55:55 · October 17, 2023
Join us for a profound conversation with Hunter Dockery as he shares stories of God’s work around the world and how these stories empower a new way to see. This episode explores our inner struggles with doubt and skepticism when encountering narratives that push beyond the boundaries of our belief. From miraculous stories of physical healing to impossible changes occurring in people deemed least likely to change, prepare to be reawakened to see the hand of God working in our most mundane days.
Join us for a profound conversation with Hunter Dockery as he shares stories of God’s work around the world and how these stories empower a new way to see. This episode explores our inner struggles with doubt and skepticism when encountering narratives that push beyond the boundaries of our belief. From miraculous stories of physical healing to impossible changes occurring in people deemed least likely to change, prepare to be reawakened to see the hand of God working in our most mundane days.
Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!
Our guest for this episode was Hunter Dockery, who works on Serge’s Development team forming ministry partnerships. He’s passionate about helping people get a glimpse into the mission’s work. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen, Aaron Gray, Brooke Herron, Ashlie Kodsy, and Sunny Chi. Music by Tommy Leahy.
𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.
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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at email@example.com
Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His Kingdom.
0:00:25 Jim Lovelady: Hello beloved, welcome to Grace at the Fray. And if you haven’t already done so, leave a rating for this show on your podcast app, and if you’re watching on YouTube, leave a thumbs up and subscribe to this channel and share. Share these podcast episodes with your friends and family, that’s how we get this out to as many people as we can.
So do you know what a mantis shrimp is? It’s a beautiful little crustacean that lives at the ocean floor, and it has the most complex vision of all the animals. So humans have three photoreceptor cones in their eyes, green, red, blue, and dogs only have two that’s why they can’t see, I guess, red. Well, the mantis shrimp, guess how many photoreceptor cones the mantis shrimp has. 16. Can you imagine? Can you imagine what you’d be able to see if you had 16 photoreceptor cones instead of three?
You’d be able to see ultraviolet light, polarized light, and you know who knows what else. But think about this, whatever glorious thing you’d be seeing, you wouldn’t be discovering a new world, you’d be getting to see what has always been there. Now that you have eyes to see, you can experience the world differently. Well, my guest today is Hunter Dockery. He works with Serge development team, and he is passionate about helping people see what the Lord is doing all over the world, and show them how they can be involved in bringing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Sitting with him and hearing his stories from the world of Serge, it’s like being given ultraviolet eyesight to see what the Lord has been up to all this time. I just didn’t have eyes to see it.
So my question for you is this. Do you want to see? Now, I must confess that I’m a recovering cynic, and even though he probably wasn’t intending it, my conversation with Hunter turned into a brutal assault on my cynicism. It was really… It was really surprising, and I suppose a surprise attack is the only kind of way to attack cynicism. It’s not enough to talk about how bad cynicism is or offer techniques on how to be less cynical, what you have to do is tell stories that re-enchant the imagination. Tell stories that invite you to open your eyes and see the grandeur that has always been there. And that’s what Hunter does in this episode. So join me if you wanna see.
0:03:04 Jim Lovelady: Welcome.
0:03:04 Hunter Dockery: Thank you.
0:03:05 Jim Lovelady: Welcome to the studio. So tell me… Start with this just like who you are, what you’ve been up to with Serge lately, and then, I mean, it’s just… You said this a few days ago, there are so many stories of people coming to Christ that people need to hear.
0:03:22 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:03:23 Jim Lovelady: And when you said that, I was like, Okay, I wanna hear these stories.
0:03:27 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:03:28 Jim Lovelady: And just in the hallway, you’re like, “Hey, hear about this story. “
0:03:29 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:03:30 Jim Lovelady: So I’m glad we have just a little window of opportunity to hang out, so…
0:03:34 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Yeah, so I… My name’s Hunter Dockery, I live in North Carolina, and I work with the Development Department of Serge. We work with this beautiful group of humans who love to give money for what God is doing around the world. And I work with the ones who have aligned themselves with Serge and partner with us to love the world. And my role is to care about these folks and encourage them. Giving can become difficult and it can become tiresome, and especially when they never… It sounds spiritual to say, “Oh, I don’t even need to know what the money has been… ” But it just doesn’t work like that, people get fatigued.
0:04:31 Jim Lovelady: It shouldn’t work like that…
0:04:32 Hunter Dockery: Yeah, and so we tell them the stories and we find the stories and tell them the stories and encourage them and thank them, and help them understand what has happened in the Kingdom as a result of their giving.
0:04:46 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:04:47 Hunter Dockery: And I happened to just… I just love all the stories from around the world, and I capture them and tell them and re-tell them, and I love the way they impact me, and the way they change me, and… So that’s what I do all the time.
0:05:06 Jim Lovelady: This is a two-way street because we were talking in the hallway of how dangerous it is to be in our little world, and how easy it is to become complacent and to lose sight of the joy of the Gospel that we proclaim. And then now you’re talking about how easy it is for someone who started off giving generously and joyfully, and how easy it is to become disenchanted, with that and just kinda… You just start going through the motions. Yeah, I mean, my bank account gets taken out automatically whatever amount, and so I just kind of forget and so… I love that your job is to bridge these. There are stories over here, there are people over here. Let’s connect those things.
0:05:56 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:05:57 Jim Lovelady: And for mutual edification.
