Blog

McRae Family Update (09/21/21)

The last couple of years for Emmaus have brought a number of changes. Aside from everything that COVID meant for our daily operations and moving into a new office space, we’ve also been continuing to work on and refine both old and new Bible training programs. We now offer a total of 4 different programs at varying levels of engagment. Here’s an overview what what we do at Emmaus.

Our Programs

Our School of Biblical Studies offers the deepest level of engagment, where students spend 20 hours a week, for 10 months, to walk through the whole Bible using the inductive study method. During this time, students attend lectures twice a week, and dive deep into the historical background of each book. They even write their own inductively-informed commentary on certain portions of the text.

Our Biblical Narrative Series is designed to equip students with an overview of every book of the Bible over the course of 14 weekly lectures. This class is designed for both experienced Bible readers and newcomers and seeks to equip students with a big picture view of the Bible, while also exploring important themes and key historical background info for every book.

Our Foundations Course is for those who have gone through our Biblical Narrative Series and desire to continue going deeper in the Biblical story, but may not have the time required to attend our school. In this course, students are provided with an in-depth study of selected foundational books that are key to emphasizing themes and concepts that carry through all of Scripture.

Finally, our Discovery program is made up of introductory seminars. Some of the introductory seminars include topics such as: a Bible Overview, Inductive Bible Study Workshop, or specific book studies. Each seminar is done over the course of about 4 hours.

It’s been incredibly exciting to see the growth and refinement of all of these programs and we feel so blessed by seeing God’s movement in them.

School of Biblical Studies

This is proving to be one of the most difficult teaching years I’ve experienced so far with Emmaus. For our first semester in the School of Biblical Studies, I’ve been tasked with teaching Genesis, Judges, Isaiah, and Daniel. I’ve taught both Genesis and Daniel before, and while I still find them very difficult to prepare for, I love them both deeply. Judges and Isaiah are new to my teaching library and have really been stretching me, but the beautiful thing about this job is that there are always great returns on the time spent preparing for every new book.

And our students this year have been absolutely amazing, each one displaying a passion for engaging with the Bible and community.

And if you’d like a 30 second glimpse into my work week at Emmaus, here you go!

Family Life

While adjusting to having a new baby comes with inherent difficulties, Eleanor has been an absolute joy to us, and Benaiah seems to be warming up to her as well. Both of our kids are doing great and the greatest challenge simply remains learning how to be parents, but it’s been a lot of fun!

How you can partner with us

Our need is consistent in this ministry. If you would like to join in our mission of helping others experience God through his Word, here are a few ways:

  1. Financial Support – Would you consider joining our team at $100 a month or some other amount that’s significant to you? If you would like to give a one-time donation, set up a recurring plan, or increase your giving amount, you can do so on our ministry website here: emmausbibleministries.org/donate#staffsupport
    And if you’re reading our blog for the first time or have never considered giving, we’d love the opportunity to talk with you personally about our ministry, why we love it, and to ask for your support, you can find our contact info through our website menu above.
  2. Become a “Key Holder” – If you’re unable to help financially, there’s another great way that you can help us! Are you able to refer us to 2-3 specific individuals who are passionate about supporting ministry? We’d love to meet with them and share our own passion for what we do.
  3. Support our Teaching – Although we are a community of teachers, we remain a community of learners who are constantly looking to grow in our knowledge of the Bible. As such, we’re always looking to expand our library of resources. If you’re unable to commit to monthly support, would you be willing to support our growth by buying a resource off of our wish list?
    http://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/22ROEPGXAWV3B?ref_=wl_share

Thank you for all of your love and support!

The McRae Family

McRae Family Update 6/8/21

Greetings

What a year! I want to start off with a huge thank you to all of you friends and family who responded to our last blog, when I had detailed the many problems we were facing with our living space and cars. It’s very easy to get discouraged when water is pouring from your living room ceiling and your two cars die in quick succession, not to mention having a baby on the way! But so many of you stepped up and gave generously when we needed it most and we feel so blessed by your love. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

I’m happy to report that our apartment situation was rectified and we were not only blessed with a FREE car by some dear friends, but were able to scrounge up enough money to purchase a second used car, and so not suffer the inconvenience of sharing one car. Thank you all so much!

