Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
(2nd Corinthians 1:9)
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is referring to the experience of he and his missions team as they traveled through Asia Minor. They faced such severe opposition and difficulty that they eventually came to the point of considering whether they had come to the end of their journey, that it was a time of death. Now, Paul’s team was facing persecution & violence, which is definitely not the story of our Emmaus team. But to be honest, there was a point in the early Spring that we also wondered if Emmaus was staring at a “sentence of death.”
We had only 1 applicant to our school scheduled to start in August and we were facing the loss of some key staff members as they followed God’s lead into other ministry roles. But instead of feeling lead to close the ministry, we felt the Lord leading us to trust him in a redesign & reboot of Emmaus’ Ministries. This lead to hours of meetings with local pastors/leaders and prayerful meetings as a team, resulting in two redesigned programs and one brand new program.
On January 8th, we launched a pilot of our redesigned School of Biblical Studies with 7 students! On January 10th, we added an eighth, a new young lady who had been baptized the previous Sunday and was desiring to be a part of community and know the God of the Bible. The hopes of a future of discipling young people through the pages of Scriptures are a reality, and there is exciting momentum to the future of the school. Tomorrow, Latoya and I are interviewing student applicants from the Netherlands, and next week from Germany.
On January 15th, we launched our Biblical Narrative Series, this is a 10-lecture series we are providing for the local community once/month, taking them through the entire narrative of the Bible and giving them tools for engaging every book. We were blown away to have 35 people from 7 churches attend this event, entitled “Christ to the Church”, covering Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts! We can’t wait to see what all God ends up doing through this year of studying with that group.
We have also rebranded our Seminars that we have been teaching in local churches as our Biblical Literacy Program. This next weekend, Kris and I will be traveling to the convention for the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, with 86 churches (parishes) represented. Join us in praying for opportunities to serve these churches however would be a blessing to them!
Our family is doing great! We are so grateful that God drew us, very reluctantly, to plant our lives here in Central Florida. We are blessed with a great church community, wonderful relationships and good schools for the kids. Softball starts this weekend for Grace, Lily is exploring joining a dance class, Maya has moved to 5-days/week at her incredible school, and Faith has self-promoted herself to being the boss…everywhere. Latoya and I are continuing to lead worship at our church and I am a monthly part of the speaking team at the church. Below are some pics from our Christmas season which included a beach getaway that we were blessed with as well as a FREE day-pass to Disney!!! We also were so grateful to get to spend a week in Michigan with our families!
PRAY WITH US:
- Be praying for our students & new staff as we study the New Testament this semester. All of them are embarking on something brand new for them, and that can come with some feelings of being overwhelmed. BUT they are all doing great thus far, and I can’t wait to see all God does in and through them this season.
- The move to 5 days/week has proved challenging or Maya. Tuesdays/Thursdays include more extra-curricular activities, and therefore lends itself to more frequent moments of her getting overwhelmed/distracted/frustrated. But she LOVES school so much! Appreciate prayers for her to have peace, joy & gentleness at School.
- Our missions partners are incredibly faithful (many of you are a part of this), AND we also truly need to increase this team over the coming months. Our team has grown, but we are still not at a level of long-term sustainability in terms of monthly partnership. Appreciate your prayers as God continues to sustain us on this mission He has called us to!
- Latoya, Lily, Grace and I feel that God has called us to go serve in Guatemala where I would teach/train at village churches and our family would also work with feeding centers in some of the most impoverished communities in Central America. We are working on solidifying dates and then we will pass on more info. This will require secondary fundraising for that mission project, but we are very excited to get our kids involved in serving with us internationally!
We are amazed by all that God is doing! This past week, we have been overwhelmed with gratitude that this is the life God has allowed us to live. Thank you all for your willingness to partner with us in this ministry!
Grace and Peace to you all,
The Ives Family