Tonight I perused older entries in my blog, and one recurring theme was my lack of satisfaction with regard to my employment. Here's a recap of the jobs I've had since 2005: FedEx Ground (working in a warehouse), and Target Distribution Center (working in a warehouse). Part of the angst came from the disparity between my education (both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in theology) and my employment. Part of it came from a lack of clarity in God's leading in my life: should I pursue a PhD? move? enter ministry? send resumes to Bible colleges?
As it turns out, the only one of those questions I didn't answer "yes" to was the PhD. After three years of sending out resumes to churches and getting very few replies, I am finally able to say that I am in the ministry! Martelle Christian Church in Martelle, IA, is where I will be the Senior Minister starting this weekend. Well, sort of. I will start preaching there this Sunday, but will not be full-time until we move. We won't move until the parsonage is ready and we have given (and fulfilled) our two weeks' notice to our employers.
I find the story of how we landed in Martelle fascinating. My good friend (and ministry mentor) Tim Platt one day casually told me that the church in Martelle is in need of a Senior Minister. They already have a great Youth Minister, but have been without a Senior Minister for the better part of six months (this was last fall). I followed up with the contact he gave me, intending only to preach there a few times to help fill in. After a couple of visits, however, I felt a peace about being there, a sense of at-homeness that was subtle, but noticeable. A couple of members of the search team asked if I would give my resume, and the next time down, I did.
I should pause here and mention that the number one problem I had with getting into a ministry was lack of full-time, stateside experience. I had lots of missions experience, and some part-time ministries while in college, but all of it added up paled in comparison to the experience of many people who sent resumes to Martelle and wherever else I sent mine. More than once I was not even considered (or if I was, I never made it past the "first round" of the hiring process) because of my "lack" of experience. My expectations of hearing back from anyone were low.
In early December 2011, I received a call from a guy named Paul from MCC, wanting to set up a phone interview, which took place the following Monday. The week after that, Paul called me back to let me know that they wanted me and my family to come down for a weekend because I was their top candidate! So we went down January 14-15, and the weekend went extremely well. Both Heidi and I felt that the opportunities there were amazing and God gave us both a peace about being there, which in itself was a huge answer to prayer. One week later, I found out that all votes were affirmative and we were on our way.
Through this process God has worked on our family to prepare us for this transition. Why did I spend so much time not in ministry? I don't know yet, but I know it has served to teach me patience and trust in God. Five years ago, I never would have considered sending a resume to a church in a town of 245 people in a place I had never heard of, but going there and meeting people and seeing what is happening there changed all that.
MCC is full of vibrant, kind people who love Jesus dearly, and I can't wait to get started joining them in their ministry to Martelle and surrounding areas. I already like them: I have more blog readers from MCC than from anywhere else! :) Beyond that, though, I have seen kindness and sincerity in them that I can immensely appreciate.
Let it begin soon. Thank you, Jesus.