My stomach felt like it had just been punched. How could he say that? Was he serious? The moment is ingrained in my memory.
We had no idea what lay in store for us when we awoke on that warm Sunday in early June. We had just moved to Boiling Springs, North Carolina and bought a home three weeks prior. It was a large home — over 2500 square feet — with a fenced in yard, jacuzzi tub, bonus room for the kids, and huge kitchen. Our master bedroom suite alone was about the size of our former tiny house in Nashville. This new home was exactly what we wanted at a price that could not be beat, and in a friendly little town straight out of a classic American tale. The kids had adjusted well to school. We were making new friends. My students were great. Life was looking as close to perfect as it ever had.
Still, we were trying to figure out a few details. While I had a job, Ken was planning on staying home with the children over the summer, prior to finding a employment. We had been considering planting a church in Boiling Springs, since there were no Wesleyan churches to be found in the immediate area, but we discovered that Boiling Springs had more than one church for every 100 people, including a brand new church plant by a prominent author and speaker just a mile from our house. For us, a church plant seemed like an idea whose time had not come, so we began to look for a church home in an established Wesleyan church.
On that particular Sunday, Ken had preached at Shelby First Wesleyan in the morning, then we were having lunch at the home of the pastor of East Gold Street Wesleyan. He had children the same age as our children, and we were looking forward for a chance to let our kids play with new friends. Also present that day were Bob and Brenda Bagley, who serve with Global Partners in Africa.
As we dined on grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese, and salad, we soon found our lunch conversation turning to Africa– the cultural challenges our children face here, and the difficulties we encountered in the process of adoption. Bob chuckled as we told him our tales of the DR Congo because he understood exactly the kinds of things that we faced when we were there. Bob asked Ken about his French-speaking when he was in Congo, and about my efforts to help students answer God’s call to serve the poor through the ministry of medicine.
Eventually, Bob sighed, leaned back in his chair and said, “Ken, I need to be direct with you. I need you in Africa. I need your help with French-speaking pastors who are moving to Burkina Faso. It takes a long time to train someone with no French background, but with your education, experience, and years of exposure to French in Canada, it would be much easier for you.”
I don’t remember Ken’s response. I don’t even remember mine. I do remember recognizing that those words were something that we would have to wrestle with for the days, weeks, and months to come.
I was pretty sure with five simple words, Bob Bagley had “ruined” our lives.