0:06:00 Hunter Dockery: Yeah, and so we find the stories, we read all the prayer letters and then we call and talk to workers from around the world and these missionaries, and we ask to hear these stories, and often they don’t even recognize… I don’t even know what are the great stories. So we just have to have these conversations and find them out. But I guess the other thing that happens to me is these stories change me.
0:06:29 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:06:29 Hunter Dockery: Because I recognize that I’m just like all these other folks that live in this culture of naturalism, where there’s really not an in-breaking of the kingdom into the place that we live very often. Or if it is, people are suspect. That happened to me as one of our missionaries was telling me a story about a healing in Asia, and it was a crazy story, and I guess I have to tell you now that…
0:07:00 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. You have to tell me that story now.
0:07:02 Hunter Dockery: So I’ll try to be brief. But it went like this. So this Serge worker was telling me the story that he went to this village in Asia, and he was with two of the guys that he works with. These are evangelists, they’re national evangelists, and they took him to the home of a man and a woman, a husband and wife.
0:07:27 Jim Lovelady: Okay.
0:07:27 Hunter Dockery: And they told him the story. The story had happened in the near past within the year, and the woman about in her 50s had had a stroke, and it was a bad stroke, it was a bed…
0:07:40 Jim Lovelady: Debilitating.
0:07:42 Hunter Dockery: Bedridden. Half her body was non-functioning and she was Hindu, and she heard from someone that you should ask those evangelists to come and pray for you. Because their God heals people. So she got a hold of them somehow. And she invited them to her home, and they came in and they looked at her, and they said, “Ma’am, we don’t think you need prayer, we think you need an ambulance.” And she said, “I can call my own ambulance.”
0:08:20 Jim Lovelady: “Thank you very much.”
0:08:23 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. “I’ve heard that your God heals people.”
0:08:25 Jim Lovelady: Heals. Yeah.
0:08:27 Hunter Dockery: “So I want you to pray. That’s why I’ve asked you to come.” [laughter]
0:08:30 Hunter Dockery: And so… but it’s so interesting because these guys were not full of faith, they were not… They were not like, “Oh, okay let’s be strong here.” They were just like, “Oh, this doesn’t always work like that and there’s gonna be a lot of disappointment here.”
0:08:43 Jim Lovelady: Okay, so already in that village, Jesus has a reputation of being a healer. So the guys who know Jesus walk in and they’re like, “Well, we don’t wanna mess up your reputation by giving false information.” And Jesus is like, “just go, just go on.”
0:09:00 Hunter Dockery: Yeah, that’s right. So she asks them to pray, and in many ways, if you wanna analyze a situation, probably the faith in the room was hers. And so they begin to pray. And when they do, someone elbows one of the evangelists as if to say, would you open your eyes and look at what’s going on.
0:09:21 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:09:22 Hunter Dockery: She reports an electricity flowing through your body or some sort of power flowing through your body, and they report her paralyzed limbs sort of involuntarily moving. And within half an hour she’s fixing them food, you know?
0:09:42 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:09:43 Hunter Dockery: Yes, I mean that’s the story. So you have to understand my mind again, my sort of Western disenchanted mind is going, “Okay, wait a minute. Now… Okay, so was my friend… was the Serge guy who’s telling me the story, was he in the room for that?” And then I remember, no he wasn’t in the room for that. He was told that story about the two evangelists.
0:10:04 Jim Lovelady: Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:10:06 Hunter Dockery: And some doubts beginning to creep into my mind because it’s like if he had been there, it would have been easier to believe him.
0:10:12 Jim Lovelady: I trust his testimony.
0:10:13 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. That’s right.
0:10:14 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Yeah.
0:10:15 Hunter Dockery: I don’t know these other people. So I’m going, “Oh, golly, this is hard.” And then he tells this sort of the epilogue to the story is that they then asked the couple, “Would you like to be baptized in the name of Jesus?” The husband speaks for the first time, he says, “Absolutely not. We are Hindus, we will not be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, not at all.” And the evangelist said, “Okay, we’re out. We’ll see you later. We’ll circle back and come and see you again when we’re coming through this area.” And so they did. You know, weeks later maybe, or maybe a month or something like that. And so they show up, first thing, the husband says, “We will both be baptized and I will be the first one in the water.”
0:11:00 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:11:01 Hunter Dockery: So he is… he’s processing, I suppose, but my doubts are raging. This is in my internal. You know, I’m not telling him any of this, I have subsequently though, and I’m just listening.
0:11:16 Jim Lovelady: You’re like, “Mm-hmm. This is a fun story.”
0:11:19 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Okay, alright. Thanks for ruining my day, with all this doubt.
[laughter] And then…
0:11:26 Jim Lovelady: I wasn’t doubting, until you told me this story.
0:11:30 Hunter Dockery: Yeah, that’s right. And so then he says, “The weirdest thing, as they were telling me this story, it was so obvious to me, it was so clear that the woman who had been healed believed the greater miracle was her drunk, abusive husband becoming a Christian.” That was the bigger deal than her physical healing. Well, that was like the Holy Spirit just gigging me. For me, I saw it and I went, “I believe that. What’s wrong with me. I believe that the bigger miracle is the heart, not the body.” And then of course, the paralytic coming down through the roof and Jesus saying, “Your sins are forgiven.” And that was enough. And then because no… Because no one believed that. He said, “Okay, I’ll just give you evidence.” And that is, get up and pick up your mat and walk.
0:12:32 Jim Lovelady: Right. Right. Right.
0:12:34 Hunter Dockery: And so I just thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m in trouble.” But I also recognize that the Holy Spirit was doing this work in me of saying, “What happened to you?” You don’t… You’re… And then I guess I’ve just began to call it a complete disenchantment of my life. So these stories are so beautiful, but they’ve been working on me.
0:12:57 Jim Lovelady: So that incident kind of ignited… It woke you up to this idea that, oh man, I’ve been disenchanted.
0:13:07 Hunter Dockery: I have been disenchanted, but because I’m a Jack Miller disciple, I know that the response to that is always repentance.
0:13:17 Jim Lovelady: Repent. Yeah.
0:13:18 Hunter Dockery: And so I have been… I mean, here it is over a year, and I am still processing that repentance. I’m still figuring out what disenchantment looks like and how to get out of it and how to reignite enchantment in my life.
0:13:34 Jim Lovelady: Okay, well, we’ll back up. You’ve been cultivating something in your life for a long time, where when the Holy Spirit goes, “Hey see that.” You go, “Oh, shoot, I repent. Help me to repent. I’m gonna walk in repentance.” There was a knee-jerk reaction, being discipled by Jack Miller who says, “Hey, let me teach you how to repent, let me teach you how to… “
0:13:57 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:13:58 Jim Lovelady: “Practice a lifestyle of repentance.” So break that down a little bit.
0:14:01 Hunter Dockery: Well, so I think about this a lot because honestly, I believe that Theophanes, that’s just a human…
0:14:19 Jim Lovelady: When God shows up.
0:14:21 Hunter Dockery: Encounters the living God. I believe Theophanes almost exclusively happened in repentance. And so, I don’t know about you, but I want that.
0:14:36 Jim Lovelady: Right. You want God to show up?
0:14:37 Hunter Dockery: I want… I want that to happen. I don’t want to be living in a legend, I wanna be living alive with…
0:14:45 Jim Lovelady: Right now.
0:14:46 Hunter Dockery: Christ right now. And…
0:14:47 Hunter Dockery: And I want… I want everything that is possible.
0:14:52 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:14:53 Hunter Dockery: Right now. Before I will see it clearly, I wanna experience it right now. So when I am convicted like that day on the phone with this friend from… Living in Asia, I just said, “Oh my gosh, look at me. I’m just… I’m just a wreck. And I’m dry and dusty and grumpy and old, and I don’t believe anymore. And these things are doubtful to me instead of hopeful to me.” And… So I have been pursuing that. Yeah, for the last over a year now, but even my repentance, I can bring to these givers and tell them that story.
0:15:41 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah.
0:15:42 Hunter Dockery: And I do. I tell them that story because they need it.
0:15:45 Jim Lovelady: It’s miracle upon miracle, you know. And that’s what repentance is.
0:15:48 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:15:49 Jim Lovelady: When Jesus in his tenderness shows you something, and then Jesus in his mercy gives you enough humility to where you go, “I agree.”
0:16:00 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:16:01 Jim Lovelady: “I don’t wanna be like that.” And then you’ve set yourself out on a new journey of repentance, where for you, you talked about like this last year has been a year of leaning into that repentance where you’re seeing all the ways that you’ve been disenchanted.
0:16:17 Hunter Dockery: So it’s just seeing an opportunity. And it’s like, you gotta fan the flame. There’s nothing in it like, “I’m glad that’s over.” Because it’s like, no, I want to squeeze every bit of opportunity to be a more beautiful human. I think that’s what we’re called to do. I think that’s what the Spirit’s work is in us. And so I just like telling the story and asking people to help me. And then, let me just tell you one more story about this and we can move on. But one day I was seeing some… Telling these stories often in some place in North America, and I went to see this old friend of mine who asked me to come visit him, and I hadn’t seen him since like high school.
0:17:13 Jim Lovelady: Okay.
0:17:15 Hunter Dockery: Yeah, long, long time. But he had had kind of a coming back to Jesus moment. And so I always wanted to go see him, and he lived in this place near DC… Wait, about an hour and a half out of DC. And the house looked North on this beautiful valley and there are mountains to the east and mountains to the west. And I got there and I looked, and the fence was close to this beautiful gate going up to this big house. And I called him and said, “I’m here,” and he said, “I’ll be down in a few minutes.” I’m walking down to this driveway and we’re standing out in front of this looking up through that valley to the north and just talking and welcoming, just greeting one another. And there’s a bird off in the distance. Way out there. Looked like a crow to me, way off in the distance. And he says, “Oh yeah, I think that’s a raven.” And he put his hands to his mouth and he just made a call.
0:18:13 Jim Lovelady: Like a raven call?
0:18:14 Hunter Dockery: A raven call. Yeah. And I had never heard a raven call, but I’m telling you that bird turned around. I mean, that bird was half a mile away.
0:18:26 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:18:26 Hunter Dockery: Way up in the air. It turned around and it came straight over the top of us. Wasn’t low, but it was up there. And I was just mouth open watching this thing. And then he turned to me and said, “God sent that raven to welcome you to my house.”
0:18:51 Jim Lovelady: I love it.
0:18:52 Hunter Dockery: “Because you’re the first Christian who has ever visited me here. And he is marking this day with that.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, what do I do with this story? What do I believe about that?” And how do I understand it?
0:19:05 Jim Lovelady: I love it.
0:19:06 Hunter Dockery: So that… You know that was another catalytic moment in all of this, just… And it went on from there, you know? But these stories enchant me. And they enchant all these beautiful people who love to give and who partner with us to love the world. And so telling them is so important because folks get… You know, it’s hard. This is a very difficult culture to live in as a believer, because we are disenchanted so easily. And the pressure is always on to be disenchanted.
