Sunday, February 10, 2008
The departure of the Bartkovich family, though mentioned in the last post, deserves a fuller story and picture. We have lived with the impending reality for some time, but have honored the Barts’ request to delay disclosure because of their concern that public awareness of their plans could negatively impact the school. However they told the teaching staff on Friday, and today Pat reminded me to tell the church. So I’ll repeat here on the blog what I said in front of the congregation (though you won’t read my tears which came in spite of all efforts to focus them away this morning).
Kevin and JD moved to Uganda ten years ago to start Christ School, at the invitation of the mission. I will not even attempt to sum up that decade of effort, except to say that we now see the fruit as several hundred students per year receiving a solid grounding in Biblical discipleship and the best education in the district. They planned to stay six or seven years, then that stretched to 8 as the process was more complicated than they anticipated, and their own hearts became so tied to the team and community that the “next steps” they assumed their career would take looked less attractive. At the 8 year mark they told the team they would definitely need to leave by the 10th year, so we should pray for their replacements. Soon after that meeting, in one of our more frequent trips to the US due to my Dad’s ALS, a member of our main supporting church heard the need for a new future school administrator and called her daughter and son-in-law, and a few whirlwind months later the Pierce family joined out team. For the last year and a half they have been coming alongside the Bartkoviches to learn and partner. But now the moment of transition is upon us, and even though we can see God’s hand and thank Him for His provision, it is hard for all of us. Hard for Kevin and JD, for the Pierces, for the team, for the school, for the community. Taking the Bart family out of the Bundibugyo team is like tearing off a piece of our body, a real wound, that will take time to heal.
I asked the church members to take time to say thank you, for many of them have had children who were blessed by the school, and even if none of their children have yet attended we know that the long-term impact of CSB will bless their families for many years to come. And many people who read this blog will have the opportunity to meet the Bartkoviches in the coming year, and also thank them face to face. They will be on “HMA”, Home Ministry Assignment, a time to rest and reflect, to be nurtured, as well as a time to thank supporters. As they thank you, please take the time to thank them! They will be based initially in Charlotte and then in Durham NC. They do not know what their next step will be, only that they will not come back to Bundibugyo. They are leaving by choice and by plan, but after a very stressful and draining year. They would appreciate your prayers for their renewal, and for vision.
I ended with the most frequent command of the Bible: Do Not Fear. That needs to be said so often, to all our hearts. It is important for the community, who see missionaries come and go, to put their trust in God not in a particular person. And important for them to be assured that WHM is still fully committed to CSB, and that David Pierce will be in place as the new headmaster as Kevin goes. The elders prayed not only for the Barts this morning, but for the Pierces in their new role, and for all of us missionaries in our grief. It feels like a long week ahead, culminating next weekend as the entire team escorts them out as far as Fort Portal where we’ll spend a day and night in honoring them and saying goodbye.