“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” –John 15:1–2 (NASB)
As I approach my final months in Wales, this truth has been reverberating throughout my being. I have been learning how to remain rooted in The Lord while facing the challenges of adjusting to a brand-new culture and intense schedule of ministry.
While I am unsure about what the next step looks like, I am sure of this…
WHEN THE LORD DOES THE PRUNING, HE DOES IT FOR GROWTH. …
One of the key words that keeps popping up throughout my time in Wales is DISCOVERY.
As an author and avid writer, I pay attention to the consistent occurrence of specific words over a sustained period of time. This has happened through many different ways. Whether in songs, on television, or through Scripture and other reading; there is usually a link between the words and something that The Lord is trying to teach me.
In the seven months since I landed in Wales, every day has held new and exciting discoveries. New foods, people, places, surroundings, and experiences have become a dominant fixture in my daily life. Each day holds challenges that are equal (and sometimes not-so-equal) parts exciting, daunting, and exhausting. …
During my missionary journey, one of the most difficult struggles has been the distance. I wouldn’t call it homesickness, because I have lived away from my hometown before. Whether I look at the distance of time (anywhere from five to eight hours behind my family and friends), the distance of those I love, or the distance of authentic tacos; I find that the familiar seems so very far away at times. That is why I was beyond thrilled at the opportunity to reconnect with my “fam” while spending the holidays in America.
It was a beautiful, yet difficult trip because I adjusted back into the lives of my parents, family, and friends, only to begin adjusting right back to my new life in Wales. My thirty-two-hour return trip home (on three different airlines — to save as much as possible on the trip) was very … eventful. I had the chance to encourage a young man named Aiden on one of my flights, and bless him with a copy of my new book. He is studying foreign languages on a semester abroad in Ireland. I am praying that the seeds sown in our conversation will bear lasting fruit. …
This spoken-word poem was originally written for some of the missionary work that I am doing in Wales.
I hope that this simple testimony encourages you, and inspires you to transition from a “me” focused lifestyle to the community that resides within the “WE” of Christ-centered community.
FROM ME TO WE:
By Shane M. Oberlin
I was born in America, in a very nowhere place.
Quite often, people would look at me like I was from outer space.
Their pace was not one that I would chase, emulate or embrace.
I had a bad case of never fitting in.
Rarely did I win at the popularity contest that consumes our society. …
As I write this, I am seated outside on a weathered bench; safely nestled in a picturesque meadow. I am surrounded by trees, a sweet song on the Summer breeze, and a resounding whisper from The One Who formed my soul.
Even the gravel in the parking lot emanates the glory of God in a way that is becoming increasingly rare. There is a rich deposit here; a deep well that grants life-giving refreshment to all who are thirsty. …
“A man has joy in giving an appropriate answer, And how good and delightful is a word spoken at the right moment — how good it is!” Proverbs 15:23 (AMP)
Recently, I experienced a first-hand reminder of the reality found within this passage.
While attending a service at my church, my pastor was teaching about the spiritual Gift of Encouragement (Romans 12). After the message, there was a time of “activation,” which encouraged parishioners to begin stirring up this gift within the congregation. As people began encouraging those around them, I felt The Lord “highlight” a few individuals for me to encourage. …
I wrote this poem recently, as I was contemplating the many choices that lay ahead of me. There are lots of details related to leaving one sort of life behind to embark on a whole new existence as a full-time missionary.
During the last week, I have dealt with a wave of realizations related to my journey. There are only THREE MONTHS between now and my anticipated date of departure! Beyond the financial puzzle (I am currently under 10% of my fundraising goal), there are multiple major details yet to be established. Visas, flights, and packing list, oh my!
So, what is my response going to be? Will I choose to fight against the seemingly impossible nature of this journey? …
We live in tumultuous times. In this moment of history, it is increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction, love from justification, opinions from truth, and faith from fear.
As each day passes, we experience a collective loss of innocence. We are no longer safe to casually roam our streets as we once did; with childlike wonder and whimsy. We never know when the next catastrophe will occur.
Nearly two weeks after the tragedy in Manchester, England stunned the world, the shock gave way to new depths of sorrow. …
THE STOLEN YEARS:
By Shane M. Oberlin
INTRO — The Story Behind The Poem:
This poem was born out of the last three years of my journey.
In 2016, I had passed the point of no return, reaching a point where my faith had stopped; completely unable to bridge the gap or find a way across the chasm of hopelessness, struggle, and frustration.
Yet, in my desperation I was never alone. Not for a second. The Lord met me in the midst of the darkest chasm, and regenerated me from the inside out!
I pray that these words encourage you that even in our most desperate and vulnerable moments, we have never left the heart, the hand, or the mind of God. …