This was a sad-glad day.
We first met Munir when asked to teach our English conversation class on Tuesday nights. He was the pastor of the Arabic-speaking church in Luleå with a passion to see people come to know and love Jesus as he did. He shared his faith boldly and many came to Jesus. We had so many good times in our class discussing world events, Jesus, our lives, etc. and learning English at the same time! He had a beautiful smile and a twinkle in his eyes! Munir and his brother, Samir, became dear friends to us!
Listening to his story, we realized that we had mutual friends, George and Martha. As a child in the States, Gwen’s church supported George and Martha. They were the ones who first told Munir about Jesus so many years ago! Who knew that all these years later, we would meet him in Luleå, sharing his contagious faith? God had a plan!!!
Last March/April, Munir shared with us that he had cancer in his stomach. We prayed as he endured chemo, but 2 Sundays ago, Munir changed addresses and started to live in heaven with his Jesus! I guess Jesus decided Munir had had enough of the pain and suffering and wanted Munir to come live with Himself for all eternity. Today was Munir’s funeral. Thus, it is a sad-glad day. He leaves a huge hole in our community and in his family. We miss him and it’s so hard to comprehend that we won’t meet him again on this earth. Such was his earthly life. But now, he continues his life in heaven, which we know is far better!!! The beautiful song, “I Can Only Imagine” was sung today. While listening, I couldn’t help but to think that Munir doesn’t need to ‘only imagine’ any more. He knows!! And I can just see him going around heaven with a huge smile on his face and a twinkle in his wide-open eyes exclaiming, “I never imagined such an amazing God or such an amazing place!!”
Tomorrow morning (Saturday, March 4) our house church will gather in this quaint local café called Hanssons Kitchen. We’ll hang out, talk about Jesus, and hopefully have an opportunity to share our faith with others.
As we follow the command of Jesus to go and make disciples, we’re praying for a chance to share the hope that is in us. Would you please join us in that prayer? Thanks!
(image from cliparts.co/free-leadership-clipart)
Several months ago, Gwen and I had the opportunity to attend a Simple Church training conference in Piteå (a town about an hour from us) that was led by our partner from Stockholm. Gwen and I were then encouraged by others to develop a network of leaders of simple churches here in northern Sweden. The purpose of the network is to let these leaders and potential leaders know there are others involved in this pioneer ministry. Another goal is to provide teaching and training resources and to encourage each other through prayer.
Our first meeting was in January and five house churches were represented from as far away as Umeå – 3.5 hour drive from us! The leaders from Umeå have a five-week old infant, but they were were so determined to participate that they joined us via a conference call! How’s that for perseverance to be part of what God is doing here?
We shared fika, Tony led a brief teaching, we prayed for each other and then enjoyed a simple meal where we shared the Lord’s Supper. I believe we’ve set the foundation of developing relationships with one another so we can expand God’s kingdom here in northern Sweden.
Will you join us in prayer for our next meeting tomorrow (19 February)? I’ll be sharing a simple evangelism tool that can easily be used in non-confrontational conversations with those who don’t yet know Jesus. The house church that Gwen and I lead plan to use this method next month when we meet at a local cafe in Boden and share our faith with others. Please pray for opportunities and boldness.
We finally had our first “good” snowstorm! It snowed for two days and our total for this storm alone was about 18″ of the white stuff. Sasha is a mixed breed and two of her breeds are used to hunt moose and bear, so she’s in her glory running and burying herself in the snow.
If you click here you can see a video of the happiest dog in northern Sweden having a blast catching and finding the toys as Jensina throws them!
We had a White Elephant Christmas gift exchange with our house church last week. Nobody except our family had ever taken part in one before, which made it so much more fun. Who said house church is boring? Check out the video here.
In the previous weeks, we discussed the different aspects of Advent: Hope, Peace, Love and Joy.
We love our church!
Jensina, Jiana, and I (Gwen) had a fun day today out on the ice in Luleå!!! They have a wonderful ice road, so Jensina had the idea to take Sasha there – her first time on the ice!!! It was really cold, about 5 degrees F, but a blast!!! If you want to see a short video, copy and paste this into your browser: https://youtu.be/Oe6jIssKgos
Hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to God’s blessings for 2016!!!
This week, our house church gathered in our apartment to fika (enjoy coffee and sweets), get to know each other better, pray for each other and discuss God’s grace found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. We were blessed that 6 people came to learn about God and share life. This is the reason we are here and the heart of our ministry – to make followers of Jesus!
We’re in the midst of our concentrated week of Martin birthdays in November – Tony (17th), Gwen (19th) and Jiana (23rd). And oh yea…we woke up to a lovely snowfall that’s just incredibly beautiful.
What a blessing to be able to attend United World Mission’s Euro Conference!!! It was a week of wonderful renewal!! For Tony and I, it was a great time of meeting our colleagues in other mission fields and hearing their stories; some old friends, others meeting for the first time face to face (vs Skype), and meeting many new ones!! My best highlight was the worship time each morning! We were blessed with a great worship team from Texas. It’s amazing how much deeper your worship is when you can worship in your mother tongue!! Tony loved being in the majestic Julian Alps in Slovenia. He’s seen them in almost every country they are in and they always take his breath away!! Jensina and Jiana totally enjoyed meeting the other Third Culture Teens, all the different activities they did each day, and the times to process about being a Third Culture Teen. We’re so thankful for those who traveled over from Texas to bless our girls! They are in school right now, but if I could ask them what their favorite thing was, I’m totally sure I would get different answers!! I think Jiana would say all of the activities they did and Jensina would say hanging out with the other teens and making new friends!! (But don’t hold me to that!!! LOL)
It would take a really loooong blog to share everything, so instead I’ll share through these pictures! I hope you enjoy them and don’t get too bored!!!
It’s spring break for the girls and they’re wallpapering our home. So to get out of their way, we went to see the Ice Hotel – always wanted to do that but never did. They are celebrating their 25th year as the original Ice Hotel. It’s about 10 degrees colder inside than outside so it gave some of the pictures a misty effect.It was amazing and we all had a great time!!!!! Check out our slide show!!