I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phillipians 1:3-5 NIV).
Memories bring back reasons to be thankful. As I write this I’m in a little room in downtown Reykjavik, staying above a long-time friend of ours and her family. Gunnar and Christine were some of the first people we got to know here 30 some years ago. A steady Christian couple – she a school teacher, he a carpenter. They shared their quiet strength and faith in the Lord with us. I often said that Gunnar was a calming influence in my life. And Christine, a faithful servant, especially active in the YMCA movement.
When we left Iceland the first time in 1996 we asked Gunnar and Christine to take over our Bible study group. The people in the group were those we had either led to faith or else had played a big part in their spiritual growth. As we thought about who to ask to shepherd these people there was really only one choice. Christine and Gunnar pastored the group, complete with all their problems and challenges. Once when we wondered aloud with them whether we’d done them a favor because of the burden they’d inherited, Christine said, “But these are our friends!” Their love for the broken individuals was not a put on, it was the real thing and it just poured out of them.
About three years ago, our dear friend Gunnar was diagnosed with cancer. This gentle man who loved his craft and loved the Lord went down hill fast. And our beloved Christine was all of a sudden a widow. How we grieved the loss of our friend and grieved for her.
But God wasn’t finished yet. Christine has borne the grief and through it has become even more of a spiritual woman than she was before. When we were looking for someone to be part of our prayer and listening team for organic church and disciple multiplication, we asked her and she gladly joined. She‘s now part of a prayer triad that meets regularly to pray for a breakthrough in Iceland. And she graciously offers us her upstairs room as our “prophet‘s chamber” every time we come to Iceland.
This past Easter God brought Christine with some other Icelandic friends to the U.S. for a visit. During their stay, a friend, supporter and prayer partner came to meet them. This lady herself faces seemingly insurmountable family challenges. As Christine and our other Icelandic friends prayed over Laura, Betsy and I were reminded of the reciprocal blessing of gospel ministry. God sent us to Iceland, with the support of people like Laura, so we could meet and work with Christine so that she could come and become Laura‘s prayer partner.
So we thank God everytime we remember Gunnar and Christine and Laura - and you, our fellow GEM workers
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1 NIV).
What are some blessings that have come to you and/or your supporters because you answered God‘s call to serve in in Europe? Why not take a few moments to give thanks for them now?
Who are the people for whom you give thanks every time you remember them, because of their partnership in the Gospel with you? Let‘s lift them up before the Lord in thankful prayer!