As Arrows…

Our family hosted our first, “Unless the Lord Build the House” marriage retreat this past weekend, and it was a tremendous blessing for our family. We had room for twenty seven couples, and even with last minute cancellations, we still had twenty seven couples attend. We were humbled by the honor of encouraging families from 13 states to include as far away as Hawaii. Many drove long distances, and our prayer is that God blesses their families with lasting fruit for their investment of time and effort.

It began months ago when God put the idea on our hearts. The children immediately were thrilled, and it became a vision that they owned.

Teri and I are often greatly distressed over families where the dad and mom are not united in heart in pursuing Jesus. The primary goal of this retreat was to help Dad and Mom have a common vision for the future of their family. I saw a secondary benefit of hosting a retreat like this to be the opportunity to teach our children what it was like to successfully organize an event.

The children excitedly discussed and planned for weeks because they were responsible for all of the logistics concerning hosting the retreat. Teri and I worked on the material for the sessions and critiqued their plans. Finally, the weekend arrived and is now gone. We are all feeling quite spent, but what a good feeling that is.

We also invited any couples, who had the time, to worship with us on Sunday. In addition to four families from the retreat to our church, there was another family that visited from Texas. It was a blessing indeed.

Steve for the family

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Sarah took this picture as several of the children were unloading. Notice the walkie talkie? The children enjoyed communicating with each other during the weekend.

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Jesse was our “chief soda conference servant.” He did a great job at keeping the sodas cold! Here he and Mary are pushing the big cooler out of our hotel room and down to the meeting room!

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Saturday evening, I felt prompted for the children to sing/play “I Feel Like Traveling On.” The guys had just played/sang this song for the men at the homeless shelter that morning. Sarah took this picture.

Prayer Request

We wanted to share some recent news we’ve received regarding our baby/pregnancy with those who are so graciously praying for us. We recently had a sonagram that showed some abnormalities. Specifically, it appears like there is a cyst of some sort on the child’s brain stem. We find out more during an early December appointment. Our doctor encouraged us not to worry but to pray. Our desire is God’s healing while we continue to rejoice in the gift of life He has blessed us with. He is in complete control and we want Him to be glorified in all areas of our lives.

Nathan

The Blessing of Reversal Babies

Anna many years ago!

It’s hard to believe my “little” sister is 14 (Happy Birthday, Anna!). Even more amazing is that if my parents’ had not chosen to reverse a bad decision, she and my other four younger brothers and sister would not be here.

You see, there’s a seven year age difference between Joseph and I. After Dad and Mom had me, they decided three was enough. Several years later, Dad was home sick from work and decided to study the topic of what the Bible had to say about children. He came away broken by God. He had a reversal soon after, and within a year, Mom was expecting Joseph.

As I look at my five younger brothers and sisters, now 17, 15, 14, 12, and 10, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude to the Lord for giving us such blessings. I’m very, very grateful to my parents for choosing to go back on a decision they see was wrong (to limit the size of their family) and make things right.

My heart’s desire is that parents who have chosen to limit the size of their families may reconsider and see the blessings that children are. Dad wrote a Corner on this subject several years ago.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127:3-5).

Only for Jesus,
Sarah

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This picture of Anna and Jesse was taken probably 9 years ago.

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This was probably taken 9 years ago!

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The Maxwell Ladies, October 2006, Left to Right – Melanie, Sarah, Mom (Teri), Anna (the birthday girl!), and Mary

Sweet Road Fruit

We have just completed a couple of trips where we spoke at a total of fourteen cities. What a blessing it was for our family. My heart is encouraged and discouraged at the same time during these trips. One of my greatest joys in all the world is encouraging dads who have a heart to follow Jesus. At the same time my heart is broken as I see dads who are cold and hard-hearted. It is obvious that the world has their heart and as a result their family is suffering.

As in other trips though, to talk to dads that want to grow in Jesus and lead their family in following Christ thrills me to no end. What a joy to speak to a dad who has a clear hunger for and commitment to following Jesus down whatever path He leads. One thing is clear, He will always lead down a path that is away from the world and towards holiness.

We have received many emails following these trips confirming fruit in homes. The Lord led me to ask this dad if I could change the names and include it in the blog. He agreed and with the names changed here is what he wrote.

