Posts Tagged ‘ministry

24
May
13

Really needing some stamps

Several years ago Jesus gave me a promise in regards to our family living on financial support. It was during a group prayer time where we had been asked to write Jesus a letter. Instead he completely turned things upside down, and showed me that the letter that he wanted me to put inside the envelope that we had been given was a letter from him. The letter is us as a family, and the message in the letter is one of honesty, hope, forgiveness and love.

He impressed on me to just write ‘God’ as the sender of the letter, and then I attached a permanent marker and a pencil to the envelope and left it on a chair. What Jesus had invited me to was to allow him to decide how the receiving address of the letter was going to be written. It is his business whether he writes the address with a pencil, so it can be easily and more frequently changed, or if he wants us to be in some location for a long time where he would write the address of the letter with a Sharpie permanent marker.

The symbolism was simple and beautiful, and I heard very clearly in my spirit: “And I will pay the postage!”

Jesus will pay the postage. That’s been our promise that we’ve been clinging to ever since I heard those words from Jesus 5 years ago. We have gone through many challenging situations financially, and he has always been true to his promise. But let’s face it….right now we could really use some more stamps!

I’ve been working on, alongside many other projects that require my attention, a major support raising campaign. Let’s be honest, so far where I’m almost done with it, it’s been hugely discouraging. We really need more monthly support to be able to continue doing what we know Jesus has called us to do. We have received some gifts towards our moving expenses this summer, and we are extremely grateful for those! But as far as monthly gift pledges, we have to accept that right now we are looking at a minus of at least $210. Yep, that was $210 less each month…..

Jesus, we just choose to quietly remind you of your promise. You will pay the postage!

A song I was just reminded of as my thoughts and feelings experience lots of turmoil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4DgESWtCus

And a classic by Rich Mullins, sung by Big Daddy Weave:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOon2xQNZX0

Torben

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07
May
13

A snapshot of my inner world

Most blogs from people in Christian ministries are teaching tools where they start with a question they ponder, or that they know other people think about, and then they talk about it, include some God-stuff and wrap it up neatly with a bow at the end. I’ve thought about writing like that. I guess I wish I could. I guess I wish that would be true to me. True to what’s going on in my life. Alas, it’s not. Far from it. I’m a teacher, but I teach from my mess. I teach in the midst of my mess. I know no other way.

I thought about posting an update about how I’m doing on Facebook, and I chickened out. Afraid of peoples’ comments. Afraid of being put on a pedestal for being honest. Afraid of hearing empty clichés with zero power to help me or anybody else. So I thought I would share something of how I’m doing out here in my little corner of cyber space where I can write whatever I want, and whoever reads it can take it for what it is.

Life is tough right now. Tremendously tough. If I were to give a snapshot of my inner world, these are some of the thoughts and feelings I run into a lot these days:

Worries. Lots of worries. I come from a family line of worriers. Not warriors, but worriers. My grandad was a worrier. My dad is a worrier. It’s something that’s in my blood. It’s a temptation that’s always present. It’s easy to worry about the future, and right now, where we have zero certainty and endless unanswered questions about our immediate future, it’s particularly easy to worry. “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere“, someone semi-philosophic wrote. It’s obviously true. But it doesn’t change the fact that I worry a lot about the future these days. And there is plenty of real reason to worry. We don’t have a place to stay, when we move back to Marietta, Georgia, USA at the end of July, and will we be able to find something that we can afford? We don’t have anything to drive at this point either. We don’t have a bed to sleep in or a table to eat at. We don’t have the financial support we need for our immediate and long-term future, and so far our renewed support raising efforts have been almost completely fruitless. It’s desperately discouraging and sends me into many dark thoughts and feelings that include anger, resentment, hurt, loneliness, confusion. And some more confusion and some more worries….

Frustrations. Frustrations that Jeannette and I can’t seem to talk through the things we need to talk through. We don’t seem as apt at conversing as we normally are. We misunderstand each other. We jump to conclusions that are not right. We both have lots of hurts to work through before we move to the States again. Old wounds have resurfaced. And we struggle to help each other the way we normally do. The pressure in our home is high. “Won’t we just go to Marietta and fall into another empty, lonely, frustrated hole with no money, limited future prospects and few deep relationships?” is one of the questions lingering under the surface.

Tiredness. Not just tiredness from being a dad of a (wonderful) 15 month old toddler who struggles to sleep through the night, and who was sick for three weeks in a row recently. But also tiredness from trying to finish up my last semester of university. I feel stretched like too little Nutella on too much bread. And it will keep going like this the next couple of months.

Confusion. Confusion about my calling. Isn’t my calling crystal-clear? It seems to be clear to me, but it’s as if it’s still not happening. Still I run into walls. Walls of a lack of support, both humanly speaking and financially. Walls of a lack of opportunities. Walls of being misunderstood and seen as someone I’m not.

