Friday, February 3, 2017

The Difficulty & Blessedness of Waiting

Be strong & let your heart take courage, all you who wait for & hope for & expect the Lord! Ps 31:24

Times of waiting & need, when things are completely out of our control, bring us to the Lord & keep us looking to Him, building our faith like nothing else. That has been the story of our lives this past year or more.

I would have despaired had I not believed 
that I would see the goodness of the Lord 
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord
Be strong & let your heart take courage;  
Yes, wait for & confidently expect the Lord

Ps 27:13-14

Things have not yet stabilized in So Sudan, but the longing to return to their homes is strong & we pray earnestly with those of Borongole, that God would build their faith in the waiting & ready them to return when He opens the door.  

Jon & Joyce are also longing & have done a great deal of waiting to finally make it  to the US.

These times of delay & waiting force us to consider our God & ask ourselves … Does He see?  Is He able? Does He have a plan? YES, YES, YES!!!! He is more than able & cares more than we can imagine, but He also knows so much that we do not know & cares so much for us that He desires to do MORE than we are asking. So he calls us to “walk by “faith” & trust His timing & to wait on Him!!

As Jon’s friend and fellow radio presenter, Andama, said to encourage Jon when he was very down: 
 “If God was not there, there would be reason to be discouraged… God will delay for a specific purpose.”  
As they always say,“Rubanga a a” = God is there!

Waiting is a blessing b/c of Whom we wait upon. Our Father by his Spirit builds our  faith in Christ Jesus [that leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust
confidence in His power, wisdom & goodness.]” 
 Col 1:4 AMP  Col 1:4 AMP. 


When we consider what He has already done for us, [by becoming one of us & giving His life for us; that “He Who knew no sin became sin for us” & gave us His righteousness] we can rest assured that He hears our cry & is more than able to intervene in all that concerns us. We are finding that times of waiting on Him, though hard, are precious times that we come to know Him more, as we believe for His purposes to be accomplished in our hearts as we wait on Him!!

Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him, 
who wait for Him & hope in His mercy & loving-kindness Psalm 33:18

Jon & Joyce have spent a lot of time praying & waiting on the Lord with so much out of their control. They've been in training to run to Him. This has drawn them closer to God & each other. 


Mid-Dec., Jon & Joyce flew to the capitol of Juba, So Sudan, for her passport, b/c it was too dangerous to make the 2 hr trip by road. BUT there was an error in her passport & then the passport machine broke, so they had to return home & wait. Once the new copy was available, they prayed for weeks for a way to get the passport, so Jon would not have to fly back again to Juba & repeat all that risk & expense. With no mail service in the country, they have had to trust that God's timing is perfect & if He parted the Red Sea, He could deliver her passport at the time HE KNOWS BEST! Believing HE IS DOING FAR MORE AS WE WAIT!!!

I waited patiently & expectantly for the Lord; & He inclined to me & heard my cry. Ps 40:1

Finally, on Jan. 20th Joyce's "corrected" passport was hand delivered to them. 
It was scanned and sent to William to get the VISA PROCESS underway... 
BUT Feb. 1 receiving the copy of her passport, we realized there is still a major error as her name was not correctly changed to Gune (Goonay) Joyce Lueken, so 
THEY MUST TRAVEL TO JUBA ONCE AGAIN 
& b/c of court involvement to change the name  it will COST $1000 for a new passport.

Feb. 6, Jon had to go 8 hrs. to the Embassy in Kampala in southern Uganda while he is fighting malaria, in order to get himself a new passport b/c when he goes into So Sudan he pays $100 for a visa & each time they cover a page w/ the visa, so all pages of his passport are used up.
But the Embassy turned him away and he had to wait for an appointment, in order to travel back to South Sudan. Finally, He got an emergency passport on 2/17 & the day he got back, he had to take Joyce to the nearest hospital 2 hrs. away b/c of serious abdominal pain that returned. An ultrasound showed the baby is fine, but her kidney is inflamed & she is being treated for kidney infection. 

So as they face yet MORE delays,

WE ASK YOU TO JOIN IN PRAYER for MORE 

than we could hope or imagine 

as we WAIT ON HIM!! 


”Now to Him Who, by His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose & do superabundantly MORE
far over & above all that we [dare] ask or think 
[infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]— TO HIM BE THE GLORY in the church & in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen” 
Eph. 3:20-21

Join us as we pray for the MORE...

provision of an extended visa 
(a year or more, not just the usual 3 months) 
that allows them to stay as long as God knows they need to be here to get: 

desperately needed  medical training for Jon,

for rest & restoration of health

 provision to travel to meet many of you 
who have been praying for them

 & to have their baby here in June/July 

& any other WONDERFUL PLANS HE HAS in store!!

