We've been in a waiting mode the past few weeks. As many of you know, our world has been turned topsy-turvy by a decision we made in December to move to Niamey because of Suzanne's health and personal needs. The official moving day was this past Monday, January 14.

We're waiting on God to show us the next step. What will we do in Niamey? What is God's plan for us? After 16 years of work in one place, we've been abruptly uprooted and moved to another. While I never doubted that the move to Niamey is the right one, I've been torn by the decision. I've not really wanted to do it and didn't think it was good for me. I asked the Lord for confirmation, and He responded more than once, assuring me this was for the best.

The first confirmation came during our annual field conference held Jan 5-9. Our speaker came from California, and almost everything he said spoke to my aching heart. One picture he painted was of a big building on Fifith Avenue in New York City. When you walk into the lobby, there is a statue of Atlas straining to hold up the world. Walk across the street to St. Patrick's Cathedral, and there you see a small statue of the baby Jesus holding the world in His hands. For a long time, I've felt the burden of the Songhai people on my shoulders. In one way the burden has been ours to bear because there are so few workes amongst the Songhai. In another sense, I've tried to bear a lot of the burden that belongs to God. During conference, that burden lifted, and I placed it back in God's capable hands. For the first time in years, I felt free of that heavy weight.

The second confirmation also came during conference when one of our African colleagues encouraged us by saying that he felt it was time for us to move but that our time in Tera had not been wasted effort in spit of the meager results we had seen. This man knows what he is talking about because he was born and raised in Tera. He currently teaches at Sahel Academy and has taught French to both of our children. He is a believer, but his extended family is not. He said that everyone in Tera knows about Christianity because of us and has some respect for what a Christian is. Even his own family allows him to stay "Christian" as long as it is like what Yaaye (my African name) and his family practice. That is a major step forward, and he says our being in Tera has encouraged him to persevere in his Christian faith. I don't have to tell you that I had tears in my eyes when he told me this.

A third confirmation came the day after conference ended. Nancy handed me the devotional book My Utmost for His Highest and pointed me to the entry for Jan 11. It struck me how it fit our situation so well. Listen to these words: "If we obey God, it will mean that other people's plans will be upset....We have simply to obey and to leave all the consequences with Him." Our friends in Tera did not react very well to the announcement that we would be moving away. They wanted to prevent that or at least mitigate the circumstances of our departure. For some of them, it will mean the loss of a job. Others will not have the teaching and spiritual input into their lives. For others, we've become like family to them. It is very hard to say goodbye. But what Oswald Chambers says applies to our situation very well.

A final confirmation came on Sunday, Jan 13, when our guard, a man who once seemed to have a strong faith but has fallen back some in the past three years, came to our house and said he and the others needed to get back together for meetings and studying. I was encouraged by that crack in the wall. He also commented that I seemed more at peace than I'd been in months, perhaps years. It showed me that this move seems to be the right thing, and I've decided in my mine that it is the right thing to do.

So, how am I going to wait? Our speaker at conference gave three suggestions:
1. Wait on the Lord, not for an answer to my questions. By the way, wait in Hebrew means trust.
2. Wait in a crowd. We'll be waiting with our SIM colleagues and our African brothers and sisters. It's not good to wait alone, as that is when Satan attacks.
3. While waiting, we will do what we can, even when it seems insignificant. God takes small acts of obedience and turns them into great things. The greatest things may be accomplished while we're in a waiting mode.

So, here in Niameywe wait. We are living temporarily in one house for 2 months until another house can be fixed up for us. We are learning to live without plans and by His timetable. We will step forward, and He will give us His power along the way.


Shan said...

John -
I'm really blessed by your perspective, and your words even speak into my situation in life. Please know that I'll be praying for your family during this waiting period...and I pray that God would comfort and uphold your family as you obediently serve him.


Anonymous said...

John I've been encouraged by how God has confirmed His leading in your life. I have been praying for you and the family for some time. You continue to be in my prayers and Elsa's prayers.