Posted by: Emily Shemwell | November 2, 2009

November Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all, thank you for your continual love, support, encouragement, and prayers for me as I follow Christ’s call to serve the urban poor. As a team, we have received 20% of our financial support needed for the year.

I am now beginning the second month of my year term at Jeff Street. Coming into the start of the term, I knew that the road ahead would be different than my summer term, but I did not know exactly what the differences would entail. I did not know what to expect. While I tried to not have expectations, I am human and, well, it was inevitable that I created expectations before arriving in Louisville this September.

Over these past two months, I have realized that serving as a Hope Missionary for a year is not what I expected. And since my experience thus far has not met my expectations, I easily start to question, doubt and become frustrated with God because He has not provided me with what I anticipated. I sulk in the mindset of “If God is not going to meet my expectations, then what good am I doing here? Is this where He wants me to be?”

Just last week, amidst the frustrations, doubts and questions, I was reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love.”

I was slapped in the face by God. The ugliness of the sin that dwells in my heart was made clear yet again. I was reminded of my nature to run. I run when circumstances become hard. I doubt when situations are challenging. I question His purpose for me when what I expected is not what occurs. I want to throw in the towel and walk away when life tries my patience. Paul’s words to the church in Rome were words that a missionary in Louisville needed to hear once again. I’m supposed to rejoice during problems and trials, not wallow in self-pity. I’m called to rejoice during problems and trials because God is strengthening my character and developing my confidence in the hope I have in Him.

How dare I expect God to give me anything. How dare I doubt and question Him over and over again. How dare I not remember the historical Jesus that died and bled for me. How dare I not trust my God who loves me more than I can imagine.

In all that God is doing when trials arise, Paul brings us back to God’s Hope and Love. His Hope will not disappoint. His Love is surely known. Do I truly believe these words?

Yes, I do. However, often times I act like I have forgotten them. I tell our homeless guests about placing their hope in the One True Hope and I tell them about the unfailing, unconditional love of God, but do my heart and soul back up my words?

Not always. I’d like to say they do, but that is not always the case. Yet, when I doubt, when I run, and when I question, God is still right beside me pouring out more of His love, grace, and mercy on me. During my challenging moments, He never fails to remind me of His Gospel. He brings me back to His Word and reminds me of His promises, just like He did last week with Paul’s words.

My encouragement to you, family and friends, is to remember and embrace the promises found in Romans 5. Remember what God is teaching us when difficult times come our way. I knew that serving the Lord at a homeless shelter would not be easy. I knew that doing life together with five other teammates would prove to be tough. But, God is by my side every step of the way; praise Him for that!

Once again, thank you for your faithful support! God is doing a mighty work at Jeff. Street, in our neighborhood, in the lives of my team members, and also in my life. The enemy is at work too, but I know that God will prevail. Pray for our protection and safety while living in the inner city. Pray for our neighbors – young children living in broken families, an atheist couple that we are starting to get to know better. Pray for our homeless friends and residents at Jeff. Street – pray for Jason (who I mentioned in my last newsletter) and the many others trying to overcome their addictions and start anew; situations do not prove easy for them either. Pray for the Women’s Bible Study that will be starting up soon – pray for God’s will to be done as we seek to share the Gospel with the ladies at Jeff. Street.

Also, pray for my physical well-being. Pray that physical problems will be resolved and that I will receive rest in the arms of Jesus. Pray for wisdom and discernment in my leadership responsibilities. And finally, pray for strength and endurance when trials occur. Pray that I will be rooted with God’s promises and remember the Cross in both the joyful and challenging times.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! May you have a blessed holiday. We truly have so much to be thankful for!

In Christ’s Love,

 

Emily

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