Thursday, May 29, 2014

With Rev. Krulish and family (WPC/Vancouver). 

Our week at Missionary Training International (MTI) has helped us to better understand how transitioning from one culture and one ministry to another has impacted our family. After the conference I was helped at the airline counter by a friendly African. I asked him where he was from, but he wanted me to guess. So I listened to his accent and guessed Kenya. He said that nobody ever guesses that so he gave me a free extra piece of luggage. I thanked him, and then asked if I could tell him a story. He said sure and gladly listened as I told him the story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven from Acts 1. This is our ministry, asking Africans about their countries and cultures and sharing 'God’s Story' through the stories of the Bible.    

While we are still trying to get settled we also getting ready to make another transition. At the end of July we are going to have to pack up and move from where we’ve been staying in Woodinville. Thankfully some dear friends are letting us stay at their house for August and September. So we are gearing up to move from Woodinville to Redmond and then in September we’ll be headed to South Africa.
In addition to packing and moving we have to finish our dental and medical check-ups. Fortunately, we qualify for the sliding scale at a local health clinic. Recently, Laura wanted to have a red spot on her forehead checked out so we went to their dermatologist. I had a couple of spots also, so we prayed that the doctor might advise me as well.  The doctor immediately looked at my forehead and said that he needed to freeze the spots and he said the same for Laura. The physician assistant asked if I was a patient and I said no. But the doctor said, ‘do unto others’ and went ahead and took care of it. It turns out he had worked in Africa and he even went to church and lived next door to one my old roommates. Ironically while we were having these spots frozen the office manager was keeping an eye on our girls while they watched the movie ‘Frozen’ in the lobby. I’m really grateful to have this taken care of even if I now look like Mikhail Gorbachev (if you’re old enough to remember him).
For now we’re still seeking to build our team of ministry partners. This means we’re out speaking at churches, entertaining and strengthening relationships.  As we have sought to incorporate Bible storytelling into our preaching and teaching the response here in the states has been very positive. One thing is for sure, people like it better than the way I used to preach. One man said that being in Africa had really changed my preaching. A ruling elder at one church said that he wanted to learn 'Biblestorying'. We’ve done this in Sunday services, Sunday schools, in schools and in home groups. Our schedule of speaking engagements is getting full but we would love to present at your church or home group. At the end of June we’re planning a two week ‘Mountain States’ trip where we will be speaking at churches and visiting old friends. We depend on the Lord and our ministry partners so we ask that you regularly pray for us and for the ministry that the Lord has given us in Africa.
Zikomo Kwambiri (thanks very much),
Reverend Jay, Laura, Clara, Katherine and Lauren Stoms
Befriend us (Jay and or Laura Stoms) on FACEBOOK

Africa Christian Training Institute (Jay Stoms Ministry Fund).
P O Box 15621; Panama City FL 32406-5621


Friday, May 9, 2014

"Third Culture Kids"
God has been calling us to some big changes, and we feel like we are in constant transition. The move from one culture to another and now from one ministry to another has been unsettling. Living in a foreign culture in a developing country for over a decade presents some unique challenges and stresses. It would be difficult for most people to relate to our frustrations, hassles, and losses. This is why we found our recent week of ‘Debriefing and Renewal’ at Mission Training International in Colorado so refreshing.  The counselors there were caring and helpful. But the best thing about the week was hearing other couples from various Missions with similar experiences. We met families coming from Ukraine, Mongolia, India, Latin America and various parts of Africa. While they were returning from different parts of the world our experiences were remarkably similar. Hearing others tell their stories and struggles helped us process some of what we’ve been facing. One family was forced to move and lost their home and possessions. One man was effectively using ‘Biblestorying’ in a local dialect but had to leave the mission field for family reasons. Another family had to return to the states because one of their children just couldn’t adapt to the culture. Several others had to leave their fields because of conflicts with mission administrators.  
MTI 'Debrief and Renewal' 4/27-5/2
Mission work is a paradoxical mix of the ‘good and the bad’, ‘victory and failure’, and ‘joy and sorrow’. Trying to make Christ known in a foreign culture is both rewarding and emotionally challenging. The week at MTI opened our eyes to some important issues and really helped our family. Our girls are ‘third culture kids’ because they don’t feel like they completely belong in either culture and this is true for Laura and I as well. Our girls easily related to the other ‘missionary kids’ there at the conference and the ‘MTI’ staff that worked with them were incredibly insightful.

MTI in Colorado.
Now that we are  starting to feel settled, we have to start getting ready to leave for Africa in September. At the same time we have to increase our support and we already have a full schedule of speaking engagements through August (See below). We also have to move at the end of July. Dear friends have graciously invited us to move into their place for August and September. After that we’ll have to get ready to move across the world, which means more preparation and packing. The two constants for us are change and Jesus who never changes.

During the week we meditated on God as the gardener and Jesus as the vine from John 15. God has been pruning us for his good purpose. We are branches that cannot bear fruit apart from the vine. Jesus is essential and we are fruit-bearing branches connected to the vine as a family. I cannot bear fruit alone, and my family is integral to the ministry. As a family we need to regroup so we can grow together in connection to the vine particularly as we transition to a new home and a new ministry.  

As we prepare to leave the states, leave African Bible College were we’ve for 12 years, join the Africa Christian Training Institute and plant a local church in South Africa please pray for us. Now perhaps more than ever we sense our utter dependency upon God. We humbly ask that you would pray for us as a family. To our faithful partners we thank you for your prayerful generous support of the ministry that God has given us in Africa.

Zikomo Kwambiri (thanks very much),
Reverend Jay, Laura, Clara, Katherine and Lauren Stoms.

Africa Christian Training Institute (Jay Stoms Ministry Fund).
P O Box 15621; Panama City FL 32406-5621

Upcoming Speaking Engagements:
May 11th          CrossSound Church, Bainbridge Is., WA         Sunday Sermon
May 18th          Resurrection Presbyterian, Puyallup, WA.     Sunday Sermon.
May 25th          Westminster Church, Vancouver, WA.           Sunday Sermon.
May 27th          Bellevue Christian, Woodinville, WA.             School Chapel
June 8th            Bellewood Presbyterian, Bellevue, WA.         Sunday Sermon.
June 10th          Bellevue Christian, Woodinville, WA.             School Chapel
June 22nd         Green Lake Presbyterian, Seattle, WA.          Sunday Sermon.
June 28-29th     All Saints Church, Boise, WA.                         Missions Conference.
July 6th             Covenant Presbyterian, Lander, WY.             Sunday Sermon.
July 13th           Hillcrest Presbyterian, Seattle, WA.              Sunday Sermon.
July 20th           Hillcrest Presbyterian, Seattle, WA.              Sunday Sermon.
July 27th           Faith Presbyterian, Tacoma, WA.                   Sunday Evening.
August 24th      Hillcrest Presbyterian, Seattle, WA.              Sunday Sermon.
August 31st      Hillcrest Presbyterian, Seattle, WA.              Sunday Sermon.