Sometime back in the late ‘90s, I was approached with a proposal; would I consider taking on the job of the Field Director of Presbyterian Missionary Union upon the retirement of then FD, Morris McDonald? At the time, I was happily pastoring Columbia BPC in St. Helens (now in Scappoose), Oregon, and wasn’t too sure that I wanted to go anywhere, though I thought it just might be the job the Lord had been preparing me for up to that point in my ministry. It took a lot of soul-searching, a lot of seeking out counsel from others, a lot of discussion with my family, church, and presbytery, and a LOT of prayer. Over five years, the Lord kept leading, prodding, and pulling (usually through one particular faithful servant of His – you know who you are!), and eventually I acknowledged that PMU was where I was to be.
After seventeen years, this is my last (planned) article for the Missions Banner as PMU’s Field Director. But, after hundreds of articles, letters, emails (OK, thousands!), brochures, and tracts, I find that I hardly know what to say. As ministry life here in Idaho has multiplied in its demands exponentially, I have been looking forward to the day when I can turn over this particular work to the capable hands of our next Field Director. Yet I am strangely and surprisingly wistful as I write this article.
In this role I have experienced some of the most amazing things of my life across six continents; have met and been blessed by countless brothers and sisters whom I now count as my dear friends and colleagues; have seen the Lord work with immediacy and power in the hearts of the lost; have served in company with some of the most incredible men and women that anyone could ever have the privilege of knowing; and have grown in appreciation for the changes that He has brought about in my own life, marveling that He would use someone like me to serve His Church. I confess, I am going to miss this life just a bit….
Nevertheless, just like back in 2002, I know that the Lord is taking me and my wife on to the next phase of our ministry together. No doubts. Neither do I have any doubts that the man the Lord has raised up to fill the Field Director position, Pastor Casey Southerland, will lead PMU on to an even broader sphere of ministry where God is glorified “declaring His glory among the nations, His wonders among all people.” God be praised, the work does not depend upon fallible men, but upon His matchless power. “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform” His perfect will. I am thankful to Him for allowing me the privilege of a front-row seat to that performance for a little while, and for the partnership I have enjoyed with all of you in the marvelous endeavor that we call “missions.” All glory to Him!