“ How is Samuel doing?”
We are frequently asked this question. The short answer is, “It’s hard to know.” The long answer is complicated. Since he was diagnosed in December 2019 with glioblastoma (a terminal brain cancer), he had radiation and chemotherapy treatments in January. Then a break from all treatments in February enabled him and his parents and siblings to enjoy a Make-A-Wish trip to Legoland and Disney World in Florida. An MRI in March showed the cancer growing back. The oncology team said that further surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy would not be effective. The one possibility they suggested was a medication he could take “off trial” that might prove helpful in slowing the growth of the tumor. Meanwhile, he seems to be getting stronger physically! On May 11th he walked a few steps without any aid for the first time since November and has since used a cane at times to free himself from his wheelchair. Is God healing him? Is the drug giving a temporary or more permanent reprieve? Is the cancer lurking, just waiting to manifest itself again? Questions abound, and we can’t pretend to figure out what’s going on. We thank God for the blessings of today and pray He’ll keep us trusting Him for the unknowns of tomorrow.
“How are you doing?”
We hear this question too. Not always easy to answer. Life and routine for us right now are fairly simple. We have more time in the Word and in prayer, less driving, more time with each other. We are reaching out to people through notes, phone calls, WhatsApp and Zoom. We miss the gathering of the Body of Christ in person. We have not been able to visit our kids and grandkids in New England since the spring of 2019. Emotions ebb and flow, but overall, there is a growing peace and joy in spite of circumstances. God is exposing some of our sinful thoughts and behaviors, and we want to respond humbly. Pray we’ll keep growing in His grace and be channels of that grace to others.
“How are things in your country of service and with your team?”
The obvious answer is, “Not good.” Terrorist attacks have continued, including one in February at the very place where we used to serve in which two of our friends among the local people were killed by jihadists. And then COVID-19 reached the country in March, which caused borders to be closed and the airport to be shut down on short notice. With the dual threats of increasing violence in the country and evacuation routes being cut off, mission leadership strongly advised expats to leave for a time. Most of our team did, though a few people remained. So these have been months of great loss, deep grief, wrenching decisions and all kinds of stress for local people and expats alike. But we’re not seeing the whole picture. What is God doing in His Church in the midst of persecution? How is He strengthening His people there in the absence of most of the expatriate missionaries who once worked in the country? Who is He bringing to Himself in the midst of all the fear and loss and grief? We only see glimpses now, but we know He is at work.
Much of our team is now scattered around the world in their home countries. In April we had a Zoom meeting of all who could join us (across 17 time zones), which gave us a chance to hear bits of each other’s stories and encourage/pray for one another. Many had to leave unfinished projects and ministries that were closed down behind them; for several there was no time for proper good-byes. Adults and children alike are grieving their losses. The future is uncertain. Those who stayed in the country felt like they were suddenly bereaved when so many left. We know these people and appreciate each one. They are strong and growing in resiliency. But for the moment it’s very hard. Pray that God will enable each of us to submit to His purposes in all this and let Him make us more like Him.
“How are YOU doing?”
We can be 100% sure that COVID-19 has impacted your life. The world has changed. How are you responding to it all? What is God doing in your life? What prayer needs do you have? We would count it a privilege to pray for you.
Yours for His Kingdom,
George & Kathy