Say Bon Voyage to the Bell Bunch (Lord willing!)

25 JAN UPDATE and SPOILER ALERT:

Thanks for the prayers, certainly God listened. And He answered! Just a bit differently and for the better! We are not en route to Cape Town. I am on a couch in Columbus.

We held out as long as we could before having to call and rebook our tickets to Cape Town. Our travel agency required 24 hours notice before penalty. We worked through some new options, shared and prayed over these, and selected Saturday, 9 February as our new departure day.

Within a few hours, around 430p on Wednesday, I received a call from Chicago. Our visas had been processed and were ready for pick up. Yesterday, I left at 4am, drove to Chicago, entered the Consulate, received our visas, made it home before 4pm.

We are praising God! In many ways, this is a relief. A relief we no longer have to scramble to try to accomplish everything and pack. A relief that we can heal as most of us have colds we did not want to travel with for 30+ hours. And we are relieved that we are holding our passports and plane tickets! We are relieved again to serve a living God who knows what is best for us. Praise Him!

Please pray as we prepare and move towards a Saturday, 9 Feb departure!

_________________________________________

10 JAN ORIGINAL POST:

This is a sincere apology. We have not shared an update in too long. It has always been our intention to produce a monthly update. We have failed. This update is long in the making as we have been adjusting to many changes. No more excuses. Forgive us. Let’s catch up.

Pastors, and representatives of supporting churches surrounding us in prayer

In September, we had our Commissioning Celebration at our home church, Memorial Baptist in Columbus. It was a special time of celebrating the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ’s death, his resurrection, and that he is alive today! This Gospel requires a response. It has transformed our lives and we have been called to live it out and share it with others both here and in South Africa. Many family, friends, pastors and partners overwhelmed us with reminders of God’s goodness and faithfulness. For those who could not make, it was recorded and the video can be found on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thebellbunch).

In November, we celebrated. We celebrated lots of birthdays (Nate – 5th, Lauren – 9th, and Lola – 16th)! We were able to serve and celebrate God’s faithfulness on Thanksgiving weekend with local church partners at Journey Church in Columbus. And I tried to quit working. I did go part-time to free me up for preparations to leave and finish well at work. This has been our prayer from the beginning. We know the Lord has blessed us in my work and placed us there to be His faithful witness until He is ready to move us. I have great opportunities to share the Gospel in that space and pray for obedience and for the Spirit to guide me. So, while I did not quit working in November, we set a date in December!

And that brings us to last month, December. I did finish up working at Crimson Cup Coffee (honestly!). I praise God for the relationships I continue to treasure with my co-workers there. We have been abundantly blessed to share life and ministry in our local church, Memorial Baptist, where we’ve both been our entire lives! We have prayed to hand off and transition well to new ministries and relationships, and adjust well to changes in old ministries and relationships. I was able to finish my preaching assignments with a two-part series on God’s presence both in the opening and closing of Matthew’s Gospel. Those messages can be heard at Memorial’s 2018 Sermon page.

…This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” Matthew 1.22,23

Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew28.18-20

To close 2018, after weeks of work, we were able to finish up the long list of requirements for our volunteer visa application for South Africa. With tickets purchased and departing on 24 January, plans and reservations were made to head to the Consulate General of South Africa in Chicago on 1 January in order to be in the office on the 2nd. On the 31stof December, Lauren comes down with strep throat and Lennon starts vomiting. With Lauren in “quarantine” for the day, trying to comfort an aching Lennon and keeping Lola and Henry away from both, I am on the phone calling doctor’s and pharmacies before they close on New Year’s Eve. Then Henry pukes on me…

Maybe it is because this moment is so fresh, but I think this is the low point of my 2018. I began contact our host and cancel reservations. Trying to keep my composure, I reached out to some requesting prayer. This trip to Chicago is a milestone. We are required to go the Consulate, and submit our visa applications in person. Afterwards, it can take several weeks for processing… Defeated, I go down to sleep, begging God to work mightily in 2019.

