Jun 27, 2018

Thoughts and Links on Sabbatical time for ministry workers


As I mentioned in the last post, I was encouraged to take some time for sabbatical while on Home Ministry Assignment with Peru Mission.  So as not to waste this time, I decided to do a little bit of searching to find out what that would look like. I was also encouraged to find a sabbatical counselor; however, I have not done so yet.

A few biblical thoughts are as follows. God gave us the design of Sabbath rest one day in 7 (Genesis 2:2; Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15). He also gave a design of several week-long breaks where the entire community stopped work and feasted (Exodus 23:10-19; Leviticus 23). Every seven years he designed for land to go fallow (Leviticus 25). He designed a release to all debts every seven years (Deuteronomy 15).
We also see Jesus' very practice in the flesh of pulling away to a secluded place to spend time in prayer. He spent 40 days before starting his ministry.  These are just a few biblical points that help us reflect on the need for taking a sabbatical rest.
As I consider these things and consider the role of a minister and other ministry workers and missionaries as I have experienced in Peru and see through other pastors in the States is that this job is unlike many other jobs in that you do not have a clear off time. Even when you are at home, you are on call all the time.

Here are a few links of descriptions of Sabbaticals and of the need for Sabbaticals from a range of perspectives and in no particular order:

Why Your Pastor Needs a Sabbatical by Sarah Hogan on Vanderbloemen
Including Sabbaticals as Part of Soul Care for Your Pastor by Garrett Higbee on Biblical Counseling Coalition
What I Learned About Sabbaticals by Finally Taking One by Michael Morgan on The Gospel Coalition
Seven Sabbatical Insights for Pastors by Eric Geiger on Lifeway Christian Resources
A Sabbatical Guide for Pastors by Bill Gaultiere on Soul Shepherding

I also spoke with Ray Cannata who shared with me Redeemer Nola’s policy on Pastoral Sabbaticals this was similar and also very helpful to get a good idea of the purpose, timing and planning of taking one. One comment from Ray was that pastors never get away from the job. “In fact, the more faithfully embedded in your community and mission, the less likely you get any breaks from it!!

Jun 7, 2018

Itineration plans for the summer of 2018

This week we are enjoying the activities of VBS both at Plains in Zachary, LA and also at South Baton Rough Pres. I had the privilege of speaking to a couple of classes about being a missionary and about living in another country. Our children are ecstatic to get to meet some of their cousins and have time to play with them.

Last week I had the privilege of preaching at Grace Pres in Central, LA.
This Sunday we will be giving a report at Faith Pres in Clinton, La.
Then we travel to Atlanta for General Assembly.
Sunday, June 17th we will be back in Baton Rouge where I will present a report during Sunday School and preach at Westminster.
June 18 we take our two older children up to Twin Lakes camp for the week.
Sunday June 24th I will preach and give a report at Zachary Community Church.

The month of July we plan to take a Sabbatical time. I am still trying to figure out what that means. I was encouraged by members of the board of Peru Mission to take some time to do this. I am thankful for their wisdom and pray that this will be an important building and refreshing time to be able to be at full potential the rest of the year. One thing I recognize with this is that most pastors need this as much as missionaries. So please encourage your pastors to take recovery time.

August will start out with preaching at Plains Pres in Zachary the 5th and the 12th.

Apr 23, 2018

Short Update

It is hard to believe that 5 years ago, I was ordained to return to Peru as a pastor and continue with the discipleship and woodwork project, we called Parish. Little did I know how much things would change.

When I was installed as associate pastor at Christ the Restorer in the Manuel Arévalo neighborhood of Trujillo, the senior pastor, Ricardo said, “Great! Now you can take over the young adult ministry.” I said, well my gifts are not really a good fit, but he said, “No, you will be great.” So, I started working with the youth and continued to work with the carpenters as well as getting plugged into the broader ministries in the church and the mission.
Before long, I started to adjust our woodworking ministry to be a broader ministry in the workplace with various fields.  But then I eventually began to realize that I needed to focus my time more with the church and started an apprenticeship program with several potential leaders in the youth. I believe God led me to develop leadership through the church to be more effective in the ministry and extending into the workplace.

I still maintain contact with the carpenters, who are continuing their business locally, and I meet with them for discipleship. However, I started to focus my time more on the apprenticeship. We did an apprenticeship with four young men for two years with theological education from our pastors and myself as well as practical training in the ministry of the church. We finished working through a free certificate program from Birmingham Theological Seminary that partners with Third Millennium Ministries. They are now all involved in different ministries with our mission. My work with the apprentices led to me being called as director of our seminary program called the Christian Areopagus, which is what I will be focusing on when we go back next year.
     We have a new class starting this May of 33 students. Some of them are members of our churches but many are pastors and other lay leaders of other churches and other denominations. The Christian Areopagus not only works with IIIM materials but also our own missionaries and other visiting professors teach classes.

