Wow, I was thinking I could just put together a quick update for you but my list of what you have been a part of is too long.....I suppose that is a great thing to be able to report.
In mid February a team from With Open Eyes hit the ground in Tanzania. What a great pleasure it was to host this powerfully Godly group from the US. They poured into the Maasai Mobile Messengers with encouragement, care and love. I was really impressed with the amount of time invested in just listening to the walks of the MMs, hearing their successes as well as their struggles.
From top: Horsing around during a break. Dr. Winston putting his skills to work practically as well as spiritually. You know how I am about street food....if you ever get to Arusha Don't miss Khanz's street BBQ.
From Tanzania Samaritan's Purse Air Wing brought us up to Yida Refugee camp in S.Sudan so that the team could minister to the Mobile Messengers from the Nuba region which is still at war with Sudan. S.P. also generously allowed us to bunk with them in their camp and gave the team a peek into thier activities with WASH (water, sanitation and hygine) and food distributions for the many thousands seeking refuge from the war.
From top: Church where we conducted our events - this is an upgraded construction WOE assisted with recently as the former building was burned down by muslims a couple of months ago. Air victim of the hard conditions and long civil wars. Guarding food for distribution. Waiting on sorghum and oil to bring home to families. Celebration in the middle of hardship.
left: Now for some fun....one of the great traditions of Nuba is wrestling. It goes back to a time of each side of a dispute picking their best warrior to don wrist knives and see who the god's favor in a battle for blood. Today's wrestling is much more for entertainment but still quite a battle. Somehow we thought we might have a chance and 4 of us jumped in the wring. (Thankfully because of my still healing clavicle our team doctor forbid me from participating). Of the 4 participants on our side 3 came away with not unserious injuries. Luckily earlier in the day we had visited with MSN (Doctors Without Borders) and they opened up their emergency room to us for some much needed stitches. Boys will be boys when our ladies are not there to remind us of our age.
Strategic Planning and Dreaming
As you recall last month at this time I asked you to be in prayer with eleven of us leaders from the Center for Mission Mobilization as we took part in a 5 day long "60 Team Dreaming Event" to identify our driving vision for the next number of years. We wont be calling it the 60 Team Dream and we won't actually have 60 teams (at least not in the next ten years) but we have identified the 60 countries in the world with more than 1 million evangelical believes that we will work to influence towards the unreached peoples of the world with the Gospel. Stay tuned for the big reveal of the name and the plan as we continue to work on our areas of focus.......
Prayers for the Prestons
Please continue to be in prayer with us for the Preston Family. Ashley left Thursday to spend two weeks in Atlanta with them. It is a great chance to love on dear friends of ours and assist during this transition to a new way of life. The YouCaring fundraiser to assist with immediate needs such as some home and bathroom renovations to better accommodate a wheelchair is going great. If you feel a nudge to participate please don's hesitate. Pray that Ashley would be a great help to Dave and encourager to Tammy during this visit.
Spring Break was an amazing time this year. We kicked things off with homemade King Cake and by hosting a MardiGras party to help spread the Louisiana good will to our friends here. Lillian then jetted off to Spain with for a cultural field study with her Rosslyn Academy Spanish Class. Ashley and I took Ella Jade and Duncan for a dual purpose trip to South Africa - to visit some missionary friends and get some down time but to also scout a target ministry location and attempt to recruit for our Catalytic work. We wrapped the visit up with a last minute chance to cage dive with some beautiful great white sharks. Ashley was more afraid of the frigid sea than the sharks. The experience was absolutely incredible and a must do for anyone who travels down that way.
Disciple Now Weekend
This was our sixth year to be a host family for Discipleship Now put on by BlueSky and SWAT Ministries out of Atlanta. What an incredible time. It is wonderful to witness these great college aged kids from the US traveling to Kenya to pour life into teenagers here. A powerful experience for both groups for sure.
Prayer & Praise
We give thanks for the Lord's encouragement week after week as we do our best to serve here and to love each other well. Thanks that though the travel schedule has been heavy this year we are standing strong as a family. Also thanks that our annual time back home in Louisiana is approaching where we get to see many of you face to face. Thanks that a friend Petr is free from his year imprisonment in Sudan and returned to his family. Thanks that I feel in my sweet spot of skill and calling and that each day is an exciting opportunity and challenge to face in His service.
Please pray for Ashley's time in Atlanta and my time "Mr. Momming" it in Kenya :) Pray for the unreached and underserved - that God would send the workers out into the world to share and love all His peoples. Pray that those we are talking to about their most strategic role in His Kingdom would respond to a calling in ministry be it with the CMM or another way to serve.
