|"He's gone. Don't waste any more time...move on."|
God has allowed me to experience some things that I came so close to missing out on 16 years ago when I struggled spiritually as a baby Christian. I had a horrible summer and had jumped head first back into my sin and almost didn't make it back. But God used people like Derrick Bloom, James Washington and Stacey Schmitt, (now Stacey Robinson), who didn't give up on me even when others had said "He's gone, don't waste anymore time...move on." They fought for me. And today, I stand amazed and what I have experienced!
A little more than a year and a half ago 13 men and women moved to Clemson, South Carolina, sent out and supported financially by the Athens Church of Christ, the Columbia Church of Christ and the Charleston Church (we had also received some financial support from the Savannah Church of Christ) to start a new church and a new campus ministry. What an adventure it has been!
I have been a disciple now for almost 17 years. I was converted at the University of Georgia and remember my time there as a campus student as some of the best years of my life. I started as a campus intern in June of 1996 and then went full time in the ministry with my wife, Stacey, in January of 1997 and served as campus minister for UGA, GA. State, GA Tech, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Savannah State and Armstrong University...We have helped start ministries in Chattanooga & Savannah and have even led the Arts & Entertainment ministry in Atlanta. Just before moving back to Athens to Train and build our Mission Team to Clemson I led the Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Stacey and I know how to arrange furniture and decorate a house in just under 17 minutes and 38 seconds, something you learn to do when you have lived in 13 different homes/apartments in 14 years of Marriage. Ha! I feel very honored to have been able to serve in each and every ministry that I have mentioned...each ministry has provided something different for me and Stacey...memories, lessons, growth, encouragement, disappointments...we have come across some of the most amazing men and women and have had the privilege of building friendships with brothers and sisters we would not have otherwise been connected with.
I received a friend request yesterday from a brother, Tony Dupree, who I studied the bible with and baptized over 10 years ago...my heart leaped when I saw that he was still faithful after all these years. There were photos of him in a singles ministry where they were celebrating his 10th spiritual birthday and other photos of his recent wedding to a beautiful young sister. How could that not bring joy and gratitude to anyone's heart?
I know I'm writing this because I'm emotional right now...but that's
ok...these emotions are very real and very warranted! I see God. I see
Him and have seen him working in miraculous ways for almost 17
years...sometimes I think to myself, "Are you kidding me?", because I
just can't believe what He has been doing. I know that each brother and
each sisters experience is very different...I know that we have our
Peaks and Valleys, but I'm sitting here writing this in a state of Awe.
My wife. My Children. My Family. My Friendships. My Job. My Purpose. I'm
in Awe because it's really surreal to me.
Guess what? Patrick was VERY open. As we began to study with Patrick, he devoured it like I've seen my daughters devour a hot fudge sunday from the DQ...it's a truly amazing thing to see I assure you. We have studied regularly each week and Patrick made a commitment to come to every meeting of the body...with just a couple of bible studies left to do, this past Tuesday we did the 'make or break' Light and Dark study with Patrick. BAPTISM. I felt like Aquila, sitting there with Apollos...I guess Jordan would be Priscilla, but that would be weird...He clearly saw it but had to wrestle with it. Last night, Patrick attended an FCA Service...that's right, FCA...we don't govern what these kids attend and don't attend...they need to build these convictions on their own...in this case, however, Patrick attending this Thursday night FCA worship meeting catapulted him into the light. At the end of the service they were singing a song about "Thanking God for Saving Me" and what Patrick explained to us is that he couldn't sing along...He couldn't sing what he believed wasn't true.
This alarmed him and so, at 11:43 pm I get a phone call from Patrick
saying, "I want to get Baptized tonight!" So, at 12am, I walk into the
dorms...sit down with Patrick, along with Jordan Hall, Kyle Fridley,
David Boerma (baptized last February) and David's Roommate Victor, who
is also studying the Bible and we counted the cost of becoming disciple
with Patrick. At 1am we sent out a mass text. at 1:15am we met at the
Dike on a small parcel of beach...we shared, we sang, we prayed and at
2am Jordan Baptized his roommate and best friend! Oh, also, I wanted to
mention that while Patrick was sharing, he expressed to Jordan how
excited he was that the two of them would be partners is spreading the
Gospel to the men and women in their dorm and especially the guys on
their Hall...and currently we are also studying with Andrew, their next
door neighbor who Patrick brought to church 3 weeks ago.
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