Meg has been involved with the ladies in the church and the young ladies in the youth ministry and also served as the president of the board of Geneva school until she got busy with the baby. She hopes to get back involved when we return next year. We have also had several opportunities to give counsel in pre-marital and other situations and recognize it would help us to get more training and be better equipped in counseling.

We plan to put our children through one year of School in Louisiana, so our plan will be to return to Peru, Lord willing, around June of 2019. Our task this year is to find new supporters and replace the ones we have lost as well as raise support for many of our ministries.

Meg, the children and I are extremely happy to be back in Louisiana for a time to reconnect with all of you and continue developing support for the gospel work of building the city of God in Peru. We look forward to catching up with all of you and seeing how that gospel work is growing here. We would love to meet personally with everyone and talk more about the ministry in Peru, perhaps over a meal or coffee.

Please pray for God to provide the funds for the ministries in Peru, our traveling and networking with many other churches and supporters, our further training and especially for our children to be able to adjust to life here. Again, thank you for taking such good care of us, with vehicles, office space and more. Thank you for your support and love and prayers.

Home Assignment


We are back in the States for a year of Home Assignment. Some call it Furlough, but let’s be real this is not actually a time of rest. Our job as missionaries is not only to serve the church in Peru but to be a link between communities. I am reminded of Paul asking for help from the church in 2 Corinthians 9. One day, we pray that the church in Peru will be able to help the church in other parts of the world. Until then, you are in a position at such a time as this to help develop and nurture growth in Peru.

We have been extremely blessed so far in our transition back. We had a rocky start with some immigration complications leaving Peru but eventually made it just in time to get off the airplane and go straight to our family Crawfish Boil in Louisiana. We are getting settled, have been given two vehicles and are blessed to stay in the First Baptist mission house. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support.

We will be busy reconnecting and reaching out to cultivate support for our many ministries in Peru. We plan on putting our children through a year of school in Zachary. This puts our return goal in June of 2019. This extra time will be important for our children’s growth and will also enable to us to further develop support for all the ministries as well as do some further study and preparation for the work.

We will be reaching out to as many of you as possible to give a more in-depth update. We look forward to reconnecting and sharing. If you don’t hear from us soon, please respond and let’s set up a time to visit.

In the joy of resting in Christ,

Stuart Mills 

Jan 19, 2018

vacaciones útiles

These next few weeks two of our churches are doing something similar to VBS. They call it "vacaciones útiles" This means useful vacations. Being that here the children are on summer vacation they are having several days a week of teaching english, math, drawing music as well as bible classes. Please pray that these children will be drawn into the body of Christ through this.  

Christ's Kids is doing this in our church in Christ the Restorer in Arévalo Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Christ the Redeemer is also doing this in their church in Parque Industrial Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

This is also following up an excellent week of summer camp, Noah's Ark, that was January 1-5, where many children received a gift of their very own bible. This was put on by folks from Twin Lakes in Mississippi and Point Pleasant in Georgia. Many of the children that attended camp are coming to the church for Sunday School and are participating in these VBS programs.

Just last Sunday one little child came beaming up to Megumi, with his backpack on just in time for Sunday School in Arevalo. He said, "Guess what I have in my backpack?"  Meg responded, "a toy car?" "a robot?" The child said, "nope." And unzipped his backpack slowly revealing his brand new Jesus Story Book Bible. Meg was almost left in tears with joy for his excitement and asked him if he had read it and he said that he had read some of it.

We continue to ask for prayer for impacting grace through the members of our church. 

Jan 17, 2018

Prayer Requests

A while back I mentioned gratitude for a pastor from a supporting church who regularly writes me to inform that the church will be praying for us and to ask for new prayer requests. Again it makes sense to take the same time to respond to them and also let all of you know the same prayer requests. Thank you for your support. God does expect and use our prayers to do His work. 

     As always it is great to hear from you and be reminded that y'all are praying for us. I hate to say that we are in the beginning of summer and have been having some nice summer days lately, although today is a little cooler and more overcast than normal.  I pray that y'all enjoy the snow day and that it is not too cold.
     We are busy trying to get balls rolling for our preparation to leave. I just yesterday met with a group who will be managing the Areopago classes while I am gone. I am thankful to be working with a team. I am also excited to see the apprentices stepping up with leadership and service in the church. Actually, that is one of my prayer requests. We are still praying for funds to employ some of them as assistants.
     A second prayer request is for a few people in our church who seem to always have trouble getting along. I am not surprised that we will always have conflict and disagree with each other in the church but there are a few who are central members of the church that distrust one another. My prayer is that God will work so in their lives that by the end of the year they will not only get along but actually love each other as Christ loves each of them, even if they still disagree with each other. 

