One of the blessings God has given me as I have travelled over the last 20 months or so has been the privilege of meeting many of the people with whom I have corresponded by email over the last few years. I have “met” so many good people through my work with and over the last 20 years, but our contact has been almost entirely by email, until now. One of the “little joys” for me has been to finally meet many of these people face-to-face

Sometimes these meetings are planned, as I visit their church or get together for coffee. Sometimes they are surprises, as when we run into each other at a conference. But they always thrill my heart. It’s not just seeing the face that is such a blessing, but seeing their ministry and their heart — it puts them in a context that email cannot do.

After years of email contact, I have been blessed to meet men of God such as Pastor Mike O’Neal, Pastor James Schoolfield, Pastor Donald Hannah, Bro. Clarence Billheimer, Pastor Wayne Dunn, Pastor Don McFarland, Pastor Don Woodard, Pastor Harold McMillian, Pastor Gary Eaton, and so many others — too many to list all of them here.

Seeing their ministries first-hand gives me a new appreciation for their work.

I used to think that I was working in one of the hardest areas in the country and that I was one of God’s hardest-working, most sacrificial servants. Not anymore. I am humbled by what I see so many men and women of God doing across the country — the work they are doing and the sacrifices they are making.

I have learned that every field is hard. Each one has its own unique challenges. For instance, in my part of the country, many people have never heard about Jesus and have never been in a church. That makes it difficult to reach them.

However, down in the “Bible Belt,” everybody is already “saved” but depending on works, baptism, tongues, their grandpa-who-was-a-preacher, church attendance, Old Testament law, and a million other things for their salvation. They have grown up in church, know all the lingo, and can be very “religious.”

To reach these people, you have to convince them that they are not saved, that it is Jesus who saves and not all these other things. And, as you reason with them, you quickly find that the Bible has very little authority compared to their favorite teacher, youtube videos, their uncle, their upbringing, or whatever else they look to for direction.

There are no easy fields. Everyone has challenges, and God equips us to deal with the particular challenges of the area to which He calls us.

Someday I may write a book about all the unexpected things I have learned while on the road. Until then, I continue to thank God day-by-day for what he is teaching me.