course

We have been thinking of ways by which new candidates can be thoroughly taught in the vision, the work, and the policies of the Mission before they leave for the field. Experience has been showing the great importance of this. We have felt the need for a Mission Candidates Course in which such instruction can be given. No exact plans have been made yet but we are thinking of having such a course twice a year for six weeks. During this time all the candidates or prospective candidates will live at the Mission Home where the course will be given and will have much time for prayer, open forum, fellowship, and instruction. Perhaps in some cases more time will be needed. If so, a longer course can be arranged.

In addition to laying the groundwork for a managing body, a governing document, an internal monthly publication, and a missionary training course, this letter touches on a few other items. I consider the following thoughts to be not only timely for the Mission in 1947, but essential today, as together, we navigate a new landscape.

At the annual meeting of the Mission last fall, Rev. Conrad struck a key note for the coming year by reading the well known passage in Isaiah, “Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes.” It has been a feeling with us that we have been in grave danger of running ahead of the Lord in many of the plans which we have entertained. At the last Council meeting this was especially emphasized. There is a need for strengthening our stakes, consolidating our gains. Before we know it we may be out beyond our depth and be unable to swim. And so it was felt that we should take a firm hold of those things which the Lord has clearly given us to do and make strong our stakes. With this in mind the Council set itself to review our work and then make such adjustments as seemed to be necessary.

As a Prayer League, we commit ourselves (not only as individuals, but as a body) to the Way of the Cross. We believe the Triune God – in faithfulness, love, and life – is at the heart of mission. He is the heart.

In these days, as we do life together as a Prayer League, may we learn from those who have gone before, those who have trod the path and blazed a way forward, those who embraced a vision and invited others into its realization. And, may we remember the One who first unveiled the vision and laid the path we now tread. May we continue in His way and keep our eyes set on Jesus. Let us pray these things.

Read the full newsletter.

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Three Years

Our little girl turned three this weekend. If you’ve not yet had a child of your own grow to the age of three, let me tell you that three years pass like the blink of an eye (and a thousand years are as a day). I can’t help but thinking that taking a similar journey four more times will bring her to the age of 15 – only four more times!

We had an informal gathering at the mission home with an ice cream bar, some punch, and a few veggies. We were able to connect with a number of our family via appear.in. Before bed, we opened a few gifts and had pink cake. Many thanks to all who sent greetings, cards, gifts and to those who made for a joyous day for this girl.

Happy birthday, Aelah! We love you! Jesus loves you!

Meeting & Celebration

This past weekend members of the WMPL fellowship gathered together in prayer during our annual meeting and celebration. After some light refreshments, we began in worship by singing Come, Thou Almighty King and Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me. A number of our missionaries were able to join us and give brief reports on the work God has been doing in them and through them. Jeff gave a brief report on the state of our finances throughout this past year. We expressed our gratitude for those who were completing a term of service with the Home Council and welcomed those who had been newly elected. The Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba shared a message with us about being ‘dove’ missionaries – those who declare both the total justice of God and the total grace of God – those who do not return. We joined in prayer for the work of God in this world and closed with the song Build Your Kingdom Here as our prayer. Then, Sunday evening and Monday saw the Home Council meeting at our offices.

If you missed the event, here are a few images from the day. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Giving Up & Taking Up

Ash Wednesday and Lent are now upon us. I’ve always encountered some internal struggle when this season of the church year comes calling. It is common practice for Christians to give something up for Lent – to fast from that which might be detracting from a walk with the Lord. Though many things to distract in my life, I am always at a loss as to what I might give up for Lent. I may even begin to feel guilty that I can’t identify that one thing that should be given up. In the end, I give up nothing.

I fault no one for the ‘giving up’ of something during Lent. I appreciate the tradition and recognize its value. However, it seems I often take a different gait as we journey through Lent.

I think, at the core, we all aim to give up so that we may take up. In giving up and in surrender, we find that we may then daily take up the cross of Jesus.

Lord, as we enter this Lenten season, remind me of my humanity and mortality. We are here on this earth for a fleeting moment in time. May we turn to you and devote these days to the lifting of Your name in our midst and among all nations. Amen.

Lenten Prep at Bethel

I’ve been trying to write this week. As I’ve mentioened, our pastor is on sabbatical. In his absence, I was asked to facilitate our midweek Lenten services and to use the opportunity to introduce our congregation to World Mission Prayer League and to explore the way of the cross from the perspective of an international fellowship. I’ve taken most all this week to retreat from the office, seek some places with less distraction and few interruption, so that I can focus an prep for the coming weeks.

Four days in and I’ve done little more than hit a wall. I’ve come to realize that it has been at least three years since I have regularly engaged in this work of program planning, devotional writing, worship prep, etc. For three years, I have been honing computer skills, pushing code about, and troubleshooting tech issues around our office. It seems I am somewhat directionally challenged in these days and am finding it quite difficult to find my way back into the mindset of creative spirituality.

Please, pray for me today, tomorrow, and throughout Lent as I prepare these evenings of worship and prayer. Thank you.