And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. Acts 20:36-21
With many tears, we tore ourselves away from saints at Seven Mile Road Boston. Our heart grieves and our spirit mourns. Yet we trust that God is pleased with this parting.
Two Sunday’s ago, I preached my last sermon and talked about how from the beginning, God has intended to bless many; but that has always meant that many must leave. God calls Abraham and promises to bless him so that he might be a blessing and that through him, He might bless all the families of the earth. But for that to happen, Abraham had to leave. He had to pack the UHaul, hug his friends, cry on their shoulders, and leave. Likewise, God called Moses, and Jonah, and Paul – all to leave – in order that many might be blessed. My vision for Seven Mile Road Boston is that they would commit themselves to walking to the port like the Ephesians in Acts 20, and that with much weeping, they would send away pastors, missionaries, friends, family to the ends of the earth so that all the families of the earth would be blessed.
Yesterday, Seven Mile Road sent us, the first of many, away. Matt preached briefly from 2 Corinthians 4 about the glory and light and treasure of the Gospel and that God has incredibly stored that treasure in us – mere jars of clay. Then different friends shared words of encouragement with us and thanked God for the grace He had extended through jars of clay like Ajay and Shainu. Our family was called to the front, the pastors laid hands on us, and the church commissioned us to the work of planting 7 Mile Road in Philadelphia. Afterwards, we had a huge cookout and one-by-one, we said goodbye to our brothers and sisters.
Margaret, a dear godly woman at 7MR, said something this week that has been a huge anchor for me. God blesses us with things and we find great security in them. But we need to remember it is God who blessed us. And so when God calls us to part with those things, we can trust Him because He gave it to us in the first place. It’s like this – God brought my family here to Boston. God gave me a friend and pastor in Matt Kruse. God gave me a church and community in 7MR. What sense would it make for me to place all my security in the things that God gave me and not in God Himself? Genesis 12 tells us that God called Abraham to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household. That was the sum of one’s security in that day. And yet Abraham would learn, and my family will learn, that ultimate security is found in God and not in the things He gives us. So, though it is painful to leave Boston, and rightfully so, we are so grateful that our ultimate security is in God and He goes with us.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:16-20