“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7; emphasis mine)
A Christmas letter from the Meissners…
Dear friends and family,
Merry Christmas and greetings in the name of our newborn King!
Since Christmas break of 2015, we knew God was stirring and moving us toward something but could not discern what that movement of God meant. Was He asking us to consider going into the foreign mission field? Was He desiring us to reach the nations with the Gospel right here in the Houston area? Did He want us to move downtown to live among and work with the refugee population that continues to grow here and weigh on our hearts? Was it Africa, Belize, Nepal, or some other land to which He wanted us to sell all and go? These were the questions, the wonderings, with which we began our new year in 2016.
For several years now God has been leading our hearts toward caring for a marginalized portion of the population. We would drive past a large facility for sale and think: “Are we supposed to buy that so we can house people who need a temporary place to stay, heal, and get back on their feet?” We even went as far as to contact realtors to show us these places and answer all our questions. Nothing felt like God was affirming it. These nudgings eventually led us to foster street children and welcome a handful of other strangers into our home over the course of a few years. Then those stirrings led us to visit places like Nepal and Africa to care for and encourage some of the poorest of the poor, and to come alongside those who daily minister to and serve them. We even began filling out LCMS foreign missions paperwork to see if God would open or shut that door.
But nothing ever felt like the missing piece of the puzzle until we began meeting with a group of folks from LifeBridge Church in January of 2016 to pray and talk about the possibility of opening a home to care for a marginalized group such as refugees, pregnant teens, or victims of human trafficking. The missing piece clicked into place when we met the Wiechman family a month later and realized they had a similar vision and felt God calling them to care for hurting and weary church leaders and their spouses.
For a few months our families prayed about the possibility of helping start a new Lutheran seminary in Uganda, but God did not grant us consolation in those seeking prayers. We were very stirred by the opportunity, but it did not seem like what God was laying before us. What God continued to place on our hearts and minds was a home in Cypress for the most vulnerable, displaced people of war-torn and persecuted nations, and for church leaders and their spouses in vulnerable situations in ministry. In our flat-on-our-face times of seeking God, this kept rising to the surface as the calling that brought peace to our souls and joy to our hearts.
So here we are, a full year later, no longer wondering but actively pursuing what God has asked of us. We are in the midst of fundraising for the building of Abba’s House, this home that will welcome and provide respite for refugee women and their children, as well as church leaders and their spouses who have given all for the sake of their callings in Christ. Abba’s House of Welcome (the refugee side) has our first three board members and will meet in January 2017 to begin the process of applying for our 501c3 non-profit status. Breathe Life Ministries (the church leader side) is beginning to do the same and already providing care via phone and Skype for those hurting servants in need of soul care and prayer.
As far as our family goes, here is the latest:
Biggest event/news of the year: the Wiechman family moved into our home and we are all sharing Life Together in preparation for living together in Abba’s House, to run our respective ministries from there, and continue leading LifeBridge Church together.
Michael has been the pastor of LifeBridge Church for over 8 years now, and he finally has a partner with Steve Wiechman coming on board to co-pastor–hallelujah! He has the joy of teaching Confirmation again, which is Courtney’s second year class, of leading youth group on Wednesday nights out at the church property, and faithfully attending the men’s bible study at Denny’s on Wednesday mornings. Speaking of the church property, Michael is beside-himself delighted that workers and bulldozers are finally beginning the construction process of our church building that is set to be complete by April!
Julie is back to homeschooling the kids for our 10th year. How time flies! She loves being back with our wonderful Teach Share classes and also teaches HS and JH girls Bible at The Connection School. She is pursuing her certification in spiritual direction through Leadership Transformations, Inc., with only one residency left to graduate in June! She loved having time with family on the beach while staying at the Latzke’s condo in Bradenton Beach, Florida this summer, and is looking forward to having Michael join her in New England this June when she graduates.
Caleb is 16 and will soon have his driver’s license (yes, prayers, please). He is taking several hard courses this year as a sophmore, such as Chemistry and Algebra 2, but still has a great love for reading (or should I say devouring books) and won 3rd place in the Montgomery County “Right to Life” Essay Contest. We are so proud of him! He is into reading Lord of the Rings (for the 12th time), watching “Dr. Who,” and playing Minecraft while recording on the server he and Austin manage (I’m sure I didn’t explain that correctly, but technology is not my gig.) He often plays in the worship team on Sunday mornings on a variety of instruments: electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, or keyboard. He even composed his own classical piano piece last spring.
Courtney is 14 and our young lady with a beautiful love for life, people, and Jesus. She and her big brother (as you can see above) have a rather goofy relationship with one another. They may not ever admit it, but they adore and love each other more than just about anyone else on planet earth. Courtney is an incredible student, with high expectations for herself, but she always has time for her little dog Franky as well as anyone that might want to play cards or Monopoly. Just beware: she is GOOD at Monopoly and Gin Rummy. Courtney is quite the artist and loves to draw, paint, color, and create. She has a blast with her roommates Gabby and Ellie, as they cook up all sorts of activities and other schemes together. Courtney will be confirmed in May. She keeps our lives cheerful, fun, and colorful! So proud of her!
Joshua is 8 and loves Legos, Minecraft, and his family. He absolutely adores his big brother and sister and loves when they spend time with him. Most of his days, when not doing schoolwork, are spent building with Legos. He also loves jumping on the trampoline with his friends. Joshua is our snuggle-bug, always wanting to crawl into bed next to us in the morning for a good long snuggle, or to spend some “special time” with us, which usually involves having a good book read to him. He is pretty enthralled with Hank the Cowdog books right now, but has also really enjoyed the Magic Tree House books that his Teach Share class is reading through this year. He does well in school but is ready to dash outside as soon as he is done. We love our little man, who gives the best hugs ever!
As Christmas draws near and we begin a new year, we remember all that God has done this past year and throughout our lives, rejoicing and giving thanks for His abundant goodness to us His people. We also look forward with joy and anticipation for all that He will do as we continue to sit in His presence and move forward in His invitations. May you know the love of God that goes beyond knowing and experience the joy of the Lord that fills you with delight!
Joy, rest, peace, and boldness be yours this Christmas and New Year!
Michael, Julie, Caleb, Courtney and Joshua Meissner