Monday through Wednesday of this week I was in a conference with other missionaries and pastors who are closely associated with our mission board. While we are independent Baptists, we depend greatly on one another to accomplish our work. It was great getting together with a group of friends whom we had never met, but because of association, are immediate friends.
We had some great preaching during the week. We had a main speaker and several other men who preached during the time there. One of the preachers was the doctor who spoke on gluttony that I posted previously.
We had some great singing primarily provided by Evangelist Bill Blount. I have always enjoyed his company. He is a generation or two older than me, but out of all the guys in our group, he is one of the most technologically advanced in our group. He was sporting a Samson Zoom H2 that he set up for recording our sessions. I told his son that when Bro. Blount makes his exit from this world that I wanted to be in the will for the recorder.
One of my frustrations of the week came from the missionaries when they spoke. Having spent so many years in camping ministry, I see the need to keep things moving on schedule. We had one session where the missionaries were given 5 minutes each to give an elevator pitch of who they were, what their ministry is and what they are doing to accomplish that.
Remember that we were missionaries in a room full of pastors. These pastors are men who are there partially for the purpose of seeing which missionaries they would like to align themselves with and financially support. The missionaries needed to do everything they could to make an impression on these pastors. While support will not be determined on this 5 minute speech, it could affect whether the missionary got a meeting in churches for possible support.
Every missionary went over his 5 minute limit. Some went over by as many as 3 minutes. Pastors are very jealous of their time in the pulpit. When a missionary can’t stay within the time limit imposed on him, a pastor is going to be less interested in having the missionary in his church. I have been told by some pastors that if I went over, by one second, the time limit I was given that it would instantly mean I would not be supported.
One of the missionaries proceeded to talk about how he has been in churches in which the pastors have lied about their willingness to support missionaries. Also how some pastors have put on a show in front of other pastors to look good, and then privately told the missionary he really was not interested in missions. Basically he spent his 5 plus minutes disparaging pastors across the board. Not real smart when you are in a room full of them. Those are things you may experience and think, but you should never say out loud. And certainly not to a group of pastors that you want to support you.
I had a great time getting together with other missionaries and pastors. Many of these men I have known for 8 years. They have become friends by association.
Though I was there as part of a conference of missionaries, I was able to see PlaneT3rry again. He was “in the neighborhood” and took time out to drive down to the meeting area and take me out for dinner. (Thanks again for supper!) This was only the second time we have met in person, but it seems like we have been friends for years.
When it was all over on Wednesday night I loaded up my stuff and started the 11 hour trip from Pigeon Forge to Pensacola. I left about 10:30 at night and was able to drive until 2:00 AM. When I am alone, I am somewhat of a minimalist. Hotels are over-priced for just one person. I slept about 5 hours in my van while shivering myself awake occasionally. I had on 2 shirts, a sweatshirt, 2 jackets and a suit coat. I misplaced my sweater, which would have been my best defense against the cold. But, I got the rest I needed and made the trip home without any problems.