Almost 2 years ago, Eric & Tisra Fadely and their children wandered into Conduit Church. We had just admitted we were a church 3 months earlier. There were about a hundred of us gathering on Sundays and we were still fully in the mode of discovering what it was God was calling us to be and do.
As I recall they found us on the Google. Not sure what the search was. Perhaps “church with mission focus and a pastor that looks like uncle kracker” I think it was Tisra who said that they had been searching for a church whose thoughts were towards the world. She was referring to the disenfranchised, poor, oppressed, marginalized people of the world. I knew this because I met Dorothy, their toddler whom they adopted from India.
I was still trying to find out exactly what a pastor did, and they were still trying to figure out exactly what a church was meant to be. On the surface that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. And there were disasters. By this time Conduit was neck deep in rebuilding and relief efforts in Haiti as well as in Nashville after the floods swept through. It was around that time someone asked me if I was a pastor or a disaster relief guy. I answered. “Yes.”
That following Tuesday Eric and I met for coffee. He told me that they were about to give up on church. They had been raised in it and felt discontent, like there had to be more. He told me that I was officially the two longest conversations in his life with a pastor. (he was including the 5 minutes on Sunday morning)
It was less than a year later when Eric and I sat down for coffee yet again and he told me what was going on. The insecure part of me always has this “feeling” that when someone reaches out with a serious tone to “get together” that this is their leaving the church speech. It’s remarkable to me how all those childhood abandonment issues weave themselves so deeply.
The Fadely’s were indeed leaving the church. Go big and NOT go home style. They were going to India. For 2 years. All 6 of them. He was going to quit his job, they were going to move their stuff into storage, rent their home, raise financial support and move their butts to India.
I’m not sure what my facial expressions were. My hope is that they didn’t betray what was going on in my head. Which was something along the lines of “you’ve got to be flipping kidding me”. He said that there was a message I had preached about Larry the crazy horse guy, and how it spoke to him. To which I think I replied, “hey don’t blame this on me.” And then we prayed.
In the months that followed I watched Eric & Tisra and the kids embark on a journey that required courage and faith. They worked tirelessly towards raising their support and God provided for them miraculously. They were professionally homeless for several months longer than planned as they waited for the Visas to come through. Raising the money should’ve been the hardest part, and the visa the easiest. It was the exact opposite. A preparation for things to come.
They have been in India for 5 months.
Those words, that short sentence, doesn’t do justice to their lives. To their courage. To their faith. To their Jesus. But it’s much like a sentence in the book of Acts. “And then Paul went to Rome”. One sentence that encapsulates months of time, life, and experience. One sentence because only in the light of eternity, only from the position of sitting around the throne of Jesus can we fully understand the magnitude.
I personally can’t wait. I can’t wait for the time when Jesus says, and “now let me tell you a story about the Fadely Family.”
In the meantime…
Grant is the oldest brother and bravest young man I’ve met. He leads his young siblings and has sacrificed his friends and family in exchange for giving himself to children who have no friends or family. Laelle is the sweet, pretty, and strong young lady with the beautiful smile we all miss, but that the children of Sarah’s Covenant Home will be forever changed by. Dean is the steady, funny, endearing little guy who is the best “best friend” a little guy in India could have. (I know this because my Ethan misses him so much) And Dorothy, sweet Dorothy. Arguably the catalyst for this whole thing a few years ago when she first found her way from an orphanage in India into the Fadely Family in TN.
Tisra is the matriarchal figure who embodies the maternal qualities of God. She broods over the issues that they have faced. In the same way the Spirit of God “brooded” over the waters in Genesis 3, Tisra brooded over their paper work to get out of America and into India and it was so. She nurtures and comforts not only her own children who are further away from home for longer than most children in America will ever know. She nurtures and comforts the children at Sarah’s Covenant Home in ways they’ve never known. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, she embodies Him.
Eric Fadely has been growing into Eric Fadely the Pastor. He’s been in India for just a few months and has already performed more funerals than I have. He stands at the gates of hell with courage. He loves on, cares for and defends the fatherless and the widow. He is pastoring his family and the orphans of Sarah’s Covenant Homes. If you don’t believe me, read his latest blog at www.fadelyfamily.com
On Monday I’m headed to “do coffee” with Eric again. And since the Starbucks at 5 Points is a little out of the way for them, I’m flying to India. Not sure if they put curry in the coffee there, but I don’t much care. I’m just excited to see my friends, the source of so much inspiration, to watch first hand what it’s like to worship God with your life.
I’m taking a couple of suit cases full of stuff for the Fadely kids. Legos and toys that remind them that there are people here loving and praying for them. School books for their home school. Medical supplies. And some jelly bellies for Eric. If you feel led, you can donate towards the cost of the stuff and the bags. It’s about $500 total. I’ll put your name on a card that we hand to them to let them know you were part of it.
And in November, at some dates that are about to be determined, I’m going back again. I’d like to take a team with me this time. If you’re interested, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org