Tuesday, 22 April 2014

8 weeks now

Eight weeks from yesterday the Buntings will board a plane that takes us home to the U.S.A.  This is a loaded thought!  So much emotion in the reality of that.  We will be leaving pieces of our hearts here, without a doubt.  We love our people.  But we believe the Lord has used us in these two years to help strengthen this church, and for that we are grateful and glad-hearted. 

We are forever changed by all we have seen and experienced here.  Our spoiled days of having everything at our fingertips ended the moment we landed here.  Compared to many countries of the world, the Bahamas has plenty.  But compared to the U.S.A, well...there's no comparison.  One trip to Wal-mart when we are back in the states and our entire family is in shock!  "When did they start making this?"  "Did you know they had THIS flavor now?"  "I didn't even know this many varieties existed!"  "Look at this price!  What a deal!  Let's get 10 to take back..."  We were recently in Florida and just didn't make it to Wal-mart until the day we had to head back to Nassau.  BIG MISTAKE.  Kendall and I (Kristin) were the only two who could go during that timeframe and we had only 30 minutes to shop.  Again, BIG MISTAKE.  We couldn't even get through the snack aisle in that time!  Not to mention, since our bags were already packed and Delta has a "No free checked bag" rule we couldn't get much to take back.  I just kept reminding Kendall that we would be flying back to the US permanently in 10 weeks.

Our girls have become very frugal since living here.  Their math skills have grown incrementally.  They can recall prices better than the top contestant on "The Price is Right."  They know a deal when they see it.  Wal-mart only gets the nod if Goodwill doesn't have it...on discount day.  This is all something that might have come much more slowly had we not lived in the Bahamas these last two years!  However, there are other effects too.  They wonder if they won't fit in well in the U.S.  They wonder if their friends here will be closer than any friends there.  They worry that the U.S. kids will be laden with i-phones, the latest fashions, and heaps of friends that won't allow room for them.  They worry that the church won't worship as vibrantly as they do here, that they won't be calling their parents' friends "Auntie" and "Uncle" or "Sister...." and "Brother..."  They wonder what homeschooling coops will be like.  They wonder where, for sure, we will live.

And so each day is usually filled with some questions and answers.  So in this, you can be praying.  That God will quiet hearts.  That God will make clear and straight paths.  That God will provide for every need and beyond.  That God will be glorified in the way we finish our time here.  We covet your prayers.  We feel them.  Thank you for every thought, word, and prayer you've made to bring encouragement to us.  God has seen and He will bless.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Francis Chan

Keith leading.  Me on violin, Chris Pinder on bass, Joshua on drums, Clarence and Logan on guitar, Faye on vocals
Friday Night  Francis Chan "The Holiness of God"
Well, the Francis Chan "Revive Bahamas" event is now over.  Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 pm we gathered for worship, led so well by Keith (and members of our Kingdom Life team), and then were blessed to hear Francis Chan speak.  Friday evening's effect was to lead us to a more accurate view of how holy and mighty God really is.  Francis called us to look at Scripture again, through the words of Isaiah 6, and "see" who this God actually is.  Holy.  Terrifying.  Not to be trifled with.  "And the train of his robe filled the temple."  Francis is gifted at portraying a fluid storyline.  And he captured the audience's attention with his description of what Isaiah must have seen in his revelation.

Night Two  Francis challenged us with "What is your happy ever after?"
Night two, last night, was a more challenging night.  We were called to consider "What is my happy ever after?"  And to make sure we are not seeking it here on earth.  He challenged us to run hard in this race of bringing the gospel to the lost and needy, throwing off all hindrances, and then let our time of resting and celebration be saved for heaven.  He said to married couples, "If you find you spend a lot of time fighting, just stop.  You don't have time for that. Run the race." 

He talked about the needy places and people he has seen.  Women in the red light district who sell themselves for $1 per customer while their children, who have no place else to go at night, try to look away.  700 of these women were recently able to gather and receive a warm meal, hear the gospel, and be offered a chance to change their lives forever.  Many have.  Some are now following Jesus, employed in jobs that they can feel good about, and some have even become married to Christian men.  But this doesn't happen without sacrifice.  Ours.  Christians around the world who have the means to help.  With our prayers, our money, our lives...

But there is need right here.  And there are people here enough and means enough right here to meet those same needs.  He asked "Why does America have to send missionaries here?"  Francis challenged the Bahamas to become a nation known for something better than "Atlantis."  He said, "When Americans think of the Bahamas, wouldn't it be cool if one day, instead of thinking of Atlantis, they would think  'That's the country where the church has "been the church?"  Where the needy have been met....where the rich have shared what they have with the poor?  It could happen.  It can start tonight."  (Alright, I have taken some poetic license here and paraphrased quite a bit!)

