Students and staff at the SPTC retreat: Our first chance to meet students we had been seeing in Zoom boxes for almost two years!
I said to you, ‘You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. See, the Lord your God has given the land to you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you; do not fear or be dismayed.’
All of you came to me and said, ‘Let us send men ahead of us to explore the land for us and bring back a report to us regarding the route by which we should go up and the cities we will come to.’ This plan seemed good to me, and I selected twelve of you, one from each tribe. Deuteronomy 1:20-23
We came to Malaysia on a 90-day tourist visa, an exploratory trip to confirm the sense that we had that the LORD was calling us to Malaysia. It was perhaps a bit like the exploratory trip the 12 “spies” took into the promised land. What was intended as a trip to give confidence to the Israelites that God would give them victory did not work out that way for them, and their faithless response cost them another 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. We hoping for a better outcome for our trip!
We believe we have read many signs indicating a calling to Malaysia, but we came here to confirm those signs and begin the next steps. Getting a long-term visa has become more difficult since we first began considering this move, and so we wanted a clear sense of calling, which didn’t emerge immediately upon our arrival. Last month we asked for prayer for clarity and wisdom. God has been at work answering that prayer!
So, in the last month we have seen many signs of fruitful ministry we can do here, as we have taught or will teach both at Saint Paul’s Theological College and at 2 other Bible colleges in Malaysia. We have met several Malaysian pastors who have described leadership development needs in their own churches and among tribal people as well as immigrants and refugees. It is clear that we could come alongside efforts already underway but in need of more resources.
We leave Malaysia in late April (at the end of our 90-day visa) and we expect to return to Malaysia in late August. We are beginning the process of applying for a long term visa. The clarity for the decision to apply itself was an answer to prayer, but now of course we need prayer for our application to be favorably received.
Summer in India and Pakistan
(From Rich) If you have been reading our letters you know how much I have enjoyed my Zoom Bible studies with church planters and Muslim-background believers in India. I have hoped that, after COVID, it might be possible to travel to India to meet people I’ve been teaching in their own cities and towns, enjoying their hospitality and teaching and training in person rather than sitting in tiny boxes on a computer screen.
That hope is becoming a reality this summer. We plan a six-week itinerary in India, visiting 5 or 6 different locations. We will be teaching church planters and lay and emerging leaders, both men and women. After this time, we will spend about 10 days in Pakistan, where both Lisa and I will be teaching in-person courses for a theological college there. We are very much looking forward to our time in India and Pakistan.
Our Friends in Ukraine
We receive almost daily news from our friends in Ukraine, the staff team of the IFES movement there. Their lives have been turned upside down, as you can imagine. Those who lived in Kharkiv, Odessa, and Kiev have mostly moved toward the Western parts of the country, and those who lived in Lviv have stayed and welcomed many of their colleagues and have housed many refugees, students, families, the elderly. All of our colleagues are, every day, involved in hands-on ministry, helping to provide necessities to those whose lives have been even more directly impacted by the killing and destruction wrought by the war. We invite you to read more at the links below, with photos and stories:
Rich and Lisa Lamb