Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February Conference in Georgia!

Where? Midway First Presbyterian Church, 672 North Coastal Highway, Midway, Georgia 31320
When? February 10th and 11th
Genesis 1:14 “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” The Hebrew word for “seasons” is moed/moedim, and this is it’s meaning: appointed place, appointed time, sacred season, set feast, appointed sign or signal. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, established by God right in the first chapter of Genesis. These are not “Jewish” holidays…they are YHWH’s appointed times with His people. These days are memorials: we remember what God has done for His people in the past, we see His plan of Salvation and redemption in them, and we look to the future, to when He will ultimately fulfill all that they foreshadow.
Attached is the schedule! We hope to see you there! Feel free to share this with your friends! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Encouragement Against Maliciousness

Malice: noun: the intention or desire to do evil; ill will

I would have to say that up until recently, I have never in my life had someone direct malicious behavior towards me or my family. I have been blessed with family, friends, and community who have been loving and supportive of me. I hope and pray that you have been blessed with love and benevolence as well. 

We were recently blindsided and left reeling at the lies and maliciousness that were directed at our family; by people who claim to be fellow believers. I plan to eventually blog about our experiences, but I have not yet been released spiritually to do so. When I am led to write about it, I will, and I trust it will help others who have gone through similar experiences. God has always used the difficult times in my life to connect me with others who need encouragement and support; I know He has the same plan in this difficult journey we have been on. 

We have been blessed with family and good friends who have spoken words of encouragement to us in this, and I want to share some scripture that was shared with me. May it encourage you if you are going through a similar time.

Have you had trust betrayed? Have you had people lie about you in order to cover their own lies and wrongdoing?  Has someone slandered you and attacked your efforts to do good and further the Kingdom?  

People let us down and disappoint.  And let's be honest, people can lash out at us with the intention to do evil. People we once held in high esteem, people who we thought were godly; people we trusted.  But let us not hope in people; let us hope in Elohim; YHVH!  

I took these notes at a recent conference we attended: "I have been saved to suffer. I have been called to be persecuted. The world will not receive the Kingdom with joy." But how sad it is when the suffering and persecution we experience is because fellow believers are wounding their own, perhaps because of jealousy or their own insecurities.

In the midst of these hard times (and any time!) we are called to remain faithful and do good, to delight in the LORD!
From Psalm 37 (it's rather lengthy, so I am pulling out a few nuggets):
  • Do not fret because of evildoers
  • Trust in the Lord and do good
  • Cultivate faithfulness
  • Delight yourself in the Lord
  • Commit your way to the LORD
  • He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday
  • Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him
  • Do not fret...because of the man who carries out wicked schemes
  • Cease from anger and forsake wrath
  • Do not fret
  • Wait for the LORD
  • The wicked plots against the righteous...the LORD laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming
  • The LORD sustains the righteous
  • The LORD is the One who holds his hand
  • The Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones, they are preserved forever
  • His steps do not slip
  • The Lord will not...let him be condemned when he is judged 
  • Wait for the Lord and keep His way
  • The man of peace will have a posterity
  • The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    He is their strength in time of trouble.
  • The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    Because they take refuge in Him. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changes and Transitions

...changes and transitions....
These two words can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, but they are a part of life, right? Pray for us as the next several months bring a lot of changes and transitions. This inevitably brings losses and new beginnings; fear and excitement for the unknown.

We have lived in the Savannah, Georgia area for almost five years now. We have come to know and love this area as "home" and have been blessed by the LORD with many wonderful friends who have become family. Our plan is to move back to Pennsylvania for our last six months in America. However, we'll be speaking at a conference scheduled for February here in the Savannah area, so we're already looking forward to a break from the northern winter! After a family wedding in June, we plan to depart for Papua New Guinea. We would love to leave from Atlanta, so that we can say our last "so-long-for-now's" here in Georgia before we leave.

We have a lot of work to do in our last month or two here. Pray for us to use our time wisely and pray that God will raise up partners to support us in our missions work. We have about 4% of our needed monthly support coming in, but several more pledges for support. We need to have a minimum of 75% in order to purchase our tickets and depart. Tom's employment will be ending at the end of October and we will take a leap of faith into full-time ministry and support raising!

