Ah, my friends, greetings again! My trip to South Africa was truly an incredible experience, and I look forward to sharing with you about in the days to come. Right now, though, it is also very nice just to be home in Greencastle. 30 hours of travel will do that. But, it's not just that. As Anna, the kids and I drove through Greencastle late Wednesday evening, I found myself with refreshed eyes and heart for our city and community. I suppose being able to see God at work in a distant land has reminded me God is always at work in our own community.
I hope you have been well, and I am looking forward to seeing you and worshiping with you this Sunday. Lo and behold, I picked a good Sunday to return. We are highlighting our commitment to the mission of Heifer International this Sunday. If you were to ask me, "What can we do to help the people of South Africa?" In all honesty, I would say purchasing a chicken or goat or cow would be the place to start. It gives practical, direct help. Even if you can't make it to worship on Sunday, I encourage you to visit www.heifer.org to learn more about this mission and to give for the sake of others.
I had intended to write more while away, but I found other pastors with me were writing just as well. I highly recommend Brent Wright's reflections, which can be found here: revbrentwright.wordpress.com. Plus, God was moving me to take more time to simply pray this last few weeks. That said, this Sunday before worship I invite you to join me in the fellowship hall before worship so I can share a bit about my trip.
I was really moved by a man named Peter Storey, who spoke to us from his many years of serving churches in the difficult days of South African apartheid. He had one quote in particular that really struck us as pastors, and it's a quote we should always keep before us as a church: "The church is not really the church until it moves beyond merely serving itself and becomes the church for the world."
I am grateful for the ways God has already moved us as a church to be this type of community. But how else can we move beyond merely being a church community that exists for our own sake and become a family that works to build up the community of Greencastle?
Friends, may God continue to lead us in that way, as surely God will if we but follow our Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of Peter Storey again, "If you are looking for Jesus, go to where his friends are: the poor and the sick, the children and the powerless, the oppressed and the prisoner. Go to the ones Jesus spent his time with and you will find peace and joy and life."
Can't wait to see you soon. God's peace to you,