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New Season, Same Lord

The chill of the late fall in Morocco ushered in the clementine and orange season. We ate them by the kilo! Everyone knew the harvest arrived as men pushed selling-carts down the streets yelling “leetchin” (oranges). From our front door it took a grand total of 3 steps to greet the activity. Besides, at roughly fifty cents a pound who could pass it up!

As Jesus looked out over the crowd he saw a great harvest only steps away. He instructed his disciples in Luke 10:2-- “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Jesus spoke those words after he appointed seventy-two of his disciples to go to every town and place where he himself was about to go. The twelve disciples were symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel. Likewise the “seventy-two” had tremendous import. In Genesis 10, according to the Greek translation, the number of the world’s nations added up to seventy-two.

The significance of this number in Luke indicates God’s heart for all peoples, all nations, all tribes, all tongues, to worship the name of Jesus Christ. “Missions exists because worship doesn’t” (John Piper).

In Luke 10:17 the seventy-two returned with great joy. They were a changed people. Jesus rejoiced with them saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

It was a privilege for us to go to Morocco. We were not alone--God sent many others. We were on a team and welcomed many short-term visitors over the years. What a joy to take part of the many earnest prayers for the people of Morocco to hear the gospel. It certainly didn’t seem like ‘Satan fell like lightning’ when we were there! But in reality God did much more. Jesus’ compassion guarantees it; He is pursuing people far more than any of us could ever imagine.

Our years in Morocco were complicated and wonderful; they were full of significance and deeply emotional experiences. We were marked for life. And I hope we never change.

What a privilege to pray with the Moroccan church as they faced persecution. To teach the redemptive storyline of Scripture and see the lights go on for how the Bible fits together. To watch national pastors persevere with their fledgling flock. To witness how God turned the lies of men into an opportunity to see His name proclaimed. To experience warm hospitality. To know your children are blessed to see how the poor find joy in Christ.

And Jesus points out that the real good news of the mission is to rejoice “that our names are written in heaven”. (Luke 10:20) Our joy is not rooted in what we do but in what He does. In fact, Jesus warns us in v. 20 not to focus on ourselves in the mission. There is a subtle insanity that can creep into our lives as God works through us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The real battle is in heaven. And God wins!

Today we are in a new ministry season, though our Father is the same. The Lord of the harvest, the great Master Gardener, has planted us in St. Charles for the moment. And we are thankful. We are thankful for His grace. For the Mission House. For LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve near the church that Alicia and I so enjoy walking through. We are thankful for you all and the warm reception at New Covenant. We’ve enjoyed rekindling old friendships and making new acquaintances. We’re thankful our children have a place of worship and enjoyment with like-minded families.

Our transition has certainly not been without its ups and downs. In our simple humanity we’ve had many deer-in-the-headlights moments. Do people hug, shake hands, or kiss here? Is it safe that there aren’t bars on our daughter’s first floor dorm room window (necessary in Morocco)? How does the self-checkout line in Meijer work again? Feeling a gravitation pull to go greet someone speaking Arabic in a store. Emotions for friends back in Morocco come at the most unique times. Or how easy it is to tear up with joy for the most common acts we see here. Obviously lots of deeper questions still abide: “Who are we now?” Displaced from our former identity; navigating a shifting culture. Yet the Lord and His people have been exceptionally kind and we return to the fact that our joy is rooted in Him, regardless of the continent the soil is in.

Once the dust settles the exciting thing for us is to serve wherever the Lord plants us. We look forward to laboring in a new field with you all. We want to learn from God’s people and walk with them through life’s many turbulent transitions. We all have this great calling on our lives to make disciples in whatever location the Lord places us in.

We’re looking forward to this next season with you and we are confident that God is with us. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8)

In Christ,
Patrick & Alicia