A New Season of Life

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A new season has begun in the life of the Young family. In late June I received a phone call from a friend who wanted to know if I would be interested in working with him for a Christian ministry called Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF). CHF works through local churches to meet the needs of poor communities and to promote evangelism. The position I have been offered involves training and equipping the leadership of churches who have partnered with CHF so they can better serve and evangelize their neighbors.

Lauren and I sense the Lord’s hand in opening up this new ministry to us, and we are pursuing it, trusting that He has called us to it. I will be starting with CHF September 12. Since we will no longer will be living off support, we ask that lieu of supporting us, you prayerfully consider supporting To Every Tribe. If you are interested, please let us know.

God has led us through an amazing journey since I first came to To Every Tribe – from the farms and fishing towns of Northern Mexico to the woods & hills of central Georgia; from the mountains, valleys, and villages of Oaxaca back to the fields and resacas of South Texas. The past six years have been an adventure full of twists and turns, joys and sorrows, challenges and pleasures, and Lauren and I have been constantly upheld by the prayers and encouragement of all of you who have so faithfully partnered with us. Thank you for all you have done to “hold the rope” for us.

Please continue to pray for our family during this time of transition to San Antonio. Please also continue to pray for our adoption, that God would bring us the child he has for us soon. Also, please keep praying for To Every Tribe and the work God is doing through them. Our family has been blessed to be a part of To Every Tribe, and we will continue to pray for and promote their ministry.

Thank you to all of you for lifting us up in prayer, encouraging, and supporting us over the past six years. We would not have made it through all that God has led us through if you had not been faithfully praying for us and caring for us. Lauren, Matthias, and I have been blessed immensely during this past chapter of our lives by getting to see God provide for all of our needs through the loving support of the body of Christ.

As we move forward we will not forget the kindness and blessings we have been given, the lessons we have learned, or the mighty works we have seen God do. We trust that God will use all of those to glorify himself through us in San Antonio.

May God bless you all. May God use you mightily to proclaim His gospel and advance his kingdom. Thank you for your faithful partnership with us. We love you all.

Grace & Peace,
Will, Lauren, and Matthias Young

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June Update

Saludos! (Greetings!)

It’s getting hot down here in the Rio Grande Valley. Summer in Los Fresnos means high temperatures, thick humidity, hordes of flies and mosquitoes, and lots of vacationers coming through town on their way to South Padre Island.

Summer for the Young family includes traveling, VBS, graduation at the CPCP, preparing for the next year of training at the CPCP, more online classes, and, among other things, lots and lots of sunscreen!

Here are some of our recent happenings:

  • Adoption home study completed: On Saturday, May 21, Lauren and I had a very kind and understanding social worker come visit our home to talk with us and to see if we were ready to become adoptive parents. We were encouraged to see how excited she was for us and how much she desired to help us realize this dream. Seeing her approval was another special confirmation that this is what God wants for us. Having the home study done is a major step in being ready to adopt.
  • To Every Tribe Board Meeting: I helped John prepare the agenda and supplementary material for our Board of Trustees’ meeting May 30.
  • Graduation at the Center for Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP): On Thursday, June 2, the To Every Tribe community celebrated five missionaries who have completed their training and are now ready to be sent to the nations! I consider it a privilege to have had a hand in their training and preparations. We will miss them as they leave Los Fresnos, but are excited about the various places where the Lord is leading them!
  • Puente de Gracia (Bridge of Grace): Lauren and I are very excited to be a part of a new cell group starting to meet at our church that hopes eventually to start a new bilingual church plant here in the valley. Our desire, like the name indicates, is to share the gracious gospel of Christ, who bridged the infinite barrier between God and men, and who also bridges together people of all types and backgrounds into one body – the Church, which is also His bride.
  • Wedding: I had the opportunity last week to travel to be in the wedding of one of my friends from Covenant College. It was a joy to witness their happiness as they covenanted together before God, and it was an opportunity to reflect again on the wonderful gift God has given me in my dear wife – who I missed very much while I was away!
  • Sick boy: Matthias has been battling a cold and some infections over the past couple weeks. Lauren had to take him to the hospital last Sunday night, while I was away. We praise God that the medicine he is on is working and he is getting better, but please pray with us that he will make a full recovery soon.
  • Seminary progress: I am over halfway done with my second seminary class – Old Testament 2. I have enjoyed getting to read and study through large portions of the Bible, and am encouraged by how it has already enriched by ability to not only minister to our missionaries but to shepherd my own family and look to the needs of my own soul.
  • Online Language Coaching Course: As I finish up my seminary class, I am getting into another language coaching class through Wheaton College’s Institute for Cross-Cultural Training (the same program I took classes on linguistics through last fall and in Oaxaca). This class is on how to help a language learner develop their listening and speaking skills in their second language.

