I Know I Don’t Know But Soon I’ll Understand – By Louis Liss

Thank you so much for your support over this last season of ministry. David and I returned to Lebanon 7 weeks ago while Annie and Kyrie stayed in America awaiting the impending surgery. I have always been gifted with a strong reliance on God’s plans above my own. I have often been the one counseling that God is in charge even if we don’t understand what He is doing. For now almost 2 months I have had a trying time of challenges and frustrations. This time has been concurrent with my devotional life as I have spent the last few years returning time and time again to John 15. Jesus continually calls me to trim what is not of Him so that the fruit that He has prepared can receive the light and attention it deserves. Right now I am going through a season of Spirit motivation and Spirit resilience. Tragically my default is apathy and I have relied heavily on my wonderful wife to speak inspiration into my life. Now that I only can speak to her when both she and I are exhausted, Annie and I have had to tap into our reserves of resilience to hear clearly what God wants for each day and rise early each morning to share the Gospel with the lost.

From this tumultuous ordeal God has been producing the following fruit:

  1. 6 Months ago Annie and I heard God calling us to start a new project where teams from around the world come and put on a VBS. We spent the next half a year planning and preparing a team of 12 from Denver to come and launch this new VBS Export project. Our national staff thought we might get 50 kids. Instead we got 150 kids. Every day kids poured in to hear the Gospel and have fun with our international team and national staff. We now have a new program to host each summer for kids to receive the Gospel and become disciples.
  2. We are establishing a silk road of Chinese missionaries from Hong Kong to begin sending teams and interns to learn how to reach the 23,000,000 Muslims in China.
  3. One of our missiological mottos is “Arab to Arab Ministry”. This week we are hosting our first Arab American team from San Francisco who is reaching out in Arabic to disciple new believers and pray for others to accept the Lord.
  4. I met with a leader of Walk Through The Bible to get more discipleship curriculum into the hands of our National staff as more and more people are coming to Christ in need of discipleship.
  5. We had two weeks of free clinics. From the people who served at these clinics some showed interest in returning to become local interns.

Though the fruit may be obvious, the attacks of feeling defeated, alone, and inadequate are constant. David has struggled immensely and because our organization does not recommend families separate for longer than 2 months, David and I will be returning to the states in time for Kyrie’s surgery. This has not worked out the way we planned at all and I don’t yet know why, but I know whether in this life or the next at some point I will understand.

Please pray for:

    David and I to get our exit visas this week so we can leave the country.

    Our flight back to America to be safe and uneventful.

    For the surgery to be blessed by God and in His timing.

Good News

    First off, thank you to everyone who has joined with us in prayer the last few weeks. If you fasted and prayed along with Louis that Friday or any day since we so appreciate it. We truly do need your prayers far more than your money, and this would have been a terrible time if not for your prayers lifting us up.

We have good news!

    Because this time apart has been so hard on all four of us, and through much prayer, God has given us peace about Louis and Davy returning in the beginning of July. YAY!!!

Kids Camp VBS was a success.

    There were 150 kids at the VBS run by our first team every day. The gospel was preached, and relationships were built, so our goals were met. We are hopeful that some of the people from the team will return to Lebanon in the future with this same church group and as interns. We would like churches that partner with us to begin to build a yearly or biennially (every other year) team to return and continue to build on the relationships and work done.

    In addition to the VBS the team helped with our food distribution by packing bags. We were able to order more food because we knew this team would be there, so more families can be aided through the summer months with the additional food packaged. They participated in the evening services and attended church with the Syrian refugees.

    We were also thrilled to be able to improve accommodation options before their arrival so that they could stay in our new guest house. The male members of the team still stayed at the center, and the whole team got to experience the full immersion into another language at the center. It was a great team, and we were blessed to have them. Contrary to the past, this team was able to support and serve our staff instead of be a burden on them. We were very glad to have found a way to make this work because we know that the way that a person gets into long term missions is through a short term trip, and the way that churches and individuals can best invest in their missionaries is to continue to learn about and understand the mission they are on. We want to provide churches and individuals the opportunity to come to Lebanon to help out at the center because we know it disciples them.

    One very exciting part of this trip was the acceptance and involvement of our staff. From the shaky beginning when Louis and I became “In charge of the foreigners” until now there has been radical change. A wonderful sign of their love for this team as well as an exciting opportunity we had to share the gospel in a tangible and lasting way is that the team was able to hand out picture Bibles in Arabic to the kids at the end of the camp that showed up with our staff members the last day! God provides.

    Between now and when Louis arrives we will have another team coming. They will not be running a VBS because they were able to gather a team with a majority knowing Arabic. We are hoping to have them join the ministries already happening, take over some teachings, and be at the center in the same way our staff is with less guidance and oversight. They will be able to jump into discipleship and in depth ministry with all ages at the center. Then, with both of those debriefs in his back pocket, Louis will hop on a plane and head home.

What We Will Be Doing With Our Extra Time In America

    These two very different teams will help us continue to shape our curriculum for orientation and training of individuals and teams coming to Lebanon. The experiences we have had in Tirosh, Via de Cristo, and Chayah have all prepared us for being able to easily identify the roots of issues that come up and determine how best to handle them in the future. Photography, dress code, gender issues, etc. We are using the debriefs that Louis has and will have completed to make trainings, orientations, etc. effective and always better.

