When I first started working full time in EFC-MAYM in 2013, my first visit was with John Penrose at Independence Friends, followed by a visit with Grady Miller at Bolton Friends and then Eric Linville at Ramona Friends. At the end of that day, I stopped in Chandler for a Bible quiz. In March of that same year, I went back to the Tristate area to finish my visit, with time spent at Miami and Wyandotte. Since then, I have been eager to return.
Since the 2013 visit, several things have changed as it relates to student ministries; Joey and Lanie Spiegle have started serving at Miami, and Josh Leemasters, Kete Evans and Chevy Wilkinson have started working with the young people at Wyandotte. It was a blessing to see the Spiegles settling in at Miami now that they are married and serving together. Both Joey and Lanie are bi-vocational, working in the community as well as the church. God is doing great things in their midst. It was a privilege to hear firsthand about their life and ministry and to take a walk with their highly intelligent and highly energetic dog Mikah!
After finishing my time with the Spiegles, I headed down the road to Wyandotte. When I called Josh, he told me to head to the church because they were feeding the football coaches and others before the games that day. When I arrived, I witnessed life and ministry in the form of chili dogs and conversation. It was a blessing to experience this outreach to the community – one that is new, but one that will likely grow as they continue to offer this meal to the coaches and teams during home games. After lunch, Chevy and Josh took me “around” to see the area, which included a visit to Quivering Arrow Camp and Council House Friends Church. After praying in Council House for God to do a new work, we went and ran the chains at the football games from 3:30 – 7:30. Stephen Johnson, pastor at Wyandotte, came and “rescued me” around 7:30, otherwise I would have enjoyed holding chains into the night with Josh, Chevy and Kete. I left inspired, even after having been rescued by Stephen….
After spending the night with Stephen and Sharon, I attended church at Wyandotte, followed by a celebration of baptism. We concluded with a trip around the area to help Josh drop off all of the kids that he had picked up for church earlier that morning. One note of observation about Sunday church attendance at Wyandotte: there seemed to be more children under the age of 10 in the sanctuary on Sunday morning than there were adults.
That evening I attended Ramona Friends Church and had a chance to get to know the “faithful” there in that place. It was a blessing to spend time there. Since it was late in the night, my wife insisted I stay with Grady and Carol Miller and not make the drive home. I consented and stopped in for a nights visit and some morning coffee at the Miller’s home.
THIN PLACES: observing God’s steadfast love through Stephen and Sharon’s “long obedience in the same direction” of serving faithfully for many, many years at Wyandotte as the youth pastors and now lead pastors. Some of the fruit – including former “kids” serving now as leaders at Wyandotte, Josh, Kete and Chevy – has manifested itself in tangible expressions of God’s kingdom: chili dogs and holding chains.
– Jesse Penna, Associate Superintendent of Student Ministries