By Eric and Mollie
Just last month we sat down with our boys and listened intently to the story of Larry Gray, a front line, old-school missionary who lost his son to appendicitis in the bush of Chad, Africa. Just a few months later, he witnessed the destruction of his home and vehicle by an angry Muslim mob. It was this very same story which Teri Bittner heard some 20 years prior when Larry spoke at, what was then called, Meadowbrook’s World Fest. From that moment, Teri began to pray that the Father would send more workers into the harvest field of Chad. Much to her amazement and delight, the Father would honor that request with a family from her own church community.
We arrived in Milwaukee June 2003. Our Realtor was a member of Elmbrook Church and suggested we try out Meadowbrook, as it was walking distance from our new home. We remember well, upon arriving at the School of Languages that first morning, quickly being welcomed into the fold by various families. Evident in the DNA of Meadowbrook was community. It was here we experienced the truth that church is not a building but is composed of God’s people. Having just moved to a new city, birthing our second child, and starting medical residency, it was a time of vulnerability. The Father graciously provided a church family, discipleship, teaching, and nurturing through MBC. Our journey was impacted not so much by the theology espoused from the pulpit of Meadowbrook, but by lives lived out: the Venas willing to move closer to the inner city of Milwaukee; the welcoming and missional nature of the Frenses; the loving community of our faithful small group and close friends; the wisdom of the MacKinneys and Macketts; and fellowship from Tapestries and Built to Last.
We had NO intent in those early years of pursing long-term missions – at best, we envisioned short term medical mission trips. But the Father is gracious, and He used the body of Meadowbrook to prepare us in ways we did not understand at the time: gradual personal transformation with encouragement and support from our cell group and Barnabas team; wisdom and guidance from the missions committee and elders; and much prayer from the body at large. We were home grown and sent out as the hands and feet of MBC, and the Father continues to bind us together in wonderful ways within His ongoing, divine conspiracy.
So today we celebrate what the Father has done through Meadowbrook, and can’t express how thankful we are to be a part of that body. What a blessing and privilege it is for all of us to be part of the Father’s grand plan to draw all men to himself and bring shalom for now and eternity.
“In all our prayers for you, we always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3