It has been a little over two years since we have moved from Southern California to Bellingham, Washington. We were a few hours away from the Mexico border and now we are just under an hour to the Canada border. The weather is different, the culture is different, the typography is different, even the church I pastor is different from where we came from.
The question I get asked the most is what brought you to Bellingham, Washington. I tend to even get a little bit more specific of a question, “What brought you from the big mega church to this small, somewhat rural church in the county?”
I want to explore this answer as best as I can. I have struggled with this answer because it isn’t always easy to answer. Yes, I usually give a very basic answer under the guise of God’s sovereignty, which is true. It’s that simple yet it is also a lot more complicated than that.
Leading us to move wasn’t easy. God had to do a lot to push me, push my wife, push my children, to trust him. I don’t think I knew the extent of it until I was away and saw some of the causalities that I experienced surface since we moved. See, I was afraid, and I was too comfortable. I had experienced trauma, and it was the only church I really knew.
I don’t want to overlook the fact that I gained so much experience from my previous church of almost 20 years. I did more funerals and weddings that the average pastor does in America. I was thrust into some situations for pastoral counseling and learned more on the job than through formal education. I know so many godly men and women who have impacted my life and my family so much. I did get to see God move and work with the impact of the gospel on a large scale.
I also want to be mindful about what I say because the church, good or bad is still the bride of Christ (Eph 5:23). Also, those in leadership, though by no means are perfect are still placed there by God. I do believe that God raises up people and brings them down in his perfect timing, he is sovereign (Dan 2:21).
I hope to share my personal struggles with the goal to show how God works in our lives.
First, I would point out to the ultimate reason and what I tell everyone—Because God Called Us
Ultimately, I rest on the fact that when I am asked what brought us to Washington, to RCBC, and moved us away from family, friends, away from a successful ministry would be God’s calling upon my life to lead a church.
I became a pastor at 24 years old. I was the youngest pastor at that time. And all I knew is that I had an intense desire to do the work of ministry. It is all I could think about, and I was given that opportunity. Charles Spurgeon encouraged those who went to his Pastor’s College to look at calling as, “An intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” If you could do anything else than do it. I didn’t want to anything else. This was it for me!
Harvest Christian Fellowship asked me to come on staff and be the Jr. High Youth Pastor. That was my calling into ministry. But years later, I had another calling to lead a church. Probably around 2015 is when this desire to lead a church. I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. I was comfortable and was told by other leaders at the church if I were to go anywhere else, I would see how good I got it (More about fear culture at another time). I was afraid of leaving because this was all I knew. I grew up in that city. We had family and some good friends in that city. I questioned if I could, and I did that questioning for several years until 2020.
I realize now that God needed to teach me a lot from that time until we moved. Some of it was my immaturity that needed to be addressed. Some of it was my understanding and deepening of what does Scripture say about being a pastor. I also needed to understand some deeper theological truths that I was wrestling with as well as a better understanding of what is the church. Bottom line, God needed to have me grow because I don’t think I was ready at that point.
In 2020 I honestly believe through some doors shutting and other doors opening that it was all about his calling which led us to come to RCBC.
Look for more to come as I unpack the complexities of ministry and God working in me and through me as I discuss how I grew in what pastoral ministry meant for me.