But all of that aside, the most important announcement we have is the arrival of our newest family member: Eleanor Lúthien McRae

We couldn’t be more excited for her beautiful addition and we look forward to sharing more of her with you all soon. Thank you for your prayers over her and Samantha, who has been recovering swiftly since giving birth.

Ministry
It’s also been a busy and exciting time at Emmaus over the past few months, between lectures, seminars, program planning, and graduation. As always, I’m so incredibly proud of the students who dedicated the last 10 months of their lives to know God through His Word, what an encouragement and blessing to the body of Christ!

I ended my teaching schedule for our school this year by lecturing on the book of Hebrews for the first time. It was incredibly challenging, but also one of my favorite books that I’ve had the pleasure of digging into! I can definitely say that my preparation was filled with a ton of heart wrestling, and I came away from it even more awestruck at the work that Jesus completed on the cross. Hallelujah!

This Summer

Samantha and I will be sticking around in Florida this summer (pray for our pathetic heat-dreading souls) as we are working on a lot of program planning for next year. As Emmaus has settled into its new location and office spaces, we been picking up momentum with our ministry programs and the work going into them. Four years ago, we were running an amazing Bible training School that reached small intimate group of hungry learners every year. Now, God has enabled us to continue doing that while also developing new programs to reach even more people, helping to train over 100 people every year. We really want to work hard to make these programs the best that they can be as we continue to grow.

Over the summer I’ll also be picking up more work at our local church in order to help our finances.

Prayer Needs

This has obviously been a tough year for everyone, and while our family has fortunately been spared much of the pain and inconveniences that others have suffered, some of the repercussions have started to hit us. Because so many have been unable to make their rent payments, many local rental properties have been forced to raise their rent prices to stay in business, ours included. Right now, our apartment is looking to raise our rent by nearly $300.

Samantha and I have remained under-funded since we began our time here with Emmaus, but especially now, we’re having a hard time finding affordable housing for our family. This is easily our most pressing need at this time.

How Can You Help Our Mission?

  1. Financial Support – Would you consider joining our team at $100 a month or some other amount that’s significant to you? If you would like to give a one-time donation, set up a recurring plan, or increase your giving amount, you can do so on our ministry website here: emmausbibleministries.org/donate#staffsupport
    And if you’re reading our blog for the first time or have never considered giving, we’d love the opportunity to talk with you personally about our ministry, why we love it, and to ask for your support, you can find our contact info through our website menu above.
  2. Referrals – If you’re unable to help financially, there’s another great way that you can help us! Are you able to refer us to 2-3 specific individuals, friends, family members, or a church that you think could be excited about partnering with us in our mission and vision? We’d love to meet with them!
  3. Support our Teaching – Although we are a community of teachers, we are above all a community of learners who are constantly looking to grow in our knowledge of the Bible. As such, we’re always looking to grow our library of resources. If you’re uncomfortable financially supporting us, would you be willing to support our learning by buying a resource off our wish list?
    http://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/22ROEPGXAWV3B?ref_=wl_share

    We love you all and thank you for your constant care and support!

    -The McRae Family

McRae Family Update (3/1/21)

The past few months have been incredibly eventful in many different ways, both in our lives and in our ministry. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers, as they have been a great encouragement to us!

The Ministry
Since out last update, I’ve had an intense teaching load: Two lectures on the book of Daniel and two lectures on the Gospel according to Matthew for our School of Biblical Studies, and two further lectures on Matthew for our new evening program (Bible Foundations Course).

Daniel has remained one of my favorite books to teach and continues to move my heart with the message of God’s sovereignty every time I read it. This was my first time teaching Matthew, but I was eager to give it a try since it’s my favorite Gospel. Whenever I study to teach a book, it’s inevitable that my heart is ministered to by the specific book I’m reading. Matthew held a timely message for me in presenting Jesus as the true Messiah, in a time and culture when it’s all too easy to create “little messiahs” for ourselves. It was a joy to teach!

