February 18-24 was a special time for Vicki and me. We went back to the Dominican to help lead our annual G.O. Staff meetings. We went down 2 days early to visit our new apartment as we prepare to move down in June. It was a significant milestone for us as we stood out on the patio our last night there, looking up at the moon and stars with prayers of thanksgiving on our lips. 11 years prior we looked up into that same Dominican/Haitian sky on our first trip to the Dominican with Southeast Christian Church and asked God why he had brought us here. We’ve spent 11 years discovering the answers to that question. And so… we’re coming back. It was a special week for one other reason. Bob Russell came down the same week to visit our ministry and do leadership training with our staff as well as our pastors and seminary students. Bob’s special for a lot of reasons. His presence with us has led me to reflect on the ways in which he’s been special to me in particular.
|Sophi & Raena's Baby Dedication|
I grew up at Southeast. My mother was a part-time secretary there when I was little. I can still remember the smell of the ink of the newsletters and the clacking sound of the automated folding machine that she would use to get the letters out. “Brother Bob” had his office down the hall. I remember when I was 7, before I was to be baptized by my Dad, meeting with Bob in his office as he reviewed the Gospel with me, ensuring that I really understood (as much as any 7 year old could and as much as any adult can) what I was getting myself into. For years I sat at his feet as a member of the congregation, listening to his teaching. He was there when the twins were dedicated at the church and was present for my ordination into ministry. And now, in what is a significant life transition for our family in moving back to the Dominican Republic, he has been present, discovering the ins and outs of our ministry and has poured his wisdom into people I care about both with regards to our staff and the local leaders we serve.
|Bob teaching G.O. Pastors|
& Seminary Students
|Bob with our G.O. Field Staff|
We don’t stand on our own feet. We are not self-made people. We are the sum total of those whose combined influences have made us who we are today and who we are becoming. In Christian community this is how the Spirit teaches and guides us in part, through others and their lives and the lives of those that influenced them. I’m grateful for Bob’s humility and influence, I’m grateful for his obedience. God has used him to lay the spiritual foundations of many of which I am just one. And I’m blessed to have been able to share a little bit of what that influence has meant in the life of our family and ministry.
Bob doesn’t like to travel outside of the U.S. much. He’s pretty frank about it which makes me grin. He was outside of his comfort zone coming with us to the Dominican, but, Brother Bob, I’m so glad you did. You were a deeper blessing and encouragement than you will ever know. Thanks for your service on behalf of the Kingdom and your willingness to be poured out for the sake of others.