It was hard to leave St. Louis, but one of the hardest things was leaving the people we have ministered to, some of whom we have relationships that go back a decade. I am truly grateful that God allowed us enough time for so many people to grow to be as part of our family.
But, for anyone whose call is to full-time relational ministry, it can be very easy to slip into thinking that ministry begins and ends in us. We don't mean to start thinking that we are the center of the universe, but gosh darn it, people don't get saved without us, tasks don't get done, and, well, the earth might stop spinning on its axis if we aren't busy doing what we do.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that when we knew we were leaving St. Louis, some of these thoughts scrolled through my head. What will all the people we've known and loved do without us?
I don't discount the magnitude of the relationships God puts in our life, but it's so much healthier for everyone if I can see myself in light of the truth. God was, is, and always will be bringing about His plans. I merely get to participate! People don't need me, they need God, and sometimes God will use me in the process and sometimes He'll use someone else.
We spent many years sowing seeds in St. Louis. We saw fruit, but mostly we were behind the plow. Some of the fruit we saw was a result of missionaries before us doing the same. Some of the fruit the missionaries who carry on in St. Louis will see is a result of our efforts...and so on. That's the beauty of God...He sees the whole picture, weaving together His purposes through the Body of Christ.
And, so, all we are responsible for is to be faithful with what lies before us. Then we will see seasons of harvest, not as our expected rewards, but as a blessing of unexpected grace. This weekend we felt that blessing.
Every year World Impact puts on a Men's Retreat. TUMI plays an integral part by providing and coordinating worship and teaching. Andrew has attended the last few years with guys from St. Louis, but this year he attended as working staff. Even though he was there in a different capacity, he still got to attend with some of the men from St. Louis that we have been working with for years. One of the men who attended for the first time this year was a neighbor, a good friend, and someone for whom we have been praying for years (this was not his first Men's Retreat invitation!)..
It is exciting to watch him continue to open up to the things of God, even from a distance, knowing that our dear friend's life is not in our hands but the hands of the God of the Universe, whose plans are always fulfilled.