A quirk of the American delivery system is that the couriers rarely knock on the door. Parcels are deposited on the doorstep, possibly accompanied by a quick ring of the doorbell, but by the time we’ve got to the door the van is halfway down the road racing to the next address. We’ll often arrive home to boxes of books resting against the door, which the boys take delight in attempting to lug into the house.
This month, books have kept coming but every now and then packages of presents have landed, and were met with great delight – as well as the frustration and disbelief of having to wait until Christmas Day to rip off the wrapping paper.
Yesterday, we were surprised by a bundle of Christmas cards. Cards cascaded out of the big envelope, and many had personal notes to us. The surprising thing is that we didn’t know many of the names, we wouldn’t recognise most of these people in the street, and yet that crowd of Christmas cards came with love, prayer and specific encouragements for us.
We have recently had the huge privilege of being adopted as mission partners by Christchurch Dunstable, and this bundle of encouragement and Christmas wishes was from that church family. A church family who, amazingly, are eager to partner with us in the gospel ministry we are doing out here. And, in the couple of months since the partnership begun, have shown us undeserved love, generosity and support in numerous ways.
We have been blown away by God’s grace so evidently on display in this group of people. The leadership of the church are invested in pastorally caring for us, the missions committee lovingly enquire about various aspects of what we are doing, the church family prays for us regularly and we feel supported, affirmed in what we are doing and incredibly thankful for amazingly intentional and thorough gospel partnership.
Wonderfully, we recognise and delight in this gospel partnership, because our whole last year or so has been marked by such partnership. We have been able to say with Paul, in Philippians 1, that we pray with joy because of peoples’ partnership with us in the gospel.
There are the friends who so generously opened up their home to us in those weeks after our visa disaster, and sat with us, prayed with us, loved us, and grew our friendship in the midst of shock and emotion. There are the hundreds of people who have been praying for us, and keep doing so. There are the friends who deliberately keep texting, writing, emailing with encouragement and enquiries as to how we are doing. There are those who have looked after our children to allow some breathing space. There are those who have provided for us in ways we didn’t anticipate needing. There are those over here who are reaching out, including us, loving us, opening up their homes to us.
I could tell you of many more moments evidencing glorious gospel partnership. We are encouraged, built up, spurred on and eager to love Jesus more through it. We are so very grateful to God for His grace in providing such a crowd of gospel people who pervade our lives, and point us to eternal things again and again. Praying that we’d reciprocate in some way as we pray for that gospel crowd, and seek to encourage in whatever ways we can.