It has been about six weeks since I last wrote on here, and most of you (not that there are hundreds of people who read this) already know why. Thank you for your love and prayers during this difficult time. I’ll just take this opportunity to briefly catch up.
Growth at Peniel
Last night we had another man join Peniel. That brings our number up to 18. I know that doesn’t sound like a huge number, but up until last night we had not had any new members since last December. So it’s very encouraging that we’ve had someone join in my first month as pastor. It is a great start asfar as I’m concerned.In addition, we’ve had a steady supply of new visitors including young families with children and teenagers. All of the people who have been coming have come for two specific reasons: 1) someone they know personally invited them, or 2) God told them specifically to come. We’re still praying and preparing for revival and I know that God is doing, and will do, great things at Peniel!
My ordination took place on September 27th. It was an exciting, emotional, and exhausting day. I was amazed at how merciful they were during my questioning. I guess everyone else was too because the comment was made several times during the day that people had been looking forward to my “interrogation” for quite some time. However, after the books I have written there was not much question about where I stood on the major doctrinal issues; if they didn’t know me, they wouldn’t have ordained me in the first place.
That night we (Peniel and Southgate) had a combined service and I got to preach. It was great to be there with both of my “home” churches. Coincidentally, (if you believe in that term) it was five years and one day since I was licensed there at Southgate. It is amazing to me how quickly the time has flown.
Joseph Heath Byrns
On to the real reason I have not been writing much: on October 9th Kristian and I lost our son, Joseph. She had had 3-4 routine doctor appointments and tests each week because of some complications early on. On Monday and Tuesday of that week he was fine. When we went in on Thursday, he had no heartbeat. They determined that he had passed already. They induced labor, and over 3o difficult hours later we insisted that they take Kristian back for a C-section.
He was born at 6:09 that Friday night. The whole family got to hold him for a while. He was the most beautiful child that I have ever seen. He had his mother’s nose, eyes, and hair; he had his father’s mouth, ears, and hands. We laid him to rest the following Friday in the family cemetery.
Preaching his funeral was among the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I miss that wonderful child every day. In the 36 weeks he was with us I came to know him, and love him. But I find some solace in knowing that one day I will see him again.
So many of you have gone far above and beyond what was expected and we are forever grateful. We could not have done it without the family members who went through the entire pregnancy with us and were there throughout the labor and delivery. The dear friends who have called, sent cards, visited, sat with us, and cried with us have helped more than they know. And churches like Peniel, Southgate, Pleasant Hill, Faith, Sunray, and others, that supported us with prayers and gifts have touched us with their care and generosity, and have shown the love of Christ in a tangible way during a difficult time. We love you all.