Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sources of Encouragement

Recently our family has been blessed with a change of circumstances. And in light of that change, we are filled with hope to see how the Lord will provide. In a similar circumstance we were able to see how God perfectly provided. But in the midst of searching for a new job, deciding when to put our home up for sale, and praying for guidance for for quick resolution to questions and problems that arise after being let go from a position, there is a lot of sadness.

We're sad that things did not work out in Colorado. We're sad to leave students and other people that we've poured our hearts into. And sometimes we wonder if the manner in which the relationship between ourselves and the church ended, would diminish the work God has blessed us to do.

But then both my husband and I were encouraged in many different ways.

First, the last thing that my husband cleared out of his office were some random books that were in the top of a closet. Under one of those books was a pile of pictures. He said that he thinks that the pictures were just put there when he moved into the office two years ago. He hadn't seen them or thought of them since. In that little pile of pictures were memories of a River Cats game that we took youth to when we ministered in Woodland, California. Another picture showed my husband with two of the boys from Woodland at a winter camp that my husband was the speaker for. And he was reminded of what a flourishing and beautiful ministry we were blessed with there, and that God used us there.

Yesterday I also had written to one of those girls that we were able to minister to in Woodland. I let her know what had happened, and she responded by telling me that she was really sad for what had recently happened. She expressed her hope that our experience here in Colorado wouldn't deter us from continuing in the ministry.

God graced my husband and I both yesterday by reminding us of our calling to minister to the church (my husband as a pastor and me as his supporter and partner). At a time when we could easily become discouraged and even tempted to give up on that calling, the Lord used his people to remind us that we are loved and that we are equipped with the grace of God to serve the church.

One of the main difficulties my husband has faced, and what has lead to our ultimate departure was a difference in opinion over how to grow a youth ministry. Activities was the answer of church leadership. Faithful preaching and teaching of God's word was my husband's. We didn't see the numbers grow, and so it was perceived that my husband was not doing his job.

Looking at the pictures from Woodland, and reading a note from a student from that ministry, along with keeping in touch with those students who have moved on out of high school and into college, has been incredibly encouraging to us. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, and those that came out of our ministry in Woodland are discerning, not being swept away or caught up in the latest trends of the post-modern church. They hold a high priority on the Word and hold that as truth over all else, and they are living lives that are shining lights for the gospel wherever they go.

Their faithful lives are a gift of grace on us as we look to what God would have us do next. I am so grateful for God's faithfulness in using broken vessels like myself and my husband to bring Him glory.

Beyond the encouragement from our past in Woodland, my husband got a call from a friend that he had not spoken to in a long time. That friend prayed for Casey over the phone. I have received messages from current members of the church we just left, as well as old friends that I have known for years. Even as the news of our departure is being spread in town, we are getting calls from parents or youth workers that we were close to, expressing their sadness and offering well wishes.

God is good to use his people in that way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't even know where to start. What happened to you guys is sad but I was glad to read that you guys realize the ways that God has used you. I can't speak for the kids in Grand Junction, but I do know that FBC Woodland's youth group took a drastic and blessed turn when you guys showed up.

I just wish our church her in Chico could, you know, hire anybody. I love you guys and miss you dearly. However, I know that you guys are going to have a fruitful ministry wherever you go and no matter what the "numbers" show. As somebody who's experienced both kinds of youth ministry. Thank you, thank you, thank you that you are both people who stand firm on the sufficiency of the scriptures.