A Word of Thanksgiving to God…and to You!
Originally posted at: https://anglicanfrontiers.com/a-word-of-thanksgiving/
Executive Director of AFM
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). This has been the opening acclamation for the Divine Office’s Evening Prayer service throughout the season of Easter. After the fast-moving and tumultuous events AFM has experienced over the last three weeks, in addition to thanking God for a victory, I also want to personally thank you, our ministry partners.
Two AFM cross-cultural workers (whom we’ll call “Larry and Arlene”) and their children were stuck in a city with fighting on the streets, bombs falling from above, water and food shortages, cut electricity, and limited options to evacuate. It was the most frightening predicament any of our cross-cultural workers (CCWs) have found themselves in since 2016 when one AFM CCW was detained by a foreign government in the Middle East for one week.
Poignantly aware of the potential for a prolonged entrapment in the city, or even loss of life, we mobilized the Body of Christ—you, our readers and ministry partners—and you responded! The evening before their planned evacuation, their sending church in in North Carolina organized an all-night prayer vigil. Others of you got up in the middle of the night, praying during the exact hours of their attempt to traverse the city to an evacuation point. Throughout this harrowing ordeal, many of you received visions and pictures from the Lord which you shared with me.
For instance, Deacon Steve, one of AFM’s CCWs whom I don’t believe has even met Larry and Arlene, wrote, “When I woke up this morning and started praying for L & A, I had a vision of a pathway in an open tunnel with angels on both sides leading them to safety. I felt a deep sense of peace and assurance that they would make it safely out of the country and home.” And it was so!
But thanking only you, our prayer and ministry partners, is insufficient. Larry and Arlene’s deliverance occurred during the exact same time period that GAFCON 2023 was meeting in Rwanda. African bishops whom I’ve never met went out of their way arranging logistical support. African believers in the city where Larry and Arlene are serving were courageous in lending a hand. And my love for the Anglican Communion was especially rekindled by Larry and Arlene’s diocesan bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Steve Breedlove, of the Diocese of Christ our Hope.
Busy with the important proceedings of GAFCON, Bp. Steve was indefatigable, calling me often to get updates, mobilizing prayer within his diocese, and connecting the AFM crisis response team with key people on the ground. Above all, even though half a world away, I felt his shepherding heart for his flock, a sacramental reminder of Jesus’ tender heart for each of us, his children.
I’d be remiss not to mention AFM’s incredible staff. Gretchen, our training coordinator, provided tender care to all on our crisis response team. “Cornelius,” an AFM CCW seconded to another organization, not only requested and obtained space for Larry and Arlene on a vehicle departing the city, but also provided his tactical knowledge of war-torn environments, both of which were of inestimable help. Jeremiah, AFM’s security coordinator, was masterful in his craft and also deeply pastoral in his demeanor as he planned and guided Larry, Arlene, and their children to safety. AFM’s CCW Pastors (+Norman and Beth) and Pastors Emeritus (Pete+ and Shirleen) prayed up a storm and encouraged us constantly. The rest of our team (Angie, Patty, Stacy, and Stephanie) kept our office running efficiently. Finally, AFM’s Board of Directors was engaged from the very beginning with fervent prayer and a “whatever it takes” attitude.
I could thank many others—including churches from other denominations who whole-heartedly interceded—but space does not allow. Nonetheless, as I offer words of gratitude to God for how He worked his wonders through you, His saints, I also want to remind us to be prayerful for those expats still trapped in a precarious environment and for the many Africans who live in perennially unstable countries under difficult conditions. The intensity and amount of evil seems to be increasing in our day, so let us “be alert and of sober mind” (I Pet. 5:8).
As I write, Larry, Arlene, and their kids are now resting in a third country. They continually need our prayers as do all AFM CCWs who minister in some of the most difficult environments across the globe.
When I became the executive director of AFM almost nine years ago, The Rev. Canon Tad de Bordenave, AFM’s first executive director and founder, offered me these wise words: “God wants AFM to succeed in its mission more than you ever will because God loves unreached people groups (UPGs) more than we ever could.” Indeed, God loves UPGs more than we ever could and the CCWs who obediently proclaim the message of Jesus’ victory to them. Accordingly, God uses goers (CCWs) and senders (the rest of us, the Body of Christ) to reach UPGs with the extraordinary love of Jesus Christ.
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). Thanks also to all of you!