Tag Archives: ministry

The New Direction

20130804-172233.jpg MERCER CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

Back to School for Chris!

God has so graciously answered our prayers by giving us clear direction for future ministry. Chris is joining the staff of Mercer Christian Academy located in Princeton, West Virginia as administrator. He begins his duties this school year which excites us and challenges us at the same time!

We are so grateful for those who faithfully prayed for us as we sought the Lord’s direction. Many folk were praying all over the world and we are so very thankful for each of you. We are humbled by the number of you that wrote to tell us how you were praying. Again, thank you so much.

This wasn’t an easy shift for us. Even though we felt God’s patient leading us away, we easily could be tempted to close our ears to His voice and stay in the Philippines. We so loved our time with New Tribes Mission and especially our time in the village with the Banwaon. We have wonderful family there and will certainly visit when The Lord allows. We miss our co-workers so much as they also became family away from home. Our hearts literally ache from loneliness often. Still, we know His voice and we asked for direction – even pleaded at times. He answered.

The board of directors of Mercer Christian Academy were praying and asking The Lord for direction as well. To quote their letter;

“Dear MCA Family:
The Search Committee of the Board has worked very hard and diligently over the summer to interview, evaluate and recommend a new administrator for Mercer Christian Academy. We are happy to report, that after an extensive search and evaluation period, a new administrator was selected and recommended to the Board of Directors. The Board has acted favorably on the recommendation (voting unanimously) to call Rev. Chris Strange to the position of Administrator at Mercer Christian Academy.
I am pleased to announce that Chris has accepted the position of Administrator at Mercer Christian Academy.”

So many are asking us, “What now?”

We are officially in transition into Chris’ new position from our ministry with New Tribes Mission. NTM leadership graciously approved a 90 day period for this huge move. Our ministry account remains open for financial support until October 31. We appreciate those who wrote and assured us they will support us through this transition and even beyond! Thank you so much. Your tax deductible receipts will continue for all donations up to that date. After October 31, any money sent to New Tribes Mission for our names will be returned to the sender.

We don’t know how to thank you. Our prayer and financial supporters are so faithful. We ask The Lord to lead you to continue the wonderful act of worship through supporting missionaries. We would love to introduce you to some incredible missionary friends serving faithfully all over the world should you feel led to continue!

Our Home Assignment schedule is changed as Chris begins the new ministry. We are contacting all those who are affected by the transition. Please write to us if you have any questions. We still hope to visit as many as we can but the dates will be different.

This all changes much! God is already showing us how some of this will work. We will be living in two states as we work through the transitional three months. This necessitates a second car and much travel back and forth. We’ve asked The Lord to find us a safe home in Princeton and we ask you to pray with us in this. He found us a car already so we look to him for the funds for it as well. God has paved a way for Chris to have a room when he is serving at Mercer Christian until we officially move. And, we have a Church Home! We joined Johnston Chapel Baptist Church today.

There are hard decisions ahead. We will be farther from family in NC which is difficult for us all. PR, our son who is living with us in NC, has to resettle there into a new place. We’ve lived out of the country and not owned a home since 1995. In many ways we are starting over right back at square one! Searching for a safe affordable home feels like a challenge to us but we know it isn’t for our God. We trust He will provide all these details and needs. How grateful we are to depend upon Him!
Thank you for lifting these issues in prayer. Pray also, please, that we cling to him and not try to jump ahead of His leading.

Thank you for standing with us as we serve Him,
Chris and Lynne


Bible Camp!

Camp Eating Frenzy!

Camp Eating Frenzy!

Even (ahem) somewhat older folk get all “goose-bumpy” about summer camp! Chris is resident missionary for the week at Mount Hope Bible Camp tucked away near Wayne National Forest in Otway, Ohio.

Christian Camp is for EVERYONE! Most reading this post will be outside the “camper age” unless you are as fortunate as Chris. Some might be in the “camp leader age” and I’d like to encourage those to consider serving the Lord for a short time at Christian camp. And don’t feel too limited because many might not realize it, but Christian Camps are worldwide. When last I checked they are found on six continents. SIX! It is a very worthy service when your faithful commitment to the Lord impacts fellow counselors, kids from all over and their families. Very worthy service. For those readers whose children are in the fortunate “camper age” years – budget and plan Christian summer camp for some of their time this year. Go all out and plan for each year to follow. They are only kids once. Kids all out of the house? Consider donating a week of Christian Camp for some child that couldn’t otherwise attend. Involve your church group to get together and donate enough for a whole group! See? EVERYONE!

