Monday, December 10, 2012


Our family has "gone native" in Chicago
Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement as our family returned to the United States for a season.    We look forward to this holiday season to be with family.    Jana’s dad, Gaston Tarbet is recovering well from triple bypass surgery in November.   We are thankful that God brought us to America to be with family during this time.  
A little over a year ago we sensed deep within our spirits it was time to relinquish our sense of home in Africa, and for a season start anew in the United States.    We believe missionaries are specifically called by God to make disciples and develop churches.    We also believe the missionary calling is one of initiation.    It requires us to go to new places and new people who are in a crisis which can only be properly addressed by faith in Jesus.    We thank God that our time in Africa gave us a great wealth of experience and friendships.    We believe these gifts are to be stewarded with a great sense of awe.    Thus it is our conviction that God is asking for our family to continue to be missionaries to the Diaspora of Africa’s Great Lakes in North America.
Wisemen visting Baby Jesus in Bethlehem
As we enter this Christmas season many memories come to mind.    However, one in particular is the beginning of our sense of call to return to America.  In 2009 both Jana and Dave were recovering from surgery.   Over Christmas we were with Dave’s family in Minnesota.   While there we reconnected with old friends from Uganda, Godfrey Lutalo and Tabitha Mugabi.    We knew them as university students in the early 1990’s.   They had immigrated to the United States, and we had lost contact.    Several times we had tried to look them up, but never were able to find them.   Then the wonder of Facebook permitted us to reconnect.     We had dinner.   In the process God opened our eyes.   Lutalo and Mugabi had done well.    They had married.  She had completed a master’s degree and was an executive for an insurance company.   He owned a small business.   They owned a home.   They had three delightful children.  They had helped their extended family immigrate.   Lutalo’s brother joined the USA military and had served in Afghanistan.   They were ideal immigrants.    They were deeply spiritual people.    Yet for their family adapting to American church life and socialization was a struggle.   We left our dinner with a sense of God whispering in our ear, “Your people are in the USA.   They need the skills, network, experience, and gifting I gave you in Uganda and Rwanda.”   
Rose Apolinary, Marguerite Nyagahura, and Jana at Christ's Church Rwanda
Our people, the Diaspora cluster in major cities of North America and Europe.   Some came as refugees.   Yet, as stability came to their home nation some chose to stay dispersed.    Some came as students.    Some came seeking employment.    Many are skilled professionals.    You find them in places such as banks, small businesses, insurance, real estate, information technology, and universities.     They are the largest source of foreign income for their home nations.    They invest back in their home nation to build homes, businesses, and schools.    Some explain their unique place in history as “transnational.”   With easier means of travel than a few generations ago plus the internet and mobile phones transnational Diaspora remain deeply connected with their home nation.     They present an extremely unique missions opportunity.    They are one of the primary informal thought leaders of their home nations.   
An example of Diaspora we have been fortunate to know is Marguerite Nyagahura.  Her childhood was spent in Uganda as a refugee.   She immigrated to Sweden, furthered education, and developed professional skill.    Jana met Marguerite in a small business in which she was a partial owner.    Marguerite was one of the first to attend Christ’s Church in Rwanda (CCR) as we launched on March 4, 2007.    She began operating a Day Care in the CCR property, and was a key advisor in our community.    Recently, she was appointed one of Rwanda’s newest Senators.     In this role she has the opportunity to shepherd national policy and infrastructure to bless future generations.    Thus both theory and experience show that an investment into missionary work among the Diaspora of Africa’s Great Lakes produces enduring fruit.
Jesus calls first disciples
Currently, we are in the early stages of beginning a ministry we call Great Lake’s Fellowship (GLF) in Chicago.     We find ourselves much like Paul in Acts 18 as he entered Corinth with a drop in support and without colleagues.  Yet he was clearly in a city filled with many people God was calling .    We are making as many friends as possible.    We are praying.   We are looking for strategic needs, clusters, and locations.    We are in the process of gathering a core leadership team.
Our plan after the gathering of a leadership team will be to begin a monthly fellowship in Chicago.    It is our hope this fellowship will strengthen the relationship between local churches and the Diaspora in Chicago.    We plan to rotate in different church locations in Chicago so that GLF is accessible to all scattered throughout the Chicago area.    During the fellowship we will have vernacular worship to maintain continuity with home nations, a good speaker, communion, and a common meal.   It is our hope that Great Lakes Fellowship will lead to several results which we believe are key for disciple making in Africa’s Great Lakes.   First, we hope it will promote unity that crosses national, ethnic, and denominational lines.   Second, we hope it will facilitate more Christian investment in thought systems and the institutions of church, school, and business in East Africa.   Lastly, we hope it will shepherd well the second and third generation Diaspora children.    Most are like our own children who are Third Culture Kids (TC’s.)    They live and function in several different countries.    With this cross-cultural socialization comes a certain measure of disorientation.   Yet as TCK’s mature they have remarkable ability to bridge cultures, and with this bridge building capacity tremendous influence for the cause of Christ.

Some have also pointed out that GLF has great potential not only for effective mission work, but to promote high levels of local church involvement.    For instance, GLF has the potential to nurture local church understanding and involvement in the rapidly evolving opportunities for transnational ministry.     Africans bring a sense of worship and hospitality to local churches that stir new found vitality.     As with all of these new endeavors we know our foresight is limited.   Yet we trust that God in His providence will give us many new insights and open new doors of service.

Our family in Wheaton, Chicago, USA
Over $3,000 in total was given in response to our October newsletter and prayer card.   Thank you.   We still could use some help in the expenses of transitioning to America.     Also, as we have transitioned to the United States a few of our supporters have informed us that they will not be continuing their support into 2013.   We anticipate this will involve the loss of approximately $3,000 per month.     We request that you make a financial gift to our ministry this Christmas season, by sending a check to ROC Partners (with Jenkins in the memo) to:
 3007 NW 63rd Suite 205,
Oklahoma City, OK 73116-3605

Thank you for remembering us this season.   If we can visit you or others please feel free to contact us.
Because He Lives,
Dave and Jana

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