This is a family update of God’s work in our family over 2012.
2012 has been the most eventful year of our lives! Early in the year, I was still very much recovering from cancer treatments. Doctors told me to prepare for an 18 month recovery. I’m presently in the 17th month of that process, and thankfully still cancer free! Each month provides more strength and energy than the last.
Early in the year God began to wrestle my will to the ground and reveal to me some radical growth that He wanted to bring about. My comfort zone was… well, comfortable. And he began to call me from that comfort zone into an entire new realm of faith. For several months I tried to work through it, like a mid-life crisis. Then for a couple of months I pushed back and said, “no.”
Then God applied more pressure—calling for a total surrender of everything we had invested our lives into. He taught me that the price of disobedience is always higher than the price of obedience. He taught me that uncomfortable faith is also useful faith. And by early May, He led me to a point of full re-surrender of my will and life-plan. Off script—all over again! Thankfully, Dana joined me in that same venture of surrender and faith—also sensing God leading and calling in her life.
About that time, with great consternation, we shared with our children that God was leading me to become a senior pastor. Together, as a family, we wept, we wrestled with God, and in the end we accepted His call and chose to obey—together. We could never imagine leaving Lancaster Baptist—a ministry, a family, and a life what we dearly loved.
Amidst all of this, Larry was finishing his high school days—graduated in late May. Haylee was wrapping up her elementary days and looking forward to Jr. High. And Lance was beginning his Sr. year of Bible college. The Spring was a whirlwind of family memories, long nights of wrestling with God, and finally a difficult moment of surrender—having no clue where God would lead our future.
The story is too long to share here—but suffice to say, within a few days of surrendering to His call, God began to providentially and undeniably point us to a church far away—Newington, CT. This was a church we had never heard of and a part of the country where we knew no one. We had never been to Connecticut, but over the two closing weeks of May, God seemed to be clearly directing us to Emmanuel Baptist Church of Newington. We were shocked, and yet also eager to see what God had in store.
His time-table was much more rapid than we could have anticipated. From Mid-May until now it seems as though God put our family into a time-warp—hyper-speed. On June 24th, barely a month later, I was voted in by 97% as the new Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Newington, CT. God hardly gave us time to emotionally process it all. By July we were wrapping up responsibilities in Lancaster, taking a family vacation, and then packing boxes.
All this happened while Lance was enjoying summer tour with WCBC. He left a bedroom and house in tact. He returned, after a full summer of ministry, to a home being loaded into a moving truck. The truck was loaded in early August and we pulled out of the parking lot of Lancaster Baptist Church on Monday afternoon, August 13th. It was the hardest day of all of our lives.
On Sunday, August 19th we officially began ministry at Emmanuel with a wonderful, loving, and eager church family. They immediately embraced us and have loved us, accepted us, prayed for us, and have encouraged us all the way! That was 19 weeks ago, and it has been a blur. Adjusting to a new ministry, coming to know and deeply love our new Connecticut family, being able to lead new believers to Jesus, and seeing a church begin to be revitalized with fresh vision and hope—it has all been an overwhelming, indescribable delight and joy.
To put it simply—we have seen God at work in a marvelous way. He has met our needs. He has led our church and school forward. He has brought dozens of new members into our midst. He has intersected our lives with MANY people who need Him. He has helped us see dozens of people come to Christ and follow in baptism. And He has done all this in spite of us. I’m grateful to be a very small part of the very big work He is doing in lives at EBC! (You can read more about all of this in previous posts.)
Amidst all of this transition, a lot of wonderful blessings have happened. Larry started his first year of Bible College and did great through the first semester. Haylee began 7th grade in a new school and youth group and has worked hard to make new friends and adjust to her new world. Dana has immersed herself into ministry with me—loving and serving joyfully. And HUGE news—one month ago, Lance was engaged to his childhood friend, Hillarie Shannon. This was one of the great blessings of the year. In all, it’s been a journey of intense emotions, ups and downs, good days and hard days. But over all, wonderfully blessed.
Looking back, I’m so grateful! Grateful that God extended my life after cancer. Grateful that He gave us so many wonderful years at Lancaster Baptist. Grateful that He called me to pastor. Grateful that my family accepted that call and followed the faith of Dad and Mom. Grateful that He has provided for our needs. Grateful that He has helped this ministry to quickly turn around and stabilize. Grateful for all the wonderful, loving, and faithful Christians He has brought into our lives. Grateful for all the new Christians He has led into our church. Grateful for strength, health, and the privilege to preach His Word each week. And grateful for praying friends all over the country who encouraged, pulled for, and prayed for us all the way.
Looking back—I regret that I ever questioned God, struggled with surrender, and (at first) failed to trust Him completely. He has proven to be absolutely, undeniably good and trustworthy! We couldn’t be more content in His will and knowing that He is using our feeble human efforts to make a difference in New England—at least for some. To any one who has prayed, loved, mentored, or otherwise blessed our lives over the past 43 years, the souls being saved in Connecticut are fruit that abounds to your account. To our new church family, thank you for accepting us, loving us, encouraging us, and serving Jesus with us! We love you deeply!
God bless you and yours this Christmas and in the New Year! Thank you for extending to me the opportunity to touch your life in some small way through this blog. And thank you for praying for our ministry in New England!