Philippians 1:3-5 states, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now ….”

As we wrap up the month of November with gratitude still lingering in our hearts, I seek with you, the Marvin family, to finish the 2019 year celebrating the power of being partners in sharing the gospel with our community and world.

Vida Abundante partnership

Because of your generosity of time and resources, the Vida Abundante United Methodist Church is now a vital Spanish-speaking congregation averaging 40 in Sunday worship and involving 22 committed families. The birth of this congregation last April under the direction of Pastor Emigdio Rosales in collaboration with the Texas Annual Conference is just one example of Marvin’s fruitful partnerships at work.

In our ongoing development and cultivation of ministry partnerships in Tyler, members of Vida Abundante will work alongside us in helping to provide Christmas for 80 families in our community. Mission dollars coupled with the efforts of a staff serve day, along with the generous purchasing of children’s gifts by Marvin members and Sunday School classes, is bringing Christmas Joy to our Tyler neighbors.

Tanzania partnership

Our ministry partnership in Tanzania, Africa, with Pastor Alfred Njau and the Amazing Grace UMC is also bearing fruit for Christ, The Gospel is creating Christian conversions in one of the most densely-populated regions of the African continent. Discipleship training is now needed to help the pastors of the Pwani District make deeply-committed followers of Jesus Christ. I will be going to Tanzania in January to help a delegation of Texas Annual Conference pastors with this Kingdom-building endeavor. Again, Marvin family, you are helping to change the world for Christ as we partner with God to make a difference.

Staff update

This year had its challenges, with two key staff positions being vacated around the same time. But I want to assure you that as the year comes to a close, the hiring of a new children’s director and director of student ministries is drawing close. Your Staff Parish Relations Committee, along with student and children’s ministry leaders, have worked hard with the Vanderbloemen Team to find some great candidates for our team. (As I write this on Nov. 11, I anticipate that our new staff members will join us in January 2020.)

“In-between” times

At the Oct. 22 Administrative Council meeting, I shared with our church leaders that we were in an “in-between” time on many significant church projects. With God’s people, there have always been “in-between” times.

For example, Abraham had to wait 24 years between the promise of a son and Isaac’s birth. God’s people had to wait 40 years between exiting Egypt and entering the Promised Land. The world had to wait 30 years between Jesus’ birth and the beginning of His ministry. Marvin Church had to wait 11 months between the start of the stained glass window restoration and its completion last month.

We’ve also been in “in-between” time on these staff hires, but God has been with us, our staff and laity have stepped in and soon our teammates will arrive.

As we enter into our annual observance of Advent celebrating the coming of Christ, I celebrate the many partnerships that take the Gospel to the world and the “in-between” time of a Kingdom that is here on earth, but not yet fully realized. Marvin family, I thank God for you!