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A Dose of Different

A new adventure has started once again. It seems like such a distant memory the last time I was on my way to distant shores. I have not finished my last update which I add to periodically and labeled “The Long Overdue Conclusion”. None the less here we are now with a new update.  So much has happened with me and in me since I last embarked on a journey like this two years ago. The people and memories however have burned fresh in my mind daily. I left with a purpose and the expectation of something different. China was the first stop and did not disappoint as being very different.

I landed in shanghai China and proceeded to soak up as much culture as I could as quickly as possible. Street food, bike share trekking, milk tea, museums, new friend s, dumplings, skyscrapers, crowded subways, more dumplings and more milk tea. I met up with the team of teachers and we headed to a nearby city to teach. The smaller cities in China still hold over a million people and China has the most cities in the world with over a million in population. The people were mostly friendly but with a very different version of manners and etiquette than we have in the west. I met my God send of roommate name Edward, or as I and his students called him “Mr.Ed”. He is a young man fresh out of Bible College with a heart for truth and seeing people given hope. He and I shared in our affections for strategy games, spicy food, beards, and sarcasm. We had great conversations, prayer sessions, disagreements, and even coined the phrase “Broanerges” from the Greek “boanerges”. Ed is an orator, great teacher, and mostly importantly a good friend. If China had been a bust I was glad to make a new friend in Ed.

The other teachers all brought something unique to the table and all loved their students. They were made up of two wise and kind men with valuable life experience. The rest of the team consisted of wonderful, beautiful women from all different ages and walks in life. They each brought different skills, talents and teaching styles. We shared laughter, disagreements, and love for each other and the students. I learned much from the team in China, and I am thankful for them, and pray blessings over their every step.

Although I was on a team, I sometimes feel that I am the only broken follower of Jesus. I believe a lie of isolation that whispers that my junk is dirtier than the rest of humanity. That I am beyond repair and that my pain is unique. I also can feel alone in my passions for what is good and right in the world. I can feel by myself in my desire for children to know love, and the reality of the spiritual to be manifested in the lives of the broken hearted. But I was not alone. I was with a group of different people from different walks of life, in a very different country and culture. And the amazing thing was that each one of us was broken in a different way. Brokenness has a strange effect on a person. It ushers in humility to combat the pride and a battle rages between one’s self and the Healer of ourselves. This battle weakens a person till they say, like I did, “Okay, I’ll go”. Everyone knows pain, whether they caused it or it happened to them. Everyone knows shame, and regret. But not everyone knows the One who rushes to meet our pain, the Healer and Lover of the soul. This love rushed to our students in China, and broken people were used, because God works in very different ways.

The students were the highlight of my time in China. A great movie character once said “the ninos are my heart”, this is true for me. The kids captured my heart and I loved being their teacher. I loved teaching them the English language, reading them Bible stories and reflecting as much goodness as I had to that comes from the good Father in Heaven. It was amazing to see the heart changes in them, and I will forever cherish their precious smiles in my memory. Goodbye China, I know I will see you again, until then, my prayers and part of heart I leave with you.

Another red eye flight and I am in Israel now. I was greeted by dear friends at the train station and told them that I already have been in two arguments with Israeli women. If you have never argued with an Israeli woman then you do not know the hail storm of fire, attacks and irrational thought that is hurled at you relentlessly! They do not hold back, and I do not back down. And that is the mixture of a spectacular verbal engagement. As I recounted how I was wronged, I was gently reminded by Mr. Ajaj that Jesus changes hearts. That was it, stated simply and with full confidence that Jesus is real and changes people in real ways. That type of faith is refreshing in a cynical world. The Ajaj family also treated me as family and I was honored to stay with them. The first day I explored Nazareth and stumbled upon a church where Jesus spoke the words “The Spirit of Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” I read these words, sang a song in the small ancient chapel and reflected on how many times I question why I am where I am, my purpose, and where my focus should be? In the place where Jesus proclaimed it, I was reminded that I live to bring the good news of freedom and hope. Not a false hope, not a dead God, not irrational religious constraints created by man, but to tell the truth that Jesus is alive and the spiritual is real, and these things have rational evidence. I show up and Jesus does it all, I deliver a message when prompted and He changes the soul. Faith leaps through fear and doubt, no matter how many proofs I can deliver, the heart still needs to take a leap past fear and into Jesus. Thankfully God is gracious and kind to push us toward Him and away from our own ideas of worth and identity. And Thankfully He pulled us gently to Himself and away from an impossible path of earning worth and trying to obtain goodness. His goodness gives liberty, gives hope and his love is at work to reach the poor and powerless. We are all poor and powerless in some way; He is here for you and me as well. Be alive in Christ Jesus and through Him all things are possible.

