I’m leaving…but not for good! I’m going to Israel. I leave Sunday, October 30th and return Sunday, November 13th. I thought you should know on the off chance you start to miss me.

As I prepare to leave I’m appropriately excited! I’ve been told this trip changes the way you see and read the Bible. I hope that’s the case. It’s one thing to read about what happens in a particular place in the world, but it’s another thing to be there! I’m excited to walk the same dusty roads Jesus walked. I’ll visit the City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and the pool of Siloam. I’ll make stops in Jericho, Bethesda, the modern Via Dolorosa, and the Temple Mount. What an amazing opportunity!

I’m also excited that I get to spend time with my traveling companion—John Karant. I unapologetically like our elders. I’m not just stuck with them. I get to do life with them and I’m better for it. I don’t want to get all sappy on you, but I like John Karant. I’m excited to travel with him for two weeks. He impacts the people he meets. I would not be surprised if the professor at Jerusalem University who serves as our tour guide is saying, “Dude!” by the time we leave.

I’m humbled. I’m humbled that because of the generosity of a friend I have the opportunity to go and learn. This will be good for my soul. God is inexhaustible. Our feet never touch the bottom of the ocean of God’s wisdom. I’ve spent the last 20 years studying the God of the Scriptures and the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. To have the opportunity to go and learn from people who have forgotten more than I’ll ever know know is humbling. This opportunity is underserved.

I’m hopeful that this trip impacts you. The work that God does in our hearts impacts those around us. I have a unique opportunity on a weekly basis to share with you what I’m learning from God’s word. I believe this trip will benefit the people of Renaissance because I believe God will use it to grow my heart and mind. As God uses these days to influence my walk with Him, I trust it will also impact yours.

I anticipate the work God will do in you when I’m gone. The men who will bring the word when I’m gone are top shelf. They are friends of Renaissance. They are men who we have supported for a number of years. John Hernandez is flying in from Florida to be with you. He is preaching October 30th. John and Maritza Hernandez started Children’s Impact Network almost 15 years ago. It’s amazing to consider what God has done in and through them over the years. I love John. He has been good to me and a great source of encouragement in my life.

Cliff Wright, the area director for Young Life, will be preaching November 6th. I’ve known Cliff for a few years. The day we met I knew we would be friends. Cliff loves Jesus and has a passion for others to know him too. Cliff is a great leader and God is using him big time spreading the gospel in Cabarrus County.

Finally, Roland Martinez, the President of Christian Family Life, will be preaching on marriage on Sunday, November 13th. The ministry of Christian Family Life has impacted marriages around the globe for over 30 years. It has certainly impacted my marriage. Roland will encourage you and challenge you from Ephesians 5. I anticipate God will do great things through these men while I’m away. Trust me, you are in good and able hands!

Renaissance, please pray for me and my family while I’m gone. Pray that I enjoy this gift from God. Pray that God grants Melissa strength and patience while away. I look forward to sharing with you what God teaches me. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to go.