This past year has seen many changes in the lives of Timberley, Samuel, and I. We have experienced the death of our daughter, relocated to a new (and always temporary) location, changed our ministry and work, endured the sickness and death of Todd’s mother, and then rejoiced in the sickness and recovery of Todd’s father.His will in certain things.
Through all of these trials we have experienced the surety of God’s hand in our lives. That hand has not always been comforting, but it has always been certain. His hand at times has seemed severe, yet it has always inspired confidence. We have learned through this year to trust in God despite turmoil in our lives, uncertainty about our future, and sorrow about loved ones.
God has led us through some decisions, and the results of God’s leading have led us to better understand, in part, God’s will and design for our lives, and to understand, in part, the events of the past year. I say “in part” because there is still a vacuum that no understanding will fill. And it is that vacuum that we must learn to live with and to offer our selves to God’s care and providence without knowing, or liking,
All that being said, I need to let you know about some recent important changes in our lives. On July 1, we began our leave of absence from the International Mission Board. That means that although we still have a formal relationship with the Board, we have no responsibilities and are not being supported in any way from it. That decision was made as it became clear that we were not going to be able to return to Indonesia at this time.
As the time drew near for that break in service to begin we were contacted by a friend at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, about an opportunity to join the Old Testament faculty. At first I did not think much would come of it, for various reasons, but perhaps the biggest being that it did not look as if they would be hiring anyone for almost a year. We needed to find some other work before that time. But I responded that I would be glad to talk to them about it.
As it turned out, they did want to hire someone now. I have been invited to join the faculty of Southeastern Seminary beginning this fall. We are working out details now, but it looks as if we will be moving to Wake Forest, NC on August 1.
It seems as if God is bringing together some new things that only He could do. Southeastern is a place where I can be involved in training young men and women (and probably some not-so-young men and women) for gospel ministry including service overseas. But the relationship between Southeastern and the Mission Board is such that I will still be able to see to fruition some of the goals I had made while I was in Indonesia. It became very important to me while in Indonesia to develop theological education in other countries so as to help strengthen the local national churches and conventions. This was a difficult task while on the field because of limited resources available and other factors. I can see now how God might be working in a new way, however, as I will be at a seminary with greater resources and with an institutional focus on seeing God’s gospel of salvation go out to the whole world, seeing churches around the globe strengthened, and training pastors of all nations for gospel ministry.