Friendships and Fellowship

FRIENDSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIP

Our travels this past weekend took us to Kendall Park Baptist Church in Franklin Twp. NJ.img_1511This congregation welcomed us with open arms and we enjoyed sweet times of fellowship with their pastor and church family. Pastor Brown actually served as the senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church from 1998-2008 (this is the same church I pastored from 2010-2017). On account of this connection we share a unique bond. The fellowship with this dear brother and his wife was very sweet. When you meet the Browns, you will quickly learn that they love to spend time with people. We were over their house on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and on both occasions they had invited others from the church to join in the festivities.

Another connection we have with this church comes through Tri-State Bible Camp. Every Spring, Emmanuel would take a group to Tri-State’s Work Retreat. This is a time to help with various projects on the campsite getting things ready for the camping season. Over the past few years, our time there coincided with Kendall Park Baptist Church’s. This has afforded us some tremendous opportunities for fellowship.

In addition, Micah and Kiersten went to camp at Tri-State this past summer, and they met many of the children from Kendall Park there as well. Kiersten was especially blessed over the weekend getting to spend time with lots of girls right around her own age. This has always been a struggle for Kiersten (finding friends around her age), so we were so glad to see how much fun she had with the young ladies at Kendall Park.

img_1507Our time at Kendall Park was a refreshing experience for our entire family. We are thankful for the work God is doing there and the blessing they were to us!

Over the Road

OVER THE ROAD

Long distance travel just got a bit easier for the Valiante Family. Over the past month or two, we have been looking for a good deal on an RV which would help make our longer trips more comfortable. Although most of our meetings up to this point have been within just a couple hours, we wanted an RV for our upcoming cross country trip out West in the late summer / fall of 2018. We also plan to utilize this vehicle for any meetings outside of our immediate area over the coming months. Here is a picture of our new addition…img_1460The story of this purchase begins back in the late summer. When we put our house on the market, our plan was to use some of the proceeds from the sale of our house to buy a motorhome. But, when it became clear that we would be renting our home out instead of selling it, I said, “We’re definitely not going to buy a motorhome.” It certainly would have made longer trips more bearable, but it was not a necessity. However, when we found out that Sarah was expecting I quickly changed my mind and said, “We’re going to buy a motorhome!” The thought of traveling cross country  in a cramped minivan with an infant was too much to bear. Hopefully this purchase will make things much easier on Sarah during those months with a new baby.

img_1458After doing some research and looking at available motorhomes online, we saw this one come up on Facebook Marketplace. It had very low mileage (19,300) and was in very good condition for its age. Sarah and I swung by to look at it on Sunday (and really enjoyed getting to know the owner), and we committed to purchase it sometime this week. We picked up our RV today (and took care of transferring the title and registering it). The kids immediately fell in love with it. They enjoyed checking out all of the fun places to sit and hide. Jonas was extremely disappointed that he would not get to sleep in the bunk tonight. Actually, one of the reasons we settled on this type of RV (it called a Class C Motorhome) is because of the extra sleeping spaces. The bunk above the driver’s area could easily sleep all four of our children. The sofa turns into a bed, as does the dining area. And of course, there is a full-size bed in the rear of the coach. Working off of those calculations, we could sleep about 10 if we needed to! (And no, we do not have plans to add 3 more to our family… but the Lord has a way of surprising us at times).img_1451img_1453img_1465img_1446We are truly thankful to see the Lord giving us everything we need (and even some things we don’t necessarily need but want). I believe this RV will give be a great benefit to our family during this period of raising support. I would appreciate your prayers for our family as we travel, that the Lord would provide us safety, memorable experiences, and opportunities to minister to others.

What is Family?

WHAT IS FAMILY?

What makes a person “family”? Of course, the easiest ones to identify are those we are related to by blood. These are the people God graciously puts in our lives to support and direct us from the very start. But as we grow, others come into our lives who (though maybe not related to us by blood), occupy a special place in our hearts. When this happens, our “family” expands to include these folks as well. Looking back over the years, our family has grown to welcome in many people we have met along the way. One such family is the Artmans. img_1397We have been so thankful for Mr. and Mrs. Artman and the love they have shown to us (especially to our children). Living far away from both sets of grandparents, the Artman’s have served as “surrogate grandparents” to our kids. The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic at the Valiante house. We have been packing and organizing to get our home ready for our tenants who are beginning the process of moving in this week. On Friday night, the Artman’s invited us over for dinner (just so we would not have to worry about cooking). The kids had a great time playing downstairs while Sarah and I returned to the house to take care of some additional details. Our kids always love building with Legos at their house.

