Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wait On the Lord

Hello friends,

Here we are on the first day of Spring, March 20th, 2014.  New life is popping up all over the place; in fact, in my back yard it's popping up faster than I can keep up with it.  I've been trying for the last few days, in between rain showers, to get the place looking a little more presentable.  I've been pulling weeds, mowing, and trimming shrubs and have the calluses  blisters, and thorn pricks to prove it.  I tell you that, not to win any attaboys, but just to tell you the background for this posting.  I don't know for sure if this was a thought from the Lord or just the result of lack of oxygen from bending over and weeding for so long, but I think that I've come up with a spiritual lesson, so hang on, here goes.

As I said, every day is bringing on new growth, new buds, new leaves.  Only a couple of months ago I was wondering if Spring would ever get here.  Everything was so bleak and gray and dead-looking.  This happens to me every year.  I get antsy waiting for the bad weather to clear up and for the sun to reappear.  And I've never been good at waiting.  In fact, I hate waiting.  Moreover, I find it somehow irritating, when in the midst of my whining and complaining about not liking to wait, and how God is sometimes slow about getting the show on the road, the Holy Spirit all of a sudden brings a convicting verse to my mind.  I'm referring, of course to Psalm 27:14 where the psalmist tells us, "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"

I don't know about you but waiting for the LORD does not come easy to me.  I have to work at it, and I have to check my attitude often.  Let me give you an example, a red-hot fresh one from our current circumstances.

Ramel and I are confident that God has called us to the Republic of Ireland with WorldVenture as church-planters to work in Sligo.  We know that.  We have no doubts.  Furthermore, we know that it was God who called us to this task.  We didn't just volunteer because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  We know that this is a divine appointment.  But here's the kicker...God has us sitting on the back burner waiting for our funding to come in.  Worse...we are even having a hard time getting opportunities to tell our story.  But apparently God is nonplussed by this predicament.  It's bugging me no end but He's cool with it.  Doesn't He know we're on a tight schedule here?  Doesn't He know that we're getting old while He does whatever it is He's doing?  Doesn't He know that we have a plane to catch and people waiting for us in Ireland?  So what's the holdup, for crying out loud?  Why doesn't He just poke a few dozen people so that they will want to partner with us and help us get to Sligo?

Oops!  There it comes again, that pesky verse in my ear: "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"  Yes...but...but.

Like I said, I really hate waiting, but I guess God knows what He is doing.  Maybe He has something He wants me to learn by having to wait for Him.  Maybe He has some people He wants us to help before we go.  Maybe He wants to use us to challenge some churches concerning their commitment to help fulfill the Great Commission.  Maybe He just wants to knock some rough edges off of me so that I will learn to shut up and trust Him, even when I don't understand why He does what He does.  Maybe.  Maybe He wants it to be Spring in my life, with new growth, and beautiful evidences of His resurrection handiwork.  Maybe.

If you have any relevant thoughts on this subject please use the comments box below.  Even if you just want to join me in complaining bitterly about having to wait on the LORD feel free to post a comment.  Misery loves company and it's nice to know that somebody out there actually reads this stupid blog.

Thanks for listening to my rant,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On the Road Again

Hello friends,

A little over a month ago I started feeling guilty about being a slug and not getting any kind of regular exercise so I decided to start walking.  Besides, my doctor had been nagging at me for quite a while so to get him off my back I have gradually worked my way up from 1.5 miles a day to 4.2 miles and I walk every day.  In fact, I just got back from my evening constitutional.  I usually go out for my walk in the late afternoon or early evening.  At first I would come back weary and footsore.  Now I've gotten used to it and it doesn't bother me anymore.  In fact, now I'm a lean, mean, walking-machine, although I don't think I've lost a single stinkin' pound, which was another one of the reasons I started walking in the first place.  Bummer!  Ramel has  gone with me a few times but most days she declines my invitation.   She says that I walk too fast for her short legs.  I've offered to slow down and cut down the distance but she's still not buying it.  I'll keep working on her.

As I was walking along the road today I got to thinking about all the expressions or song titles we have about roads: "Hit the Road, Jack." "Take a hike." "Let's get this show on the road." "Back on the Road Again." "King of the Road." "On the Jericho Road."  The list is endless.

But for Christians the metaphor of the road has some special meanings.  We speak of life being a road, a journey.  We refer to our walk with the Lord.  We talk about running the race and staying the course.  The road of life is a word picture that all of us understand.

