On Sunday night, December 19, 2010, Raymond and I, with the rest of Ninth & O Baptist Church, said an official goodbye to our dear friends Jonathan, Becca, Benjamin, and unnamed baby Edney. They are headed to Virginia at the beginning of next year to complete a couple months of training for a long-term mission assignment in the jungles of Brazil. The Edneys will fly to Brazil in March, have a baby in May, and begin 1 year of language school soon after.
We met the Edneys right after we were married – Becca joined us on a 10-day mission trip to Ecuador through our church NAOBC in July of 2008 (we celebrated 1 month of marriage during this trip and Becca was still in her first trimester with Ben!). 6 weeks after Jonathan and Becca had Ben, Raymond and I began babysitting once a week so that Becca could work a little bit at Gymboree Play and Music. We continued watching him until this past July when we were getting ready to have Abigail. It was during this year and a half that our friendship with the Edneys truly blossomed. Aside from watching Ben we would play Quiddler/Monopoly Deal/Golf/Spades every Sunday night after church at the Edneys over frozen pizza, calzones, and chili (they truly blessed us through these meals by providing the food for us). These times of covenant fellowship often lead to intimate conversations, pray requests, and hearty laughs – we truly have bore one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).
Raymond and I have learned so much from them, especially as we watched them parent Benjamin – we have learned from their successes and mistakes! We have also watched the call of God work itself in their life (this has been a true blessing); they have prepared for a life in Brazil away from family/friends, away from the comforts of America, away from the church they love so that they can share the gospel of Jesus Christ and disciple believers.
This holiday season, as we prayerfully and painfully let our friends go, the phrase in Basil Manly Jr.’s hymn, Soldiers of Christ, in Truth Arrayed, “we meet to part and part to meet” has a new meaning. This holiday season, we are learning that it is better to graciously give than to keep as we look forward to an eternal reward provided for us through Jesus Christ. This holiday season, as we meditate on the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the one who gave his life so that we might be forgiven of the sins that condemn us, we are thankful to know that our friends (the Edneys) are following his example and laying down their lives so that others may have life.