Thursday, January 26, 2012

Praying for the Bridge Believers

This morning, I woke up and began to pray about everything going on in our lives right now.  Nothing is easy about this season of life, but a lot of it is so good.  When I checked my email, I received an update from a missionary family in Indonesia that I like to keep up with.  I wanted to share it with you.  It really makes every single struggle I have seem so minimal.  

(I'm going to include their contact information in case God leads you to contact them or support them financially.)  

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Indo Window —The Pearl of Great Price

Stephanie and I are getting ready to go lead our English club on a Monday afternoon when Andi calls and asks if he can drop by.  He’s one of our national partners and wants to give me the latest on what is happening on “Bridge Island” and to process some decisions we need to make as a team as to how to respond to some persecution that has broken out there.

As I wrote in our last update, this unreached and Gospel-resistant island has recently experienced a breakthrough.  At our count 25 families in the last few months have become followers of Jesus, totaling over 200 people with 94 of them baptized so far and growing.  There have been miracles and healings and it’s something totally unprecedented that I know of among this particular people group.

Recently a fanatical sect of Shia Islam (most Muslims in Indonesia are Sunni) burned down a Muslim boarding house in one of the villages there that they thought was deviant to true Islam.  While on their rampage, this mob heard some rumors of a group of followers of Jesus living there.  In this village were indeed seven families totaling 42 people in this growing movement, all believers for just a few weeks.  These families were tipped off to the approaching mob and fled, just having with them the clothes on their backs.  The mob arrived and broke into their homes, found New Testaments, and in a rage burned down each of their seven houses. 

One of the new believers named Mr. J, against the urging of his friends, went back to his house to defend it.  The mob arrived to burn down his house and he fought back by slashing one of the assailants with a sword and injuring him.  The police later arrested Mr. J and are holding him in prison right now, they say for his own safety even though he had a legal right to defend his home.  He has heard that as soon as he gets out there are people in this sect waiting to get revenge on him.

The seven families, many of them fisherman who have their own small boats, fled to a different island about a half hour away that is known as a hiding spot for people fleeing the law, in debt or on the run from someone out to get them (revenge is a very common cultural trait of these Bridge people).   Over the next few days they set up makeshift tents out of tarps and were helped out by other followers in the movement.  Since most of the men work as fisherman, they are able to catch fish for their families to eat every day, selling some to be able to buy rice which is the main staple in their diet.

As you read this these 42 people are still living on this rugged island which has no electricity or any infrastructure of any kind.  Andi tells me one of their biggest complications is there is no electricity so they can’t keep their cell phones charged and have to severely limit use, a challenge when they need to communicate with one another.  They turn their phones on just to text each other and then turn them right off again.  Andi and I kick around an idea to buy and bring them a generator when he goes to visit them this week.  Poro, whom I also wrote about in our last update, is with them now providing spiritual leadership for them in their ordeal.  Andi will join Poro there and see firsthand what is going on and how to help.

Andi also tells me that this experience has not intimidated these new believers but they have been sharing the Gospel with other inhabitants of this “city of refuge” island.  All of them want to go back to their homes, their land, their way of life.  But in the meantime they are being bold fishers of men.

I remember when Andi  and our other national partner led a CPM (Church Planting Movement) training for four leaders of these Bridge believers.  They warned them that there could be a steep price for following Jesus, and they answered that they understood the cost and were willing to die for Jesus.   We were touched by their sincere response and it reminded me of the pearl merchant Jesus talked about in Matthew 13:45-46: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  That training was just a couple of weeks ago.  None of us imagined that the persecution would start so soon.  But they still say the kingdom of heaven has been worth the high cost.

I’m so riveted by Andi’s latest report and humbled to know of these saints who have paid a dear price of following Jesus even in their first few weeks of becoming believers.  My life is so comfortable—even as Andi tells me these stories we are sitting on my front porch enjoying a nice breeze together.  Soon Stephanie and I will be greeted by friendly children eager to learn English.  I’ll go to bed later tonight in my cozy home while these fellow believers will be sleeping under trees and tarps.

Though they have paid so much and I have paid so little for the Pearl of Great Price, I can join them in prayer.  You can too and we ask for your prayers for them.  Pray for the other 20 families to be hidden and protected from this mob.  Pray for justice.  Pray for Mr. J now in prison.  Pray that the seven families could return to their homes without fear.  Pray for the four main leaders of their movement and for Andi and Poro visiting them this week.  Pray that all of them will continue to be a light in a very dark place.  Pray for our small team to know the wisest way to respond.

