WhitleysDr. Ryan Whitley is the pastor of CrossPoint in Argo, Alabama (He doesn’t go by “Dr” even though he earned his D.Min. from Beeson Divinity School.).  I have known him since 1979.  He is a dear friend with whom I have a strong bond.  Ryan is married to Vonda and has two children, Taylor and Kelsey.

Last year Taylor spent six weeks in Europe as part of a mission venture with students from Hong Kong that he knew.  A good portion of that time he was on his own, backpacking through the country.  Taylor is a young man who has accepted God’s call into missions and will be serving as the Student Ministry Intern for Kowloon International Baptist Church in Hong Kong (A church the Whitleys befriended in 2007).  In this post I want to talk about Ryan, Vonda, and Kelsey.

Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.  30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Sacrifice and suffering are normal in the Christian’s life.  In the passage above Jesus address those who sacrifice by leaving things behind for His sake.  But how often do we consider the other side of sacrifice?  What about those who sacrifice by being left behind for the glory of God’s Kingdom?  In this case, what about Ryan, Vonda, and Kelsey?  

This week is hard for Taylor’s family.  He is excited, they are struggling.  He is looking forward to his summer mission trip in Hong Kong.  His mom, dad, and sister are in mourning.

Suffering comes in many forms for believers… but it is suffering none the less.  As a parent, I can only imagine what it will be like for Ryan who isn’t there in person to give Taylor wisdom, direction, and help on a matter of significance.  I can’t imagine what it will be like for Vonda who won’t be there in person to provide Taylor the emotional support that only a mom can give.  I can’t imagine what it will be like for Kelsey who will miss the sibling fellowship with Taylor that she’s known all her life.  The next several weeks will be hard for all three of them in ways Taylor won’t know.

Suffering for Christ and His Kingdom takes on many forms.

But one day Taylor, Ryan, Vonda, and Kelsey will stand together before God’s Throne.  On that glorious day God will look at all four of them and say, “Well done good and faithful servant!  Taylor… WELL DONE!  Kelsey… WELL DONE!  Vonda… WELL DONE!  Ryan… WELL DONE!  Now enter into My joy prepared for you from the foundation of the world!”  

Let’s love God enough to “Let goods and kindred go.  This mortal life also.  The body they may kill.  His truth abideth still.  His Kingdom is forever!”  

     Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.