All in all, it was a great two nights.  Compared to other speakers I would say Francis is like "the guy next door."  He doesn't preach like John Piper or master theology like D.A. Carson.  If you have the chance to hear him, don't go expecting to take lots of notes or have a clear outline.  But expect to be challenged. Francis does effect his hearers to consider how they can take steps toward deeper love for the lost.  And in this, God is glorified. 
 
 
Night two worship session
 
 
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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Sunday comics

This church knows how to eat!
 
Sunday was a day of hilarity for Kingdom Life Church.   The church that plays together stays together!   We had a Family Fun Day out at Adventure Learning Camp, where the Crossway Church of Lancaster mission team will be staying.  We ate, talked, and played ridiculously together.  Keith represented our care group in the hula hoop contest and probably would have won if he hadn't looked down!  The Bunting girls did us proud as they competed in the teen and child age group hula hoop contest.  Kendall almost took it, but was beat by our favorite little man, CJ Dean!   Next came the hula hoop group game, which our care group won both times.  Next up:musical chairs!
 
 

Meals are always "served" at our church...no serving yourself!
 
  
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But the real fun began when the adults formed a game!  To see Pastor Moss competing was a riot! This by far will be a standout memory in our time here and we laughed more than we have in a good while.  Enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

so much

Can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since Doug and Brenda Plank were here! 

What a blessing they were to our church!  We pray they felt relaxed on some level, amidst all the meetings we had during their time in Nassau.  They arrived on a Wednesday evening and things didn't slow down for them until the following Monday.  Thursday was spent together as couples...we showed them our island as best we could. 

We left after breakfast and returned at dinner time.  The next day Doug had an extended lunch meeting with Keith, Cedric, and David, our group of elders.  Then it was back home, a quick dinner, and back to church to prepare for that night's Praise and Prayer service.
Friday Night's Prayer and Praise Service

Sunday Meeting.  Doug talking with Logan Seeley, one of our guitarists



 Our folks were blessed as Doug shared some of their beloved songs: "Only Jesus" and "Now Why This Fear and Unbelief."  After a late arrival home that night, it was off to sleep and up early for a worship workshop from 9am-1pm.  Then a short lunch break, and back for a worship leader's training time, where Doug and Keith sought to help a few lay leaders who will likely need to step in as worship leaders after Keith is gone. Arriving home around dinner time again, we shared a meal and then made a trip to "B's," our local ice cream shop.  We were able to introduce the Planks to Mr. B. who owns the shop and always gives us special treatment!  We invited Mr. B. to church the next day to hear Doug preach, which he thanked us for but said was unlikely.  Then Sunday was a whirlwind of the Sunday meeting, lunch at the Mosses with our leadership team, a stop-off at Starbucks on the way home, and a 7pm get-together with Tanya Lester, the sister in law of Alan Lester from Living Hope Church, Praetoria, South Africa.  What a blessing our time with Tanya was!  She is a dear, gentle woman, who we've enjoyed getting to know.  We know Doug and Brenda were blessed to meet her.  Then it was off to sleep and up for Monday morning.  FINALLY Doug and Brenda had a bit of a chance to relax while we tended to our normal routine.  Hopefully their last two days here were a bit more low-key than the first 5!  It was a rich time though, and we're so grateful.

A quarter of a year has passed already since Christmas!  Hard to fathom, but true.  And perhaps these 90 days have been some of our busiest.  Or maybe not.  But what is hard to believe is that in almost exactly the same amount of time...90 days or so, we will be MOVING BACK TO THE USA!!

Yes, there is excitement in those words.  We are eager to return.  Eager to commit to all God will call us to there.  And we will share as the plan unfolds further.  Currently, we wait and await.  Wait for the unknown and await the exciting things we do know are coming.  And there is A LOT to be excited about!

First of all, FRANCIS CHAN will be on the island next Friday and Saturday, April 4-5.  He will preach two evenings at a local school auditorium, sponsored by our church and St. Andrew's Kirk here in Nassau.  I may have mentioned Allie MacPhail on this blog before.  She is a friend of mine and the pastor's wife at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church here in Nassau.  You can find her blog here www.undeniablyhuman.blogspot.com Bryn and Allie are Canadian, and arrived here much as we did...to take up ministry cross-culturally as a pastoral family.  However, Bryn is the senior pastor at his church and does not, as of yet, have any other full-time men serving with him.  They arrived in 2011, I believe, and plan to stay indefinitely. 

