Welcome to Tennant Across the Pond

Thanks for coming by--and welcome to Tennant Across the Pond, my online journal which will serve to update friends and family about my upcoming trips to Formby, U.K.

I will be in Formby twice in the next six months, serving with Formby Baptist Church. The dates for the trip are:

March 5-22 and May 16-July 12.

For updates, info, and reflections, read on.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back Home: The Final Post

I hope you can forgive me, dear readers, for how long it has taken to let you all know that I am back in the States safe and sound. When I arrived back in the US on July 12, my family met me at the airport then immediately spirited me away to our family vacation in upstate New York. I had hoped to offer my final post then, but there was very little internet connection to be had, so I was forced to wait this long.

So, with apologies, here is my final post on Tennant Across the Pond.

My eight weeks in Formby flew by faster than I ever expected that they would--they were the fastest but densest weeks I have ever experienced in my life. When I look back at all the ministry events we were responsible for, how many sermons I preached, how many Bible studies I led, I am honestly amazed that I was able to do it. The Spirit of God was so heavily involved in every moment of my internship, and I am so thankful that He counted me worthy and put me into that ministry for those eight weeks.

I could have stayed much longer than I did. As I told Formby Baptist the last evening we were together, I fell head over heels for those people, and I really didn't want to leave. As I walked out the door for the last time until Lord-knows-when, I did weep. God is at work in Formby Baptist Church, and I have very little to do with it. The young people are rising up as a righteous generation, there are men and women of prayer in that church whose requests are answered mightily, and there are faithful Gospel laborers there who want to see more people reached for Christ.

Over this summer, I learned the value of connecting my heart with those whom I serve. I wept for these people, rejoiced for these people, became angry for these people, and was filled with wonder for these people. I connected my heart with theirs, I think, and that bond will not be easily loosened. I already miss so many of them.

God richly used these eight weeks to show me, beyond any shadow of a doubt, exactly what it is that I am called to do, and I cannot believe that He would call me to be a part of such wonderful tasks. In His mercy, it has fallen to me to be an under-shepherd of God's flock, a pastor to the people of God. What manner of love is this that I, even I, would be called to this? The Gospel is truly folly.

At the beginning of my summer, I said I wanted to look back and shrug. I wanted to shrug because God had done things that I had no part in, or used me to do things that I had no idea He was doing in the first place. I look back at this summer and shrug, realizing that it really was God who worked in those people, and I got to be a participant in His acts of grace among them. God moved, friends, and I am eternally grateful.

If you supported me with your prayers, thank you so much. It was your prayers, I think, that really empowered me and strengthened me, and it was your prayers, when answered, that caused God to move so profoundly among His people. Prayer works, period. So keep doing it! Further, if you supported me financially, I am overwhelmingly grateful; going to Formby would quite literally have not been possible without you.

If I called you or emailed you (or both) and you listened to me and gave me wise counsel, I thank you, too, because your words helped me when I was discouraged and gave me insight on how to proceed when the path before me was not clear. Chiefest among these are: My parents: Cindy, Gary, Wayne and Becky; my friends: Joshua, Travis, Amy, Luke, Mike and Tony; my mentors: Stuart, Rick, Neal, Mark, and Professor Boyle.

My chiefest counselor, of course, was Christ Himself, who always came to me with His gentle and powerful presence to will and to work to His good pleasure. He was truly my Shepherd as I shepherded his people, and Christ's love for me has never been clearer as it has been these last 8 weeks. So again, I say, that I am grateful that He counted me worthy and put me into that ministry, and that He used His love to compel me to service.

The question I am asked is this: will you go back? And the answer is vague, and I think disappointing to some. Am I called to England for full-time service? Well, our Father has not been explicit about it, but I have told Him I am very willing. Will I go back to Formby soon? Well, yes and no: I will not return to Formby in March for a variety of reasons, but I have a family there, so of course I will visit them before too long.

Has my heart been planted in English soil? I don't think so, but it was planted amongst a very specific portion of God's people, and I am sure that God will use that connection far more abundantly than I could ask or think. But I do not know what the future holds, so I will repeat my final blessing to them here. I sang it then; it was an old song I sang in my choir days, but you'll just have to read it.

My friends, we now must leave thee;
We go our way, though grieved be.
A strange land soon we'll greet.
We pray that come the morrow,
Our joy may grow from sorrow.
'Till we again, again shall meet.

So who knows where I will next be a tenant? Only God Himself. Until then, I look forward to greeting another strange land.

The End. (For Now.)


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