The title of this article is typical for such an occasion but the specifics are unique to my life. Isn’t it odd that things work this way? There are events which are common to us all but each and every life has a different synopsis. We all have unique stories to tell. Think about it… each of us on this big spinning orb has unique fingerprints. Every person ever born or who will be born is unique. No matter how much we think our lives are fabulous or mundane, we are all “individuals.” I think this is of course a God designed thing. Atheists, you think, would stumble upon such enlightening facts occasionally.
Ok, now… after all of that insightful introduction, lets dive in to “my” year in review. PLEASE NOTE that if I happen to mention a few names and yours is not specifically included, that does not mean that I do not care about you or how you may have impacted my life. I tend to write “in the moment” as I am led by the Spirit and my own impressions at the time. I am sure you understand.
- 2012 was awash with the struggles and triumphs of life. Change, change, change (thinking of the old song) seems to fit the theme of the year. It started with our life in Czech Republic. There in the city of Brno… for the 3rd time in scarcely over a year, we were moving to a new apartment. After searching for a few weeks, the Lord led us to a nice comfortable place that was “just right” for us.
- Early in 2012, I had opportunities to minister to the Roma people in my area in diverse ways. I took one group to a city in Slovakia to honor the memory of their dearly loved brother. I took some men from my discipleship group to a conference to learn more about being leaders in the Kingdom of God. I sang, I preached, I interfaced with other believers to build up the church, and I continued to build partnerships which I hoped would impact the Roma people for years to come.
- For the first two months of 2012, Dawn and I were alone in our country regarding Roma ministry and IMB. This put us in a unique position to be responsible to make decisions and “carry on” the existing ministry. Some of the decisions were difficult to make.
- Specifically regarding my technical work with IMB, the first few months in 2012 were filled with the development of important online resources which would be used for our personnel in Europe and beyond. I had opportunities to interact with people from many points in the continent, as well as Canada, and as far away as Tasmania. These were interesting days indeed!
- One of the biggest ministry endeavors I worked on in 2012 was continuing a men’s “I Am Second” discipleship group in Brno. Around March / April, I consulted with various colleagues in IMB along with some men from I Am Second and e3 Partners to expand the discipleship groups to 3. One of these groups was a second generation group where two of my original men led a group.
- As mid-year came into view, we started wrapping up our ministry activities in Brno and began planning our re-entry into the US. Our 3 year term with IMB was coming to a close and we pressed time and effort to accomplish what we could for the Kingdom while time availed. I did my best to leave the new discipleship groups in capable hands, I also did my best to leave all of my technical work in capable hands. Yet, our thoughts started turning more to home and what would come after IMB.
- In July, we finished up all of the things we could and traveled to Athens, Greece to a large IMB gathering where we said many good-byes and renewed old friendships. It was a surreal experience. I sat in a numb state at times as I considered the reality of what these 3 years of my life with IMB had meant and how large the void of the unknown looked at that moment. Within a couple of days after we returned from Greece, we were flying home… to Tennessee.
- On July 28th, which happened to be my birthday, we woke up in Jackson, TN and faced the reality that we had nothing but our 8 trunks / suitcases, our little dog Sassy, and hope. We had no way to get around, no way to communicate, no jobs, nothing. This was a sobering thought for sure… BUT we had a roof over our heads due to the kindness of a wonderful church in Jackson. Woodland Baptist Church allowed us to move into one of their mission houses and this was and is (as of this writing) a HUGE blessing.
- Since coming home, we have dealt with many of the issues of life which most missionaries do. Trying desperately to reconnect to family, friends and our church family. This is not as easy as it should be for a variety of reasons. Please do not take this as a jab at anyone but I can personally testify that the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is very very true. The first several weeks back home were difficult for us to come to grips with. “We” dropped out of the world we once knew… for 3 years… then we showed back up and most people really didn’t know how to act or treat us. At times, it was pretty uncomfortable.
- During this transition, we were reminded that we can only really lean on God for strength and help in our times of sorrow. He has directed specific people to be a special blessing to us when we need it and for that we are extremely grateful. Thank you Lord… and to those who have blessed us in special ways, may God smile upon you.
- To wrap things up a bit, I am still looking for a “home” with regards to ministry. I have resumes out here and there, I make contacts with ministry friends in different states, I interface locally with DOMs and pastors but no long-term solution has come about yet. However, a few weeks ago, the Lord opened up a unique opportunity to join in the ministry at Antioch Baptist Church… specifically with regards to music ministry which is a surprise in itself! Considering the bigger picture, I believe that God put me there to be a blessing and encouragement to their senior pastor and membership as they go through a season of transition. I hope that I can continue to bless them in ways that will honor God and strengthen their family of believers. This is an interim position yet God has a plan for me and for them which is yet to be revealed. May His will be done… amen.
- I guess that you noticed that I didn’t mention specific names in this article… well, if you are reading this and you know you were a special influence in my life during 2012, you know 🙂 and so does God… He will reward us all for our good works and acts of kindness!
The picture used above was taken of the sunrise on the last morning of 2012. I snapped it looking out the front door of the mission house where we are living. It seemed especially beautiful to me and reminded me of new days… new opportunities to serve the Lord. May 2013 provide us all those service opportunities… God bless you and Happy New Year!