Having been away from NIC for a few weeks now, I’ve received a number of messages via text and social media wishing me well on my holiday. To that, my response is a hearty “Thank you!” I’ve enjoyed the past week of rest and vacation at Madara’s childhood home in eastern Latvia. We’ve walked, enjoyed cook-outs in the yard, stayed up late, and slept in late (as late as Noah would allow!). Holiday rest is important for the body, soul, and family. I highly recommend it. But as of the date of this writing, the holiday is over.
“But wait,” you say. “Only a week of rest? You’ve been gone three weeks, and you won’t be back until the end of August!”
When we left Cyprus, we went straight to London where we hosted the U30 LC (Learning Community for Emerging Leaders under 30). Some of our NIC “alumni” were there – men and women faithfully reproducing disciples of Jesus across Europe. It was so exciting to work together to move our ministries to the next level.
After that, Madara and Noah came to Latvia, but I grabbed a budget flight to Aberdeen, Scotland where I spent the weekend with the Rev. Steve Collis. Some of you remember Steve when he was the Dean of St. Paul’s. Now he and Cath are in “retirement” (a minister never really retires!), and Steve is caring for a flock associated with the Scottish Episcopal Church. I had the honor to preach there on Pentecost Sunday, but more importantly I learned much from Steve about the unique challenges for the gospel in Scottish towns and churches.
From there I flew again to Dublin, Ireland to meet with church planters. What an opportunity to hear the stories of the gospel from men and women living in rough neighborhoods of Dublin! But the Good News continues to transform lives. One challenge that we’re addressing with our partners there is the need to raise up leadership within the local church. NIC is pioneering strategies to raise up local disciple-makers and leaders for the Body of Christ, and lessons the Lord is teaching us can be a blessing to others as well.
And now, after a week of holiday in Latvia, I’m ready to begin a 6 week sabbatical.
I describe a sabbatical as “disciplined and structured rest.” Am I resting? Yes! Rest allows my body, mind, and soul to detox from the demands of ministry. As the ministry grows in Cyprus and across Europe, it’s essential that I minister from the heart and not out of obligation. This isn’t a job, it’s a calling. Of course, every job has its stresses. However, vocational ministry is unique in that it can’t be done responsibly or fruitfully unless one’s heart is experiencing unhindered freedom in the Lord.
This sabbatical is an opportunity to rekindle my love for God and his word and to pray/plan concerning the future direction of NIC, CyFES, and the discipleship networks that we’ve birthed. I’ll also be working on some other vital projects that I don’t have time for in Cyprus. Not only will I and my family be stronger for it, but we trust that the ministries the Lord allows us to serve – such as NIC – will also be stronger because of this time away.
NIC is passing through a good season. By God’s grace, we’ll continue to “glorify the Father in the power of the Spirit by obeying the Son’s command to disciple the nations!” We thank you for your generous permission to take this sabbatical. And we can’t thank you enough for your prayers for us while we’re here. Here are a few requests:
- That the Father will fill our hearts with his love, joy, and peace, and that the grace he gives would be the fountain from which our ministry flows.
- That the Spirit will guide us as we plan for the future of the NIC family, CyFES, and the discipleship movements we’ve launched around the world.
- That a vision of the Son and his command to disciple the nations will define our lives and the life of NIC.
Please know that you are daily in our prayers as well. We love and miss you all! Feel free to contact us via email, Skype, Facebook, etc. We’d love to hear from you.
Grace and peace,
Rick and Madara