Back in July I posted our story as the Lord led us to leave the pastorate and start out on a new journey helping churches and individuals do missions around the world. In the five months since then we have had repeated instances where the Lord has confirmed to us that this is the path He has chosen. It is both exciting and daunting to venture where there are no lines drawn and no path to follow except to see where the next step is. I want to share some of the things that have happened over this time, as much for me as for those who will read this.
Immediately after our last Sunday at Spring Creek we had to decide where to attend church. Having been in one church for over 20 years, I thought it would be refreshing to see different churches and how they “do church” as well as hear some of my friends preach the Word (it has been wonderful by the way). The first Sunday we went to Faith Bible with Amanda and Kevin, our friend Aaron was leading worship that week. Wouldn’t you know it, it was “Mission Sunday.” In fact three of the first four Sundays, in four different churches, there was a mission emphasis. These “coincidences” served to affirm in our lives over and again the Lord’s leading. Over the last five months we have been in at least 7 mission services, none of which we knew about before we walked through the door of the church.
In November we had an opportunity to do something different and it required much prayer. We took the weekend to consider the possibility of moving into a different type of work. That weekend the church we visited had a missionary speak. He preached on a passage that was key to our original decision back in July. I dropped out of the new opportunity without hesitation and have had no second thoughts.
The latest instance happened just before Christmas. The pastor who performed our wedding, Ed Wright, moved to Vermont to begin working at a new Baptist college. When I heard about it I was intrigued with the idea of doing some work with them in the New England area. In early December I finally contacted Ed about scheduling a trip in the Fall of 2014. Interestingly, Ed was going to be in Austin before Christmas and was speaking at Hillcrest Baptist, the church where Julie and I were married and the one we planned on attending the Sunday before Christmas! Another coincidence. Through our visits we have decided to take a trip in February there and are now going to work on another one in the Fall.
These are just some of the things that have happened, but it is good to remember all that the Lord has done and how He has led us continually. One of our wisest decisions back in July was to drop everything, quit both our jobs, so that we would be able to go anywhere at anytime. We’re learning to be ready to go, to see that those things that some might call mere coincidence are often the hand of God at work as He leads us along a path. We have to be discerning, choosing those things that are in the path He has directed. We have to be wise, knowing that there are limited resources, and yet trusting, knowing that He has unlimited resources. We have to be creative, doing the work when there is no established pathway. And we have to be faithful, knowing that the Lord has a plan beyond the horizon of our sight.
When we began I told Julie that I could get us to the end of August 2013. We’ve gotten to January 2014 and I can see through about April. Looking forward to what comes next.
P.S. Sometime in the future I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about being a Christian who isn’t a pastor or staff member. It’s been challenging after being on a church staff for the past 30 years.