4 December 2018
Dear Friends at Troy Church,
It was great to visit you in July, to worship together, and to reflect on God’s mighty works in the past and today in many places around the world. We were encouraged by your love and interest and faithfulness to the Lord. We were boosted emotionally and encouraged in our spirits by your practical love extended to us through the generous financial gift to support our service. The loving support by Troy Church of our work has been an anchor of hope for us across the years.
Kathy and I have both been running full-bore since we returned to Thailand. Kathy has been counseling, adding new counseling staff, and finalizing a leadership transition plan for Cornerstone – which the board approved in late October – that will permit her to step aside as Executive Director, effective January 1, to continue her preferred role as counselor for cross-cultural workers in crisis for as long as the Lord directs. This change in focus should bring a better work and home life balance for this period of our lives and hopefully free her to join me occasionally on trips to support some of Beyond’s teams in remote places around the region.
During this period, I’ve had the bittersweet task of helping our Western Cambodia team through the process of ending their service well, as the Lord led them to conclude they should leave the field and return to the States for a season. At the same time, I’ve been preparing for the arrival of two new teams, the first to arrive in Bangkok in mid-January and the second in March. Our Eastern Thailand team has seen both healthy growth though outreach, with a second church begun this year, and challenges to engage others in a vision of disciple multiplication that have required clear evaluation and revision. Our remaining Cambodia teams are encouraged by continued growth they’re seeing. I returned two weeks ago Monday from eight rich days with our Phnom Penh and up-country Cambodia teams, and interacting with many folks who now follow Jesus as a result of their service.
In the midst of our busyness, we learned that a brother-in-law in Chicago, husband of Kathy’s sister Mary, has since October faced a series of medical crises that led to his death a week ago today. Facing yet another painful intervention, he told medical staff and his family “no more. I’m done fighting. I just need to go home.” So after some time reminiscing, sharing, and praying with Mary, their son and daughter and spouses, Rusty did exactly that: he quietly went home to be with the Lord.
After praying and seeking counsel, Kathy and I flew to Chicago last Saturday night. We were joined by Rusty’s mom and sister, Kathy’s mom, siblings and spouses, and all three of our sons. Sunday morning, we had breakfast as an extended family, then a period worship, meditation, and communion. The viewing was Sunday afternoon and evening, and the funeral and burial were yesterday. We were all surprised at the large number of people from many circles and walks of life who came to pay their respects and share how Rusty had positively impacted their lives.
It has been very good but also sad to come together for this short time to bid Rusty farewell and reflect on our mortality, and wonderful that we could do so at all. Joel and Jon returned home last evening. Kathy’s Mom and youngest sister and her husband departed this morning. Jared left this afternoon, after we spent a couple hours visiting nearby Wheaton where we lived for two years after our years in Guatemala and before Russia, Kathy studied at the graduate school, and Jared graduated high school; it was a good morning and enjoyable lunch reminiscing with Jared. Lord willing, Kathy and I will depart Friday and arrive back in Chiang Mai Saturday to continue our service. Please pray that we’ll readjust quickly and remain healthy. Thanks.
Meanwhile, we remember you all with prayers if love and thankfulness.
Averill and Kathy