It’s New Year’s Day. Everyone feels great. We pack the car and head to Chicago. On Wednesday, we enter the Consulate and discover our applications aren’t quite right. Applications are only accepted from 9a-12p, but we hustle to get our passport copies notarized and return the same day. Still not quite right. Thursday morning at 9a and I am one of the first in the Consulate. I submit our visa applications. Relief overwhelms. So not to cry in the office, I decide to walk 30 minutes to our residence and praise God the whole way.

In Chicago applying for our South African visas!

Feeling the pressure of life with 3 kids, work responsibilities, local church ministries and preparations for our big move, we continue to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and presence with us in it all. We’ve been meditating on this concept for month’s now and I love how Matthew bookends his gospel with these very reminders. God’s promise, prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before, would be fulfilled. He would be found faithful, another promise kept. And then, after Jesus Christ had completed his Father’s work here on earth, he reminded us again before he left to be with the Father, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So now we pray for God to work in the processing of our visas. Would you please join us in prayer over these visas? 

Beside us is a list of about 100 things we need to consider or do before we leave. We love checking things off the list, but this is still a bit intimidating. We pray for wise use of our time as we deal with these different legal, financial, health, travel, ministry, moving and every other detail. Pray for God to lead the way and that we would not become burdened and stressed over these matters.

Our new niece Gwen arrived three weeks early so we could get lots of snuggles in before we leave!

It is our prayer, if the Lord’s will, to depart on 24 January 2019.

If you are able, all are invited to a farewell fling, a Say Bon Voyage to the Bells! The event will be hosted at The Innovation Lab by Crimson Cup on 19 January from 9a-12p. Come by for good brews and goodbyes. We would love to see as many of you as possible! Please reach out for more details if you would like to join us!

Pray with us as we say many difficult goodbyes to our loved ones during these next few weeks. 

Nate’s family
Lauren’s family

We would love to hear from you. As you reflect on your holiday season over, may you become more conscious of the many blessings we have in Christ. I am convinced that perhaps the greatest gift from the Father is His presence (Emmanuel). When you think of “God with us,” what comes to your mind?

Not One. Not Two. Not Three. Yes, Actually Three.

What a summer! As we wind it down, we have some big updates to share! God has been so good to us! We will try to squeeze at least two very exciting announcements into this update, maybe the third, if possible. So much happening, let’s get on with it! 

First, we welcomed our third child, Henry Graham Bell, into the world on August 4th. Our precious boy weighed 6lbs and 7oz and was 19 inches long. The labor and delivery was quick and mom and baby are healthy. He is a great sleeper and eater and his siblings are quite smitten by him. We are so thankful for this sweet gift from God and newest member of the Bell Bunch!  

Second, you (yes, you!) are invited to our commissioning celebration happening September 8th at our home/sending church, Memorial Baptist at 10:00am. This will be a celebration of God’s faithfulness throughout this journey, the gospel and His love for the lost, and our call to make His name known. This will be a time to pray together, worship together, be challenged together and, of course, drink coffee together. There will be a brunch to follow and childcare is also provided. Please let us know if you are interested in celebrating with us and we will provide more information.

As you pray, please remember the following…

  • Praise God for a healthy baby boy and mom and our wonderful support system of family, friends and church!
  • Pray for our commissioning celebration on September 8th and that God would be so glorified and receive the praise He deserves.
  • Pray as we transition from two kids to three. We are exploring options for a vehicle that will fit all three kids comfortably. Our current car is too small to fit all three car seats across the back row. If you have a van or SUV with captain seats and are willing to trade for our 2013 Ford Escape until we leave, let’s chat! 
  • With this transition comes many others and much to do in order to prepare ourselves to leave. Our great desire to finish well and begin well,  we made the tough decision to leave early 2019. Pray we would finish well here. 
  • Praise God who continues to prove His faithfulness in meeting all our needs! 

Please share how God is at work in your life and how we can pray with you as partners in life and ministry.

That’s enough for now…

Ok, Fine. We won’t sign off now and make you wait for the third big announcement. We will tell you right now that God has provided all we need to meet our minimum financial support requirements! Praise God for His great faithfulness! What an incredible journey and we’re so excited to follow Him through the next steps!  Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

 

“Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant.”

