Jesus first got my attention on a canoe trip when I was in grade 7. Even though I grew up in a Christian home and knew about Jesus, the Bible, church, etc., it all came together when I snuck away from the group and climbed a hill. The view overlooked a beautiful lake, and mountain range with a sunset in the back and I remember thinking, “It must be true.” In that moment all the Sunday school stories, and prayers, and teaching that I had learned became real and I realized that the faith I grew up with must be true. God made everything, he loves me, the Bible is true. This enlightened moment likely only lasted 10-15 seconds (remember, I was a grade 7 boy) but it was the first time that Jesus really got my attention.
I have many faith markers in my life. I’ve seen God perform miracles, provide in times of need, and transform lives but a key marker for me was my call into ministry. I didn’t want to be a pastor. I wanted to be a Camp Director. As I concluded my undergrad at Columbia Bible College in BC the Campus Pastor asked me why I would disciple people for only two months during the summer when I could disciple them for 10 months during the year? I didn’t like being asked the question because it minimized the ministry that camps have but I told him I’d think about it. This question resounded in my mind like a loud gong for a couple of days and I realized that God was speaking in a unique way to me. I went back to him and asked if there were any jobs for just High School youth pastors. At the time there was only one job in Canada, it was in Saskatoon. After many miraculous twists and turns I got the job, left my family and the mountains that I loved, and moved to the prairies hardly knowing anyone. I believe God spoke clearly and led me to where he wanted me to be.
Currently I am learning about submission. I am not a natural rule follower. For much of my life I have viewed rules as suggestions and recommendations as permission. As I’ve grown in leadership I have really appreciated when people willingly submit instead of questioning and challenging a leadership decision. This has caused me to come to realize the freedom and joy there can be in submitting to others. I still have a long way to grow in this discipline but I am starting to see the fruit that comes from submitting to authorities.
A favorite scripture is John 3:16, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s one of the most commonly known verses and it has always been a guiding verse for me about who God is. But I also really love the verse right after it, John 3:17, “For God did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” I’ve encountered many people throughout my life that see God as a ruthless judge who is waiting to condemn people. This verse shows God’s intention to save and not condemn us. That’s why he sent Jesus!
I love our church because of the deeply rooted desire to take risks for the sake of mission. I have seen this church quickly rally when there is a demanding task that needs to be accomplished. This church has the faith to build a large facility in the middle of a field back in 1984. It has the faith to reach a group of indigenous people in panama, leave the church service without shoes for the sake of those in need, and find a new way to be a multi-site church. We have the faith to take risks believing that the Holy Spirit is leading us.