There have been some who have expressed concern about us going on a mission trip to Kenya given the reported unrest there. I am reminded of the comment made by a rabbi that I met at the Health Department who was also waiting to get her shots coincidentally for a mission trip to Kenya the following month, “There is unrest everywhere.” She said. One doesn’t even have to leave the country or even the city to find violent unrest. One need only open your eyes and look around. Still I appreciate the concern and question raised as to why we would go so far away. My response is itinerancy is in my blood.
I am the son of a Methodist minister. I am next to the youngest child born to my parents, but was the first child born to them after my father had responded to his call to ordained ministry. In a sense, church is in my DNA. I never had the experience of living and growing up in a single church family. My experience of church is that of a broad variety of church families. I grew up learning to see and appreciate the many different ways the love of God is lived out in the lives of the people of faith. As a result my faith has been shaped and formed in an understanding of God revealed most fully in community.
I believe in the revelatory work of God to bring humanity into community, “common unity,” where God is most faithfully seen, loved, and served. God said how can you love me whom you have not seen, if you cannot love your brother who you see every day. God incarnate in Christ Jesus is God’s ultimate revelation. Christ Jesus came to restore the broken relationship in the human family and consequently with God.
My call to ordained pastoral ministry resonates with this theological understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ as a message of hope for the restoration of the family of God, the community of faith. As the son of a pastor I was uniquely positioned to bridge the gaps between diverse socio-economic groups and try to bring children together regardless of which side of the track they were from. As a product of the desegregation era I have been uniquely positioned in our social history to build bridges of reconciliation between the racial divides. As the child of an itinerant pastor who grew to have occasion in the military and then in my corporate life to travel throughout the world for extended stays I have been uniquely positioned to recognize the gifts and graces to be found in the diversity of cultures and traditions that different peoples can bring to the table. Though it was the case that I heard the call to ordained ministry early in my life I did not respond to that call until much later in life after these experiences shaped me and formed me into a more seasoned man to respond to God’s call into service in ordained ministry.
My work with the North Texas Area Anti-racism Team is a natural extension of living out the call to share the gospel message of loving unity that affirms and embraces the worth of all the diversity of the human family and resist the power that seeks to destroy that unity. In my service of three years as the youth minister at St Paul in Dallas, then three years in service to the Greenland Hills church community, in my service of three years to the St James Sherman/Haven Chapel Denison Charge, and Key Memorial in Sherman, and in my service of seven years to the Casa Linda church community before coming to serve here at Axe, I have been faithful in that call.
This appointment record shows my effectiveness to serve in a wide range of community settings. Whether Black or white, rich or poor, urban or town and country I have been blessed of God to lean on the guidance of God Holy Spirit to build effective pastoral relationships to foster church growth and stability.
So when the opportunity came to experience the move of God and the loving fellowship of the people of God in Kenya it seems absolutely the right thing to do. I have come to believe that each day with God is preparation for service in God’s appointed time. So I go to serve and be blessed that I might be able to serve and bless others as we build and restore the family of God. Working with God is not simply about constructing and caring for buildings but is about expanding the community of faith, a task I am always excited to be a part of.