On The Road /On The Run

IMG_0492

A few weeks ago we packed the Subaru to the gills and pointed our rusty, I mean TRUSTY, steed south to the warm embrace of The Diocese of South Carolina. We had a number of appointments set up with youth leaders, rectors, and missions minded folks around Charleston, and enjoyed our time there immensely. Except for the fire ants. Lesson learned: don’t place a sandaled foot or bare hand within their reach. Lesson number two: Camp St. Christopher is a beautiful place and the people there are amazing hosts. We made some great new friends/contacts, were prayed for and ministered to in needed ways, and left encouraged and buoyed in our call to launch Agape Year. Now we are prepping for May recruiting trips that will see us in Texas and California. Being on the road with a 3 year old and a 5 month old has its challenges, and a side-of-the-road temper tantrum has a way of stretching my patience.

There are times in my life when I really need an Ebenezer, a reminder of God’s faithfulness. As Erika and I dive headlong into starting Agape Year, building a program, recruiting students, and raising our financial support there a times of great doubt that we are on the right track. But God has given me an incredible reminder of His faithfulness: my health.

Most of you know that I have Crohn’s Disease, and many of you know how debilitating it has been at various times over the past 20 years. And a few of you have seen me hospitalized or bed-bound for months on end. But just a few. Most people don’t know my story of healing (its a miracle and I’d love to talk to you about it!) so when I talk about running a half marathon, the miracle of that is lost on them.

By the grace of God I’ll run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 7th. We are raising donations here with all of the money going to Erika and my financial support. Getting up early to train on Pittsburgh’s city streets, or running in the dark on unfamiliar South Carolina roads, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness with every step. Thanks for coming along side of Erika and me on the road and on the run!

Advertisements

Using Your Talents

Using Your Talents

In the parable of the talents (Matt 24:14-30), each servant is given a certain number of talents, or currency. Some used those talents to increase the number, and one hid it away, not producing anything. When we think about the resources, gifts, and talents God gives us today, how are we using them to produce fruit and bring about the Kingdom?

April Sylvester is a SAMS missionary serving in Zambia through a Gap Year Program. She disciples and ministers to students. Recently, she gathered materials to make a couch. She was able to get some free pallets, which she sanded and varnished. Then bought some foam to create the cushions. Her neighbors and students were happy to help.  One of her students reacted to her project:

“You know we learn a lot from you, April,” said her student.

“How is that?” she asked.

“Well, for one, we see you working over there on your couch. It shows us that we don’t have to wait for other people or money to do things. We can do it ourselves.”

April’s student is right. We don’t need to wait for others or money, but we can use what God has given us in order to create something good.

April’s finished couch.

Instead of hiding it away for herself, April shares her skills, knowledge, and talents with others.  April teaches yoga and swimming to the students that she disciples. By using her skills that are instilled in her by God, she is able to connect with her students and share the love of Christ.

What gifts has God given you and how are you using them to further his kingdom?

 

April Sylvester is involved in an outreach ministry to Zambian youth that involves discipleship and mission training.

We see you working over there on your couch. It shows us that we don’t have to wait for other people or money to do things. We can do it ourselves.

Of Disappointment vs Encouragement


We were sitting in Lucy and David’s apartment in Falls Church, VA for a little under a half an hour before Lucy begun to share with us their profound story of trusting our faithful God. During their time in Kenya, David and Lucy had seen the unexpected ways God provided for their family and their ministry. They had worked with the local church to provide leadership and discipleship training to local youth. Whether that provision be finances, participants, or a specific need, God had been present in their lives and provision.  Lucy repeated over and over again, “God does not disappoint”.

God does not disappoint (think Romans 5:1-5). Nate and I wrestled with that promise most of the way home. We’d cut our trip short due to an impending snow storm (getting snowed in away from home with Henry and Annie didn’t seem like the best idea for everyone’s well being) and were struggling to not feel discouraged. God does not disappoint. At times, we’d rather have the promise “God blesses your plans” or “God won’t let you fail” or “God will make all your dreams come true”, or at the very least “God will help your toddler sleep in the car”. But instead, God comes to us in the cruciform body of Jesus Christ and proclaims He does not disappoint. He gives us grace for today. And, will extend that same grace tomorrow, but asks us to trust Him today. It is hard to abide in that place of trust, but it is indeed the safest place to rest.


We know that all of our striving and preparation will not amount to anything without God’s provision. We need Him to move in a mighty way. Can you join us in praying and fasting for students and provision? The members of our oversight board, some of our supporters, and the missions committee of our sending church have committed to fast and pray for us on March 28th. Can you fast a meal, or spend your coffee time in prayer? Our greatest needs are for students and financial support. We have so many of the components of Agape Year in place. We don’t have students. Can you pray with us?
Thanks!
Erika, Nate, Henry, and Anne

Advertisements

The Twichells and Agape Year

We are pleased to introduce to you Nate and Erika Twichell, new SAMS-USA Missionaries and the directors for the Anglican Global Missions Partners (AGMP) Agape Year program, a gap year program for recent high school graduates. Learn more about them:

From Nate:

God doesn’t always take the most direct route. The past three years have proven this fact to our family. Shortly after meeting, we both shared our desire to partner with God’s mission in reaching every tribe, nation, and tongue. We hoped God would lead us to do this together, but we weren’t sure what it would look like. We’re two different people with different gifts. How could God use us together to do infinitely more than we could ask for or imagine? God took an interesting route in bringing us to this next step we’d like to share with you. Through seminary, unemployment, a gnarly job search, rewarding work found, God led the way. It was hard at times to trust He had us in His good hands. And, then His hand led us even further along, further into that vision He gave us early on and has been our heart’s prayer.

