The PrieksAs I sit here on the back deck staring at an empty backyard, no sounds coming from the house (the kids are at the Grandparents’ & the wife is out looking for a new comforter), my thoughts are filled with both sorrow and joy.  I guess that is the way life works!

Last night Melinda & I had dinner with two very important figures in our lives.  Austin & AnnMarie Preik came into our lives a little over two years ago.  Granted, from a historical perspective, two years is but a blink of an eye, but from where I sit it has been a lifetime.  Two years ago my family was invited to attend River Oaks Community Church in Clemmons.

Before I go further, you should know one thing about me…I am a people watcher.  That Sunday, the Church’s Praise Band included a young lady with Red Hair and a fireball of energy that was undeniable.  From the first note of the first song, you could tell that she was filled with love for the Lord.  In fact, she was filled with so much love at it seemingly spilled over into “empty cup”.

With both Melinda and I feeling that we had finally found a Church we could call home, we decided to join the Church.  Unlike many churches that I have been around, River Oaks actually requires people to attend 6 weeks of classes before joining.  We were one couple in a group of probably 30 couples.  One of those couples were our best friends, Jeannie & Jason Felten.  This was perfect (or so I thought)!  Melinda & I would be going through this 6 weeks with the Feltens. WRONG!  The church leaders came in a seperated the various couples into smaller groups.  As it happened, Melinda & I were seperated from Jeannie & Jason (more importantly…Jason & I were seperated).  I was devastated.

Now seemingly alone, Melinda & I started our classes with a leader who was both strange and intriguing to me.  Strange you might ask…well there was something “off” about him.  Quickly it came to light that this “off-ness” was simply the fact that he was CANADIAN!  As we progressed through the classes, each week we came to know and like our leader even more.  You could definately tell this guy “knew his stuff”.  Better yet, he was just a GOOD GUY.

Fast forward through the 6 weeks, Melinda & I becomes members of River Oaks.  Now Melinda says that we have to join a “small group”.  The Small Group at River Oaks is basically a Wednesday night Bible Study group.  Coming from a Methodist background, WE DON’T DO WEDNESDAYS!  Having said that, what the wife wants…the wife gets.  So, again I thought that we would join the Small Group that Jeannie & Jason were in!  WRONG!  Melinda stated that we had to join the Small Group that our class leader (Austin) headed up.

So we go to Small Group, and I was not happy!

Fast Forward 18 months to last night (Friday July 8th).  Melinda and I are having our “farewell dinner” with Austin (our class leader) and AnnMarie (the Red Head Singer) Preik.  That’s right, the person responsible for showing me River Oaks was the Church we could call home, and the person responsible for leading us through the our journey toward a closer relationship with the Lord we in fact MARRIED!  This wonderful couple had been called to uproot their life and move to Africa.

So back to my feelings of both sorrow & joy!  Obviously, the sorrow comes from the fact that such an important couple will be moving around the globe and we will not be able to see them every Sunday and Wednesday.  The joy?  Well in my opinion the Lord opens and closes doors for all of us.  When doors close, their tends to be sorrow.  It is if you are “losing” something or that something is “ending”.  The inverse however is the true power of the Lord.  The joy I feel is in knowing the power this amazing couple has in bringing the Lord into the lives of people.

If Austin & AnnMarie can change the lives of these two “lost” people…I can only imagine the LIVES that will changed in Africa!

Austin & AnnMarie…we love you and miss you!  Until next time we dine together!

You can stay up to date with the Preiks and their journey by visiting their blog: