Just over a year ago, two dear friends returned home from a beautiful, traumatic and effective season on the mission field. They spent multiple years in a country in North Africa sharing the love of Christ. Their community was full of amazingly gracious and wonderful people. But it also included people that were extremely hostile to anyone that would dare introduce another religion different from theirs. They laid their lives on the line to share the love of Christ.

In a story that could be adapted into a movie, they were forcefully removed from the country and the community that they desperately loved because of political tensions. This couple showed up in Charlotte hurting, broken and asking questions that no one on this side of heaven could ever answer. “Why?” seemed to be the starting point of every tear-filled conversation. They had lost their sense of home, calling and stability.

The past year has been full of healing. It has been full of community surrounding this couple and showing unconditional grace and love. It has included their engagement and marriage. It has included incredible spiritual growth. And it has included a new calling.

Today is one of the toughest, most beautiful days that I can remember in the history of my ministry. We will say goodbye yet again to this couple that we love. We have walked with them. Prayed with them. Cried with them. We have watched a new home and calling come alive in their heart. Tears fill my eyes today as I have seen this couple say goodbye to friends that mean more than words could ever express. Tears fill my eyes as Dara and I prepare to drive them to the airport, hug their necks and pray one final prayer from their pastor’s heart – their friend’s heart. We deeply love and believe in them. And we will miss them terribly. 

These are not tears of sadness. They are tears of incredible joy. It turns out that saying goodbye to someone you love for an extended period of time includes a wide range of emotion that could never be properly expressed. There is a sense of loss, knowing that the random drop-ins on a Wednesday afternoon will not be happening. But that is accompanied by an overwhelming sense of joy. These two are truly alive. They are living out their God-given calling without fear or reservation. God called them to bring the life and love of Christ to a country that has less than 1% of its population that has experienced the freedom of relationship with Jesus.

They are leaving the ones that they love for the sake of The One (Jesus) that they love the most.

There will be tears. There will be laughter. There will be intense moments of prayer. There will be battles to be fought. There will be battles to be won. All of this for the glory of The One that is worthy of every part of our lives.

__________ and __________, you inspire me to love Jesus more. You inspire me to be a better husband, father, shepherd, teacher and friend. Thank you for your influence in my life. It’s time to go. And through our prayers, your community goes with you. Live well. Love well. Lead well. Be strong and courageous. You are loved. You are so very loved. 

**Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.