Wednesday, November 18, 2015

These people are on my mind today....

All of this thinking about Africa has had me remembering and dwelling on this couple.  This is Johann and Anna Toensing, my great-great grandparents.  Have you ever thought about people in your family tree and wished that you could have met them?  That is where I have been in the last few days.....thinking about Johann and Anna.  This picture is actually a photo of an oil painting of this couple, done in the early 1800's.  It is most likely their "wedding picture".  Johann was born in 1801 and Anna was born in 1806.  They were married in 1827.  And this was in Germany.  What is so interesting about this couple is that 3 of their children went off to the "mission field".  Their daughter Marie married a man that was set to go to Africa to bring the Good News to the Zulu nation.  Their two sons set off to "the new world" - the United States of America - to bring the Good News and establish churches.  This all happened around 1870.  I don't think this was very "ordinary" for families in Germany in 1870.  In fact I imagine that it was very, very unusual.  But they were committed to mission work.  They encouraged and supported their children to GO!

I never knew my great grandparents, or even my grandparents.  So I never got to talk to them or ask them about this.  I never talked to my dad about this subject.... but I did talk many times with my mom.  She was so encouraging!  I know that the same spirit that must have made Anna Toensing be willing to send her children off into the unknown for Jesus, was operating in my mom - Nona Etta Toensing Johnson!  She listened over and over to my stories from the various mission trips I experienced.  More than that, she asked me to share with her friends and her church.  She told me that she could never have gone "out of her comfort zone" and experienced the things that I had.  But she knew that there was a mission sending seed sown in her lineage.  She had heard her father tell the history of his own family. She knew about her great aunt and uncle in Africa.  I have been so blessed by my family tree.  By those prayers prayed for the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters and even for me.

So here I am.  With a place in my heart for Africa.  More than that, I feel that I have a message to share.  I don't know what is ahead in the next weeks and months.  But I know that Jesus is leading and directing and bringing together all that needs to happen.  And I am more convinced than ever that my life is on a path that was designed long before I was born.  And that began with Johann and Anna Toensing!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that you have everything under control.  Even when it may seem really grey (or maybe even totally black) you have that path all laid out.  Holy Spirit, help us to see our family tree with your eyes!  And remind us to pray for all of those future branches and leaves that will be added in the years ahead.  Amen

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