“The martyr’s remains were just shipped back to Egypt recently.”

“It’s all on YouTube. You can find the video there,” Maged explains.

“I don’t think I want to see that.”

Earlier this week, our Uber driver has just finished telling us about the twenty-one Christians from his city in Egypt who were beheaded by ISIS in Libya back in 2015. This is at the end of a conversation during a twenty-minute ride in Tampa where Lauren and I were blessed to get away for four nights to be refreshed and pray (thanks to our incredibly gracious parents).

As is my custom, I enjoy sitting in the front seat, so I can better converse with my driver. This was no different and before long, I had discovered he was from Egypt and soon we were talking about our faith. We had shared that the Lord was calling us to mission work in Africa, and Maged then disclosed that he too, is a Christian. Our questions turned to life as a Christian in Egypt, where his family still lives and he often visits. He opened up about the many hardships and persecutions Christians face daily, some of which factored into his transition from his family and home to settle in America. Then, he reminds me of the Christians he knew from his community, who moved from Egypt to Libya for better opportunities. As he recalls this event, he talks about the chance they were given to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ and be freed from their persecutors. Encouraged, I share how this is evidence of the Holy Spirit. For who would choose certain death over life unless empowered by the Holy Spirit through hope-filled faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

I get his number and send him links to a few resources he may find encouraging and share a blessing and our gratitude as we arrive at our destination.

In contrast, this conversation occurred two days before Independence Day, the Fourth of July. As we celebrate the many blessings of living in the United States of America, I think about Maged and his family. I think about the many brothers and sisters in Christ around the world that do not share the freedoms I have to exercise my faith without significant consequence.

Quickly, my mind turns to the opportunities I have because of this freedom, and then the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Each of these three servants knew the Master intimately and knew what He wanted from them. And each of these servants were given different resources, or opportunities, based on their abilities. Jesus shares that the first two, though given different resources, were faithful and rewarded by the Master upon his return. And the last, crippled by fear, buried his talent and did not do the will of his Master and is punished.

What am I doing with the opportunities God has given me? Am I sharing the love and peace and hope and faith I have with those around me who desperately need it? Or am I hiding that knowledge like the evil and lazy slave who buried his Master’s resources.

One day I will meet my Savior. I will stand and give an account of what I did with the resources and opportunities He gave me. I pray that with the Spirit working in me now, that day I will also hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

This season is filled with preparations for our third baby arriving in weeks, finishing up church visits, and taking the first steps to prepare for our move to South Africa. We cherish your prayers as we plan our course, committing each step to the Lord. We need His provision of our final 10% of committed monthly support. We need His guidance as we set dates for me to finish working. We need His hand as we compile our visa application. We pray for His favor and blessing as we must head to Chicago to complete our application and submit our application. And we seek His direction and timing as we have now chosen a departure date. We are humbled and excited to share that we are targeting November 1st as the beginning of the next step in God’s journey for us. God’s plan is best, and we submit to it in this process as well. Lord willing, if He chooses to establish these plans, we will board a series of long plane rides with our new family of five and continue the privilege of serving our Lord in Cape Town. We are still in awe that God has brought us this far. Oh, what a privilege and what a great opportunity! May we be good and faithful servants!

 

Broken Records (really BIG update!)

We know we may sound like a broken record, but…

Sometimes, what sounds like a broken record may not be broken. It is possible that the repetition heard is simply what was intended for you to hear. It is not broken at all. Maybe you hear the same thing over and over, not due to any mistake, but it is just the nature of the record.

So, we know we may sound like a broken record, but God is good.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isa. 55.9). He is sovereign and has the best for us.

We know we may sound like a broken record, but God answers prayers.

And sometimes, it may not be the timing WE think is best. But, the point was made above. He is good and his answers to our prayers are better than our “best case scenarios.” His answers to our prayers are the best for us and those for which we pray.

We know we may sound like a broken record, but God provides.

He is supplying our need and continues to work in His church and His people. He is bringing in our support both financially and spiritually.

Read on if you want to be encouraged that God is alive and that He works and is active in the lives of His people and His church.