We spoke at two different churches this past week. Pray for more opportunities to share our ministry with churches, small groups, Sunday school classes, etc. Please let us know if you would like to host a group at your home, or if you would like to have us come share in your small group or congregation. We are willing to travel! We will also gladly provide dessert and coffee if you are willing to host a group in your home for us. :)

Our timeline--which is always subject to change as the Lord leads--is to move to Pennsylvania in December.  We will be reconnecting with friends and family, and looking to continue to build our base of ministry partners. God has burdened our hearts for lost and unreached people. He is laying a heavy sense of urgency on us to go! We must obey Him and follow where He leads. Thank you for praying with us; He is faithful!

If God leads you to give to our ministry, there are several ways you can give:
Mail your tax deductible donation to: New Tribes Mission, 1000 East First Street, Sanford, FL 32771. Attach a note stating that it is for the ministry of Tom & Jen McBratney. Please do not write on the check.
You can also give online at: https://use.ntm.org/missionaries/thomas-and-jennifer-mcbratney

No amount is too big or too small. You can give a one-time gift or become a monthly partner. We need prayer partners as well, so thank you for partnering with us in prayer!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

An Exciting Opportunity!

Tomorrow, we will be sharing about our upcoming ministry in Papua New Guinea with Jonesville Baptist Church in Savannah. Then, the following four weeks we will be teaching a Sunday School series entitled: The Jewish Feasts and Christianity. Please pray that God will speak through us and that we will teach with humility and truth. Pray that this will be a unifying time as brothers and sisters in Messiah. 
Also, pray that God will lay it on people's hearts to support us financially. Pray that God will open doors for us to be able to speak in other congregations. We want to build His kingdom, wherever He sends us! Pray for good health and strength.
We are so thankful for this opportunity and pray it will lead to many more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prayer Points

Hello! We hope you have all enjoyed your summer. By now, you have received our initial letter about our exciting, upcoming ministry in Papua New Guinea. In June, we attended a week and a half of training at New Tribes Mission’s headquarters in Sanford, FL. We were already excited, but now even more so! We cannot wait to move forward and begin our ministry.            
            There are still about 2,500 people groups unreached in the world today—millions of people are isolated from the Good News about their Messiah. New Tribes Mission exists to clearly present the Gospel to unreached people in their own language and culture. They disciple believers and partner with them to plant healthy, biblical congregations and to reach out to other tribes and villages. We will be playing a vital role in reaching the unreached.
            We have a monthly ministry budget to reach, as well as one-time expenses, such as passports, visas, and plane tickets. We need prayer and financial partners. When you pray and give, you are a vital link in helping the unreached hear the Good News!
We would love to share with you ways in which you can be a part of our team. We specifically need people to partner with us now so that we will be able to wrap things up here in the US and be ready to head to Papua New Guinea early next year. Tom’s job is not flexible, and he will only have employment until the end of September. We need committed monthly supporters so that we can make this transition to full time ministry in the next month.
            Also be in prayer as we have been on the waiting list to adopt a baby in the state of Georgia. We would like to move to Pennsylvania sometime this winter in order to continue building our prayer and financial support base. Pray that things would move forward very soon with an adoption placement.
            If you wish to give financially, you can make a one-time donation, or give monthly. There are several ways that you can give to us:
1.     Use the attached Electronic Funds Transfer form. Instructions are on the form.
2.     Mail your tax deductible donation to: New Tribes Mission, 1000 E. First Street, Sanford, FL 32771.  Attach a note stating that it is for the ministry of Tom & Jenny McBratney. Please do not write on the check.

Thank you for standing with us! We cannot go without each and every one of you praying and giving generously to our ministry. May the Lord richly bless you and keep you!

~Tom, Jenny, Michael, Daniel, and Savannah Joy

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Exciting (and Faith-Stretching) Times Ahead

We have some very exciting news to share--and no, we have not received "the call" about a new baby yet. 
This is something that we have been praying about and working towards since 2012. To be honest, we have been waiting on the L-rd to open these doors for us for over a decade, but it all had to come about in His perfect timing. 
G-d willing, our family will be moving back to Papua New Guinea in May/June 2017!!!
On April 6, we received the official approval to become members (again) of New Tribes Mission. After May 1st, all of our accounts will be open so that we can officially launch our year of partnership development. We are so excited to return and see what G-d has in store for our family!
Be looking for more information in the weeks to come. We would love to have the opportunity to share more about ministry with congregations, small groups, classes, or just among friends and family in our home or yours. We will be planning trips to Pennsylvania as well throughout the next year. 