 Christmas 2016 [married for 6 months]

PRAY for the hearts of the people of South Sudan who have waited for years to have a normal, stable life that they have never known. 

Also God seems to be opening 
an unprecedented door of opportunity 
to make a huge difference in the country... 
beyond belief!  [stay tuned] 
PRAISE OUR MIGHTY & WONDROUS GOD!! 


"For a wide door of opportunity for effectual service has opened to me there, [a great and promising one], and [there are] many adversaries. 
1 Corinthians 16:9Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

Meanwhile, we are soaking in the wonder of the blessing & privilege of living here at Maplewood Lodging & 1850 B&B! We so enjoy meeting & serving the B&B guests and have been delighted to have friends come to stay with us as our personal guests!! We love it out here & can’t wait to share it with you!!

Many of you know, Roger had a pacemaker heart implant in mid-November. He definitely has more energy & does not sleep as long, but we find he still needs naps. When he thinks he’s the bionic man and neglects that fact, we still deal with some of the same issues as before though not as frequently. Prayerfully, thankful!

I expectantly wait for the Lord, & in His word do I hope. Psalm 130:5


And I, too, am starting to have a few of the same issues as Roger, so we are earnestly praying and asking God to direct & provide so that we can see a local Osteopath, who has helped some friends here, to get to the root of the cause of various physical, mental & emotional symptoms. Meanwhile, God is working in me personally, some needed compassion that I was lacking for Roger through the years.  He uses all things for good.
  
Be still & rest in the Lordwait for Him 
patiently lean yourself upon Him
Ps 37:7a


Emma got her driver’s license & is taking online art classes. Projects from Lesson 1 & 2

   
We have been w/o a 2nd vehicle that Emma can drive since Oct, so we’ve prayed & waited & recently we were offered a car, a gift from the Lord, through friends. This is very timely, as Emma just last week started 2 more part time jobs, one as a nanny & the other at an afterschool program.  She needs wheels to get to her multiple jobs each week & we need more than a 3-seater truck for when Jon & Joyce come. God knew.


Josh & Mary have a new puppy that is growing very quickly & the new love of their lives.  Josh’s love of the quiet, peacefulness of fishing, has him traveling to find ice fishing spots as he is able & the weather cooperates & he is enjoying creating videos of his adventures on his Youtube channel “Fin Slayer”… takes after Papa Flynn & Uncle Dan L.

Your love, support & prayers 
have been such a great source of encouragement. 
We appreciate so much you praying with us as we look to the One Who works in our hearts & the hearts of others as we all look to Him for what ONLY HE CAN DO.
There is much to look to Him for in own our personal lives, concerning South Sudan & here in this Nation. Believing that His Kingdom has come & His will is being done in so many ways that we cannot see!!

And therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
& He lifts Himself up [on the cross],
that He may have mercy on you & show loving-kindness to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all those who earnestly wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him
[for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, 
& His matchless, unbroken companionship] Isaiah 30:18 AMP

Waiting on the Lord for this grand reunion with much Grace and Gratitude,
Roger & Patty, & Emma                                                            

Operation Nehemiah Missions website www.operationsnehemiah.org  Choose "option #2 " PayPal onlighthouse@gmail.com
Mail checks to
Operation Nehemiah PO Box 502, Otis, MA 01253    
                              
VISIT us at: Maplewood B&B 266 North Main Rd  Otis MA 01253 
MAILING address: PO BOX 502 OTIS, MA 01253

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Note from Jonathan!!


Dictated over the phone Oct. 25, 2016        
To my faithful friends and family,
 
I want to thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers for Joyce and I, especially since we were married here in So. Sudan.

So. Sudan is going thru a very difficult time, but in the midst of this trial God’s grace is there. Fear and war have chased a lot of people from their homes, but God’s faithful love is pursuing them.

The work is going forward and the Gospel is continuing to be preached as God helps the staff of Operation Nehemiah here on the ground. There have been times where myself and other staff have been in danger, but God has kept us in the shadow of His wings.

I have been blessed to have been able to preach on the radio regularly and my hope is that God will open people’s hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by His Spirit.

