Friday, August 7, 2009

A New Venue

Vol 1, Issue 1

A season of firsts...

Welcome to the very first issue of MetroBeat, our new prayer letter that is replacing Dakar Diary, the chronicle of our ministry in Senegal. Now that we have moved to the Oklahoma City metro area, our missives needed a new look and a new name. Other than the obvious allusion to newspaper reporting on city matters, the name also signifies our spiritual heartbeat for the internationals working, studying, and living in Oklahoma's capital city and its suburbs.

Speaking of firsts, for the first time ever I (John) have developed blood clots in my leg from travelling. The trip back to Senegal and the subsequent sorting and packing caused one of my feet to start swelling. After we returned to the States an ultrasound confirmed that the cause for my discomfort were two, well-placed blood clots in the calf of my right leg. While the risk of them breaking off and travelling into more dangerous areas of my body are slim, I am now on a six- month round of blood thinners and am restricted from extended times of sitting. Hence, I'll need to hold off seeing some of you for awhile until I can once again drive long distances safely.

Another first when we got back came in the form of a serious problem. After all, who would have thought that a termite infestation could lead to ministry? One of the final tasks needing to be done before closing on the house we bought next to my parents' was the replacement of some siding that had been badly termite damaged in the past. The crew members in charge of the repairs were Mexican, and I had a chance to talk to a few of them. The result (other than new siding and fresh paint) of their time here is that I will soon start teaching at least one of them English as a ministry outreach. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

I have also made some important first contacts with other internationals over the last few weeks, and I have been amazed at the openness that I'm experiencing in our conversations. Since the Internet is so public, and some of the individuals come from restricted access countries, I have changed the names and am being deliberately vague on the details of how I met these people in order to protect their identities. God knows who they are, though, so please pray for my developing relationships with them.

"Marc" is from Haiti and has his own business. I drop in at his place of work periodically to chat with him in French, which is enjoyable for both of us as there are few people around here who speak the language. We have talked a little about missions and Christianity already. Please pray for our talks to get deeper as we get to know each other more.

"Jack" and "Jill" are university students from mainland China. Both are extremely outgoing and friendly. They will also talk your ear off, and talking with them brings back fond memories of some of my former students. Please pray for more and better opportunities for me to interact with them.

"Gloria" is also a university student but comes from Thailand. Her sister wants her to stay here, but she misses her home. She will be in the area for at least another year and a half, though, as she finishes up her studies. Please pray that her discontent with her situation will lead to an openness to God's peace in her life.

"Joey" is from Vietnam but has lived here for eight years working in a family-run business. He says that while many people know his name from overhearing it from others, he doesn't know the names of most of his best customers because no one has ever bothered to introduce themselves to him other than me. Please pray for our developing friendship and that I someday will be able to introduce him to an eternal friend: Christ.

I am very excited about the first steps to ministry that the Lord is revealing here among the international communities. Please pray that I will faithfully follow the path He has for me among them.

Other prayer requests:

I start a course in Chinese at one of the local universities on August 17th to not only learn more about the language and culture but also to provide an opening to meet more internationals. Please pray that I will be successful in both areas.

Pray for Joyce as she continues to juggle the demands of two households.

My parents are stable but still have some major medical concerns. Please continue to pray for them and for us as we work as their caregivers.

Our daughter, Katie, and her husband Brad have moved to Oklahoma. Katie is working in one of the malls across town, but Brad has yet to find work. What possibly looks like a great job for him is opening up next week, though. Please pray that he'll land the position if that is what the Lord has for him.

Your prayers and continuing support are a vital part of our ministry. May you be truly blessed in the days to come.

Yours By His Grace,

John for the rest of the Ropers


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