In Global Stories

We’ve had a lot going on the last few months, and we’re excited to share what we’ve been up to and what God is doing here. 

On March 12th we received a notice from the government that our residency permit application had been rejected and we were given five days to leave the island. We had heard some stories of other denials in the weeks leading up to ours so we weren’t caught totally unaware, but it was a bit surprising because up until this spring, the government had been giving out long-term visas freely. From everything we can gather, our denial reflects a recent change in government’s attitude towards foreign residents, rather than a failure on our part to meet any criteria. 

As a result, a few days later we flew out. Obviously, the situation wasn’t ideal—we’d rather have our application accepted. But it was easy to see God’s hand on the situation. Thankfully, some team members had an empty apartment that was a convenient place for us to land. Our language tutors were also willing to be flexible so we were able to continue our language courses online without any disruption.  

A few weeks later we reentered on short-term tourist visas. To spare you an overcomplicated explanation of the visa process here, the north side of the island has no official policy for how long a person can remain as a tourist (perks of not being an internationally recognized nation, I guess). Essentially, we’re bargaining with the passport control agents for extra days on our tourist visa every time we exit and reenter the country. Although it is certainly not a long-term strategy, we’ve been able to stay here since our denial by regularly exiting and entering the country. We’ll need to apply for a long-term visa in the next few months and right now we’re prayerfully evaluating our options. 

Although this might sound like much, in reality, our lives have been relatively normal (emphasis on relatively, haha). Our time is mostly spent on language courses and meeting locals and other believers. Since our denial, our relationships here have deepened a lot, which makes the thought of potentially transitioning elsewhere much harder!

There is a young student who we have come to love a lot. He has been coming to our English club and games nights since the fall, but last month, a team member invited him to church. He has come twice since then! This past Sunday we had the chance to read scripture and pray together. He is so close to the truth, and we are praying that he recognizes and accepts that Jesus is who scripture says he is.  

There are many other points of praise! Our friendship with the young man mentioned in our previous newsletter has deepened a lot. We are excited to see him take more ownership of his faith and we are praying that he will continue to grow in spiritual maturity.  We’ve also had opportunities to share our testimonies with some non-believing people. Over the past weeks, we’ve been able to volunteer at a home for children who were rescued from abusive situations. Recently, we heard the story of a young man on the edge of our social circles (we occasionally see him at different social functions) who decided to follow Christ following a dramatic dream. It has nothing to do with us, but stories like these show how God is moving among the people here.

Prayer points:

  • You can pray that God would give us clarity and wisdom regarding which visa to apply for. Pray that we would have favour with governments. 
  • You can pray that God would give us more opportunities to share our faith with those around us. Pray that the seeds we sow will turn into a harvest. 
  • Please pray for our language studies. We are very encouraged with our progress, but there is still a lot of ground to cover.
  • Pray for our young friend, that he will continue to grow in spiritual maturity and depth in his relationship with Jesus.
  • Pray that our student friend comes to faith in Jesus—and for his family—they have been subject to ethnic discrimination. Much of his family was able to escape abroad, but his sister and mother are still trying to leave. Women have limited rights, so they need a miracle to be allowed to board a flight out of the country. 

Joey & Brooke