by Ryan Thurman
We are living in Gozo, a little sister island of the country of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, not too far from Tunisia. Wherever God places us in the world our work with Antioch Network (AN) is consistent. First, we help start and support new ministries. Second, we encourage and build up the body of Christ. And third, we care for the poor and vulnerable.
To help paint a fuller picture of what we are currently up to we will share the details of two recent days! On Sunday, we hosted and led the worship service. We had forty-plus people in our home from ten different countries. Keilah did a reading from Scripture and later gave the Bible lesson to the children. Noleen assisted in the communion and I gave the sermon. After the service, we ate and fellowshipped together. It was powerful to serve together as a family. It brought back memories of when we started A2J in our home in Phoenix and then a few years later helped start St. George’s Anglican Church, also in our home.
The next day, while Noleen was homeschooling the children, I left early in the morning to catch the ferry from Gozo to Malta to go shopping to buy food and supplies for the Eritrean family, the three children we took into our home last month while their mother was recovering from tuberculosis in the hospital. While there I noticed the mother was not doing well so after praying over her made arrangements with her social workers to go back to the hospital. I ended this day by joining Christians from all over Malta and Gozo both Catholic and Protestant to pray for reconciliation and healing in the broken body of Christ. There is a wonderful network of Christians developing here that has the same heart and mission as John 17.
The next day God gave us the joy and challenge of bringing these three children to live with us once again. Our children have been wonderful in opening up their spaces and hearts to these children again. Recently, we watched the Gospel of John movie together, they had never heard the gospel or understood the love of and sacrifice of Jesus. The sheer wonder and amazement they had to the power and beauty of Jesus stirred us afresh. Mikele, asked Noleen where Jesus is now and she shared with him the mystery of Jesus in heaven but also in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, He responded, "This is the most amazing and scary story ever." Such a genuine and innocent response!
Three Things We Have Been Learning Lately
1. Everyone is hungry for love and thirsty for grace. As Hebrews exhorts us, see to it that no one misses the grace of God.
2. The home might just be the most important place on earth. As James K.A. Smith writes, the home is a deeply formative space that teaches us how to love. As a family, we are seeing with new eyes, the important role we have in helping shape one another. We are also learning as a family how to identify and affirm each other’s gifts and how to work together to serve God.
3. Reconciliation is needed now more than ever, as the world appears to be rapidly growing more divisive. The message of reconciliation is more relevant and appealing than ever to a world deeply anguished because of broken relationship with God and with one another.
**You can read more about our past nine months in Europe by clicking this link.