 

We are compelled to share as witnesses of God’s actions and answers to prayer. Our last update shared a need with a deadline. We prayed for 6 partners in 6 days. God answered with 3 partners in 4 days to meet and exceed our need.

 

We were blessed and encouraged over our final two weeks of training out in Harrisburg, PA, at ABWE’s international headquarters. Still working through the realities of all we need to do before we are truly “ready” to depart family, friends, work, current ministries, etc. and the variety of emotions we can anticipate and expect here and in our first term in South Africa.

We finished training on Friday, May 4th. We spent Sunday, May 6th, celebrating God’s faithfulness and updating three of our partner churches in southern Ohio. Grace Community Church at Bigelow, Wheelersburg Baptist, and Temple Baptist came together Sunday night for a humbling time of encouragement and beautiful representation of the larger body of Christ. That evening, within minutes of finishing our update and enjoying refreshments with the brothers and sisters, I received a welcomed call from another church in the area. We are excited to partner with such a mission-minded church as Grace Baptist in Minford, Ohio. Praise God! Just three days later, Wednesday, I sat in a leadership team meeting with a local church in Columbus, Ohio, again sharing God’s goodness and faithfulness to us and our ministry. That same evening, I received yet another welcomed call. We are humbled and excited to partner in ministry with Journey Church here in our hometown. God’s lovingkindness surrounds us. It overwhelms me to the point of tears in my eyes as I recount this overwhelming grace.

So, we know we may sound like a broken record, but God doesn’t change. His promises are true. His character is good. He is sovereign. He is love. He is grace. He gives the best gifts.

And we cannot wait to see how He wraps up our pre-field, support raising ministry. We now stand with 89% of our committed monthly support. We need only 11% more committed monthly support!

Please pray as we have much to do. Many things to wrap up. Many visits and goodbyes to schedule. The list of things to accomplish in order to leave well seems daunting.

Please pray for God to providing our remaining need. And if I may ask of Him, that He would provide this remaining 11% quickly. Our new baby boy is due early August and it would be wonderful to focus our remaining time here in the States on all the other things besides this financial support.

God is doing wonders. Please, if you or your church want to hear more about our ministry and what God is doing, reach out to us (nlbell@abwe.cc). If you can’t tell, we love sharing God’s faithfulness, whether it sounds like a broken record or not.

With His words and His strength,

Nate and Lauren

 

 

Is the Resurrection Believable in Our World?

