It has been an incredibly busy spring and summer for us here in Dundee. We had a total of 26 guests this summer covering 7 out of the last 12 weeks! But we were also childless for four of those weeks, so it all evens out, somehow, right?
The Aspire Project
For three of those weeks this summer we had short-term missions teams in from the United States to help with one of our church’s outreach projects, The Aspire Project.
The teams came from two of the churches that have partnered with our ministry here in Dundee, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis and First Presbyterian Church Jackson. The teams were of immense help during the three weeks of activities and summer camp geared toward school-aged kids in an economically deprived area of Dundee. They grew in their appreciation of Scottish culture, and went home with fond memories of the kids whom they came to serve and their families.
Upon returning to the US, the leader of the team from Jackson, Mississippi wrote:
As we prepared to make this trip, a common question was “Why are we sending a mission team to Scotland? It’s not exactly a third world country!” Well, certainly it is not, but the Gospel needs to go to “all the nations.” The culture of the United Kingdom is “post-Christian,” and the United States is heading rapidly in that direction. We actually have much to learn from the battle being fought by our reformed brothers and sisters in Scotland. They need encouragement; they need men and women who will come alongside and work to share the Gospel; and they need financial support. The heart of St. Peter’s Church is strong, but the ranks are thin. First Presbyterian Church-Jackson and St. Peter’s Free Church stand together in a unique position to labor in the Lord’s vineyard in Scotland, as well as in Jackson.
We are very glad to have had so many working alongside us this summer and look forward to having them back again in the coming years.
Encouragement and Care from Abroad
Ben Porter, associate pastor of the church Karsee grew up attending, Kirk of the Hills, in St Louis, MO, joined us for a few days along with his father. We had a great time and were blessed by their company and care. We even had a chance to show them some of the beautiful Highlands while they were here, travelling to Dalwhinnie for some refreshment and to Eileen Dounan Castle for some sightseeing.
We were also visited from a variety of fellow Mission to the World missionaries this summer: our supervisor and friend Jay Eastman came from Berlin for a few days, Liz and Paul Meiners, MTW missionaries to London and MTW’s European Care Committee leaders, and Ralph and Wendy Kelly from First Pres Jackson, who serve MTW by providing pastoral care for missionaries in the United Kingdom. Each of these visitors came to check in on us and make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and are being taken care of by others. Our time with each of them was extremely encouraging and we had a chance to show them around our beautiful city and country a bit too. We have been very well looked after this summer.
Finally, we were visited by Mary Lou and John Moad from Our Lord’s Community Church, my (Brian’s) home church in Oklahoma City. Mary Lou is an Art Therapist in OKC and was led to visit this summer to see if any connections could be made with the ministries we’re involved in here in Dundee. We had meetings with several leaders at St Peter’s, at Tayside Young Lives and in the arts community here in Dundee. We’re praying now to see where God would provide opportunities for them to serve alongside us with short-term trips in the future.
In the midst of all of our visitors this summer we were able to get away for a few days of respite and relaxation. Karsee’s brother Kip visited us at the beginning of the summer and then flew back to the States with Madeline, Joseph and Ava for four weeks of grandparents spoiling them in St Louis and Oklahoma City. They had a blast with Karsee’s folks and with my mother, dividing the time as equally as possible. The kids even got to go to their great-grandfather’s birthday party and had a chance to reconnect with (or meet for the first time in Ava’s case) their uncles, aunts and scores of cousins.
This left Karsee and I footloose and fancy free to visit Northern Ireland for a few days and then to the French Alps for a week. We are so grateful to friends at St Peter’s (who shall remain nameless so we can keep them to ourselves), who allowed us to use their flat in Les Chattrix for FREE! And to top that, our airline tickets and auto rental were paid for with travel rewards. We had a wonderful time traversing many a mountain and valley in the shadow of Mont Blanc.
It was exactly what we needed at exactly the right time and exactly the right price.