From Erika:

For both Nate and me, Agape Year has been a great teacher for hopeful anticipation. Five years ago, Nate and I met on St. Nicholas Day and shared a call to mission. One year ago, we accepted the call to start and direct Agape Year from the Anglican Global Mission Partners. Often we stand in wonder of how God has heard our prayers. Often we are caught in dismay, knowing it is only through His grace we are sustained. His grace has kept us while we are developing partners and the program and living our daily life of full-time work and child rearing. This year we’ve seen God bring His vision into greater formation and anticipate seeing it more fully fleshed out this year. So, we enter this season undergirded with grace and walking in faith.

In faith, we are accepting applications for Fall of 2017 to be our first cohort. Please pass along this application to 18-21 year olds you think God may be leading to participate.

Nate will be leaving his job at Trader Joe’s so we can give our full attention to this program. We currently have 45% of monthly support raised, but are still in need of $3000 per month in support. Would you join us? Would you help us connect to others who God may be calling to be a part of Agape Year? Praise be to God, He has provided what we need for our start up costs. We stand amazed.

Original content by Nate and Erika Twichell. Follow their blog posts here

How you can get involved:

Prayer! Tons of peace and wisdom as we seek to bring Agape Year to reality

Financial support! We’re in need of $3000 of monthly support to continue to be sustainable as full-time directors of Agape Year

Participants! We’ll be in the D.C. area mid March and South Carolina early April with the hopes of recruiting both participants and supporting churches. We’d love to meet up with you or appreciate any connections you think would be helpful!

Nate and Erkia Twichell

SAMS Missionaries and Agape Year Directors

A Sweating Missionary in the Mud of Life

A Sweating Missionary in the Mud of Life

By April Sylvester

Kazangula is a small town (if it can be called that) on the watery border of Zambia and Botswana. A group of us had taken the long, hot journey for a 3 day mission trip. Within a few minutes, our group of four came across two women building a mud house. We were greeted with kind but slightly skeptical smiles and mud-caked hands.

My friend Emmanuel moved towards their house. He looked at the pile of mud they were mixing for the wall, saw that their two yellow water containers were empty, and with less than a word he picked them up and walked away.  As I watched him walk into the distance, the yellow containers [were] getting smaller and smaller.  After about 10 minutes he was coming back down to us, sweat beading on his forehead in the midday sun, water sloshing on his jeans from the containers.

In that moment, I realized that THAT is the kind of missionary I want to be. I want to be a sweating missionary.  How many times do we come across someone who is not concerned with words but is willing to get down into the mud of life with us? It means being able to really see people and their needs, which, yes, does take a certain level of cultural competency that I am still working on. But maybe I can bumble, sweat, learn and love my way towards that goal.

April is involved in an outreach ministry to Zambian youth that involves discipleship and mission training. Her home church is Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

In that moment, I realized that THAT is the kind of missionary I want to be. I want to be a sweating missionary

April Sylvester

SAMS Missionary to Zambia

Of Sinners and Big Steps

img_3580

“We’re not sinners, we’re Twichells,” Henry said this morning at breakfast while we read our devotions. Trying to parse our true identity as sinners and saints with a toddler who wholeheartedly embraces literalism is quite a task first thing in the morning. As our family has journeyed toward serving fully with Agape Year we are learning to live more fully into who we are as God’s children, His beloved. Our earnest prayer for Agape Year is that its participants will allow this true name, Beloved, to resound in his or her soul with gladness.

As His beloved, we are trusting our Father for our provision. Upon guidance from SAMS, Nate will be leaving Trader Joe’s on March 5 to engage fully with partner and program development for Agape Year. This is a step of faith for us. We are both terrified and exhilarated. This step makes aware of how little our faith is at times, but are confident of how faithful God is.

We are in need of:

  • prayer! Tons of peace and wisdom as we seek to bring Agape Year to reality.
  • Financial support! We’re in need of $3000 of monthly support to continue to be sustainable as full time directors of Agape Year.
  • Participants! We’ll be in the D.C. area mid March and South Carolina early April with the hopes of recruiting both participants and supporting churches. We’d love to meet up with you or appreciate any connections you think would be helpful!

Join us in this prayer from Walter Brueggemann as we trust our true identity:

You are the God who makes extravagant promises.  We relish your great promises of fidelity and presence and solidarity, and we exude in them.  Only to find out, always too late, that your promise always comes in the midst of a hard, deep call to obedience.  You are the God who calls people like us, and the long list of mothers and fathers before us, who trusted the promise enough to keep the call.  So we give thanks that you are a calling God, who calls always to dangerous new places.  We pray enough of your grace and mercy among us that we may be among those who believe your promise enough to respond to your call.  We pray in the one who embodied your promise and enacted your call, even Jesus.  Amen.