This is the question I was asked to answer and present this Easter morning at our home church, Memorial Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
This sent me on an investigative hunt not only through the most compelling evidence, the “many proofs” as Luke states (Acts1.3) in the Scriptures, but outside it. This question takes the resurrection out of the realm of philosophy and into the realm of history. We claim and put our all our faith in this event that we believe actually occurred in human history. That event, simply, either did or did not happen.
One convincing truth is the changed lives, and even more powerful, the deaths of those who saw the resurrected Jesus Christ.
These men were commanded by their risen Savior to go into all the world, preach and make disciples and teach them to obey His commands. And they did so. But, rather than deny the truth they knew and were spreading all over the world, they accepted the following consequences;
  • Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome.
  • James was beheaded in Judea.
  • John was exiled to Patmos and either died there or was beheaded.
  • Andrew was whipped and crucified in Greece.
  • Thomas was speared to death in India.
  • Philip was whipped and crucified in Egypt.
  • Bartholomew was skinned alive in Armenia.
  • Thaddaeus was crucified in Persia.
  • Matthew was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
  • Simon was crucified in England.
  • James was beaten and stoned to death in Jerusalem.
  • Matthais was burned alive in Syria.
  • Paul was beheaded in Rome.
  • Stephen was stoned to death in Jerusalem.
To hear the rest click here
Before a crowd of angry opponents of the gospel, threatening to kill him, Stephen was granted a glimpse into heaven;
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts7.55-56
Enraged, the crowd rushed at Stephen, dragged him away and murdered him. With courage and grace from the Spirit and glimpse of his Savior ready to receive him, Stephen, cried out for his murderers to be forgiven for this evil.
I wonder how a glimpse of our risen Savior would change our behavior. It turned the apostles for cowards hiding behind locked doors, to bold witnesses of the gospel throughout the world, enduring bearings, imprisonments and death from all sides.
How would it impact our conversations with neighbors, co-workers, family and friends?
How would it impact how we spend our short time in this life?
How would it impact our urgency to share what we know and have experienced?
We have been blessed to live in an age where we do not get to see Jesus physically. “Blessed are those that have not seen yet have believed (Jn20.29).” We get to experience the risen Christ in many other ways however. And this truth and gospel we know, because we have witnessed, compels us on. And still, God is commanding and sending his disciples all over the world. We take this same power and Spirit wherever God has us.
Father, thank you! Thank you for opening our eyes and rescuing us from our darkness. Thank you for grace and mercy from our wickedness. Thank you for your Holy Spirit filling us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Thank you that you are ever with us. Allow these truths and promises to give us courage to share you love with boldness. Amen. Amen.
—PRAYWITHUS—
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16.9
Our heart and passion from God is to be in South Africa as soon as possible. We desire to share the love we have been shown and teach others to do the same. Ultimately, we want to see Christ known among all the nations and all the glory given to Him who is worthy! Amen. Yet, and as His plan is higher and better than ours, God directs our steps. We have full confidence in the why and what, while we depend on His how and when.
If He wills for us to arrive in SA as soon as possible according to our new timeline, our new target is September. We need training and financial clearance before we can leave. And to clear training, we need to attend a 2-week Field Prep Seminar at the end of this month. To attend, we must be at 85%. We are praying for 6 partners in 6 days that could meet this need. God provides. He always has. He will glorify Himself in all circumstances and we praise Him because no matter what, we know He is good and His plans are better than ours.
Would you pray for his glory to be known here and now and in South Africa?
Would you pray for the impact of the reality Christ has risen to change how you talk and act with urgency where God has placed you right now?
Pray with us that God might provide for us as only He can.
6 partners in 6 days.
South Africa in September. Cleared not by financial requirements or training requirements, but cleared and sent by God and His Church.
6 partners in 6 days.
Amen. May it be so. All glory to God.

Grace Upon Grace.

She told me that she prays to God, but I know she doesn’t really know Him. I know she doesn’t know Jesus,” expressed my concerned friend in regards to his wife’s salvation.

He himself is only beginning to grasp the power in the gospel, but I’ve already seen change in his life. We had started meeting over God’s word one year ago. My friend had little interest initially in studying the Bible, and far more interest in other religions and I obliged. We studied and talked through other philosophies and religions before he agreed to examine the Bible. The study lasted for months and now the impact is eternal. My friend understands the truth of the gospel and has accepted it. Now, he wants his wife to discover what he has found. Praise God! Pray the Spirit continues to work in his life as I continue to disciple my new brother and we take steps forward in finding a good church home for them.

This is the highlight of the past month by far, though God has been very busy. We are excited to announce several new partners that have catapulted us to 75%! We need God to provide just another 10% in order to make our upcoming training in April! We have successfully moved out and sold our home and moved in with family. And recently we were privileged to help lead worship at a youth retreat with our brothers and sisters at Scioto Hills Camp and Retreat Center in Wheelersburg, Ohio. God continues to challenge us in our growing small group and discipleship groups. We praise God also as He has provided an opportunity for a friend in our group to lead a bible study in his workplace as well! May the name of Christ be known everywhere!

We cherish your prayers and beg you to continue! I have been reminded of this power and the heart of our God while studying in the first letter to Timothy.

First of all, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time.” 1 Timothy 2.1-6

We are praying that if it is God’s will, we might reach our next bench mark of 85% in the next several weeks. This will get us to our final training for our mission organization. Stay tuned for more updates as we do believe God will provide and we pray confidently as we hope do as well. Specifically, we are praying for five new partners that might help us reach this goal. May it be so!

And….we announce joyfully, we are expecting another addition to the Bell Bunch, due to arrive in August! Baby number three is on the way. Please pray for the Lauren’s health (and sanity) along with the development of our new child. Thanks for all the prayers to date. We treasure and are desperate for them.

God is moving. So are we.