0:19:46 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. I’ve been reading Screwtape Letters again. I hadn’t read it since high school, and so I’ve been reading a few chapters to my kids, and it’s just… Screwtape this demon talking to his nephew demon. But this morning, just this morning, I read, I think it’s chapter six, Screwtape says to the nephew, “Try to keep them thinking as naturalistically as possible.”
0:20:08 Hunter Dockery: Right? Yeah.
0:20:08 Jim Lovelady: Or try to get them thinking as hyper, superstitiously. Either get them super, super, stuck in their naturalism, or get them stuck in superstition.
0:20:20 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:20:21 Jim Lovelady: Keep them in those places, you know? And what you’re talking about is a re-enchantment that isn’t a fall into superstition. You know, I think so many naturalistic perspectives will look at the raven coming over and go, well, I’m sure there’s a naturalistic perspective to that. And anybody who thinks otherwise it’s superstitious. And you’re going, no, no. There are mysteries, joyful mysteries that why wouldn’t a God who loves us let creation participate in us experiencing his love.
0:20:53 Hunter Dockery: Well, another little piece of it was… I read Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Prayers in the Night. And she was talking about enchantment in one of those chapters. And she quoted Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, little tiny poem that said, “Earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush of fire with God.” And the rest of it is, “And those who see it take off their shoes. And those who don’t continue picking blackberries.”
0:21:26. Jim Lovelady: Oh, man.
0:21:29 Hunter Dockery: And…that’s what I believe is true. It’s not my experience often, but it’s what I believe, and I want more of the experience of that.
0:21:40 Jim Lovelady: I told you, I just came back from Spain walking the Camino de Santiago. And we went through a little village called Samos, which has a monastery, The Monastery of Samos. And we did a tour, and it’s a Benedictine monastery. So there are murals of St. Benedict all over the place. And there’s a bird, there’s a raven in every one of those murals. And there are all these stories about how a raven would… Followed him, you know? So then I’m walking the Camino, and there’s… in Spain, there’s this, I dunno what kind of bird it is. It’s a black… It looks like a raven, looks like a crow. It’s not as big as a raven. Looks like a crow, but it’s black and white. And I just saw it all over the place. And so every day I would see it, and it would like…land on the trail, and then it would fly a little bit forward, you know.
0:22:32 Jim Lovelady: And I would tell my friends, like, “Hey, there’s my bird. God gave me the bird. There’s a bird again.” Oh, that’s the bird that, that is guiding me to Santiago. You know, and everyone’s laughing. Like our naturalistic tendency is to laugh at that. But at the very least, okay. Alright, naturalist, I’ll give you, I’ll give you everything except this. That became a means by which I’m reminded of God’s care for me. What are you gonna do with that? You know, you can’t do anything with that. Did God send that? Okay. Let’s not answer that question. Did that remind me of God’s love? Absolutely.
0:23:12 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Yeah.
0:23:13 Jim Lovelady: And did it give me joy? Absolutely. Did I feel like I was participating in something bigger than myself? Absolutely. Beautiful. It was so much fun.
0:23:26 Hunter Dockery: So the stories from around the world.
0:23:27 Jim Lovelady: So tell me more Stories.
0:23:29 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. They’re the ones that… You know, they just have a catalytic effect and they definitely change us. Well even [my first] story has more to it. The healing in that little area caused quite a commotion. The church exploded as a result of all of that. It caused a lot of trouble because there were people becoming Christians and it’s against the law there to become a Christian.
0:24:03 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:24:04 Hunter Dockery: It’s definitely against the law to baptize someone.
0:24:05 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:24:05 Hunter Dockery: And so what happens is opposition comes and it’s fierce and fast. And, so one of the things that happened was one day, the homes of these leaders, of these house churches in this area were attacked by a big group, a big gang. And they were ransacked. And people went to the police. And the police came and arrested all the homeowners and took them to the jail.
0:24:39 Jim Lovelady: Who had been…
0:24:39 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. The victims.
0:24:42 Jim Lovelady: Who had been robbed. Yeah.
0:24:44 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. They arrested them, took them to jail, stripped them naked. The men, these fathers, husbands stripped them naked, and were beating them. And they were saying, “If you can just tell us who it was, who coerced you to believe in Jesus, we will stop this.”
0:25:01 Jim Lovelady: Oh, wow.
0:25:02 Hunter Dockery: So turns out the whole thing was a setup. Someone had infiltrated the churches, and that’s the kind of thing that happens. So it’s huge warfare. One of the stories that came from that was a man who was well known in that area, who was being beaten by these officers. And he finally said to them, “You know me. You know who I am. You know that I have all these years, I have stolen from people. I have robbed homes. I have been an addict of drugs and alcohol. I have even sold children into slavery, and you have never done a thing to me. And now that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, here you are beating me naked.” And he said, “There is no way I’m going to tell you this person’s name. He’s a good man. He is a beautiful man. Do whatever you need to do.”
0:26:06 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:26:06 Hunter Dockery: And so you have both sides of the stories that are going on. One is joyful and you laugh, and another is difficult and you cry. Because that’s what’s going on in places like this around the world.
