Thursday, November 11, 2010
A brief update on this ministry and its work . . .
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 Cor. 1:3-7
We have such a remarkable God. Even in times of distress, He shows us His care and protection. And in times of joy and celebration, He again cares, protects, and brings us blessing. In every situation, He remains steadfast in His love and care for us. On the other hand, we tend to go with the flow of whatever is occurring and respond to crisis with panic, or to joy with relief. Our great God teaches us and blesses us through trials and strengthens us so that we can be a blessing to others. And in conflict, He teaches us how to bring Him glory as we strive for reconciliation. Unfortunately, due to our fallen nature, we will always have conflict to deal with. But in His faithfulness, our Lord is always with us.
Well the time has arrived and we said our farewells today to Bruce and Kathy Zagel. They have received approval of their position from Australia and are waiting on the clearance of their background check. The last leg of the wait is to spend a week of vacation in Idaho, including a few days with Bruce's parents. From there they will travel to Portland to spend some time with their grandson Zander (and yes, his parents Adam and Leah will be there too, but of course Zander is the big draw.) They will wait for the final approval in Portland and then depart the country. We pray for God to bless their travels, speed the final approval, and bless their new adventure in Australian ministry. Go in peace, dear friends.
Since my last posting, Ted has taught Church Reconciler Training in Minnesota. We thank God for the receptive participants and the growth that God has given. We pray these men will be greatly strengthened in their ministry. Ted has also taught two events in Canada, one was a practicum on conflict coaching, the other on responding to sexual temptation in a hightech society. Both went very well and we pray will continue to be a blessing for those present. Ted also met with the board of the new Ambassadors of Reconciliation-Canada. There are many decisions to make as they get established. We pray for God's direction and wisdom as they make this exciting beginning. Ted will travel to Nebraska next week to teach another Church Reconciler training. We pray for God's blessings on the those traveling to the event. Also we pray God will bless the teaching and learning that will take place. Ted has been extra busy this month since Bruce has been gone. We are grateful for the slight increase for case work that we've had. Our financial situation is still serious, but slightly improved.
Ed continues to tackle the physical therapy prescribed for him. He is regaining some range of motion and strength in his shoulder. We praise God for the improvement and continue to pray for Ed as he heals. Ed recently taught a leadership seminar in Kansas. We thank God for his skills and for the conference going well. We especially thank God for Ed being able to continue teaching since his injury. Ed is quite busy and we are very thankful to have him on staff.
I had a delightful vacation in Canada. We traveled there to take care of two grandchildren during our daughter-in-law's sister's wedding in Hawaii. With Mum gone, Grandma and Papa were the primary caregivers. They are 4 and 5 and yes, we slept very well while there. We find that the grandkids are the prize for all those years of sleepless nights and endless athletic games, etc. of parenting. Since being back, the office has been pretty busy and I am thankful for such a fulfilling job and meaningful work. It is always good to come to work. The variety and challenge of each day is a blessing.
Thank you, dear friends, for your partnering with us in this ministry. Your faithful prayers help to sustain us in ministry for our brothers and sisters in conflict. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Cor. 1:20-22 We need never fear for God has given a guarantee to us in Christ. May you be sustained and emboldened to further service and ministry for Christ. We pray for you as well.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
After a little hiccup, I'm back to posting. How quickly the time passes! It never fails to surprise me how quickly things can pick up.
Ted has been back in the office for a bit over a week. David, Sonja and Ted's son, was married here in Billings on September 24th. We pray for David and Hope as they make a new life together. Ted's trip to Australia was very good. When he returned on the 11th, he spent one night at home and then traveled to Virginia for the Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference. He was one of the presenters for the conference. He always enjoys this conference and the opportunity to renew many friendships. We pray that God will continue to bless Peacemaker Ministries. They do wonderful work and we are so very thankful for the supportive relationship we have with them. They are wonderful encouragers in our ministry and we are so thankful for all the help they have been over the years. Ted has been very busy this week preparing for a number of events. He will leave on Saturday to travel to Minnesota. On Sunday he will preach and teach Bible study in Detroit Lakes. On Sunday evening he will begin our Church Reconciler Training at Lutheran Island Camp in Henning, MN. We pray that everyone will travel safely to the training and that each participant will grow greatly in their understanding of biblical peacemaking and how it will fit in their congregation. We pray that Ted will be enabled to teach well and that the all will be able to stay healthy and learn well. It is a very full week and quite intense. Ted will return to Montana for a few days before flying to Waterloo, Ontario to teach a Conflict Coaching practicum, then directly on to Winnipeg, Manitoba to teach a seminar on Responding to Sexual Temptation at a District Conference there. Again, we pray for safe travel for all and that the training events will serve well for those attending.