Please keep us in your prayers. We are trusting for G-d's provision and perfect timing in all that has to happen this next year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What You Don't See

I am a fiercely private person. I am also fiercely loyal. I will do anything for anyone I love, but I have a very hard time opening myself up to others and asking for help, prayers, or encouragement when I need it. I have trouble showing my emotions to others, with the exception of my husband and parents...they see the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

And one more thing: I am fiercely protective of the family that G-d has entrusted to me. I have always struggled with how much to share about them, because I want to protect their (and our) privacy. But maybe I have gone too far the other way. The problem is: people talk, people judge, and even when you do explain things, people don't really understand; they still just usually judge. 

Our family is unique. We get a lot of stupid questions. A LOT. Like, where did you get them from? (Oh, you know, I found them wandering around the parking lot....) What language will your baby speak when he grows up? (Ummm...English?) Are they adopted? (Well, DUH!) Are they real siblings? (What other kind are there...fake?) Most of the time, I actually just laugh later at people's ignorance and wish I were mean enough to answer their questions with what I am saying in my head! My favorite questions are the ones from children, because I know they are being innocent; they are honestly just trying to figure out this whole thing of how a white mamma can have brown kids. The parents always jump in and apologize, but the kids are interacting with me in the way ignorant grown ups should. I don't mind honest questions about my family.

My favorite experience to date was at our local family dollar store. A beautiful and special grown up kid came up to my daughter and I, and asked the usual kid questions...to which her embarrassed mother kept apologizing. Once she had it all clear in her mind (which took many repetitions of the same questions from her and the same answers from me), she took a hold of my hand and said, "Can you adopt me?" Oh, how I laughed! I took that as a HUGE compliment! She made my day!

But this post is not about adoption, per se. I want to write about kids with special needs/disabilities. Kids with special needs who look completely normal. Sometimes I think that parents have it easier when it's visibly obvious that there are disabilities. But don't get angry with me; I know that's not true. We all have challenges, it's just that they are different. Whether your child/ren are biological, adopted, "typical," "non-typical" (haha), we all have challenges. Parenting is HARD WORK. So please don't feel that I am minimizing your job if you do not deal with what I do. I just need a place to vent for a few minutes.

My children--all three of them--have special needs. One was born with several heart defects and has related issues/needs that are on-going. My other two have special needs that they did not ask for--that were purely, 100% preventable. I do not dwell on that fact (the preventable part), because it does not change today. I only state that to say that it is sad when innocent children must grow up with disabilities that are due to someone's poor choices...much like a person who may be permanently disabled because of a drunk driver. It is something that must be realized, but then not dwelt upon. Forgiveness and grace needs to be extended, but then reality must be faced. I did not necessarily ask for the awesome responsibility of raising three kids with special needs. But G-d chose me, and I feel honored to be their mother. We were meant to be a family; each one is a miracle, and wow! I am blessed beyond measure! My kids are a gift! If you know me, you know how fiercely I love them and want the best for them. I want to see them reach their G-d given potential. My kids have overcome incredible odds and it is a miracle that each one is alive. I pray that I can continue to learn how to be the best parent to them and prepare them for life. I want to see them soar in G-d's strength and goodness. He will change the world through them...if they will commit their lives to Him (and I pray fervently that they do).

Here's my issue and main reason for this blog post today: do not judge a parent or a child by the child's (or in our case, sometimes--the parent's) behavior. Disabilities are not always visible. You DO NOT KNOW what a family may be dealing with and you DO NOT KNOW the best way to handle someone's child and they DO NOT WANT your unsolicited advice. Thank you. The next time you see a child (or a parent, hehehe) making a scene, just smile kindly and pray for them as you pass by. 

Sometimes I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel embarrassment, I occasionally ask "why me?" even though I would not trade my kids for anything. I see G-d's sense of humor in choosing Tom and I for these kids, because we feel so incapable and don't always know what to do, even though we've read enough books to earn an honorary doctorate degree in the various special needs we have going on. He must laugh at us a lot; I know I do! I am thankful for a good sense of humor...it keeps the despair at bay. 

If you ever see my oldest son's chest, you will see a scar. A visible reminder of the physical disability he has. But my other two carry invisible disabilities. And for me, this is more difficult to deal with. I get comments from friends, family, and strangers--who are all well meaning, but think that I am maybe not parenting them "right." I need to be more strict, I need to be more lenient and gracious. I need to not worry, I need to...whatever. I have even had well-meaning friends tell me my kids are normal (whatever that is), which makes me angry, incredulous, and in the end just feel more sad and alone because no one gets it. Unless you are parenting children just like my younger two, I'm sorry, you just don't understand and I will never take your "advice" seriously. And to my friends who are in the same boat as me: I need you! We need to pray for each other, support each other, and encourage each other. I feel so desperately alone sometimes.