Our Ministry has also recently been blessed by a new office space for our staff to work and our students to join us in study. As a ministry that has previously had to “tabernacle” for most of its existence, it’s been amazing to have our own space to settle in.

Family Life
The Good – Samantha’s pregnancy has been progressing smoothly and we’re increasingly excited (and terrified) to meet our new baby! We also recently had the amazing opportunities for Benaiah to spend time with both sets of grandparents (he also got to experience snow for the first time!).

The Less Good – Despite the positive momentum with work and Samantha’s pregnancy, these past few months have brought a number of difficulties.

  • Samantha and I were recently blessed with enough funds to buy a second used car. Though we felt that we had done our due diligence in the process, the car has since been fraught with issues and has placed a greater financial burden upon us.
  • Due to a botched fix done by previous management (and before our lease), our apartment recently suffered from multiple broken pipes and leaks, which led to an extensive process of discerning the problem and fixing it. We also did not have a very positive experience with our management office throughout the ordeal.

But after about a week of staying with some very gracious and wonderful friends, we’re finally back home.

Prayer Requests
Our primary concern right now is the physical and emotional health of Samantha and the coming baby, please pray for them as the time draws near! Second, please pray for the situation with our car, whether that entails paying to have it fixed or trying to resell it. Third, although Samantha and I have received a lot of unexpected financial support these past months (Thank you Jesus!), we continue to remain underfunded and we also experienced the loss of a couple supporters who are unable to continue giving during these difficult times. Please pray for our finances as we continue to seek to do God’s will here with Emmaus Bible Ministries.

Thank you all again for your love. Despite the struggles, Samantha and I have felt incredibly blessed by the support we’ve been shown.

– The McRaes

McRae Family Update (10/21/20)

Hello dear friends and family!

Thank you for taking a moment to click the link and read our blog! Here’s an update on all that’s new with us here in Florida:

What’s New?

It’s been a very busy number of weeks since our last blog! First, we had a really awesome time being visited by family. Benaiah was very excited to spend some time with the grandparents for his birthday.

Samantha and I also celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in September 🙂

As to our work with Emmaus, our programs are in full swing and things have been moving along at an incredible (and tiring!) pace. Our Biblical Narrative Series recently kicked off and we’ve been able to start engaging with students in-person and online every Monday night. (for descriptions of our various programs, click the link jacobandsamantha.org/emmaus-ministries/)

Along with this program, we’ve also launched a new program that also runs on Monday nights. This new program functions as “next level” for graduates of our Biblical Narrative Series, who desire to take their learning experience to a deeper level. And since I had just taught the book of Genesis for our 10 month School of Biblical Studies, I had the privilege of starting off our new Night Course by teaching through Genesis once again. This means that we’re reaching around 125 people every Monday through three different Bible training programs!

Right after teaching in our night course, I taught the books of Jonah and Nahum for our daytime School of Biblical Studies. These two books were new teaching assignments for me and so I was excited to jump in and study as much as I could. Surprise, surprise, these two tiny books are packed with tons depth and great messages, and it was an incredible experience getting to teach through them. Hopefully I can write a complimentary blog in the near future that talks about some new things I’m learning in the Bible. But here’s a quick example of some of the light reading that went into teaching these two specific books.

Yes, for the astute observer, even a Matthew commentary went into my study on Jonah!

My current teaching assignment is on the book of Daniel. And for those who’ve followed our blog for a while, you’ll know that this is probably my favorite book to teach! So I’m looking forward to digging in again with some new commentaries.

Exciting News

And finally, for those who’ve made it this far in our blog, we have an exciting surprise announcement!

He’s clearly stoked for this…

That’s right! We’re expecting Baby McRae #2 in early May, 2021.

Prayer Requests

As you can probably guess, right now our main concern is preparing for the arrival of our newest family member. Samantha has not been feeling great throughout this first trimester, so prayers for her will always be appreciated throughout this process.

