After several months of intense prayer, I and Marion and the kids all believe that God is calling us away from Philadelphia. We believe that we have been called to move from Philadelphia to Clinton, Mississippi. We are staying here through the end of the school year, and through all of the graduation ceremonies, and my last day will be Friday, May 27, 2016.
I have accepted God’s call to a new ministry opportunity. The church is Wynndale Baptist Church, just south of Jackson in Terry, MS. The ministry is Associate Pastor of Students and Missions. It is exciting to imagine how God might use me (1)in ministry to students and their families, (2)in ministry to this church as an associate pastor, and (3)in ministry in this congregation’s missions efforts as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission. We are also excited about how God might use Marion in her continued work with the STEM Institute at Mississippi College in Clinton, and in her continued teaching with special education. We are excited about how our own children might grow in their love for God and in their physical and intellectual growth in the Clinton school systems.
But any excitement we feel is tempered by great sadness as we now have to begin to say goodbye to our family in Philadelphia. As we prayed about all of this, God brought us unexpectedly to Genesis 12:1. God told Abram quite clearly, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you.” Because our family takes God’s call seriously, we now must go. We are being called to leave our community, and our home. We are being called to leave our family and friends. We are being called to leave our extended family, even though when we moved here in 2008, we were excited that God had moved us back near my hometown of Carthage. Now we are being called to leave our home mission field here, and move to a new mission field in the area south and west of Jackson.
How do you say goodbye after 8 beautiful years of memories? When we moved here, we were shown such love and kindness. We had two children, one toddler (Gracie) and one infant (Makenzye). We now have FOUR daughters. How do we adequately say thank you for loving us, for praying for us, for ministering for the sake of the gospel with us, for making memories with us?
I do thank you, even though “thank you” is not sufficient.
I do want you to know that we love you, even though those words are not sufficient.
But I also selfishly am going to ask you to do some things for me one last time.
-Please pray that God will be gracious to us in helping us transition out of one home into another.
-Please pray that God will bless our children as they feel both excitement and sadness simultaneously.
-Please pray that our daughter Tamika will follow God’s purpose for her life in this transition.
-Please pray that I and Marion will be faithful to the calling of God on our lives to his mission in this new place.
I want to close with the words of Jesus himself in the book of Matthew, chapter 28. I pray that these words of Jesus will be a reminder to me, and I pray that they will be a reminder to all of you, my family. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Please let me pray over you, as my First Baptist Church family:
God, we praise you. In 8 years, you have done wonders in the lives of my family. One birth, one baby dedication, one adoption, one high school graduation, two of our children being baptized, the continued growth of all four of our children, the calling on Marion’s life to be a teacher, ministry to children and teenagers and families, the continued calling on my life to teach the Bible, Africa mission trips, summer camps and youth rallies and retreats and conferences. We praise you for all you have done. Jehovah God, the great I AM, I pray that under the Great Shepherd Jesus Christ, and under their pastor Dan Howard, that these people will be faithful to teach God’s truth to this community. Show them new ways to plant the seeds of God’s love in every corner of this county. Grow a harvest of new believers here in this blessed place. Father God, may your Holy Spirit fill these people with the power of the good news of the love of Jesus. Fill them with a fresh passion for the mission you are already doing right here. Give them the most daring of faith! We praise you. We thank you. You love us. We love you, too. In the name of our Savior, at whose name every knee will one day bow and every tongue will one day confess, the precious and powerful name of JESUS, we pray these things. Amen.