In Grace, 

Jon Edward

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Jerusalem & India in July

“This is the best day of my life. Jesus took control over my life…” That was the last bit of my Israel experience where a young man from a camping tip texted me that. How amazing is the Holy Land! To go to where all the Bible stories really happened makes my faith that much more real. To see the real and sweet faith of believers there in Jerusalem was bliss. I am now in India and my brain is on sensory overload. So many needs in so many places, lets break it down to what I have barely learned and what simple answers can be found for complicated questions.

Israel built me up more than anything and challenged me to go deeper into God’s word. I gained a renewed love for the local church body and their desire to be set apart. To love and welcome without condemnation but also to represent Christ’s love in purity and truth. It was refreshing and fun to be with the male youth and the amazing Christian leaders of the assembly in Jerusalem. I will forever remember the peace Jesus brought to me in the midst of so much animosity from those who don’t know Jesus. That is why my heart longs for them to know Jesus, longs for them to know true love and peace everyday. I pray God’s grace finds the hurting and angry in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan.

I would take the bus everyday and of course talk about Jesus with the right person God had sit next to me. One day though I worshipped and prayed and rode the bus till it shut down. I can reach one person a day or a million, and that is amazing but I cannot change their hearts. Only the truth of God’s word and His love can change the stubborn heart of man. Prayer and worship break down the walls and do the impossible. I do not need to try more, or strive to reach more; God does that with me already. I do need to have more faith to allow miracles to happen and equip me with supreme peace. With peace I stand different and set apart, with peace I am free and confidently secure of the truth that I am so loved by God.

With confidence and strength I arrived in India and I was immediately hit with spiritual attacks. Old hurts 20 years old and new hurts were brought to the surface. I saw poverty, hurt and suffering. I felt alone, even when the team from home arrived. It was complicated to say the least. All the circumstances that made things difficult and the swirling battle of emotions directed me to pray and even though I was not ok yet, I knew truth was needed in the battle. I brought as much light to every conflict as possible in myself and with others. I was not the Light; I was far from behaving like love and Jesus. But when truth is brought in, the dark and doubt have nowhere to hide. Nothing can fester or nag at the back of a person’s soul when it is no longer secret. It was all laid out and up front and despite my feelings of confusion and anger God brought love in. The truth was that love covers over many issues. The truth was compassion was needed even if it looked like it could fix nothing. In faith, the team and myself prayed and brought all feelings and problems before the Lord. And He fixed it, not by our efforts or problem solving but by the faith that God is at work here in India and in us. And the evidence is in our love for each other, which comes from Jesus alone.

India has been amazing with God’s presence here daily. It has been an extreme battleground. I am exhausted but also excited often. I have loved preaching to people who are hungry for God’s Word. They are hungry to know what love looks like and they hold onto every ounce of encouragement and joy that they have an opportunity to participate in.  I have been humbled witnessing the lives of the pastors and their families here. They have given everything to love their people, most of which mock them and hate them for their faith. They see needs to feed, cloth and encourage and they give whatever of themselves to make it happen, no excuses. The hospitality honors me in a way that makes me want to honor others. In all the evil, confusion, and filth that India can portray. The men and women of faith in Jesus shine bright! They are in the darkness here and they do not waiver in their brightness. India is beautiful too, with beautiful colors, and beautiful people. But the love and beauty of the sweet souls following Jesus are a masterpiece.