One pretty cool fact about the Francis Chan event is that Keith will be leading worship for the event!  Very Exciting.  Members of our church worship team here will assist him as well, including me.  We are really looking forward to this event and praying God will save and stir many hearts.

A second exciting upcoming event is the Crossway Church Mission Team's arrival in May!  We are so full of excitement for this!  I have heard from a few team members that they are on the list to come and I am so glad to hear it is not an "all-male" group!  Not that I don't appreciate the men, but it is a little more fun knowing some ladies are on the list.  Please feel free to email us with questions or concerns about what to pack, etc.  We hope to make the most of your time here!

So those are the happy things we "await."  And as to the things we simply wait for, well, you can probably imagine.  A job for Keith.  A place to go.  A home in that place.  A church.  Furniture.  Friends.  But God knows all our needs better than we do. 

 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

waiting on the Lord

Time to wait again.  Wait on the Lord, that is.  Quite an active time, really.  And what are we waiting for exactly?  Well, lots of things.  But most significantly...the next steps.  The Buntings 5 are relocating back to the USA at the end of our two year commitment this June. 

It is true that our original hope was that the Lord would give faith and grace to remain here longer.  I still remember the first day or so after we arrived on our little island.  I said, "Oh...I don't want to leave in two years!"  But time, reality, and circumstances can change things.  We have buried two of our beloved parents/grandparents since moving here.  Keith's parents are now in heaven.  We have gone from having one teenager in middle school to two teenagers in high school.  We have seen the goodness and the difficulties of living outside our country of origin while trying to raise our children in the way we feel called.  And the difficulties have pulled at us.

We have made dear friends here and left dear friends back in the U.S.  We have buried both loved ones here and loved ones back in the states.  We have learned to endure 93 and 94 degree temps in our home while trying to homeschool and cook.  We have learned to trust God for finances that we cannot (according to our visas) earn for ourselves.  We have seen answers to prayer above and beyond expectation.  We have seen the dearness of God's people here.  We have missed the dearness of God's people back home.  We have struggled under the lack of efficiency here and then defended it to outsiders who criticize it. 

And all the while God was at work.  Molding, shaping, stretching, sloughing off rough edges, refining, recasting us.  We are different.  A piece of us is forever labelled "Bahamas."  It can't be taken or changed.  It remains.  And we pray fruit remains here long after we're gone.  It is bittersweet.  But in the end, we knew we needed God-given faith to remain here.  So we prayed and prayed.  We read books.  We asked for counsel.  We had others pray and pray.  We ran budget scenarios.  We talked to other missionaries.  And the faith would not come.  God did not birth it.  We are soberly reminded of the verse "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  Hebrews 11:6.  We came here on faith...not quite blind faith, but after only 2 ten day visits.  Sold everything but what we brought here in our 40 boxes.  And to remain, we would need that same kind of faith. 

So now in our leaving, we have many questions. What job will Keith get?  Will we have to leave ministry for the forseeable future?  How will we make a living?  Where we will go?  We have no furniture to take back.  We have no vehicles to take back.  Starting from scratch.  And yet, there is faith for it all.  So in this we walk.  There is faith for it...and so we pray God makes it all clear in His time.  The "where?"  The "who?" The "what?"  And we'll let you know when it all comes together.  In the meantime, please be praying for the Buntings and Kingdom Life Church.  They are well on their way to seeking another man to lead worship at the church, though not in a full-time pastoral role.  Their hope is that it will be a local man who will not have to move or make a cultural adjustment.  Ideally, a Bahamian man with reformed theological views and continuationist beliefs who loves leading God's people in song.  It's possible he's here on this island somewhere!

For all of our faithful readers, pray-ers, and supporters out there...Thank you! We could not be here without you.  Keep us close in your prayers and hearts.  We look forward to all God will do.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Hellos and Goodbyes (again)

It seems that the last two or three years have been full of more hellos and goodbyes than we can really record.  Between moving from Lancaster to Maryland, spending 10 months at Pastor's College, saying goodbye to all those new friends, moving to Nassau and saying goodbye to all our U.S. friends, and then the many deaths we've mourned while here...well it's just been a lot.