Ramel and I are on a kind of road.  We started down this road in January 2012 when at the Mission ConneXion NW Conference the Lord spoke to both of us and said that it was time to step out in faith and move back into missionary work.  Over the next few months He focused our eyes and our hearts on Ireland and then confirmed in a variety of ways that Ireland is indeed the place where He wanted to put us.  Since then this road has taken us through many different transitions and adjustments: resigning my 19+ years pastorate at Sellwood Baptist Church, resigning from the Portland Police Bureau chaplaincy, explaining to our 3 children and 10 grandchildren what we are doing, talking to countless friends and family members about what this will mean for our future, speaking in churches, camps, conferences, and retreats, etc.

We are still trucking along, confident that we are on the right road and going in the right direction.  However, sometimes the journey gets difficult.  The road gets a little steep.  We get tired and grouchy.  Well, at least Ramel does.  And frankly, the journey is taking longer than we anticipated.  We thought that by now we would have around 60% of our support raised and a whole team of prayer partners and financial backers walking with us on this journey.  However, we are closer to 15%, meaning that we still have a long way to go.

Don't get me wrong...we aren't throwing in the towel or doubting that this is the path for us.  We are just hoping that more folks will get as excited about the Open Door in Ireland as we are, and will want to help us carry the Gospel to Sligo.

Some of you have already signed on to be our partners, and for that we are very grateful.  If you have not yet done that will you at least consider it?  Please ask God if He wants you to come with us on this journey we're on.

*If you want to contribute with a one-time gift, large or small, click HERE.
*If you want to make a commitment, no matter the amount, even $10/month, click HERE.
*If you want to receive our email newsletters so that you can be a prayer partner, click HERE and email us with all your contact information.

We'll do our best to let you know about the mileposts we come to along this journey.  Please pray that we will keep on keeping on and not grow weary or discouraged.  Pray for open doors to share our story and tell people all the wonderful things God is doing in Ireland to build His Church.  Pray for us to have courage and wisdom as we try to pare down our belongings to lighten our load in anticipation of our move across the big pond.  Pray for our family as we try to prepare them for getting along without us for a while.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Your servants for His sake,
Mike, for both of us

P.S. You keep on truckin' for Jesus, too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Meeting Old Friends for the First Time

Hello friends,

You may be wondering about the title of this post.  I'm referring to that wonderful experience of meeting people and instantly connecting with them, feeling like you've already known them for years, even though you've just met.

That happened to us yesterday.  We've been corresponding with Kirk & Sandlin Poth for months.  They are WorldVenture missionaries from Ireland, currently on a short home-assignment in the States.  A few weeks ago they let us know that they would be coming through Oregon and wondered if we could get together, so yesterday we spent much of the day together just getting acquainted.  It was great having them here in our home.  This was very important for us because we will be working together on the Sligo church-planting team, along with our other colleagues, Matthew & Pam Boardwell from Colorado.

We had a wonderful time of fellowship and telling our stories.  We also shared our thoughts about the challenge of church-planting in northwestern Ireland.  We discovered that we are all on the same page and very excited to get this show on the road.  Kirk & Sandlin will be heading back to Ireland in July and are already making plans to move from Galway to Sligo to begin spying out the land and looking for open doors for ministry.  The Boardwells and we are hoping to be in Ireland in 2014, Lord willing. 

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  We've been getting together with people regularly and telling our story, trying to share our passion for the ministry to which God is calling us in Ireland.  Pray that people will catch that vision of the open door for church-planting that God has put before us.  Quite a few people have said that they want to support us financially on a monthly basis; however, we have not seen those good intentions materialize in firm commitments.  Pray that these folks will take the next step of actually committing to partner with us in taking the Good News to Ireland.

Your missionaries to Ireland,
Mike & Ramel

Monday, January 28, 2013

St. Brigid's Well

Hello friends,

As many of you know, back in November Ramel and I spent two weeks in Ireland getting acquainted with our future WorldVenture Ireland Team colleagues and getting a general feel for the country.  While we were there we traveled around a lot, seeing all sorts of beautiful and fascinating places.  Close to the end of our time in Ireland, the field leader, Tim Cumings, and his dear wife, Joan, took us to see the area known as "The Burren." This is the rocky, barren part of County Clare that sits just south of Galway Bay.  It consists of 250 square miles of some of the roughest country I've ever seen in my life.

One of the places we visited there in County Clare was St. Brigid's Well near the little town of Liscannor.  It is a major pilgrimage site for Roman Catholic people who come in hopes of being healed of their infirmities or of receiving a blessing from the "Holy Saint Brigid."  In the lowest part of the site is a cave cut back into the hillside where pilgrims can leave their votive offerings and drink from the so-called miraculous waters.  To catch Brigid's attention they leave letters, signed photos, beads, candles, hair clippings, and many other things, all in the hopes that she will intercede on their behalf before God, not knowing that they can pray directly to Him without a human mediator.