Irritation. Irritation that it’s so hard for me to rest as I walk through this corner of the valley of the shadow of death. I oughta know better. I’ve been here so many times before. I know this too shall pass. Somehow. And I know who I am in Christ. And I know the truths about who Jesus really is. I know I’m okay with Jesus no matter what I do, say, think or feel. And yet, I can’t rest very well. I struggle. And I get even more tired and frustrated and angry.

Hope. There are feelings of hope. Indeed there are. Not based on anything in my circumstances right now. But hope that God somehow knows what he is up to. And hope that he hasn’t left us alone. I feel alone, but I know I’m not.

I had to end on a slightly brighter note. Because that’s the truth. The other stuff feels a lot more real, and my thoughts agree with my feelings. There are times where I wish I only felt a few feelings, and only thought a little, and typically landed on simple statements of truth. Again, I’m not created like that. I feel feelings deeper than most. Hurt deeper than most. Experience glorious joys deeper than most. I guess the whole “than most” is irrelevant to write. It’s not a competition. No-one wins. And we can’t trade with each other anyway.

‘Till next time.

Torben

15
Feb
13

Downsides of intercultural families

It’s a cold and quiet Friday morning in Copenhagen. I had tears in my eyes as I was walking through the streets trying to keep the insisting winter-cold out. I feel sad. Sad because of consequences of a choice that I made many years ago that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. How is that for an oxymoron?

This Sunday I have to tell my parents that our family are leaving Denmark again in July to move back to the States. It’s the right thing to do. It’s what we want to do. We sense that’s what God’s inviting us to do. I’m called to pour my life out in full-time ministry in the Body of Christ, and right now God has somewhere in America as the place where he wants me to do that. I’m excited about the prospect of getting back into devoting all my time to counsel, teach, train, lead, and through all of it point to life, liberty and hope in Jesus Christ. I’ve missed doing that dearly these last 8 months where I’ve been studying Communication and English at Roskilde University. It’s not my thing to study and look at theories and do academic projects. I’m a practical guy. Does it make a real difference in everyday life? If it doesn’t, I’m not very interested.

So I’m excited to move back to the States and continue in ministry in whatever capacity that’s gonna be. I’m excited for my dear wife and son to have other stay-at-home moms and kids to hang out with, unlike here in Copenhagen where those are extremely hard to come by.

Lots more to look forward to, but what makes my heart heavy today is the loss of leaving Denmark. The emotional loss for our family of not being able to spend a lot of quality time with our Danish family. It was tough for my family when I left Denmark to pursue God and his will for my life outside of Denmark’s borders 10 years ago. It got tougher when I had a lovely wife with me on my journeys that they would love to spend more time with as well. And since we got Marcus, the reality of missing us and us missing them has increased. And will increase with every child God will be kind enough to give us as a family. It sucks. It’s not fair. It’s not right that my parents, Marcus’ farmor and farfar, and the rest of my family, in particular my younger sister, Merete, who has been Marcus’ regular and excited babysitter during our stay here in Denmark, won’t get to see us very often. It’s not how it should be. It hurts us. It hurts them. And Marcus will be missing out on many fun and important experiences because he won’t get to be around his Danish family very much these coming years.

August 20, 2005 I said “I DO” with all my heart when Pastor Shawn Wallace asked me if I wanted to take Jeannette Lynn Thomas to be my lawfully wedded wife. Of course I wanted to do that! What a great choice I made. But I and we also made some choices on behalf of our respective families. Georgia and Ohio in the United States of America, and Herning, Stubbekøbing, and Copenhagen in Denmark are never gonna be very close to each other geographically. “The world has gotten so small”, the airlines tell us, but it still takes 8-10 hours to fly across the big ocean, and it still costs a fortune. That’s the raw reality. One set or both sets of families will miss out on as much contact with our family as they would prefer. And we will miss out of being with them. It will be different on the new earth someday. And I so look forward to that. But as far as 2013 goes, the reality is that we’re leaving Denmark this summer, and it hurts. I don’t know how to tell this piece of news to my parents. There are no clever words to say. It just sucks. They love us, and they love and adore our sweet little boy. And they won’t get to see him grow up. They won’t be nearby for his first day of school. They won’t go to grandparent day at his school. They won’t…..And tears come into my eyes again.

I love being married to my American wife. I love the craziness of being part of an international and intercultural family. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a ton of fun, and a huge challenge. And I love it all. And yet, there are real downsides to the choice we made in 2005. We made the choice for our respective families as well. We had to. They have had to live with that. And now, my Danish family will have to work through these realities that I will present to them this weekend. It is not easy. But all I and we can do is share the reality of what’s going to happen. Share that it’s tough for us too. And then entrust my family to Jesus, and ask him to help them in the grief and surrender process that they have to go through to be able to let go of their hopes and desires and submit to what Jesus is calling our family to do. Not an easy thing to do. Real surrender is never easy. But it does make a difference. It does make letting go possible. If you love somebody, set them free, Sting sings. And he is right. It’s the only way to live.

This day is a day of contemplation and reflection for me (plus I have to write a newsletter that’s wayyyyy overdue). And this morning these were my reflections.

Blessings, Torben




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