In January of 2012, I told the congregation in First Baptist Church in McNeil, where I had served almost 29 years as pastor, that I was resigning and intending to leave in two months. That was not done because I was going to another church; I simply felt impressed that it was time to leave. I had some ideas of certain things that I would like to do, but wasn’t really for sure if that was God’s will. I was going to see what doors God would open and where He would lead. Over the past 10 years of trying to follow God’s leading, there is one Scripture passage that has come to my mind multiple times. Paul said in Eph. 3:20 that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…”
Shortly after resigning, Mike Goodwin, president of EIM (Evangelistic International Ministries), asked me to take the responsibility of teaching and training pastors in other countries where they either did not have access to Bible colleges or seminaries or could not afford those that were accessible. In the first year and a half, we went to the Philippines, Ghana and Nepal, and had intentions to go to Bangladesh.
Then, in 2014, God opened doors for us to go to Tanzania in East Africa and begin to teach 22 pastors who had requested help in better learning the Bible and in better understanding how to pastor. The situation there led Mike to commit us to spend three years bringing in pastors three times annually to teach for a week. That was our goal, and we then intended to go back to other countries. However, God had bigger plans, and those plans were more than “we ask or think.”
After bringing almost 20 different preachers from the USA and Ghana over that time period, God had done more than we had intended to do. We brought these Tanzanian pastors together to study, worship and eat together for over seven days at a time. We did that on nine different occasions. While we were busy teaching and training, God was busy building an association. That was not our goal. We never asked them to join the BMA. I gave them one of our Doctrinal Statements the first time I went to teach so they would know the beliefs of the men who would be coming with me. As BMA pastors and personnel from Lifeword, BMA Missions, CBC and BMA Seminary poured into these men, those African pastors made a choice. They wanted to be a part of an association like that, so they formed the BMA of Tanzania. All the glory for this goes to God. We did not ask for God to help us begin an East African association when we began in 2014; that never even entered our mind. We were simply responding to a need and trying to keep our commitment. Ephesians 3:20 is so true. God is not only able to do more than we ask or think — He does it!
Another area over the last 10 years where God has shown that His thoughts are higher and bigger than mine concerns taking people to visit Israel; which is the main reason for this letter. In 2017, I promised my wife that I would take her to Israel since she was not able to go with me the first two times I went in 1992 and 2006. Hoping that we might find someone else at First Baptist Church in Magnolia to go with us, I spoke with one man to ask if he had ever thought about going to Israel. To my shock, he said he had just finished asking two other couples if they might want to go to Israel.
Feeling that God was at work in this, I told him I would make some contacts and see what we would need to do to put together a small group that would enable us to have our own private tour. I thought I was being optimistic in hoping to find 15-20. After a month of working to put together a package to offer a trip to Israel, I shared all this with those from our congregation who had interest. Before I left three weeks later on a teaching trip to Tanzania, we had 42 people signed up to go to Israel. We ended up taking 49 in February 2018.
Interest and excitement were so high after that trip that we planned another in June 2019 and took 31 that time. We planned a third tour to Israel and Jordan for 2021, but COVID shut that one down. We rescheduled for February 2022, but COVID concerns again caused us to cancel. We now have that same tour rescheduled for February/March 2023.
While waiting for this one to finally be completed, I helped Mike Goodwin plan one for supporters of EIM. We leave on Oct. 24 with 30 more travelers. All I intended to do was, hopefully, take 15-20 on one trip. As is so often the case, God’s plans are so much bigger than ours. By the time we return Nov. 4, I will have been blessed to take 110 people to Israel — more “than we ask or think.”
This 2023 tour that goes to Petra and Jordan after the Israel portion will probably be my last to plan since I have now gone back to pastoring full-time. If you would have interest in joining the 22 who are already signed up to go with us, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or (870) 904-5032. The dates are Feb. 25-March 11. You can pay the Land Package of $3,120 per person (double occupancy), make your own flight arrangements and meet us in Israel. (I currently have four round-trip airline tickets out of Shreveport for $1,302 for anyone taking the Petra extension.) Should you not want to take the Petra extension, your Land Package cost would be $2,200 per person (double occupancy).
Maybe you would like to finally see the places and sites of the land chosen by the God who continues to do more “than we ask or think.”
— Danny Bullock, Pastor, Antioch West, Magnolia (firstname.lastname@example.org)