Winter Escape to Florida

Posted on March 19, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

While traveling to engagements up the east coast, we quietly allowed my 71st birthday to pass unnoticed on Saturday, which is preferable at this age. I expect a lot of attention on the decade milestones, but too many are accumulating too fast to make a big deal of all of them. I’m thankful for continued health, strength, vision and an abundance of opportunities to fulfill our calling. That trip will have to await next week’s post as I am still catching up from reporting on our travels to Indonesia.

WinterRetreat-MissionCEO2013The winter temperature was shocking to the system after three weeks in the tropics, but we had only one day of turn-around at home following our 24-hours of travel from Bali before heading to Florida. The occasion was the annual retreat of mission CEOs, something that we began 20 years ago and continue to coordinate.

WinterRetreat-PresentationThis gathering of the executives from the 20 largest evangelical missionary-sending organizations in North America is a time of sharing, encouraging and ministering to one another on a transparent personal level. Comprised of both denominational and para-church agencies, there is a commonality in discussing issues of administration and strategy unique to all. There is no pre-set agenda, and we seldom get through suggested discussion topics as the fellowship dissolves into prayer and intercession for the special challenges faced by various participants.

WinterRetreat-GroupOrlando was a special setting for the retreat as it gave the group an opportunity to visit the headquarters and receive briefings from four host agencies in the area–Campus Crusade for Christ, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Pioneers, and New Tribes Mission. Stephen Douglass, president of Campus Crusade, is pictured making a presentation. The following picture is of the four couples who were a part of the original retreat 20 years ago along with Bobbye and me. Ted and Martha Barnett are stepping down as head of African Inland Mission after 26 years, Hans and Donna Finzel have just resigned as head of World Venture (Conservative Baptists), so Peter and Luba Iliyn with YWAM will be the only other original participant.

WinterRetreat-Rankins&MosesThe trip allowed us to stop over in Mobile to visit with my twin sister who had just returned from a month-long trip to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. She is suspected of trying to surpass me in countries visited and our time together is always a competitive effort of sharing each others photos from the last trip. Being in Orlando was also an opportunity to visit with our good friends and son-in-law’s parents, Ed and Missy Moses who served for 26 years in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

WinterRetreat-Bobbye&BushesOur week was capped off with a delightful visit with former colleagues in Indonesia, Harry and Barbara Bush who now live in Bradenton. They arrived during our second term and located two hours away. With children the same age, we would celebrate birthdays together and exchange visits at least once a month. Harry and I were fierce competitors on the tennis court for awhile, but he eventually excelled and I lost interest.

Returning home, we had a busy week of of speaking four nights at an associational On Mission Celebration in Smith County, attending a local concert featuring Christian vocal artists Mandisa, Brandon Heath and Laura Story and participating in a weekend prayer conference led by Daniel Henderson. The big event of the week was a visit by Michelle Obama to Clinton schools which paralyzed traffic and attracted considerable media attention. Then we were off on a two-week road trip of engagements up the east coast–report will follow next week.

2 Comments on “Winter Escape to Florida”

  1. Jon Mark Page

    So good to read about your travels and experiences. It was so good to spend the short amount of time that we got to spend with you here. We think of y’all often and hope that you are well. Amanda and the girls say hello and send hugs. Take care and God bless.

  2. Chele

    Don’t miss the coon dog cemetery on your trip to Tuscumbia. I had to drive my dad all the way down there just to see it last time I was in the states. 🙂 Hope you both are well. Please give your bride my love. Joyfully, Chele

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