We just found a great deal on plane tickets and have the date set for arriving to Louisiana March 30.  We have a lot to do to wrap things up  in Peru and make preparations for the next year. 

Dec 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:14

Merry Christmas! May Jesus who dwelt among us and revealed to us the Father, reveal Himself to you in this season of celebrating His incarnation. 

Thank you for your support!

Dec 6, 2017

End of Year Request

This month we finish our apprenticeship with four young men, Jefferson Alayo, Alexis Alayo, Luis Mendoza and Bryand Cruzado. We are very excited to see their progress.

We started with a plan to divide half of their full-time schedule with theological education and the other half with practical ministry. We also spent half a day every week doing maintenance work around the church (sanding and refinishing windows and doors). They have been involved with various ministries such as youth ministry, Sunday school, helping with Geneva School, Christ's Kids and Bethesda Clinic. They participated in teaching daily devotionals and had opportunities to preach in the evening services. Several pastors took turns teaching them Worship, Mission and Theology. We taught them how to study the Bible in preparation for sermons and are working through a free certificate program in Christian Ministries with Birmingham Theological Seminary in connection with Third MillenniumMinistries. We also had a long break from course work dedicated to practical ministry when we provided flood relief to the affected areas during the months of March and April and part of May of 2017.
            We started the apprenticeship just thinking it would equip them as better servants and help them discover God's will for their lives. As we draw near to the end, it appears that all of them are confirmed in their calling to ministry and have grown and learned much. They may all end up becoming pastors. 

The pastor of one of our extension works, Percy Padilla, has requested to the session help to hire one of the apprentices as a pastoral assistant in Christ the Redeemer in Parque Industrial. Our session has agreed that it would be good if the Lord provides the funds and also has considered that it would be helpful to hire two of them to assist with the church in Arévalo, especially since I will be leaving in March for a year of home assignment. 

We have calculated that it will cost $600/month for each of them. We are praying to raise $1,800 per month to be able to hire three of the apprentices in order to continue sustaining the work of the church and providing experience for these young leaders. (One apprentice will be offered a job by our university ministry, SUSA.) These last two years, we used funds from your donations given to us, the Mills family, to finance a major part of the apprenticeship program. As per recommendation of our mission board, we need to raise the money separately from our personal funds.

Will you consider helping us put these men to work in the advancement of the kingdom in Trujillo?  Give here. Select Compassion fund and in the details describe for Arévalo apprenticeship.

Please pray with us as we seek the Lord's will for this and for the Spirit to guide us on who to call and to which specific field of ministry in the church. 

Sep 28, 2017

Dissapointment

As I was struggling with my own failure in not getting the next newsletter out in time a few weeks ago, I found myself getting furious with other folks that were failing me. What a mess we are! The other day I was working through a class on the gospels that we are teaching the apprentices. This was a class from Third Millenium and the first lecture is an overview of all four gospels. The professor described the different perspectives of each of the gospel accounts and pointed out that the gospel of Mark highlights the failures of the disciples and Jesus’ disappointment with them. I read through an article by Ed Welch on disappointment and he reminded me of how disappointing Israel was to God, yet God continued to offer free grace and redemption. Jesus didn’t turn his back on the cross because of his disappointment with his disciples. Even in the night he was betrayed, they disappointed him three times when he asked them pray with him. Peter failed Jesus three times even after boldly declaring that he would not fail him even if it cost him his life. Yet, Jesus continues to show his love. Welch also said in his book, Shame Interrupted, Jesus reassured Peter after his resurrection at the beach over a fire with fish and not only forgave him for his failure but charged him with a job. 

Who would go and give a job to someone who just failed them? 

 I recall a conversation with a fellow church member complaining that we should not include a fellow apprentice in the leadership of the youth ministry because he is a failure. In furnishing the kitchen for Christ’s Kids we had some complications with the young welder we hired to make the stainless furniture. He was a new member of the church we were excited about because we felt God was working in his life and he understood the gospel. He talked a big talk about what he could do for the kitchen but it turned out to be all hot air. After a couple of months of unanswered calls and messages and countless visits with unfulfilled assurances, we finally had to find others to finish the work.

Would Jesus exclude the irresponsible apprentice?
Would Jesus fire the incompetent welder?

My mind fires at me with a million thoughts of work experience that would say there is a big difference in enabling someone and forgiving a failure. Well, I ended up firing the welder. We took the materials he had bought and went and found others to complete the job. But the apprentice, that wasn't measuring up? I continue working with him. He really wants to improve and has shown effort and improvement. 

