Steadfast and Certain

All Scripture references are taken from the NET2 translation unless noted.

America and the nations of our world have changed dramatically in many ways. What we once knew is gone, but we Americans do have what no other nation in the world has that makes an enormous difference and advantage…the U.S. Constitution. Our foundation remains strong, but there will be a new normal emerging in the coming weeks and months. AND there is something else that is world-wide and His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, Messiah, Savior and Lord.

“Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” 6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can people do to me?7 Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! 9 Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them.” Hebrews 13:5-9.

Nothing is constant in our world, humanly speaking. Everything is as water flowing in a mountain stream for it will not return to the same place and is forever changing. The world in which we live, the spaces we occupy, the visas we observe, the people we know, the languages that are spoken, the diseases that occupy our thoughts, the weather, and on and on the list grows. Change is the only thing in our daily lives that remains constant, and we know this, too, will change.

God Does Not Change

For those who accept change as constant are familiar with others who know this is only true for the things created by God. However, He stands in stark contrast to that truth for He stands alone: God does NOT change. He simply IS.

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts. 6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachai 3:5,6 NASB. Contextually speaking, Malachai is reminding his audience to remember their long heritage and history that reflects the presence of Holy God and His commandments that never deviated from their intent which is to protect them from evil. Yaweh’s presence was and remains constant so long as they remained faithful in their obedience to His commands.

The Prophets of old spoke often of the Messiah who was to come, who was to redeem Israel from their sin and place them on a path to righteousness. Abraham is the foundation of that promise that was ultimately fulfilled in the Jesus of Nazareth whose claim as Messiah proved to be true when He was resurrected after 3 days because of the horrible nightmare of the Crucifixion outside the walls of Jerusalem. Jesus spoke of many things, but the most significant just before His death was the prophetic nature of His return from Heaven in Matthew chapter 24 verses 42-44, “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” He will return a second time.

But, there is more for the Bible tells us this about Jesus, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! 9 Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.” Hebrews 13:8,9. He is Truth. Everything He stated in the Word of God is true and everything said about Him in Scripture is also true. Jesus does NOT change.

The coronavirus has caused us to stop, take a deep breath and to realize that nothing in our world is secure, absolutely nothing. Everything is apt to change in the blink of an eye and without notice. There absolutely is no constant and this should cause concern for the many who seem to believe that all authority rests upon them for this is absurd. What we do understand is that rules, for the most part, must change in order to allow for the unexpected.

However, the one constant that never varies is God for He is the One who is ultimately responsible for the good, the bad and the ugly. This should not worry anyone for we do know this from His inerrant Word of Truth, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you— yes, I help you— yes, I uphold you with my victorious right hand! 11 Look, all who were angry at you will be ashamed and humiliated; your adversaries will be reduced to nothing and perish, 12 When you will look for your opponents, you will not find them; your enemies will be reduced to absolutely nothing. For I am the Lord your God, the one who takes hold of your right hand, who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’” Isaiah 41:10-12.

“In Times Like These You Need a Savior” is the title of an old hymn that expresses our daily need, not simply in a time of crisis. However,  our world has literally come to a near standstill in the wake of the Covid-19. People are dying and falling seriously ill and life has become difficult. But what those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ life is not so dark. The road is a bit rocky and may be difficult to travel, but the presence of the Savior has made it not so much for we know the Solid Rock to be sure. Faith in Him makes the difference between fear and instability.

Jesus is Lord. 

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Becoming a Missionary–MLC and Language Learning

All Scripture references are taken from the HCSB translation unless otherwise noted.

“In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3.

The Disciples of Jesus walked in the shadow of their Mentor for almost 3 years becoming full-fledged Apostles at Pentecost at which time they began serving without His physical presence. In like fashion, modern-day missionaries will spend many months and several years learning to become a missionary and ‘being a missionary’ is a life-time endeavor. During these years the missionary is always becoming and must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He empowers and directs those He calls to faithfully serve Him in another place.

The first missionary, the Apostle Paul, wrote many interesting statements about his personal walk as a servant on foreign soils meeting with new churches and planting new ones. He spoke of being empowered by Jesus Christ in Philippians 4:12-13 , “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The Apostle reinforced his relationship with Jesus Christ in intimacy with the Resurrected One through His grace, “For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” Galatians 2:19-21. But Paul did not stop here for he understood that his role as an Apostle was not intended to depend upon self, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:15-18 NASB.