Bruce and Kathy are still waiting for their visas to be approved for their move to Australia. They have moved out of their house, and the renters have moved in. Zagel's are now living with their grown son here in Billings. It has been a lesson in patience for them and we pray that the approval will come very soon, trusting in God's timing. Bruce and Kathy are eager to get to their new location and begin this new chapter of their lives. It seems very strange to not have Bruce actively involved , but we know God will use him effectively in every situation. We pray for continued care for the Zagels.
Ed continues to see clients and work with the district with clergy couples. He also will be speaking in Kansas in mid-October for a district event, so he is preparing for that. We pray that God will bless his preparations and in his work with clients. Ed is also working at physical therapy on his shoulder. He is making good progress and regaining some mobility in it. He was joking that he will soon go into lifting weights, but that lifting iron for him was beginning at one pound. We pray for God's blessings for Ed as he continues his rehabilitation.
I am looking forward to some time off. My husband and I will be traveling to Drayton Valley, Alberta to spend some time with our son and his children. Their mother is traveling to Hawaii for her sister's wedding and we get to take care of the kids. It will be a whirlwind since they are 4 and 5 years old. I'm sure I will return tired, but contented. I'm really looking forward to it and pray for the energy I will need to keep up with them. I'll be back in the office on the 18th, so it will be a while before the next update.
We also pray for some congregations where we are doing work. We are in the midst of a group reconciliation at a congregation. We pray for God's direction and wisdom for the team who is serving them. We also pray for the congregation to have open hearts to God's Word and His working to bring reconciliation to their relationships. Another conflicted congregation is planning to have a seminar later this year or early next year, but has some long-term issues coming to a head. We pray for those serving them and for the congregation to be willing to look at and deal with them. We continue to get phone calls and messages from struggling people and organizations. We pray for God's direction and wisdom in serving them.
I pray for you, as well. Your faithful pray support for the ministry of Ambassadors of Reconciliation is very much appreciated. I pray God will richly bless you.
God of love, through Your Son You have commanded us to love one another. By the guidance of Your Word and Spirit, deliver us from impenitence and teach us the truth that we might confess our sins, receive your forgiveness, and be reconciled to one another, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Lutheran Service Book, CPH: 2006, p 312)
Thursday, September 9, 2010
It's a rainy cool day here. I love the change of seasons and the glories that God showers on us through all seasons. Even through rainy and gray days, we are reminded that God is with us through all the yuck we experience. I spoke with a person today who has significant conflict in his marriage who is hurting deeply and very much needed the assurance that he was not alone, that God will never leave him but is even now working to bring joy. How unfathomable are His ways! I pray that this man will allow God to work in his life and in his marriage, and that God will shower them with His grace.
I have been back at my desk since Tuesday. We had a lovely trip to New York City to visit our son. The heat and humidity made me so thankful for Montana weather (and our son said it was much less than they have had this summer). We marvel at the different lifestyle and get to enjoy it for the short time we are there. I have to admit it would be a challenge to live it full time. It's a great place to visit, but I'm thankful to live here. While I have been gone, we've had several large orders from churches gearing up for their fall classes. We also heard from a church that is planning on using Ted's essays from the convention for a study this fall. We pray for all of the congregations that will study about peacemaking, that they will understand God's plan for us in conflict. We thank Him for His Word and the riches of His grace. We are still experiencing a slowdown of work. We suspect the economic situation has much to do with it, but we pray for God to show us His plan to continue in this environment. We have some training events planned for this fall and pray that they will be well attended.
Bruce is still coming in most days for a time. He and Kathy await the approval of their visa for Australia. They may have up to a three month wait. We pray for God's strength as they wait. It is hard for them to be between places.
