Pastor Wanlop called Gabriel to the front of a packed church and explained that Gabriel would be canvassing in the U.S., and that this was his last Sabbath in Khon Kaen.
Times of transition bring a stress all their own, but they offer a special space where both past and future are contained in the present, and you can almost experience both places at once. As Pastor Wanlop reminisced about teaching the boys to cut sugar cane on their first day here, a flood of memories rushed through my heart, and I could scarcely keep my tears. He talked about how he had been blessed to work with the Sorensens in Surin and how, after being called out of retirement to church-plant in Khon Kaen, he had prayed for missionaries to help him. That was almost five years ago. Today, there is a flourishing center of influence in this city, and Pastor Wanlop and his wife are ready to re-retire and pass the baton to Pastor Apisit, his wife (who is working as the secretary for Peace Music Academy) and their two sons.
Looking over the congregation, I see stages in time—new members, babies born, couples married. Some friends of ours were there in church for the first time in honor of Gabriel’s blessing and farewell. I remembered Gabriel’s earnest prayers for them just 10 days earlier, and I marveled at God’s gift. May all transitions draw our dear ones closer to God and advance His kingdom!