5 MORE MONTHS…

5 MORE MONTHS….

What a crazy feeling to know that in 5 months we are planning on being in Medellin, Colombia. I knew it would happen fast, but things really kick in when you are spending time with your family over the holidays and realize that next year you won’t be in the United States to celebrate. Yesterday it dawned on me that we are supposed to start our application process for our VISA in just a couple of weeks. Are we ready?

YOU BET!

Over the past year some things have become clearer during this process.

The first thing is that we are definitely going to miss our family and friends. We can feel that our time in Knoxville is quickly coming to a near end. We already feel a sense of sadness because we have spent so much time on the road raising Stott-Wallace support that we don’t get to see our church and its people on a regular basis. When we see someone it feels like it has been a month. Every time we get the opportunity to see our family we take it. We feel the urgency of enjoying every last chance before we move to Colombia. The time is near!

The second thing is that we are definitely on the right path for the plan God has had for us to enter the mission field. Every time we turn around we see how God is providing for us. From the basement we have lived in for the past year to Beaver Creek’s support and graciousness while we spend almost every weekend and some Wednesday’s traveling. From very specific doors opening and closing to watching people give what they can in an answered calling from God to work in His Kingdom.

God has been very good to us and we know it. We see how all these things are affirming for the goal that we are focused on. In seminary they talked a lot about calling during my first year. There was discussion on inward calls, where you feel like God is specifically calling you, and outward calls, where there is affirmation in your calling from outside people or sources. Our family feels at peace knowing that we have received and answered both an inward and outward call.

So what now???

We will continue to split time at Beaver Creek, split time with our family, split time with our friends, and travel to more churches to give people the opportunity to support our Cumberland Presbyterian missionaries through the Stott-Wallace Missionary Offering Fund. We need more people to say, “Yes, we can support our missionaries.”

Rev. Lynn Thomas (Director of Global Missions) always says that if 500 individuals, churches, and groups will give $2,000 a year then we would have a million dollars and we could recruit missionaries.

My goal in the next 5 months before we leave for Colombia is to get at least 20-30 new individuals, churches, groups, and presbyteries to give at least $2,000 a year. That is $166 and some change a month.

Jessica and I are committed to giving $2,000 a year. How about you?

Click HERE to donate or pledge now!

Fundraising… The Missionary Struggle!

It is no secret that there are many challenges that come with going into the mission field. Perhaps on the largest struggles definitely has to be fundraising. I mean, I have never really met someone who loves to travel from place to place to ask people for money. If I’m honest, the idea of fundraising has haunted me since I started to entertain the idea of mission work 12 years ago.

And yet, this is where you find my family, in a time that Rev. Lynn Thomas (who will supervise us as missionaries) calls purgatory. It is the in-between time, the limbo that is a challenge for all missionary families. We spend each weekend traveling to a new place, and a new congregation to share about our calling and the work we will be doing in Medellin, Colombia. This is actually one of the only parts of this process that I enjoy. My family is blessed to be able to travel and see some of our old friends from school, spend time with their families, and see them do their thing in their churches.

The downside, we are constantly on the road with a 2 year old and a 3 month old baby. A drive that takes 5 hours turns easily into 7. Routines that are essential for small children are broken and you listen to a toddler that is potty-training cry because she is forced to potty in her pull-up because there are no good exits around. Listen, I know that when it is all said and done this is a small price to pay, but this is the reality of a traveling missionary family.

It is hard to know God has work for you started in a new place and to know you just can’t be there yet. And what is the largest reason? Money!

As missionaries for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church we are charged with two fundraising task before we can go. Just like all of our missionaries, we must raise our start-up money and increase donations to the Stott-Wallace Missionary Offering Fund.

Our start up money is everything that we need to get on the road and to start life while we are there. This includes our airplane tickets, Visa’s, lawyer fees for our Visa’s, furniture, a car, housing… everything we can’t take in our two checked bags per person we are allowed on our flight to Colombia.

The Stott-Wallace Missionary Offering Fund is how people support us and all the missionaries long term. This is where all of our salaries come from. Before we go we have to have our start-up money and the Stott-Wallace Missionary Offering Fund has to show that there are commitments and funds to pay my salary for the time that I am gone. This is why commitments to regular support is just as important as one time donations. I always encourage that churches, presbyteries, small groups, Sunday school classes, families, and individuals to consider how they can financially support our missionaries long term through the Stott-Wallace Offering Fund. Pray about it and put it on your budgets!