Ted is about to begin his trip home from Australia. It is early on Friday there and he will leave after his day of teaching to fly to Sydney. Tomorrow afternoon he will leave Sydney on his way to Billings. He will spend one night here in Billings, then will trade suitcases and head to Washington, DC for the Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference where he will teach several sections. He will return home on the 19th and may be able to be in the office by midweek. The last I heard, he was battling a cold and was pretty tired. We pray for Ted to able to get well and to be sustained through this next trip. I had to smile when I got a message to him from a fellow conciliator in Australia. It is clear that he has had some opportunities to relax, too. This photo was included.
We thank God for the friendships Ted has been able to make and for the opportunity to teach in Australia. It has been a blessing for AoR, as well as for Ted. We also pray for Ted's safe return.
Ed has been unusually quiet as of late. I suspect he is pretty busy with his full schedule and now adding in time for his therapy for his shoulder. We pray for him as he juggles the time demands and the physical therapy. We pray for an excellent result of the therapy.
Thank you for your interest in the work of Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Your prayer support is much appreciated. I pray that God will bless you with joy.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Today is a quiet day around here. Ted is on his way to Australia, Bruce is home packing, and Ed has returned home to Indiana. Ed was here in Montana for almost a week. For a few days, he spent some time for R & R in Yellowstone National Park with his sister and brother-in-law. Then he came to the office for some planning work and a Board of Directors meeting. It was great to actually see Ed. He is beginning to heal. He showed us some of the progress he is making and why it will take so long to regain mobility and strength in his shoulder and arm. His irrepressible personality is still quite intact, and it was a joy to have him here. We pray for continued healing for Ed, and patience and fortitude as he begins therapy in September. Ed is back to work and still notices some fatigue, so we pray that he also be blessed with endurance.
It's official, Bruce has accepted a call to Hamilton, Victoria in Australia. He will be there for a year and this will be a Reconciliation Ministry Pastorate. The congregation has had some conflict which resulted in the vacancy. Bruce's role there will be to help them reconcile relationships in the congregation and put together a reconciliation ministry in the congregation to address lingering and future conflicts. He will teach biblical peacemaking studies, train reconcilers in the congregation, coach and mediate existing conflicts, and help them to prepare for calling a pastor. In some ways, this will be a more thorough process, similar to a Group Reconciliation Assistance that AoR does with congregations. Bruce and Kathy have rented out their home and will need to sell their cars, get visas in place, and make their transition over the next couple of months. We pray that all will go smoothly and that God will bless them with the knowledge of His guidance as they try to tend to all the details. Bruce completed his last training event as an AoR representative yesterday in Wyoming. It is a bittersweet occasion. We will miss them terribly, but know that God will be with them. It is an uncertain time with many unanswered questions. We pray for God's will to be plain to Bruce and Kathy, and that they will understand His leading and directing. He has still been coming into the office to continue his work here, but his hours will be lessening. We also pray for Ted, Susan, and me to be able to pick up all the things Bruce is so good at here at AoR.
Ted is in transit to Australia. He will arrive just after lunch tomorrow, Adelaide time. Taking into effect the time change (at present it is 1:45 pm here but 5:15 am Friday in Adelaide) that means he still has about 7 1/2 hours of travel yet. He left early afternoon yesterday. His first presentation is the evening of August 21, so he has a little recovery time. He has begun this trip already tired, so we pray for his strength and good health, as well as God's direction of his teaching. Ted will begin with a presentation at a district convention of Lutheran Church of Australia. His next event is at Australia Lutheran College, then on September 3rd, he begins teaching with PeaceWise in a number of different locations. He will begin his journey home on September 11 and arrive (with time change, he loses a day) home that evening. He will change suitcases and leave for Washington, DC on the 12th for the Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference. Ted won't be back in the office until September 22nd, a very tired man. We pray that God will help all the details to fall into place, and that Ted's teaching will bring God glory. We pray for those who will receive the training, that their hearts will be open to the Gospel and see God's plan for them in regards to peacemaking.
Last Tuesday, our Board of Directors met by conference call. We were very pleased with our phone system. We were able to have the conference call at no extra expenses other than our normal phone bill. We have a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Phone) that has been very economically beneficial. This is the first time we had used it for this purpose, and it came off quite well. Thank you, God for all Your blessings, even technology. The Board looked very thoroughly at our financial situation and discussed some options for the future. We pray for God's direction and for improvement very soon. We pray for God to provide the answers so that AoR will be able to continue in the work that is so necessary in the kingdom.