Thanks so much,

Mike O’Quin

P.S. My latest blog post, marveling at the rich soil of Java and how our hearts can be the same: http://www.faithactivators.com/soil-on-steroids/


Support Information
Thanks so much to those of you who gave extra in November and December…that really helped us out!  We couldn’t do this ministry at all without the support of friends and churches, as we live 100% off your generosity. All gifts are tax deductible and much appreciated.  You can give on-line by visiting: http://www.hopeinthecity.org/give/

Or you can make out a check to "Hope for the Nations" with a note attached saying the support is for us.  Then send to:

Hope for the Nations
4407 Monterey Oaks Blvd.
Building 1, Suite 120
Austin, TX 78749
Phone: 512-892-4673

Signing up for monthly automatic debit: accounting@hopeinthecity.org

Our Contact Info:
Indonesian Address
Jl. Tidar Utara #23
Malang, JATIM 65146
INDONESIA
Phone: +62-341-581-900
Cell: +62-81-334-967-714

U.S. Address
6414 Wareham Lane
Austin, TX 78739

Skype: mikeandstepho
Secure email: mikeo@gomail.asia

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carrying the Roberts' Genes Along

My dad's mom, whom I lovingly knew as Meme, passed away this past August at the age of 92.  At her funeral, relatives passed around a photo of her and kept saying how much I looked like her.  I never really thought I resembled her too much, but I think I have to agree with them now.  Check out this old photo of her when she was younger, and the photo I snapped of myself today when I was playing around with my camera phone.  Now I know where I got my skinny lips from!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Less is More

28 weeks pregnant... I survived the second trimester.  Just one more to go!


I haven't blogged about the launch of Church@The Square yet, because quite honestly, I haven't felt much like writing or doing anything else lately.  The birth of the new church is so exciting and there is so much to tell.  However, having a sick gallbladder takes a lot out of me, and I've been carefully rationing out my spurts of energy to take care of Bryan, Abby, and our home.  


Lately, I have really been struggling with the constant physical down days where I can't accomplish much more than being pregnant.  I mean, technically, even at rest, I'm doing a lot- I'm nurturing our son and giving him a chance to develop well before he meets the outside world.  If you know me, I am so task and goal oriented that I don't like to slow down... I have to right now.


Today is one of those days where I woke up sluggish and the funk hasn't went away.  I sat in my recliner this morning and was praying.  I was thinking about how frustrating it is not to be able to pull as much of the weight with the church plant or with our business as I would like to do right now and was feeling pretty helpless.  That's when this verse came to mind.


Matthew 5:3 (The MSG) "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule."


I'm definitely there.  I don't have anything more of me to give right now.  I have a willing heart but an unwilling body.  God knows.  God cares.  If He has chosen not to heal me right now, it's so I can learn a greater lesson.  Maybe, I need to be reminded right now in this huge life transition that it doesn't take more of me to accomplish something great.  It takes less of me and more of Him.


I can't run around wide open as I'm used to doing pulling all of the little details together, but I can be still and pray and watch God work everything out in His way.  I don't think I will ever like being sick.  It stinks.  I need to remember that God is accomplishing His purpose in me, through me, and around me- not because I have so much to offer- but because He does.  God is good like that.  He shocks the world by using the weakest, most useless vessels to show how amazing and capable He is.


"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong." 1 Corinthians 1:27 (ESV)

If you are feeling pretty useless or helpless today, thank Him.  You might be exactly where you need to be to finally be useful in His Kingdom.



It's not about us... it is about Jesus.


"In Him we live and move and have our being..." Acts 17:28 (NIV)


"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 (ESV)



Friday, January 13, 2012

Final Decision: Today's Update from My Appointment with the Surgeon

So, the last few days have not been too fun.  Wednesday, I met with the surgeon to discuss whether or not my gallbladder needs come out now or after Pax is born.  He decided to order more tests.  Thursday morning, I had more ultrasounds of my gallbladder and a fatty meal test.  The ultrasounds showed nothing unusual, but the fatty meal test sent my gallbladder into painful spasms within minutes.  As a result, I was miserable for the rest of the day and had a rough night.

