Saturday, December 24, 2011

A missionary perspective on Christmas

A lot of missionaries I know have a special affinity for the Christmas story, one that goes above and beyond a love for the holiday season, or even the story that is told about baby Jesus born in a manger. I love the Christmas story because in many ways I identify with it and see it as a model for my own lives. You see as a missionary Jesus is my model, because he was the first missionary and there is so much I can learn about how I should live based on the Christmas story.
For example, Out of obedience to His father and a desire to see His kingdom come, he left his heavenly throne and came to a sin filled hateful and violent place to show us the way. Though Jesus loved us even when we were sinners, the first missionary did not come to earth because of us. He came out of love for his Father, and a desire to see His name made famous among the nations. Jesus came because his love for his father so overshadowed everything else that he was willing to do anything that was asked of him. In our self-centered minds we think Jesus came because of me, and though there may be some grain of truth in that, the overwhelming body of evidence (the New Testament) proves that Jesus’ reason for coming to us was God-centered not man-centered. This should also be so for modern missionaries.
Another thing that I love about the Christmas story is how Jesus came. He came to us as a child, an infant who could not speak, care for himself or even feed himself. He had to rely on others for some time before he was able to care completely for himself. I know this feeling very well, It is how most missionaries feel when we first get to the field. We don’t speak the language, we don’t know the cultural cues, we have no idea what we are eating, etc. But I tend to think that as in everything Jesus did there was a reason for his coming as a child, and though the temptation of many missionaries is to go to their new home as a teacher or expert, the example we see in Jesus is that the son of God came to us helpless and he had to be a learner in his new culture. 
Finally, I love where Jesus was born. A stable! placed in a manger! Seriously?! I think because we have heard this story so many time we lose how incredible this was. The Son of God was born in a barn, and laid in a feeding trough. Even in his birth he showed us the way to go. He was born in the humblest of places, so that he could reach the humblest of people. The first people to hear of the Messiahs arrival were some lowly shepherds on a hillside nearby. The wise men heard but they were further down the list. The first missionary’s people group, if you will, were the downtrodden and those who had already determined that they needed help! This was not determined by their race (Jew or Gentile) Jesus himself said his message was for both. It was not the rich or poor, for he sought after both Levi and the common street beggar. It wasn’t even about religious affiliation, because he welcomed the non-religious, like the woman at the well, as well as the devout, like Nicodemous. Jesus’ people group were those who sought abundant life wherever he may find them. And people were drawn to him because of the things he taught, the authority he had when teaching and the way he lived. My prayer is that I would follow His lead, that I would be like Jesus and that because of that His kingdom would come on earth as it is in Heaven.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


[This is from Robert and Maridith]

God requires worship. His command to worship is a command to enjoy the very person of God. The Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalms 34:8) In Colossians 1:15-20, Paul records an early Christian hymn. These verses were likely recited or sung by the early church, as a declaration of Christ’s divinity. During the fourth century, Augustine wrote, “But let my soul praise Thee, that it may love Thee, and let it confess Thy mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee. Thy whole creation praises Thee without ceasing…” The nature of God inspires believers to worship. In 1971, Schaeffer stated, “Our generation is overwhelmingly naturalistic. There is an almost complete commitment to the concept of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system.” American culture has become increasingly more resistant to the idea of the supernatural. The worship of God is a supernatural process, whereby the natural meets supernatural. The praises of believers transcend time and space to reach a heavenly audience. The very idea of biblical worship is contrary to American culture. Rick Warren said that the heart of worship is surrender, which is an unpopular word, disliked almost as much as submission…. In today’s competitive culture, Americans are taught to never give up and never give in–so they do not hear much about surrendering.
 Paul’s words are cutting to a culture that idealizes the natural when the Bible teaches that the natural man is corrupt and eternally damned. Only in submission to Christ is salvation found. For this reason, the church must understand the importance of living and teaching the spiritual discipline of worship.

Monday, December 19, 2011

[This is the Taliaferros first update, the future updates will include more info, this is just a test]

After almost 10 months here in the states the time has come for us to return to the field. Well actually as most of you already know, this is a new field for us. We will be moving to Kaabong, Uganda on January 4, 2012. 
We will be in Uganda for approximately 18 months. This will be a place where we can get to know some of the other missionaries and ministries working in the area. We will be learning from many who have been on the field for a long time in the area. This will help us make a more effecient transition when we begin our church planting efforts. 
We also plan on working with the Karamajong people in Uganda, while we are there. This is not a typical engagment for us as they are somewhat evangelized and have people working with them. However, they are loosly related to many of the groups we will be working with in the future and will provide us with essential cultural insights that will certianlly help us in the future.
We will also be using NE Uganda as a staging area for our research into South Sudan. This is our final destination (for now at least) and once there we will begin working with several Unreached Unengaged People Groups (UUPG’s).
This is our first update regarding this new adventure, there will be more to come, but in the meantime you can follow us in the following places:  (team website) (taliaferros blog) (Lanes blog) (Echelon blog)

twitter: @echelonafrica
youtube channel: echelonafrica
Facebook group: echelon-africa