Yesterday, around 9:15am, Keith's dad went to be with the Lord.  It was not quite 14 months ago that we all said goodbye to Mom Bunting and we wondered how long Dad would last without his lifetime sweetheart by his side.  So, in many respects, yesterday was a joy to our hearts.  Knowing Dad loved Jesus and not only has now seen Him face to face, but has also seen his sweet Jackie, gives us great comfort.  This set of parents and grandparents leave behind a legacy to their family; of love for Christ, love for one another, and love for all those God brought into their paths.
Dad and Mom Bunting
August 2012
Still in love after 55+ years of marriage
 
 
And in the midst of this bittersweet time, we've had the company and fellowship of good friends from Terre Hill, PA.  Addison and Dana Waite, a couple we befriended through Keith's car sales job, brought their three children and came to spend the week here with us.  Addison and Dana have been faithful friends to us; laughing with us, caring for us, and providing a friendship that has proven to withstand all our moves and chaos.  These two, along with their children, were our only "non-Crossway Church" friends during our years in Lancaster.  Attending Petra Church in New Holland, Addison and Dana are highly active members of their beloved church and are an example to us in the way they love their children.  They have been such a blessing to us this week; bringing us treats, taking us out for dinner, encouraging us, and giving us the gift of laughter in the midst of what could have been a sorrowful week.  Ultimately, we see God's kindness to us through them.  How He loves to care for His children through the hands of His children!  And that's exactly how we see it this week.  Their love, expressing God's love to us. 
Dana and Addison

Alyssa, Dana, Mikaya, Addison, and Zane Waite
 
Due to the quick plans for Keith's dad's funeral for this Saturday, Keith leaves today to fly to Orlando and help with the planning.  The girls and I will not be going, but are so glad the Waites are here to keep us company for another night and half of tomorrow.  Again, God's provision to us when we didn't even know we would need it!  Today we rejoice that in this life, though there is sorrow, and though the hellos and goodbyes seem to never cease, God gives us many wonderful people to share the journey with us.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

according to the Spirit

Last Saturday night, I (Kristin) awoke from a nightmare.  In the wake of the fearful dream, I sat motionless on our bed, asking God for help and assurance.  You see, in the dream, I was dying.  But beyond that, in the dream, I was crying out "Jesus, Jesus!"  but could not get my voice above a whisper.  In the nightmare, I could not feel the presence of God or see anything like a "light" or any of the things I was looking to see or feel.  It was dark, empty, and scary.  I began to doubt God's ability to save me from the grave...then I awoke.

Immediately, I began praying, asking God to help restore my confidence in Him and all the truths I know about Him from reading His word.  And He answered.  He gave Isaiah 43 to hold on to.
43 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I knew in the moments I sat there in the dark, praying, that God wanted me to share this the next morning at church.  During the church prayer time before the meeting, I took the prayer need listed to "Pray that the Spirit will be at work this morning, helping us to employ the gifts that have been given us..."   I knew in my heart that I would go to the prophecy microphone to share.

God arranged it, no doubt.  The flow of the songs we were singing led right to the word I wanted to share :

What heart could hold
The weight of your love?
And know the heights
Of Your great worth?
What eyes could look on
Your glorious face
Shining like the sun?

Your name alone
Has power to raise us
Your light will shine
When all else fades
Our eyes will look on
Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You, God?
 
You are holy, holy, holy
God most high and God most worthy
You are holy, holy, holy
Jesus You are
Jesus You are

(Read more: Matt Redman - Holy Lyrics | MetroLyric)

As I shared, I knew God wanted to speak to those with nightmares, both of the night and the day.  Lives that felt like nightmares due to oppression, sinful choices, or other circumstances along with those who battle nighttime dreams of great fear.   And the Holy Spirit was at work.

Four ladies came forward at the end of the service, two of whom struggle with nightmares (including ones of their own death, like mine) and one of whom feels that she's living a nightmare due to the oppressive circumstances in her life.  Only one of the women is a regular attender at our church.  Many women gathered around these dear ladies, engaging in prayer on their behalf.  One lady came to me and shared my word was directly for her.  She is not a regular attender.  In fact, though her husband is highly involved at our church, she attends another church.  But for "some reason" she was at Kingdom Life last Sunday. 

It has been many months since we've seen the Lord move through his people like this.  The fact that the previous week had been our Corporate Consecration Week of Prayer and Fasting is no coincidence, I am sure.  But can't every week be like this?  Where the Spirit is moving in and among us, using our spiritual gifts to touch the lives of His people?  I pray so.  Lord, let it be so.

Let me encourage you this week to be praying for the Spirit to move in your respective churches.  God wants to use his flock to reach those inside and outside the fold.  Don't let your pride, fear, or any other sinful response cause you to stay silent or inactive when you feel God prompting you to go.  Even if your church is not one where gifts like prophecy or words of knowledge are held up as "for today," God expects his people to be speaking words of encouragement, hope, and gospel-truth "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."  (Eph. 5:19-20)