Appointment as a Foreign Missionary by the Southern Baptist Convention is no small thing. Even now after more than 20 years away from Peru, I must take pause to think about those 13 wonderful years of service among the best of God’s servants in another country outside my country of birth. Very few people among the Christian community are chosen and then sent to do what Patti and I did…a very small percentage, indeed. Medical professionals, agricultural specialists, musicians, educators, evangelists, pastors and people of other callings are among those who serve in SBC missions around the world. We are among those leaders, and the fascinating thing is that not one of them will ever count themselves as being ‘special,’ but they are among the favored of God. “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” Romans 10:15-17.

We who were appointed in July, 1984 were taking baby steps toward the people we were to live among and share the Gospel Message with. The Missionary Learning Center was ‘brand’ new and our group newly-appointed was only the second to see this incredible facility. Our time there was to be relatively brief of about 10 weeks beginning in October and ending in mid-December and we were to arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica for Language study on January 1, 1985.

Missionary Learning Center literally introduced us to what it meant to be a Missionary in another culture, not only for us adults, but for our children as well. These weeks were intense emotionally at many different levels and, in fact, one family was not allowed to continue because of their inability to process what was happening to them. They were sent home.  

Upon the completion of those 13 weeks we thought our preparation was complete to some degree, but the truth is we were still in the United States in a place with which we were very comfortable and safe. The newness of being celebrated missionaries was very, very real for we were being touted for what we were becoming, ‘Foreign Missionaries.’ The reality of what that journey would be was yet to be.

On January 1, 1985 all who were going to South America met in Miami International Airport for a 6 hour flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Everyone there had packed large crates filled with things that would await to be shipped via ships to the countries we would be living in after completion of language studies in San Jose. The year at the Instituto de Lenguaje in San Jose would not be easy for anyone. Not only was this to be a language-learning journey, this would also be a truly ‘crash course’ in culture-learning, too. WOW!!

On the morning of January 2, 1985 Patti and I looked out the front door of the small rented house that would be our home for the next 11 months and viewed in the distance an enormous cross standing on a mountain top. But, what we had forgotten was our wedding anniversary is also January 2nd…this was our 14th and we had forgotten it because of all the ‘hoopla’ of the past 48 hours of intense preparation for the trip we had completed the night of January 1st. We had arrived at the ‘jumping off place’ to our new home in Chiclayo, Peru.

Our time in San Jose, Costa Rica ended on December 20th or so and we ended up in Chiclayo on December 23, 1985 after spending 2 days in the Peru Baptist Mission Apartments in Lima where the Peru Baptist Mission Office is located. This was a whirl-wind moment of securing all sorts of important paperwork completion before heading to Chiclayo following missionaries Don and Linda Johnson in our new Toyota hatch-back vehicle which was barely room enough for a family of five. We were now at home in Peru, but our journey was just beginning…

Jesus is Lord.

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Should We Be Surprised?

Many times I have stepped into a pulpit and have often come away wondering, “How can anyone refuse what I have just said?” The reality is they are not particularly interested in what I had to say, but should I be surprised?

Read these words of the Christ, “You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. “I do not accept glory from men, but I know you-that you have no love for God within you. I have come in My Father’s name, yet you don’t accept Me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God.” John 5:38-44 HCSB.

Lost People Are Comfortable

The point is, lost people are comfortable in where they are and who they are. Note the first phrase of what Jesus said, “You don’t have His word living in you….” No doubt, most of those to whom Jesus was speaking in John 5:38ff were most likely Jewish synagogue-goers. Not much has changed has it? I hope and pray you are not one of these church-goers with a name called ‘Christ’ attached to your person and the Word is NOT living in you.

Jesus was speaking to ‘dead souls’ because the living Word had not yet been sown into their lives for He was standing before them, but soon to be crucified and resurrected which would make the difference. Our reality is much different for the Holy Spirit is moving amongst us and He is always busy convicting lost and born-again people of their sin. In short, He is calling lost souls to become born-again.

Jesus’ invitation is the same today as it was 2 thousand years ago, “Come to me that you may have eternal life.” Look at what He said to these poor souls who were languishing in their lostness, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Often I have stood before lost people making the same proclamation and inviting people to come to Jesus by faith, but most have simply rejected the call.

