Marc and Denise Atchley - August 2019
With Marc & Denise Atchley
OUR PATH TO GREECE
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 23 (KJV)
Summer is the time for travel, and this summer we are reminded how much Greece, even more so than our own area, is a popular tourist destination. Our family is blessed to live very close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (19.6mi from our door to the nearest Park entrance). And like Greece, it is one of the world's true treasures. It is the most biodiverse park in the National Park system, and the most visited park on the planet (11.8 million visitors in 2018 alone ... a little over a third of the visitors to Greece that same year). It's been a part of Marc's life since he was a baby. He was born in Knoxville and growing up he spent countless days hiking mountain trails, biking around Cades Cove, and picnicking in the campgrounds with his family. For Marc, the Smoky Mountains are special because they feel like home. It was on one of the pinnacles of Chimney Tops Mountain that we got engaged. We've spent most of our married lives here and have raised our children in the Park's shadow ... now, these mountains are special to all of us!
Our call and efforts to go to Greece often feel like a long hike in the mountains (but mountains that are unfamiliar ... and less friendly). There's a trailhead and a sign indicating the miles to our destination (in our case it seems to be measured in dollars). Visibility along the trail is rather limited; we can see a few steps ahead but then they're lost around a curve. At times (more often than we'd like!) the path is steep and strenuous, and protruding roots and rocks can make for unsure footing. It takes a long time to go a short distance. At this point we're not quite half-way there.
Yet, it is the trail we've been told to follow. And when we've been tempted to question whether we are mistaken, God provides assurances that we are on the right path. The Holy Spirit reminds us of the circumstances of our call. He continues to give us increasing love for Greece. He is giving us friendships with Greeks and Greek-Americans and the opportunities to share the Gospel with them. And He is, step by step, moving in the hearts of churches and individuals (like you) to partner with us in this ministry.
Undoubtedly, these challenges to reach our destination are necessary preparation for the challenges we will face once we arrive. Getting there is just the beginning! As you intercede for us, will you please pray that the Father "makes our feet like the deer's" so that we may "tread on the high places" to which He has called us (Hab 3:19)? He is our Strength!
Moving Back Home
Right after we became missionary appointees with TEAM we began preparing for our relocation to Greece. We were told it could (maybe "should") happen in a year's time! Kind friends helped us pack up belongings and others began storing stuff for us. Within months we had moved into a furnished missionary house and put our own home on the market for sale. The missionary house was just four miles away from our home and was generously provided by Armona Baptist Church for just the cost of utilities. But raising support proved slower and longer than what we had hoped or expected. One year passed and then a second. Other missionaries we know have said it took them three to three and a half years to reach their budget. Without a firm departure date we began to feel that we might be keeping the house from other missionaries who needed it. So, this past June Denise spoke with the pastor, and we were out by the end of the month.
By God's Providence (albeit initially disappointing) our home never sold, so back in October of last year we had decided to keep it and turn it into rental property. We remodeled the basement apartment and by January we had it rented to a newlywed couple from a supporting church. And just as we were speaking with other prospective tenants for the rest of the house, our own need became apparent.
At first, moving back home felt like moving backwards, away from our goal. But as we recognized God's provision -- our own home -- discouragement turned to gratitude. What was already packed remains packed, so we're still ready to go as soon as God releases the funds. Please pray to that end. He is our Provider!
We've never had a summer like this one. Though the kids have been outside every day spending hours at the pool (they swim competitively), each one came down with some kind of cold or virus. Mid-season Liam (11) and Sam (15) started with minor colds that caused them to wheeze. Then Jack (14) was diagnosed with adenovirus (we think strain #7) that left him with high fevers for days, necessitated a trip to the hospital, and kept him from competing in City Meet (the end of summer finale for teams from the greater Knoxville area). Right after City Meet Nita contracted flu A. Now on our third week of more serious illness, Sam is running high temps although his flu test was negative.
Denise generally uses the summer to plan for the next school year. But between the move and the weeks of sickness, and it's been extra challenging to get ready. Please pray that God will heal our family and strengthen us for the start of the new school year. He is our Healer!
We continue to contact churches (mostly throughout the Southeast) to introduce ourselves and our call and to ask them to consider partnership. The response rate is about 10%, so we're grateful to hear back from a church, even when the answer is "no" or "not at this time". Please pray for stamina and resolve, that we would "set our face like a flint" (Isa 50:7) as the Lord God helps us. He is our Help!
Partnership Through Prayer & Giving
"as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." - 2 Corinthians 1:11
The Lord continues to provide. We need to raise just $1,900/month more in pledges by early October in order to attend Pre-Departure Orientation this coming November. Actual giving can wait until we are closer to leaving, but the pledge of support today will help us to meet our target. Gifts given now are set aside for us. Thank you for your generosity!