0:26:23 Jim Lovelady: You’re opening up my bandwidth to higher highs and lower lows, than my normal wake up in the morning in a suburb of Philadelphia with a crick in my neck because I slept wrong and I’m grumpy. You know? And you’re like, hey, there’s way more joy than you can imagine. And there’s way more hardship and sorrow than you can imagine. And to have that bandwidth actually is more, more human. You know, we were created to experience those highs and lows to a greater extent. And I kind of don’t know… You know, that’s what we’re talking about is like how difficult and dangerous it is to live in a culture like ours where, like honestly I don’t know what to do with both of those. You know.
0:27:17 Hunter Dockery: It challenges our unseen and unspoken demand that our relationship with God will make us more comfortable and more successful. And so these stories are so important because it just goes, wait a minute, that does not fit the narrative. But you know, a lot of us have effectively sheltered ourself from those narratives. And so the Serge folks around the world are bringing back stories that are like, they don’t fit this narrative. But the other thing I guess it would say is, boy, this Kingdom work, this Kingdom involvement, it’s nothing less than a war.
0:28:08 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:28:08 Hunter Dockery: And it’s just absolutely amazing that we are invited into that to just push back against darkness and evil, and chaos in our little spheres of influence. And we’ve just been invited to do that. And we’ve been invited to send people to places where they’ve never seen a person like these folks that we send.
0:28:34 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:28:35 Hunter Dockery: They’ve never met a more beautiful human, and people who are… Well they’ve just never met anybody like these folks.
0:28:44 Jim Lovelady: And, but God was already there, you know?
0:28:48 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:28:48 Jim Lovelady: Well, tell me the story about how… about how God doesn’t need us. But he condescends… He joyfully invites us to participate with what he’s already doing.
0:29:00 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Well, and these are… There are many, many stories around the Serge network. There’s so many of these stories that especially over the past three, four years where movement was slowed to a halt, and there was very little engagement with people. But boy oh boy, that did not stop the Holy Spirit from being at work at all. There were so many stories of people, especially women asking the Serge women, “Do you know anyone who knows anything about Jesus? I dreamed of him.”
0:29:38 Jim Lovelady: Wow. Right.
0:29:40 Hunter Dockery: I dreamed of him, and I knew I was supposed to find out about him. Do you know anyone who can tell me about Jesus? So there are multiple stories like that.
0:29:54 Jim Lovelady: And that’s a thing, that’s a thing that the Spirit does all the time.
0:29:58 Hunter Dockery: Yes. And perhaps it happens in other places because it has to. But I believe if we open our eyes and we want to… And we look for it, it happens everywhere. But then there are other stories that you sort of hear about it at the end. Because a person has become a Christian and they are seeking out believers, and they tell their stories. And one I heard recently, from a Serge worker, and they said basically this: This young girl just experienced what she described as the goodness of God. She knew that what she was just feeling was goodness from God. And that she didn’t know who God was or anything about him, but there was goodness. And at the same time, or in subsequent times, she also experienced what she said clearly was from the devil. And that was, “I will protect you.”
0:31:08 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting.
0:31:09 Hunter Dockery: “All you have to do is give me your sight.”
0:31:11 Jim Lovelady: Interesting.
0:31:13 Hunter Dockery: And she said, “I wanted that too. I wanted protection.” And so subsequent to that was many years of dealing with eye problems. And then when she was in a little bit higher grade in school, that she was studying world religions in a Muslim country, and the teacher was supposed to be able to tell her about Christianity and about Jesus, but he didn’t know anything other than what was in the Quran.
0:31:46 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting.
0:31:48 Hunter Dockery: And so he didn’t really even want to tell her about it, but she was very curious for some reason. So she went to another person and he sent her back to this guy because, this guy’s getting paid to do this for you. You need to ask him about that. And so she persists, and he said, “Well, would you like to hear what the Quran says or what the Bible says?” She says that she would like to hear from the Bible.
0:32:10 Jim Lovelady: And he had a Bible.
0:32:11 Hunter Dockery: He at least knew the story from the Bible. And as he told her that story, she became a Christian. I mean, she puts it down right there, “I believe that’s what I want. That is the origin of the love that I experienced. The goodness that I experienced. That was what that was.” And so she becomes a Christian still has never met a Christian. Still doesn’t know anybody who believes.
0:32:41 Jim Lovelady: Some dude who doesn’t know Jesus led her to Christ.
0:32:43 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:32:45 Jim Lovelady: Who’s Balaam’s ass.
0:32:47 Hunter Dockery: Yep. That’s right.
0:32:49 Jim Lovelady: That’s totally what it is. That’s totally…
0:32:51 Hunter Dockery: Yeah, that’s right. So you hear that story, and of course, and our… The Serge worker in this, in this country met her because she was just like, “I’m here. I’m here to be with believers, followers of Jesus.” And so that’s… That’s how that story came out was they said, “Tell us your story.” And she tells them that. And so here they were that that believer was there to receive that story, to welcome her into a church, a little underground church in this particular country. And she was just so happy. But the workers’ point was… And he was almost stunned by this, is that God is at work and he doesn’t even need us, but he brings us along. You know, if we’re willing to go, he’ll bring us along and let us be a part of what he’s doing in, in some small way. But I suppose for me, it’s just the confidence that God is at work and he is inviting us to join him in this.
0:34:05 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. You know, I’m trying to like, what does my heart think about these stories? You know? And it’s disconcerting for multiple reasons, you know. Disconcerting of like, well, how come, how come I don’t experience God that way? You know, that’s kind of an initial reaction.