    If you are thinking that you would like to join a team or host a team to Lebanon in the future, just let us know and we can begin helping you determine what would be necessary to plan a trip.

The Update You’ve All Been Waiting For

    I will get right to the point and then share some personal thoughts afterwards so that you are not bound any longer by suspense. We had the consultation with the urologist for Kyrie. He agreed that the surgery is necessary, but due to the specific equipment needed and his availability:

The surgery has been scheduled for August 27th.

    I will try to anticipate all the follow up questions, but if after reading this you have more, please reply or comment. We really do want to let you know as much as possible to inform your prayers.

Is it possible to get in for the surgery sooner?

    Yes, we are the first on the cancellation list. There were quite a few recent cancellations, which means two things: 1) Cancellations happen a lot. 2) The upcoming appointments that had cancellations have been filled. Therefore, we have a little bit of time to wait.

What does this mean for plane tickets?

    We are waiting to purchase plane tickets for Kyrie and I until we have a more secure date. We want to do this right and we don’t want to purchase plane tickets until she has had her follow up visit and is cleared to leave the country by the doctor. There are options for purchasing cancelable tickets, but we are still exploring all of the options available and discussing it with our organization to determine the best plan for all of us. Louis and Davy have to leave Lebanon by August 18 for a visa trip, so those tickets are the first on our list of decisions.

What would be your estimated departure date based on this surgery date?

    From our internet research we have determined that the follow up visit is usually 2 weeks after the surgery. This would mean we could possibly leave sometime after the second week in September.

What are you going to do in this extended period of time here?

    So much of the past few weeks has been a period of waiting for this appointment that I really just feel that runner’s instinct in me, so I took the adrenaline and packed mostly everything we are planning on taking to Lebanon into my mom’s car and we came back up to Mesa. I am going to spend the next two weeks up here and we are going to pack all the items that are not clothes so that my bags are all ready at a moment’s notice. When the surgery happens and the follow up we want to be able to leave ASAP, so we are going to be ready. I have a few activities that I am looking to put on my calendar, but I want to live in this season and find the reason God has me here every day. I am keeping myself with people, and will be working on building routines that will help me thrive in this difficult time. I will gladly get coffee with people who would like to see Kyrie and I. I will also gladly let you watch her for an afternoon so I can go clothes shopping or something. In this time I want to allow people to help out instead of pretending I can continue to do it all on my own. I am being brave, but I am also very sad to be in this season. I hope to post a blog post on my Mommy Book Blog soon about what this season is meaning to me.

How are Davy and Louis doing?

    We are all very very sad, and the day after finding out about this Louis and I were depressed. Davy has been having panic attacks and night terrors, so is in need of prayer and love. They are keeping busy and building routines. I have begun recording the Bible chapters I am reading onto mp3 files for Louis to play Davy at night. We are also going to be picking more consistent Skype times so that Davy and Mommy can have some time together to read books, tell stories, and play. Davy gets to play with kids every time they go to the center, and the team we just had visit for a Vision Trip really got along well with Davy. This Saturday we have our first VBS team coming and I think that will be an exciting thing for Davy to attend as well.

This Friday Louis will be fasting and praying for discernment on which of the multiple options ahead are God’s plan for our family.

Please join with us in prayer for the many decisions ahead.

We’re Half Back! – By Louis Liss


Davey and I have made it safely back to Lebanon.

Annie and Kyrie have stayed back in the States for Kyrie’s surgery, but I had to get back to Beirut for the summer teams that are coming. It was incredibly hard to be apart this last winter but proved to be invaluable for the ministry and for our relationship. So now we are looking forward to seeing what God has planned with this new adventure of separation. Davey is now truly a world class traveler. He had good goodbyes which helped prepare him to leave for what will be our longest stint outside the country. He did great on the plane and we were blessed to travel the last few legs with a Lebanese family that loved and doted on him.

It has already been important for us to be here as we had a medical team come through to run a clinic at the center. I was able to help do debriefing and explanation which helped to encourage a member of the team to come back next year. It has also been great to reconnect with my high schoolers. The weekly meeting that I helped set up before leaving is still going on and I am excited to spend even more time with the ones in school once the summer comes. We have six different groups coming in the next few months each with a different project. The most challenging team will be a new project that Annie and I are trying to begin where teams come and host a Vacation Bible School for the kids at the center. This is a new adventure so please be in prayer that many kids would come to Christ and even more would grow deeper in relationship with Him.

Please pray for:

  1. Davey: He is going through culture shock and really struggling with language immersion
  2. Our Relationship: It is incredibly hard to have real conversations with a 10 hour delay and two young kids who are sad and desperate for attention at all times.
  3. The Translators: Several of our unsaved high schoolers will be helping translate for the teams this summer. Pray that through translation they would come to fall in love with Jesus.
  4. Kyrie: June 8th is the consultation for her surgery. Please pray that the surgery can be planned ASAP so that Annie can return to Lebanon soon.