March was a busy month for us. We spent 26 nights on the road and drove over 4,300 miles. Funny thing is, in February, we thought our March was going to be kinda slow. It all started when we put a grandpa in our trunk so that we could pick up a bestselling author…
In February we were at Ethnos360 Headquarters in Sanford FL. for meetings. Every couple of years or so, Ethnos360 gathers it’s Representatives from across the country and brings them together for a week-long conference. We get to hear from our CEO, and the heads of various departments. Reports are given and strategies explained. It’s a great time. One of our favorite parts of the Reps’ Conference is getting to hang out with our fellow missionaries. Being a Rep can be a lonely job. We’re always on the road, and rarely are we around other Ethnos360 missionaries. So when we have the chance to hang out, share ideas and just encourage each other, we go for it.
That’s how we ended up with a car full of missionaries, at the end of a long day, getting ready to go find a burger joint. My friend Doug “Tribal” Schaible had just climbed in the front seat when I said, “Hey, there’s Gracia. Somebody go see if she wants to go grab a bite.”
I’m an idea guy. Something pops into my head and I run with it, usually requiring Joan to jump in and work out details that I hadn’t considered. Details like, where is Gracia Burnham going to sit in this already over-packed car? Joan, quick as she is, was already climbing into the back of our SUV when Doug hustled over, and he wasn’t having any of it. Despite her protests, Doug got Joan out of the trunk and then took her place in it. He did such a good job folding himself up that I was left wondering how many Drive-In movies he’s seen for free.
At the restaurant, Gracia ran into some friends from South Dakota, because of course she would. Remember we’re in Florida. That led me to mention that I’d be going to Camp Witness (which is very close to South Dakota) at the end of that next month. Gracia, having been to Camp Witness before, asked if I would be visiting Sunshine Bible Academy while I was out there. SBA is a Christian boarding school in South Dakota. She said it’d be a great fit for me, and that she would tell them about me sometime. To my surprise, SBA called me before we’d even left FL. and invited us to come be part of their 1st missions conference.
Normally, I’d be pretty excited about the chance to make new contacts. But after some unexpected car problems, we were worried about how we’d pay for the trip. Our calendar was filling up, but there were still long enough gaps between events that I was starting to worry that we’d have to spend too much money on hotel rooms. But I was reminded that when we first agreed to take on this ministry, we told the Lord that if we had an invitation we’d say yes. We’d go through any door that He opened for us, trusting Him for what we needed.
1st stop – Catch The Vision campus visit event at Ethnos360 Bible Institute in Waukesha WI. Our friend Glenn Smith from Camp Witness brought a van full of students all the way from Nebraska for this event. We were able to be a part of it because the Mobilization Team there not only provided us with a big guest room for almost a week, but they also surprised us with money to help cover our expenses along the way. With the guest room we were able to have the students we know hang out late into the night. Joan kept the rooms stocked with coffee snacks and pizza. It was good to connect with our 10 “kids”.
2nd stop – Sunshine Bible Academy, Miller South Dakota. We were very impressed with the students and staff we met here. We were hosted by a staff family who’ve been teaching there for decades and really made us feel like part of the family. For a few days we spoke in chapel and in classes. A lot of the students live at the school so we made ourselves available to them as much as possible. We stayed up late, and made a lot of new friends.
3rd stop – Cornerstone Bible Institute, Hot Springs SD. After a last minute phone call introduction these nice folks gave us a room to sleep in and invited us to join their students for meals. We stayed up way too late talking and playing games in the cafeteria with these Bible students.
4th stop – Camp Witness, Long Pine Nebraska. We love this camp, and it was our privilege to speak at their first ever Spring Retreat. We were joined by students from Frontier School of the Bible as well as high school students from the area and surrounding states.
There are so many other stories from that month, too many to share. Friends we ran into along the way, unexpected surprises and “coincidences” that kept us encouraged. Things like young people who want to be missionaries and their supportive parents. Students who are growing in their faith and finding ways to overcome issues with sin. Even in the way God provided for us. We were gone for a month, a long way from our home in Tennessee, and yet we only had to stay in 3 hotel rooms. Our car kept running, and we were always able to fill the tank. Thank you Lord! I’m not saying that everything happened this way just because we were obedient to go where He led. But if there’s something the Lord wants YOU to do, we’d encourage you to step out in faith and see what the Lord has planned for you.