Thoughts As We Prepare to Leave for Furlough

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When I was nine years old, God first put a desire in my heart to be a missionary.  I wanted more than anything else to preach the gospel to the lost.  For the last eight years, I have been living that dream.  Though my original idea of the place I was going was considerably different from that to which I came, I am still living the dream.

Teri and I have been privileged to:

  • Live in Northern Ireland for the past eight years.
  • Have all three of our children born here.
  • See souls saved, disciples baptized, and a church started here.
  • Develop some incredibly friendships here.
  • Learn so much about God, ourselves, our culture, and the power of the gospel here.
  • Prove the faithfulness and provision of our Heavenly Father here.
  • Enjoy the bulk of our adult life and married life here.
  • Put down roots for our family, the schooling of our children, and our ministry here.

Frankly, leaving Northern Ireland is going to be much harder than leaving America.  Not that we do not miss family, friends, and familiar things in America, but we just love this place, the people here, the work that God has allowed us to do, and the live God has allowed us to live here.

As we get ready to leave this week for American, here are a few thoughts going through my head:

  1. God has been so good to me.  I cannot believe how blessed I have been to serve the Lord.  I cannot believe how He has worked in the church, usually in spite of me.  I am so thankful for all of His blessings and the privilege to be involved in the work He is doing.
  2. Prayer really does work.  When I came over to Ireland, I never wanted to return in defeat and discouraged.  Though the results may not be numerically what I would have liked, I can honestly say that we can return with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us.  Those who have prayed, supported, and encouraged us will be thrilled to know that there are names written in the Lamb’s book of life and many more to come if Jesus tarries His return because of your prayers.  My one big regret about my time here is that I did not pray more.
  3. Discipleship is the most important a work a missionary can do.  Evangelism is important.  Church-planting is important.  Pastoral work is important.  But discipleship is the method that makes evangelism, church-planting, and pastoral work possible.  It is the way that Jesus told us we would reach the world.  It is the way in which lasting converts are made, the way in which leaders are trained, the way in which churches are established, and the way in which the fruit remains.
  4. The importance of family support for a missionary cannot be underestimated.  I do not look at myself as a missionary who happens to have a family; I look at myself living with a family of four other missionaries.  Our whole family is involved in this endeavour.  Teri is probably more attached to the work and the people here than I am.  It is breaking her heart to leave.  She loves is here.  She loves what we do.  She loves the people here.  My children are excited about going to America, but they have so many friends and pretty much everything they have known that they are leaving behind.
  5. The future is as bright as the promises of God.  If Jesus does not come back, I am so excited about what is going to happen in the days that lie ahead that I almost can’t stand it.  I look forward to how God is going to use Sam Quinn to lead the ministry here in our absence.  I look forward to how the men in the church are going to grow and step up as leaders.  I look forward to seeing how uses our teenage men of God.  I look forward to many more souls being saved, lives changed, and churches started.  I look forward to training more men and being used to invest in others when we return, God willing.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support.  Thank you for your encouragement.  Please pray for us as we make the trip back this week.  Due to some complications, we have to get emergency passports on Tuesday in Belfast, and then we fly out on Wednesday from Dublin.  Please pray that God is guide us and direct us, and pray that we will just trust Him and rest in His care!

 

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