Now as I think about the welder who failed us and still owes us money because what he gave us did not add up to what we gave him in the deposit, I wonder, do I demand he pays us back? He doesn't have it. He spent the money on the work because he under bid the job and it wasn't enough. Jesus told a parable about this. I received mercy and now I must show mercy. But someone has to pay for it. Jesus paid his blood for my sins. But who pays the cash that went out of the account? I have to. I suppose this is what it means when Jesus said that if we want to be His disciples, we have to take up our cross and follow Him.  But now I must continue to pursue this young welder, not to give him any more work,  but to try to help him change. 

Flood Relief from March to May


  • The very day I sent out our last newsletter in March it started raining and then later that week the worst flooding that Trujillo has seen in many years occurred.
  • Many people lost everything. The entire month of April was consumed with running around tending to all of these needs. May began to settle down and by June we started to return to normally scheduled activities. There were two main areas in the city affected. One flash flood passed right through the heart of the city and another passed through a section in the North of the city. We are thankful that our house was not in the path of either of these. The carpenters who started their business, Las Ponas, were in the path of the one that went through the city. They protected their front door where the street turned into a river, but their landlord's walls behind them failed and water came into the shop damaging everything. To the north of the city, Parque Industrial where our extension church, Christ the Redeemer, is located was badly affected. Many houses made of adobe were washed away. 
  • We received many donations to enable us to help the most affected people. We were able to provide food, water and medical care to the folks affected in the Parque Industrial area. We purchased large water tanks to place in the affected areas and contracted with water trucks to fill them. The apprentices were a huge help in all of this. Luis helped with buying food daily for the kitchen at Christ Redeemer. Jefferson and Bryand helped with visiting all the affected people and creating a list of their needs. In the second phase of relief we purchased household supplies for people to be able to get back on their feet. The carpenters at Las Ponas also received a generous donation to help them rebuild. The last phase of rebuilding is still uncertain how much will be needed but complicated for lack of coordination by the municipalities. 
  • You can read more details of the work in this journal entry from March 28.
  • buying food to help flood victims


Jul 1, 2017

Thankful for Prayer support

This week, I received an email from a fellow pastor who faithfully writes every month to let us know that they will be praying for us this Sunday and asking for specific prayer requests.  It is always a great encouragement to hear from him. I get caught up in the everyday ministry and family and get behind on writing here and sending out newsletter but at least his email helps nudge me into getting out something. So here is a bit of what I responded:

Here are a few updates to mention:

  1. Please pray for our church, the last couple of months we have seen a drop in attendance both in the church as well as in the young adult ministry. Tonight Meg and I are inviting the youth over to our house for the weekly meeting. As a session, we are continuing to work on strategic planning to try to adjust the way we do our ministries. One plan we are working on is to make more time applied to evangelism to the various ministries connected to our church such as the medical clinic Bethesda, Geneva School and a new ministry similar to Child Evangelism Fellowship with child sponsorship called Christ’s Kids. Specifically we are going to make an effort to reach out to all the parents of the children enrolled in the school and offer to visit them in their homes and pray for them. 
  2. Some of our missionaries as well as Pastor Ricardo, who I serve with in Arévalo have been in Cajamarca this past week translating for a medical team from 1st Pres in Jackson, MS. I stayed back this year because Meg still needs my help with baby Arabelle. I get to preach both services this Sunday while Pastor Ricardo goes to visit his home presbytery in the mountains in a city called Celendín.
  3. Christ the Redeemer in Parque Industrial. One result of the flooding in Parque Industrial has been that it has given the church an opportunity to reach the felt needs of many and draw more people into the church. Pastor Percy has asked Bryand, one of the apprentices, to help him with developing a youth ministry to reach out to the young folks that we have come into contact through the flood relief. 
  4. Apprenticeship. We have finally returned to our classes working through IIIM theological courses. We finished two classes on the Prophets and Primitive History and just this week finished a class on Pauline Epistles. We are working through a class on introduction to Theology, one on the Gospels and another class on Abraham. Luis, another apprentice, requested to serve with a presbytery in the mountains called Celendín (Where Pastor Ricardo is a member of presbytery), he is serving for 6 months with a fellow missionary, Steve Hill. Alexis, another apprentice, continues to work with the Adolescent ministry and is now working with the University ministry as well. Jefferson, another apprentice continues to be the super deacon in Arévalo, and helps me with the young adult ministry. Please pray for Jefferson, I am afraid he is too much like the older brother in Jesus' parable.  I am still teaching through a Harmony of the Westminster confession in Sunday School. I am also meeting a couple of people in counseling. One thing on my to do list is to organize classes with other students for our Areopago ministry. We are also trying to organize a reformation event to celebrate 500 years. 
  5. Lastly, we are beginning to make plans for our home assignment next year, 2018. We are trying to work out when is the best time to leave Peru for 1 year. Somewhere between March to May is in our sights now. 

Thoughts and Links on Sabbatical time for ministry workers

As I mentioned in the last post, I was encouraged to take some time for sabbatical while on Home Ministry Assignment with ...