June 2008. That’s the last time I can remember us, as a team, having to purposefully raise funds for our mission work. I do not share this to boast or brag as we have many friends who have struggled to raise funds for the work they have been called to do all over the world. No, I share with you only in thanks for what the Lord has done for our team by setting us on firm ground financially.
I don’t know if it has occurred to any of you back home, but this month marks three years that we have been in Arequipa. ¡Feliz Aniversario! That is unbelievable to me. When I use the word “unbelievable” it’s not so much that I can’t believe we have been living in Peru for that period of time but what God has been able to do in that period. I step back from all of it, and I really am overwhelmed with thankfulness for you all back home.
During our time with each of our sending churches, one of the tasks we undertook was to put together a mission support team. You may be thinking that must have been a little awkward, since the point is mostly to support…us. It’s natural enough that we need support, but putting it together ourselves is something else, partly because it’s hard to know what a support team should do and partly because it’s strange to ask people to be actively thinking about what we might need or even want. The short of it is that we were in a position, in terms of time and energy, to kick-start such a support system, which everyone agreed was beneficial for the longevity of our missionary service.
It is hard to believe that we have been through our second and final send-off Sunday. I remember thinking how the six months had flown Tyler. I can say the same exact thing for Tullahoma. We have enjoyed our time with Cedar Lane immensely. They welcomed and encouraged our dream from the day we arrived and the past six months has been a wonderful time of preparation for the work we are about to begin.
Hello from Tullahoma, Tennessee. My name is Greg Muse, and I have been asked by the elders at Cedar Lane to be the point of contact for teamAREQUIPA. When asked if I would fulfill this position for Cedar Lane, I took on this task without much hesitation after some discussion with my wife, Andrea. However, there was something fundamentally flawed in my thinking, because I looked at it from the viewpoint of a independent job versus joining a team. Simply put, my knowledge of missions was limited. However it has been expanded by a wonderful summer series of classes, Wednesday night/Sunday morning discussions, and several books that have allowed God to do a “Stretch Armstrong” on me regarding missions and kingdom living.
We came to Tullahoma with intentions of recruiting a Peru Mission support team, as we did in Tyler. We consulted with our primary contact at Cedar Lane and invited those he suggested to participate in this team. Our recruiting meeting with them went well and we now have several young couples actively working to keep our relationship with Cedar Lane strong and to provide support to us as we prepare for and experience the field work itself. We didn't expect that it would turn out to be a team of our peers.
I was very excited to move to Tullahoma because it is my home. I grew up in this church. What I didn’t expect was to see so many new faces. A wonderful, unexpected blessing is the group of peers that our team has found.
On April 20th we had a pretty significant meeting at Harding University. Elders and ministry leaders from Shiloh Road and Cedar Lane gathered together with the team and Bill Richardson for discussions and the establishment of a covenant agreement between the two churches. Despite the long drive (6+ hours) for everyone involved, except Bill, a productive meeting was had and all were blessed.
We have truly been blessed with this year of preparation with our two sending churches. I can now add Dr. Phillip Slate to our list of “challenging weekend speakers.” Cedar Lane asked Dr. Slate to come speak with the elders and missions committee members on how they can be more effective in foreign mission work. Greg and Kyle worked very hard to compile a document including dates of field work, missionary and church data, and interviews of various representatives of Cedar Lane’s mission history.
More than fifteen years have passed since we as a church family launched a new missionary effort to preach the Gospel in a foreign land. Many changes have taken place in the world, in our church family, and in methodologies of mission work over that time span. As a result, we have much to learn and many blessings to realize through our service and faith in God. Please pray for all aspects of this mission.