We have journeyed to villages, churches, the coast and the mountains. There has been heat, cold, rain, and bugs I have never seen before. We have seen many monkeys, a few elephants and a wild tiger. We have been with the poor and sick. We have been with the orphaned and hungry. We have seen the loving church here see needs and take action. We have brought the best gifts of love and truth, prayer and compassion. The goodness of the people here is humbling. I literally had a young boy, whose father had died, come to me and wipe my tears. We have seen so many colors and crazy things. Experienced so many tastes and smells. And we have been thrust into a world of so many people, so many needs, and so much faith.

It is hard for me to describe all that has happened and all that I have experienced. I have learned more than ever that the answer to life’s struggles is certainly more faith. Faith is the only thing needed to supply all I need. Faith conquers fears and gives peace. Yes it is hard sometimes, and yes God will help when our faith is weak. But faith requires action, it requires suiting up and stepping forward, then seeing God work. Hope is another key factor. To see what God has done and have supreme hope in His goodness for the future is necessary for peace and joy. Hope that is seen is not hope. Of course we can’t see or know the future and if God showed us everything then He would rob us of the gift of faith and hope and experiencing His goodness in action. There is also no shame in holding on to hope. To hope is to be brave, and He makes us brave. Whatever God is showing you through the truth of His word and revealing of His Spirit, go for it! There is no shame in hope, no matter the result. Because ultimately our hope and joy come from knowing that God is there and God is good. Hope in the Lord and His never ending Kindness. As great as faith and hope are the greatest answer to India and every hurt, evil, and broken part of this world is love. Faith and hope are only worth anything with the excellence of love. Love is the reason, love is truth, and God is love. Love softened a orphan boy, living on the streets. The boy was fighting and scared and I got down on his level and with gentleness I said in a broken mix of English and Tamil “no fighting, no hate, just love”. The boys body softened and in an unfamiliar way he wrapped himself in my arms and we prayed. I imagine that might have been the first time he has experienced gentleness and love. He received a moment of safety in his life that has never been safe while living on the streets. When there are no words, and no solutions, love will conquer all. True love I have known most assuredly from God. Look up 1Corinthians 13, and just meditate on that for a while. Know that God loves you so much more than you think or imagine Him to.

I am off to Africa in the morning. I have many more adventures to experience. I have more lives to touch through the love of Jesus. I have more preaching to do, more learning to soak up, and more faith, hope and love to exercise. I go because Jesus said go; I love because my Heavenly Father loves me. God is good, and the sweetest thing is to that I am learning the truth of that more everyday, and it blesses my soul profoundly. India, I will never forget you or how this time has changed my life forever.

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Albania to Israel

           The multitude of divine moments is too many to include in this short ranting of a blog post, but I will highlight some of the moments that will be with me forever.

            Needing to travel the infamous Balkan roads. I rented a vehicle and traversed the winding paths up and down the beautiful mountains of the Balkans. Past beautiful lakes and medieval castles I traveled to see dear brothers and sisters who love Jesus and people in an inspiring way. My first stop was back to Lake Ohrid, where God plunged me deeper into the understanding of His kindness. The teaching came through the deep compassion of Captain Bobby and his beautiful and more than hospitable wife. I soaked up the sun and crisp waters of that place, receive and gave love, and continued on to Albania.

            The moment I crossed the Albanian border it began to rain. I rounded a bend on a very narrow, winding mountain road and the control arm of my right tire snapped. I went into an uncontrollable slide heading toward the edge of the cliff and a very inconvenient fiery death. The Lord had other plans and by a matter of inches I just caught the guardrail and missed the fiery cliff plunge. But I was rolling and I accepted that the small stick shift should soon end up on its back. Again the Lord had other plans and defying gravity and momentum the car landed back upright. The problem was my front end was trashed, my control arm was trashed and two tires were off the ground and held up by my friend the guardrail. Immediately some very kind Albanian men stopped and called for a tow truck. They all stayed with me in the rain and the tow truck had a master genius character manage to secure the car of the rail and onto his tow truck. Every man was amazed and telling me how lucky I was that I did not go off the edge, I pointed up and said its all God. Now please understand that I had been in Albania 5 minutes and spoke zero Albanian. I knew enough Macedonian to get by but no Albanian at this point, which made things interesting. The tow truck driver furiously drove to a small mechanic shop in the border town of Pogradec.