This morning, we met with Dr. Bailey, the surgeon, again for follow-up.  He consulted with Dr. Sams, my obgyn, to get his feedback.  Though Dr. Bailey's diagnosis is that I have a dysfunctional gallbladder that needs to come out, both Dr. Sams and he agree that the gallbladder surgery's risks outweigh the benefits at this point.  Even though I am in pain all of the time, especially at night, it is safest for Pax if we can postpone surgery until after delivery.  I understand, because Pax kept kicking the ultrasound probe out of the way yesterday when they were trying to take photos of my gallbladder.  It's scary to think about him doing that with a scalpel.  As soon as Pax is delivered, my gallbladder needs to come out. Obviously, it is in not working if a fatty meal of any sort sends me into a gallbladder attack.

Here's what I am asking our prayers warriors to pray for:

1) Pray that my gallbladder does not become infected.  If it does, we'll have to do a risky open surgery that is dangerous for Pax and me.

2) Pray that the gallbladder attacks will settle down and that I won't be in pain so often.

3) Pray that God gives me the grace and peace to endure the next 3 months.  My gallbladder has only been in crisis mode since Thanksgiving, but it feels like it has been an eternity already.  I am really ready to feel comfortable again.  Chronic pain is exhausting and frustrating (as many of you know that suffer with it from other issues).

Our doctors' final decision:

No surgery for now unless I begin running a fever.  Stay on a bland, gluten free diet for 3 more months and control the pain with medication as needed.  Expect to schedule surgery soon after Pax's delivery.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January Update

Since I know I have a lot of people following our pregnancy and praying for us, I wanted to give an update tonight.

Backtracking a bit, since the week of Thanksgiving, my gallbladder has been giving me some trouble.  The week after Thanksgiving, I had my first gallbladder attack, and it has gone downhill since.  I've been trying to manage the frequent gallbladder attacks with a strict gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, nut free, egg free, low fat diet, but my gallbladder has continually become more dysfunctional as time has went on.

Two Mondays ago, I ended up in the ER because the pain was so severe.  When they did an ultrasound, they were unable to find any gallstones or any evidence of infection, so they sent me home with a strong oral pain medicine.  Since then, my obgyn has been closely monitoring me, and the game plan was for me to just tough it out until Pax could be safely delivered in April.  Since I have been continuing to lose weight pregnant, not gain weight as expected, there has been some reason for concern.  So far, all of my labs and ultrasounds have indicated that Pax is healthy and is not being negatively affected by any of the health struggles I have had.  I believe it's because so many of you have been praying with us that God would keep him safe during this pregnancy.

This past Friday night, I had an extremely severe attack where the pain was no longer manageable with the strongest oral pain medicine I could take while pregnant.  Upon talking to my obgyn, I began an all liquid diet for Saturday and Sunday to try to avoid more gallbladder attacks.  Unfortunately, I've never completely recovered from the attack Friday, and I have been much sicker than I was before.  I still don't hurt as much during the day as I do at night, but my energy level is really lagging and I just don't feel good.

Today, my obgyn referred me to a local general surgeon, and he wants me to reconsider operating now- not later.  The plus side of me being so small this pregnancy is that they may be able to do a laparoscopy still even though I am crossing over into my third trimester.  Until today, I had understood that a laparoscopy was no longer possible.

Tomorrow morning, I am scheduled for another ultrasound with a fatty meal test.  The point of the test is to throw me into a gallbladder attack, so they can verify 100% that it is indeed my gallbladder causing the pain and sickness.  I am nervous about the test, because the attacks I have had lately have been worse than labor was with Abby.  Please pray that if it is my gallbladder (as symptoms seem to indicate) that the test would be 100% definitive and that God would give me the grace to get through the pain and discomfort of the test.  My worst fear tomorrow is that the test would be inconclusive.

Friday morning, I follow-up with my general surgeon to discuss surgery options and what is safest for Pax and me.

This is all moving fast, so I would appreciate prayers for clear direction, clear answers, and wisdom.  Please pray for Pax's safety and my safety.  Please pray that God would give us all peace during the next few days.  Abby has been really concerned lately that I am dying, and it breaks my heart to hear a 3 year old ask such tough questions.  Obviously, I feel concerned about the safety of Pax through all of this.  Bryan feels the weight of everything.  We did just launch a church two weeks ago!

I don't like what is happening.  It does make me uncomfortable.  It does make me feel anxious, but I do know that God is sovereign and in control.  As much as I wish and pray for instantaneous healing, at this point, that's not been His will.  For now, we'll just continue to trust Him one moment at a time.  God is good.  His plan for me is good.  It may be painful, uncomfortable, and not my will to go through this, but it's still ultimately for His good and my good.  I will choose to rest in Him.

Thanks for the prayers.
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