Teach Me to Listen and to Pray

Donna SuganoCommunity News

I was given the gift of a 3-month sabbatical. It is difficult to convey the experiences and lessons learned in an article, so my hope is that I can bless the church as I seek to implement some of these in ministry here at SBCC. A few highlights of my 12 weeks away included meeting many people involved in ministry to children & families, both in and outside of churches, and meaningful hours in reading and prayer. My trip included a glimpse into ministries in the impoverished Dominican Republic, as well as the privileged U.S. It ended with a visit to the Frohling family, our church missionaries in Argentina. The thread of learning Spanish and old fashioned phone-free rest anchored the whole experience.

At the beginning of the sabbatical, I read the story of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). I was drawn to the fact that Peter’s response to that holy moment was to want to take action while God simply said: Listen!  I chose to keep coming back to that word during my time away and feel so thankful for the time to listen.  It was in this spirit that I visited a mega-church in Georgia, known worldwide as having a unique model of ministry to children and families.  I had an admittedly biased impression that it was somehow suspect simply because of its size. I was grateful that God graciously reminded me He is at work in His people outside our SBCC model for ministry. Donna Sugano (my partner in Children’s Ministries) and I, in fact, chose to attend a conference in April sponsored by this church (see the short article later in this issue, “Seeing Orange for SBCC”). We both heard stimulating words from others and from the Lord that week. We were glad for the chance to listen together.

My husband Norm and I then spent 8 weeks in the Dominican Republic for rest, reading, and reflection.  It was wonderful to have time to read and study the Word in anticipation of the coming year of ministry. We also wanted to explore how God was making Himself known in yet another unfamiliar context. We knew there were many needs in the DR and, meeting them is a complex process. Talking with missionaries and Christians there about the situation made us that much more aware of the role of God’s grace in using us to help others-it’s just not that simple!

We visited the Frohlings, our church missionaries to Argentina after our time in the DR. They continue to cling to the Hope of Christ as they adjust to the difficulties of beginning a ministry in faraway place.  We had a chance to meet some of the godly people with and to whom they minister, and to play lots of games with the three Frohling boys (see pictures). We feel so thankful to have seen them and to have been able to encourage one another in what we are all called to:  trusting that Jesus has something to say to us and through us.

I did not have a “mountaintop experience” but I did do a lot of listening. So what did I hear? We as believers are broken and yet the hope of Christ compels us to believe that He wants to make Himself known through us, just as He did through Peter. I want these two truths to sustain me and inform our church as we go forward in ministry. May we keep listening to Jesus and marveling in His revelation to us while we were yet sinners. This allows us the humility to hold out hope to the world even in the midst of our brokenness. The glory will go to God, not our tabernacle.