This is a tough week for my IMB family. Plans are in full force to reduce the number of missionaries and staff that are serving by 600-800 people. The process has begun with a voluntary retirement incentive offered to all workers over 50 years of age and 5 years of service. Many are stepping into “retirement” this week at a time well in advance of what they ever anticipated. Some are stepping away from decades of faithful service. i spoke to a dear brother recently who shared that serving overseas is all that he and his family have known for twenty-seven years, and he wasn’t really sure how best to pursue God’s next step. As we spoke, i heard him express the deep sadness that so many are experiencing. The sadness extends to those who remain. It is hard to say farewell to co-laborers. Hearts have been knit together through their passionate pursuit of God’s call for the sake of the gospel and the advance of His Kingdom. There is no higher calling. There is no greater purpose. And each member of this family has given his/her all. So when family members leave, there is loss – and it is deep.
Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” (Joshua 6:1-5 NLT) The people of Jericho were afraid. They knew the Lord had already given the land to the Israelites (Joshua 2:9) and they were living in terror. Not a reverent fear, but a paralyzing fear (Joshua 5:1). The king of Jericho had resolved that the God of Israel would not be their Master, but rather than seeking war, or seeking peace, they simply chose to shut themselves off.