When God moves, you move. That is how it works.

And He has been moving fast and for us.

We praise our sovereign God as our home is in contract. We are set to close on February 20th. Please pray all things move forward smoothly and glory to God for selling our home so rapidly (2 days!), and to the first to walk through the door.

We praise God for His grace as we sort through the many blessings He has poured out on us in our over five years of marriage. Please pray as we prepare this weekend to sell most of our belongings in preparation for our upcoming moves and transitions.

We praise our loving God for reaching the hearts of coworkers and guests. He is opening up more conversations in my workplace for me to share His love and the gospel which compels us. Pray for me, for boldness and words, and for my living testimony at work. May we not forget He is at work in lives all around, even here and now.

We praise God our Father for surrounding us with a community of brothers and sisters to encourage, challenge, and walk with through life. Our church has been a constant reminder of the steadfast love and beauty of Christ. Our small group and discipleship groups are daily evidence of the living and active power of the Holy Spirit. May we continue to be faithful to these ministries and fulfill our responsibilities in the local church.

We praise our Lord for the joy in obedience to his commands. As we have challenged each other in our small group to reach out to each of our next door neighbors, we are grateful and cherishing what may be some of our last meals with our neighbors as we move. Pray that we present our Christ and the gospel from a true place of wonder and awe that He might be found as the answer to the thirst of their souls.

Catching the theme, yet? God is good. And He has been so busy in our lives. And we are humbled by our countless blessings and His limitless grace. But all the aforementioned amazingness is not all…Visit www.reallygreatsite.com to k

We praise God, our Provider, has increased our monthly support level from 56{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} to 63{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} since we wrote last month. Pray that God would continue to glorify Himself greatly as He shows everyone around us His goodness and power in His provision for us. Amen!

Please, pray on our behalf over this next month. Our final necessary training, Field Preparation (yes, final! Eeek!) is being held the last week of April. “Nate, do you have to be at a certain level in your support to attend?” Yes. Thanks for asking. We need to be at 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} in order to be invited. That could be the difference of a dozen, or two dozen or just one supporter if God so chose to glorify Himself that way.

Above all, pray that He may keep us faithful in work, in service and ministry, in pursuing His calling on our lives.

Your Partners for the Gospel,

The Bells

PS Some perspective that challenged me from the diary of David Brainerd, missionary to India in the mid-1700s;

“I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so I could gain souls to Christ.”

“I care not where I go, or how I live, or what I endure so that I may save souls. When I sleep I dream of them; when I awake they are first in my thoughts.”

2018 and The Things Ahead

 

“Not that I have already attained this – that is, I have not already been perfected – but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this.oliver-thomas-klein-161835 Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.” Philippians 3.12-16

Another year has come and this time brings on reflection of a year past. 2017 was a year we saw God act mightily in our lives (and many around us did too!) and were blessed to share his faithfulness with more and more. We were blessed to see the fruit of evangelism and discipleship personally, in our workplace, local church ministries, and our pre-field ministry as well. God blessed abundantly and answered prayer faithfully. We prayed for God to provide in such a way that no man could take credit for – and He did! We prayed that He would grow our relationship with Him – and He did! We prayed that we would not be discouraged, but rather we would allow us to be encouraged in this pre-field season – and He did! We prayed that He would keep us focused and faithful on the current and present ministries – and He did! Praise God for He provides and He is faithful!

And we do not want to forget 2017, but we are single-minded as Paul wrote in Philippians. We are focused on reaching out for what is ahead. We have set our minds on striving towards the calling He has laid on our lives. Our prayer from the beginning was that He might provide for us and allow to continue our ministry in South Africa in 2018. It is here. Please pray for God’s provision. He has met our goal for our Outfit and Passage requirement and our remaining need is for monthly support! We need a remaining 44{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} of our committed monthly support to wrap up this journey and fly out. We have one remaining training to attend for ABWE International, hosted in April. Our dream is to attend our final training there and leave shortly afterward. Would you pray with us?

jan2018

You are our faithful prayer partner.

Please pray that God would work in the hearts of those He has chosen to partner with us financially.

“Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3.20-21

And on top of all that, what an encouraging and blessed season of ministry since our last update! We have been enjoyed serving and ministering with Dayspring Baptist Church in Alton, Temple Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Maranatha Baptist Church in Columbus, Grace Community Church at Bigelow in Portsmouth, our home church at Memorial Baptist in Columbus, Polaris Church in Columbus and Faith Baptist in Commercial Point. Our small group ministry, hosted in our home, is growing and challenging our faith. Lauren and I have cherished weekly meetings with two dear friends and members of our small group, engaged to be married, then were blessed to each be in the wedding party and I was privileged to officiate their promises before God and each other! I had prayed this year for a solid group of men to pray, share and work through the Bible with and he answered. Both Lauren and I now meet with a small group regularly for discipleship outside of our local church ministries. And God has amazingly provided a buyer for our home through unusual circumstances! We posted our home online on Saturday night, received a call for a showing on Sunday, opened the home Monday, and received a full price offer within 20 minutes from the first to call and see our home! We are in contract now and God is still so faithful! Overwhelming faithful.

 

 

Our Heart’s Desire and Prayer

Dearest Friends,

Our heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of all whom we will encounter in South Africa is for their salvation – though not just in South Africa, right here and right now as well! This occupies our thoughts and prayers constantly throughout the day. There is no doubt God is active all around us, each one of us, near and far! So many are hurting, desperate for answers and seeking solutions – but their eager search is not in line with the truth. They are lost, backwards, and way off-course. Deliberately or not, by ignoring God’s rescue plan, and attempting instead to heal their own brokenness by other means, they have not accepted God’s way out and continue in hopeless despair and emptiness. For Christ is the end of the just demands of God. He has met God’s conditions and requirements for holiness, perfection in faith and obedience.  And the result is salvation, forgiveness and new life forever before God, available to everyone who believes and trusts him! Moses wrote ages ago about those who would try to save themselves by their own means of doing good would soon discover they can never do enough, never be good enough and so never be perfect to meet God’s expectation. But trusting God to change us, to shape us to live right is a whole different story and doesn’t require us to work for something we could never achieve. But what does Moses say? “The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest.” This is the word of faith that we share, because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and Master of your life and then believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved! For with the heart one believes and so has right standing before God and with the mouth one confesses and receives salvation. And the scripture reassures us, “No one who believes and trusts in him will ever regret it.” And it’s the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be for the same God is God of all, acting the same way, sharing the same grace, and abundantly pouring blessings out on all who call on him for help. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

How can they call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear about his rescue plan if nobody tells them? And how are they to tell them unless someone is sent and goes and shares with them? As it is written, “How welcomed is the arrival of those who bring good news.” But not all are ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we often wonder, “God, does anyone care? Do any believe?” Consequently, faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the shared word of Jesus Christ.

Much of this should sound familiar. This is adapted from Paul’s words in Romans 10, the words the Holy Spirit used to convict and call me into ministry. I enjoy internalizing Scripture by meditating over it and putting it into words I may use to share with someone who does not know Christ. This is a special text for the reasons listed above and how God continues to work it into my heart even today.

I pray we all share the same passion for the lost and hurting as Paul does here in this passage. I want to assume that is you. If you are reading this, you have partnered with us in prayer and perhaps financially as well. You have invested time to read our update and understand how you can pray better and wiser for our ministry. Thank you. As Lauren and I have shared before, we are most interested in presenting our ministry to God’s praying people – those who we know when they say, “We’ll be praying for you and your ministry,” will actually be praying for God’s ministry through us. As we’ve shared, please continue to pray for the following:

  1. May God be glorified and His name made great through how He provides. May no man take credit and all declare this was the hand of God preparing the way.

Praise God for his provision! Our Outfit and Passage requirement is over 70{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} fulfilled. And our monthly need is now only around $3,000/monthly in total! He has us in awe over and over again!

  1. May God be glorified in the lives of those He has placed around us – both in evangelism and discipleship relationships. Please do not allow us to miss one soul you’ve placed in our lives for us to love as You have loved us.

