When I communicated where we going next, I had an insightful and challenging question in the comments,
“We watched your video and are somewhat confused. Our question is not where, or when, or what, but why. Why would you leave Allendale when clearly God is working through your family there. Why, when you have no apprentice groomed to fill your void?
Try to imagine Paul leaving the churches he planted without a capable protégé, and you may understand our confusion.”
(I had similar questions in the comments section when I communicated when we plan to move.)
Before I answer that question (“Why?”), let’s rewind the tape to give an overview of how we’ve felt and thought along this journey.
For the few years that I was a pastor (and some before that), I had heard of the prosperity gospel. But I’ve seen (and heard) it up close so much more since we’ve lived in Allendale.
Remember the kind grandmother who gave me a dollar at church, so that “God could bless me”? That wasn’t the first or last time that I’ve experienced the idea that we can do things that cause God to act a certain way, and that God’s gifts of health and wealth are second only to salvation.
And here are some other resources that explain (and teach against) the prosperity gospel:
My final season playing football for Furman University started out well, with three wins, and our only loss was a respectable game against a much bigger Clemson program. But a series of decimating injuries (by the end of the season, 9 of our 11 defensive starters were freshmen) led to 4 losses in the next 5 games. Needless to say, it was heart-breaking, especially for a perfectionist like me.
So, that last week, on Monday afternoon, I was walking down the hallway of our athletic facility, heading to the weight room for my next-to-last workout of my career. (We lifted weights on Mondays and Wednesdays during the season.)
I thought, “Is there any reason to work out hard in the weight room? What’s the point? Even if we do win, we’ll still have a losing record. And since I am a back-up, I’m not a major contributor to the team’s success. Will it really make a difference if I work out hard? What difference will it make if I just slack off?”
As soon as I stopped asking these questions, I heard a voice in my head as clear as can be. It said:
If you are from Greenville (SC), you are probably familiar with HOG Day, the largest single volunteer day in all of South Carolina. But did you know that Allendale has its own version of HOG Day?
From what I understand (but please correct me if I’m wrong), Operation We Care Allendale (OWCA) was launched by my friend Lottie Lewis, whose passion you can learn more about in this video and this lamentation. She yearns to see a greater Allendale, and for that change to come from the hearts and efforts of our own local citizenry.
All I can say is that I’m glad my ancestors came to this country after the abolition of slavery (my father’s side came from Colombia and my mother’s side from Russia).
Now, let me find a black guy to hug.
Note: If this video offends you, please try to remember that it was on SNL. Their goal is to offend you.
I’m going to the Bahamas, and I need your help.
No, not the “Bahamas” that you’re thinking of. Well, probably not.
In less than 5 weeks, I will be going on an overseas mission trip to Eleuthera, a long, skinny, and barely populated island east of Nassau. I will be a part of a team of 20+ men from Grace Church, in a trip that is a combination of service and a training camp.
This will be my third overseas mission trip, after going to Nicaragua (March 2003) and Kenya (November 2007). My wife went on a mission trip to Eleuthera in May 2010. And all this comes after I thought I’d never go on a mission trip, since I Hate Roughing It.
In fact, this culturally engaged opportunity will include all these aspects:
I’ve heard this several times in Allendale over the past two months: “I thought you were gone already.”
I guess this reaction is a combination of us:
- communicating in waaayyyy back in October that we would be moving,
- being out-of-town for almost half of December, (including travelling almost 2000 miles in 30 days), and
- not having many programs going on in the community during these cold winter months (besides Robotics and the upcoming spring break camp)
I’d like to think that people are pleasantly surprised to find out that we are still in Allendale, instead of them thinking, “I was hoping you’d be gone already.”
(I’m sure there are people in both camps, and that’s fine.)