Christian Camping might be one of those few places left, at least here in the USA, where Christian kids are out of their comfort zones and free to encourage and support each other. Away from distractions like electronics, sport events and even family, the young camper can meet the Lord, or grow in Him and consider His plan for their life. Trained, cool, young people can come alongside to Biblically guide them through some pretty tough situations they face back home. Lifetime changes can occur. Testimony abounds that Christian camp is where decisions that alter the course of a life form and set up in the heart and mind. Many couples met under the stars at Christian camp.

We love when the young people we meet along our travels keep in touch. Our lives are enriched every single time without exception. We met Brett and Sara Wilson, the couple managing Mount Hope Bible Camp, before we left for field ministry. They were both single serving in music and cabin counselors that year. Sara made the long, expensive trip to the Philippines to help our church team rebuild our jungle home. On her return, she and Brett married and began ministry together in music and camp. Now they are intern-missionaries with InFaith at the camp where they met each other and us! As an added bonus, Chris made it to Christian camp this year :-)!

Oh I almost forgot – It’s loads of FUN!

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Moving Along in Home Assignment

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No, really. We are literally MOVING! Already, the car increased 20,000 miles on the odometer since last September! We’re sharing God’s awe-inspiring story of His work in the lives of the Banwaon Tribe in homes, Bible study groups, Sunday Schools, Meetings, camps, Awana groups, mission parties, prayer meetings, cook outs, and any other opportunity God brings our way.

Surgery and doctor appointments edge into the time as well as moments snatched with family, friends and holidays but it is all part of Home Assignment! Reverse culture shock has been very real this time around as it’s the first time since 1998 that we’ve spent more than a few months away from training or field assignment.

Teens hear about God's work in the Philippines

Teens hear about God’s work in the Philippines

This week, Chris is sharing with senior high students at Christian Camp in Ohio. Please pray that these young people will waken to the need all around them and be sensitive to God’s appointed opportunities to share Christ.

Link to our DATEBOOK page: HERE


Below the Surface

In the second video set from NTM.ORG, you will meet wonderful friends of ours, Ralf and Elli Schlegel.

We had the great pleasure of four years training – start to finish – with these dear co-workers now serving in Papua New Guinea with their team, the Smith’s and the Markley’s.

Enjoy watching these encouraging videos remembering to pray for the families and the new believers desiring to share Christ where God has them.

ChrisLynne


Last Visit into the Jungle (Making Memories)

God fills our lives with good, no – excellent – gifts. They are almost always about people. Well, the best of them are.

This visit into the jungle was squished between all the arrangements of leaving the beautiful country that has become our second home. It’s no joke how packed our time is before the long flight back to the USA. The countdown is on.

List-making Chris has even made lists for me! We have lists to direct us to other lists so we will hopefully not forget anything which might cause our friends here trouble after we leave. We so want to depart with nothing for them to clean up after us. Lord willing, we will finish all our tasks. We appreciate your prayers with us on that!

Here are just a few snapshots of the memories He gave us among our Banwaon Family and Friends.

Part two:

Visits and around the village:

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Last Visit into the Jungle (Getting There)

God blessed our last visit into the jungle with memories, laughter and a flood of tears.

We spent some of our time making final decisions and totally clearing out the house but the best time spent was visiting and enjoying our family and friends there.

Before the meal, we gathered with some of our closest friends in the meeting-house. Thankfully, our partner Albert Castelijn was there to help us are our deepest expression of thanks and love in their language. We shared that just like God instructed us to ready ourselves to leave home and dear family in the USA to come live among the Banwaon, we continue to follow Him where ever He leads. They replied that even though they will miss us terribly the only right way to live is in obedience to God, our Father. They touched our hearts deeply as they added that we might be separated here on this earth but because of God we can look forward to eternity when we have ONE HOUSE in heaven.

During the Pogsalamat (thanksgiving) celebration twenty-seven chickens, one hundred kilo (220 lbs.) of rice, seventeen kilo (37 1/2 lbs.) of noodles (uncooked) and uncounted cans of fish fed hundreds of people (450 – 500!). God is so good. We shared before that this is a month in their ‘hungry season’ before fall harvest so it was especially nice to see folk that were thinner since our last visit enjoy food and laugh with us one last time before our trip for home assignment.

“Difficult” is not adequate to describe our tearful good-byes. “Heart-wrenching” isn’t either! We eternally thank God for allowing us to be a part of the work He is doing there. We thank Him for each of you that helped us do it. We will always feel family-connected to these people and promised to do all we can to come back and visit.
This is part one of our time there. We took hundreds of photos. Check them out below and in following posts.

