“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-18)
Pride. Esteem. Hope.
The month of May means graduation. All over the country, and all over the world. Parents, teachers, professors, friends, and family gather to celebrate finishing, and new beginnings. What would you say is the predominant emotion in May? Pride. The good kind. Esteem. The empowering kind. Hope. The Kingdom of God kind.
Our First Cohorts in the MTS Program are Graduating!
This month we watched as the students in the first 2 cohorts of the Online Masters of Theological Studies program (MTS) walked the graduation walk. They still have two courses to finish but were allowed to walk, if they chose, with the larger graduating class of 2018 of Palmer Seminary in Philadelphia. One of the MTS students was among a few who were invited to preach for the graduating community and the faculty. We watched with Pride, Esteem, and Hope. But also gratitude. We watched with thankful hearts that we were invited to shape these lives. The students still say over and over that their lives with God has been renewed and revitalized and deepened because of the course we teach. We are deeply thankful for that.
We watched with gratitude for people, like you, that believe in something bigger than themselves. People who are willing to invest in the Kingdom of God and impact lives that they…you, will never meet. People who are willing to “plant a tree under whose shade they will never sit,” trusting that others will. Your investment in us and our Kingdom work is planting a tree in a far away person and a far away place. A student who will now invest in lives with new knowledge, understanding, and strength. We can tell you that others are already sitting in [the shade of] their offerings. And the seasons of planting and harvest will continue.
Gratitude for You!
So, thank you! Not only for giving to the International Ministries matching gift campaign, but also for your regular, faithful, ongoing support. The matching gift campaign is over; the matching funds were depleted in the first three weeks—you and others were so generous to missions! With your new and continuing support, we have moved from 80% to 88% of our monthly support goal. A significant jump, and a welcome breathing space (with a bit more work to do). Thank you for watering our tree so we can continue to minister to others.
Two Trees in La Paz
Something else also happened this month. Two trees we helped plant 10 years ago are casting new shade under which we will never sit. Pastors Hernando Gonzalez Celis and Guillermo Escobedo Bazán, both pastors in La Paz, Mexico, graduated with their Masters degrees from an accredited classroom program of Lacy Seminary in Oaxaca, Mexico. They began their seminary training at the Theological School of La Paz (accredited by Lacy Seminary) when I (David) taught there. That program took them as far as it could, and they decided to finish their degrees with Lacey. Their La Paz credits transferred. They are the first pastors in La Paz to hold post graduate degrees in ministry! That is going to change things in La Paz. We are proud of our friends and grateful for having been invited into such an amazing journey. Gratitude.
Honoring the Struggle
When we sit and watch students graduate, we think of all the work and effort it has taken them. Sometimes we are aware of their hardship and struggle to finish. As the students in the MTS Program, Hernando, and Guillermo reach their finishing point we know how much they have had to struggle and sacrifice financially to get there. Honestly, we don’t know how that have managed, but God has seen fit to supply their needs. We praise God for his provision.
The Cedars of Lebanon
All of this reminds me of the cedars of Lebanon. A tree that reminded God’s people of God’s constant provisional presence. So, we all sit under this shade of God’s delight in providing our deepest needs for his name’s sake. With gratitude. Thankful and blessed. Amen.