_______________
Steve,
Just wanted to give you an update on how our family devotions have been going.  We met at your Family Conference.  I had stayed after the conference to talk to you regarding my younger children not getting much out of devotion time.  The names and ages of the children are girl (10), boy (6), girl (4), boy (2), and baby girl.  We took the suggestions that you made to me, mixed them with some tips we picked up from the conference and from your books, bathed them in prayer and ended up with the following:

  1. Devotions start at 7:45pm in the living room. Everyone has an assigned seat. I hold the 2 year old and my wife has the newborn. The 10 and 6 year old sit together and the 4 year old sits next to my wife. This allows those that don’t read or don’t read well to sit next to someone who can.
  2. I open with a short prayer asking for blessing upon the devotion time.
  3. We started reading from Matthew (skipping the genealogies) and everyone reads two verses until we get to a good stopping point. If they can’t read then I will read part of the verse while the person next to them points to the words and then they repeat it.
  4. If the wording was hard for them to understand then I’ll explain the passage. If it is something they are familiar with or simple enough for them to understand then I’ll ask some questions and try to get them to draw application from it. Then I’ll draw some application from it.
  5. If we have any updates from missionary families that we keep up with then we will share them.
  6. New prayer requests.
  7. For prayer time my wife and I came up with a list of people/things that we need to pray for.  We organized the list into 3 categories (Spiritual/General/Health). Prayer order is from youngest to oldest.  I give the person who is about to pray two or more things from the list to pray for and then they pray. We encourage the person praying to pray for whatever they are led to but they have to at least pray for what I give them from the list. After that person finishes then I’ll give the next one their prayer items and they pray and so on until I pray last.

We will soon be finishing our first month using the new format and so far my wife and I have definitely seen improvement. Our ten year old daughter has always done pretty well with paying attention but seems to be getting more out of it now. Our six year old son had always been a struggle in the past but is now paying better attention and getting more involved. Our four year old daughter and two year old son still need some work but with more prayer, time, and consistency they will start to catch on.
Thank you again for sharing your time with us.
A Brother
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After one month he is seeing encouraging growth in his children. Can you imagine what he will see in one, two, five or ten years? May we all be busy about following Jesus. If we love Him we will feed the sheep. It’s dads like these that make it all worth while.

In Christ Jesus,
Steve

Grown Men: Rejoicing with the gift of a bicycle

Here in Kansas, despite the cold temperatures that usually accompany Christmastime, it isn’t uncommon to see a young boy outside riding a brand new bicycle on Christmas Day – and I always enjoy seeing the smile on his face at he tries out his new bicycle.

This week, although it would seem odd, we were able to see smiles on the faces of adult men who received the gift of a bicycle. It wasn’t at Christmas time, and, although we are in Kansas, the men weren’t.

Earlier this year, we received a Gospelink newsletter (Gospelink is an organization in the States which allows families to sponsor native missionary pastors in a foreign country; many of whom can be fully supported for $110 a month; you can often choose the pastor you would like to support; and you may write letters back and forth to your pastor – more information below). Many of the native missionary pastors that are sponsored through Gospelink have no form of transportation, and will often walk many miles to minister and share the gospel in villages near (or far) from their homes. In fact, at one point, when we asked a pastor that we support what his means of transportation was to the villages that he ministers to, he wrote back that his means of transportation was his feet.

The Gospelink newsletter mentioned that they had received a “matching donation offer” of several thousand dollars towards bicycles for pastors that had no transportation: for every dollar given towards bicycles during a set period of time, this other donor would match with another dollar (up to several thousand dollars of matching funds). Each bicycle cost $75 (US funds). As it was an incredible opportunity to help poor pastors advance the gospel, and at the same time was a great way to increase one’s financial gift, some in the family were excited to contribute towards the project.

Just this past week we received a thank you letter from the Gospelink National Director in the particular African country where the bicycles were purchased and then distributed. Accompanying the hand-written (and then photocopied) letter were photos of the pastors receiving and trying out their new bicycles. The joy that was on the faces of these pastors was a thrill to our hearts – and we hope it encourages you as well.

If you, your family, your church, or possibly your home church, is interested in fully or partially sponsoring a native missionary pastor, please visit or contact Gospelink.org.

Receiving the bicycles

Line of bicycles being recieved

Riding a bicycle for the first time

Posted in: Ministry News

Thank you!

Melanie and I have been blessed over and over again as we’ve read your comments in response to our “Joy” post below. We were overwhelmed with the reminder of how many “unmet friends” we have who have faithfully prayed for us and will continue to. Thank you so much!

Nathan and Melanie

The Maxwell family and ministry blog of Titus2.com.