The Problem

The question has been asked of many, many people, “How are you going to Heaven?” And the responses are oftentimes very, very similar and sound something like this, “I do not know.” The tragedy is simple enough: lost people will go to a Devil’s Hell if they do not repent and come to Jesus before their time on earth is over. And they time is quickly approaching for each of us. The Savior said it this way, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:16.

The problem? Darkness. But Jesus came to dispel the darkness in lost souls. 

Jesus is Lord.

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Pursuing Jesus by Faith

“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:30-33 NASB.

Romans chapters 9-10 contain Paul’s statement concerning a rebellious peoples’ confrontation with a Sovereign God, the Creator. Of course, we, the created, cannot expect to be able to tell the Creator what we expect Him to allow to be and do…as we please. Because He is THE Sovereign over all things, including events, we will be what He wants us to be. The interesting thing about this is that He wants us to live, not according to what we wish, according to His holiness. He has allowed His created to choose between right from wrong and suffer the consequences of bad choices. John chapter 3 demonstrates that fact.

The history of Israel demonstrates that same freedom of choice; Moses chose to receive the praise from the people for causing a rock to issue water, and for that bad choice God prevented him from crossing the Jordan River. How long did Israel wander around in the Wilderness before entering the Land Flowing with Milk and Honey? 40 years, one generation. The children of those who were freed from Egyptian slavery were allowed to enter, but because of on-going rebellion against God their parents were denied entry.

Faith is the Key to Freedom

”But Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.” v. 32. Recalling the pursuit of his son’s life, Abraham relied upon his faith in Yahweh to secure the salvation of his son Isaac. God granted Abraham’s desire because of faith and achieved righteousness. Faith toward God is demonstrated to be the key to His righteousness.

Hebrews 11 provides a list of biblical characters who demonstrated faith in their relationship with God and His people, but Hebrews 12:1-4 sums up chapter 11 with this statement, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” 

We are encouraged by ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” Our faith must rest on Him and His Word alone. Every Believer will discover this righteousness by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord.

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Becoming a Missionary Is a Process

“The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. He looked, and the bush was ablaze with fire, but it was not being consumed!  So Moses thought, “I will turn aside to see this amazing sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” God said, “Do not approach any closer! Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:2-5 NET2.

There was no ‘burning bush’ for me, but this was a ‘holy ground’ kind of thing. Patti and I had said, “Here I am.” This holy ground was not really a place, but a moment in time when I realized that God was instructing me to do something I had not thought of nor dreamed about. For me personally, and for Patti, this was an unparalleled life experience from God.

Every missionary has at least many stories to tell concerning their personal experiences ‘out there.’ Some of these include jungles, disease, storms, family, friends, parties, custom differences, language difficulties and the list is quite long. Well, this is my story as I saw it and it may be different if told by another and I am certain this is true…

After being approved as a ‘Candidate for Appointment’ to become a real live missionary and with the document declaring that fact, Patti and I began the telling of the story beginning with family, friends and our church family. We were excited and we received many words of encouragement from most everyone, but a question which came later in the process came to Patti, “What are you going to do with your children?” Well…?

Our next step took us to the offices of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention located in Richmond, Virginia where we visited each day for one week. There was so much to be done and I honestly remember thinking when that week was over, “I know more about me now than I ever knew possible, and I think these people knew it before I did.”  There were interviews of all sorts and with every kind of question I never knew could be asked. Doctors drew blood, poked me in places I had never been poked before and only God knew existed, LOL!! The questions were indefensible and there were no ‘right or wrong’ kinds of answers. The FMB simply wanted to know if this Candidate knew the answers. I think I did!!

At any rate, the end of the week finally came to an end with a meeting with the Board Members who were connected to our part of the world. They were representatives of the Southern Baptists who lived in the Southwest Region (I think). These dear Saints must have liked what all those questions revealed about us because Patti and I were approved to be appointed as Southern Baptist Missionaries which was to take place at the Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly in Ridgecrest, North Carolina and led by Dr. Keith Parks who was the President of the FMB. We were awed, to say the least.

I do not remember when Patti and I were given a stack of papers which included numerous requests for missionaries from countries I had never heard of. The Board wanted us to prayerfully select a place that we felt God was leading us to go. 

