the blessing of friendship and shared ministry

with Liam and MicahI know this is a writing blog, but sometimes a picture is more than enough. That’s almost the case this morning, because this shot of Rebekah with her great friends, Micah and Liam, pretty-much says it all.

We went over to Tim and Kelly Black’s house for dinner Friday evening, to enjoy our last chance at a quiet(ish) meal together before we hit the road for North Carolina. The boys, of course, captured Rebekah’s heart as they always do, and when they crawled into her lap so she could take her own “group picture,” I had my photographic essay in plain view and there was no avoiding it, I had to take the shot.

LOVE THE ENTIRE FAMILY: I guess I should dig out a recent photo that includes Tim and Kelly too, because this is a post about the entire family, and what I want to say more than challenges the pen; because even a really good writer can’t do justice to the kind of love we feel for Tim and Kelly and the boys, and what they have meant to our experience of life and ministry at FPC Brandon.

Pastors Tim Black and Rebekah Maul
Pastors Tim Black and Rebekah Maul

Simply put, Tim (who is now, officially, “acting head of staff”) has been the best imaginable colleague in ministry for Rebekah. She typically introduces herself as “one of the pastors here at First Brandon,” and she tends to introduce Tim in the same way.

Why? Because even though Tim was called here as “associate pastor,” what he’s been from Day One has been Rebekah’s trusted friend and colleague in ministry. That kind of blessing is not typical on the average church staff, and we are beyond grateful for what such a collaboration has meant over the years.

Then, Kelly shines in her own way; not only is she a great partner in ministry for Tim, she’s also been the ideal “preacher-spouse” compatriot for me. Sincere, creative, talented, positive, encouraging, a beautiful spirit, a deeply committed Christian, an enthusiastic leader in the life of the church – What more could we ask for?

THIS HELPS US A LOT: I’m sure all of you know that I write to and for myself as much as anything else; that’s what journaling is all about; a blog is an on-line journal after all. And I see that I’ve done it again this morning, inasmuch as, in describing what we love and will deeply miss about Tim, Kelly and the boys, I have been outlining what is always possible when we forge deep relationships with other people.

God’s good people are everywhere, and the more I think about the amazing gift of relationships, the more I understand that God has a wealth of abundance in store for us in Wake Forest.

Nothing could ever replace the love we have  experienced here in Brandon. and Rebekah and I are profoundly thankful. But we’re also on the edge of our seats with anticipation for what’s going to be coming next.

Derek, Rebekah, Kelly and Tim (image by Richard Crawford)
Derek, Rebekah, Kelly and Tim (image by Richard Crawford)

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
 It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore. (Psalm 133)

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