Monday, July 19, 2004 : The string of traffic sprawled out before us like a line of ants on a pilgrimage to a dropped and forgotten ice-cream cone. Yes, we had waited too late in the day, so we were joining the Las Vegas crowd; but it was an appropriate exodus from Southern California for us. It was a “selah” moment, one that gave us proper time to “pause and reflect” on God’s goodness to us over the last nine years we have called Southern California our home. In a region where hour-long commutes in heavy traffic are common, the longest I ever had to drive to work was about 25 minutes, and the job I was leaving was 8 minutes from home, which made it easy to come home for lunch each day.
“Home” is such an emotional word. I’d lay odds the blood pressure goes down when most people simply say the word. In my address to our home church the morning before, I very clumsily tried to point out that we were leaving home to join our ministry in Florida . This is in contrast to what several friends have optimistically pointed out, that at least Florida will be “closer to home,” meaning Tennessee . But although Cindy and I moved to California from Tennessee in 1995, we made California “home,” in the most real sense, in the last nine years.
Thankfully God gave us the precious gift of being able to take some “home” with us, in the person of Jan Felton. Jan is “Auntie Jan” to our children. Although she’s not actually related to either of us by blood or marriage, we are part of a family of a different kind, a truly permanent one: the family of God. We are so grateful she joyfully responded when God called upon her to join us. She drove as much as one of us on the >2500-mile trip, quieted, entertained and supervised Emily and Luke, was a prayer partner, confidant and dear companion for the trip and for the first few weeks of our stay here in Florida.
Reflection also gives us the opportunity to perceive that God also divinely orchestrated some special times with friends in the weeks before we left California . We were able to help Gerard and Michelle Dubish move, then spend an evening with them and just be blessed by their company and appreciate the challenge they always provide to give more, work harder, be more faithful and dare great things for our glorious God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are counting on Him to do great things at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church through them.
Dave and Rowena Elliott hosted a Bible study in their home in March. It was a great opportunity for us to spend some “quality time” with them and share on a deeper level than we ordinarily have the occasion to do when meeting for lunch or dinner or doing social things together. It deepened our relationship and, while it likely made parting that much more difficult, it taught us a great deal about each other and made our time together more meaningful.
We were so blessed by the long hours and back-breaking work so many of you shared with us, packing the truck and helping us get ready to leave Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 15-17. It seems we never learn our lesson about packing early and purging carefully! We’re so grateful for the help and what it means.
We got the opportunity to minister to Kristi, Kaylin, Jordyn and Madi Arnold by providing transportation back to Phoenix . We could never have planned that out – so it was definitely a divine appointment. (How DID we fit all that luggage, anyway??) While the mommies got one last chance to talk for hours, Emily and “her girls” were treated to the world’s longest “girl party” in the mommy car, followed by a sleepover night in Arizona. What could beat that?
The fact that the long, long drive across this great country of ours is sort of a blur tells a positive story of its own. That it was pretty much without incident. With three grown-ups and two pre-schoolers in two cars for six days, we had no mechanical problems, no serious injuries or illnesses, no accidents or speeding tickets…not only were we not pickpocketed in New Orleans , but college students from Texas shared Christ with Janice. What a reminder that you can never share Christ with the wrong person! And that God has His ambassadors everywhere.
In fact, that’s something our ministry by faith counts upon—that there are faithful partners like yourselves out there, seeking souls in need of our ministry, and faithful witnesses who need our support. This week was our first week at our assignment at headquarters, and it promises as much excitement as we had hoped. Campus Crusade for Christ is a great organization of “darers” working hard, praying hard and creatively using every means at their disposal to fulfill the Great Commission in our generation.
One such creative tool we are excitedly making plans to create in the near future is a CD or DVD-ROM with video of military testimonies like that of Staff Sergeant Jeff Struecker, a decorated war hero whose story is featured in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” It’s the kind of tool I wish I’d had to give to a young man I met in Daytona Beach, FL last year when, as part of our New Staff Training, we were invited to go out into the town and its beaches and share Christ. He had recently returned from the war ( Afghanistan ) and cursed when I mentioned God and His love and wonderful plan for us. “You wouldn’t say that,” he said bitterly, “if you’d seen your friends die in combat in front of your eyes.” It’s a situation I have no particular credibility to speak to—but Sgt. Struecker has. He testifies that it was his unshakeable confidence in Christ that gave him the courage to face what seemed certain death, not once, but three times, in Somalia in 1993.
Please pray that God will meet our personal and collective funding challenges and help us overcome technical and strategic difficulties in order to create this valuable resource.
Last night (8/10) we received and accepted an offer on our house in California ! We’re so grateful for your prayers and hope you will continue to pray that the sale goes through with no problems.