Three years ago today was one of the most disappointing days of our lives. The previous year, Sylvia and I had achieved our long dreamt of ambition of serving as missionaries in the United Methodist Church. While serving in that capacity, we ended up unintentionally uncovering a great deal of corruption and embezzlement in the church. It was a sad and difficult situation. We reported what we found to our supervisors, but for political reasons within the church, our supervisors decided not to pursue the corruption and embezzlement. On March 8, 2012, (Sylvia’s birthday), we received an email from our supervisors in New York that stated that the leader of the United Methodist Church in Malawi (the man responsible for the corruption and embezzlement – the man currently serves on the Board of the organization), asked that we not continue our assignment in Malawi. We left the country a short time later, both disappointed and relieved, but we were reeling both emotionally and spiritually.
Through a series of fortunate events I think of as prevenient grace (God’s hand guiding us to the right place), we made it to Memphis, Tennessee, and found First Congregational Church. First Congo has been a place of healing, and support for us. It has been a place where Sylvia and I have both been able to fulfill our call to serve through ministry to God and our community. We are often overwhelmed by the way God uses people, including us, to do amazing work that we don’t necessarily “get” at the time.
This morning, as the choir sang, “I Know Something About God’s Grace,” by Patrick Bradley, I was reminded of just how far my family has come in the last three years. The words the choir sang became, for me, a prayer of thanksgiving, “Can one witness testify, ‘I wouldn’t have made it without the grace of God.’”
Three years later, Sylvia and I are engaged in meaningful work that we find both challenging and fulfilling. We have two amazing children who are able to grow up in a community of faith that is as diverse and inclusive as any we have ever witnessed.
We didn’t make it here on our own. The gift of finding this place is something we celebrate often. We get to be a part of this, and our kids get to grow up in a place where great ministry is happening.
It didn’t take too long to recognize that First Congo was a place where warm hearts are present, and continue working. We are grateful to have found this place!
Grace and peace,