I was in a prayer meeting in Binghamton when the vision and idea for The River Walk was born. This was way back in September way back in 2012. I had moved back to Binghamton in large part to join a team planting Two Rivers Church. I and that church have gone our separate ways but we all had no idea how strong God’s blessing on that church (which I still consider my home or “sending” church) and on this devotional would be. Two Rivers Binghamton NY, although not yet born would grow to over five hundred people and give birth to more churches located in Cortland NY, Endicott NY, Corning NY, Amsterdam NY, and Gaziantep, Turkey.
The River Walk devotional, what you are reading right now, just a few days ago passed over 600,000 views. It has also recently reached 25,600 subscribers. Currently, there are 1,219 posts on file and this devotional has literally been read in virtually every country on the planet. My last two holdouts: Cuba and North Korea were finally hit this summer. The other 300+ countries that WordPress trackers recognize were all hit a good two years ago.
Most of the time I (and occasionally others) have been writing on here, there has been a very specific format: Each day a scripture is pulled from the One Year Bible’s daily reading. Then launching from that scripture you will find four segments: Read, Relate, React, Respond. Many of you might recognize these four portions as a variation of the popular devotional SOAP method (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer). Yes, this was intentional. The two major variations to this format have been the 25 songs of Christmas posts done each of the last three Decembers and also in 2014 we walked through the book of John rather than using the OYB.
This year has been an incredibly challenging year for me with regards to my life outside The River Walk. For privacy and security reasons I will not go into specifics but life here in Turkey as one of God’s Sent One’s (we don’t use the “M” word) has been far more time consuming than in the past. Many of you might have noticed that probably 70-80% of the posts made in ’18 were recycled from the previous two years with some editing or updating made when it called for it. This was not intentional, but I just did not have the time resources to invest here as much as I would like. By the summer time was drawing to a close, I was seriously considering closing the doors on The River Walk for good. From September until mid-December I took a “sabbatical”. Even though there were no posts created during that time, I was still getting nearly 100 views a day. That told me that even if nothing new is ever created here, just keeping the doors open will be a blessing through all that has already been written.
So what happens next? In 2019, I will keep using my 4 R format, but I will be pulling from a different source. If I were to use the One Year Bible, I would either end up skipping over a good chunk of the days or I would be recycling more posts. That’s already been done. Instead, I’ll be walking through the New Testament in the order the books were written. My goal will be to write three times a week rather than daily but this way nothing will be skipped. Also, there’s a good chance that what I am doing here will also parallel what I might be sharing in small groups (currently on Thursdays) or preaching on Sundays. If so, don’t be surprised when some of the devotionals tend to run a lot longer than the normal 500-700 words you have been used to.
Thank you for all who have subscribed and have been reading The River Walk faithfully over the years. It is humbling to know that God has taken my humble attempts at knowing and sharing Him more and flung them to the far corners of this earth. Thank you even more to those who have regularly (or occasionally) clicked the Paypal button on the right. A fragment of that has helped to pay the renewal fees on this site (and Kingdom’s Collide). Far more, your giving has helped to bless the local Syrian and Iranian refugee churches here in Gaziantep. On their behalf, I say a deep and heartfelt thank you. Even more, thank you to those who have kept me and the ministry here in Turkey and back in Binghamton in your prayers. What has been happening is not through our efforts or strategies, but the amazing, unearned blessing of God and that blessing is loosed through the prayers of His saints. So please, keep on reading. If God leads you to do so, keep on giving. But I beg and plead for you all, even if you never read a word or give a dime, to keep on praying. The gospel will continue to go out here in Gaziantep and through The River Walk to the far reaches of this earth. But that gospel needs to be bathed in prayer to continue to be effective. There are more and greater things in store. See you on the other side of ’19.