Getting There:

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All Choked Up

Difficult goodbyes in the Village

We are heading into the village for our last time before home assignment. It’s even hard to type. We found it difficult to think about and dreaded it for months. Our throats close up and tears spring into our eyes before we attempt to control them.

Our partner, Albert Castelijn, flew into the village today to prepare for their family’s arrival. They’ve just returned after almost three years of extended home assignment in Australia getting their oldest children settled into advanced education. We began preparing for our visit.

Oh how we can learn from our dear brothers and sisters in the jungle!

We were full on working our plan for the flight when both of our computers loudly squawked that we had incoming messages at the exact same time. Chris was out in town so I ran from his computer to mine trying to quiet the noise. It was Albert. He was sending out a message that our friends took up a collection for a Pogsalamat (Thanksgiving) with us before we leave!

The news stunned us and then sent us into a flurry of activity. Suddenly we had to shop and weigh and pack everything they ordered (and then some) for a big celebration. We were on full tilt! All the plans for our original flight changed and another flight added. Chickens needed to be purchased – FAST. A lot of chickens. Chris heaved heavy sacks of rice into the truck to go in the plane with us. All those carefully laid plans quickly brushed aside for a time of joy and thanksgiving with our beloved families in the jungle!

It is overwhelming. This is a difficult time of the year for them yet it was on their hearts to give and celebrate with us. July is in their ‘hungry time’ before harvest in September. Food and funds are at an all time low during these months before harvest. Their expression of love literally fills us up to overflowing.

This is one of the most wonderful things we love about the Philippine people! A big celebration at the last minute? NO PROBLEM!

It was just what we needed to put a smile on our faces. Saying “good-bye” is the most difficult thing for missionaries to do. It seems we are always saying it to family and loved ones and feeling our hearts rend with each loss.

Please pray for us. We know it will be in heaven before we next greet some of these brothers and sisters of the Philippine rainforest. Pray that we are able to express how much they mean to us and how we carry each of them in our hearts no matter where we might live on this earth.

Praise the Lord with us as we trust Him to fill in the gaps, heart to heart, what we cannot express in words.


Airstrip Repair — DONE!

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 We are praising the Lord and couldn’t wait to share this news so you can praise Him along with us! Our partners, Albert and Lynne Castelijn sent out this report just now:

Hi everyone,

The time in Ulanguan was amazing. The Lord wonderfully provided in many ways – plenty of workers (even though it’s typically farming season for the Banwaon), tons of good quality stockpiled gravel at a disused logging company quarry about 1 km away, and a truck to haul the nearly 200 tonnes of gravel to the airstrip, along with enough dry weather to make the trip along the old lagging track possible (with a bit of help by building one bridge and a log-lined creek crossing). On top of all that it was a joy to meet with the Banwaon believers and see how they continue to walk with the Lord and reach out with His love (in spite of some real difficulties they are working through).

Probably the best way to summarize the work is to refer to Joel’s list to me which he made after his first survey trip:

  1. Touchdown zone: side slope removed and minimal to no crown. Done. No sideslope, and no crown from 0 – 150’ mark. Then crowning gradually rises from 0” at 150’ mark to 8” at 250’ mark. 8” crown is maintained for the rest of the graveled area ie 250’ – 750’.
  2. Landslide Area: Rrepaired with drainage pipe and packed down and smoothed out and not encroaching on the useable runway. Done. Airstrip now full 40’ wide all the way.
  3. 9% upslope area: sideslope removed and crowned. Done.
  4. Top area by the waiting shed: smoothed out. Done, and 8” crowning to avoid puddles.
  5. Thin packed layer of gravel. Done. It will be interesting to see if erosion is a problem. I have a pile of gravel stockpiled at the side of the airstrip at the 450’ mark for repairs if necessary. There are some areas near the top of the hill which were mostly rocky gravel which didn’t pack down well. I’ve asked the guys to replace this with better gravel, but not sure if they’ll get to it. They are only fairly small patches anyway.
  6. On the grass side of the runway: Two problem areas closer to the top of the hill. Done. We packed river gravel into the dips to level those areas. For those two areas the gravel extends right across the strip to avoid differential braking problems.
  7. On the grass side of the runway: Fill in and smooth out most extreme bumps and dips. Done. Filled in dips with packed river gravel, dug off one bump.
  8. On final approach: bushy green trees above houses cut. Done.
  9. On short final: Cut back hill as close as possible to 50’ from centre of runway. We dug it back as much as we could without encroaching on the school grounds. There was one section left to dig away which I’m hoping they’ll get done in the next 2 weeks. If not, either Chris can get it done, or I can when I return.
  10. On the go around: Trees on the left side of the runway. Done. We cut down about 10 trees there to avoid a steep turn on go around.

