by Robert Nichols (DOM)
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.
Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching.”
2 Timothy 4:2
Everything Has Its Time: “1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 - 8
Season: always involves change and that change brings about a new season. Seasons are periods of time in our lives we sometimes want to deal with and sometimes do not. The season of watching your children grow up … but happily involved in the lives of their children.
The four temperate climate zones, our four seasons, not only force change by pushing forward everyday but also reflect the four seasons of life…human life. Spring = birth to the 20’s; Summer = 20’s to the 40’s; Fall = 40’s to the 60’s & Winter = 60’s to the 80’s. At the moment, I’m in Winter.
Just as you, my family has gone through a lot of changes/seasons. And without a doubt, the above passage, 2 Timothy 4:2, has greatly influenced the changes in our lives.
I was thirty years old when we left Alabama headed for Louisville, KY to attend Southern Seminary. We have now lived outside of Alabama for 36 years. Let me share some of the seasons (change) we have experienced because of trying to be faithful and obedient to this Scripture and others.
From Athens, Alabama, (only a very few miles from TN) we moved to the seminary. From there to Winston-Salem, NC for my first full-time ministry position. This position involved a ton of outreach and education ministry of which I thoroughly enjoyed. From Beck’s Baptist Church we moved to Dunbar, WV for the position of pastor with Fairlawn Baptist Church. I couldn't see going off into foreign missions without having experienced the ministries of pastoring/preaching/teaching. Our next change (because we had dedicated our lives to the Lord to be Foreign Missionaries years earlier) came as we moved back to Alabama for a short time before going to Richmond, VA, for several weeks of missionary training. Then another move back to Alabama before leaving the states for Costa Rica. We spent a year in San Jose in Spanish language school. Let me tell you; they were worried about this ol’clodhopper from Alabama trying to communicate. But it eventually came…the change of improving idioma skills. The next move would be from language school to our nation of service, Uruguay. Our first term of 4 years was in Colonia with the following furlough in Athens, Alabama. We looked like the Clampetts taking all we possibly could as carry ons. Upon returning to Uruguay, we moved cross county to the Brazilian side to a city called Melo. We were able to do two terms in Melo. We moved back to Decatur and Huntsville, Alabama, for the two consecutive furloughs. After feeling God’s will being impressed upon us to stay in the States because of family concerns; we did not return to Uruguay. That was one of the very hardest decisions I have ever made. I also thoroughly enjoyed the ministry in Uruguay because I traveled many miles every week, driving and walking, to carry out small group discipling Bible studies in homes. The most I ever had in one week was twelve different home Bible study groups. But perhaps the greatest blessing was that some first generation church members began accompanying me to these small groups.
After resigning from the IMB and finishing our furlough, God provided us with a place of ministry here in Sevier County. We returned to Uruguay to sort through 12 years of stuff. How incredibly difficult that was. Of course packing and moving is difficult enough. But the season of change that was forced on us to leave Uruguay and move back to the states was overwhelming. And God is always faithful. He provided an incredible opportunity for me and my family here in Sevier County for the past 13 years and 8 months.
As a married couple, Deborah and I have lived in Sevier County longer than anywhere else.
Deborah has worked in several medical social worker positions in the area. Way back yonder at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, she worked hard at acquiring her Master of Social Work in Program Directing. All these years of service and ministry along with her degree have culminated in God providing a great opportunity to serve His Kingdom here on Earth at KARM in Knoxville.
I, on the other hand, was given through this season of change an opportunity that I never thought could or would ever be afforded to me. To be able to serve Sevier County Association of Baptists as your Director of Missions has been a wonderful experience. Was it difficult at times? Yes, and I know that I was sometimes as much of the reason why as anyone else could have been. It is my hearts desire and prayer that it has been a blessing for the association as well.
I now enter the season of retirement. Thank you to so many in this association who have prayed, given, worked, partnered and supported me in so many ways. In reality, we actually pray, give, work, partner and support God’s Kingdom in Jesus Name for His Glory and by His Grace as we do likewise for each other.