Joyce and I are doing well, but continue to pray for Joyce’s health. Her health has improved, but she is still not at 100% yet. Also, be praying for us that Joyce can get her passport and visa in this time of government upheaval, so we can come to see all of you. There are 2 different roads to take for the paper work process.  Both need God's intervening hand, so we’re seeking the Lord to lead us in the way we should go.

We appreciate your prayers for all the staff here, that God would give us courage and confident trust in Him to protect us and to advance His work.

We are really missing all of you and are hoping to come as soon as God makes a way. I’ve been sharing with my wife,  Joyce, of the many friends and family who’ve been supporting us in many ways. I am really excited for her to meet all of you!


Rubanga tutu koco anya ruga     God bless you all!
Amande anyi America ga si.      We will see you from America.
Nyolu Okpwo Yesu to!                  Stay strong in Jesus!           

  Jonathan and Joyce Lueken

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lueken Family Update - October 2016

As I (Roger) look out the windows of the front parlor of Maplewood B&B  in Otis, MA our new (1850) home,  I can see the wind blowing the leaves that have fallen in a frantic dance upon the wind. The leaves are changing colors... beautiful  reds, pinks, yellows, the colors ranging from subdued to vivid, almost fluorescent shades that grab your attention. The air is cold & crisp on this October day,  as I ponder the question, How did we get here? And how could so much happen in such a short time? It can only be by God’s hand & faithful direction of our steps even when we were not aware of it.

It’s been a busy season of packing to move after returning from Africa & unpacking while also setting up the B&B which opened in June. Right as we were expecting our first guests, Roger’s dear sister, Nancy, suddenly passed into eternity with Jesus & we travelled  to Minnesota. Her departure has left a huge hole in many hearts, as Nancy was like a 2nd mother to Roger & caretaker for their mom & helped out many in the family in many ways. She is greatly missed!

The B&B was busy most of the summer, but since fall, we’ve had guests here & there.      
SO COME VISIT US!  

We are open year round & since it’s our home we can welcome friends & family to stay with us as long as we do not bump out paying guests.   Our schedule is wide open, so this slower season is the perfect time to come, catch up, enjoy some R &R & sweet fellowship.  Check out the new updated website:  www.maplewoodlodging.com

We have talked and prayed with Jonathan almost daily since late June. Then on July 8th civil war broke out in the capitol of Juba (60 miles NW of Borongole). Jon & Joyce had hoped to go to Juba on July 10th to get Joyce a passport.  We have been on our knees crying out to our Father on behalf of the dear people of South Sudan.  We have never in our lives prayed as much as we have in the past months, on so many levels, since our return from Africa!

Later in July, most of the women and children had fled from that area of So. Sudan to Uganda to stay with relatives or to refugee camps, while a dozen men, including Jon, stayed on in the village & William Levi & family remained on the farmland working the fields and meeting with local officials until their departure to the states Aug. 1.

[See the CBN report from the village after civil war broke out
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2016/september/in-this-war-torn-nation-meet-the-brave-souls-returning-to-rebuild
 & be sure to view the VIDEO report from Borongole during this time]

In late July,  Joyce bravely returned to South Sudan to join Jon in Borongole,  as it became clear that a union sooner than November was best. 
A week later, Jon & Joyce were married on July 30th with only a few family members &  friends  present, so we are looking forward to their home coming to the US when we can really celebrate their marriage.


Jon & Joyce left So Sudan with the Levi’s as they departed Africa & they were dropped off with family in northern Uganda where God provided an abandoned “fixer-upper” hut for them to stay in so they can be together while Jon is there in Uganda. Their hoped for honeymoon was interrupted by Joyce having a serious bout with malaria that put her down for days. When she finally came through & felt strong enough to travel, they spent a few days in Gulu, Uganda where she had a thorough medical exam and has been on several medicines since then and is slowly feeling “somehow” better, as they say in So. Sudan.


During that time, the fighting in the area around the village escalated & for a time all have left Boronogle . We are praying for peace so that people can return soon before all is lost.

Meanwhile, some staff men, including Jonathan, have gone back into So. Sudan to stay on Gordon Mountain radio station south of the fighting,  in order to continue broadcasting the Gospel  to those remaining in So Sudan & in Refugee Camps in Uganda.


Jon preached daily for a few weeks on the book of Nehemiah, then returned to be with Joyce in Uganda for a time,  taking her back for a medical re-check to find that her presenting symptoms require a little more time & medicine.  They were blessed to have that time back together, but he recently returned to be on the radio. It is very hard for them to be apart.