            I thought for sure that the massive repairs would take days and I had no idea the cost.  As I waited a man walked by speaking English. I asked him to help translate, he said he was from Uganda and loved Jesus and it was instant friendship. He invited me into his home where I met other African brothers. We ate, sang and played praise and worship songs and shared stories of God’s goodness. A few hours later the mechanic told me I must be the luckiest man alive because I cheated death and they found a very difficult part to obtain almost instantly. The car would be ready by that evening, so I went out for coffee with two of my Ugandan friends. The young man had specific questions for me relating to God. Fortunately I had grace filled answers to meet his questions. They were specific things God had been teaching me, and I knew it was a divine appointment. To confirm the supernatural of this meeting the young man Joshua, told me that he had just prayed that God would send someone to answer these deep questions he had weighing on his heart. I heard their stories of abandoning all for Jesus, leaving family and comfort, being healed and rescued by the love of Christ Jesus. It was a great first day in Albania.

            I returned to find my vehicle ready to go. It was amazing how quickly those men worked. I left that evening and drove most of the night to Durres. The next day I met with a sweet brother Tani. We prayed together, shared stories and he translated the gospel for me as I shared the gospel shirtless with a local Muslim man (also shirtless). All three of us grabbed lunch and I listened to the hardships of life for the common man in Albania. Work is scarce and hopelessness sits heavy in the people there. Yet they are welcoming and open to receive true hope and love.

            Tani rode with me to Tirana, where we met briefly with Seth Carson and his lovely wife. It was encouraging to see a fellow Texan and hear of their wonderful ministry and heart to love. We prayed, drank coffee and prayed some more. Then I headed back to Ohrid. On the drive I listened to some good old country music and drove through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. On that drive I more deeply realized in my conversations with the Lord, that I absolutely couldn’t do this. I cannot fix myself, support myself, protect myself, or any of it. I don't have enough love, strength, grace, compassion, wisdom, or discipline. I am fearful and weak and I simply cannot do it, I knew I would not make it. The kindness of God met me compassionately with this truth. I saw a man climbing a mountain; his back scarred, cut and bruised. New wounds were present and he was climbing toward a path well light by God’s purpose and love. I thought this man was myself, but I was farther down the mountain. I thought this man was climbing up, but this man was climbing down, down to me. With the realization that I simply cannot climb the mountains in my life I lay beaten and broken down in the valley. The man whose stripes heal picked me up and carried me up the mountain. The thought of anyone carrying me is hard to imagine, but Jesus can. The only thing required is my faith and surrender. The most powerful tool in my life is to wake up and allow Jesus to carry me. He is strong enough, I assure you of that.

            The next morning I woke up in a hostel in Ohrid and God was at work again. I was blessed to share the good news of Jesus and it be received by my temporary roommate. I always marvel at the love of God to use me, and the way every gospel presentation is so different. The message is the same, but the delivery is tailored to the audience in a way only the Holy Spirit could do. I left Macedonia encouraged, prayed for, and blessed by so many dear friends and missionaries there. I prayed up and boarded my flight to Tel Aviv Israel.

          The great kindness of God has carried me in many ways, and brought me to Israel. The Holy land is so full of “whoa God You are cool” moments. I have been blessed to soak up the knowledge and wisdom of my Father and Mother here. I have met so many dear and sweet people. It feels so familiar and I have been overwhelmed by the strong presence of God. The Holy sites are amazing and as my Dad would say, “If you want your faith to be more real, come to the place where it really happened”. I have been blessed to travel to Israel multiple times, but there is a sea of learning taking place each time.

