I suppose as I reflect on all the emotions that clutter my soul, remembering the 14 years we have led her, so much fills my memory vista. The tears we cried together, the battles we fought together, the celebrations we enjoyed together, the laughter we delighted together, the dreams we had together, the life we shared together, the churches we planted together, the mistakes we made together, the community we did together... it is a little like giving a daughter away in marriage.
I have such vivid memories that travel me back 6 years ago, [9 Oct 2004] when I walked Nas down the aisle. That too was a good day. My gorgeous 18 year old girl floated down that aisle to her 6 foot 4 man. Her beauty still captures me. Her fragrance still reminds me of those very sweet days. Like Southlands, we thought we had the privilege of having her at home a few more years. Her laughter and singing was so intoxicating. Her presence around the house lit the home up because her colorful courageous spirit never let a room or moment go grey.
But God delighted in a different story. It was not what was best for mom and dad. It was not a God inspired decision driven by sentiment. It was a strong prophetically inspired encounter that had the nations with the gospel at the center of the divine intent.
We cried at the wedding. Us men that is - we cried. But it was not because it was sad. What reigned supreme was the overwhelming sense of God's kindness. He entrusted daughters into our hands, and we men, were to pour our lives into these little girls so that we could give them away to another man. That is God's expression of goodness.
Today we give Southlands away... She is a radiant bride. We love her deeply and are so proud of her. She held her head so high during the dastardly dark days of pain and assault. She carried herself so beautifully during the times of prayer and devotion. She released the sweet God perfume to fill a broken world with such simple faith and grace. She carries the gospel with glorious dignity and strength. She robes herself with worship and praise that fills heaven with such delight, I am sure. Her generosity with tears, has enabled her to say goodbye to friends who heeded the call to plant churches on distant shores. I am so proud of her and feel so honored to have led her all these years.
Dear Alan and Rynelle... we could not be more delighted than handing the leading of this extraordinary community to you. You, sir, are a man of peace, a lover, a leader, a Jesus preacher, a Spirit facilitator, a Father worshipper. You passion for the word, Spirit, life journey is simply delightful - but I see Southlands in your eyes - you love her and for that I am most grateful.
Today is a good day. M and I are not sure on what the future holds. We are a father and a mother and I guess that is what the Lord requires of us. But we have opened our hands to let the butterfly fly. We watch her with mesmerizing wonder. Southlands we love you deeply and that will not change. Our prayers will fill heaven on your behalf. We are here when you need us but we want you to thrive on this next chapter. Muchos gracias...