Missionary ministry sometimes includes aspects of ministry off of the field. This fall I have been involved in a time of ministry reporting to our supporting churches here in the States. I have traveled every single weekend with only two Sundays off during the entire four month period. It has been tiring, but is a rewarding and enjoyable time as I share the blessings God has granted in Colombia over the past several years. I have very much enjoyed visiting with so many friends, supporters, and prayer partners, many of whom I have not seen for years. That period of frenetic activity drew to a close this week with one final trip.
On Monday of this week, I drove to Peoria, Illinois, to attend the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Missionary Convention. I had agreed to serve for a three year term, and this was my final year on this term of service. I am convinced that the missionary convention is a vital element in the missionary movement and I make every effort to attend whenever I can. I also believe that it is very important for those of us who serve as missionaries to participate in the planning and direction of the convention. So one contribution I make is in serving on the Executive Committee with a certain frequency. In fact, I felt this was so important; I have delayed my traditional early January return to Colombia in order to attend this meeting.
The drive out was long and tiring. It is almost exactly five hundred miles from Rittman to Peoria. The trip was uneventful, until the last hour of driving. I drove into heavy snow and traffic slowed to a crawl. I arrived later than expected and found the rest of the committee waiting on me in the hotel lobby. I make a quick trip to my room to drop off my suitcases and then went directly into our first meeting. That lasted until late that evening. That meeting dealt with the future direction of the Convention with the retirement of Walter Birney. After nearly nine hours on the road and then another three hours in a rather intense meeting, I was exhausted. I headed to my room and crashed.
The next morning I had a granola bar and a cup of coffee in my room for breakfast and then headed down to the meetings. We had a short meeting to deal with the theme of the convention and then we toured the convention facilities. After that, we had lunch together and discussed some issues while eating. After lunch, we began the rather tedious but important task of developing the program for next year. We worked till six and broke for supper. Again, it was a working supper. After we had eaten, we headed back to our meeting room to finish up. We completed our work around nine that evening and headed for our rooms.
On Wednesday morning, we presented our work, the missionary workshops, in the case of my sub-committee. After that, we waded into the business meeting. During this time we dealt with budgets, bills, and the offerings received and needed to meet these expenses. The directors do a great job in offering a very good convention for a very modest investment. This means we must struggle to make the most of every dollar to insure that we do not go over and yet do not scrimp on the quality and content of the convention. We finished up about one and concluded with a prayer before heading to lunch.
After lunch, I headed out into the zero degree weather and driving snow storm to drive home. It was a real â€œwhite knuckleâ€ drive, but I did have time or money to spare for another night in Peoria. I made it home safely, after driving by many crashes, at about eleven that evening. It was a long and tiring drive after a long and tiring series of meetings. I was exhausted but content that we had done our best to make for a great convention this fall. I hope to see all of you there, Lord willing!