A letter from Marta Bennett in Keny
GPS: God’s Guidance and Protection System
As part of my PC(USA) mission Interpretation Assignment I was driving from Bel Air, Maryland, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this past month, which proved to be a navigational challenge. “No problem; I have the GPS,” I thought. From what I could make out on the map, there was no straightforward route from point A to point B that I could decipher. So, having entered the needed details into the GPS, off I went.
Unfortunately, at the first dividing fork of two major options on the freeway, the voice directions seemed to contradict that red line that went off to the left, and while moving at full speed with traffic all around, I needed to make a split-second decision as to whether to merge right or left. I chose to go right, only to realize immediately that I should have followed the left lanes. The first exit was several minutes down the freeway. Proceeding off that next exit ramp, I scanned the road ahead for the first option to turn around (in obedience to the GPS voice). I had to drive farther and farther down this new highway without seeing any opportunity for a U-turn. Eventually the GPS recalculated the route, so that now the instructions were to continue on the road in the same direction I was already heading. What a gift it turned out to be! Because of my “mistake” I was drawn over rolling country roads, through fields and farmlands, peaceful and serene in the winter sun. I was directed from one rural highway and back road to another, over and over, but sure enough, eventually I could see signs that I was nearing Gettysburg, and I arrived safely at my destination with some minutes to spare. It may have taken a bit longer, but in the end, it was shorter in terms of miles, and it was an inspiring and serene drive. Once I had realized that all was still well, I found myself humming and singing throughout the drive.
How like a GPS God is, as we seek his guidance in our lives. Like with Abraham and Sarah, whose instructions from God were to leave where they were and follow where he directed them. Abraham did not know the exact location of their destination; Abraham’s task was to proceed, and follow God’s guiding directions day by day. Would Abraham trust God? He seems to have boldly started out, in faith, but just as I was uncertain somewhere en route and took a wrong road, so Abraham had times of uncertainty and made compromising choices, such as when he passed Sarah off as his sister (a half-truth). It nearly derailed their mission, but in the end, God recalculated the process, redeemed the poor decision, and sent them on their continuing journey once again. Or with Elijah, up in the mountain cave after the triumph over the prophets of Baal and the following threat on his life by Queen Jezebel, God coming to him asking, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:9). Elijah had gotten seriously off course, but God kindly redirected him back onto his purpose, providing his needs along the way.
Each day as I am in New Haven, or heading out of town for an event or speaking engagement, I realize that I am “on the road again.” May I daily have the grace and discernment to pay attention to that still, small voice, to follow God’s nudgings for navigating the day, and/or to humbly acknowledge when I get off track and allow God to recalibrate my path back onto course, somehow redeeming any mess created along the way.
As always, I am continuously grateful for the ongoing encouragement and support of so many as I also seek to encourage, support, teach, and serve faithfully. The kids and I have just a few more months before we head back to Nairobi. As we finish out the time here in the United States and as we prepare to return to Kenya, here are a few updates:
- Good seminars I have been able to participate these last couple of months at OMSC (Overseas Ministries Study Center—where we are based), including the Book of Amos, Anthropological Insights for Mission, Ethnicity and Mission, the Environment and Mission, and Pentecostal Spirituality in Africa.
- New residents who have joined us here, including Father Stefanos from the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece, Prof. Kwabenah Asamoah-Gyadu from Ghana (he is this term’s scholar in residence), and a couple from Armenia.
- Good opportunities to be with various churches in the region, including Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, First Presbyterian Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, National Presbyterian in Washington, D.C., and First Presbyterian Church right here in New Haven, Connecticut.
- A very important time for us this year as a family to have concentrated time together, especially in evenings and travels on weekends, and God’s grace in the midst!
Prayer requests for:
- The kids in school here, and for their transition back to school in Kenya. They are both coming along well, but they will be behind in a number of subjects when they return, so grace and perseverance for them, as well as being fully engaged here while we are still here.
- Fruitful use of these next three months, with good connections with family, friends, churches, and the community here.
- Staff cuts and many challenges at NIST, while trying to grow programs, succeeding at the government accreditation process to become a full university. For myself, knowing how best to prepare for my return, and for do-able workload expectations once I land, while still keeping family life a priority.
Joy to you each and all, for Palm Sunday and on through Easter,
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 99
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