Anyone who has ever been on a short-term mission trip can testify to the truth that you may go to the foreign field in order to be a blessing to others, but you will quickly find that you are the one that leaves blessed.
The same has proven to be true for us on this two-week venture to share with various churches. For those who aren\’t familiar with a GIC (Global Impact Celebration), it is a program designed specifically for Southern Baptist Churches to help engage their congregation in missions. Whether it\’s local, national, or international, the emphasis is this: reaching the lost for Christ. While the \”program\” of the GIC is similar at each church, each GIC takes on the personality of the church and has it\’s own twists. We have found this to be very true over the last week and a half.
First Baptist Church of Central Florida
We began our trip in Orlando, FL at First Baptist Church of Central Florida. This is a very diverse church and this was our second year in attendance. Even though we weren\’t able to stay for the whole conference because of previous commitments, we were able to participate in the first two days which were a great blessing. It was fun to reconnect with some of the church members and other GIC participants who we met last year. We were lucky enough to have the Sprinkle family as our hosts again. They are always very hospitable and fun to be with. We also spent time with Mark and Jana Faus who serve with MAF Canada. We spent an hour and a half with them over breakfast, bouncing ideas and plans off of them. Mark has served with Mission Aviation Fellowship for many years and is also a pilot. He is always a great encouragement especially for Richard since he has experience in the same type of mission work we will be engaged in. It was also nice for me to spend a little time with Jana and hear from her what it\’s like to raise a child while on deputation.
The service on Wednesday night was very challenging. The speaker made a statement that I think was right on target for all of us. He said,
\”There is always someone waiting on the other side of your obedience.\”
In other words, if we aren\’t faithful to the calling God has placed on our lives, someone life will not be impacted as God has planned it. That\’s pretty powerful if you ask me. It opened my eyes a little more to the fact that my choices and my obedience don\’t just effect me, but everyone who Christ has in my path both now and in the future.
Another highlight of our time at FBCCF was sharing with the Jr.\’s and Sr.\’s at the Christian school. Last year we had the Kindergarteners and First Graders so it was a little bit different environment this go round :). We really enjoy sharing with this age group because we feel like it\’s such a crucial point in a person\’s life. God called both of us when we were teens so we like to challenge the young people to keep an open heart to God\’s calling… you\’re never too young to be called!!
We met a lot of great people while at FBCCF this year and we are thankful to all those who encouraged us and gave us gifts to help welcome little Elliott into the world!
Lindsay Lane Baptist Church
Our next stop on the church trail was Lindsay Lane Baptist Church in Athens, AL. We were especially excited about this GIC since we know the Missions Pastor (Eric Pugh) and his family very well. His daughter and son-in-law (Lauren and Nacho Ortiz) are some of our really good friends. We orginally met them in Argentina while studying at Word of Life and last year they moved up to Chattanooga for Nacho to study at Tennessee Temple University. They were at the GIC and it was fun to hang out with them and Lauren\’s family.
Lindsay Lane hosted a big soccer outreach on Saturday to help kick off the GIC. It was a cold and very windy day, but there was an awesome turn-out! I think in all there were about 200 people, praise the Lord! Since most of those in attendance, especially the soccer players, were hispanic, Nacho (who is from Ecuador), gave the Gospel in Spanish and Richard translated. Richard really enjoyed the opportunity to put his Spanish to good use and what better way than sharing Jesus Christ! I believe there were several decisions made and we are trusting the Lord to make that day a fruitful one.
Fortunately, I had a cozy place working in the concession stand and was able to escape the windy weather outside… one of the benefits of being pregnant is getting VIP treatment! I\’m enjoying while it lasts 🙂
Saturday night was had a Sunday School fellowship at the home of the Congos. We enjoyed a great meal and Richard had the chance to share about our ministry. It\’s always a privilege to share what God has called us to do.
Sunday was a great day too as we heard from Larry Reesor (President of Global Focus who started the GIC program) and had the chance again to share with some teens in Sunday School. Richard challenged them to keep their hearts open to God\’s calling and to use whatever talents they have for the glory of the Lord. That evening we were privileged to share with both Jr. and Sr. High for the entire evening service. There were probably about 50-60 teens and Richard was able to share our testimony of God\’s faithfulness in guiding our steps over the years. He shared a challenge from Romans and our prayer is that God will use His Word to speak to these youth about missions!
Monday Richard had the opportunity to go with Major John Frasier (a military test pilot) to the military hangar in Athens and see some military aircraft. Needless to say he was pretty pumped about that :). I took the opportunity to do some b-day shopping for Richard and relax a little. That evening we had dinner with the Frasiers and enjoyed getting to know them a little better.