As I recall there were at least 50 requests that we were given to select from and we did this separately. Patti went with her stack and came back with 3 choices and I did the same, but without knowing her choices. We came together with our 3 selections and compared. Two of our choices were identical so we repeated the process and we came back the second time with an identical choice which was a place called Chiclayo, Peru. 

“Peru? Where was Peru? Chicalyo, Peru? Where in Peru is Chiclayo?” I knew Peru was in South America, but Chiclayo? We found a world map…a paper map, by the way, for we had no computers in 1984. We found Peru easily enough and we saw what looked to be the Capital City of Lima. And, yes, we saw Chiclayo which seemed to be a principal coastal city. THAT is where we felt that God was taking us…

Appointment

Never in my life had I ever experienced such emotions. Patti and I were in the midst of people and missionaries (I do not mean to indicate that there is a difference, but, yes, there are) from all over the world. We were meeting several of those missionaries with whom we would serve in Peru. There was Don and Linda Johnson who were responsible for the request we responded to for they lived and worked in Chiclayo and from whom we received correspondence from before Appointment Day. There were Max and Joan Furr who lived in Trujillo just to the south of Chiclayo and there may have been others from Peru, but these are the 2 families I remember. They helped to begin to make our transition some easier. And, they were successful. We felt we had found a new home.

Appointment Day had finally arrived and before the service was to begin all of us who were to be appointed as FMB Missionaries met in a large room behind the Ridgecrest auditorium where we heard several introductory remarks  and some statements from Dr. Parks. These, I think, were supposed to be not simply words of welcome and encouragement, but were also intended to calm some nervous people…lots of nervous people. I do not remember just how many of us there were, but there were maybe 40 of us.

One of the most incredible moments in my life was about to take place. Bob and Patti Williford were to be appointed as Southern Baptist Missionaries to Chiclayo, Peru. This does not sound like much, but when I stop to think about it; this was a BIG DEAL. The reality is that very few people EVER are APPOINTED to be missionaries…to serve God in another place where another language and customs must be learned and strange places to be visited and people to be loved. Most of all we were being given the task of taking the Gospel Message to another place.

Billy Peacock was on the program and was going to sing!! Billy Peacock was a missionary to South Korea and was the one missionary God used to begin this journey we were on. He spoke at a Missionary event in Sicily Island, Louisiana in 1978. Coincidence? I do not think so. 

We were successfully appointed and our 3 boys were just as excited as we were. Greg, David and Clint were meeting adults who became their new ‘Aunts and Uncles,’ and they loved not just the experience, but the people who were to be their new family in another landscape. We were all excited!! “Peru, here WE come!!”

Preparation

We returned to Lecompte where things began to happen very, very quickly. I resigned as Pastor of FBC and began to pack 3 large crates for our trip to Peru and plans were made to go to the Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Virginia. The Center name was later changed to the International Learning Center.

Our lives changed dramatically on Appointment Day and in ways that we never dreamed. As I mentioned, no longer was I a Pastor, we were now Missionaries and our children became Missionary Kids or ‘MKs.’ Our identity had changed…forever. Not only our identity of who and what we were, but our relationships with people we had always known also changed in unexpected ways that cannot be explained. These are all experiential at many levels. We were Missionaries in the real sense of the Word. We were different, not to ourselves, really, but to everyone else…

Becoming a Missionary is a process of change…and 

Jesus is Lord.

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Sharpen Our Axes

All Scripture references are taken from the HCSB translation.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes said it best, “If an iron axhead is blunt and a workman does not sharpen its edge, he must exert a great deal of effort; so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.” Ecclesiastes 10:10. And my father once told me, “If you do it right the first time, you do not have to do it again.”

Seems to me that our forefathers did it right the first time when they penned the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Their axes were sharpened and they were wise. Why then, do so many in our Nation feel that these documents are no longer applicable and that God’s Word is inept for our time? Is it because we have, indeed, become foolish in our advanced old age of 240 years? Our Nation has had many, many successes through the years and we have seen some failures along the way, too.

What Has Changed?

Our Nation was in the middle of the Korean War, the beginning of the Cold War, television was in its infancy and there was no question concerning the presence of God and the importance of His Word. The difference between 2020 and 1952 is the absence of a recognition of God by most folks. Professional sports were in their infancy and baseball was the most watched televised sport of all.  Church attendance was important to most everyone as most businesses were closed on Sunday. There was not a question, for the most part, where our neighbors were on Sunday morning.