So those are some of the things that have been going on lately, here are some of the things we have coming up:

  • Vacation Bible School: Next week Lauren will be helping out with VBS at Covenant (our church). She is excited about helping lead music and sharing with children and their families about God’s creation, man’s fall into sin, and the hope of deliverance.
  • Traveling: Next week, after VBS, we will be leaving for a three week trip to Chattanooga and Forsyth to visit family and friends. We will be visiting Grace Presbyterian Church in Dalton, Georgia and then spending a couple Sundays with our sending church, New Providence Baptist Church of Forsyth. We are so excited to get to see everyone, although I am sure the time will go by all too fast!
  • Visit from family: Lauren’s cousin Nathan, his wife Michelle, and their girls will be coming down to Los Fresnos to spend a few days with us. We are thrilled to get to have them here, and look forward to enjoying our time with them. We would love to have more visitors too! If anyone wants to come to South Padre and stop by and see us, we’d love to show you around, and let you have a chance to see To Every Tribe and what we are doing here.
  • Preparing for a new year at the CPCP: Another year of training will be starting up again in August. We have three trainees returning for their second year and seven more coming for their first year. To get ready for the new year, I am continuing to develop the Spanish and Language Acquisition class to equip our trainees to more effectively reach our community and the villages in North Mexico. I am also compiling and updating a new, comprehensive To Every Tribe Handbook.

Here are  few ways you can be praying for us:

  1. Our family’s health: Matthias is recovering, but not all the way healthy yet. Please pray that he would make a complete recovery soon. Also, Lauren got pretty worn out watching Matthias by herself while I was gone, and Matthias got sick while I was away, and now that I am back she is still at home with him most of the time, so she is needing some rest and recovery as well. And please continue to pray for our ongoing journey through grief – pray specifically for me this weekend since Fathers’ Day brings up lots of difficult emotions.
  2. Adoption: We have reached a point in the process in which most of the work Lauren and I can do is done and we are now waiting to hear if a birth parent interested in us. Although we are certain God has chosen a child for us and that He will bring us together one day, waiting on His timing can be a challenge. Please pray that we would be faithful and patient as we trust Him to take care of and grow our family.
  3. Traveling: Pray that God would watch over our travels this summer and that he would bless our time with family and friends.
  4. Preparations for next year: As I prepare for my Spanish and Language Acquisition class next year at the CPCP, I am realizing just how big a job it is to develop a language learning program for a whole missionary organization. Please pray that God would give me wisdom, diligence, and perseverance, and that He would help me to trust that He will be working through me and that He has equipped me with what I need to do this ministry.

Things that help me

Next Tuesday  is May 17 – the day that would have been Hope’s first birthday. This past year has been the hardest, darkest, and saddest time of Lauren’s and my lives. But it has also been a time of unparalleled growth for both of us as well. And there have also been some moments of great joy and contentment. I had thought about writing something insightful about what we have learned, but the more I tried to think of something, the harder it was for me to really put it into words.

So instead I want to share with you some of the things that helped us along the way.

  1. God’s grace has sustained us. We know that our tragedy was part of His plan for us, and we hold on to Him only by the strength that He gives us.
  2. The prayers, encouragement, and fellowship of our church, our families, and our friends have been essential. I cannot emphasize enough that your prayers and care for us held us up when we should have fallen. Please do not forget how much we will still need you, our road is not over.
  3. Lauren and I have been blessed to hear God’s wisdom through a wonderful counselor. Part of the reason I share that is so that anyone reading this who may be battling with grief and loss but has not yet spoken with a trained biblical counselor, please consider going to see one.

Aside from those things, Lauren and I have delved deep into Scripture and so many excellent resources out there that have helped guide us on our journey. Here is a detailed (but not exhaustive) list of the many Bible verses, books, articles, songs, sermons, and some of our own writing that helped us to understand God, what He has been doing in our lives, and how we ought to respond to him

Bible Verses & Passages

  • Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, & Ezekiel: These are the books I have been reading this whole year. The constant reminders of God’s sovereign power to bless or punish, to raise up or destroy, to kill or give life – over individuals and nations – have been an encouragement as well as a challenge. But God’s driving desire to restore, to redeem, to heal his people, and for his people to have a deeper knowledge of him comes through loud and clear. Everything he does is toward that end.
  • Genesis 4:8-10, 50:19-21 (Abel and Joseph) – The innocent suffer persecution and injustice, but what man intends for evil, God uses for good.
  • Psalm 30 – David wrestles with God in midst of a trial.
  • Isaiah 8:18 – “I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts.”
  • Isaiah 11:1-9 – Descriptions of God’s heavenly dwelling include weaned and nursing children.
  • Matthew 26:26-29 (The Lord’s Supper) – Jesus’ body is broken and given to his people, and his blood is poured out for them.
  • John 1:14 – The eternal Son of God became a man and lived with us.
  • Romans 8:14-26 – Suffering and hope in a world subjected to sin.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 50-58 – The promise of resurrection hope.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 4:1-18 – God’s comfort & use of weak, broken vessels to accomplish His purposes.
  • Colossians 1:24-29 – Paul’s ministry carried out through suffering.
  • Hebrews 4:15-16 – Jesus is our representative who understands us.

Books

  • Heaven, Randy Alcorn
  • I Will Carry You, Angie Smith
  • Holding on to Hope, Nancy Guthrie
  • Be Still My Soul, edited by Nancy Guthrie
  • A Year of Hope, Nancy Guthrie
  • A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis
  • Choosing To See, Mary Chapman
  • A Place of Healing, Joni Earickson Tada
  • Surprised by Suffering, R.C. Sproul
  • Romans (Vol. 3, Chapters 171-179) J.M. Boice
  • Far As the Curse is Found, Michael Williams

Articles, Sermons, & Videos

Songs

Lauren and I have also been able to heal and process by writing some of our thoughts and feelings. Some things I wrote have been shared on this blog (Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving), and Lauren wrote some things she has shared on her blog, Hope Fills My Heart. For my first class in seminary I wrote about “The Abrahamic Covenant and the Problem of Pain,” arguing that God does not explain away our pain, but instead He promises to pay the price for our suffering so that one day He can transform it into blessing.

Please continue to walk this road with us. God’s love and grace has been shown to us through your words of encouragement and care for us. His power has been revealed through your prayers. This year has shown us that no one’s faith can stand alone – we all stand by His strength, upheld by each other.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2

April Update

Even though March was relatively quiet, since all the trainees were gone on their spring trips for most of the month, it was still pretty busy for the Young family. Here are some of the highlights since our last update:

  1. Will’s trip to Georgia – I was invited to speak about To Every Tribe and our family’s ministry at two missions conferences. One was at Grace Presbyterian Church in Dalton and the other was at Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church in Flintstone. I had the opportunity to speak twice at each church, and was so thankful to be able get to know some new folks, and to spend some sweet time of fellowship with dear friends from each of those churches. I also got to spend a day with my sister and brother-in-law and their kids, and I met my newest nephew!
  2. Seminary – While the trainees were out, I spent some time getting as much of my first seminary class done as I could. I started about a month ago and am now over halfway through Old Testament I (a survey of the first 8 books of the Bible) and have enjoyed seeing again God’s faithfulness and mercy to those who follow him by faith, and his patience with a world that has rebelled against him.
  3. Spanish & Language Acquisition (S&LA) – The other thing I wanted to do while the trainees were gone was to plan out our remaining classes. We’ve had a couple classes now since they came back from their trips, and we are coming down the home stretch getting close to the end of the training year. I have assigned the trainees a final language learning project that they will be working on during their final Mexico trips this month and next month.
  4. Research – Some of my projects for John Bates recently have included finding out what we can do for some of our field-based missionaries who still have addresses here in Los Fresnos when they get a jury summons, finalizing To Every Tribe policy statements so they are ready for our Board of Directors to approve next month, and going with John into Mexico to cancel an old tourist visa.
  5. Adoption fundraising – Praise God we have been able to raise over $7,000 in just one month of fundraising! God has made it abundantly clear to us through his provision for this adoption that our family is following His will for us. Please continue to pray that the remaining $11,000 that we need to raise would come in such a way and at such a time that would give God the most glory. Our churches and family are helping with a yard sale, T-shirt sales, and even a 5K this fall! Lauren and I are also asking anyone who would like to do something in memory of our daughter Hope on her birthday, May 17, that they would please donate to our adoption fund.
  6. Matthias – Also this past month Lauren and I have embarked on the epic adventure of potty training Matthias! This has been going relatively well so far (I won’t go into the details), but suffice to say this is still a work in progress. On the same weekend we started training, Matthias also came down with an ear infection, which was treated, but then he promptly caught a stomach bug that lasted a few days. He was healthy last week, and then had to fight a cold this week, but now he seems to be over that too – our boy is such a trooper!
  7. Church membership – Lauren and I will become members of Covenant Presbyterian Church of Harlingen, Texas this coming Sunday! Our conviction is that we ought to be committed to a local body of believers, and we are excited to be a part of this wonderful body of believers, and are looking forward to finding out how we can be more and more involved with this church family.

