Today’s service (7/1/12) at Tri-State was one of the best I can remember in my (exactly now) 18 years in Hagerstown. It was a Sunday focused on our missions outreach – featuring three of the families with long-term connections to the church.
Marlin and Ruth Brubaker were the first to say they could be with us on this date. They now work in Colorado Springs for HCJB World Radio. This ministry was founded in Quito, Ecuador in 1931 by a guy with a transmitter in a city where only six people had radios … and he named it a “world ministry” because he had a big vision! It has covered ¾ of the world’s surface. Marlin is an engineer who keeps the technology working.
Bill and Michele Nelson met and married while at TSF – where Bill was a staff member for five years in the early 90s. For the past 14-15 years he has directed the InterVarsity ministry at Johns Hopkins University and medical campus. Bill is especially involved in the personal work that goes on with international medical students. It is a relationship building, evangelism, and discipleship ministry with a lot of turnover … as students eventually go back to their home countries where they will be church leaders. These are often Muslim and Hindu countries.
Pete and Carolyn Bitner have now served over a decade in Togo, West Africa. They shared an incredible array of stories of their work in discipleship with two different people groups. Pete has done such things as play in a soccer league of mostly Islamic guys. The team picture makes it very clear which one is Pete! Let’s just say that he really stands out among all those Africans!
It was a great experience for these three families to be together at the same time – and that was some of the plan for today. They estimated that it was about 15 years since they were all in the same place at the same time. Another key player in all their lives is Bill Kesecker and the discipleship class he led years ago for young adults of that time. So many of these folks are now in missions work – including Anna from our Kazakh team.
Much of the talk today was about the idea of being a team / an army – serving together in various roles. Like with any organization, it is not just about the people who are public and on the front lines. It takes a support structure. I estimate that we have given about $2,000,000 to missions projects and people in the years I’ve been here. For a large church, that is not much … but it is a big number for us. It is equal to about all the money spent on our facilities purchases and construction. And in other terms, our mortgage payment is now in the lower 400,000s.
But today surely reminds me that it is worth it all to have a worldwide focus. God does; we should.