If you are receiving this letter, we count you as one of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Four years ago God brought John, Josiah and I to a small town in rural Ohio, called Fredericktown. It was a somewhat strange experience as we went from dwelling in Nyack, NY where things moved at a fast clip, to parking our car next to an Amish buggy at the WalMart parking lot. This wasn’t where we expected to land, we felt we would fare better in a more urban setting. But our plans were left behind as God made it clear that this was where He was calling us.
God did his work as we grieved the loss of Starbucks and a local mall. In four years time, we fell deeply in love with the people of New Life Community Church. He took us down paths we didn’t expect. For one thing our hearts became entwined with an incredible group of youth, after we had clearly proclaimed that John was “NOT called to be a youth pastor”. In four years we became friends with the most amazing group of people. We laughed, and cried, joked and prayed, and experienced the presence and the working of the Lord together. We served in ministry, but honestly, we received more than we could ever give from our family at New Life.
Four years and two additional children later, God has called our time to a close here. Our hearts are anxiously anticipating the disclosing of God’s plan for us. At the same time we are grieving the loss of those who have loved us and our children so deeply. Our time here has been a gift of fellowship, breaking and growth that we will forever cherish.
Nearly 3 months ago we welcomed our 3rd child, Anna Joy into the world. 6 weeks prior, to that John arrived home for the evening. God had been speaking some things to our hearts regarding our time coming to a close here, for the past several months. On that evening we had a rather heart wrenching conversation with each other regarding our ministry here at New Life. Overwhelmed, I took my then very pregnant self for a walk to try to process what God was doing. I made it about half a block, turned around, looked at John and said “We’re done here, aren’t we?” As much as we both wanted to fight it, we knew the answer was “yes”.
We spent a couple of weeks in prayer. During that time there was much prayer and wrestling with the Lord and each day it became clearer that we would be in deep disobedience to try to continue on with our ministry here at New Life.
And, even as I am writing this I think, “Who does this?!” What kind of crazy people up and resign from a position just a few short weeks before they bring their 3rd child into the world? Crazy or not, five days after the birth of Anna, John stood before our New Life family to inform them our time there was coming to a close.
As of September 1, we entered into a time in our lives that John is referring to as being “suspended”. We are currently still dwelling in Fredericktown, Ohio. Our son has started the year at preschool, just like any other. We are tending to our children’s needs, enjoying time with our friends, going about the business of daily living. Just one major difference… My husband no longer goes to work. John calls it being suspended. It’s relying on God, completely, without knowing where on earth He is taking us. I, as always, am a bit more dramatic… I refer to it as jumping without a parachute.
John’s resume is out to a few different districts, but at this time we have no leads. The church has blessed us, by continuing to pay John’s salary until the beginning of November. We are enjoying this precious time together as a family. Daily, God speaks to us: “Just wait. Be patient. Soon.” We are reassured that we are walking in his perfect plan for us. But, we are also human, with human needs, and three small humans entrusted to our care. And as amazingly, brilliant as our 3 children are, we do not think we can count on them to take on gainful employment anytime soon. So while we are receiving God’s gift of rest for our family, the ground is getting closer, we have no parachute and we are still just trusting that He will catch us right before we touch down.
In short, we are asking for your prayers. Nothing more, nothing less. Simply that you would come boldy before the throne on our behalf, as the Lord leads you. We feel that at this time God is calling John to a position of Senior Ministry in a smaller church.
Please pray that God grants us favor. We’ve run into some roadblocks, regarding “our youthfulness”. Which is somewhat humorous to me, as 3 children tend to make you feel a “little less youthful”. I have suggested to John that he may be wise to allow me to put salt and pepper highlights in his hair. So far he is ignoring my “wise” suggestion. I am hoping time at home with me and the children will cause him to gray a bit more quickly! All joking aside, we do understand that we are still young in ministry. We are trusting that as we daily appear before the Lord with humble hearts and place ourselves under the wise guidance of those more mature, He will lead and grow us.
I think often of how Saul was called into ministry in Acts 9. The Lord granted Ananias a vision regarding the calling of Saul. Ananias definitely had his doubts regarding Saul! I am praying that God would do this on my husband’s behalf. I have spent 8 years living with my husband. As much as he is not perfect, his character cannot be called into question. His age, however can. I am praying that the Holy Spirit goes before us and prepares the hearts of the right congregation. Would you please join me?
Shortly after God began speaking to us regarding John’s resignation, he gave John a “picture” of Jesus standing before a door. Jesus stood before the door, beckoned John, walked through, turned around and smiled. I don’t have a clear picture of where we are headed. I do have a clear picture that God is leading us though. I am madly in love with Christ , we have proven him faithful time and time again. I look forward to sharing with you what door he opens for us this time. Soon….