My last post about the mission in Norman was over a month ago, which is too long. The problem has been though, that for a long time there just wasn’t a whole lot of stuff happening…except waiting. Then there was a lot of stuff happening all at once. So, here is what has been going on in the last month or so.
THE TEAM. The planting team has been narrowed to three couples. Steve and Lynn Puckett and Kristian and I will be going to Norman as the team planting the first church. Also, David and Cheryl Pickard have been helping us out a lot as Bro. David is the pastor of our sponsoring church. The Vallerands were originally to be part of this team. While they will certainly be involved with the work, it seems that God is directing them to keep their focus at Pleasant Hill. The assembling of this six-person team is the culmination of almost a decade of waiting on God’s timing for this new church plant. We have a great working relationship that has developed into friendship, and we look forward to serving God together in the field.
SUPPORT RAISED. In my last post on Norman, I mentioned that our local association, the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) of Central Oklahoma agreed to provide financial support to the mission. Since the last post, our state association, the BMA of Oklahoma, voted last week to provide support as well. In our first step at the recent state meeting, the mission was voted on by the Missionary Advisory Committee, a small committee elected by the messengers to assist the missions director. Next, the mission was voted on by the Missionary Committee; this committee consists of one representative of each church (usually the pastor) and sits to help oversee the missions department. Then, we were voted on by the association, the body consisting of three messengers from each participating church. To my knowledge, all three rounds of voting were unanimous.
The way this has worked has been that Pleasant Hill decided to start a church and decided who its missionaries would be. The other churches (through the associations) then decided to help the local church fund its work. At every step, this has been the project of the local church. We are incredibly grateful for and humbled by the financial and moral support of Pleasant Hill and our sister churches!
PLANNING UNDERWAY. We went through three days of intensive missions training the weekend before the State Meeting. Bro. Larry Barker, Director of North American Missions for the BMA of America, was kind enough to drive over from Little Rock and take us through the training materials at a breakneck pace. This was not the first training that David, Steve, or I had received, but it was the first training where all three men and their wives were able to be present all at once.
The training was challenging and informative, and helped us with some strategies and ideas. Now we’re all meeting together on Wednesday nights to work out these strategies in a more concrete form and figure out just exactly what God wants us to do. Our inspiration in this process is the following verse from Luke:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—” (Luke 14:28, NKJV).
In this verse, and the passage around it, Jesus admonishes His disciples about making a confident choice to follow Him. He tells them to look things over and count the cost ahead of time, so that they will be able to follow through when they commit to Him. We want to make sure that we seek His direction, and plan ahead to follow it.
RELOCATING. Though everyone lives close by, Kristian and I are, at this point, the only ones planning to move to Norman. We know that we’ll have better luck meeting people in the community once we’re in the community, so we’re trying to get there now! We found a good real estate agent and have looked at dozens of houses, either on paper or in person. Some were great and some were greatly disturbing.
Kristian fell in love with one house in particular and was picking out paint for the nursery before we’d even seen all the rooms. The price was good for the area, so we made an offer on it. It is a modest house near the downtown area that is suitable not only to our needs but also the needs of the ministry. (If you want to have people in your home, you have to have a place to put them!)
Please pray that we find the right house—for us, our child, and the ministry, whether it’s this house or another.
PRAYER SUPPORT NEEDED!!! Above all we need prayer. We all need prayer daily. The more we plan, the more I realize how enormous this job really is. We need people who will join us in praying for the ministry and that God’s will would be done in Norman. If you would like to receive occasional e-mails from us relaying prayer needs and ministry updates, send your name and e-mail address to us.
THE EARTHQUAKE. If you have not already heard (or felt!) by now, Norman, Oklahoma is now earthquake central. Around 9am Wednesday there was a quake between 4 and 5 on the Richter Scale, depending on whether you have more confidence in the Federal Government or the University of Oklahoma. (I’ll let you guess where I stand.) This makes me very nervous. My house in Moore was hit by two tornadoes in 1999 and 2003. Our house in Bethany had a near miss the week we moved there. Now Norman is hit by an earthquake as we’re house hunting.
But even as nervous as I am about natural disasters, the earthquake did make me think. It made me think how each time there is an earthquake in the Bible, it is there to draw attention to something big that is happening. When God met with Moses on Mount Sinai, there was an earthquake (Exodus 19:18). When God freed Paul and Silas from prison, there was an earthquake (Acts 16:26). When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, there was an earthquake (Matthew 27:51). And when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, there was, you guessed it, an earthquake (Matthew 28:2)!
Am I saying that the earthquake was a message from God? You’ll have to ask Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps, because if it is, God hasn’t told me.
What I am saying is that it reminded me that if He chooses, God can shake the very Earth on which we stand. God has power that we cannot even comprehend, and can accomplish things that we cannot even imagine.
The same God who shakes the Earth and restrains the oceans is the same God we will be serving in Norman; we look forward with great expectation to what He may do among the people, and thank Him for the small role He allows us to play in His plans.