This Is Where We Belong

The most recent edition of Third Chances, a newsletter about ministry in Danville, Virginia, is available at: http://eepurl.com/uIBEr

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This Is Where We Belong

A little over twelve months ago I found myself in one of my favorite places in Danville: near tacos and with a friend. My friend always insists on paying for the meal, saying “I’ll pay if you pray—for the meal that is.” Only a couple months before this lunch, I had finally committed myself to doing something that frightened me more than I can really explain. Namely, I had started the process of leaving my part-time job at a lovely, local congregation (First Baptist Church of Danville, VA) to follow what my wife Jessica and I felt God was calling us to do: to lead and serve full-time among the homeless, near-homeless, poor, and addicted in Southside Virginia.

I knew that this whole venture would require me to raise financial support from willing donors and, at the time, I’d never done any significant fundraising. We had agreed with FBC that our last day was a little over 7 months away and I’d had some limited success raising pledges of financial support but there was still a long way to go before it would be possible for me to follow where my community affirmed I was being called. So, I scheduled a lunch and confessed my fears to this dear friend—harboring in my heart the hope that he knew something I didn’t and could cast away my anxieties with knowledgeable and reasonable assurances.

But, he didn’t do anything like that. Instead, he said, “Of course it’s scary. You’re following God,” and then parroting the words I had used to describe the beginning of the process, “and it’s an adventure. It’s not meant to be comfortable—it’s faith!” I could feel the back of my neck getting sweaty as the last word left his lips and I realized that he wasn’t going to take away my fears and anxieties.

But as I considered his surprising words, he continued, “Josh, the only thing that surprised me about you going full-time was how long it took you to get there.” Noticing my confused look, he added, “This is what you’re supposed to do. It’s apparent to me and just about everybody else. Now, you have to go out and find other people who can see what God is doing at Grace and Main.”

My anxieties were still there and I still had a long way to go toward raising the financial support that I would need to make it possible for me to be supported in ministry, but that was the day that I discovered something incredible through the Spirit speaking through my friends: I was going to do this, whether I could make a living at it or not. God had led us into this place and this was where we belonged.

That friend and his lovely wife were one of the first families to pledge their support to Third Chance Ministries, the organization that supports me and others as missionaries among the homeless, near-homeless, poor, and addicted in Southside Virginia. Over the next seven months, God blessed us with faithful and generous donors who could see where the Spirit was moving in our midst and who were glad to join with us in service by adding their support to the support of others. As of this morning, nearly 60 families have committed themselves to helping to support not only me, but also two other missionaries—one of whom is already actively serving and leading on the Northside of Danville. Many of you who receive this newsletter are among the individuals and families who make this all possible. For that, I say thank you and please look to your mailbox in the upcoming weeks for a record of your donations in 2012. We are thrilled to have your support, even as we continue serving and raising funds to enable others also to join us in the place where God has led us: the place we’re meant to be.

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