When God says “Go” What Do We Do?
When your friends who live an ocean apart could do with a little more encouragement, what would you do? Get the cheapest flight possible and jump on it even if it will take you 72+ hours to get there. My wife and I get quite amped with seemingly random and spontaneous God assignments. We prayed and received peace that I should come and spend time with our friends this side of the Globe. Relationships that seemed to have sunk into dungeons of despair needed organic revival.
This was it – time to breathe into those dry bones. Experiencing the people we love and care for once again has been relieving. If only I could have been with my entire family here. It has been a tough time being away from my lovely wife and cheerful boy. Yet the tremendous support that I have received from Prima is immeasurable. I don’t know how I could have managed to take this leap of faith without my teammate urging me on fearlessly.
A few days after my arrival in the US and stay with the ever hospitable Duncans in North Potomac, I spent a few hours with Henry in DC. That brotherly connection time was certainly a much needed mutual experience. It was nothing short of refreshing and uplifting.
Transitioning to Birmingham, I let my friends know that I was going to help in whatever capacity they needed me. Among a number of other tasks, we collaborated on Excel spreadsheets and year end reporting. Then, my new friend Trey and I helped assemble 250 food boxes on one day with other community volunteers. We filled them up with fresh produce and other food supplies the next day. By day 3, the goodies were loaded and offloaded from the food truck for distribution. Food Delivery was an amazing experience. This three-day exercise was physically tasking but soul fulfilling. We were surely busy that week, knocked out tired, yet the errands brought such deep joy. I was able to meet some friends I haven’t seen in ages. The time seemed so short that I wish I could see them once more before I head out.
In the short while I have been here in Birmingham, I have been hosted by a number of friends. Others spared some time to pop-in and see me. I got to hang out with the faith-journey stirring families of Jonathan Flurry and Robert Hope. Then the wonderful Womacks had me over for two nights where I got to visit with the Varvoutis’ as well. Having fellowship with these friends who are also family is heartwarming. The Elliotts invited me to a Bible Study were we had some good indulgence into scripture with Micheal Kline leading us through Romans 13. Mr. Rick Hunt took me out for lunch and spontaneously took me to see his wife Laura. Samantha Ferguson came over with her kids and had us sharing our wonderful time spent together in Zambia. To top it up, the Thomas’ joined us for soup then worship at Alabama Theater. All these were very encouraging moments with heart-to-heart connection time that I have treasured.
The Waltmans’ place has been my base for all this time, as it’s been on all our visits in previous years. They faithfully live out “what’s mine is yours.” Their home has been home to pretty much everyone else that has walked through their door. We have had times of laughter, sheer joy, worship and much longed for fellowship, making the two years that Prima and I have not traveled to the US seem like half a lifetime apart from some of our most treasured friends in the whole world.
One of my major highlights was extending my stay so that I might attend the Liberty Church Missions Conference. We had an encouraging missionary lunch where many prayed over me personally, we shared in worship sessions with exceptional speaking, a Sunday evening banquet with food from around the world and a speaking opportunity for me to share about Beats and Books and what the Lord is doing in our ministry.
Speaking of opportunities, I met Mr Timothy Gully of Merchant Retail Partners during the week. He is such a gentleman and an example of Christ. I don’t know this man, but the 60 minutes I spent with him are some of the best I have had on this journey. I look forward to what the Lord has in store with this relationship.
The Kingdom family here is phenomenal. I feel a sense of belonging. When I got back to Birmingham, I found a stash of books from Florida. This is amazing because we can see how much our friends in Florida still think about us. I am deeply grateful for the relationship we have with the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm.
I hope that my visit has been of encouragement to everyone I met as much as it has been to me.
My heart is filled with gratitude for the senior Waltmans and the Gilberts being parental figures all the times that we have been here, including this round that I came without my family. Their authentic care and involvement in our lives is impressive. I have lingering memories of enriching conversations around meal times and I’m enthralled at all the gifts you share. All of these are vital community forces that keep pushing us to serve in our field even better. You spur us on to good works with your love.
For everyone who has sent us gifts (sorry the list is endless, but you are all so special) THANK YOU very much for your generosity.
If I could do this journey again, I would not dare leave my family behind. I hope my visit has been one of mutual benefit “that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” as Paul would put it. I’m so thankful to be received as a brother, a co-laborer, a son, a teacher, a friend and you can fill in the blanks. Thank you for keeping your hearts and homes open for me and my family. And on behalf of Beats and Books, may we only grow deeper in our God-ordained relationships.