The following article was written by Scott DeGroff, an alumnus of Emmaus Bible College who is currently serving the Lord, along with his wife Lynn and fellow Emmaus alumni Dan and Cyndi Williams, in Freedom, California.
Friends of Emmaus, I hope many of you will remember us: Dan and Cyndi Williams and Scott and Lynn DeGroff. We were around the school in the early to mid ’90s. The four of us now serve the Lord alongside Micah and Cristina Williams just outside of Freedom, California, in a brand new cross-cultural missions context.
The Lord gave us the privilege of heading here two years ago with no idea where we would live or how we would make it. When we hit the ground the only place we could find to sleep were campsites, so we mostly tented for the first 7 weeks having to move campsites every 1-4 days to find new open sites. Like Abraham, I suppose He led us this way not knowing where we were going. What an honor to have any part in the work of God by grace and what an honor to be able to look to Him alone to meet every need as He sees fit. Micah and Cristina joined the team a year later, and their story of housing is even more dramatic and joyful to remember, praise the Lord.
Now, the team has 3 burdens the Lord has shared with us that really define what we do and how we work.
Burden 1: The Local Work
Our community is 80-90% Hispanic farm workers (strawberry pickers, apple pickers, etc.). The Lord has given us a deep love for the people here and a longing to see the gospel turn this community upside down (Acts 17). We are thankful for 5 professions of faith in the past year and are eager to press on sowing and watering and trusting the Lord will increase in His time and His way for His glory alone.
We want to see the church here the same way the Savior does. The church was here and loved by Christ long before we came, so it’s a joy to meet them, be encouraged by them, love and encourage in any way the Lord gives us. Lord help us to see like Him, love well like Him, accept and receive one another like Him, and so on.
The new local assembly, Freedom Bible Fellowship, is a huge joy. We’ve been breaking bread since the first Sunday we hit the ground here around a campfire at the campsite. We love the church and want to give ourselves for it the same way the Savior loves the church and has no “plan B” for our day. If we end up being the biggest assembly in North America or the smallest, we are eager to follow the preeminence of Christ and the presidency of the Holy Spirit and pray it becomes all He wants it to be. Lord help us not to get in His way!
Burden 2: Discipleship
The Lord radically changed many lives on our team a number of years ago. Much of what we knew as good biblical theory became daily reality (by grace alone), and, to be frank, we’d rather die than go back. Living in the good of an eternal love relationship with the Savior (cf. Ephesians 3, John 15), learning to draw grace from He Who sits on a throne of grace (Hebrews 4), learning to live out a biblically-demanded priority of drinking daily from the well that satisfies (Jeremiah 2, John 4), daily communion and fellowship with Divine Persons (John 15:9-16, 1 John 1).
It truly has been life changing, ministry changing, and love-relationship-with-God changing. Please let me say we’ve never been more conscious of our shortcomings, our faults and failures and weaknesses. That’s how walking with God goes. We would say with Paul not that we have arrived but we press on to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of us!
So, we have a passion for pouring into God’s people whenever and however He gives opportunity. We are anticipating the Lord providing “many beds” here and providing “many fellow soldiers” to sleep in those beds (even whole teams living here for a season before the Lord sends them to their future cities), and we are much looking forward to serving together, chasing Christ together, learning together, and more.
We are a WORK, not a school or discipleship program. (Indeed, we thank the Lord, praise the Lord, and pray for those the Lord has already raised up to be schools and discipleship programs!) Thus, we anticipate discipleship in the context of that work and local church. We are hopeful to partner with (formally or informally) those schools and discipleship programs and maybe even be a next step for those the Lord would lead this way.
Burden 3: The Unreached
The biggest and original burden the Lord gave long ago, and the driving burden of what we do, is the reaching of North America afresh in our generation. The desire was never one new work, it has always been the effective reaching of North America (530 million plus souls, 348 unreached people groups in the US and Canada, etc.). Praise God that He alone is big enough, smart enough, faithful enough, hardworking enough, to accomplish this burden, and not only is He capable of doing it by Himself but He is capable enough to use little, unprofitable servants like us to help (or any other child of God). Wow! And thank You, Lord.
We are living outside of Freedom, California working away here. We are working and praying toward a team for the reaching of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Lord has led us to be fervently praying for 8 cities along the western 1/3 of the US: Phoenix, Las Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake, Boise, Helena, Portland, and Seattle. This is only a tiny start and a fraction of the burden that Christ has, but it is a joy and a privilege to be on a team with such an amazing and capable leader, and there is no reason biblically not to be passionately, unwaveringly, dedicatedly, zealously confident in Him and both His desire for the reaching of North America in our day and His ability to pull it off! God help us not to restrict Him through evil hearts of unbelief! (Psalm 78:41).
Prayer and Further Information
We earnestly thank you for any that read this and pray. In Romans 15, Paul begs that people strive with him in prayer. We would gladly echo that thought. We beg you to strive with us in your prayers to God. Philippians would call this partnership of the gospel. What a concept and what a blessing. Lord help us each one to play our part in the great battle of our day!
We send our love to each of you! Our hope and prayer is that this would find you rejoicing in the Lord, growing in your love and discernment, pressing on in an unhindered way for the Savior!
For more info or to sign up for updates go to freedomteams.org
See the team’s latest video update here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42t1ykRN6EQ&t=17s or here, https://www.facebook.com/freedomteams/videos/1653419554834315/