The following post comes from one of CBF’s field personnel, Matt Norman. Read the story of his hopes and dreams for the coming year. Click here to support and learn more about the Norman’s ministry.
“It’s been a hard year • But I’m climbing out of the rubble • These lessons are hard •Healing changes are subtle • But every day it’s… • Less like tearing more like building• Less like captive more like willing • Less like breakdown more like surrender • Less like haunting more like remember • And I feel you here • And you’re picking up the pieces • Forever faithful • It seemed out of my hands a bad situation • But you are able • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars and more like character” –Sara Groves
If there is one thing that this past year has formed in our life it is character. What an amazing year 2012. Like most years it began with anticipation. Our family was in the middle of preparations to be able to go and serve on mission in Athens, Greece. After being commissioned by CBF the summer of 2011, we had begun the long and spiritually forming task of actually getting to our place of service. We had a check list of all the things that had to be completed to actually be able to serve, sell or rent house, discover best schooling for kids, sell or give away everything that would not fit in 12 suitcases, raise the funding required to be able to serve, and get a long-term visa were all prominent on the list. We completed everything on the list but the very last one, get a visa.
July 15th came and went, and instead of us being in our new home and place of mission service in Athens, we found ourselves wondering where we were going to live and what we were going to do. It’s a scary feeling. We had just done something crazy. We had gone “all in” so to speak. We knew from the beginning that it was not easy to get a long- term visa to Greece but we couldn’t reach that goal until we had met every other goal on our list. So, we went for it, and there we were, wondering what to do next.
Along the way, Michelle and I often spoke of the amazing community that we felt we were discovering. As we developed partners to enable us to serve, our prayer was, “God, help us discover those you are calling to serve alongside us in prayer, finances, and engagement”. We began to realize more fully that we were not alone in our calling. We began to discover the “church” with which we were called to serve. As we sat in July and wondered what we would do next, we felt the love and support of our partners…our “church without walls” so to speak.
Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC allowed us move into their mission house. We received emails and notes of encouragement. Our weekends and Wednesdays this fall were full of speaking engagements, we became fully booked. In the midst of all this, we began the discernment process with CBF again and were able to discover a new place of service, working with refugees and immigrants in Barcelona, Spain.
The great thing about meeting all the goals to be able to serve in Athens, except the visa, is that we were ready and able to serve anywhere. Now, we will minister in the Barcelona, Spain metro area with immigrants and refugees from North and West Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Partnering with the Union of Evangelical Baptists of Spain, we hope to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the immigrant and refugee population.
We are compelled to join God in this work, to serve and to share the good news of Christ with many whom have not heard, and to live life together with people who will grow in Christ and serve the world.
According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, every minute eight people are forced to flee war, persecution or terror. Thousands across Africa and Central Asia find themselves in the midst of draught, famine and living in conditions of extreme poverty. More than 18 million people across West and Central Africa are facing a food crisis following erratic rains that have caused poor food harvests and water shortages. Economic conditions are such that many live on less than a dollar a day. This is known as the “poverty that kills.” These difficult living conditions have led large numbers of people to flee their countries.
In the past five years, Spain has become the country that receives the second highest number of immigrants after the United States, with 600,000 arrivals per year on average. The potential to share our hope in Christ and the love of Christ in tangible ways is huge and the impact on the diaspora in Spain can be life-changing.
And so we begin a new year as we did in 2012… with anticipation. Our location is different; we are staying in Wilmington, NC in a house partners have graciously offered. We are learning Spanish, continue to develop partners and are in the middle of the visa process to be able to live and serve in Barcelona. It is a long process and we are hopeful that we will be able to move in the coming months. We are still “all in” and that is both exhilarating and terrifying, yet we know we are exactly where we need to be as God forms us into who we are created to be.
May God bless you and shape you in 2013.