Six years ago my wife and I were returning to Birmingham, Alabama after a week-long scouting trip to Durham, England. There were two goals: register the kids for school in the UK, and find a place to live. A month later, we would board one-way flights with the four little ones and 19 pieces of luggage.


Another goal loomed over that scouting trip. We boarded those flights in the first place in order to act on a sense of vocation, a calling into academic work on behalf of the church. And one of the main goals of an academic vocation is to produce the material product of a book.

Six years later, the book now exists, no longer as a Word doc or a PDF on my laptop, but as an actual thing. You can hold it, touch it, and take vainglorious pictures of it (see above!).

I’ll explain what the book is about in other posts. Here, I want to say thanks, and to explain the Dedication.

“Dedicated to Walter Arroyo, Kyle Bailey, and Joel Busby”

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to write a PhD thesis. Standing out amidst this village of heroes who have offered the Byers family such critical support are three friends who co-shouldered some of our heaviest practical and emotional burdens, enduring numerous hassles related to our beleaguered experience of intercontinental home-ownership, and putting up with many of my rants and gripes about the extent of the challenges.

Walter, Kyle, Joel—THANK YOU.

“In memory of Bob Waters”

My father-in-law would have turned 78 today. We lost him two years ago to cancer. I wish he could hold this book. I place no expectations on my family and friends to buy and read such an expensive and dense volume. But I know Bob would have paid full-price for two copies (one for his church library), and spent time in its pages every morning with his cup of coffee.

I wish it were so.


There are so many others I thank in the Acknowledgements section of the book. Special mention goes to Linda Waters, my mother-in-law, Francis Watson, my supervisor, my own family members in South Carolina, the Men’s Ministry of Mountain Brook Community Church (for rescuing us by rushing to scenes of disrepair in our unsold house), the Adkisons, Darnells, Rob O’Callaghan, Lutz Doering, John Barclay, Richard Hays, compatriots in doctoral research sharing the lackluster study space of 37A, and my external examiners, Dorothee Bertschmann and Grant Macaskill.

Of course, I am most thankful to my kids and to Miranda—the journey has been long.

(Next time: what the book is about…)


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