So how is our fundraising going? It is actually going pretty well. We are happy to announce that we are about half way to our goal. We still have a lot of work to do, but it has been amazing to see God work in our lives during this tough time. We are constantly blown away by the generosity of our new and old friends, the churches, and Beaver Creek CPC who has allowed me to work a skeleton schedule while we prepare to leave for Colombia. The support is amazing and we appreciate every second of it. It is not every day that you can presently see God working in your life, but for some reason we have been blessed to see God constantly working in our lives. We don’t have to wait a few years to look back to see Gods work, we see it now!

But here is the bottom line. In our hearts we feel that our place is in another time zone, another country, another city… in Medellin, Colombia. Can you help us get there?

Right now we have 386 family members and friends who “like” our Facebook page (@wilkersoncpmissions). If everyone who liked our page would donated $100 we would meet the rest of our goal. Can you do that? Can you donate $100?

My prayer is that you can do that. That you are able to donate $100 to our start-up fund and that you will then also consider how you could further support us financially while we are on the mission field. Here is the cool thing. Our denomination just created a page that makes it easy to give online to us specifically and our other missionaries. Click on this link: https://cpcmc.org/mmt/sw/ and follow the instruction on how to donate.

I promise you that it will be greatly appreciated by my family and all the other missionary families. We thank you for joining us in our mission and helping us get to the places we feel called to do the work of God. Please contact me if you need further instructions, want to talk about what we are doing, or if you feel led to do a large donation and need to know how.

With much love from the Wilkerson family!

Blessings!

 

Sneak peak into Colombia!

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We have returned home from Medellin from our preview trip. We intended on writing a blog when we first returned, but it is hard for us to put into words the great experience we had. Still yet, I will try to do my best!

The first thing I have to mention is how amazing our hosts were to us. They, without a doubt, made us feel welcome and a part of the Colombian Cumberland Presbyterian Church right away. The first full day that we were there we had a meeting with all the churches, the pastors, and their leaders. We were, in a way, nervous. It was a little overwhelming to sit in a room with all the people you will be working with looking at you. They shared about their churches and a little about the ministry they are doing. After they all shared they asked if we wanted to say anything, so we introduced ourselves and talked about how excited we were to come and live and work in their communities. We, of course, asked them to be patient with us while we tried out best to master the Spanish language.

It was at this point that one of the most beautiful things on this trip happened. They expressed to us that they know what we are doing is difficult. They know that it won’t be easy for us to leave our family, to leave our country, to leave our comforts, and it definitely won’t be easy for us to learn the language. I was blown away when they then told us with genuine hearts that they love us, that they will be there for us, that they will be our family in Colombia, and they will help us in any way they can.

I was literally brought to tears as they were saying this. The love of our Colombian brothers and sisters is amazingly inspirational. I sat there wondering who is ministering to who? Am I going to serve the people in Colombia or are they serving me? I may still be trying to figure that out, but one thing is for sure. My family is blessed to call Medellin our home and to serve in such an authentic church. This meeting set the tone of our visit.

Over the week we looked at housing, went to most of the churches to meet with their pastors and leaders in more depth, looked at furniture, and found out that they have peanut butter, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and Prego Spaghetti Sauce in some of the stores.

So here is the scoop!

We are going to live in a neighborhood in Medellin called Envigado. From there we will work mainly with four new church developments in Envigado, Amaga, Cristobal, and Bello. While working with these new missions, I will be looking for other opportunities to plant future churches. We will have other Presbyterial responsibilities to make sure it is growing, there is good leadership, there are youth events, men/women events, young adult events, and I will provide pastoral care to the pastors. We are also excited that we get to coordinate and host mission teams that want to come and serve in Colombia. So get your passports ready and start dreaming for how you could join us in serving in Colombia. The last thing I will do is to spend time and mentor our seminary students. I’m really looking forward to this.

I know it sounds like I (Patrick) will have my hands full, but what about Jessica? I want to share about the second most beautiful thing that happened on our trip. While meeting with our mission in Amaga in their new building, I saw the awesome work of God unfolding. As they sat and talked about their community and the things they struggle with, the past, and their dreams for the church, I believe Jessica discovered her calling in Colombia.

The pastor started sharing and I saw Jessica’s face light up a little more with each issue, and here is why. Amaga is a coal mining community up in the mountains that has been devastated by the mines. They deal a lot with depression, suicide, single mothers raising families because their fathers are either gone or dead, gangs, and so much more. This is what Jessica has been dealing with her entire career. If you don’t know, she worked in a behavioral school with troubled inner city youth, she did mental health crisis assessments and safety planning, she worked with foster kids in transition into adulthood, and most recently she works as a counselor in a mountain community north of Knoxville that is an old coal mining town that deals with similar issues as Amaga.

