Lowering the altitude, slightly:
Kristin and I wrapped up meetings and repairs in Mountain City and began driving to slightly lower altitudes. Our next destination was East Ridge, Tennessee for the Stanley Heights Baptist Church missions conference. Our participation in this meeting came by blessed means. While still working full-time in 2018, Kristin and I participated in some eight meetings before starting deputation. One of them was at Grace Baptist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina.
While there, we were greatly encouraged by a few good men. One such man was Marty Basinger, who was a keynote speaker for the Conference at Grace Baptist. This brother has an excellent spirit, his kind manner and gracious attitude were refreshing. By his stature and certain specific mannerisms he possessed, he reminded us of brother Steve Jones from the Bible Baptist Church of Deland. Their resemblances were almost eerie. Brother Marty has a son, Chase Basinger, an assistant pastor at Stanley Heights Baptist Church. After spending some time with brother Marty in South Carolina, he recommended us to his son for the missions conference in East Ridge.
Just days after the missions conference in South Carolina, I received a call from brother Chase in Tennessee. We were soon scheduled for their conference, and now in February 2019, we were on our way. The drive from Mountain City to East Ridge was smooth, we were happy to exit high elevation with a travel trailer in tow. East Ridge, Tennessee is immediately south of Chattanooga, so Kristin and I made arrangements to park at the BIMI campus twenty minutes away.
Rain, rain, and more rain:
We soon learned Chattanooga’s known for its rainy season. Upon our arrival, the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were not stopped, and the rain from heaven was not restrained. Or so it seemed, I believe it rained nearly every day we were there. Of course, the rain did not dampen our spirits, we were excited for our second meeting on full-time deputation. When Kristin and I made preparations for deputation, we planned to stay active. This included traveling with a set of hybrid bikes meant for use on-road or off-road. This is where spontaneous comical entertainment springs forth from zeal and excitement.
Kristin and I took a bike ride through Harrison Bay State Park, in the rain and winter cold (Now writing this some months later I realize how this sounds). After reading about the trail online, the implication was riding during or just after a big rain was the best time. Unfortunately, the review did not indicate, and we did not consider, what time of year they may have been referring. In hindsight, a rainy winter day probably was not what they meant. This idea did not become clear until we were fairly deep into this five-mile trail. We often ran into deep mud that brought our bikes to a sudden halt. If that were not enough, the trail is surrounded by Harrison Bay, and the relentless rain caused the water to overtake parts of the bike path. At times we were forced to locate an alternate path through the thicket to get around the flooded areas. By the end of the ride, our zeal had turned to a minor case of wilderness survival.
Of course, the story must end by turning insult to injury. As we exited the trail, wondering how we got ourselves into this, Kristin noticed her bike was pedaling oddly. She asked me to look at it and I noticed visually her right pedal was in an odd position. So I took it for a ride to try and determine the cause. In order to get the bike moving forward, I stepped hard on the right pedal using the pressure to lift myself over the seat. The pedal removed suddenly from the socket causing myself and the bike to drive hard into the pavement. Upon near contact with the ground, I was somehow able to tuck my right shoulder and perform a martial arts style role and landed upright on my feet. It all happened before anyone beheld my blunder. I immediately looked at Kristin and asked her if she set me up, half laughing and half concerned she insisted she had not. The next day we dropped her bike off at a local bike shop to have the broken pedal repaired.
Missions conference time:
The missions conference started the evening of our adventurous bike ride. We made our way back to our travel trailer to prepare for the evening’s events. At this conference, we greatly enjoyed spending time with the BIMI Far North Director, Tony Bulawa. His far north responsibilities cover Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, no small task. With the time given to him in the meeting, he spoke of an interesting idea the Lord gave him. His vision for the Far North is based in part on the mission’s concept set forth by Luis Bush regarding what has been called the 10/40 window. Brother Tony noticed that Canada, through its liberal and destructive immigration policies is importing numerous people groups from the 10/40 window. This now makes countries such as Canada of great use in reaching people that otherwise are too dangerous in their home country.
Tony Bulawa recently laid his ideas out further in an article written for BIMI World Magazine. I would encourage any person with a heart for missions to read it, allow it to stir you for fields white unto harvest. I hope it provokes many to consider laboring in those fields. Please pray for 10/40 North as this concept is further developed and applied.
Lowering the altitude, greatly:
As the conference came to an end, the rain did not. The local counties around us began to flood. Our intent was to stay in the Chattanooga area somewhat longer, but with the onslaught of rain, it was best to begin driving south. Our next scheduled meeting was a missions conference in Ft. Walton Beach Florida. We did not have a meeting for the Sunday between so we parked at a state park on the Florida and Alabama border. This location turned out to be a tremendous blessing, some thirty minutes north was Ridge Road Baptist Church in Brewton, Alabama. This is a special church for us, at Ridge Road we were introduced to certain necessary concepts regarding deputation. Back in 2017, our good friend Lee Cadenhead, simply intending to be a blessing, invited Kristin and me to watch and learn at their missions conference. Instead of watching and learning, brother Lee included Kristin and me in the conference as though we were scheduled missionaries. This meeting helped us tremendously and gave certain insight we needed to prepare for deputation.
Back to 2019, Kristin and I dropped in on the Sunday morning service and met the current pastor, Kyle Cinereski. We also enjoyed seeing many old friends from Ridge Road. Our time was further blessed when pastor Kyle informed us they had a missionary scheduled for the evening service, but the missionary had to cancel. He asked if we were willing to come back and present our ministry in his stead. As missionaries newly on deputation, this was such an exciting turn of events. The Lord provides at unexpected times. Ridge Road will always serve as a wonderful landmark of God’s goodness in our lives. We had a great meeting that night, then pressed on our way to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.