It is with bittersweet feelings I post this blog today. Just two days ago the US Consulate in Belfast, Ireland, kindly granted us the Entrance Visas we had sought for the past ten months.
We are deeply thankful to God: we are looking forward excitedly, in anticipation, to the Gospel work which He has in store for us on the USA East Coast. Yet our gratitude, joy and relief, at one longstanding hurdle overcome, is tempered by the fact that a gulf might soon exist, as clear space is put between us and many beloved and familiar places and faces of family, friends, and fellow servants of Christ. Old sights, sounds and smiles may soon be dimming memories from our past.
In all likelihood, we will probably now part company, at least for the foreseeable, with our three beloved children in Ulster and mainland UK - this is a source both of heartache and prayerful, confident, trust. Two sweetest-natured Bernese Mountain dogs will have to be left behind - many hundreds of miles trekked with them at our sides during Covid (as we ranged through field and wood) will be consigned to I-pad memories we can carry over with us. Our twins will manage our home - along with walks and work. There are good byes, hugs, and tears to be had with those we hold in our heart and to whom we owe so much.
It would be easy to try to cling to the memories of the past and cherished haunts of youth. We have felt our world grow smaller in the pandemic with bereavements still quite raw. Bidding farewell to our home of fifty years is something of a surprise. Yet to leave the matter like that would miscalculate small costs. Looking ahead to the future, we know with God, who always orders all our steps and never makes any mistakes, it must be glorious and bright (even if that must finally be in an ultimate sense). Confident in the Lord of Stateside service that awaits, we believe will will be received fondly by fresh family, friends and fields.
Recalibrating all loss should rebuke and banish doubt - any forfeit for us is nothing compared to Christ's Cross which was high-price paid for us. If the Eternal Son of God veiled his royal robes in flesh, to bring wayward sons back home, by suffering wrath for us, then no expense is too great as some minute way of offering thanks to Christ. We dare not turn our shoulder when our hands are set to plough. Security must be found in manifold grace and peace treasured up-above, in Christ, for us.
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life - Mark 10:29-30.
So as we begin to pack our bags and prepare to preach God's Truth, we have so much to anticipate, on the far-side of the pond: if the words of Jesus are to be received in faith, and taken seriously at all, we know He controls all and will amply meet our, and our loved ones, needs.
As we come to humbly serve, we seek abiding faith that will bear abundant fruit. We covet all your prayers - and give thanks for all those who have cried out on bended knees, for us, and for Ridgefield Park, to date. We are starting to relish the prospect of many meetings face-to-face - that we and our American brothers may be mutually built-up by one another's faith.
For those who read this blog we also offer prayer - that whatever cross or cost, in providence, the Lord Jesus calls you to bear, God might grant you a glad, willing heart to invest in heavenly real-estate: whether it is ridicule or reputation loss, call to ministry or mission work, suffering tears or trials for truth, remember this fact: Christ is no man's debtor, and of that there is no doubt - all expense incurred will for Him will be surprisingly, spiritually, and surely, more-than-handsomely reimbursed.
Hold back? Never! Let go? Now and Ever!