We just returned from a wonderful few days in Marysvale, Utah, at the Northwest Baptist Missions Annual Conference. It was encouraging and refreshing to hear God's Word proclaimed by several different speakers, and spend time fellowshipping with other missionary pastors and Christian laborers from around the Western US.
During one of the sessions, the speaker mentioned Matthew 16:18, directing attention to the Lord who builds the church: "I will build my church.” This verse in particular is usually referenced in defense against Roman Catholicism’s position that Peter was the first pope. However, it is particularly comforting to missionaries and church planters, because it tells us that we are not ultimately responsible for the success of planting a church.
Yes, there is labor; and yes, God has called us and others to go and work in the fields to see churches planted and grown. Yet when we realize that, ultimately, God is the one who builds the church - or, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" - a great weight of fear is lifted from our shoulders.
At the same time, realizing that God is the one who transforms individual lives and builds the local church, we should be driven even more to our knees interceding with Him to use us as laborers and vessels to see His work progress and His glory proclaimed.
God also worked in a tremendous way during the conference to practically double our scheduled meetings for next eight months!
Five of those will occur this month, along with one previously scheduled meeting. We were already planning to minister in Nyssa, Oregon, in mid-October; but James will now also have the opportunity to preach for a teen activity in Notus, Idaho, thanks to the kind invitation of Pastor Sparky Clancy. From there, we'll head to central Utah, where we'll be participating in a "round-robin" missions conference of four Northwest Baptist churches. We'll be traveling from Delta to Nephi to Mt. Pleasant to Marysvale, sharing our hearts and God's Word at a different church each night for four evenings. We are excited to encourage these churches in their support of missions in the US and around the world.
We are also working out some more possibilities for 2019, including a church-planting conference in January, and meetings in Idaho and California throughout April-May. Please pray earnestly with us for God to provide prayer and financial support through these meetings, for more meetings to be scheduled, and for strength to minister to the churches in the meetings we do have.
We want to say a big THANK YOU to those who have contributed to our vehicle / trailer fund. So far, God has provided $1200 towards that goal, thanks to several generous gifts. A travel trailer would be especially helpful this coming spring, as we have a few longer trips planned throughout the Carolinas, Idaho, and California - but our minivan isn't able to tow much of anything, so a larger vehicle would be necessary. Would you pray with us about God's provision for that?
Additionally, we would appreciate prayers for more work while we wait on God's timing for further support. James was able to earn a good paycheck the last 2 months, serving as Post Chaplain for the National Guard, but he is home now and in between computer jobs. We'd appreciate your prayers as he seeks to find more work and also spends time working on some long-term side projects.
Finally, we'd appreciate prayers for continued good health and energy for both of us as we travel, but also specifically for Elizabeth as she slowly tapers off another major medication. If you're familiar with prednisone, you may appreciate some of the challenges she faces trying to wean off it completely. It gets especially interesting trying to balance medication changes with all the traveling; but so far God has provided the strength necessary for each day, and we trust He will continue to do so in the days ahead.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and generous support! We look forward to sharing more with you as God continues to lead us toward the field!
For the Sake of His Name,
James & Elizabeth Johnson