We are so grateful for your support of our ministry at LCC International University in the form of prayer, encouragement and financial gifts. The last eighteen months since we decided to go to LCC have been quite a journey, and our lives will never be the same.
What’s Going On?
Last week, Corrie and I informed LCC that we would not be returning to Lithuania in January, and that the Theology department should look for someone to fill my role full-time for the Spring 2016 term and beyond.
Corrie’s father, Rev. Joe Hesh, is not doing well post-surgery–the road is long and difficult with this sort of tumor. We visited him as a family on Saturday for Daniel’s birthday, and he was slightly improved from last week, but it is still an open question as to whether he can work his way back cognitively and physically to where he was before the surgery. We need to be in the US for the foreseeable future, and that probably means beyond January. It therefore seems wisest (and only fair to the school) for us to move on from LCC.
This has been a very hard decision, because we were happy in Lithuania and would certainly have returned if everything were fine here. We will miss the school, the students, the staff, and all the friends we made there. But the right decision was clear, because honoring our parents is not negotiable. Despite the difficult circumstances and the long-range uncertainty, it is a comfort to know with absolute certainty that we are right where God wants us for now.
What Is Your Current Situation?
We have seen God clear a path for us to stay here and help Joe and Claudia. We just moved into a condo (see address below) that has been provided for us free of rent. We have received two reliable cars to use. I got my old job back at ICON Clinical Research (with benefits and slightly higher pay!). The kids both had enjoyable birthdays in July and are enjoying seeing Grammy, Pop-pop, and many old friends. Daniel loves our new place because it has trash pickup twice a week and blackberry bushes. Elizabeth is talking quite a bit now, and still says “Ačiū!”
We also have many opportunities with coworkers, relatives, hospital staff, and the 1,000+ people receiving updates to share the gospel and testify of the work God is doing in our lives, so our work as missionaries is by no means ending here. Even though this has been one of the most difficult periods in our lives thus far, we see God with us.
What Are Your Plans?
We don’t have any definite plans beyond December yet, and we would not rule out the possibility of going back to LCC someday. I will be applying for any teaching positions in North America that may come available for Fall 2016. It is possible that my six-month contract at ICON could be renewed in January.
If our family situation changed such that a return to LCC became a viable option once again, we would restart the process as if we were applying and preparing “from square one.”
Will You Still Be Involved in LCC? How Can I Stay Involved?
We will still be involved with LCC from afar in an adjunct capacity. I am supervising one independent study right now, and I will probably teach one class for LCC online in the Spring. We still believe very strongly in the mission of LCC, and we will promote the school every chance we get. We would be happy to visit your church or a group in your home to present what we were doing and talk about LCC.
We hope you will consider how you might support LCC or even serve there yourself. There are all sorts of gifts, skills and talents that can be useful at a university. And, if you are college-age or have a college-age person in your family, you should consider LCC for study-abroad or matriculated studies (it costs less than $6,000 per year for tuition, room and board–seriously).
How Can I Help?
Many of you have already helped us move, and are currently helping us to assist Joe and Claudia. Both our churches and our circle of PA friends have rallied around us, and we will continue to need your help when it comes time to move them out and make their house ready for sale. We will reach out through the church networks about needs that arise.
The Giffones are doing pretty well for now: We have all our needs met and then some. The next big challenge for us will be finding a job in ministry or higher ed where I can use my gifts and training for God’s glory. We would like to stay in the Northeast, but we are open in theory to anything in North America. We recognize that it’s a difficult job market out there. But if you know of any positions coming available for Fall 2016 or beyond, I’d be grateful for any leads or contacts you could provide.
How Can I Stay Connected?
We would still like to send periodic updates about Joe’s health and our ministry. We want to make sure that you receive only the emails you want. If you want to receive any further updates from us, please click on this link and select which ones you’d like to receive. We will not send you any more mass emails unless you ask to receive them.
Any Final Thoughts?
When Corrie and I were married, we adopted Psalm 34:3 as a Bible verse that reflected how we wanted our lives together to be. That still reflects our deepest desire. We have decided that Ezekiel 11:16 has become more appropriate us, now that we have moved four times in thirteen months and will probably move at least once in the year to come: “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.'”
Benj, Corrie, Daniel and Elizabeth