Talking & praying with Jon has been so fruitful, as he & we see our daily need for His grace to have hearts that recognize our need for the Father of tender mercy for ourselves,  in order to extend mercy & grace to others. Many times Jon confesses his own weakness, & we encourage him to hold onto the truth that we ARE weak, but our God is strong.


Very often Jon says, “But God is there!” & “All I can do is pray.” 

What better place to be, than to be hemmed in where our only source of help is God.


Thankful that He forgives us when we fail, believing that God’s power is perfected in our weakness.  Those who are forgiven much, love much.  Asking Him to make us a people after His own heart.


Joshua finished his 3 years serving in the Army from Fort Drum, NY and moved back to eastern MA in May, just a week before we moved to western MA! He and his girlfriend Mary are doing well.

 God has been very good to Josh, as he got back the same job he had before he enlisted. He is looking into schooling in 2017. Meanwhile, he takes every chance he can to enjoy his love of fishing as he reaches out to veterans through Fishing Buddies for Veterans.

 Emma is finding that the Berkshires is a great area to pursue her love of art illustration & writing. She is the resident baker for the B&B guests & everyone loves her cinnamon swirl bread.

She is seeking Nannying jobs to fill her time while the B&B has slowed down and to save money toward courses and a car to get her there. Our Honda is no longer road worthy so we only have our 3 seater manual truck.  We definitely need a car for when Jon & Joyce return so we can travel together and Emma can get herself to work & classes. PRAYING about our need for a second vehicle?

PLEASE PRAY for South Sudan especially for those displaced from their homes with family elsewhere or in Refugee Camps.  Asking the Lord to shine His light in their hearts and minds, bringing them closer to Himself, leading them to pray, just as we need to gather to pray for our nation.

Pray also for the staff men of Operation  Nehemiah, as they camp out at the radio station. Pray also for the needed funds to put in a well at the radio station & better housing. They are currently hand digging a latrine, as things are right now, water & food has to be brought to the men who stay in two rooms on Gordon Mountain along with all the radio equipment.  Asking the Lord to knit their hearts together in Him as they proclaim together the Good News. & pray together!


Pray for Roger who was on a heart monitor b/c his EKG showed his heart rate was 39 beats per minute (normal is 60-100 & his normal is in the 50’s) The results showed his heart rate was from 37 bpm to 75 bpm. So they are doing a stress test to confirm ROGER’S NEED FOR A PACEMAKER.  This is actually good news, if this helps Roger’s exhaustion problem as his need for sleep has increased to needing 12 to 13 hours of sleep a day.

Also, OUR ROLE WITH OPERATION NEHEMIAH has been scaled back so that we will not be traveling extensively as we had been and will not be putting out updates, but instead focusing on PRAYER & SUPPORTING JON & JOYCE UNDER THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT of Operation Nehemiah.  If Roger’s health improves, our hope is that he could get a part time job that could supply what we need to live on and then the $800 of monthly support that we share with Jonathan, could go exclusively to Jon & Joyce and needs in So. Sudan.

Praying for Jon & Joyce believing that God is ordering their steps, so that JON & JOYCE CAN COME HERE TO THE U.S. FOR MEDICAL TRAINING & for rest and for us to celebrate with them their union as man & wife! Jon looks forward to introducing Joyce to you! They just found out that they can apply for a passport in Uganda instead of risking a trip to Juba, So Sudan, but it takes 2 to 3 months to get it, whereas in Juba it takes a week. It is the only door open to them right now, so we are praying for a miracle intervention to get her passport & visa soon.

We also feel an urgency  to gather together with others to pray for our nation!!!

We are so thankful for all of you who have come along side us & continue to remember us, Jon & Joyce, as well as, the dear people who do the majority of the work on the ground in South Sudan. We really do need each other in the Body of Christ.  We/they could not do what we do without your loving support & prayers.

Praying that God will continue to stoke the fire that is being fanned through trials, with an increasing awareness of our great need for Him, giving us a listening ear, an honest voice, a child’s simple trust & love.

Much Grace & Gratitude, Roger, Patty & Emma

To Donate to help Jon & Joyce come here for Medical Training and R&R
www.operationsnehemiah.org Scroll to the bottom & CHOOSE OPTION #2
PayPal onlighthouse@gmail.com
Mail checks to Operation Nehemiah PO BOX 502, Otis, MA 01253 (They get 100% of donations by mail, PayPal takes 3%)
COME VISIT US AT Maplewood B&B  266 North Main Road  Otis, MA 01253
(Next to Brother Darryl's FISH MARKET)


Monday, June 13, 2016

A personal update from me, Jonathan!