Dear << Test First Name >>, We appreciate your part in sending us to the frontline of mission mobilization. It is a joy to share our family updates with you. Let us know how we can, in turn, be praying for you! "I always thank God for you, remembering you in my prayers..." - Ashley, Lillian, Ella Jade, Duncan and MacGregor
Transforming the mission field into a mission force
The new year has started off with quite a bang. I spent 7 nights in my own bed and the rest of the nights in Jerusalem, Migdal, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Penang. Without question one of my favorite Januaries in my 45 years.
As a family we were able to strike off of our bucket list a trip to the Holy Land where we were lucky enough to experience Hanukkah, New Year, Orthodox Christmas and my birthday all back to back. I can't recommend this enough as a must do for anyone who wants to more deeply understand the Jewishness of Jesus and the radical earthshaking ministry he practiced on earth.
Ashley and the girls returned to Kenya for the start of school but Duncan and I stayed behind in Israel for an extra spell as I misplaced his passport and we had to reschedule flights....Duncan and I had a great, though slightly stressful, time as we ate at every possible street shawarma joint we could find :) We finally convinced Ethiopian Air that we were not in Kenya but still in fact standing before them in Israel and eventually were issued new flights. The story is long and fun so remind me to share it when we see you this summer.
After a quick laundry marathon and changing of luggage I jumped off to Kuala Lumpur to be trained in "Cultural Intelligence" so that I can better learn to lead teams of multiple cultural backgrounds living in multiple cultures. I'm also willing to share more on that one on one with anyone interested in the details but holy moly was that a super valuable oportunity and I have no doubt it will pay huge dividends for our ministry over the long haul.
From Kuala Lumpur I jumped over to Singapore where Ashley met up with me to start our South East Asia Team visits. (Thanks to Joan and Ken Stewart for traveling from the US to stay with our children in Nairobi. They loved time with the grandparents!) Singapore was AMAZING and we had the great pleasure of being hosted by our beloved friends Jesse and Stacie Price along with their super star kiddos who have the blessing to live in this very interesting city-state.
Next Ashely and I traveled to Penang to meet up with both of our SE Asia teams for a time of reflection and retreat. Our chance to do our part to help ensure they are healthy and whole as they serve His great Kingdom. It was not all prayer, reflection and "caring" as I was also able to get some strategy and planning time in with my team leaders. A highlight for me was being presented with our just contextualized and printed Chinese versions or our Xplore and GoMobalize Bible Studies by our team.
Are you excited by and interested in playing a vital part in our work? If so please consider joining our monthly financial anchor team at www.mobilization.org/magruder.
At the end of the day I can also look back and realized I spent a good deal of January eating my way across Arabia and South East Asia. So much street food so little time :)
From top: Penang is famous for all manner of street art. Chinese versions of some of our resources fresh off the press. Doing "strategery" with a team leader. The region was celebrating Chinese New Year - its the year of the Fire Cock y'all. Street food, did I mention how hard it is to get down a street that has hundreds of fast food options? The little hut where we accomplished a lot of our team retreat discussion sessions. Teams gathering to bless dinner.
Well, I still feel like I have so much more to share about life and ministry but I better hold off as I'm told our newsletter are too long......so I will save something for next month. Instead I'll leave you with a little bit of Kenya fun in the photo below. I'll leave the captions up to your imagination.
Prayer & Praise
Please pray with us for:
Pastor Petr Jasek - sentenced last week to life in a Sudanese Prison. You've been praying for him and we hold in confidence that God has a plan for his time in prison while lawyers and ministries work for his and his compatriots' freedom.
David Preston - as he continues to recover from a stroke. Big news is that he is released to home health care and continues to get stronger.
My time in Tanzania and S.Sudan - I will be in the field with a team from With Open Eyes mobilizing indigenous missionaries to the unreached starting Saturday this week.
Additional recruits for our ministry. We are pushing towards final planning on a "60 Team Dream" in the most strategic locations in the world to complete the Great Commission. Pray with us that the workers will flow towards this with our dreams.
For our next round of 60 Team Dreaming where we will gather 11 of our ministry leaders from around the globe in a final planning push "somewhere" in the middle east in a couple of weeks.
Please give thanks with us for:
All of the above prayer needs. Through challenges we get to see God's provision and glory come forth.
Our kiddos doing so well with all of the ongoing travel and me being on the road so much this season. I promise I'm gearing up to refocus on them very soon.
A marvelous close to 2016 and a 2017 that is so bright we have to wear shades.
Speaking to me today:
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
"God has rigged the world so that it only works when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, when we live by faith. All attempts to find a safer life, to live by the expectations of others, just kill the soul in the end."
We appreciate your part in sending us to the frontline of mission mobilization. It is a joy to share our family updates with you. Let us know how we can, in turn, be praying for you! "I always thank God for you, remembering you in my prayers..."
- Ashely, Lillian, Ella Jade, Duncan and MacGregor
Transforming the mission field into a mission force