This past week has been a whirlwind of emotion and information as we have finally completed the phase of our process known as “Appointment.” As we have realized with so many things along this journey, God’s timing and plan are absolutely perfect. Originally we were slated for an appointment week in Mississippi, but were delayed due to insufficient medical information. We were then moved to an appointment in Houston, TX, but were delayed a second time due to an issue with kids education info. After this second delay, we were beginning to get discouraged thinking we might never be able to get to this point in the process. But then I sent a text….
I asked a friend of mine if he knew where the next appointment service would be held. And then, like music to my eyes, the response came…”Highview Baptist Church in Louisville.” We instantly knew that the delays had been for good reason. What a gift from the Father! First of all because of the location. While neither of the prior locations were bad, there definitely would have been a lot more for us to consider regarding logistics (namely childcare). Having the appointment here in our hometown of Louisville meant we had many dear friends from Redemption Hill (our sending church) who were able to help us look after our brood while we were in training/orientation all day everyday for nearly a week (huge thank you to all who served in this way!). The location was also ideal for our church, family, and friends to be within driving distance of the appointment service. But equally meaningful as the location was the venue. Highview Baptist is the first church Kyndra and I joined as a married couple and also the first church where I served on staff (for over 5 years). Only God can work out details like these!
Appointment week was a sweet time of getting to see old friends and meet many new ones. We had an especially great time getting to know two other couples headed to our same Affinity (Sub-Saharan Africa). It was awesome to see firsthand the army God is raising up to send out into a world shrouded in darkness with the glorious light of the Gospel. These are sweet brothers and sisters with whom our hearts were bonded immediately. Please pray for the rest of their process as well and the work they are going to do in the SSA Affinity.
In addition to meeting new people, we were also able to be briefed on many issues related to our new role within the company (IMB) and what life is going to look like in the coming months and years after our appointment. Throughout this process, we were consistently affirmed in God’s calling on our lives as well as our confidence in the organization God has raised up at this time in the SBC to facilitate local churches sending God-called missionaries. Perhaps you have read some of the press releases about the decisions made this week by our Trustees. If not, you can get a general picture here and here. Long story short, it is an exciting time to be a Southern Baptist and particularly to be part of the International Mission Board. There was a surreal moment this week when I looked down at my new company name tag and thanked the Lord for what He is doing to mobilize the SBC to the nations. The fact that we get to be part of this still boggles my mind!
The culmination of appointment week was, of course, the appointment service. Wednesday night well over 2,000 people gathered at Highview Baptist Church East Campus to celebrate what God is doing in sending 34 full-time missionaries and their 27 children. The service overall was incredible with meaningful worship and a challenging message from Dr. Platt. But by far the most poignant portion of the service for us was the prayer time for those being sent. As family, friends, and loved ones gathered around us to pray, I looked up and got a small glimpse of all the people God has sovereignly placed in our lives over these past 11 years. All I could think of was Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
As of this week we have been officially appointed as IMB missionaries. What an honor and privilege! But we understand we didn’t get here alone. We are looking to the example of those who have gone before us as well as the prayers and support of those who are running alongside of us. We want to give a huge thanks to all who came out and showed their support Wednesday night. It was a service we will not soon forget and this was a moment that will serve as a constant reminder of all who are praying for us and cheering us on as we seek to make Christ known to the peoples of Zimbabwe!