          The most glaring obstacle to the gospel here is the stubborn hateful hearts of the people. On the temple mount Muslim women and children harassed a small group of Jewish people visiting the site while under military escort. They chanted hate and it was sad to watch. That Saturday our taxi was pelted with rocks from orthodox Jews showing their hatred for those who don't keep the Sabbath day “holy” and drive anywhere. I started to become furious with the stupidity of both groups of people who ignorantly cling to prejudice and hate. I love Israel, I love the Jewish people, and Jesus was a Jew! And I love Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. They all have the same problem. They are truly ignorant of true love. Compassion blotted out my anger and sorrow filled me to know that they do not know the real Jesus. The Jesus that truly saves is all around them and they are ignorant to the goodness of grace. Oh Lord please open the eyes of the blind and save them by Your truth and love. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

           Israel has been filled with once in a lifetime opportunities. Yesterday I preached from the passage where Jesus calms the storm on a boat, on the Sea of Galilee. Imagine if the disciples would have had the faith to trust that God was in the boat with them. If they knew Love was in the boat with them, fear would have been gone and they could have stood at the front of that boat and faced an awe-demanding storm with peace. How often I forget that God himself is there with me in the storms. Every day the Lord Jesus builds my faith, it is beautiful. Later that day I shared my testimony knee deep in the Jordan River. My earthly Father was baptizing me again almost 20 later. I shared that many things in my life have been stripped from me or I have given them up. Those things are an old way of thinking, and striving, a fruitful ministry reaching children, a dog, a home, a wife, friends, family, a lucrative job, my pride, my shame, my guilt, my loneliness and my need to perform to earn God’s favor. And I have gained more than I could have ever imagined. I have gained grace, understanding, humility, new ministry, new friends, new family, new passions, new love, renewed purity, new depths of gratitude for those I love and who love me. I am more blessed than ever before, heaps and piles and mountains of blessings overflow my heart and it is overwhelmingly good. God has changed me, and He is still not done! So cool! I want to everyone to know this love. I want everyone to know that purpose is found in being loved by God. My Father dunked me under those sacred waters and I came up giving him a big bear hug. I love my Dad. I would not say it was a steak in the ground, just a continuance of standing as the man God created me to be in front of others.

          This trip I have heard heart breaking stories that shatter my perspective of hardship. I have heard of so much pain and loss. Lost loved ones, debilitating sickness, suicide, divorce, and years of pain. And the responses to these hardships are different in their journeys but the same in their conclusions. Each person professes that God is good, and that God is love. Each person wants others to know Jesus and has been touched by the true love of Jesus Christ. They are incredible, believing whole-heartedly that God has purpose for every ounce of pain, and I stand there with them. Today I went to the border of Syria and I saw, heard and felt artillery shells being fired. I couldn't believe just miles away people were dying. I could see the smoke among the buildings. All my life I have never known the fear of hiding in my home not knowing if the next shell would strike my family’s home. I stopped and prayed for those people. Civil war was in front of me and the heart wrenching part is that I am powerless. I wanted to run through the border and tell every child I could that Jesus loves them, died for them, and rose again proving His power to forgive them. I wanted to bring hope to the hopeless and rescue the powerless. But I can’t, I can’t even physically cross the multitudes of land mines to get there. So watching the bombs send smoke and debris into the air I stopped and prayed. I will never underestimate the power of prayer. Prayer has saved me and changed the lives and destinies of many. The prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much and I am righteous because of Jesus. Jesus wrap the innocent in protection and guide them to Your truth and love. Supernaturally save them and lead them to safety. Use every tragedy Lord Jesus, save them in every way! Please Lord!

           One constant in the 6 countries I have traveled to so far. Is that in every place there are believers in Jesus with the same Spirit of love, God’s love. In every language I have found myself lost in translation when singing worship. But in every language and every place Hallelujah is sung the same. What beauty that Hallelujah means “God be praised”, truly God be praised! No matter the time, the situation, the pain or the comfort, God be praised. Hallelujah today, tomorrow, and in this moment. No matter who you are, or where you are Jesus has love, peace, and joy for you at this very moment. Praise God and sing with me, sing with every heart in every nation Hallelujah!

 

 Grace leads me,

Jonathan Edward

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LeLe Macedonia!

     I must first apologize for the length of time between posts. I had written an initial post and the fickle internet helped to delete it as I was publishing and saving. This also has been a rare moment of solitude for me. The last two weeks have flown by and been filled to the brim. Honestly I will try give a glimpse of what went on, but there was so very much. What is on Facebook and Instagram only scratches the surface. I can’t take a picture of pain, sharing love, the tears, exhaustion, prayers, and moments of miracles. But I can post the scenery, some goofy selfies, and a few adventure pictures. God is at work in this country, at home, in myself and in you.

