God frequently uses external situations to guide and direct his children—we are no different. In October of 2009, God chose to move Michelle and I to northern WI so He could use me to help start an online program at Northland International University. Almost three years later Northland has four online graduate degrees and another partial degree. Praise God for His work!
About six months ago the Lord started burdening my heart for pastoral/elder ministry. 1 Timothy 3:1 says “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” I felt this internal call and aspiration but needed a group of elders to confirm this internal call externally. When I approached the leadership of the church I’m a member of they welcomed the idea. I met with them a few times, but over time it became obvious that the church leadership wasn’t ready for a process like this…at least to the level in which I was expecting and requiring. This isn’t to say the church is not fulfilling its mission or not doing its job. The church is one of the better churches in the area, but over the years they have been met with trials and struggles like any other church and have expended great deals of energy dealing with these things biblically. However, as they recover from many of these issues, they are not in the position where they can work through the rigorous process of confirming the gifting and calling to be an elder with me.
The Short Story
So where does that leave everything? The internal call hasn’t gone away…this is still a strong desire. Through much prayer, counseling, and conversation, Michelle and I have decided to move back to Philadelphia and put ourselves under the care of the elders at Grace Bible Church and have them work to externally confirm this call that I have.
The Longer Story
So how did we choose Philly? We put together a short list of places we would like to live knowing that there would be churches there that would be able to confirm this internal call I have. As we prayed through and thought about each of these places, it became clear that God would have us return to Philly. It made the most sense since we already know the church, the leaders, the people, and the process. It shouldn’t take us long at all to jump right back in.
We have slowly been telling people about our transition. Lord willing we will look to move back to Philly around the first week of September. One of the best parts of this transition is how the Lord has put in place the pieces that I need to be able to keep my job at Northland and work remotely from Philly. I will continue to direct our online program and assist Brent Belford with the graduate school. Not much, if anything, will actually change with my job except for the physical location of where I do the job. In fact, I’m looking forward to working out of a home office and in coffee shops where I can connect with people. The advances in technology make this possible and very exciting. One of the aspects that I’ll be adding to my job is some recruiting and retention efforts. I’m hopeful to spend a few hours a week on these types of things that I typically don’t have much to do with right now.
Michelle is very excited to rekindle some friendships we left almost three years ago. I think the other thing that excites Michelle is having a Chick-fil-a and a Starbucks within a few miles rather than a few hours But, on the other hand, one of the hardest things for both of us in this transition is that we’ll be saying goodbye to the students that we’ve built special relationships with over the past couple years. We tried to have students in our home almost on a weekly basis and have gotten really close to many of them. So it will be hard not being involved in their every day lives.
Once we land in Philly, Michelle will work to get a job and will work until we start our family. We’ll both plug back into Grace Bible Church and serve in whatever capacities we can. There are plenty of details that still need to be worked out; however, we know we serve the King of Kings who already has all of the details cared for.
At this point I would be remiss if I didn’t petition you to pray for us. Some practical things that you can pray for at this point are that:
- We would see Jesus in the details and how He cares for us.
- We would be able to find suitable housing, close to the church, at an affordable rate.
- Michelle would be able to find a job relatively quickly once we get there. When we got married and were in Philly the first 5 months of our marriage, she struggled to find suitable work before we moved to Wisconsin.
- I need to sell my truck. It is a 1991 Chevy Hoopty. It would make someone a good wood truck or short commuter truck. There is no way we are bringing this thing to Philly. I only need to get $1,100 out of it. This will cover the cost of our moving truck.
- When obstacles are placed in our way, pray that we would respond gracefully and Jesus filled.
If you have any questions feel free to direct them to me. We are looking forward to what the Lord has for us in the next few months.