These are questions I answer everyday. Most of the time I give a short verion that is the whole but abridged truth.
The answer has several parts but they all make sense to me.
1-I really believe God called me to love the people in my community as much as He calls me to love the French.
2-For me, loving my community means seeing the followers of Christ in Horry and Georgetown counties ON FIRE to reach outside the walls of the 'church" buildings to love the broken, poor, and neglected of the community. I wanna see every church be the Church.
3-I have seen how a short term trip to a different culture with different challenges can really make our hearts ache for the same things that grieve God's heart. So I want as many followers of Christ to experience short-term Missions as possible!
4-For two years I have supported the efforts of CUMC to send short-term and long-term misionaries abroad. It took a year, after Uganda, to hear God say work closer to home. Then after we had researched 11 or 12 different nearby countries God spoke to us and all by himself chose the Dominican Republic.
5-The last year has been spent planting a full-time Missionary in the DR and bringing her home to re-evaluate our strategy. In fact I had the privilege of accompanying the Team that went to minister to the orphans at Jackie's House and help Tasha pack for home. We also spent several days in construction at the new home under-construction for those same orphans. I spent that week unashamedly building a relationship with 19 year old wilkin Feliz a lonely believer at the new house. He guarded the empty house, living there alone with his sick 4 year-old neice Perla. We really clicked and he explained how he really had no one to mentor him. And he asked when I was coming back? It made me realize how hard short-term misions is for me now. I want to establish deep relationships, it's what I do best. But to do that in a week and then have to say goodbye forever is like torture to me.
The final months of Tasha's stay were spent deciding how best to continue our relationship with the DR. This led us to decide to use a sending agency called SCORE to send future teams. Our goal is for lifegroups to plan to go as a team. SCORE does all the rest for $65-$80 per day! They organize everything for you except the plane tickets. The Missionary team/ Lifegroup gets to choose all daily activities and the length of their stay.
6-My work now consists of mentoring my replacement and building a team to recruit, train, and manage Missionaries and Foreign Missions at CUMC.
7- I really only began full-fledged prayer-support and fundraising in October of 2008. Since that time I have added monthly sponsors to cover 18% of my monthly budget and have raised almost $10,000 of the amount needed to move and pay for pre-field training.
8- I still work full-time to support myself. I still am part of the team that leads worship every week at my church. I actually have more responsibility and rehearsal time per week now because the vocal leaders had to step up and take turns leading on Sundays. You never understand how difficult something is until you're in the hot seat yourself!
Anyways, my schedule doesn't leave a lot of room for people-raising.
9= Some of my pledge partners haven't started giving. They usually believe they don't need to give until I announce a departure date. The truth is that I can't even begin training until I get 100% of my budget covered in pledges AND all those pledges are coming in 100% every month.
10-Most of my partners have come from sharing the vision with small groups. I need friends and supporters to consider hosting me and several of their friends or family for dinner or dessert so that i can share the vision and the financial and prayer needs to make this dream a reality.
11-The economy. I don't to even say any more but I will. I believe God wants me to help plant RED-HOT Christ follower in France. So I believe He will provide everything needed to get there.
And my actions will reflect my faith in Him.
12- This has been home for 15 years in August 2009. It's hard to pull up the roots and leave behind my closest friends and family-in-Christ. I needed time to work through the potential grief and tears of letting go of "home."
These last 10 years at CUMC have been a time of exponential growth and uphill challenges. I've learned a lot about the pitfalls AND joys of leading and following in Ministry. It's never been more fun...or more difficult. Many days I feel I have a target on my back. I know Satan is after me...after all he is the Enemy, the Accuser. I also know that unbelievers aren't my enemies. Sometimes they hurt us but that should never surprise us. We did the same before Christ.
What's hardest is the pain caused by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And the shame that I sometimes cause the pain for myself and others.
So I have begun stepping back from all ministries except worship and Missions. I'm down to just one lifegroup again. I had three up until a few months ago!?! Now it's just me and the guys on Tuesday night where I've been for 3 or 4 years. I treasure them and the impact they have in my life for Christ.
Will 2009 see me 100% full-funded? Only you can say.
Would you consider pledging and beginning to give a monthly gift?
Or would you host a small meeting of 3 or 4 friends/couples where we could share the vision together?
Above all, will you commit now to pray for me until/when God makes it all happen?
I know you will. Thank you for your encouragement and your support. May every moment and every penny bear fruit 10, 100 , and 1000 fold for Jesus the Christ!