My Confession of Trust for the Days Ahead
The days and weeks are slipping by ever so quickly. Sooner than later, I will fly to Turkey to begin a new calling, one God has orchestrated in ways I could never have imagined. The adventure I embarked upon more than two years ago has stretched me to my limits, yet, one step at a time, it has led me to travel a journey of faith. Convinced of God’s gracious favor, allowing me to enter into vocational ministry after being in the mortgage business for over 16 years, I was able to sell my home in Wheaton (a city where I have lived for more than 39 years), prepare myself in a variety of ways spiritually, emotionally, and physically, and begin to face every imaginable fear for the huge move to Antalya, Turkey.
As you may envision, this journey has been filled with all kinds of feelings and emotions ranging from joy and wonder to sadness and grief. Oh, make no mistake; there is a sense of expectation and anticipation as I surrender my total being to the purposes of our great God. Reflecting upon the close of a 16-year career as a mortgage broker and looking forward to being the Senior Pastor of St. Paul Union Church in Antalya, my heart almost leaps out of my chest. The privilege I have been afforded to pastor an international church comprised of many cultures and faith traditions has been overwhelming. The Gospel truly is the unifying force. With excitement and contentment, I am entering these new challenges, new relationships, and new hope for the redemptive plans of our Lord to unfold in a culture which needs the impact of Gospel; it simply thrills me. I have a sense of peace in anticipation of this major transition from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from a culture that is saturated with the Gospel to one that is predominantly Muslim, and from a position of strength to a position of weakness.
I have always embraced change in my life but the realities of this transition are dramatic. It has put me in a place of total dependence; a position I do not choose easily. After many discussions with those with whom I highly respect, many tearful times of prayer, and much encouragement from a community of believers here and in Turkey, I am realistically taking the plunge. This is a step of obedience, uncomfortable and even unfathomable at times, but I face the weeks, months, and years ahead with confidence and determination from the Scriptures. At my weakest moments, the promises of God’s Word have encouraged me, strengthened me, and enabled me to move forward.
Over the past several months, the outpouring of encouragement and support has been incredible. I have been humbled at the care and love showered on me. God has used so many people to speak words of truth I needed at precisely the right time. Each opportunity to tell the story of God’s redemptive work in my own life has been a loud reminder that the journey is about God, not me! Only God! And so, I admit, I confess my need for Him in my life today and even more in the days ahead. And, I humbly ask for your continued prayer and support. My challenges ahead will be significant and I am hopeful this blog, “Ramblings from a Ragamuffin,” will provide the venue to vulnerably and humbly share my heart and my concerns along the way. Are you willing to walk with me on my journey? I hope it will be a blessing to you as you watch the Gospel at work in Turkey.
Today, there are three issues which are difficult for me at the start of this journey . . . and I ask you to read, pray, and walk with me through them.
One of the significant barriers for me is the natural transition of relationships with family and dear friends in the States. My parents are in their 80’s and I know it is difficult for them to face my indefinite relocation overseas. I do not want to feel guilty nor do I want to shirk my responsibilities as a son. My folks certainly would rather I be in the States, but they have sought to trust the Lord and have accepted His will for me. Please pray for my dad and mom, Amos and Ruth Massaro, as well as my extended family. I know many close relationships with dear friends will change due to proximity, even while technology will help bridge the gap. I value deep and significant relationship. Please pray I will strike a balance as I seek to maintain significant relationships in the USA and to develop new relationships in Turkey. I know that the weeks ahead will bring a sense of grieving and loss . . . I suppose it is natural. I want to embrace these emotions and desire to handle the “leaving” in a supportive manner for those I love. Please pray for me in this area.
Another hindrance bears the name Self-Reliance. To put it bluntly, I did not want to raise support in order to serve overseas. For many years, I have been on the giving side. Now, to switch roles and become the receiver is very uncomfortable and often overwhelming. I like my independence and I struggle depending on others while I work to respond to God in obedience. Needless to say, God is working in this area of my life. During my twenty years of ministry at Wheaton College, I always encouraged students that “God’s work done in God’s way would never lack God’s supply.” The truth is, when a person gives sacrificially, it is an opportunity for each individual to hear from God and respond in obedience. Thus, I have simply tried to tell my story, God’s story, and have asked Him to supply the financial resources for me and for the overall ministry in Turkey. I am learning to trust in this area but it is still a struggle. Yet, God has been very gracious as many have responded in generous ways.
As of today, I still need to raise 25% of my monthly support in order to be fully funded. Would you join me in praying and asking the Lord what part you can play in God’s work in Turkey? Should you decide to support me, you can send your tax-deductible gift to Faith and Learning International, P. O. Box 480, Wheaton, IL 60189 and indicate it is for my support. You may give a one-time gift, an annual gift, a quarterly gift, or a monthly gift. If you would like to give online, please go to www.faithandlearning.org and find my name and follow the instructions. For your convenience, you can also set up a revolving direct debit on the site. My departure is scheduled for January 12th. As you finalize your commitment, it would be helpful for you to do so prior to December 31st. In addition, if you are planning to regularly support me, please drop me an email: Dennis.K.Massaro@gmail.com and provide the amount and the frequency for my planning. I am so grateful for any contribution, large or small, as you respond in obedience to God’s direction.
The final area of challenge for me is based in my fear of inadequacy. I know, apart from the empowering of the Holy Spirit, I do not have what it takes to shepherd the dear folks in Turkey. The balance of relational development, administration, teaching and preaching, and sharing the Good News beyond the doors of the church will force me to be disciplined. I deeply desire to be God’s man for this time at St. Paul Union Church but I desperately need your prayers on a regular basis as I assume this strategic role in this strategic place. I will need to navigate the Turkish language even though my teaching and preaching will be in English. There are also so many gifted women and men in the congregation which is often intimidating to think about leading them, providing ongoing vision for them, and feeding them each week. I need to spend time in the Scriptures daily, to develop a committed prayer life, and to remain sensitive to the Spirit in everything. Obviously, as you can see, I do not feel adequate. Would you join me in praying on a regular basis? There are normally 30 days in each month — would you please identify one day each month to specifically pray for me? Also, please send me an email or a Facebook message and let me know which day it will be. I know, in my weakness, He is my strength. Your prayers will certainly make a difference.
I will endeavor to update this blog as frequently as possible and provide details from the ministry in Antalya. Sometimes I will share stories; sometimes I will share requests; sometimes I will simply record thoughts and feelings so you can journey with me. I need you in my life and I hope you will keep in touch as God puts me on your heart. This journey is “our” journey— so join me— I cannot do it alone.
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador . . . pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” –Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV
P.S. Please feel free to share my blog with your Facebook friends, post on other blogs, or forward to others in order to invite them to pray for the ministry in Turkey.