Susan and I spent the summer in Wynne, Arkansas. Never growing up did I sit back and imagine myself having the best time in Arkansas. I grew up in Alabama and it is just best to go East from there. Little did I know that while I was imagining being in romantic places (maybe only romantic for us) like Turkey, Oregon, or China, the Lord had prepared for us joy overflowing in a little town in northeast Arkansas with a population of 8,000.
This is a short reflection on our short time with the amazing community of believers in Wynne, AR.
It was no easy thing to pick up and leave for the summer. Now that I am a semi-adult this kind of thing is getting more and more difficult. There are jobs, bills, and many other factors to consider. When I first heard about this opportunity I thought that we would soon know shortly if God wants us to do this by making it possible for us to leave given all our responsibilities. God answered our prayers and made it abundantly clear that this was obedience for us for this season. And despite our reticence, we knew it better to obey.
Our job for the summer was to disciple the youth at First Baptist Wynne under the leadership of Uncle Randy Presley. It was light on logistics and heavy on relationships for which I was most grateful. We had always talked about doing discipleship, small groups, and just being very relational in our approach to ministry but it was still a learning process for us as well.
How do we teach and lead in such a way that will empower these youth to teach and lead others? How do we make leaders instead of followers?
We asked these questions and many more as we poured into these kids. We wanted to show them how to be intentional with everything they did. To use their God given talents and every day opportunities and see them as resources God has entrusted them for the Kingdom. We also wanted to be relational instead of programmatic. We took them to lunch, we went running together, we went on trips together.
We did life together.
Though this seems “radical” I believe with all that I am that this is the model Christ first gave us. Light on logistics and heavy on relationships. Almost counter intuitive. Christ poured into a small group of guys and did everything together with them. He not only showed them how to do life but He did life with them.
I pray that we had some lasting impact on the youth, but in all honesty, I believe we were the most affected during this summer. God challenged us, encouraged us, and just spoke to every part of our being. The community of believers in Wynne was absolutely incredible as they poured into Susan and me. We had the greatest pleasure and joy being a part of the Body of Christ in Wynne, AR. They are the most amazing people and I am thankful to gain such deep brothers and sisters in Christ.
My prayer now is that we live out in Wake Forest what we learned and taught in Wynne.
The last part of the summer I finally started using the moped that is owned by the church. Though I fell the first time, I got the hang of it and it has almost sold me on buying one of my own someday. Randy’s youngest, Margaret Ann, had nothing for me the whole summer. But in the last week I finally, by God’s good grace, won her over. She started to ask for me and actually smiled in lieu of crying when I walked in a room. The greatest thing is that now whenever she sees a motorcycle or a moped she will say my name. That is victory enough for me.