By Nick Holovaty
Brothers and sisters,
Greetings from Evansville!
When the apostles Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch after their first missionary trip, the Bible says they gathered the community together and told them all that God had done through them. Can you imagine what that meeting must have been like? Paul and Barnabas came in and there was a lot of excitement in the room to hear what God had done.
That same excitement was in the room at the Servant Branch community meeting on February 6. Several hundred people had come from many different branches to celebrate Justin Walters’s and Cathy Grill’s wedding the day before. The Servant Branch coordinators asked the missionaries to tell some stories from the front lines, and that’s what we did at the meeting. We told stories about what the Lord is doing through us, through the whole community, in the Mississippi Valley. That meeting was like coming back to Antioch.
It was a great meeting, and we wish everyone in the community could have been there. So, working with the People of Praise communications office, we want to send you those stories, one at a time, over the month of March. The stories will come to you every Tuesday and Thursday, beginning this Thursday, March 3. We’re calling it “March through the Valley.”
There are three things I want to ask you to listen for in these stories. First, listen for what’s new. The Lord has been doing something new in the Mississippi Valley over the past 10 years. He’s sending us out in new ways: door-knocking evangelism, missionary hitchhiking trips, empty-nesters moving to the ghetto. There’s something new going on. Can you see it?
Second, listen for what’s old, because it’s still us—it’s still the People of Praise. In the People of Praise, we’ve been helping our neighbors for 40 years. We’ve been going to college together for just as long. We’ve been moving across the country to join the Lord’s work since the very beginning. Those things aren’t new.
It’s good that the Lord is doing both new and old things with us. It reminds me of the parable where Jesus says that every scribe in the kingdom will be like the householder who brings forth from his treasure both new and old (Mt. 13:52). That’s us.
The third thing I’m asking you to listen for is the connections. More and more, the Lord is linking us together across the distances and branches within the People of Praise. He’s uniting us in some surprisingly concrete and nitty-gritty ways. I want to tell you a story to illustrate what I’m talking about.
We have a friend on the South Side of Indianapolis that I’ll call Jane. She’s been around us there for several years, and she knows us. She’s been in our houses. She’s come to our prayer meetings. We’ve prayed for her to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
About a year ago, Jane came up to David Zimmel, the mission coordinator on the South Side. “I’ve figured it out,” she said.
“What’d you figure out?,” asked David.
“I figured out how you missionaries can live together and get everything done that you get done.”
Jane said, her eyebrows raised, “Trinity. You guys all went to the same high school.”
I don’t know how she figured that out, but she may have the gift of prophecy, because she’s right. Trinity is a huge factor in all our growth work. It’s a really important connection for us.
So, listen to what’s new, listen for what’s old and listen for the connections.
On behalf of the missionaries, and all of us in growth work, thanks for your prayers and support. We already take y’all with us in our hearts as we go out, and we’re really excited to take y’all with us as we march through the Mississippi Valley. God bless.