In October and November, AoR will be having Church Reconciler Training events. The first is October 3-9 and will be at Lutheran Island Camp in Henning, MN. The other is November 7-13 in Aurora, Nebraska. If you, or someone you know, is interested in attending or in seeing more about this training, see http://www.hisaor.org/web-content/Training-Practicum-Reconcil.html. We would love to fill up these events to train more people for service in peacemaking. We pray that God will provide the participants, and bless the preparations and training.
I pray for you, dear brothers and sister, that God will bless you. With the summer winding down, most people are returning to more regular schedules. Kids are back in schools and churches renew classes and see people return to regular worship. Thanks be to God for the ease of summer, but also for the resumption of "regularity". May we all be strengthen for service to our Savior.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Hi everyone. We are experiencing one of those glorious summer days. The sun is shining, but the temperature is just right, not too hot and not too cold. Forgive me for sounding like one of the three bears here. J
Ted had a very moving trip up to Cross Lake, Manitoba. He joined a group of youth and adults from our congregation to lead Vacation Bible School for a week. Each day they gathered with kids at two different schools in Cross Lake and on Thursday had an evening presentation for the parents. They return very tired, but exhilarated by the week. One day, they had over 200 kids, and had many opportunities to speak to people in meaningful ways. We praise God for the trip. Ted is putting in some long hours preparing for a multitude of upcoming events. Next Tuesday, Ambassador's Board of Directors will have a quarterly meeting. We pray for God's direction for the board as they make decisions about our organization. On Wednesday, Ted leaves for Australia. He will be gone until September 11th. We pray that he will be able to get all the many things completed before he leaves. We also pray for his strength and stamina as he goes. These long days and the trip to Manitoba have begun to take a toll and he is weary. The day after he returns to the USA, he will travel to Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference in the Washington, DC area. He will lead some sections there and then return home a very tired man. So we pray for his preparation for all these events, for his travel to be problem-free, and for his health over the next months.
Bruce has made a decision on the call to New Mexico. He has declined the call and is awaiting information for a congregation in Australia. We pray for God to direct him. He and Kathy are making plans to leave Billings. Wherever God places them, they will be going for a limited time, and hope to be able to come back to Billings. With that in mind, they have decided to rent out their home. God has provided a family who will move in the end of September. Zagels have begun to pack some things and move them into a storage unit. In a recent report Bruce said,
"These past 5 ½ years have been a life changing and extremely rewarding time for both Kathy and me. We have had the opportunity to see God’s grace personally at work in many individuals and congregations and have witnessed God work powerfully through Ted’s leadership. While I regret I will not be able to see first hand how God will continue to work through AoR and CLM, I will continue to promote AoR’s mission wherever the Lord takes me and however he allows me to interact with AoR in the future."
We are so thankful for Bruce's years with us. He has brought much richness and wisdom to our interaction with clients. I personally will miss him so much here in the office. He ministers to me often and both he and Kathy have become good friends. We pray God will be with them through this transition. Before he goes, Bruce will lead a seminar in Wyoming for us. We pray for him as he prepares, travels and presents next week.
Ed is on his way to Billings right now. He will have a few days off visiting his sister and family here. Then next week he will be in our office for meetings. He is working at approximately a 2/3 workload. We pray for his continued healing. He continues to work with clergy couples, congregations, schools, and individuals. He plans on presenting at Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference in September, as well as, a seminar for Blessed Are the Peacemakers also in September in Indiana. May God bless Ed as he prepares and presents at these events. CrossLife Ministries will host a major annual fundraiser at the end of September. It is a golf outing and hence Ed will be hiding out on one of the holes, seeing how he can make the day of those passing through. Golf is not one of Ed's favorite pass times, preferring to be on the tractor instead. We pray for the success of the fundraiser, and for Ed to enjoy/endure the day.
Our finances continue to be quite strained. Recent sales have increased a bit, but only nominally. We have learned that a training event scheduled for early next year has been significantly reduced because of the client's finances. Our two Church Reconciler Training events for this fall are still planned, but the registrations so far are very low. We trust in God's providence, and pray that the sales, registrations, and events will increase and that our finances will improve. We pray for God's direction and also for strength to follow Him in this and all things.
I once again thank you for your interest and faithful service to Ambassadors of Reconciliation. The community of believers gathered around God's Word are a wonder and comfort. May He bless you as you walk with Him.