Some additional things:

  1. Fill in and smooth out the remainder of the grassy part of the airstrip. We can discuss what more needs to be done when I return in July.
  2. Trees on climbout to avoid making as extreme a right turn on climbout. We cut a lot of trees while I was there, so I didn’t want to tackle this one yet. We can look at it again in July.
  3. Two trees way out on hill affecting airdrops. Done. We actually cut down about 10 trees in that area altogether. Should really help for airdrops (but hopefully we won’t need airdrops anymore).
  4. Short guyabano tree on final approach. Done – cut short. 

Some other things:

  1. Fence at school – we had to build a fence above the steep bank between the road and the school grounds that we dug away. Shouldn’t be an issue for plane I don’t think.
  2. Fence alongside runway – we have built a fence on the left side of the runway at the touchdown area to keep carabao and bikes off the runway. It runs right alongside the runway from 0’ to about 150’, but we put it in the drainage canal to keep it’s height above runway surface a minimum (about 12”-18” above runway surface). The fence then turns away from the runway towards the detachment hill. The start of the fence is my biggest concern because it cuts across the left hand end of the strip (even though it’s over 50 feet before the touchdown marks). You may want this removed – I have told the guys that that part of the fence may need to be removed for flights. We’ll need to come up with a plan for something permanent that is suitable.     
So please continue to pray for the final check out flights before any passengers are allowed to land on our newly repaired strip. God is so good!

God’s Little Gift

Colorful confusion!

Busy missionary moms need a substitute granny on occasion. One mom who is also the pilot’s wife texted that her pilot husband needed to fly into a tribal location which meant she needed to flight follow. Which meant she had to stay by her computer and radio while he was in the air to the village until he returned to the hanger. Which meant her daughter would miss her second day of ballet class. Unless a Lola (Filipino for ‘Granny’) would take her to class.

We are in the sorting, tossing, packing and re-packing stage of our preparations for furlough. It’s overwhelming with all the details of getting cargo shipped to the USA in a month, coordinating several domestic flights for remaining ministry as well as arranging our international flights. All very important, tedious, dry and boring details. All the plans being made then scratched and blocked for no other reason than to teach us humility. And the endless phone calls that end in frustration because the new information doesn’t match the information that was given yesterday that was very critical to us ending up in the United States – together. It was just not a good time for me to take off from all of that.

On top of that, my hair was dirty since I hadn’t planned on leaving the phone or computer for weeks! Or at least until that one room was completely sorted and packed away for the move. Also Chris needed to use the car we borrowed. On top of that I’m feeling burdened that we have two patients from the village in the hospital in a town three hours one way over broken roads and I hadn’t visited in over a week.

And she needed a lola. I’m the only lola here right now. So I washed my face and pulled my dirty hair into a clip, hitched a ride with Chris and his friend and headed to ballet class.

Ballet class! Excited girls of all ages and sizes flitted in colorful, bouncy tutus, tights and ballet slippers. Little beginner ballerinas hopping and twisting and pointing toes in a chaotic display of utter confusion! I smiled then laughed as I chatted with the mothers, dads and lolas in the sidelines snapping pictures at the little dancers every move.

And I prayed. I prayed for my daughter-in-law and my little granddaughters on the other side of the world doing exciting things that I miss forever. I prayed for the grandmothers (and the granddads) on the other side of the world missing forever this moment of beauty their little granddaughters were creating.

And, I thanked God for the gift.


It Takes A Team

Repairs Being Made

This is our first look at the repairs on our airstrip and we were delighted that we could see all the work scraping off the grass and leveling the strip well past the little waiting area we lovingly call the ULA International Airport.

We are very grateful to the Lord for:

  • the many folk that gave sacrificially for all the labor costs and supplies for the repairs
  • our partner, that he could arrange his schedule in Australia to come back to the Philippines for the month of April to do the ground work and supervising
  • for safety for the village people working by pick axe, shovel and muscle power in the blistering heat  *Please pray for unhindered work on their farms as this is normally the busiest time for getting the land cleared and burned before planting
  • for our missionary pilot for his expertise in directing the repairs necessary and his willingness to hold flights until he could make the overland trip into the village to assess the situation first hand
  • for safety for Chris to travel the hazardous roads in a borrowed truck (thank you co-workers!) buying supplies and transporting people and those supplies so they could make the trip into the village
  • for all those who remembered to pray for the whole process and continue until the plane safely returns to our village and for the continued work God is doing among the Banwaon

After all, it takes a TEAM!


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