You know, and then a subsequent conversation that my heart has in the middle of all of that is, well, you’re hearing this story. So in that way, you’re participating with this story. So don’t miss out on being right here. You know, and Hunter, as you’re telling me this story, I’m going, I wanna believe right now I’m not gonna, like… I have to enter into the discipline of what the spirit can do in the middle of a conversation right now can be beautiful if you just relax and enjoy the fact that God works that way.
You know, it’s not a fear of missing out FOMO kind of kind of thing, although that’s a temptation. You know, like, “Oh, why doesn’t Jesus show up in my life in that way?” It’s like, no, no, no, Jesus is showing up. How, does my heart respond? And it’s like even hearing a story like that is an invitation to repentance because it reveals all sorts of… You know, why, is Jim squirming in his chair? Why is he uncomfortable with a story like this? Or what is Jim gonna do with a story like this? And all that. It’s like, oh, you just go back to what everyone does when there’s a theophany.
0:35:42 Hunter Dockery: For me, perhaps the step, or the thing that we miss, is somehow repentance is a thing to be avoided. That’s…
0:35:53 Jim Lovelady: That’s our tendency.
0:35:53 Hunter Dockery: That’s the side to fall off the log, you know?
0:35:55 Jim Lovelady: Right, right.
0:35:56 Hunter Dockery: It’s the easiest thing to do.
0:35:57 Jim Lovelady: I tend to fall downward.
0:36:00 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. You just fall in that direction. And because we’re just terrified of being exposed, and we’re terrified of finding weakness, and we’re terrified of what is God gonna do to me? And unless you think he’s gonna make you more beautiful. I mean, unless you don’t… If you… If you don’t believe that, that he’s here to harm you or to shame you, or somehow to crush you, why would you do that? But, if he’s offering you this amazing moment where he’s, I’m coming to you and I want to wake you up and I want you to experience glory. You know, the glory that is promised of. When Paul talks about our glory we’re like, “No, no, no. Not until… Maybe after I’m dead.” But he’s like, “No, no, there’s… “
0:37:05 Jim Lovelady: You get it now.
0:37:06 Hunter Dockery: “You get some of that now.” And so for me, I have just tried to completely change my understanding of repentance into something that I seek and I pray for. And I… You know, a friend of mine always says, if you want to get struck by lightning, you go out on a fairway with a… You know?
0:37:25 Jim Lovelady: Oh, I love it. Yeah.
0:37:29 Hunter Dockery: You know, and hold your golf club up, iron, you know? And I guess that’s what we do when we wake up in the morning and say, “What are you doing with me?” And we pursue those things, and that’s where we… That’s… That’s where the Theophanes come from, I believe.
0:37:46 Jim Lovelady: Tell me one more. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with these stories, because a few days ago when you said, “There are so many stories of people coming to Christ through our organization.” And I was like, “I want to hear those stories.” And so then we start talking about these stories and I’m like, I’m just taking note of where my heart goes and it’s like, wow, I’m more doubtful of these stories than I thought that… Or more skeptical or whatever. Or to be… Or just to distance myself from the story and be like, well, that’s cool for them over there. And then to go, “Well, I wish it was real for me too here and now.” And you’re going, “It is.”
0:38:28 Hunter Dockery: I can go from South America up to Central America…
0:38:33 Jim Lovelady: I love it.
0:38:34 Hunter Dockery: Over to… I could be in Europe or Africa, any of those places, and just tell these stories. One of our church plants in Europe has just moved into a new building in the last year. And they’re… They’ve already filled it up.
0:38:58 Jim Lovelady: They’ve already outgrown it.
0:38:58 Hunter Dockery: They’ve already outgrown it. And it’s because people are hearing the good news. They’re hearing the gospel, they’re responding to it, and they’re being baptized into Jesus. Now, that represents probably years of relationship.
0:39:13 Jim Lovelady: Yep.
0:39:15 Hunter Dockery: And years of investment. And so there’s some of these… Some of these stories are, there’s a healing, and two weeks later they get bap…
0:39:23 Jim Lovelady: Right, right, right.
0:39:24 Hunter Dockery: And some of these are like…
0:39:26 Jim Lovelady: 20 years in the making.
0:39:26 Hunter Dockery: 20 years, yeah.
0:39:29 Jim Lovelady: Or more.
0:39:29 Hunter Dockery: Yes. But they’re happening all the time. And it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. It happens in our church plants around London. The stories about, again, these long-term relationships, people who are belongers at churches, that phrase is like, they’re belongers before they’re believers.
0:39:56 Jim Lovelady: Right. Right. Right.
0:39:56 Hunter Dockery: And so they come and they’re there. They don’t believe, they haven’t been baptized, they don’t intend to be, but this is their community. They feel loved. They want their children to know these people, and they’re there. And eventually, at the speed of the Spirit, things begin to happen in these people. And I know of one family who left one of our churches and went to another one, and were… Finally became Christians.
0:40:25 Jim Lovelady: Right. Praise God.
0:40:28 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. And so, it doesn’t matter. We’re like, “Great.”
0:40:32 Jim Lovelady: Absolutely. That’s exactly right.
0:40:33 Hunter Dockery: Whatever it takes, and how that works. Yeah, those are the things that we’re watching happen. And it’s those people often that we are coming alongside around the world and we’re saying, “You plant the church. We want you to plant the church.”
0:40:53 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:40:53 Hunter Dockery: And we want you to… because your story is the one that people are going to relate to, not mine from North Carolina, but this person’s from your neighborhood. And we will facilitate you doing that work in your country so that we equip and facilitate church planting rather than do it ourselves because we may be gone. And so, I love hearing those stories everywhere from Japan to Guatemala, to Africa and Asia, that’s happening.
