First & foremost I want to say thank you for the overwhelming response to my last post. The amount of people who read, prayed, and/or reached out to me was more encouraging than words can express. I want to reiterate that although the last year has been the hardest of our ministry, the last 3+ months have been the most exciting (mixed with scary), encouraging, refreshing, and re-energizing that we have ever experienced! That does not mean the last 3 months have been without struggle, but the struggle has produced a strength that is reflecting God's glory in beautiful & powerful ways.
Now, for a look at the BIG picture. I've blogged about the importance of longevity in ministry before, but I'm being reminded of it again as God is helping me catch glimpses... graceful glimpses... of the BIG picture plans he is working out in and through our church.
Mat & Tig-- On Saturday night Kelli and I were able to sit in our living room with our friends Mat & Antigony as we walked through our third pre-marriage mentorship meeting. Again, I don't want to paint a false picture. True pre-marriage mentoring is hard. It's designed to strengthen the couple and get them talking about difficult issues pre-marriage so they can more effectively navigate and overcome those challenges in marriage. But after Mat & Tig left our house, I couldn't help but remember some of my first encounters with Mat 5+ years ago.
Mat was a neighbor... he was a friend of friends. But to be honest, in my small faith, I never imagined that his life would be changed by the gospel. I never imagined that he and his soon to be wife (who we didn't even know at that point) would be a huge part of The Pathway. I never imagined that Kelli and I would have the opportunity to teach him about what a godly marriage can be and should be. I never thought I would be able to truly call him my friend. But God sees the BIG picture & I stand amazed at what God can do!
Raijoneah-- Many of you know that we held our first monthly worship gathering a couple of weeks ago. I stood up to preach the Word of God, looked out into the congregation, and there sat Raijoneah. Why is that significant? Well, we first met Raijoneah when she was in middle school and our church was still gathering on Friday nights at Tacoma United Methodist Church. Raijoneah was with our church for a while, but she, like so many, drifted away. She drifted from community.
Today, that middle schooler is about to graduate college! On her own initiative she not only sought out our worship gathering, she answered my challenge to every person in the room: "You're next step needs to be Intentional Community!" Almost 7 years ago we met Raijoneah. I don't know what God is doing in her heart. What I do know is she worshiped with us a few weeks ago, she began gathering with an Intentional Community last week, and she reached out for help digging deeper into the Word of God. I don't know what God is doing in Raijoneah's heart. But God sees the BIG picture & I stand amazed at what God can do!
Jerry-- I'm sitting in a coffee shop, as I so often do on Tuesday mornings, getting ready to go pick up Jerry from his final night in a hotel with his 13 month old baby. I don't remember when I first met Jerry but it was about 5 years ago. When I met him he was homeless. He's still homeless. Let that sink in for a moment....................... When I met Jerry, 5 years ago, he was homeless. He's still homeless. Only now, he's homeless with a 13 month old.
Jerry is one of those guys who's story breaks my heart and literally makes me cry out, "God! What are you doing here?" He's not just behind the 8 ball, he's off the table and out the door of the pool hall. He's been homeless since he was a kid, he didn't finish school, he doesn't have a job, a car, and he has a criminal record that makes it difficult to overcome anything. I hadn't seen Jerry in what I think has added up to a couple of years and then I ran into him "randomly" at a restaurant about 6 months ago. Sunday he called me. He said he didn't know what else to do. He's trying to take care of himself and his baby, but he's just not sure what to do. He said The Pathway has always treated him with love and respect, no matter what he looked like or what he did. So he called me. I'm going to spend time with Jerry and see how we can walk with him. I don't know what the future holds for Jerry. But God sees the BIG picture & I stand amazed at what God can do!
Please keep praying for The Pathway. We have lots of exciting things happening, many opportunities on the horizon, lots of decisions to make, and many roles to fill. I'm not sure what the future holds for The Pathway. I don't know what things will look like a year from now. But God sees the BIG picture & I stand amazed at what God can do!