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Then (on top of the time she had already spent helping Sarah pack over the past couple of weeks), Mrs. Artman came over on Saturday and spent probably 8-10 hours helping clean the house. An added blessing was when Mr. Artman arrived with pizza for lunch!

We have been richly blessed these past few weeks during this transition. Another family we have grown to love is the Rancks. Our children are roughly the same age as theirs and we have enjoyed our friendship with them over the past 7 years. They too invited us over for dinner and last Saturday, they even took our children out for the entire day so packing would go a little smoother for us. While they were out, Christina texted and asked what snack foods Sarah enjoyed, and they came back with almonds, hummus and lots of other great treats. Their thoughtfulness (along with their love and support) has meant so much to us.

Family is a blessing from God… in whatever form it comes. Above all, we are blessed to be part of God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ. The other day one of our children asked, “Daddy why do you call people, ‘Brother?'” That was a good question. The reason I call another believer, “Brother” is because we share the same Heavenly Father and have been born into the same family. When a person is born-again, they are “birthed” into God’s family. If you have never experienced a true relationship with God, today can become your spiritual birthday, and you can be born into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ. He loved us and gave Himself for us that we might experience forgiveness and a relationship with the Father.

Known By Name

KNOWN BY NAME

There is something special about a person’s name. Even if you take a cursory glance over Scripture, you will soon realize names hold great importance to both God and people. In fact, of 10 commands God enumerated for His people, the third one revolves around His name. God’s name represents Who He is (signifying His character and accomplishments), and to take His name in vain is to show disrespect for Him. For this reason a stern warning is issued within the 10 commandments letting us know that God will hold those who use His name in vain accountable (Exodus 20:7).

Names are important to people as well. After God names Adam (an act which shows His authority over him [Genesis 1:26[1]]), Adam is then given the responsibility to name the animals (in turn showing Adam’s authority over creation [Genesis 2:19]). Interestingly, it is even Adam who gives his wife, Eve, her name (Genesis 3:20).

It has been said that the sweetest word to a person is his or her own name. A precious passage to believers is found in John 10 where Jesus describes Himself as “The Good Shepherd.” In that text Jesus says that those who belong to Him (His sheep) hear His voice and He calls his owns sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3). God knows us intimately and individually calls us by name.

This past Sunday we had the joy of ministering at Steam Valley Bible Church.img_1365Something Sarah and I noticed right when we came through the door was that the pastor and congregation had worked hard on memorizing not just my name, or Sarah’s, but the names of each member of our family. From the moment we stepped in, Pastor MacAvoy pointed to each of our children and said, “So this is Micah… Kiersten… (slight pause)—Lydia and Jonas!” There is nothing sweeter to a person’s ears than to hear their own name! But Pastor MacAvoy was not the only one who knew our children’s names. Many members of the church could do the exact same thing. You could tell they had been prepared for our coming and were excited to have us there. Our conversations with the folks made us feel like we were talking to old friends. We were so grateful to connect with this wonderful group of believers.

In the evening, we were able to present our ministry at Bible Baptist Church (Shickshinny, PA). We were glad to see the work God is doing within this congregation, and the excitement of their new Pastor (Randy Boston) as he leads this flock. I have known Pastor Boston for a number of years, and am grateful for the Lord’s leading within this congregation to give them a faithful pastor to preach and teach them God’s Word. We had a great time presenting our work and were truly glad for the opportunity.

It was another wonderful Lord’s Day, and we are excited about all that God is doing in our lives!

[1] As a note the proper name “Adam” is the same as the noun, “man” or “mankind.” Context helps one differentiate the two usages.

