The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NRSV)
No one knows what a day will bring, much less an entire year. While making news years resolutions wasn’t part of my upbringing, I’ve long been into goal-setting. Is there a difference? Maybe, or maybe not. I do know that the year ahead holds quite a bit of potential and that I don’t want to pass any of it up through lack of focus on my part.
First, my brother-in-law Marcelo has succeeded in his request for a visa to visit the United States. He is the Brazilian missionary who stayed on in Uberlânia with his wife and kids when I moved my family to the United States. Under his leadership one congregation has become two and a young man who was converted through his ministry went away for a two-year ministry training course. Great strides have been made in the evangelization of the city, and Marcelo and Selma (his wife) share a vision not only for bringing people to faith in Christ but to truly help people in practical ways. They work in marriage and family counseling, holding workshops and seminars to help people live better and have happier homes. There is a recovery aspect to their ministry as well and a group in the church has organized to help out in social projects, such as volunteering at a local orphanage and arranging donations of funds and goods for this work. Marcelo’s purpose in coming to the United States is to raise awareness and support for the mission in Uberlândia. He has yet to finalize travel plans but intends to come to New Jersey first, then head to the Midwest.
Second, my family is planning on making a trip to Brazil. This is especially significant because my wife hasn’t been back there since 2006 and I haven’t set foot in Brazil since leaving in October 2003. Had things gone according to plan we would have been back in full-time mission work there in 2008. At this point it seems more likely we’ll be working indefinitely with the Brazilian community here in the northeastern United States and making occassional trips to Brazil. It would be best if we created a fund for these trips. At this point we are nowhere near the estimated $3500 we’ll need for airfar, and I’m estimating that renewing our paperwork for travel (including American passports for my wife and daughter who were naturalized in 2008) will cost no less than $1000.
Third, this is the year when we intend to get serious about youth ministry. A few of our congregation’s young people are now teenagers and we are anxious to begin holding regular youth group meetings in our home beginning in January.
Fifth, there are unsettling uncertainties we face here in the year ahead. The start-up I work with in New York is running out of investor funds. If we don’t succeed in raising another round of funds by the end of January or beginning of February we’ll have to close up shop.
Through it all, with all the hope, potential and insecurity of a new year, we move forward believing in the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who was revealed most fully in Jesus of Nazareth.
Your prayers for us and the good we seek to do are deeply appeciated. Happy New Year!