So we find ourselves at the end of September now, where did the year go? The kids have all started back to school, including Ava who started nursery (pre-school) at the end of last month. She is enjoying her 2.5 hours a day learning, playing snacking, singing and dancing. And we are enjoying having the 2.5 hours per day to be able to work together counselling couples as a couple. We have been doing this over the past three years in the evenings at our home, after the kids are down for the night. It’s nice to have a few evenings free now and to be able to work together in the mornings when our brains are still fresh and bathed in caffeine. I really love counselling alongside Karsee. She is an extremely wonderful counsellor.
Madeline and Joseph are also back at school in P5 (4th Grade) and P2 (1st Grade) respectively. They like their new teachers and are enjoying being with their friends again. Madeline is taking cello at school, after school piano lessons, evening National Youth Choir of Scotland and is on an junior netball team (something like basketball, but slightly different), coached by her main classroom teacher this year. Joseph is on a waiting list for trampolining and gymnastics classes. Please pray for us in this busyness.
Lastly, I just returned a few days ago from a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where I joined nearly 150 other MTW team leaders and national partners from all over the globe for a week of learning about the direction of modern missions and the global church, struggling with some of the challenges and obstacles to gospel ministry around the world and collaborating with others in seeking answers and solutions to some of those challenges.
It was a refreshing time with my colleagues with many challenging and insightful discussions and presentations. I am hopeful and look forward to seeing how our organisation and we as its leaders respond to the challenges ahead.
Okay so there are quite a few things going on in our lives, as you can see above. We’re back in the swing of things now and would really appreciate your prayers for the following:
- Our work as counsellors and carers with St Peter’s Counselling Services (the counselling centre we extablished here three years ago): Our caseloads are beginning to fill up again after the regular summer slow-down. Please pray for grace as we walk with people through the dark places of their lives, both for them and their health and healing, and for us, for our own ability to stand with them and see them through.
- Our work as team leaders: that we would have a clear vision of the work to which God is calling us, and others as they begin to join us.
- Free Church Congregations: Our desire is to build strategic partnerships between the congregations we work with here in Scotland and churches in the US. Pray that there would be churches in the US that are also seeking such relationships that mutually edify, encourage and educate about the present and coming challenges facing the global church.
- Workers for the field in Scotland: We have nine positions in nine very different ministry settings for which we are presently recruiting. We need the right people and the work is needed now, so please pray God would bring the ones he has for these works to us. Are you one of them?
- Our congregation at St Peter’s Free Church: We are a growing congregation with a need for mature, humble and self-sacrificing leaders. Please pray for our pastors, elders, deacons and other ministry leaders for clear vision and direction. Pray for the members and adherents at St Pete’s for hearts to love and serve the people of Dundee and the broader community.
- Our family: For Karsee and I and our marriage, that we would weather the inevitable storms well and consciously be moving toward each other with love and compassion and patience. For us as parents, for patience with our three, and for the grace to live lives that point them toward Jesus for mercy and forgiveness. For our children that they would know the depth of Jesus’ love for them and that they would not know a day without Him.
- The people of Scotland: on this side of the referendum for independence, that there would be unity and work towards mutual understanding and cooperation in the realm of politics both at home and in the larger United Kingdom. For a just and equatable society and for the fulfilment of the UK’s political leaders’ promises for more devolved powers for Holyrood. But more than anything else, for a fresh work of the Holy Spirit to wake people from their spiritual slumber.
- Lastly, for the needed monetary support that allows us to continue our work here in Scotland. We are presently in need of approximately $900.00/month in additional support to keep our heads above water. Please pray with us for the Lord to provide. If you’d like to partner with our ministry in this way you can do so here by setting up a monthly donation or by sending a one-time gift towards our needs.
Thank you for your continuing prayers and support,
Brian, Karsee, Madeline, Joseph and Ava
P.S. You can see what Mission to the World Scotland is all about on our team’s webpage: