Last year at this time our family was packing and making preparations to move back to the USA after completing a five year term in Romania. There are some who say that time passes more quickly as we add years to our lives; this seems to be true in our experience. In our last newsletter (Christmas 2007), we promised to be ‘back in touch after the holidays.’ Since it is now May we are overdue on communication. As you may recall, we are currently based in Lakeland, Florida so that Bill can teach next year at Southeastern University as a Missionary in Residence (MIR).
Reporting on a PhD thesis in a newsletter or ‘have you got time for a cup of coffee’?
When our family began full-time missionary work in Thailand 20 years ago, the first 18 months of that assignment were spent in language school. A challenge for any new missionary is to write newsletters to supporters describing the experiences of language learning when, in fact, most of those initial days, weeks and months are spent in lonely and at times frustrating study. These are not exactly the kind of ‘missionary exploits’ one expects to report after moving to a new culture and ministry. Since 1988, our missionary life has taken us to Cambodia, Romania and many other countries. God has been faithful; we have been able to communicate with you many of these experiences.
When we moved to Florida last summer, I (Bill) expected to take 3-4 months to finish writing my PhD thesis for submission to the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. Having completed the field research over the past five years in Romania, I assumed I would be able to sit down in September and finish the written thesis by February or March at the latest.
‘If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans’. I spent almost seven months writing, editing and rewriting then submitted the thesis to the university on May 13, 2008. I will travel back to Oxford for the verbal defense on June 23rd; I hope to complete the degree by July or August.
How does one describe this sort of work in a missionary newsletter? The parallels to language school are many. These past several months have been both mentally demanding and frustrating. My field research examined faith-based interventions involving children and youth in crisis, a concern that has become central in my life and ministry. The thesis examines how churches and other organizations worked together in Romania following the end of communism in 1990 and through the following decade. In drafting the thesis, I learned that academic writing is not my first love or primary gift. There were many days that I felt I should give up writing and get back to ‘practical ministry’. I am by nature an activist and practitioner, but I determined that the finished thesis was an offering of my time and talents to the Lord.
Pursuing a PhD at 53 years of age is not a typical undertaking for a full-time missionary. In this newsletter I want to say a special thank you to those who have financially supported us, prayed for us, and have made it possible for me to pursue this research. I took on this challenge because I believe that evangelical/Pentecostal churches are making a significant contribution by providing care for children and youth in crisis. It is my conviction that churches and faith-based organizations can improve their practical ministry through a deeper understanding of both the humanity and spiritual nature of children.
Daniel finished his freshman year at Southeastern University on the Dean’s List. We are extremely proud of the adjustment he has made to college and life in the USA. The photo was taken outside his dorm at Southeastern (www.seuniversity.edu). Daniel worked with a campus television production team, took part in a film competition in Nashville, TN and is pursuing a major in film studies and communication.
During the first several months in Florida, Ky worked as a caregiver to the elderly in the Lakeland area. She was offered a part-time job in the office of the registrar at Southeastern in January. She has especially enjoyed her contact with students and is learning her way in academic administration. She will continue in this role in the coming calendar year as we work with the university. As Missionary in Residence, Bill will teach four classes this fall in missions and theology. We will be working with both undergraduate and graduate students who are considering careers in international work.
Current status and impact on our finances
As a result of the push to finish my doctoral work, I have not been involved in what would be a normal ‘itineration cycle’ for our family. I have not been speaking in supporting churches each weekend and this has impacted our finances. We are aware of the current economic situation facing many churches and families. This has been reflected in our monthly income as a number of churches have written to tell us they can no longer support us.
After completing the degree I will begin itinerating, but until then we are facing a serious shortfall in our monthly income. We remain full-time Assemblies of God missionaries and need to maintain our monthly budget. We are asking those of you who may be able to help us with a special offering at this time to consider doing so. You can give directly by check to AGWM (account number 2275055) or online at www.ag.org through our mission directory site.
If you would like to schedule us to come to your church or speak to your organization please contact us at email@example.com or 863-816-3633. Additional contact information is below.
Thank you for your continued support and friendship.
Bill and Ky Prevette
8032 Margate Way
Lakeland, FL 33809
Home Phone: 863.816.3633
Cell Phone: 863.513.7378