Eric Liddell (of Chariots of Fire fame) said, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure." Unlike Liddell, when I run, I feel the pain of oxygen deprivation. But like Liddell, when I'm out encouraging others, I feel the pleasure of God in my soul. It's one of the things God put me on the earth to do. That's why I love the following verse about the Apostle Paul--one of the first missionaries of encouragement:
He [Paul] traveled through that area speaking many words of encouragement...
The following are snapshots of us, your Cadre missionaries of encouragement in action--trying the best we can to lean into the Acts 20:2 calling God has given us. These snapshots took place on Tuesday, September 18, 2007. So put your tray table up, and put your seat back in the full upright position--because it's time for take off for our missionary journey of encouragement...
The alarm went off at 5:30 AM and by 6:30 AM (that's why I can't open my eyes in the picture above), I was at The Grecian Gardens Restaurant--one of Chillicothe's finest--sitting across the table from Brian Kettman--long time friend and ministry partner with the Allisons and Cadre Ministries. I first met Brian when he showed an interest in one of the young ladies in our youth ministry WAY back when I was a youth pastor. He came to know Christ and ended up marrying the young lady. Our friendship continues to deepen as we continue to meet about once a month in Proverbs 27:17 fashion. On this day, we discussed our personal journeys with Jesus and the upcoming training I will doing at Brian's church in Ottawa, IL, on October 20, 2007. Did I mention Brian paid for breakfast? Thanks Brian... you rock!
At a little after 8 AM I met with Gary Sutton. Gary requested the meeting because God is opening doors for him to encourage a couple of churches in the area. I didn't want to miss the chance to encourage someone who is trying to encourage churches. Can you say MULTIPLICATION? We met at Happy Thoughts Cafe in downtown Chillicothe, IL (another one of Chillicothe's finest). I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know Gary... and am excited about what God is doing in and through his life.
At 9:45 AM, I arrived at Childers Restaurant in Peoria, IL, (my first time there) to meet with LONG time friend, Ken Debelak--who also happens to serve on our church's missions team (Ken invested 16 years of his life as a missionary pilot with MAF--Missionary Aviation Fellowship--in Brazil)--and doubles as the Allison family insurance agent. It's been over two years since Ken and I have had a chance to actually sit down and talk with each other... and like old friends... we picked up right where we left off. It was--as usual--a very encouraging time with Ken. (Thanks for the coffee Ken!)
At about 12 noon, I went to encourage youth workers in the Peoria Area--by attending the Peoria Area Youth Network. It was a very rich time of learning and sharing together... and did I mention... a FREE lunch? Above are some of my all time favorite people--from left to right: Volunteer youth worker extraordinaire Paul Cone, to my left and in front (actually taking the picture) is Youth for Christ Director, Dan Learned, to the left is Jake Bland, a YFC youth worker in Pekin, IL, and an integral part of the Leadership Community I'm currently leading in the Central IL area. Do we look encouraged?
I was next scheduled to meet for a mentoring session with Doug Rumbold, Youth Pastor of Northfield Christian Fellowship in Tremont, IL. But alas, Doug was overwhelmed with responsibilities at his office and had to reschedule. But that meant I could go back home, take care of some administrative work, connect with Stacy and the kids, take my jog, and shower before our next adventure that day...
We loaded the entire Allison clan into our family vehicle--our aging and aching 15 passenger van--and headed to East Peoria where we had a blast celebrating the 43rd birthday of our dear friend and Cadre ministry partner, Kent Jones. I think you can see that Kent brings the best out of me... and you gotta love the writing on that birthday cake! (Can you say, MIDLIFE CRISIS?) One of the things I love about Kent and his wife Ara is that they always invite the ENTIRE Allison clan to party with them... and boy... you don't have to invite us to a party twice. (Thanks for the great pizza, ice cream, and mullet Kent and Ara!)
Crawling into bed--after a busy day of encouraging others--and being encouraged by others... I dreamed that I became the 4th member of the Beatles. Must have been the overdose of coffee, pizza, and ice cream.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.