Greetings to you in the Spirit of Christ,
I write to you once again to report on the state of my ministry in Great Plains Yearly Meeting and the wider region of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. I arrived in Wichita in late January, and since that time I have been hard at work meeting with Friends, seeking how I might be of service to them, and encouraging us to listen to the still, small voice of Christ that desires to lead us into all truth, love and justice. Over the past few weeks I have learned a great deal about Friends, about myself, and about the call that I have been given. I have been humbled at many times, but in God’s mercy I have been lifted up again and placed on the path I am to walk. I have seen how limited my own wisdom is and how much I must lean on my Rock and my Foundation in all that I do. I have been reminded time and again that I am nothing, Christ is all – to him be the glory!
My work begins at Heartland Friends
A great blessing came Sunday before last at Heartland’s monthly meeting for business when I learned that an anonymous donor had given a generous contribution to my ministry fund. Thanks to this caring individual, I have just this week been able to take out a health insurance policy, and I plan to get my teeth examined for the first time in quite a while. I am very grateful for the generosity of this Friend, and for all those who support me in this ministry with their encouragement, counsel, financial support, prayers and assistance.
I have been particularly grateful to members of Heartland Meeting who have been willing to serve on a care and support committee for me. Three members of Heartland are coming together with me on a monthly basis to help ensure that I have the emotional, spiritual, financial and social resources that I need to be true to the work that God has called me to. The clerk of this committee, Aaron Fowler, has been especially diligent helping me deepen my understanding of my call and to facilitate prayerful listening and discernment among members of Heartland Meeting. We at Heartland are learning that we must come to unity among ourselves before we can hope to have any corporate witness to offer the wider community. It is my prayer that we will continue to deepen our attentiveness to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our midst and thus be drawn closer together in the love of Christ.
Friends United Meeting General Board
Just a few weeks after my return to Wichita, I was called away to duties far from home. During the second weekend in February, Cliff Loesch of University Friends and I traveled to Richmond, Indiana for Friends United Meeting (FUM) General Board meetings. We gathered together with representatives from yearly meetings and associations from across the United States and Canada to do the business of FUM and to share in fellowship and deep listening to the voice of our Teacher, Jesus Christ. FUM is facing many difficulties right now – financially, theologically, culturally, and spiritually – but I am confident that God’s Spirit is at work in FUM and that God has a plan for us, if we will humble ourselves and be receptive to Christ’s leading.
(For a more in-depth report on my experience at the General Board Meeting, please see my blog post on The Lamb’s War.)
Back in Wichita
While the North American and global connections represented by Friends United Meeting are deeply important to me, I was glad to return to Wichita following the board meetings. There is so much to do here in Wichita, and in the wider region; I feel that I must focus my energy here.
In particular, I have been excited by my meetings with other young adults here in Wichita. Faith and I recently met with a group of young United Methodists who have felt called by God to come together in a neighborhood near mine in Wichita. Based in a house that they have renovated, they are beginning to volunteer in the community and to seek ways to be of service as Christ leads them. It was inspiring to see how God is working in their lives and to think about how many other young people in this country must be also hearing and heeding God’s call. I was also blessed to meet with Paul Fowler, a young man who I grew up with in the Friends of Jesus community. I am impressed at his obvious leadership ability and his heart for seeking truth. I look forward to seeing how he and I can collaborate in deepening the spiritual lives of young people in Wichita and finding ways to reach out to our community in love. Finally, Faith and I recently got the opportunity to spend some time with Adam Monaghan, the youth ministries staff-person for Mid-America Yearly Meeting. Adam is a very sharp young leader and I’m enthusiastic about seeking ways that we can work together in furthering God’s kingdom here in Wichita. The human and spiritual resources in Wichita are immense, and I know that God has great plans for this city. God is already at work here and I only pray that my life can be a small addition to the ongoing action of the Creator.
