As we are in our last week in the United States there is a lot going through my heart and mind. There are a thousand tiny details to still get ironed out. There’s the actual travel (24 hours of travel time with 3 small children, 2 of which have special needs, and 15 bags that contain all our earthly belongings) through crowded airports, TSA checkpoints, times of food, times of no food, and times of plane food. There will be dozens of things I want to jump on as soon as we land and plans that have been in my dreams for the past year that we can finally set into motion. And yet, all I can think about is what happened last night.
Last night I sat down with about 25 men. The Lord led me to which 25 were there, but there could have been 100 others (although my heart may not have been able to withstand that). I wrote each of them a letter, reminiscing on the past, reminding them of where they’ve been, and challenging them to never go back there. In the mix were guys whose dads left their post and in doing so left a shattered heart after the dust settled, guys whose dads passed away early in their lives, guys who have been in the deepest sin struggles you can imagine, and guys who have earthly fathers that are second to none…and everything in between. The one thing they all shared in common was that they each have a piece of my heart.
The Lord has been gracious to me to bring me young men over the years to invest my life in. I don’t know exactly how He does it, or why He chooses the ones He does, but I’m so grateful. I don’t have all the answers, and I have messed up more than I’ve gotten right as I’ve sought to lead these men to Christ. I’ve said wrong things, given wrong advice, been impatient and pushy, and sometimes even pushed so hard that some of the men God brought to me are now far from Him. But for whatever reason, He keeps bringing them to me.
I went around the circle last night and read those hand-written letters aloud to each of them. I wanted them to be encouraged that they’re not alone…that every man goes through times of battle and can rise on the other side of it with victory. I laughed and cried during almost every letter. This was supposed to be my chance to encourage them and challenge them for the future. But, just as I wrapped up and was about to pray, one of them spoke up and began to share how the Lord had changed his life during the time I’ve known and loved him. One by one they shared, and the real flood gate of tears started. But these weren’t empty tears from brokenness or shame or self pity. If there can be joy in tears, I think that’s what was happening. I’ve never been more happy and more sad than in that moment. Then some of us went out to Taco Bell for one last ride. I’ll remember it forever.
People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I don’t really know how to answer. As far as moving goes, and selling all our stuff and being in a new culture, living simply, embracing poverty, and all the unknowns I’m doing fine. I’m ready. I’ve never been so ready for anything in my whole life. But when I think about the people I will leave, the relationships that will never be the same after 5 days from now, and the legacy these men will go on to build, I am completely undone…broken…scattered. That is, until I think of the 25, the 250, the 25,000 young men in Uganda who need to have this same testimony. What if a nation of fathers begins to commit to their families that they will not leave their post? What if each believer in that nation decides they’re going to add one more to their family whether through mentoring, foster care, or adoption? What if I could help make sure that one more child has the mom and dad they need and that they will never go to bed afraid ever again?
You see, Benjamin House isn’t just a project for Julie and I, it’s our lives…made into an organization. It’s the priorities of our family (the Gospel), multiplied. And as we go, we look back over our shoulders at the thousands who are holding our hands, holding us up, holding us accountable, and holding the rope for us in prayer and giving, and we are overwhelmed. Please continue to pray. We will be at GSP at noon this coming Tuesday, tickets and duffel bags in hand, ready to step out of the boat and trust Jesus to keep us from sinking. Pray, tell our story, give in whatever capacity the Lord allows, and let’s change the world. I’m just crazy enough to think we can.
To make a tax-deductible gift to Benjamin House, simply visit us online atwww.BenjaminHouse.net or mail your check to Benjamin House Ministries, PO BOX 21, Moore SC 29369.