Warm Welcomes and Sweet Fellowship

WARM WELCOMES AND SWEET FELLOWSHIP

Every place we go on this journey of raising support, we are met with warm welcomes and enjoy sweet fellowship. This past Sunday was no different. We were grateful for the opportunity to present the work God is raising up in the Philippines at Haven of Grace Seminary at Bible Baptist Church (Benton, PA). I have known Pastor Moseley for a good number of years, but this was the first chance for our families to get to know each other over an extended period of time. I was so grateful for Pastor and Mrs. Moseley, along with their daughters and son, taking the time to get to know our children. Our kids had a blast and felt very much at home here. In fact, they felt so much at home, they even got to share a fun (zany) 2nd verse to the song, “Be A Missionary” in front of the whole congregation. We can thank fellow missionary kids (the Speights) for teaching our crew the crazy lyrics.

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In addition to getting to know the Moseley’s better, we also had a wonderful time getting to know this church family. It is exciting to see the good work God is doing among the folks here. They certainly had a great interest in the work in the Philippines, and we had some really great, in-depth conversations with them. It was an encouragement to hear about their own ministry experiences (both near and far), and to share some of ours as well.img_1333

We are grateful for the ministry of this church, and the warm welcome they extended to our family. We pray for God’s richest blessings upon them as they continue to reach our into Benton and the surrounding communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 (Devotional Thought by Sarah)

ISAIAH 26:3 (DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT BY SARAH)

I have been thinking on this verse for many weeks lately, partly with the preparation of speaking at a ladies conference in October and partly due to homeschooling Lydia and this being one of her memory verses. This verse was also displayed on the wall just left of the pulpit in my home church growing up. It was a constant reminder to keep my mind on God and yet, it is still challenging me again today.

Preparing for the ladies conference, I was to speak on peacemaking from Matthew 5, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Did you know that peacemaking is evidence of a true believer? One whose mind is fixed on God will have less worry, less anxiety, and more peace than the world can conjure up? As a mother, I often get distracted with the thought that peace comes from a clean and organized home, obedient children, and a husband who understands my every thought! But in reality, I become even more frustrated seeking to implement these ideas of peace. The truth is that peace comes from having our minds focused on God, Who He is and What He has done. He is always good, Sovereign and powerful. I can rest in His will no matter how it may look from my perspective. I am learning that when I am overwhelmed, frustrated, or fearful, it is because I need a change of perspective. I need God!

Another thought… When our minds are fully focused on Him—when we eventually reach glory—there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more fear or anxiety. So then the closer I am to God here on earth, the more I experience a glimpse of Heaven…less worry, less fear, less pain, less of myself and more of Him!

Big, BIG News!

The Valiante Family has some big news to share. The kids are so excited they are ready to burst. Check out the video below to find out all about it!

Just a few weeks ago, Sarah and I were surprised to learn that we were expecting another baby! There were a lot of different emotions swirling around our hearts and minds when we learned the news, but above all we are grateful to God for His goodness and mercy in gifting this little one to us. We just had an ultrasound this past Monday, and the baby is doing well and is very active. We even saw his hand up drift up to his mouth, so we may have another thumb-sucker on our hands. Below is a picture of our little one!

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I am sure we will write more about this event in the coming weeks, but our intentions of going to the Philippines remains unchanged with this joyful news. The baby is due on May 16, so our initial plans to head out West in April / May will be pushed back to August / September. Other than that, our goal still remains to make it to the Philippines by May 2019–but now we will arrive with a family of 7 instead of 6.

Exciting times here at the Valiantes! We will be sure to post more in the coming days and weeks!

 

Churches that Mean the Most

CHURCHES THAT MEAN THE MOST

During the beginning stages of this journey of raising support, we have been grateful to be in churches that mean the most to us. For the past 7 years, we have been privileged to serve at Emmanuel Baptist Church (Millville, PA). This past week, our family took part in their annual missions conference. It was a unique experience to be “on the other side” of a missions conference at our church, but we were encouraged by the warm welcome, and wonderful fellowship.

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We are so thankful for this group of believers and the friendships we forged over the years. We were humbled to learn on Friday, that the church voted the previous Wednesday to take our family on for support. With Emmanuel’s support, we now stand at 25%.

Our children enjoyed reconnecting with the kids from Emmanuel, as well as getting to know some of the other missionary kids.

