Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

A Letter from Charles and Melissa Johnson, serving in Zambia

December 2019

Write to Charles Johnson
Write to Melissa Johnson

Individuals: Give to E200534 for Charles and Melissa Johnson’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507589 for Charles and Melissa Johnson’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

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Well – we’re still here in the U.S. It’s not where we planned to be and not where we told you all we would be, but life happens. I know we haven’t been very communicative over the past few months, so let us catch you up.

We arrived in the U.S. in June and spent several weeks hugging our kids, Meagan and Brien, playing with our two grandkids, Max and Lucy, and catching up with the rest of our family and friends. In July we hit the road for a grand tour of churches across 15 states. We visited 58 churches in those 15 states. While that may sound like a crazy, exhausting tour (it was), it was also such an amazing time of realizing the beauty of a connectional church. This Interpretation Assignment (IA) felt a little different. We were mainly visiting churches who were already supporting us, so very frequently we felt like we were coming home to visit old friends. The new churches we visited will now be old friends when we return on our next IA tour in 2021.

We also realized existing connections that we had been unaware of and made new connections. We were continually amazed with the diverse beauty of the PC(USA) churches and congregations across these 15 states. To those of you whom we were blessed to be with – thank you for your hospitality!

We arrived in Texas in September and we felt like we were finally going to be able to catch our breath. We have lovely friends who always open their home to us whenever we are back in San Antonio so we were able to unpack our bags and enjoy some good San Antonio Mexican cuisine, Texas BBQ and time with friends.

Then it happened – the unexpected and unwanted curves in life’s road. During routine physicals (you gotta do those!) we discovered Charles has an ascending aortic aneurism. Even though we’ve been told it’s a small one and has been very stable (apparently it was there five years ago and no one told us!!), it is still one of those things that scares you and makes you realize how unpredictable life and death are. Then my Momma, who had not been in great health for almost two years, suddenly landed in the hospital. Have you ever prayed one of those prayers that you really didn’t want to be answered? Well, this was one of those. I had prayed that if it was God’s plan that my Momma was going home to be with Jesus that I wanted to be there with her. And so it was.

I am so grateful for God’s timing in both of these matters. We were able to be here in the U.S. when we discovered Charles’ aneurism and I was able to be with my Momma during the last two weeks of her life. We are also very grateful that PC(USA) has granted us time to catch our breath and to be able to work through the fear and grief that both of these events have brought to us.

There are always mixed feelings when life throws you a curve. We are experiencing all of those: sadness, anger, grief, fear, and joy. Yes, even in these times we have been able to find joy. The joy of being able to spend the holidays with our family. The joy of having time with each other to work through the not so positive emotions. The joy of being able to experience the love and support of our friends – even our Zambian friends. And the joy that the work has gone on in Zambia even without us, because that’s the way it should be.

So now we have a new plan and we’re hoping there are no more curves ahead. We have rescheduled our flight back to Zambia for January 7. We have received so many messages of love and prayers and it truly means the world to us. The power of your prayers is felt – please don’t stop, and pray that we will be on that flight on January 7.

As we close out this year, we also want to give thanks to you. Thank you for all the love, prayers and hospitality you have given us over this past year, especially during our cross-country tour of 58 churches in 15 states. We thank you as well for the financial support you have given to us so that we can continue the ministry in Zambia that God has called us to. Thank you for your generous gifts to support the work of our partner church, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Zambia.

We pray that life has not gotten in your way – but we are sure it probably has, because it’s just what it does. We pray that you find joy in the curves on your life journey, and that despite those unexpected twists and turns, you may remember the joy of the Season and the love of Jesus. Merry Christmas!

Melissa and Charles

Please read this important message from Sara Lisherness, interim director of Presbyterian World Mission

Dear friend of Presbyterian Mission,

Greetings in Christ! As the interim director of Presbyterian World Mission, I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank you for your continued support of PC(USA) mission co-workers.

The enclosed newsletter bears witness to some of the many ways in which God is at work in the world through long-standing relationships between global partners and the PC(USA). These partnerships are nurtured and strengthened by the presence of mission co-workers in over 40 countries; you are an important part of this partnership too, as you learn about and share how our church is involved in global ministry; as you pray for our partners and mission co-workers; and as you take action to work with others for God’s justice, peace and healing.

I write to invite you to continue joining us in partnership in three ways. First, your prayers are always needed. Please pray that God will continue guiding the shared work of the PC(USA) and global partners as we engage together in service around the world. Pray, too, for mission co-workers, that they may feel encouraged in the work they are doing under the leadership of global partners.

Second, please consider making a year-end gift for the sending and support of at least one mission co-worker. There is a remittance form at the end of this letter and an enclosed envelope so that you can send in a special year-end gift.

Finally, I encourage you to ask your session to include one or more mission co-workers in your congregation’s mission budget for 2020 and beyond. PC(USA) mission co-workers’ sending and support costs are funded by the designated gifts of individuals and congregations like yours; your gifts allow Presbyterian World Mission to fulfill global partners’ requests for mission personnel.
Faithfully in Christ,

Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness
Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
Interim Director, Presbyterian World Mission

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