The 100 is a series of posts predominantly about people who have caused my success. It was inspired by Jim Collins. For more about The 100, click here.
Fall of 1995. I had just finished up a “gap year”, having spent some time in Montana, Arkansas, Belarus and Mexico, but I had no idea what I was going to do next. I was hanging around in Omaha, and some people I knew were checking out a college group at Westside Church. So, I visited. I didn’t really connect with anyone my first time. People kind of kept to themselves, or their groups of friends. I went back again, though, with a friend, and still didn’t connect with any other college students. However, I was warmly welcomed by Rebekah Rayborn.
Rebekah was the wife of Mitch Rayborn, who was the college pastor. Rebekah and I talked for awhile that night, and it kept my friend and I coming back. I appreciated the intentional conversation, and going beyond the surface with her questions. Through Rebekah, I got to know Mitch and took a liking to him. He would have weekly, early-morning studies at Burger King, and I would try to go to them. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, or where I was going, but being a part of the college group brought some much needed community and peace during that time. And, Mitch & Rebekah were big reasons for that. The college group was fun, but I appreciated even more the conversations I had with them.
Mitch also helped me get the Student Ministry internship for me the following summer at Westside Church. It was a great experience for me, but I look back and laugh because I really shouldn’t have been considered for the role. I had no southern baptist connections, I hadn’t been immersed baptized (at the time), I had only been attending the college group for less than a year, and I did not look the part. Mitch was key in me getting the role. (Or, they were desperate!)
Once I finished the internship, I was offered a full-time position at Westside working with Junior High students. Again, Mitch was one of the individuals behind this. While I didn’t accept the role, it was encouraging to be offered.
So, after the internship was over, I became a missionary full-time. Mitch was still supportive, even though I didn’t come on staff at Westside. (Some might have held a grudge.) In the summer of 1997, I was a part of a traveling team that went around to churches sharing about missions. When coming through Omaha, Mitch hosted the team and had us share at the college group. It was a cool experience for me since less than two years earlier I had just started attending the group, and now I was back as a missionary sharing about God and missions work.
Over time, we lost contact. As I do a quick Google search, I see Mitch & Rebekah are still involved with ministry. Not a surprise. For a time, though, the Rayborns were used by God to provide community and bring peace when I was wrestling with what was next. Grateful for them.