Of course, God is at work in places besides Wichita, as well. This Wednesday, Faith and I traveled to Great Bend, Kansas, to visit Jim and Jeanne Pitts in their home. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and sharing about how God is working in our lives. I was happy to hear about how much God has been using Jim and Jeanne in Great Bend, though I was sad to hear their feelings of isolation, being so far from like-minded Friends. We talked about ways they might come to feel more connected to other Friends in the region, including the idea of holding a regular quarterly meeting in Wichita for Friends from the wider region to come together for fellowship, worship, and mutual support. On our way out of town, Faith and I stopped by the Golden Belt bicycle shop to see Doug Chambers, another local Friend. It was good to touch base with him, and we hope to meet together with the Pitts and the Chambers again in the near future. I am praying that God will open the way for me and other Friends to provide support to Friends in Great Bend in whatever way might be most beneficial in building them up and supporting them in their ministry.
Faith and I are looking forward to traveling to Hominy Friends Meeting, in Osage country in Northern Oklahoma on March 20th-22nd. Friends there have invited us to come and help them with their Wild Onion Dinner that Saturday, and they have asked me to lead worship on Sunday. I feel very privileged to be invited to serve Friends in Hominy. I pray that I be open to how God wants to use me, and to how I am to be taught by Friends in Hominy. I am still looking for a traveling companion for this trip; if you feel a leading to accompany me in this ministry, please let me know.
I also have intentions to visit Friends in Manhattan, Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City, as well as in Lubbock, Texas, in the near future. I feel such love for Friends in these meetings, and I cannot wait to be with them. Dates are not yet nailed down for these visits, but it is likely that I will be traveling during the weekend of the 27-29 of March, and the weekend of the 3-5 of April. I am seeking traveling companions for these weekends, as well.
I had intended to visit Friends in Central City, Nebraska this past Sunday. However, Eric Jones, my contact person for that meeting, informed me that the meeting had recently come to clearness that the meeting would indeed be laid down in the near future. Given the present uncertainty in central Nebraska, it was suggested that now would not be a particularly good time for me to visit. I am standing by for more details from Friends in Nebraska to determine how I should proceed and how I could be of most service to Friends there. Please pray for Friends in Central City, Grand Island, and Kearney, Nebraska: that God may show them how they are to walk and empower them to move forward in the grace and power of the Spirit.
This Sunday, Faith and I will be visiting University Friends. We’ll be going out for breakfast with a number of Friends, and then leading a Sunday school class before worship. I am excited to worship with University Friends again and to listening with them to how God is leading us as a church.
Listening: That’s really at the core of my concern, my ministry. I have been doing a lot of reflecting in the past month, and it is clear to me that in the past I have attempted to give too many details about my ministry. People have wanted specifics, for me to flesh out what I intended to do in the coming months. But the more I sit with it, and the more I open myself to the Truth, the more I realize that I don’t know much of anything. I don’t have a plan.
Here’s what I do know:
*I feel great love for Friends in the Great Plains region of the United States, love that is not mine, but God’s.
*I feel that God has called me to be in this region and wants to use me here for the time being.
*I feel a deep concern for listening: That we be attentive to God’s Word in our hearts and discern together how God is teaching us and leading us as the Church. I believe that God wants me to keep listening, and that God wants to use me to encourage those around me to listen, too.
That’s my ministry. The details are flexible, and God is letting me in on the plan one step at a time – I’ve not been given a big picture, or any sense of what the ultimate result of this ministry might be. If I’m honest, I must say that I know virtually nothing, except these three points that I’ve listed.
This past month, Faith and I have been working part-time doing house-cleaning and renovation work. However, that job will soon be finished. I am presently looking for part-time employment that will be flexible enough that it will not interfere with the ministry I am called to. I have already applied at a coffee shop and at a homeless shelter, and I am investigating other possibilities. Please pray that God will guide me to an employer who understands my need for “tent-making” that will not interfere with the ministry that God has laid on my heart.
I pray that God will continue to humble me so that it may be clear that this ministry is of Jesus Christ, not my own. To him be all glory, honor and praise! Amen.