The Hand of Hur, Inc.

Loving the World and Connecting it to God's Infinite Grace & Power

May Update

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(We sent this newsletter out last week and wanted to post it here also… enjoy!)

Greetings!

Hello and greetings from Nashville! We hope that this letter finds you well and full of God’s amazing grace and blessing! It’s been awhile since our last snail-mail newsletter, so if you aren’t connected to us online or through our monthly receipt newsletters, you probably have no idea what’s been happening in our lives & ministry. We’ve got LOTS to share, but we’ll try to narrow it down to the essentials. PLEASE take time to read and keep up with all that God is doing here!

Settling Down in Tennessee

We drove here in late December and found a house to rent a few days later southeast of Nashville, near Murfreesboro, TN. We had the kids in their new school on January 5th, and within a few weeks we completed all the legal requirements of moving to and living in Tennessee.

We are beginning to get a adjusted to life here. We’ve been moving constantly since 2009 with our move from Sucre to Santa Cruz, then to Maryland and finally here. At every place people are different; customs are different. There truly is a culture shock on returning to the USA after being gone for so long. It’s been good though. We really like the area and the people. This area seems to be a melting pot of cultures. I’d guess that over half of those whom we have met here are not native to the area. Many are from all around the US, and really from around the world. There is a large population of Hispanics and Murfreesboro is home of Middle Tennessee State University, the largest university in the state. We feel that God has strategically placed us here, being that Hispanics and Young Adult Ministries suit our strengths and are the largest unreached people groups in the area.

The kids are good. Both Erynn & Jordan are doing well in school and are making many friends, fitting right in from the start (Thank God)! While we are preparing to plant this church, we’ve found a very good temporary church home where we’ve made several good friends. One couple in particular, Brad & Rosa have become great friends. We share a lot in common, being that he is American, and she is from Costa Rica. Norah and Rosa hit it off from the beginning, and they are together a lot, exercising and doing other activities several times a week!

Ministry Progress – Journey

If there is something that we have learned over 16 years of ministry and five church plants, it is that things NEVER work out like we hoped they would. At the same time, things ALWAYS work out like God wants them to! Isn’t it great how He works? 😉

Preparations are going well, but it hasn’t been as easy as we expected. We were warned that this whole process would take quite awhile, but we had hoped to hit the ground running. We have planted several successful churches in Bolivia, but working here in the US has its own unique set of challenges. Last year, I took an online course called “Cultivate” through Emerging Leadership Initiative. We read nearly a dozen books, talked with other successful church planters, and did a lot of investigation into working with and reaching the culture. My professor from Cultivate made it very clear that the process is lengthy. He claimed that church planters should be in the area where they want to plant the church a year or more before they begin services so they can get to know and understand the culture better.

It turns out they were right (of course). Our goal was to arrive here, begin several small groups in March or April, then start services by August. We’re not where we want to be with our schedule, but God has a schedule of his own. We are putting a lot of emphasis in meeting people… and we are… but things are much different here. People in Bolivia have time… university students in Sucre have too much time! Also, as an American in Bolivia, I was given an elevated level of respect for being a “gringo,” and they really wanted to hear what I had to say. In America, a little more effort is required to get peoples attention. The successes in Bolivia are far removed and do not benefit us much here. We’re still working on a way to effectively connect with our new mission field, but we’re making progress.

Financial Hurdles

On top of that, we have been very “unsure” about how, once we actually got a group of people, we were going to meet the financial need associated with the plant. We have been tremendously low on finances. Statistics show that one of the top reasons that church plants fail is due to lack of finances. We not only have no funds for planting the church, but currently we’re not even receiving enough to live on. In part, that is our fault. We did not do enough to raise support while we were back in Maryland. We hoped that everyone who had supported us in Bolivia (plus a few new ones) would support us as we began our mission here. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Last month we were $2000 below our minimum budget, and it doesn’t look any better this month. We’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to move forward, but honestly this whole situation has been very discouraging. Still, we feel as if all of this has seemed to strengthen us in our resolve to continue forward. We feel that God has called us to do this, and if HE has called us to do so, HE will supply and HE will bless it!

How We’re Going To Do It…

Over the past few weeks we’ve really had to sit down and come up with a plan that will work in the situation that we are currently in. There are two important parts to this equation; Financial (having enough to live on & to plant the church successfully) and Ministerial (reaching out to people in a more effective way).

Getting a Job: I (Jason) was playing with the idea of starting my own small business in website and graphics design while we were starting the church, but after awhile it became apparent that I would isolate myself too much, spending all of my time on the computer. After much prayer, we have decided that the best route is for me to get a job… one that allows me to interact constantly with people. I have put in several applications the past weeks, and I had an interview on Monday (I’m still waiting on the response). Getting a job will allow us to DRASTICALLY lower our salary from the Hand of Hur, which will in turn allow us to put more of the support that we receive towards the actual church plant: equipment, advertising, etc.

Reaching Out: Getting a job will also help me tremendously to reach out and meet new people, as well as to learn and understand the culture in which we live. We are also preparing a survey that we plan to do in our area. The idea is to do a Cultural Profile of the area. We will talk to both Americans and Hispanics in the streets, grocery stores, parks, homes, restaurants, wherever we can… asking them about their likes, dislikes, ideas, etc. This is also a very good excuse for us to just walk up and talk to the people around us!

New Timeline: We’ve had to revise our timeline somewhat. We want to dedicate ourselves in the next month to doing this survey… using those connections to make more meaningful relationships. July is now our target month to begin the first small group. Once we begin, we want to increase that group, open new groups, help those people grow spiritually and train them to be part of our launch team. Most “experts” agree that the two best windows to start services are January and August. These months are best because they are times when people are more open to change. We had originally hoped to start services in August… but we feel that next January is much more realistic. We will have both English and a Spanish teams in place by that time.

Thanks, Petition & Conclusion

First, we truly do appreciate ALL of you. It’s been the sacrifices of many of you that has allowed our 15 years in Bolivia to be such a success! God continues to do WONDERFUL THINGS in Bolivia. Our Santa Cruz church was PACKED last Sunday, and the Sucre church continues to grow!

I know that many of you feel that giving to a church plant in the USA is not as “exciting” or “worthy” as it is in giving to a church plant in a 3rd world country. Also, many say, “Less bang for the buck.” I can understand that thinking, but please know… you’re wrong!!! First, our country is in a downhill spiral and we believe that God wants to change that through new, active, vibrant, culture-impacting churches. Second, a new church plant here in the USA can GIVE to OTHER church plants around the world 10x or even 100x more than an international church plant can give. With God’s blessing, that’s exactly what we plan to do, take your gift and not only bless the people in Nashville, but multiply it to plant more churches in Bolivia….

We ask with all our heart, in God’s name… if you haven’t been giving, PLEASE DO! It doesn’t take much to make a huge difference. We believe and profess that God is going to use this church to impact Nashville, the USA and beyond greatly, and we ask that you would be a part of that with us! THANK YOU SO MUCH, may God bless you richly and please remember always to keep us in your prayers!

Love,

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