As you can see, life in the Young home is never boring, and so we are so thankful that we have a God who sovereignly oversees everything that happens to us, and is always working to bring about his good will for us in every circumstance.

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Matthias enjoyed a Mexican Easter tradition: cascarones! (Confetti-filled dyed eggs)

 

Thank you for your prayers, please keep praying for our family – pray for the adoption, for Will’s work, and for the ongoing ministry of To Every Tribe to prepare and send missionaries to the unreached!

 

My Easter Song

[I (Will) wrote this post the week before Easter Sunday. By God’s providence, our family ended up having to go home after Sunday school because Lauren was sick – so I still haven’t heard this song in almost a year…]

Christ the Lord is risen today, Aleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Aleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Aleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Aleluia!

These words will be sung in churches all around the world this Sunday. It is one of the most common Easter hymns – a joyful outpouring of praise in response to the reality and power of Jesus’ resurrection. But the next time I hear this song I won’t feel very joyful, in fact I’ll probably cry. That’s because the last time I heard this hymn was at my daughter Hope Zoe’s funeral.

I picked it for her because I had decided long before that this was the song I wanted sung at my funeral. I always thought it would be great to have something in a funeral that seems to slap death and spit in its face. What better way to do that than to sing a happy resurrection-themed hymn?

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Flowers from Hope’s Memorial Service

Lives again, our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

The next time I hear this hymn, I won’t feel much like slapping death on the cheek – I’ll feel more like death punched me in the gut. I won’t feel up to spitting in death’s face – more like death was holding me by the throat. I realize now how much arrogance was in my heart, to think that I could mock death so easily. I had no idea how awfully great my enemy truly was. To think that I could mock death and get away with it, without it costing anything, was grossly naive.

But here’s the catch. The undeniable reality of what this song declares has nothing to do with how I feel. It can (and should) have an effect on my feelings, but my feelings have no impact on its truth. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus fought the fight against death we could not win, and though it cost him his life, he still won! And the truth is that regardless of how I feel about it, I need to hear this news proclaimed. Regardless of how I react, I need to see the joy and happiness of believers as they praise Jesus for his resurrection.

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

As I remember and continue to grieve for Hope Zoe, I need more than a reminder that she is in heaven. I need more than a reminder that one day I will be with her. I need to hear that Jesus Christ bound himself to us in his death, breaking the power of sin, and then he bound us to himself in his resurrection, shattering the dominion of death! And though it be through tears, there will be a glimmer of joy. Though I may not get the words out, they will give me comfort. And though I feel overpowered by the weight of death, I will know that my daughter is alive because Jesus is alive! Aleluia!

Go Fund Our Adoption!

Today we are launching our own GoFundMe page to raise funds for our adoption! Please help us make this dream become a reality. God has set our family on this journey through sorrow and back to hope, but we cannot reach our goal of expanding our family without lots of help!

Our goal is to raise $18,000 and pay the rest ourselves. You can give online through our GoFundMe page or by mailing us a personal check (please leave us a comment or send a private message with your email and we will send you our address). Once we have raised the money we can move forward with the adoption!

All of the money that we raise will be used exclusively for the new member of our family. If we raise more than what is needed to cover costs of adoption, any surplus will be put into a college fund.

