533 more miles traveled today. This morning all the boys got up at 6am and drove to get showers at the YMCA in Asheville. The girls chose to get a bit more sleep. We then packed, cleaned, ate breakfast, loaded up and departed at 8:15am. After a 7 hour drive we arrived at The Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC where Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first persons to successfully fly an airplane. Our theme for the day was Vision, we following our visit we had some great discussion during our drive to Moyock, NC where we stopped at Southland for Eastern Carolina BBQ. We then drove over the border into Chesapeake, VA and passed by our old family home, and Natalia and I popped by to say hello to our dear former neighbor Miss Frances who has been having some recent health issues. We then drove to New Life Church in Deep Creek, VA where we are spending the night. New Life is the first church I served at in full-time ministry. After settling in I was so blessed to have two of my former students, Rachel and Jeremy, come by. Rachel shared a greeting, then Jeremy Miller, who is now a pastor at the church, spoke a great word to our team. We are really lookingforward to more sleep tonight than we have had on either of our first two nights, since we don’t have to drive far tomorrow. We are having a great time!
This morning our crew of 15 left Shelter Rock Church and began our 5 day discipleship road trip. Each day we have a theme, Scripture reading, meditations for everyone to contemplate, journaling, small group discussion, and Bible memory verses. We then visit a historical site or museum that connects with our theme for the day. Today’s theme was Justice and we visites the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. We discussed the terrible injustice of slavery in history, where we continue to see slavery in the world today, and what God expects of us as Christians. We then drove to Belle Vernon, PA where we are staying at a wonderful church. After getting settled in and making lunches for tomorrow we gathered together for sharing, worship, a word from Santhosh Paulus (one of our leaders) about his work of fighting human trafficking through his organization, Cycling for Change, and prayer. It was a great day, and we have 390 under our belt.
Last week I was speaking at a camp in Virginia. I called home Friday night and Claudia Mahaffy informed me that my parents (who live in Chicago) were meeting my brother Ben his son Isaiah (who live in North Carolina) in Charleston, WV on Saturday to return 2 of my nieces, who had been visiting my parents. It just so happened I was supposed to fly out of Charleston on Saturday. We were able to arrange a quick 30 minute visit before I headed to the airport. It was so awesome to see them even though it was brief. Of course, then my flight was cancelled and I ended up having to rent a car and drive the 600 miles home so I could be at church to preach Sunday morning.
Last week I had the great joy and privilege of speaking at a Group Mission Trips Workcamp in Pocahontas, Virginia. It was a blast being able to share and see students out serving. There were 216 campers from 14 churches and 8 different states. They served on 37 different work crews at 25 different homes and completed all of their projects. They served a total of 6,480 hours and also donated 2,050 cans of food to bless the community. So proud of them!
From 4/6/16: Kerri Ann is a resident at West Haven home for the developmentally disabled in Jamaica. She just exides Jesus! Mission Discovery knows her well from their years of visits. She told us she wanted a Bible, and yesterday Hannah told her she would give her her Bible! Today she delivered it and you should have seen the smile on her face. She has also been asking to be baptized for quite some time. Unfortunately her church would not baptize her because of their insistence that it must be by immersion, which is impossible for this young lady. Jen and Scott approached the director and asked if we might be able to baptize her today, and he agreed! We asked her if she wanted to be baptized today, and she lit up. When we gave her the news that she could, she had no words and simply covered her mouth and cried tears of joy. Nathan from MD drove up, and we all gathered under the shade of a tree where she professed her love for Jesus, and Jen, Nathan, and I had the tremendous joy of pouring a bottle of water over her head to baptize her. It was one of the most sacred thigs I have ever witnessed or been a part of!
The longer I walk with Jesus the smaller the world gets. I just had another one of those INSANE connections while traveling that only God can orchestrate. Yesterday I bought the upgrade to the exit row for my flight from Detroit to Denver. The lady from Michigan seated next to me, named Marlene, and I engaged in a little small talk, then we settled into our individual reading, uncomfortable napping, etc. I was reading some Philip Yancey and was also working on a wedding I am doing in a few weeks. With about ten minutes left in our flight, the woman inquired as to what kind of training I was going to Colorado for. I told her it is for a camp that I am speaking at this summer. Putting this together with the book I had been reading she asked if I was a pastor, to which I replied I am. She told me her husband had been a pastor and now leads a missions organization. I asked what part of Michigan she was from, and she said, “Rochester Hills.” I told her I used to attend church in the neighboring town of Oxford 20 years ago. I asked if she had heard of Christ The King Churh, and her eyes got really big. “That is the church my husband was a pastor at. His name is Tim Cummings.” I totally remembered him. Not only did we attend that church, we were involved as volunteers in the youth ministry, were (and still are) friends with many people from the church, including several who we had attended Bible college with, and the youth pastor, our good friend Jon Waters asked us if we could help start the youth group at their church plant in Lapeer, Michigan which we did until we moved back to New York. There is no doubt we met 20 years ago during our time at Christ The King, and it was just incredible to find ourselves – a person from New York, and a person from Michigan – sitting next to each other on a plane all these years later. What an amazing thing the family of God is!
This morning we heard a presentation about a mentoring program that Forward Edge has partnered with to help students in the community. We then loaded the bus and drove about an hour to the town of Leon where we visited a school that our youth team this summer helped to clean and paint. It was wonderful to see over 100 children in school. We visited their classrooms and served them lunch. Over lunch we talked with the pastors and school leaders about initiatives being undertaken to enhance the school, meet practical needs of students, support the teachers, and long-term goals for impacting the community. This afternoon, back at Villa Esperanza, we heard from Dr. Ravi about how Forward Edge has worked with the local people to develop strategies to effectively address community needs identified in their assessment process. After dinner we had more dialogue with Villa leaders, followed by a time of prayer.