There are a number of global crises affecting our planet today. Regardless of what you think the most important is, I hope hunger is on your list. Every day thousands die from a lack of food. In my lifetime, the food crisis has only gotten worse. Since 2005 global food prices have risen 80 percent! In the last year the prices of popular foods such as rice, beans and wheat has doubled. Much of the world faces an unprecedented challenge to feed itself; more and more often it is failing.
We have had wonderful opportunities to interact with the Cedar Lane family this summer. One large project, the planning of the summer combined adult series on missions, was spearheaded by Kyle and Greg. They have recruited several other speakers to address various topics, and will each have a few chances to speak themselves. The hope is that we will take a good look at the realities of American mission work and the thinking behind it in order to move purposefully to a better understanding and participation in God’s work around the world and next door.
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.
This month held one weekend set aside for a special conversation about team dynamics facilitated by Dr. Randy Willingham of the Harding University Center for Advanced Ministry Training. Randy and I arrived at Harding the same year, he as an associate Bible professor and I as a student. We had a fortuitous encounter—a divine encounter, if you will—while I was searching for a Bible professor in need of an office assistant. He didn’t even know he could have an office assistant, which put me in a pretty good light. Since then Randy has been an amazing mentor and friend to me. It was a great favor to the team that he would take an entire weekend out of his busy and, more importantly, ministry-packed schedule to help us.
I suggested we have this article because so much has happened in our lives lately. Besides updating you on Ana Grace, there are some things that I want to share—some happy, some sad. Thanks to any of you that pray for our families. It means so much, and we hope that we can bless your families as you bless ours.
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.
What do you admire most in a missionary? Perhaps courage comes to mind, the ability to face many unknown obstacles in a foreign land. Maybe you would mention trust in God, because most missionaries have concluded their work will fail without the aid of the Creator. Many would mention the incredible talent God’s ambassadors must have in interacting with people of other
cultures. The list is long.
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.