When the pastor and leaders heard about her experience working with these issues they laughed and said, “Patrick, we don’t really need you. We just need Jessica!” I am so excited that Jessica feels like she has a tangible purpose and calling from God in Colombia. It made me so happy to know that God doesn’t just call a person, but their family. I’m also not too upset that when we go to Amaga I can sit back, drink coffee, and watch my beautiful bride do her thing!

So, how was our preview trip? It was everything it needed to be. We have a vision for our future work, we have relationships that are growing with amazing people, we know a little bit more what life will look like for us in Colombia, and we can’t wait to move there in the next several months!

Thank you for your prayers while we were gone and as we prepare to move to Colombia. I hope that you will continue to follow and join us in our experience.

 

Preview Trip To Medellin!!!

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, 

and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

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The time has come! Early in the morning, Jessica and I will be traveling to Medellin with our youngest daughter for our preview trip. If it didn’t already seem like things are getting real, it does now! On this trip we will meet with our new partners in ministry, meet our new community, look at housing, and answer a lot of questions about our future.

When we get back from Colombia, not only will we have bags full of coffee to share, but we will be able to better explain our future and answer many questions we have had on our minds. We will excitedly fill you in promptly after our return. Until then… follow us on our Facebook page (click on link) Wilkerson CP Missions and keep us in your prayers.

Things to pray for:

  • our safety
  • smooth traveling with an infant
  • open minds and hearts for the direction God is taking us
  • answers
  • our daughter that is staying in Tennessee with her grandparents
  • and delicious Lulo juice (lulada)

Our New Missionary Is Here

We are so happy to announce that our new missionary, Jacqueline, was born on July 22nd. She is smaller than her sister but very healthy and happy. She seems to be a calm spirit… hopefully it stays that way. I asked her the other day and she said she was ready to go and see Colombia for our preview visit at the end of September. We are very excited to travel  to Medellin to fellowship with old friends, meet new ones, talk about our future work, look at housing, and to learn a little more about what life will look like for us in Colombia. Since the baby is here, we will start our traveling to churches starting at the end of August. If you would like for us to come visit your church to share about our mission and how you can be a part of that, please let us know so we can put you on the calendar. Hope to see you soon!

This is really happening…

This is really happening…

This is really happening….

I can’t believe that this is really happening. Could our family really be preparing to move out of the country? Every time we take a step closer I look at Jessica and say, “Wow, this is really happening.”

If you have spent much time around me you know that I love Colombia. I have been blessed to go to this beautiful place several times. I love the food, I love lulo juice, I love coffee, and I love the people. For years I have loved the idea of moving there. This is something that seemed like a good idea when I was single but was quickly fading as I started a family.

Shortly after Jessica and I got married we had an opportunity to go to Colombia with a group of young adults from the denomination (Pictured Above). I was so excited for Jessica to see this place I love so much. She has traveled a lot, but not to amazing Colombia. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the same things I loved. I remember on the way home we talked about how it would be cool to live there one day.

I still thought that it was more of a dream that would never actually happen, especially when Jessica got pregnant with our first daughter Bella Grace. Ten days after Bella Grace was born we were asked to meet with our future missionary boss and his wife. I honestly thought there wasn’t much point. We already had a baby and we were settling down nicely in Knoxville. At our meeting they wanted to know if we had any interest in becoming Cumberland Presbyterian Missionaries. I have always been careful not to push my callings on Jessica, but when we left that meeting she looked at me and said, “we really need to consider this.”

Some time went by and we had a lot of conversations. A lot of late nights making pros and cons lists. We spent a lot of time praying and still were unsure. After about a year we were asked to come to a meeting over a weekend and meet with others who supported and had an interest in missions. This was so exciting for us. It was awesome to sit with a group of people who were wresting with a call just like us, to learn about mission opportunities in the denomination, and to have a time in a retreat like atmosphere to consider if going into the mission field was something that our family wanted to do.

You would think that since the grandparents had Bella we would have slept all night, but we didn’t. We sat up talking and discerning. It was after these meetings that we decided that we, without a doubt, were called into the mission field.

So here we are! After a long application process we are fully endorsed as missionaries of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. We were just recently offered and accepted a position with the soon to be formed Emmaus Presbytery in Medellin, Colombia!

We are currently in the process of raising funds so that we can move. We hope that you will join in our journey by following this blog and lifting us up in your prayers. We would even be more than happy to accept your financial support!

Blessings,

Patrick