As I write this article, the title seems appropriate and I am reminded of the old song lyric… “Off we go into the wild blue yonder…” This is the first truly public statement about our future in ministry. I have confided in some close friends and colleagues but I have not made any sort of public announcement. So, in this article I will do so. The simple statement is that Dawn and I will not be coming back to work / minister through IMB. The longer more complicated statement will necessarily be reserved for more intimate conversations with individuals or groups as it is appropriate. Don’t read anything into that last statement. I am not suggesting there has been a horrible falling out between us. No, I love my organization and have many friends in it who wish that we would come back to serve with them for another term but things are a bit more complicated than that. So, those longer conversations about our decision are reserved simply due to limited space here in this format and because it is difficult to express the emotions which it would solicit.
Let me attempt to boil the relevant facts down to help you understand why we made this decision and “if” you feel the need to go deeper… well, maybe you are one of those folks who I will have the more intimate conversations with later. First, let me tell you that when Dawn and I started this magnificent journey into International missions, we were convinced that it was the will of God and we still do, by the way. At that time we were committed to pursuing a career with IMB and indeed, “at that time,” there seemed to be a very real possibility of that happening. After we started the 3 year assignment with IMB in Romania, we experienced an ocean of organizational change. Those changes affected us and many others. The biggest thing which impacted us was a decision that our leadership made to no longer allow people in our age bracket to transition over into their career programs. Let me say that I am convinced this decision was not made to hurt anyone. It simply came about because of the horrible financial crisis that has been felt globally. So the focus now is to invest in younger families for career assignment. Even though I am sure there was no ill intent involved, the results completely changed our future with the organization. Honestly, I even understand why this happened but non the less, it has caused us to rethink everything in regards to future ministry and direction.
Over the last 3 years, God has allowed us to experience many new things. Some of those things were extremely rewarding and some were extremely challenging. Through all of those experiences, He also began to quietly speak to my heart about ministry purpose and the future. Our God is dynamic and changes our course when He chooses. Our job is to try and recognize the new path that He has set for us and simply be obedient to walk with Him down that path. We need to be malleable like smooth moist clay in His hands. He, after all, is the Master potter and we are the clay… right? Dawn and I have decided that this term with IMB has been sort of like a training period where God separated us from all that we held dear and all of the comforts of home to prepare us for the next stage of ministry. We also believe that this next stage will involve us going back home to the US to seek a ministry position in a church or like minded organization in the area of outreach. Please pray for us as we seek this position. As of this writing, we have no idea of where it might be. We simply continue to walk with Him by faith… believing that His purpose is better than ours.
Now, look at the photo that I used for this article… that is a good depiction of how I feel right now. I feel like a little child who is peering out into the unknown… a bit excited and a bit afraid. How’s that for honesty? I am afraid because in the realm of the physical, we will come home to a new beginning with no home, no furniture, no vehicle, no job, etc. I am excited because in the realm of the spiritual, our God is big enough to meet our needs and guide us to a new place of service. So, please feel free to offer us encouragement! It helps a lot… trust me. Also, if you know of a church or organization who might prayerfully consider us for service in the area of outreach, please give them our name and I will be pleased to send them a resume. God bless you and thank you for caring about us. Now, maybe even more than ever we need your prayer support for the next leg of the journey! Amen!