Along with this, Samantha and I have remained short of our fundraising goal ever since we started our work with Emmaus, about $1000-per month short, to be precise. Throughout this time, I’ve been working part time for a local church and Samantha has occasionally taken baby-sitting gigs. While this has helped us make sure we can pay our bills, we really don’t feel like this is sustainable for us, nor is it bringing in the full amount we need in order to meet our goal. Along with this, we have been hindered from engaging with the ministry in the capacity that we long for and feel called to. Now that we’re looking at adding a family member, we’re trying to step up our efforts to raise support for our work here. If you’re not already a regular supporter, or maybe if you’d like to increase your monthly giving amount, here’s a link to where you can give: emmausbibleministries.org/donate#staffsupport

Or if you have questions about our ministry and what we do, please feel free to visit our contact page and get in touch!

Thank you,
– The McRae Family

Obligatory Family Pictures

The McRae Family Update (8/24/20)

Hello everyone, it’s been quite some time! In our last update, we left you right at the end of our 2019-2020 school year, before our summer break officially began. Thank you for your patience! Although our silence has been long, our time here in Florida has been anything but quiet. And though I had hoped to write this update a couple of weeks ago, our past month has been a whirlwind. Here’s what’s been happening.

What’s new?

We moved!

If you’ve kept up with our blogs, you’ll know that this has been a long time coming, but we finally found a location that’s a little bit closer to our work and we were able to upgrade from a 1 bedroom apartment to 2 (which is like paradise for us at this point, also, our new address will be located on our “contact” page). This new change has been greatly desired, but unfortunately the moving date ended up falling in our first two weeks of school, and more specifically, during the week that I was teaching 6 hours on Genesis for the first time. While I was working during the day and spending nights studying for Genesis, Samantha was juggling Benaiah and the majority of the packing (she’s a champ!) It’s been a very stressful month, but God is gracious and things are moving along well now.

School of Biblical Studies

Before our summer began, the Emmaus Staff held our annual planning meeting where we assigned the next school year’s teaching assignments. Our goal for the teaching staff is that each teacher will slowly begin building a “library” of books from the Bible that they’ve taught two or three times over the years. This helps the overall knowledge base of the staff grow and allows us to be more flexible with our book assignments. In the past two years, I’ve generally taught the same books for our School of Biblical Studies, but this year I’m expanding my teaching library and have picked up a number of new books, so much of the summer has been spent in fresh preparation for this new teaching challenge

As with everything else, COVID has caused a lot of disruption in our typical School preparations. To be frank, we were expecting to receive little or no interest in our 10-month school program. But as usual, God surprised us and we received 6 students for our 2020-21 school year!

*Please note that social distancing protocol is enforced in our program, though students are allowed to remove their masks while seated.

COVID has made circumstances a bit awkward and challenging at times, but the students of this school year have a clear determination to know God through His Word, which always breathes life and energy in our work here with Emmaus.

We’re also gearing up to start our other yearly programs; the Narrative Series and our new Night School program. Both of these programs are less intensive than our 10-month school, and are more accessible to larger groups of people. So far, we’re seeing great numbers from those who have signed up for these programs, even amidst all the chaos this year has thrown into the mix of our lives. People are still hungry for God’s Word!

What Now? // Prayer Requests

Aside from the normal school classes, Samantha and I are going to be working on settling into our new home over the next couple of weeks, and I’ll also be starting preparations for the next books that I teach while continuing my part-time work doing lawn-care for a local church.

As for prayer requests, we ask for prayers concerning out new home, that it would continue to be a blessing for our family as we adjust. We also would love prayer concerning our ongoing support raising efforts. We’re well aware that this has been an incredibly difficult season for many who’ve been left without jobs or income. We truly consider ourselves very fortunate to have been little affected by this reality up to this point, though at times it can be a major source of anxiety for us, since we rely so heavily on the support of our friends and loved ones. We’re praying that the grace for this season will continue not only for ourselves, but those who have been most affected by these circumstances.

As always, thank you for your continued support. And if you would like to consider making a donation towards our mission, you may do so here: https://emmausbibleministries.org/donate#staffsupport

With our love and blessings, The McRaes