In late May we had the wonderful privilege to attend the Christian & Missionary Alliance General Council. This is our denomination’s national event that happens every two years for the purpose of business and elections as well as times of worship, fellowship, and prayer.
Our trip included a few different highlights. We able to attend two days of meetings (Pre-Council) specifically for C&MA international workers / missionaries which, like General Council, contained business as well as worship, fellowship and prayer. It was a privilege to be included in this time. Throughout the week we were also able to attend other activities for international workers.
The Missions Rally and Commissioning Service was another highlight for us. Each year, the Council week ends with a missions focused service. We were able to walk in the parade of flags — where international workers walk through the auditorium wearing national dress of their host countries and carrying the flags of the world. During the service, we were also commissioned along with 60 other new workers going out this year. Commissioning is formal recognition of the Alliance family that declares we are equipped to and authorizes us to serve as missionaries in Japan. Part of the commissioning included being prayed over. It was incredibly special for us to be prayed for by our directors and to be surrounded by our kids, Lauren’s parents, and many from our Southern District church family. The prayers, tears and hugs of support will remain with us for a long time.
The final highlight for us were all the people met — new friends and old friends. We were able to meet two different families that we will be serving with in Japan, the Kindervaters and the Woerners. We had never met the Woerners, so we were grateful for this new connection. We had met the Kindervaters during our trip to Tokyo in 2016 and have been able to keep up with them via Skype and email since. We were so grateful for all the time we had with those two families during Council.
There are far too many people that we met and connected with to list — but these times and interactions were the greatest part of the week.
Last week, I (Jonathan) was back in Orlando to attend the LIFE Conference with twenty-two students and three other leaders amongst 5,400 other students and over a thousand leaders. It was busy and loud—but amazing.
In four and a half days we: attended nine main sessions (all 6,000+ of us) that consisted of worship, prayer and some great messages; attended eight break-out seminars (smaller groups that allowed students to pick topics they were interested in); put down mulch at a local elementary school; ate 9 meals with 6,000 people; almost ran a 5K; saw a concert or two; spent time in the activities hall; met some people from Envision; contributed to offering raising over $120,000; drove over 1,400 miles; slept a little; and had a lot of fun.
More importantly though, lives were transformed. There were many students who placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the first time. There were also students who committed to giving their lives fully to serving Him.
In a culture where we are constantly struggling to define our identity and purpose, I loved that a major theme of the week was knowing that we are made by Him and for Him. The repeated reminder that we are created in the image of God, with a purpose, for His purpose and that our identity is in Jesus Christ. In our pain, our struggles, and doubts, as we fight self-worth, labels, and to earn other’s approval—I am a child a of God. I can never earn His approval or love, but He loves each of us enough that He has given His Son so we can spend eternity in His presence.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to spend the week with these students and leaders—I love each and every one of them.
We are excited to share that Lauren is pregnant and due February 2020!
You’ll note our last newsletter mentioned our desire to move this coming January — that’s changed. 😄 We are sticking with January as our “ready to leave” date with the plan to leave as soon as mom and baby are ready and all paperwork has arrived.
Unlike our previous pregnancies, Lauren has been fighting extreme nausea. We’re praying this ends soon!
If anyone has any great baby names they want to suggest — send them our way.
It’s a busy time for us and we are grateful for the opportunities God has provided for us. We’re looking forward to seeing new faces, meeting old friends and the chance to visit with family.
Here’s what we have coming up.
- August 3-12 — travel to Wisconsin (visiting Jonathan’s family)
- August 11 — Kiel Alliance Church, Kiel, WI
- August 16-17 — Lauren attending ESL training in Dayton, OH
- August 18 — CrossPoint Alliance Church, Akron, OH
- October 24-27 — CrossPoint Alliance Church Missions Conference — Akron, OH
- December — start Japanese visa applications
- February 2020 — baby Briehl arrives
- April / May 2020 — depart for Tokyo!
- For a great trip to LIFE Conference and a time of spiritual refreshing for Jonathan.
- For wonderful friends who have been able to help us, especially while Jonathan was away at LIFE.
- For the opportunities to visit Living Hope Church and Faith Community Church. We had great visits at both churches and enjoyed worshiping with part of our Alliance family!
- For a busy travel schedule and support of pastors and missions boards providing the opportunity for us to visit their churches.
- For a healthy report on our first OB visit.
We are so grateful for those that are praying for us. We would also like to pray for you! Please email us if there is something you’d like us to pray for — firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would pray with us:
- Please pray for the students that attended the LIFE Conference. For those that do not know Jesus Christ, that they would put their faith in Him as their Savior. For those those who do know Him, that they would be drawn into a deeper relationship with Him.
- Please pray for Lauren who has been struggling with a great deal of nausea during the first trimester.
- Please pray that as we meet new people and visit new churches, God would help us connect with those who would wish to partner with us through prayer and monthly financial giving.