I have just returned from a long journey that took me to a number of countries in Asia and the Pacific. I will share more on that momentarily but first, for those who are interested, I’ve got some updates on a couple of other matters.
Nick Challies Memorial Scholarship
You may remember that after Nick’s death we established a scholarship in his name at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—a means of honoring his legacy while also furthering his desire to see the local church strengthened in Canada. We were pleased to learn that it recently hit the milestone of $100,000 in total givings from more than 300 donors. We are so grateful to all who have donated. Of course there is far less than that actually in the fund because the scholarship is already being distributed to eligible students who intend to return to Canada to serve in ministry after completing their studies. We were recently on campus and able to meet with four of this year’s five recipients. It was a joy to get to know them. It also seems worth pointing out that we have just hired one of them to a full-time position at Grace Fellowship Church!
Aileen and I continue to give to the scholarship fund and invite you to do the same. A portion of the proceeds from Seasons of Sorrows goes to it as well. (The scholarship is collected, overseen, and distributed by SBTS and we ask only to know who receives it so we can pray for them, cheer them on from afar, and, when possible, meet them.)
Seasons of Sorrows
Speaking of Seasons of Sorrows, I believe I have now completed the last of my scheduled interviews related to it. I lost track of how many I did, but I believe it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 or 60. I have been encouraged by the response to the book and especially blessed to hear how it has been meaningful to parents who have experienced the loss of a child. I will be speaking on the subject at the end of the month at the Called to Counsel conference in Dallas (and look forward to meeting some of you there).
Also on the subject, the Spanish edition (Estaciones de aflicción: El dolor de la pérdida y el consuelo de Dios) is now in its finishing stages and should be available in the summer. You can order it here.
Worship Round the World
My Worship Round the World project is now well underway and about 25% complete. We have just returned from filming episodes at churches in both Cambodia and Fiji. We also made brief stops in Singapore, Tonga, and Australia. Though the journey was intense and involved something like 60 hours of flying, things are going well and we are increasingly confident that at the end of it all we will have a documentary and book that will encourage and challenge the church. If all goes according to plan, our next journey will be in June when we will visit both Chile (Villarrica) and Brazil (Recife). In July we will travel to South Korea and Australia.
Of far less importance, this month’s journey allowed me to eat at McDonald’s in Singapore. I have the odd habit of attempting to eat at McDonald’s in every country I visit. McDonald’s has not yet reached Cambodia or Tonga and I had already sampled it in Fiji and Australia, but was glad to try it out in Singapore—my 30th country.
For what it’s worth, I don’t even particularly like McDonald’s—it has just become a thing I do. To answer the questions I inevitably get at this point, the worst thing I’ve had is the Mega McAmerica burger in Israel while the best was a breakfast sandwich in Ecuador whose name I’ve since forgotten. An honorable mention goes to the chicken in Singapore and a dishonorable mention to India’s Maharajah Mac.
(One quirky thing that happened along the way is that before we left Sydney to fly to Vancouver, someone on the ground crew forgot to empty the plane’s toilet system. So about halfway over the Pacific the toilets began to malfunction and before long 325 people were reduced to using just two. We ended up having to make a pit stop in Honolulu so they could empty them. I don’t think any of the pilots or crew had ever experienced that circumstance before! Of course that caused me to miss my connection and delayed my return by a few hours…)
In March we visited Boyce College for their spring Preview Day and Michaela very much liked what she saw and experienced. She has applied and been accepted and looks forward to beginning her studies there in August. She will move down just two or three days after Aileen and I reach our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary (which is approaching in early August). Until then, she is wrapping up her final high school courses and looking for a new job since the grocery store she has worked at for the past couple of years has drastically cut hours across the board. She will soon have college bills to pay for!
Abby and Nate continue to live in the married housing on the Boyce/Southern campus and plan to remain there for another year until Abby has completed her degree. This means they will overlap with Michaela for one school year before they move to the Toronto area and settle in near us. It’s hard to believe, but they are already coming up to their first wedding anniversary!
Ryn has moved into a new apartment in Louisville and is looking forward to an upcoming mission trip to the Middle East. She will vacation with us again this summer and we are looking forward to the time with her.
Aileen continues to work as a personal assistant within the real estate industry and is generally enjoying the work. It tends to be “feast or famine” in that some weeks she is barely needed and in others she has to pull very long hours. But she has a fair bit of flexibility in life now, so it works well enough. The job itself offers enough freedom that she will be able to join me on a few of my trips this year.
And I guess that’s pretty much the news from these parts!