Friday August 22nd 2014 was my last day at work with General Dynamics, and my first official day as a missionary on “support”. With the deadline of September 18th looming for our departure date, I knew that I had to leave – now. With only a couple of weeks left we had to focus on closing loose ends and raising all of the financial support we could before we leave.
Just like Peter, I saw Jesus and jumped. We are still deficient on monthly support, but have enough along with other money raised to at least get started. At some point you just have to go for it. God is calling and ultimately He will provide. It is kind of like skydiving – you know the parachute is on your back, but there is always this uncomfortable uncertainty until it actually opens.
I can relate to Peter, especially his deficiencies. He denied Christ (after proclaiming so boldly that he never would), faltered in his faith after walking on water, tried to talk Christ out of being crucified – just to name a few. If you would have taken a snapshot of any of these events it would have been easy to pass heavy judgment against Peter, but if you contrast these events with the whole of Peter's life a different story would unfold.
Peter, empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit, shared the gospel so boldly and effectively that great multitudes were saved and abandoned everything to follow Christ. Peter eventually followed his Savior in death on a cross, as he was unwilling to deny Him ever again even if it meant death. History tells that Peter requested to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy of the same death as his Savior.
I have at times been rebuffed because I do not yet hold a theology degree, but neither did Peter. This did not deter him and in fact was a cause for bewilderment on the part of the religious leadership of the day. Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
I love Peter's enthusiasm at the sight of the risen Lord when he saw him from the boat. The men were not completely sure that it was Jesus on the shore, but after the miraculous catch there left no doubt. As soon as Peter got the confirmation he needed he jumped and left everyone and the fish behind. I often think of Forest Gump at the sight of Lieutenant Dan jumping and leaving his shrimp boat to crash into the pier. I'm certain given Peter's disposition that there was nothing graceful about it. Just a leap of faith leaving everything and keeping his gaze fixed on Jesus.
This past week was spent mostly focused on raising the financial support that we will need to carry us for the long haul as we care for the orphaned and abandoned of Haiti. I know some of you reading this have been contacted. Know that no letter, email, or phone call goes out without first personally directed prayers for each individual that God has placed in our life as a potential long term ministry partner.
This past Friday was my last event with my former co-workers. My former supervisor hosted a going away party for me and another guy that was leaving also. This event marked a distinct demarcation line dividing my existence for the past decade or so with one foot in the ministry and one foot out, to a leap into this calling with nothing left on the table. My initial calling to full time ministry was confirmed by Pastor Hal Rollins at First Baptist Church of Alpine in California in my mid 20's. It was there that I preached my first sermon. I have been thoroughly refined since that time and feel so much more prepared than I ever have before.
Probably my largest stretch of Biblical educational growth happened at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait under Chaplain Stephen T. Dabbs. A Navy Diver – Shannon Johnson – and I were discipled together into biblical exegesis and expository preaching. I left from there never to be the same again. There is nothing like Scud missiles being shot out of the air overhead, hanging out in bunkers in chemical weapon suits, and learning to study scripture in depth for an amazing combination.
On September 14th I will be ordained as a minister at National Hills Baptist Church at the 11 o'clock service. In addition to this my family and I will be commissioned as missionaries. It is such a privilege to be sent out, commissioned, and ordained by this wonderful body of believers. It's time to go!