    The team is filled with big personalities and we fit well together, even in our clashes, we ended up sharpening each other. God knew how we would need each other and accomplish the most with each other being so different. We laughed often and prayed often. We each were assigned a role from the Prayer Ministry Team at home. Steve - Torch Bearer & Leader, Scott - Discerner, Ashley - Peace, Andrea - Encourager, Matt - Patience, Kaitlynn - Endurance, and myself - Kindness. Each person with supernatural ability displayed vibrantly those attributes. It was so good to dive deep into each role and then see how God used us. I could go on and on about the amazing gifts and qualities of each wonderful person that poured their life out here with me. I was blessed far beyond my thoughts by God’s kindness to me by who the people on this team were and His amazing grace to bless me in every way far beyond what I have deserved. To the Macedonia team, I love each of you and you have taught me much on what it is like to live like Jesus, thank you.

    Right off the plane I knew Macedonia was going to be very different than Haiti. I wore a jacket often and the streets are paved, also there is more than enough cheese in this country. The people are different, they are mostly orthodox and hold strong opinions and prejudices. On the other hand the brothers and sisters we became friends with here are extremely dear and filled with love. The people look different, eat different, the country is landlocked and not an island. I mean really so so so much is opposite, everyone wears a shirt here. But the most glaring similarities are those that come from the nature of man. No matter what your skin color or circumstance, no matter what religion you were or are. The same nature of man remains, and the same spiritual need remains. The simplicity of grace is needed to move our stubborn hearts and minds to freedom. Freedom from hate, prejudice, racism, anger, and hurt. People at home, Haiti, and here are trying to earn God’s love, in despair by their failure, or in denial that its possible for them to need God’s love and that their world may not be figured out. 

    Before and after my cliff diving, I listened to a total of 4, yes 4 hours of sermons on a Sunday. One man kept speaking about freedom. To myself I asked, please, show me what freedom looks like to you? I know it is not bashing each other with rules and verses from the Bible. I know its not the pride that comes with thinking you are right in your beliefs above others. And my heart desperately wanted them to know freedom. The truth is that words do little and a life’s example does much to influence change in others. Freedom in and through Jesus opens the door to a new perspective, to new purpose. Freedom is abandoning the need to know it all and have it all figured out. Freedom is nailing sin the cross and leaving it there. Freedom is humbly accepting that God loved you enough to die on that cross and forever wipe clean your evil deeds. Freedom is living free of shame, free of guilt, free of performance, free of the acceptance of others, free from beating up yourself, free from a false identity, free from an identity that is shallow and attached to how others perceive us and we wrongfully perceive ourselves. Live Free!!! Be loved by God our Father. Take His free gift of forgiveness which He perfectly paid for, then live free. Human nature remains to earn by pride God’s kindness and love which is only given to the humble unearned and withheld from the proud. 

    I was blessed to share the good news of freedom in trusting Jesus to many here young an old. We played sports, shared meals with new friends, encouraged and built up the local church here with needed love and motivation, and this Mac team crushed it. The bottom line is with each amazing story of pain, hurt, death, love, and joy that came with those God appointed relationships and conversations is that Jesus is the only way to heal the hurt and fill that obvious giant hole in your heart. Over and over the older we get we search for purpose. In a conversation riddled with loneliness and thoughts of suicide I was asked what my purpose is? overcome with joy from the kindness of Yahweh(God) I answered - “My purpose is to be loved by God.” Freedom is in receiving and living out the good things God prepared for us. To give true, deep, powerful love, I must first receive love, allow it to sink deep past my hurts, pride, shame and humanity and comprehend the greatness of God’s love and kindness that brings new life and purpose.

    Macedonia is in need of love, I am here today to go where I need to, share joy, love and kindness. Encourage the true warriors here that are not forgotten but isolated. I am here to honor the Lord Jesus, those I love and myself. Its fun following Jesus! Painful, exhausting, frustrating and confusing apart from Him, but so easy despite circumstance trusting Jesus. I am going to enjoy my tea that Steve graciously prepared and I am going to pack up and head to Albania in the little stick shift rental car I will have the next few days. All along the way your prayers will be with me. Angels will watch over me, and my Heavenly Father’s love and kindness will lead me. Next week, Lord willing I will be in Israel.