God has called us and is leading us through this new adventure, but Lauren and I are keenly aware that we are not walking this path alone. Please prayerfully consider coming with us and helping us on our way by praying for our family and by giving so we can reach our goal!

Work Update (with more exciting news!)

Now that I have been settled into my position here in Los Fresnos for a few months, it is interesting to look back on the wide variety of things I have done as full-time To Every Tribe staff.

I want to share a list of some of the highlights from work, and give you a sense of what is ahead for me, but before I do that I thought it would be good to fill you in on how things have been for Lauren and Matthias on the home front:

  • Matthias is now almost 2 and 1/2 and it feels like we just celebrated his second birthday! He is active and energetic, unflappably happy and cheerful (even on a day when he was stung by a bee!). He has a heart-melting smile and giggle, and is adventurous and courageous. He talks more and more every day – Lauren and I constantly ask each other “has he said/understood that before?” True to his name, Matthias is our precious gift.

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    “I’m gonna get that camera!”

  • Lauren struggled through a string of health issues most of last year, but we praise God that it seems He has brought her relief! She is enjoying meal-planning again, and trying new recipes from her favorite cook books. She has been going with some of the other staff and trainees’ wives to a community exercise group. She is also helping with our church’s free ESL classes. Adoption research has been a blessing to her, and God has used this process to restore much of our hope and excitement for the future.
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Lauren with her kitchen helper

So here are some of my highlights from working at To Every Tribe HQ.

  • Planning & organizing a special Day of Prayer service for this week.
  • Completing an application & writing a proposal letter for a grant for the Center for Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP).
  • Finding out how to register a federal trademark.
  • Researching visa possibilities for prospective missionary trainees from other countries.
  • Figuring out what To Every Tribe had to do with regards to worker’s compensation insurance.
  • Finding out if To Every Tribe will be required to provide insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Drafting a new To Every Tribe Code of Conduct, as well as statements on gender, sexuality, & marriage, and on the sanctity of life, and To Every Tribe policies on use of our facilities and open carry.
  • I also had a big project last fall related to the bed & breakfast on To Every Tribe’s property that we operate and the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

As Language Instructor at the CPCP, I have also had the privilege of teaching our missionary trainees every Monday morning from 9:00 to 11:45. We have covered some basic Spanish, a framework for categorizing all the components of learning a language, a few strategies for taking ownership of the language learning process, and discussed what would be helpful for them to know when they go on their trips into Mexico. This year there are 8 trainees in the CPCP. Lord willing, our CPCP group will be much larger next year. (Watch this video of me explaining why this is important!)

Finally, as Language and Culture Acquisition Coach, I have been keeping up with some of our missionaries who are in the field and still working on learning language. We’ve exchanged emails, video chatted, and met in person if they come through Los Fresnos. I’ve helped check sermons translated into Spanish, given suggestions for learning strategies and activities, and offered encouragement when needed or accountability when requested. Learning a new language is a long, difficult, stressful process that yields great rewards, but is still a heavy burden. Having someone to reach out to about some of the challenges, discouragement, and obstacles to language learning can be a big help to our missionaries. Last fall I took a five week course online through Wheaton College’s Institute for Cross-Cultural Training on the Foundations of Language Coaching to help equip me for this role.

Looking ahead, there are several exciting things developing. First, I have applied and been accepted into Birmingham Theological Seminary‘s distance education program. Soon I will begin working toward a Master of Arts in biblical studies. I expect this further training will equip me to better serve our missionaries, trainees, and staff.

I will also be traveling to Dalton, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee at the end of this month to speak at two missions conferences. Pray that the Lord would prepare me and use me to encourage and mobilize the body of Christ.

Our family is also excited to be getting more involved with our church here in the valley, Covenant Presbyterian Church. Right now we are attending a 5-week Inquirers’ Sunday School class so that we can become members. I started attending our monthly men’s Bible study, and I will be helping lead it this weekend. Lauren has also started helping with the free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes our church offers.

We are excited to see what the Lord is doing here in the Rio Grande Valley – in our church, in To Every Tribe, and in our family. Please pray for God’s continued blessing on our family as I start seminary and we pursue adoption. Pray that God would bless To Every Tribe with continued growth and ministry expansion. Pray that God would be moving through our church to reach out to our community and see new churches planted. Pray most of all that God would glorify His Son through our lives and that we would follow him wherever he leads.