Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Old Journal Entry

Last night I was reading through the pages of the old journal I wrote while I was in the Middle East 26 years ago, trying to "witness without getting caught." I read many encouraging entries, but one stuck out in particular. I don't know where it came from. I'm sure it's not original with me:

"If God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure, much strength?"

It sounds like a great commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:8,9: "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going."

I recorded a whole page of Scripture on how God cuts to heal, not to harm; how He may wound us, but He always bandages the wound. Why? Many before me have so eloquently stated the reason, "The cracks in our lives are what the light shines through!"

The next verse, verse 10, states it this way, "Through suffering [our interpretation of what's going on], these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Micronesians as a Mission Force

We’re both back on Guam now. Since arriving, a little “pre-typhoon” whipped through the area, not doing much damage but stirring up a little trouble by knocking power out all over the island for a day. However, a more significant stirring occurred, a spiritual one, silent perhaps, but deadly nonetheless to the Kingdom of Darkness. Two PIBC Mission Teams took off for the Buddhist country of Thailand, a first for us in that no missionaries went with them. It was an all-Micronesia effort - except for one Filipina. For the first time, we can actually say that Micronesia is making the transition from being a mission field to becoming a mission force as these teams ventured forth into the area of the world called the 10/40 Window – a phrase used to describe where most of the remaining unreached people live. Maybe no one noticed but us, but it happened. This was a major milestone for Anne and me – something for which we’ve been working all these years. And it happened last week. These Micronesian students trusted God to raise their own financial support and they went. Please check out more details on our PIBC website: http://www.pibc.edu/.

Summer Briefs (or, a Brief Summer!)

Anne and I intended to go along, but we both thought it was wise not to in light of Steve’s recent eye developments. So we didn’t go. We’ll share more about that in a moment, but before we do, we’d like to say that our time in the States was great – too short, of course. We spent time with our moms, attended the Liebenzell Missionary conference at Schooley’s Mountain, NJ, Steve took two separate trips out to Sacramento to see the eye doctor (and Amy and Matt, of course), and in our spare time (laughter here), we got to see a few supporters and friends and visit a few churches – which was absolutely great and encouraging when it happened! You can check out these and other stories below.

The Next Challenge

Back here on the PIBC Guam campus, everyone has just left for vacation or is still off-island except for one faculty couple and us. Yes, it’s a challenge to get the campus ready for next semester with so few people. But the bigger challenge for us, however, is the one the Lord is walking us through at this moment involving one of Steve’s eyes.

It could affect the future of our lives and ministry in a dynamic and significant way.

As some of you know, Steve has had a condition in his left eye for at least 12 years, called keratoconus, a disease which causes a thinning and major distortion of the cornea. Normally, he can function pretty well with a perfectly fitting contact lens. But the cornea has progressed to the point where, apparently, a contact lens will no longer fit. With nothing in that eye, his vision is off-balanced and distorted; he has bad depth perception, limited visual awareness and basically cannot function normally. And then there’s the pain. According to Steve, in the pictures below, the left image is what he would see with his “good” eye, and the same thing with his “bad” eye to the right:

Now try imagining seeing both images at the same time.

Here’s a good representation of what he sees at night when looking at bright lights, again on the left with his “good” eye, then on the right with his “bad” eye:

Steve say’s it’s not that clearly focused, but the multiple images, which at times can be as many as 20 to 30, is accurate. And again, he sees both at the same time. He says the July 4th fireworks in Sacramento were spectacular this year (he watched them with his left eye only)!

So what happens next? Working through our Guam based health insurance, last week a Guam ophthalmologist gave him a referral to visit a cornea specialist, either in the Philippines or in California (since Guam doesn’t have one). But that’s about all the insurance will cover. “We” have to come up with his airfare, room and board.

Then if the cornea specialist recommends a corneal transplant (which we’ve been told he will need sooner or later), we’ve learned that our insurance also doesn’t cover that, so “we” would have to come up with a way to pay for that, too. Our research reveals that this kind of surgical procedure, with regularly required visits to the doctor the first year, costs around $22,000. Plus, the healing and recovery time, with accompanying vision care, can take up to two years. Since there is no one on Guam who can do this surgery, it would mean leaving Guam for this length of time and moving to the States.

But first, a visit to a cornea specialist. Then the next step will be determined.

Help Needed!

So what can you do? You can begin by praying. As we’ve listened and talked to the Lord about this for 12 years, He’s chosen not to provide an instant healing for the eye. He very well could, but so far it hasn’t seemed to be part of His desire or plan. So don’t choose the lazy prayer only, “God, provide healing!”
Yes, pray that, but don’t stop there…
We’d appreciate prayer for grace for the daily stuff…
For our continued spiritual growth in the Lord…
For wisdom in making the best decisions that would bring God the most glory, and lives to reflect this…
For the finances, for certainly $22,000 plus airfare, moving, etc. is a little too much for our budget right now…
For a sense of God’s leading in the midst of this. The Great Commission isn’t done yet. We would like to see this not as a retreat from the ministry in Micronesia, but an expansion of our vision to see the Great Commission fulfilled worldwide…
And for PIBC, and the students, and the faculty and staff we might have to leave behind for a while.

Thank you for your prayers, support, interest, understanding and desire to stand with us in these matters. We appreciate you greatly. We’ll keep you informed.

In Christ Jesus,
Steve & Anne Stinnette
P.O. Box E
Hagatna, GU 96932

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Thai Mission Team Update

These are the members of one of the teams from PIBC that Anne and I will be traveling with in Thailand. Hiob is a Palauan pastor, as well as one of PIBC's Dean of Men. Joel is from Palau, and Kalvin, Jayleen and Smileen are from Chuuk. There is another team of five traveling to another area in Thailand. The Lord has brought in all of their financial support. This team leaves from Guam July 15. We will be at the Mai Fa Luang University in Chiang Rai, at the northern tip of Thailand, next to Myanmar, formerly Burma, for a month, living in the dorms, making friends, sharing the love of Jesus. Pray for us.

With Amy in Placerville

I took a couple of trips out west to California to visit a doctor about my eyes. Amy and her husband Matt just happened to move down to the area where I needed to be, so I tanked up on a lot a time with them. One day Amy and I visited the old town of Placerville, where we stopped at a candy shop. Isn't she beautiful?

Fun with Our Moms

One of the benefits we received by being in States was spending time with our mothers. Anne spent a lot of time roaming Virginia backroads with her mom in Daleville, VA, and Steve with his mom in Madison Heights, VA. Steve and his mom went to Dollywood, in TN, a country and western theme park, the D-Day Memorial in Forst, VA, Red Hill, the home and burial place of Patrick Henry, and Va. Tech, where Steve went to school one year.

Liebenzell USA Missionary Conference

The main reason we came to the States was to attend a conference sponsored by the mission organization we are with, Liebenzell USA. Missionaries who are serving in Ecuador, Ireland, Micronesia (of course), Spain, a Creative Access Country in East Asia, and Oregon gathered at Schooley's Mountain, NJ, for a week of fellowship, biblical teaching (by former Columbia International University President Robertson McQuilken), and strategy sessions. Several other missionaries serving in other countries couldn't make the conference. One of our favorite activities was taking a boat tour around New York City