0:41:28 Jim Lovelady: So, you spend the majority of your job speaking with, sharing these stories with donors. So what do you see in terms of how their story relates to these stories. And how do you bring repentance and following Jesus into the risky places of their life? How do you… Walk me through how you bridge that. You’re not just throwing these stories out there, they’re landing on people that you know and love and that you care for, with a very pastoral heart. As you’re ministering to these people who are participating through hearing stories and giving their money, how do you bridge that?
0:42:11 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Okay. I’ll tell you one of my latest events. I was in Texas, and I went down there to be with a guy who is new to Serge, and he stalked us for a while online and liked what he saw. And then, so I called him and we had a 90-minute conversation. I went down to Texas to visit this guy. And, we had never met in… No, we had met in person once. But I wanted to go to his town and meet him. And so, a lot of times I’ll find a Serge missionary who lives in that area.
0:42:55 Jim Lovelady: Okay.
0:42:55 Hunter Dockery: I especially look for them and try to hang out with them. And I invited him to a coffee where we were all together. She happened to bring her… she was home after being out on the field for three years as an apprentice. And so she brought two of her pastors from her sending church.
0:43:18 Jim Lovelady: Okay.
0:43:19 Hunter Dockery: And so I was sitting here and here’s my…
0:43:23 Jim Lovelady: The guy that you came to visit.
0:43:25 Hunter Dockery: The Texas guy, and here’s the two pastors and a young woman, former Serge worker. And so, we listened to her for 45 to an hour. We just listened and asked her so many questions. She talked about facilitation church planting where she was. And it was just amazing. And these two pastors just loved this. And my guy was just sitting over here just taking it all in. And then, the head pastor, the oldest guy, he breaks in toward the end of our conversation and he says, “Well, I just need to tell you this.” He said, “When she left our church three years ago, she lacked a lot, she lacked any confidence really. And she was so quiet we couldn’t…we could hardly get anything out of her. And we didn’t really… We just had a lot of fear about how she was going to do. She seemed fragile, and we just didn’t know what would happen.”
0:44:28 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:44:28 Hunter Dockery: “And as you can see today, she has come back… “
0:44:32 Jim Lovelady: Different person.
0:44:32 Hunter Dockery: “Completely different person. The gospel is very powerful in her. She has a very strong grasp of the gospel. She speaks with confidence. She is unafraid to talk about both her weaknesses, but even more impressively, her strengths.” She talked about how she had learned language better than anybody on the team and she really had great relationships with…” So it was just amazing. And at the end of his little recitation of her, he looked at me and said, “What have you done to her?”
0:45:11 Hunter Dockery: And so…I glanced to my friend that I’d brought, who had given money to take care of her.
0:45:20 Jim Lovelady: Oh, okay.
0:45:21 Hunter Dockery: I mean, not specifically.
0:45:23 Jim Lovelady: Well, yeah.
0:45:24 Hunter Dockery: But his money went for missionary care and for mobilization and for all the things that I raised money for, his money went for that. And I looked over and I think I had to pick his jaw up off the floor, but he was just stunned at this. And it was just this, a moment, this beautiful moment of just watching that. Okay. So that was just the beginning of the day. The rest of the day was the two of us took off, and we spent the day on a pontoon boat on this lake talking, and we just had an amazing time. And I’m asking questions about his life, I want to know about him.
0:46:04 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:46:04 Hunter Dockery: And it was hard. It was a hard story. And at one point he just paused and says, “Man, please don’t judge me as I tell you the really hard part.” Well, I mean, it wasn’t that hard, but it was… He thought it was. And so I carefully listened, but I’m telling you, the redemption in that guy’s life. And when he wrapped that story up was so amazing that it’s one of my favorite stories now. And so for me to give him that time to listen and so that I can know him and I really do care about his story. And he was really shocked that I would be interested in that, because so many people rate themselves with, where am I? Alright, she’s a missionary, what am I?
0:46:53 Jim Lovelady: Right. Yes.
0:46:53 Hunter Dockery: I’m just a dang oil executive or something.
0:46:57 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:46:57 Hunter Dockery: And then, I tell him the story I told you about my last year’s repentance, and he is stunned at that. He saw that as like, “Oh man, wow. I hope you’re doing okay man, that sounds really rough. And you really failed there, didn’t you? I mean, you just really… ” And he really saw it as me admitting to massive failure. But I just loved it. And he is… we were on the phone together recently, and he said, “Man, how’s that going? Are you okay?” So those…
0:47:31 Jim Lovelady: I love that.
0:47:31 Hunter Dockery: Those are ways that we do this. And so, the point is, is we want to welcome people into this culture.
0:47:42 Jim Lovelady: That’s right. That’s right.
0:47:42 Hunter Dockery: To the culture that Serge develops, which is the power of the gospel.
0:47:48 Jim Lovelady: The movement of the Kingdom everywhere on a pontoon boat in some village in Asia.
0:47:55 Hunter Dockery: That’s right.
0:47:56 Jim Lovelady: The kingdom of God is moving forward. And if you have eyes to see, you will get to participate in something glorious.
0:48:04 Hunter Dockery: Yes. That’s right.
0:48:06 Jim Lovelady: Who would’ve expected a glorious conversation on a pontoon boat or in a coffee shop?
0:48:09 Hunter Dockery: Okay. So I just have to tell you one story…
0:48:10 Jim Lovelady: I’m ready.
