July 1, 2019

Good Monday Morning!! The next couple of blogs I want to primarily focus on our situation and then hopefully get back to some more normal blogs for awhile. I’m not sure which direction to start with this morning but I’ll just jump right in.
In case you missed it yesterday we announced our resignation from FBCWS after almost 15 years here. At some point I will do a little reminiscing but not today. Our last Sunday in the pulpit will actually be September 29th so we still have some time to say our goodbyes and get ready to leave. We announced our decision a little early primarily because we need to let everyone know NOW because we will be looking to sell our home soon and we will begin raising support immediately (more about that next week).
We are resigning and moving to Jamaica in early 2020 to work primarily as directors of the Noah’s Ark Children’s Home in Martha Brae, Jamaica (www.reachjamaica.com). We will be directly responsible for 12-20 boys and for their physical and emotional and spiritual needs. We will also be working with the Riverside Baptist Church which is located in the same compound with the children’s home. And we will be hosting mission teams that will be coming down to work there in this impoverished community and help to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be working with Henry Baptist Church from Atlanta, Georgia and the mission board which will be helping to shape the vision. We are taking the place of Mack and Marilyn Locklear who are the founders of this entire ministry. About 20+ years ago they went down to Jamaica at about our age and started a church and then God gave them the vision for a boys home and they did an amazing job of starting this whole ministry from nothing. Our goal is to do our best to continue to grow this ministry and to honor the legacy of the Locklears. It will be a huge challenge for Jennifer and I as we step out in faith and begin a journey of growing our trust in God.
This has truly been a difficult journey for me and we are still 6+ months away from leaving for Jamaica. I can only imagine what it will be like when we are there. Jennifer and I have felt that God has been leading us toward international missions for some time now. She has felt that call since she was a child and for me missions has been an important part of my life for many years. When I was a Youth Pastor the best thing we did every year was lead our youth on mission trips to inner-city neighborhoods to share the gospel. Several years ago I read David Platt’s book “Radical” and again I felt God was saying it was time to get more involved in missions again. We have seen the value of short-term mission projects and God has continued to pull us towards full-time mission work internationally. I will share more in the coming days about the entire spiritual pilgrimage God has had me on over the last 6-9 months but let me just say today that it has been extremely difficult. I had never had this deep desire to even visit Jamaica much less live there so God has had to do a work in my heart. He has stretched me and pulled me and grown me but not without a lot of pain. Not only does it mean a total shifting of everything I know, from my bed to my house to my A/C to my motorcycle (which has already been sold – again, a story for another day) to my family. My family. There is where it gets the most difficult. If you know me you know how much I love my children and grandchildren. I continue to struggle in this area. Pray for me. As many times as I read those missionary stories about them sailing away and never seeing their families again I just stop and ask “Why me, God?” And God just keeps saying, “Why not you?” I am constantly reminded of Luke 14:26 (MSG) which says, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple.” It is honestly the hardest thing God has ever asked me to do. And I am weak sometimes. Pray for me. I know some of my children and grandchildren still don’t understand why we have to go. I hurt with them. It is tough. Pray for them. Someone else gave me this verse in Matthew 19:29 (NIV) “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” It is a reminder to me that it’s not about me. It’s not about what I want. If it was about what I want I would be relaxing on a beach somewhere with my grandchildren bringing me cold drinks all day. But it’s about being obedient to what God has called me to do. And not to suggest that everyone needs to go and do what we are doing but I do believe many of us have just settled into a comfortable life and we have missed God’s true calling. Life here on this earth is not about comfort and convenience and doing what I want. Pray for me and I will pray for you! More to come! Next week: How you can partner with us!
Olivia Travis? Yes, our youngest daughter was married this past Saturday evening in a wonderful evening of fun and celebration. It was my honor to not only give the bride away but to officiate the ceremony. I mentioned at the ceremony that this completes my job in some regards, having baptized and performed the wedding for all six of my children. What an honor, and maybe the greatest thing God has allowed me to do so far in my life. Olivia and her new husband, Darrell Travis, are off on their honeymoon this week and I know they are having a great time. In case you didn’t know, weddings are a lot of work (ha). Olivia put countless hours and days into preparing for this one night and then her mother and many others (Thank you Judy and Gayle and others) worked tirelessly to make sure her vision was carried out. It all came together in an amazing way. I was pretty much exhausted and I didn’t do much. And in case you heard rumors about a crazy Father/Daughter dance circulating on the internet I can neither confirm nor deny these rumors. Thank you to all of you who were able to come. I apologize that Olivia couldn’t invite everyone. If she had rich parents she would have, so I guess it’s really my fault if you didn’t get an invitation. I already miss her but that comes with the territory of being a parent. You raise them to be independent and successful and she is well on her way. When Olivia and Darrell return they will immediately move to Tennessee where she will begin Medical School in August (Funny aside: It’s funny how many people I have told about her going to medical school and their question is, “So what does she want to do then?” Uhhhh, become a doctor? Hello). For Jennifer and I the empty nest is now official and we don’t even have time to enjoy it (see above). Pray for Olivia and Darrell that God will continue to be the center of their marriage and their lives together!!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?