This is a personal update from me, Jonathan Lueken, whom you haven’t heard from for a long time. 

For the Last 7 months I have been staying in Borongole, Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan and working with Operation Nehemiah. Our vision is rebuilding this new nation spiritually and physically by God’s Grace and promoting Sustainability.


For three years I have been privileged to join hands with the ground team, under Country Director Timothy Levi and Senior Pastor Michael Levi in South Sudan. There are many areas of work here, including rebuilding the family spiritually, biblical discipleship, agriculture, medical, brick production, radio broadcasting, and building Godly infrastructure.  As the Director of Sustainable living, here in Borongole, my time has been full and productive. William Levi, [Founder and overseer of Operation Nehemiah], has been here with his family since the beginning of May (2016) to encourage and declare the vision that God has given him for South Sudan. God is doing an exciting work through the Mission to the hearts of the people in our community.
Since 2013, God has drawn me into the Great Commission here in South Sudan and I have been so blessed to work alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ.  It has become clear that my calling is to be here long term, learning from and sharing life with the Christians here, who have become my family. I now am putting down roots here in many ways. 
One of these ways is God leading me towards marriage with a Godly young woman living here in Borongole, South Sudan.  I have been in a courtship since December with Joyce Gune Kenyi, niece of both William and Pastor Michael Levi.
She loves the Lord with all her heart and is the hardest working young woman I have ever met. She has a true servant’s heart and is currently helping in the Nehemiah Field Clinic, working alongside me, as I now head up the Medical department. I have seen God growing us in our faith as we have come to know each other and have faced the trials of sickness together on quite a few occasions.




 Seeking God’s will in this relationship, the Lord has  made this clear to both Joyce and I that He is the one who brought us together and I am very sure that I have met my best friend for life. With Godly counseling, we are preparing and planning for marriage. Our desire is to have a wedding in the month of November here in South Sudan (Yes, this is something of a destination wedding!)
There is much to be put into place before that and the focus now is continuing premarital counseling and looking to meet some of the obligations required in African marriage. One of these priorities is a “blessing” (also known as a Dowry) to be paid by the young man to the young women’s family.  It is my desire to be able to give generously to the family who is blessing me with Joyce. This is a cultural tradition that has Hebrew biblical roots and is standard for marriage here. The ancient Hebrew wedding’s requirement involving payment of dowry by the bridegroom to the family of the bride which is still practiced here in this Hebraic culture, where Joyce is raised, is a kind of foreshadowing of the relationship between Jesus the Messiah and His bride, the Church.  Jesus purchased his bride, the church (all believers) by shedding of His blood on the Cross.  I am praying for the provision of that gift to give to my future-in-laws, who are giving their faithful daughter into my care. I appreciate your prayers as I enter this new phase of life and prepare to lead a new family.
Prayer needs:
1-      The dowry for the family of my bride as explained above $7000
2-     To build a small house on the mission property for Joyce and I $10,000
3-      For our Wedding planning in November 2016 when we pray my family in the USA can come.
4-      Pray for our relationship as we continue in premarital counseling as we lead up to the wedding
5-      Our desire to travel together to the USA together to visit friends and family after the wedding in November.
Joyce and I greatly appreciate your continued prayers and support as we look to start a family together. Please also pray for all the Families who are working with Operation Nehemiah here in South Sudan and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to go forward. Thank you for praying as we seek God's guidance in this new adventure!
Rubanga kola nito   (God be with you)                                                                     
Jonathan,  Director for Biblical Sustainable living & working w/ Operation Nehemiah Missions 
We are excited for Jon and love Joyce dearly. We have been earnestly praying for them as God works to unite them in the months ahead. We would ask you to pray that God would enable us by His gracious working to be involved in creative ways in the wedding preparations and planning and that He would work out the details to make it possible for us to be there for the wedding. 
Jon cannot receive mail as there is no mail service in South Sudan. In order for him to receive anything it must be hand carried through us. But if you'd like to communicate anything directly to him, you could send him an email. Email: jonlueken@gmail.com
Anything else must be sent via the options listed below. 
NOTE OUR NEW  Personal & Operation Nehemiah MAILING ADDRESS:
PO Box 502, Otis, MA 01253

Donations can be made on the Operation Nehemiah Missions website
Scroll to the bottom - Choose "option #2 " www.operationsnehemiah.org
All contributions are tax deductible.


Make checks out to: Operation Nehemiah PO Box 502, Otis, MA 01253
Our physical address is:     266 North Main Road  Otis MA 01253