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A Life-changing Move

by Amber Batten

My fatherís bad news turned out to be a blessing.

 “South Central Conference would employ me?” asked my father.

“Yes, sir. We would like to employ you as part of the South Central Conference team,” replied the conference president.
My father, Fred Batten, Jr., had recently  graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, with a major in theology. He wanted a career pastoral ministry for the Lord. 
About a month and a half after he finished school, my father received a call from Pastor McCoy, President of the South Central Conference at that time. After talking for a while, they determined that if my father were to accept Pastor McCoy’s job offer, he would work in either Yazoo City, Mississippi, or Huntsville, Alabama.
When Pastor McCoy and my father finally finished their phone conversation, my family got together and prayed that my father would be asked to pastor in Huntsville, Alabama. We reasoned that if we were to move to Huntsville,  at least we’d be closer to our family and our home of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
For about two weeks we prayed earnestly about where God wanted us to go. Then my father received another phone call from Pastor McCoy. When he got off the phone, he sighed and said, “This is the Lord’s will—”
We got excited and began rejoicing because we thought he was going to say, “Huntsville, Alabama.” Instead, he said, “We’re going to Yazoo City.”
As soon as those syllables left his lips, I began crying. I looked at my mother, whose eyes were filled with tears. I knew she wanted to cry but thought it necessary for her to be strong for her husband and children.
I went over to her. “Mommy, it’s OK to cry.”
She smiled at me. “Thank you, sweetie, I love you,” she said.
Later that night, I went looking for my father to talk with him about his ministry. When I found him, it looked as if he’d just finished wiping his tears away. I sat down and let him know that I was proud of him, of what he had accomplished in his life, and that even though we were leaving home, we still had each other.
I remember crying myself to sleep that night.
Telling my friends
At school the next day, I announced to my friends that my family was moving. My best friend, Tiffany, left the group and went to the bathroom. After I finished telling the rest of my friends, I went to the bathroom to check on Tiffany. When I entered, she looked at me, then at the floor.
“Tiffany, are you OK?” I asked.
“Hey, are you OK?” I asked her again.
“I thought we were always going to go to school together—even graduate together!”
“That’s what our plans were before I knew  Daddy wanted to become a preacher,” I reassured her. “I hope this doesn’t spoil our friendship,” I said as I hugged her.
After that day, my friends and I didn’t really talk about my family’s move again until the last week of school, when we said our goodbyes. It was tough, because I didn’t want to leave. The thought of having to make new friends in a new place scared me.
Sign of reality
On our way to Mississippi I was fine until I saw the sign that read, “Mississippi Welcomes You.” Tears began rolling down my face.
My family and I settled in Yazoo City, Mississippi. It took me quite a while to open up to the people we met in Yazoo City, but now I have many new friends. There are even some people whom I have “adopted” as part of my family, because of their generosity and friendship.
Now that I’m here, I’m grateful for my father’s call to the ministry and Yazoo City. As it’s turned out, the move helped me develop a better relationship with God. I thank God every day now for the blessing of the move that I thought would be a disaster. God does know best.
Are you facing big changes in your life? I suggest that you don’t face them alone. Call on the  power of the Lord to help you navigate through them. Then you, too, will be able to look back and see how much God has blessed you.
Amber Batten enjoys playing basketball, talking on the phone, reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family.

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