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Open Letter to Three Churches

We wanted to offer our sincerest thanks to 3 churches who have really impacted us over the last 10 months here in the states. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty to care for us.
When we first arrived we were burned out, beaten and bruised. We were drained and emotionally exhausted and we were supposed to go to a Missions event called Go Celebration at FBC Broken Arrow, OK. I will be honest when I tell you that I think we both kind of dreaded it. because we were so tired, yet we had to be ‘on’ for a bunch of people interested in missions. We had no idea what we were in store for. The guys at Broken Arrow gave us just what we needed at just the right time. They cared for us and allowed us to truly find rest, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Mike Croppers Sunday School class made us feel at home and we just felt like we belonged there. They showered us with gifts and their kindness. It was a blessing sent from the Lord through his people in Broken Arrow. The Fitzsimmons were like family to us and they made us wish we could stay a whole week just to get to know them better. I think you guys get the point, you guys are all very special to us and we thank the Lord for getting to meet you. Now, the ball is in your court, you are gonna have to come see us now! See you in Africa!
The people of First Baptist Springtown have been one of the constants in my (Jeremy) life since I was just a young child. I first learned about missions from Bill and Jolynn Dean, who were both from Springtown and sent out from FBC Springtown. I learned to walk with the Lord throught the discipleship that went on there and I preached some of my first sermons there. They supported us while we were in Peru, but since we have returned they have been energized by the new vision that the Lord has given us for Africa. Many have volunteered to come help us work in one of the most difficult places in Africa. They have helped us in so many ways I can’t number them. But most of all they made us feel like if we ever needed anything all we needed to do was call on them and they would sacrifice in order to care for our needs. I inherited my love for the nations from the people in this church and I am excited to see this heritage passed on to new generations even now. We love you guys and can not wait to partner with you in the next few years!
The mission house at Harmony Baptist has become our home away from home now for the last two times we have been on furlow. The house is beautiful and comfortable, it is perfect for our family, it is away from the noise and hurry of Weatherford. However, the real reason we return to the same house is our friends at Harmony Baptist. They took care of us while Susan was pregnant and threw her a shower. They loved on our kids and taught them about Jesus. We were able to share our experiences and our lives together. Brother Lynn is one of the most pastoral and caring men we have ever known and his example was a great encouragement to us. But almost everyone in this assembly of believers has touched our lives in one way or another. Thank you for looking out for us and sharing your lives with us.
For those of you who are not from these churches, I want you to know what an impact you can make on a missionary family who is passing through. These are just some examples of those who have cared for us over the years. We love them and pray the Lord will bless them and their ministries because of the mercy and love they showed us.  

--Jeremy & Susan

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jesus is Lord

Hey guys,
this is j. i thought you might all be interested in a message i posted on the website's podcast. I can't figure out how to post it here yet, so this will have to do for now...enjoy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lanes first update

Dear Prayer Partners,

I am happy to introduce our very first update! I first wanted to check and make sure all the email addresses I have so far are correct. Also wanted to send a .jpg version of our brand new prayer card... yours for the printing! Please see attachment. Please feel free to print these cards and share them as you'd like. The more people praying for us, the better! Here is a quick schedule of our current whereabouts, so I hope this helps you put all the puzzle pieces together:

-Mid-September we were officially appointed with IMB. Praise God!
-Since then, we have traveled and visited more family and friends. We are currently in Tennessee with my in-laws.
-Mid-October through Mid-December we have our stateside training in Virginia. Please pray that this is a time of spiritual growth and focus as we prepare to move overseas!
-Mid-December to early January we will make our last rounds, celebrating Christmas and saying goodbye to family.
-Our tentative leave date for Africa is January 4, 2012. Please pray for us as we solidify logistics. We're trusting God for the thousands of details to work together as we leave, for His glory!

A couple more prayer requests:
-Please be in prayer for Robert as he finishes up another semester of his master's. It will be especially challenging to balance his time once we begin training in Virginia.
-Please bathe our marriage in prayer. Pray that we would make time together a priority and that we would love each other well during this challenging transition.
-Always remember to pray for the unreached people we will be living among in just a few short months. Pray that they would be given a thirst to know the ONE true God and that we would be faithful to declare of His Word to them.

Thank you for loving us and supporting us during this time. We appreciate your prayers!

Robert & Maridith Lane