Tuesday morning we shared at Faith Christian Academy with the K4-4th grade. It was very fun and very interesting. We had every question from, \”Is it true that they don\’t love God down there?\” to \”If they don\’t have toilets, how do they go to the bathroom?\” It\’s always an adventure sharing with this age group, but it\’s a lot of fun!
That night we had a missionary sharing service at Lindsay Lane. It was so encouraging and exciting to hear from about 12 different missionaries about the work they are doing around the world. God is so good!! Richard got the chance to share and it was a great opportunity to make others aware of the tremendous need in the Amazon.
Capshaw Baptist Church
Wednesday we were off to our next stop at Capshaw Baptist… just ten minutes down the road from Lindsay Lane. We were immediately welcomed by the staff and could tell it was going to be a great week!
That night was the \”Kick-Off Celebration\” of their GIC… it was like a pep-rally! It was good to see a church so excited about missions and engaging their people. This was Capshaw\’s first missions conference and they did a great job! The message that night by Tim Anderson was very motivating and encouraging. And the worship music… wow! I don\’t think I\’ve felt that stirred by music and worship in a long time.
We met our host family that night, Goeff and Rachel Dean, and immediately connected. They have an English Lab who reminded us a lot of our dog (who we missed tremendously!) It was nice to have him around since we couldn\’t have our \”baby\” 🙂 On Thursday, we go to sleep in for a little while and then we went to the Senior Luncheon and enjoyed some testimonies by some of the missionaries. Later that evening we enjoyed dinner with the Kirkpatricks. John has an interest in aviation so it was nice for us to be able to share what God is doing on the Amazon through aviation. That night was another great service with Steve Bateman. All of the messages were so encourgaging and much needed!
Friday we visited the Downtown Rescue Mission for lunch and toured the facilities. God is really doing a work through that ministry! It\’s so exciting to see the many aspects of the work that God is doing around the world, but even in local ministries. For dinner that night, we ate at the home of Adam and Candace Landers. It was a delicious home cooked meal and very relaxing to just be in their home and be able to chat for a while. They have a precious little boy that made us even more excited to meet ours very soon!! That night at the service, Richard and I did a \”fly-by\” in the kids classes and shared breifly with them about aviation missions. We gave them each a little sticker for their \”passports\” while they ate their \”foods from around the world\”. It\’s so great to see a church engaging their young people in missions!!
That night we heard from Edgar Sathuluri… talk about passion! Edgar is a national from India who has an AMAZING church planting mission with more than 10,000 disciples. He the type of missionary who you want to pattern your ministry after. When he speaks, it\’s like the Word of God is just pouring out of him. We could have listened for hours!!
On Saturday, we had a ladies luncheon and the men had a fellowship. Immediately after that several of the ladies from the church had organized a baby shower for me…. it was so sweet! I couldn\’t believe their thoughtfulness and generosity. We got lots of goodies for Elliott and could barely fit it all in our car! The most special thing was the stroller/carseat combo that the Children\’s Ministry had saved and purchased for us. What a blessing! It\’s very humbling to be on the receiving end of such generosity.
That night we had a relaxing meal with the Deans (our host family) and the Watkins (he is the Worship Pastor at Capshaw). Geoff cooked some delicious steaks and we enjoyed the chance to relax and chat for a while. It was like being at home!
Sunday was packed full of excitement. Richard taught Sunday School and shared about what God has called us to do. There were many people genuinely interested in God\’s call on our lives which was a real blessing and encouragement. Pastor Zach Terry gave the message and it was a great challenge to all of us. Afterward we had lunch with Brandon Watkins at a great little bar-b-que joint in Athens.
Stop in Birmingham
We tore down our booth later that afternoon and after the evening service said good-bye to so many new friends and hit the road once again for Birmingham. It was supposed to be about a 2 hour drive…. but turned into three and a half! We were thoroughly exhausted but finally arrived at the home of Jeremy and Rachel Gore. They are a great couple with a real heart for missions!
The following day we spent with the Gores sharing how God has been working in our lives and hearing some of their testimonies of God\’s faithfulness in their own lives. We loved getting to know them better!
One very special thing that happen at lunch that day was when Richard had the opportunity to share Christ with our waiter in Spanish. His heart was tender but he seemed very confused about the truth. His name is Daniel if you think to remember him in your prayers!! We are hoping to set up a soccer outreach to reach out to the Latino community in that area.
We couldn\’t have possibly asked for a more encouraging, motivating, and refreshing trip!
God worked in both of our hearts and gave us a revived passion to GET TO THE FIELD!! Thanks to everyone who prayed for us during this time. God is doing so much and we are so thankful for all those who are supporting us prayerfully and financially.