Yesterday, Melissa and I traveled to visit Renew World Outreach, to see how they are developing technology for use in the mission field, to share the Good News; in particular, I wanted to learn more about a piece of a equipment called LightStream (see the links below). Renew World Outreach is located in Social Circle, Georgia, east of Atlanta, off of IH 20. When I found Social Circle on the map, I realized it wasn’t far from where our good friend, Freddie Davis, lives.
In November, Melissa and I began traveling, visiting churches, individuals and other groups, sharing our call story as we work to gain support for our mission in Zambia. Those of you who have heard our call story will remember my call first began about seven years ago, when I contacted Rivers of the World (ROW) through their website, to inquire about short-term mission. Freddie is the person who replied to my inquiry. But there’s a little more to the story.
When that thought of participating in some sort of short-term international mission crossed my mind, our disabled son, Holden, had been gone for about three years and I was a mess, still grieving his death. Melissa and I had been told that over ninety percent of marriages, which have a severely disabled child end, in divorce, and and ours had suffered, too. The night when I thought about short-term international mission for the first time, I was sitting alone in an apartment, where I’d been living since Melissa and I separated. During that time, it was as if I was living in a monastery; when I wasn’t at work, I was either reading or praying.
When I look back, I know that two-month period, which was the most difficult time of my life, was also the best thing that ever happened to me. God was walking with me every step of the way, in my struggles. That night when I was sitting alone in the apartment, and I asked Melissa by email if she knew any organizations involved in short-term mission, she might have ignored me, or she might not have known of any. But she told me about “hearing a guy, Ben Mathes, on KLOVE” and went on to tell me about ROW. I might have stopped there, and never reached out to ROW, but I followed through, and was contacted by a woman named Freddie Davis, who told me I might like to go to Vietnam with her and a small mission team. And I did, several months after Melissa and I got back together, and after I had come to terms with the anxiety and grief that had been affecting me, and as a result, my family.
On the way back from our visit to Renew World Outreach yesterday, Melissa and I met Freddie for lunch at O’Charlies, in Conyers, Georgia, and we shared about our mission in Zambia. And then, with tears in my eyes, I told Freddie how much her friendship meant to me, and how that initial contact with her, asking about going on a short-term mission somewhere, had led us to this point in our lives. I am amazed by the way God puts people in our lives just when we need them. And I’m thankful for friends like Freddie.
All good stories have a happy ending; here are a couple of photos from the following year, when Melissa and I traveled back to Vietnam, together, along with Freddie and some other friends.
For more information about LightStream and other technology developed by Renew World Outreach, visit these links: