“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 [NIV]
In the minutes after Scott told Katelyn, Kristen, Sophie and me that Sarah was gone, we all huddled on the floor of that little EMS office suite and cried out to God asking Him to please redeem the unimaginable pain, and allow us to see at least a portion of that redemption. In those moments we had no idea the depths of pain we would enter in the days, weeks and now months that followed, but shock and numbness gradually subsided to reveal the excruciating reality of the absence of our precious child, and sister to our girls. From the first moments, though, we knew and clung to the foundational truth of Romans 8:28, that God would redeem the agony because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” [NASB].
One of the ways that God quickly revealed He was redeeming our pain was through an outpouring of support for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in honor of Sarah. As previously shared, our initial goal was to raise enough funds to support a missionary for one year, a lofty goal of $58,200.00. However, our gracious and mighty God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” chose to move in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ to far surpass what we asked of Him. To be exact, He prompted generous men, women, students and children throughout our community and abroad to donate $32,920.00 more than we asked or imagined, for a total of $91,120.00.
There are no words to adequately express how deeply grateful and blessed our family feels for the generous outpouring. We recognize each donation was an offering first and foremost to our Lord and Savior, but also that each donation was given with the intent of honoring Sarah and her heart’s longing to share the gospel message and the love of Christ throughout the world, and in Botswana specifically. Motivated by a desire to make the impact of the donated funds more concrete for Katelyn, Kristen and Sophie, we contacted the International Mission Board leadership to ask if we could deliver the donation to them personally. In addition we asked if they would share with us how the funds might be used so we could then partner with those ministries in prayer.
October 25, 2017, we spent the entire day with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ who serve with the International Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia. We were loved so very well and once again blessed immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. By the end of the day we felt we have another home in Richmond with our family at the IMB. They taught us, listened to us, laughed with us and cried with us. They loved us with the love of Christ. It ministered to my heart as Sarah’s mom, but as Katelyn’s, Kristen’s and Sophie’s mom, I am forever indebted. They were the hands and feet of Christ to our family, demonstrating for our girls God’s ongoing tender loving care for us. God used the time and effort they invested in us to show our girls that He is indeed at work through the midst of the unimaginable pain they face day in and day out, to give them tangible evidence that He is actively redeeming it and using it for good.
We were able to learn about a precious family serving as missionaries in Botswana, Brent and Amanda Turner. Now that we have their names and some of their prayer needs we are excited to partner with them in prayer. We were also blessed to Skype with a missionary in South Africa who had previously served in Botswana as well. He was able to share at length about the ministry and prayer needs for Botswana, as well as some of the prayer needs of his family and their area of ministry. We learned that the population of Botswana is approximately 2,250,000, of those 1,545,000 are Tswana people. 75% of the population in Botswana is under the age of 29, and fatherlessness is pervasive, both facts present unique ministry needs and opportunities. After hearing him share we had a strong sense that Matthew 9:37-38 is absolutely true of Botswana, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” therefore we, too, are compelled to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The Global Engagement Team graciously gave us the opportunity to designate a portion of the funds given, almost $30,000, to three Lottie Moon projects in Botswana. The remaining majority of the funds will go into the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering fund to support missionaries like the Turners in Botswana.
Once again, to all who donated, bought shirts, or supported us in any other way, we are so very, very grateful. Thank you for your willingness to funnel your donation through the Lottie Moon Offering in Sarah’s name so we can have the opportunity to see God tangibly redeeming Sarah’s absence and our pain. We hope you will join with us in praying for the three Lottie Moon projects in Botswana, that God will providentially guide the implementation of each, and that each will be effectively used to make an eternal impact in the lives of all who are touched by them.
Photo courtesy of Matt JonesPhoto courtesy of Matt JonesPhoto courtesy of Matt Jones