My youngest son will graduate from Air Force Basic training in less than 2 weeks. He will have spent 8 1/2 weeks in a difficult environment preparing to serve our country. During this time, his only contact with the outside world is one phone call a week and letters that he receives from home. Our church family has watched our son grow up in this ministry. He was 6 months old when we came to our small church. After 18 years, these people are family to us.
Over the last 7 weeks, many of them have written to him to encourage him. Some of the men have told him stories of their experiences serving our country and the ladies have written to encourage him to do his best. Every week he has a list of people that he wants us to thank because they wrote him a letter. The list of people gets longer every week and it has been a tremendous help to him in this difficult time.
In rural ministry it is easy to feel isolated. Your entire world is spent with a very limited amount of people. I have learned that as I invest my life into their lives, many of them return that favor. Two weeks ago, my wife and I were at the home of one of the older couples in our congregation. This couple had been married 68 years and had numerous kids, grand kids, even great grand kids. My wife noticed that the entire refrigerator was covered with everyone’s picture. And there it was, Joshua’s High School picture. When my wife asked why it was there, she was told “It is to remind us to pray for him everyday while he is at Basic.” When you experience an event like that, you thank God for your rural ministry.