God is answering our prayers and opening our eyes to the opportunities to share his love all around us. He has blessed us with a wonderful small group ministry, discipleship groups, several young couples to walk through life with and gospel conversations at work and among neighbors.

  1. May God be glorified by providing our remaining needs and ministry partners that we may proclaim His name in South Africa and train others to do the same!

Our next benchmark is 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2}. Lord willing, if He provides 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} of our committed monthly support by November, we could attend our final training. Field Prep Seminar is offered the first week of November and is 10 days. God provides! If you or your church would like more information on our ministry, please reach out to us!

Visit www.reallygreatsite.com to k (1)

Nate and Lauren

nlbell@abwe.cc

Missionary Training?! What’s that about?

How was your vacation?

It really wasn’t much of a vacation. It was a weeklong training, actually. A requirement by my mission agency.

Training? What does missionary “training” look like?

These are great questions and we’re hearing a lot of them lately. Seems like good fuel for a bit of an update on our Essential Missions Components training and what God has been doing since then. Volumes have been written on church planting strategy and methods. At this time, I do not have much to add to that conversation, but I will present a bit of a synopsis on our training and what we’re learning in this area.

Our week began by laying down a basic philosophy of cross-cultural church multiplication. The key to this philosophy is developing contextually appropriate ministry forms in order to conduct biblical ministry functions most effectively. Three principles lay the foundation for this philosophy. “Ecosystem thinking” is the first principle. It means considering both the natural “God-made” dimensions (people, geography, vegetation and animals, climate, etc.) and the cultural “man-made” dimensions (customs, time orientations, economic systems and levels, political systems, education and literacy, arts, etc.) which ought to inform and affect church multiplication. The second principle is church forms and functions. When church-planting in a particular ecosystem, there are two questions which must be addressed. What does a church need to do? Meaning, What are the biblical purposes or functions of the church? And the second question; how does the church need to do it? In other words, what forms will the previously addressed functions take? If the function of the church is to meet and fellowship together, pray and study the Bible together, worship and serve together, go and make disciples and teach them; what do these functions look like? Who? What? Where? When? How? And lastly, the Three Lenses principle provides a system to evaluate church forms. First, the Scriptures contain the supra-cultural directives from God as to the purpose and function of the church. Next, lessons of history can help us determine what forms the functions of the church may take. We can learn from the Old and New Testament, church history and a given ecosystems history to avoid past failures and build on successes. Lastly, the third lens is context. What applications do these church functions have on this ecosystem at this particular time in history? In all these things, we must be reminded that functions dictate forms. Not the other way. And an ecosystem provides everything needed for a healthy church plant needs to grow. This means the Western church does not have all the solutions to all of the problems. The church is multi-cultural. It is supra-cultural. May we not forget the vision John was able to see and recorded in Revelation 7:

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with pal branches in their hands. They were shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (verses 9-10)

Since we attended EMC, God has been extremely active in our evangelism and discipleship relationship. We continue to pray that we would open our eyes to the needs in lives around us and that we wouldn’t miss them. Another discipleship group has formed around prayer and bible study and our small group ministry is preparing to kick off after the summer break. We will be focusing on how the gospel in us should impact our neighborhoods and communities. We have gained several new monthly supporters and booked several more churches for this fall! God is busy in each aspect of our lives and we praise him! Our request for prayer remain the same as He continues to bless and provide for us.

  1. May God be glorified and His name made great through how He provides. May no man take credit and all declare this was the hand of God preparing a way.
  2. May God be glorified in the lives of those He has placed around us – both in evangelism and discipleship relationships. Please do not allow us to miss one soul you’ve placed in our lives for us to love as You have loved us.
  3. May God be glorified by providing our remaining needs and ministry partners that we may proclaim His name in South Africa and train others to do the same!

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Our next benchmark is 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2}. Lord willing, if He provides 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} of our committed monthly support by November, we could attend our final training. Field Prep Seminar is offered the first week of November and is 10 days. Praise God that our Outfit and Passage requirement is nearly 70{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} fulfilled. Our monthly need is now only around $3,000/monthly! God provides! If you or your church would like more information on our ministry, please reach out to us!

Nate and Lauren

nlbell@abwe.cc