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Au Revoir Haiti

I leave Haiti tomorrow. My time here has flown by more quickly than I had anticipated. I have enjoyed so many things and learned so many things yet there is so much I am leaving and so very much still to learn. I have learned most assuredly that as I come to new revelations, I realize how much I still have to learn about life, people, myself, and God.

In the past I have questioned the effectiveness of short term missions. I could not see myself being able to have a great enough impact on local people from another country that I only interact with for a week or so? Being here I see language and culture barriers keeping me from being effective in communicating well with local people. But now I have seen that I am not here to change the world all by myself. To be effective is to be one piece of the puzzle and do that with excellence and love. Really, short term missionaries are meant to encourage and refresh long term missionaries. The missionaries here are in life and death situations every day. They have to deal with conflicts and stresses most of us never even think of. Such as dealing with petty theft and the strange legal processes that require time and energy and cultural sensitivities. You have to think about strange things that in the states you never would, like will this kill me or endanger my family and those are daily decisions because you are in dark places with little to protect you. Imbedded missionaries deal with a lack of support from home, misunderstandings, loss of finances, friendships, and a loss of some sanity. Like if I have to hear the pig noises I am hearing right now in this heat for much longer I will lose my sanity too! Long term missionaries are the ones changing the places they are in and they are doing it together. They are being the best piece of the puzzle they are called to be and understand that they would not be effective doing everything all by themselves. They could stay busy striving and counting a whole bunch of heads to have large numbers to boast about, but they would not be effective, they would not last, they would not survive, and God would receive less glory.

I see the appreciation and passion rise up in missionaries here when they see someone come and care for them, recognize their struggles and validate their efforts with words of love and hope. The length of time it typically takes, with regular discipleship, to rid a Christian here of voodoo and superstition is ten years. Ten years! And every day that local will have to stand up to their family and friends and trust God to protect themselves and their family rather than voodoo and superstition. I could never spend a month or year here and expect results that others could see a world away. The change is slow and often unseen even by those here. But I assure you there is change. Every act of love and obedient compassion here is making a difference. The missionaries here are making a difference and those around the world serving full time with their lives are making a difference. They need encouragement, not judgement. They need support and not criticism. They are people, not angels or perfect saints. They have given their imperfect lives to reach places that are not easy to reach, where progress is slow. Should we from a distance look and say "where are the results? what are you doing to prove God is at work?". Listen carefully, God is not concerned with our carnal need to see results, neither does God need us to ever prove to the world that He is God and that He is powerfully at work. The truth is that there are results, and God is powerfully at work. Especially in the small things, the ugly things, the weak things, and the long drawn out, hard fought mess of things. God is moving and working through imperfect people. Imperfect, messed up people are the only kind available. Please love and encourage long term missionaries and recognize the high value of encouraging them in person.

It has been a process for me to accept that the complete failures of my life have shown the goodness of God. But they absolutely have. The results of my weakness and pride being overcome by God's goodness and grace have been powerful and wonderful in my life. On the outside some may see only small changes or no changes at all, but my heart is changed. I praise and thank God for every ounce of pain I have endured, whether caused by myself or circumstances. I am thankful because I see better now when God is at work. My eyes are opened to Haiti and the people here. I hope to return and see my friends and students again. I am not called to Haiti long term now, but I am called every day and forever to love others and share the good news of Jesus. I have fallen in love more and more with discipleship and the humbling task of speaking truth to other men and them in turn revealing new truths that I need in my life. How amazing it is that God desires to use us to show His goodness and love. I remain in gratitude because of His powerful grace and present love. Pray for me please. Pray for those serving full time with their lives. Support those God puts on your heart. Give your time, money, and kind words. Hug a missionary, pastor, deacon, or anyone that loves Jesus and is living it out. Hugs are good, God is good, be loved today my friends.

Blessings and Peace,
Jonathan Edward
 

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