We are now three months into our Tullahoma time and what have we been up to? Well, besides the typical office days for Kyle, nap times for Shaye, and a Peruvian dinner thrown in, we have travelled several times. Kyle took a quick jaunt up to New York and Boston with his brother-in-law to catch a few baseball games and reports that Fenway Park is as unique and enjoyable as everyone says.
The team has recently shifted away from talking about “house” church to talking about “organic” church. Some have already said that we should just stick with house church language, since people are familiar with it. We cordially disagree, however, for a few reasons.
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.
Less than six months. Does that sound really short to anyone else? We are finally here…my home town, Tullahoma, TN. I have been waiting for this move for a very long time. I thought that I would be so ready for this time, but I have been experiencing some weird emotions. I am very happy to be among “my people,” but I will miss the people of Shiloh Road so much. I grew to love them and was loved by them in ways that I never expected. God taught me a powerful lesson in Tyler, TX. Wherever we are on this earth, if we can find the church, we have found family.
A couple of weeks ago we made yet another exit and yet another entry. Our recent years have been full of packing, loading, unpacking, settling in, leaving friends and family, and meeting new friends and family. Among the most beautiful of Jesus’ promises is the assurance that whatever family we leave for his sake will be compensated a hundred times (Mk 10.29-30). Of course, this makes no sense if we think that Jesus is suggesting our loved ones are replaceable or that he is offering some sort of equitable return for sacrificial discipleship. Since he is not, we are challenged to experience a reality that certainly cannot make sense outside of the Kingdom.
From the beginning of our involvement with teamAREQUIPA we’ve been asked questions. I can understand that. For a group of college students to plan a long-term mission work in a foreign country surely raises a lot of questions among their family, friends, and supporters. As the time of our departure has gotten closer, the questions have been taking some interesting shifts. Early on we would hear information-gathering questions: Where is Peru? How long do you plan to be there? What type of mission work will you do? The questions I’m fielding now often have to do with how we can commit so much of our lives to this work, or how we can take our family out of the country for so long. Often times I’ve been told, “I couldn’t do that...moving to a foreign place and doing that work.”
Before a game, teams usually have someone give a little pep talk, just to get their spirits up, to get them focused and energized and motivated. Then during time-outs or huddles, someone continues that sentiment to keep the players upbeat and on task. We have just had the privilege of having Dr. Evertt Huffard lead a missions weekend at Shiloh, which served a very similar purpose.
It's hard to know what to say about two Churches of Christ partnering in a missions endeavor. Our fellowship has a lot of water under the bridge on that particular point. Yet, the thing that makes it hard to find the words is the very same thing that makes it such an exhilarating, beautiful thing. Perhaps "exhilarating" and "beautiful" are not the words that those involved in working out the practical details of partnership would choose, but they are the right words in my view.
On the night of January 12, teamAREQUIPA hosted a "Taste of Arequipa" dinner to build awareness among the Shiloh team members. We could not have been more pleased with how the night turned out. And watch out Tullahoma, we hope to do something similar during our time with you. I don't want to ruin any surprises with the Tullahomians, so I will allow the pictures on the next page to explain just enough.