I've seen other places like this when I worked in Brazil, where people come as a last resort, hoping to connect with something that will give them hope, but in reality it is a place of profound sadness because without truly knowing Christ there is no hope to be found.  But desperate people will do anything they are told if they think it might help them or their loved one get healed.

The following is the prescribed rite for having your prayer heard and your petition granted at Brigid's Well.  I'm not making this up.  If you doubt me you can look it up for yourself.

The Rite of St. Brigid’s Well at Liscannor, Co. Clare

(NOTE: Pilgrims should deposit their votive offerings on the wall before beginning the rounds.)
Introduction: Go on your knees in front of the statue of St Brigid and express your intention (e.g. you come to have your headache/arthritis healed). Then say: "Go mbeannaí íosa duit, a Bhrighid Naofa, Go mbeannaí Muire duit is go mbannaím Féin duit; Chugat a thána’ mé ag gearán mo scéil chugat Agus d’iarraidh cabhair in onóir Dé ort."
(Translation: "May Jesus salute you, O holy Brigid, may Mary salute you and may I salute you myself. It is to you I have come making my complaint and asking your help for the honour of God.") 
  • Go on your knees and say 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Mary’s, and 5 Gloria’s.
  • Stand and proceed to make a round of the Statue of St Brigid (sunwise/desiceal keeping the statue on your right)
  • Recite the creed while moving.
  • Do this 5 times.
  • Go on your knees at the Well.
San Ula Uachtarach (In the upper Sanctuary)
  • Go on your knees and say 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Mary’s, and 5 Gloria’s.
  • Stand and make a sunwise circumambulation on the long path while reciting the Creed.
  • Do this 5 times.
At the Cross
  • Make a circumambulation (sunwise/desiceal) of the Cross while saying once the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Gloria.
  • Kiss the Cross.
  • Do this 5 times.
At the Well
  • Descend the steps to the Ula Iochtarach (lower Sanctuary) and go to the Well.
  • Drink the water 3 times.
  • Go on your knees and express your intention again.
(This rite should be performed while barefooted if possible. According to holy tradition there is a fish in Liscannor Well and if the pilgrim sees the fish he is certain to obtain his request.)
I'm so glad that God does not require all these gymnastics just to attract His attention or get Him to care about our petitions.  However, Ireland is filled with people whose only concept of God and of Christianity includes this kind of mumbo-jumbo.  This is the norm, not the exception.  That is why we are excited to go there and begin telling Irish people that they do not have to twist God's arm.  He already loves them and gave His only begotten Son to prove it.  Won't you pray that God will raise up the partners we need to get us on our way as soon as possible?

In His service,
Mike & Ramel 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Still Working Out the Bugs

Greetings to all of you dear people who are interested in what in the world Mike and Ramel are up to lately.  For the past couple of days I've been spending way too much time trying to figure out how to link up all of our hi-tech toys and software so that that everything communicates with everything else.  However, we're still trying to sort out the bugs so that if we post something in one place it automatically shows up in two or three other places. Good plan, however, as near as I can tell, right now those other places are Neptune, Mongolia, and Guam.  I'm about to pull out my hair.  Seriously, you can pray about all this detail stuff that we have to do. Our ducks are unruly and do not like to line up.

This new blog is supposed to help us keep in contact with our prayer supporters and financial partners so that we can quickly and easily let folks know where we are, what we're doing, and how they can better pray for us.  Pray that we will have the discipline to keep it updated.  Otherwise it's not worth much.

We have been reading some good books lately.  One is called Made To Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath, two brothers who really know how to make ideas "sticky".  This is required WorldVenture reading because missionaries must learn how to communicate our vision and our burden for the ministry to which God has called us.  If we can't get those across to people in a way that "sticks", then others cannot catch the vision and partner with us to get the job done.

We are thankful for YOU!  Thank you for your interest, your prayers, and your willingness to partner with us.  We will try to do our part to keep you up on what's going on in this process of getting to Ireland.  We are praising God because two people have recently taken on support for us, and our home church voted to put $10,000 in our MA Fund.  Now that's what I call a good start!

In His service,
Mike & Ramel

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our New Blog

Hello friends,

Well, here we go.  This is our new "Mike & Ramel in Ireland" blog.  Actually it is a blog in progress, with a long way left to go, obviously.  This first post is just a test to see what the page might look like.  Our goal is to create an interesting blog where you can check in often and keep up with our comings and goings, see some pictures of our recent adventures, and learn about current prayer requests.  We'll also post things that move us either to tears, or to laughter, or to our knees.

If you are reading this then we consider you to be either a partner or a potential partner.  Either way, we are honored that you have dropped by.  Come back often.

Your Ireland bound friends,
Mike and Ramel Wilson