0:48:10 Hunter Dockery: And my favorite part of this, He says… so he had a child that he had never known by… the mother didn’t… never wanted him a part of her life. And she found him through ancestor.com. DNA stuff.
0:48:30 Jim Lovelady: Dot com. DNA stuff.
0:48:33 Hunter Dockery: Somehow, she found him. And she made the phone call to say, I think I’m your daughter.
0:48:42 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:48:45 Hunter Dockery: Now, he had subsequently gotten married to another woman who had never met this girl either. And they had made a life together as… After, I think, he had become a Christian and stuff like that. And he just casually said to me, he said, yeah, yeah. She called and she got my wife, and my wife knew the story. And she told us who she was, and my wife said, “Oh, we’ve been waiting for you to call all these years.” And now she moved to be with them, and they were on holiday recently together. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh. That’s the greatest story I’ve ever… “
0:49:30 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah.
0:49:31 Hunter Dockery: What redemption.
0:49:32 Jim Lovelady: Beautiful story.
0:49:33 Hunter Dockery: Oh, it’s amazing. And now his wife, I’m just like, I’m in love with her that that would be her response.
0:49:39 Jim Lovelady: That’s her response. Yeah.
0:49:42 Hunter Dockery: “We’ve been waiting all these years for you.”
0:49:43 Jim Lovelady: What divine grace has to grab someone so that the knee-jerk reaction to that kind of situation is generosity and invitation.
0:49:56 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Absolutely. And in this most vulnerable of moment in this little girl’s life.
0:50:02 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:50:03 Hunter Dockery: That’s what she gets.
0:50:05 Jim Lovelady: I love it.
0:50:07 Hunter Dockery: Oh man. So I get to do that all the time.
0:50:09 Jim Lovelady: That’s what you get to do. I love that. You… Yeah. So we could sit here for hours and tell stories. And so, I’m really thankful that you came in, that… Being here for all the stuff that development is working on.
0:50:26 Hunter Dockery: Yeah. Well, these people are so dear to us. They are sacrificial. They know that God has given them resources, and that he’s called them to partner together with people. And we’re just amazed and thankful they… That they want to partner with Serge. And so we just… They’re the heroes, and we just love being with them. That’s what I do, is I keep, I just… I’m like a doorway for people to get into this organization and to hear it. And I specifically help people give. And so I show ’em where they can give and how they can give and what are the projects and what are the ways they can…
0:51:10 Jim Lovelady: Because there are some big things that Serge is doing all over the world that require big… Big money.
0:51:17 Hunter Dockery: Sure.
0:51:18 Jim Lovelady: And so you’re the one that helps connect people…
0:51:23 Hunter Dockery: Absolutely.
0:51:23 Jim Lovelady: To these… To the things. Kingdom oriented people to the things of the kingdom that… And then I get to sit here and hear the stories about it.
0:51:31 Hunter Dockery: Yeah.
0:51:32 Jim Lovelady: Thank you so much.
0:51:33 Hunter Dockery: Yep. Good to be with you, Jim.
0:51:42 Jim Lovelady: Gerard Manley Hopkins has a poem called God’s Grandeur. And it goes like this, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out like shining from shook foil. It gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil crushed. Why do men then now not wreck this rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod, and all is seared with trade. Bleared, smeared with toil, and wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell. The soil is bare now, nor can foot feel being shod. And for all this nature is never spent. There lives the dearest freshness deep down things. And though the last lights off the Black West went, oh morning at the Brown Brink eastward springs, because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breasts and with ah bright wings.”
What kind of unbelief do you need to repent of? For me, it’s the unbelief of cynicism, which is actually fueled by the fear of being duped. Of looking like a fool, and the inability to trust that I have a Heavenly Father who takes care of me in the midst of the toil, smudge and smell. But Jesus who loves me, sees my unbelief, and he says to me, “What do you want me to do for you?” And I say, “I want to see. I want to have eyes of faith to see the grandeur of the kingdom of God all around me.” And Jesus says, “Start with this. Follow me as I lead you through the ‘mundane moments of your life’. And I will show you how to love others. And then you’ll begin to see the glory of God.”
And when we have eyes to see, the Lord begins to show us the fact that we are sent, we are beloved sent ones. It reminds me of how Moses was given eyes to see the burning bush, and ears to hear God’s compassionate love for his people and his plan of deliverance, and how that meant Moses was sent. When you see God moving, it’s the invitation to participate in his sending. And our vision at Serge is to get people to see their lives in the light of the kingdom and eternity. So I want you to go explore our website. I want you to type this in, serge.org. Say a little prayer for eyes to see, and then start exploring. You may find a short-term mission trip to go on. You may discover new opportunities to give out of your resources to a project that has captured your imagination. You may even stumble across a little blog post that Hunter wrote called, What My Dog Emmett Taught Me about a Theology of Scarcity. I’ll leave a link for that and other really great resources in the show notes.
If you want to see what the Lord is doing, get ready to be sent. And know that it is our honor to work with you and to help you participate in the way that God has called you.
So now, beloved sent one, as the Lord reawakens you to his grandeur, receive his blessing. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you and turn his bright eyes to you and give you his peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God life everlasting. Amen.
Hunter Dockery has been with Serge since 1986 as a missionary in Ireland and now a Development team officer. His vision is to build a Serge Community around the world who live in the narrative of grand mission for the kingdom of God. He lives on a small farm in Winston-Salem, NC with his wife, Julie.
Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.
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