The last few months have flipped my world upside down. Things will never be the same.
Starting this past fall God began stirring something up inside me unlike anything I have ever experienced. Along with a couple other pastors from our church, in September I went to a conference in Tennessee that shook me up. It forced me to wrestle with my own passion for the lost, my intimacy with the Lord, and my commitment to fervent prayer. I had no idea at the time that the Lord was preparing me for a major change in my ministry.
Coming home we invited our church to pray for revival. We began to gather every Thursday at 6:00am and just asked God to bring a new spiritual awakening in our community. The Lord heard our prayers and answered swiftly, directly and more intensely than we imagined.
God orchestrated the coming of a ministry, based out of Dallas, Texas, called Time to Revive. They arrived in mid-December and God began to show up in ways that some labeled the Christmas explosion. Originally planned for one week, the national team from Revive stayed in Mercer County for eleven days. The fruit of those eleven days continues to swell and ripple even as I type these words.
In a mere eleven days 352 teams of people went out into the community to pray for people and share about Christ. Hundreds and hundreds of people heard the good news about Jesus. 304 people said yes to Jesus for the first time! 101 people were paired for one-on-one discipleship. 56 people were baptized. Close to 500 or more people from all sorts of churches gathered for worship 11 nights in a row.
Even more than those statistics, perhaps the most lasting fruit was the incredible unity that the Lord knit together between local churches. 15 to 20 area churches all partnered together and contributed in different ways. To this day there are about 15 local pastors that faithfully meet every week to pray and continue to unite together for the sake of sharing the gospel with our region. These are churches with vastly different styles and traditions. Most of these churches had never worked together before on anything! But together they have laid down their differences and chose to focus on the core message of salvation through Jesus Christ. What I have seen is a tangible answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Humility has led to unity which has led to a collective hunger to see God move in our county.
In the midst of all this incredible change and God-activity in our region, within me there was a parallel track of personal change. Within my own heart God began leading and calling me in a new way while he was doing the same through our community.
It’s impossible to explain fully in words all the ways God began to speak clearly and directly, but over the course of the past months God has made it abundantly clear that I am being called to serve as a missionary to the United States with Time to Revive.
As of July 1, 2017 I will be stepping away from my ministry as the lead pastor at Grand Lake United Methodist Church and begin working full-time as a missionary.
Throughout my life my only desire has been to be obedient to Christ. All the way back in 9th grade when I first responded to go into pastoral ministry, my prayer really consisted of a simple commitment to obedience. I told the Lord that he owned my life and I would serve wherever he would lead. That has been the driving commitment that has focused my life over the past 12 years of ministry in the local church and it is the same calling and commitment that leads my family and I to take this new step of faith. I simply could not stand up every week and continue to preach and teach others to be obedient to Christ knowing in my heart that I had not done that myself. So when Christ said go, I had to say yes.
If Jesus is who he says he is…it literally changes everything. That’s what happened for the first Christians in Acts. I love the accusation of some of the earlier believers in Acts 17:6. “These men who have turned the world upside down…” I pray that same accusation will one day be said of me and the people of Mercer County. Because of Jesus the world has indeed been flipped upside down. I can’t do anything else with the rest my life other than to tell as many people as possible about this world-shaking news.
I don’t know what all the future may hold, but I know that God is faithful and good. When he called Abraham he did not reveal the complete destination but asked him to trust. God is doing the same for me and my family. We have heard the voice of the Lord and we will trust.
In the coming weeks I will try to share more about how this is all taking shape and more about the vision for this specific ministry God has called us to partner with. The coming five months will be full of all kinds of transition, but we trust the Lord and know he will continue to lead us as he has to this point.
Please join Heidi and I in prayer for the coming months. We pray for Grand Lake Church and that God works in a powerful way to provide the next leader for this incredible congregation. We pray for God’s wisdom as we navigate this transition for our family. We pray for God’s provision and for the Lord to raise up a team of partners in prayer and financial support in order to step fully into this new missionary role. We pray for continued unity within the body of Christ in Mercer County and for the momentum and activity of God’s Spirit to continue in powerful ways.
Here’s a little video of some highlights from December when the national Revive team was in Mercer County…