Stepping out in confidence

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September 1993

The weeks leading up to my arrival on the missions field in the early 1990s were filled with the normal activities of packing, researching the area where I was headed and saying goodbye to friends and family.

While it was only a two-year missions position, the decision to go was major for me. I had turned down several tempting job opportunities following graduation from the University of Alabama in May of that year and said yes to serving the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean.

The position definitely matched my training and educational experience in communications, but my exposure to the world outside the Southeast — and missions work in general — was pretty limited.

The internal battle was fierce. Fear of the unknown, moving outside my comfort zone, conceding to uncertain living conditions and a deep feeling of inadequacy in working alongside career missionaries surfaced daily.

But each time anxiety threatened to convince me to bail on the plan, the peace that drew me to the decision in the beginning returned and washed over the fears. Sometimes there isn’t a logical explanation, but when God calls, draws and directs, we know what we need to do.

And so I answered and many stood with me.IMG_20180929_212720

Churches raised money to assist with the needed resources and committed to pray as I served. My pastor, Sammy Taylor, and home church, Mountain View Baptist in Phil Campbell, prepared me for service and made sure I never forgot they were home holding the ropes while I was on the field.

My friends and family supported, prayed and stayed connected through the two years. My mom researched the types of clothes and other items I would need and made sure I had plenty of options. My dad put me to work with him on the farm between college graduation and leaving day — for a much-needed therapeutic mental break.

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My sweet peers on the missions field in the early 1990s. We all went in different directions after our terms ended but not before becoming lifelong friends.

When I left Phil Campbell 25 years ago this month (September 1993) I had no idea what would happen next. God taught me so much about life, others, missions and ministry. He certainly expanded my world and drew me to Him like I had never experienced before.

The years since then have brought a whole lot of life — good, bad and everything in between — and through it all God has been faithful, providing the peace, confidence and strength I needed at every point.

As I enter the next season of the journey with the coming new position at The Alabama Baptist, I step with excitement, anticipation and confidence not only because of the clarity of the call and a peace from the Lord but also because of the strength, support and encouragement of those surrounding me.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

‘We Are One in the Bond of Love’

God planted me there for just shy of two and a half years, but those nearly 850 days seemed like a lifetime — an experience I never wanted to end.

I remember grieving terribly the weeks leading up to and following my departure in December 1995. And tears flowed again recently when I had opportunity to return.

God called me to the missions field after college graduation in 1993. Uniquely enough, I was assigned to work with the Caribbean but stationed in Hollywood, Fla., at the Caribbean Media Centre, working with Caribbean Christian Publications.

Along with the countless opportunities assisting CCP editors and working in the field in Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, I also discovered missionary families and a set of friends in Hollywood who would impact my life forever.

One particular missionary family welcomed me as one of its own and to this day is part of my daily existence. The friends came mainly from two groups — three other transplants like me serving on the missions field in the same area and an entire college and career department at Sheridan Hills Baptist Church.

Of the 12 to 15 core members of the 50-plus-member group, I have managed to keep up with most of them to some degree, especially the one I brought home with me and later married, Jason Rash. Some of us email, talk and even see each other frequently. Some of us rarely communicate, but Facebook — as well as our friend Michele 🙂 — has helped us stay updated on each other.

50th Anniversary Celebration of Sheridan Hills Baptist Church, Hollywood, Fla. (April 21, 2013)

50th Anniversary Celebration (April 21, 2013)

What I didn’t realize until I returned for the 50th anniversary celebration of Sheridan Hills (April 19–22) was just how deeply I miss this group of friends. And what I had almost forgotten was the depth and richness I experienced in my spiritual journey during those years in Hollywood.

Not everyone from our group could attend but for the ones of us who were there, being back together in our original environment felt right. And despite the fact it had been more than 17 years since we stood in those church halls together or stuffed ourselves at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour together, we picked right back up.

To get a hug, to catch up, to share fun memories, to laugh, to cry, to just be together — it was good for the soul.

For a few hours, we were “home” and reminded that “We Are One in the Bond of Love” no matter how many miles span between us.