Wisdom has waned and fewer of us are we owners of sharpened axes. Few there are who honor the traditions of our fathers and the presence of the Almighty.  Foolish minds insist that God no longer exists and that God’s Word is nothing more than a meaningless collection of ancient literature. I find it interesting that Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-19 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.”

So, is this covid 19 thing just a ‘happenstance’ or is God telling us something? Most likely, He is telling us something and that ‘something’ may be simple, “I AM the ‘I AM,'” are we listening? Some are, but most are not. Did you hear the “Pillow Guy” at the White House? He suggested that our Nation return to God. He gets it. I believe President Trump understands, but the vast majority do not.

So, what has changed? The heart of man has not really changed for those without Christ will die and go to Hell for they are filled with evil. The Followers of Christ are the Saints that Paul mentions often and refers to them as Brothers and Sisters in Christ. The change is in the nature of the local church and those who occupy those buildings. Percentage wise there are most likely fewer Believers who enter those buildings which means there are fewer people actively participating in what God has called the Church to do; “Disciple the Nations.” We must hone our skills and sharpen our axes…

Our forefathers did it right the first time….

Jesus is Lord.

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Who Will Go For Me?

Missionary Journey to Peru–Application

Isaiah wrote these words, “I said, “Woe to me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.” I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, “Here I am, send me!”  He said, “Go and tell these people:” Isaiah 6:5-9a NET2.

When God called me to go tell His message my thoughts did not go much further than the walls of FBC in Lubbock, Texas. That was in 1967, but 10 years later following marriage and a seminary degree, and in my first pastorate in Sicily Island, Louisiana, God called me again. This was different and His method was different for this time He came to me through one He had already called to Korea and his name was Billy Peacock.

I told Patti what was going on with me and she told me in so many words, “Sit down for I have something to say.” “Bob,” she began to explain, “I have never told you this because I wanted God to work in your life instead of my attempting to influence you one way or another. I was called to be a foreign missionary when I was a teenager…” To say the least, I was shocked that Patti had NEVER hinted about this call in her life some years before. But here we were, moving in a direction that God had planned for us before we were born. I was observing God’s sovereign hand at work and like Isaiah, “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

But, not until after our 3rd son, Greg, was born and we began a new ministry in Lecompte, Louisiana in July of 1982, did God really move us toward a place where He wanted us to be. Really the question of when and where never surfaced again until the Fall of 1983, September to be exact. There was a Global Mission event in our area Southern Baptist Churches, and Patti and I called the offices of the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC located in Richmond, Virginia. In October we had our first official visit with a Regional Representative in New Orleans. After the interview we received a phone call from Richmond, and the speaker told us that on a certain date in February (1984) a member of the Foreign Mission Board will call and you will either be declined or accepted to become a candidate for appointment.

I sort of understood just what Isaiah meant when he wrote, “But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs.” verse 6. In my mind I could see this angel flying toward Patti and me with this tong carrying a hot coal, and it would not be until 3 months before we would know what was about to happen.

On that day in February, we hovered around that telephone sitting on our kitchen cabinet, and I honestly do not think that we heard anything in those ensuing minutes and hours until that telephone came to life. I answered and the operator connected us to our designated Foreign Mission Board Representative who said, “Bob, I am happy and proud to say that you have been given an invitation to come to Richmond for further interviews as a Candidate for appointment.” There were more things said, but those were the only words I remember. I now understood what Isaiah meant when he wrote, “He touched my mouth with it and said, “Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.” verse 7.

It was not that evil or sin was involved, but an enormous burden of anxiety had been removed, Patti and I had just taken a huge and dramatic step toward becoming a ‘real, live missionary.’ We had no idea where we would go, but we were willing to answer His divine call. We were on His path to that somewhere place, we were answering His call, “I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” We answered, “Here I am, send me!” He said, “Go and tell these people:” verses 8-9.

The difficult part was that we were told not to tell anyone about what was going on until we received our first packet from Richmond which would define the steps that we were about to take. For one week or so we had to keep this a secret from everyone until we could give specifics outlined by the FMB. Although we had no idea about what was about to happen, our journey had begun.

Jesus is Lord.

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