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The banquet on Sunday afternoon was a special blessing to our whole family.

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There was even a “Valiante Family Tree” with pictures of our family, and the Filipino flag!img_1260

Micah and I enjoyed an early morning Men’s Prayer Breakfast and were challenged from God’s Word by Missionary Rodney Myers. Sarah enjoyed taking the girls to the Ladies Brunch later that morning.

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Above all we are thankful for the friendships at Emmanuel. We will forever be grateful for the love these folks have shown to us and to our children. In the picture below Jonas got a ride to the auditorium from Mr. Near.img_1275

Taking part in this missions conference was something our family had been looking forward to for quite some time, and it was a rich blessing to be back with the dear folks at Emmanuel. We are thankful to partner with them as we head to the Philippines to equip and train national pastors there!

 

 

Coming Home

COMING HOME

From the time Sarah was just a few days old until she left for college some eighteen years later, she attended La Junta Baptist Tabernacle (LJBT). Even though she spent four years in South Carolina gaining an undergraduate degree, followed by two years in Wisconsin in graduate school, a year in Arizona, and then 14 years ministering in the Northeast, LJBT has always held a special place in her heart. LJBT is family to Sarah in a way that I have a hard time relating to. I did not grow up going to church, so I don’t really know what it is like to have such a long history with the same group of people, who, even though they are not related by blood, are related in a much more meaningful way as fellow children of God. Every time I hear Sarah speak of her home church, I immediately sense the deep love she has for the folks in this congregation. They have supported, encouraged, helped, and blessed her through these many years.

While I was setting up meetings in the early fall, there were a couple of openings in October that just weren’t getting filled. I tried to scheduled meetings, yet the weeks remained open. So, as God has been teaching me, I decided we would just “go with the flow” and use these two open weeks to connect with Sarah’s home church here in Colorado. Our plan all along has been to utilize our family and church connections here in La Junta / Rocky Ford, Colorado as a second “base” while we visit churches to raise support out West. (Sarah’s mom and dad still live here in Rocky Ford). However, our initial plan was to come out in the summer of 2018. But, since God seemed to be closing the door to meetings out East during this stretch of October, we decided this would be a good opportunity to connect with La Junta Baptist Tabernacle sooner rather than later. So, using airline miles, we booked our tickets and made our way out West. Looking back now, I am so thankful the Lord directed our way to Colorado these past two weeks.

Our time with family, and connecting with LJBT has been such a blessing. We are thankful to be able to share the call God has placed upon our hearts with this wonderful church family. Pastor Jon Brandt has been a source of great encouragement to our entire family over the years I have known him. My history with Pastor Brandt goes all the way back to our wedding. He officiated the ceremony! Sarah has looked up to his wife, Ruth Ann for over 30 years, and in many ways has patterned her own ministry as a pastor’s wife, and servant of God after her. Ruth Ann is known for her joyful, loving spirit, as well as her dedication to her husband and church family.

img_1200An added blessing at LJBT is that Sarah’s older brother, Tim, serves as the Associate Pastor of the church. He selflessly serves the young people within the congregation, as well as the community. His wife, Joy, and his children have a deep passion to glorify God, and are a constant example to me of what it looks like for a family to faithfully serve our Savior.

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This past Sunday night, LJBT surprised us by taking a congregational vote to support our family. (And just as a note, the picture above is not the church vote. This picture is Tim asking a wacky question to the kids at the AWANA Club.) With LJBT’s support, we are now over 20% of our monthly support. I find it hard to believe that we have only been on the deputation trail a little over a month, and we are already 1/5 of the way there! We are so thankful for the support of this dear congregation. But what meant even more to us was the special time of prayer the congregation had for us on Sunday night. After taking the “vote” the congregation surrounded our family and folks began praying for the ministry God had called us to. They prayed for our family and asked for God’s grace and mercy to sustain and protect us. In listening to their prayers, you could tell they were not just praying for missionaries… they were praying for family.

We are so thankful for the generosity, and love LJBT has shown to us. We look forward to our partnership in the Gospel with them and the fruit that will abound to their account. This church will forever be a part of our family. It has been so good to come home.

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