So Many Goodbyes

somanygoodbyes

We seem to be in a season of goodbyes. From memorial services to moving trucks, we’re surrounded by reminders of how people come and go in our lives.

Partners in Ministry

3 years ago, our friends of many years took a bold move and uprooted their lives from Albuquerque, NM to move to Clarksville to join us in reaching this city for Jesus. When Isaac showed up, he was the Media “Team.” He immediately began taking audio, video and design to the next level, and it exploded!

This week their moving truck full of their belongings heads back to the 505. The Media “Team” that began with 1 guy is now officially a team. Isaac has raised up, trained, and given ownership to 40+ people that now make up the Awaken Media Team.

Army Friends

Ft. Campbell, which neighbors and greatly impacts the economy, traffic and lifestyle of Clarksville, is the 2nd largest military post in the U.S., housing over 30,000 soldiers plus their families. The instability and challenges that come with the Army lifestyle create ripe ground for the Gospel. However, with all of the time we put into reaching these military families, most are only here for 2-3 years at a time.

P.C.S. (Permanent Change of Station) has become a painful acronym for us to hear, because with it comes another goodbye. Those are tough because we’ve often seen these families come to Christ, grow and become a vital part of the church, right in time for them to leave. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like this summer has been the hardest PCS season we’ve endured thus far.

Family

Jenn’s parents have had a rough go at finding work anywhere near us. Although we love having them only a few hours away in Memphis, a new job opportunity is now taking them to Hobbs, NM. From 200 miles away to 2,000 miles away. Weekend visits will now turn into holiday visits.

Jacob Akers

Just a few weeks ago, as I preached from the Gospel of Mark, among the many familiar faces in the crowd was the Akers family. They’ve attended Awaken for years, driving about 45 minutes from Dickson, TN. They all served together last year at Invade The City and attended our Awaken Group that meets in Charlotte, TN. Their 22-year old son, Jacob just received a degree as a molecular biologist and loved serving people in need. On Monday, July 7, just 3 days after proposing to his girlfriend, his life was tragically taken in a car accident 2 blocks from his house.

Jenn and I attended his Memorial Service on Sunday and watched as his casket was lowered into the ground. With his mom, dad, brother and fiancee on the front row, it was a very solemn, surreal setting – something no parent (or fiancee) should have to do.

Lessons I’m Learning…

Don’t take time for granted. With kids, friends, family, people you serve with, or strangers you meet.

Smiles, handshakes, hugs and prayers matter. The next time you see someone could be the last time you see them.

Invest, invest, invest. Although we’re often sad when the military moves another family on, we’re always glad to know they’ve grown and are stronger than when they arrived. 4 year-old churches don’t normally have missionaries around the U.S., and in Afghanistan, Germany and Korea, but thanks to the Army funding our missionaries, Awaken has a global reach!

Enjoy the time you have. Put your phone down, log off of Facebook, and get some face time (not the iPhone kind).

Sharpen your arrows. Children are a gift from the Lord and like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Sharpen those arrows up so they’ll hit the bullseye when their time comes or your time comes. No parent should have to bury their child, but it happens often.

Don’t let inevitable goodbyes keep you from present opportunities. Just because you’ll one day say goodbye to a key team member, a long-time staff member, a family member, or someone who’s served with you for a while, invest in them now anyway. Bless others by training them to be better leaders and better followers of Christ before they leave.

With every “goodbye” comes a “hello”. When a friend or ministry partner leaves, it often clears the way for a new relationship to form. Not that they re being replaced, but the space provides an opening for someone to fill. Specifically within the context of serving within the church, everyone (including me) is replaceable. An opening provides a new opportunity for someone new to step in.

2 thoughts on “So Many Goodbyes

  1. You have described our church plant to a T. Every June I dread the letters PCS becuase it means we are losing a good family. Each summer we lose multiple families to life changes and moves. It doesn’t get any easier but we do know that we have raised up men, women, and families that have gone on to other churches to be a major blessing.

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