“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79
DATELINE WAKE FOREST, December 18 – It’s a clear 52-degrees here in the Piedmont, one week before Christmas and a lifetime away from Florida. We’ve just experienced our third spectacular North Carolina fall, and it’s safe to say Rebekah and I have both fallen in love with our new home.
This year’s newsletter will attempt to outline the highlights of 2015, bring everyone up to speed with our immediate family, and look forward into the New Year with hope, with purpose, and with joy. Our blessings are too numerous to count, and the beauty of this life we enjoy together too complex to adequately describe.
REBEKAH: Our church home – Wake Forest Presbyterian Church – is the reason we’re here, and Rebekah and I have both fallen for this congregation in a big way. We’re a strong church, with more than 800 members and 400-plus in worship; and – together – we’re shifting from identifying as a church full of members to a community growing as intentional disciples.
Rebekah is completely absorbed in the task she was invited here to engage. In consequence, she is both invigorated and spent; encouraged and challenged; affirmed and put to the test. She preaches with energy and passion, and the enthusiasm with which people respond lights up the campus.
2015 in the USA is an interesting climate in which to do ministry. Many churches are struggling, but our experience remains rich, positive, heartening, and fruitful. The reason, we believe, is that the gospel message is as exciting, and transformational, and timely, and important, and powerful today as it ever was. We don’t get caught up in the distractions, the politics, the petty arguments, or the tragic need so many have to be right; instead – and Rebekah and I both recommend this – we get caught up in Jesus.
ANDREW AND ALICIA: This summer Andrew and Alicia moved from Italy to Uzbekistan. They live in Tashkent, where Alicia teaches music at the Tashkent International School and Andrew is working on his masters degree with Penn State, as well as volunteering where he can.
Uzbekistan is slap in the middle of Central Asia, on the historic “Silk Road,” nestled against the northwestern reach of the Himalayan Mountains. Our world travelers have found a real community within the International School, and are excited about what they will be learning over the next couple of years.
NAOMI AND CRAIG: The Campbells have settled into the routine of family life just two hours away in Richmond, where Craig is enjoying the markedly more family-friendly work culture at his store. Naomi and Craig have found a receptive and encouraging faith community at Southminster Presbyterian Church, where they are already involved in every aspect of congregational life.
The new Campbell home reflects Naomi’s creativity and imagination, and our grandchildren – 4-year-old David; and Beks, two-and-a-half – are growing up fast. The children are happy, loving, full with boundless energy, and learning to live life with enthusiasm, passion, and curiosity.
DEREK: I continue to work as a full-time cheerleader for the fully-engaged Christian life. My website says it best – Author; Speaker; Storyteller; Observer; Blogger; Disciple.
At WFPC I’m involved with two of the small-groups in our expanding men’s ministry, I teach the Practical Christianity Sunday morning class, and I do everything in my power to make sure the preacher has a loving, comfortable, relaxing, regenerative home.
THE PARENTS: Grace and David Maul make the perfect neighbors, and their doting grand-dog, Scout Labradoodle, is more than happy to have two professional spoilers living immediately next door. Their health remains good, but both Mum and Dad are, nonetheless, feeling the realities of being 84 and 87.
My parents both joined our church, where they have been warmly received and welcomed into the community; they have already made many good friends. The climate here, although significantly colder than Florida during the winter months, has proved a welcome change, and they are embracing North Carolina living.
2015 had its share of grief, too, as we said goodbye to Rebekah’s step-mother, Myrt Hubbard Alexander. Myrt was an important part of our family, a tour de force in her community of Apopka, and a consistent, loving presence.
LOOKING AHEAD, 2016: Wherever you are, and regardless of our relationship (family, friend, curious blog-reader), it is our sincere prayer that each one of you will know peace, experience fullness, engage God’s rich blessings, live with passion, and follow Jesus.
“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79
– Rebekah and Derek
Below – the year in just a few pictures: