March 23, 2012
Hello Friends and Family,Greetings from summer-like Massachusetts! Kit and I wanted to send you an update on what the Lord has been doing in our lives, especially as many of you have been praying for us since last fall, when we first emailed to ask you to intercede for us. We want you to know how much your love and support has meant to us as we have tried to discern God's call for our lives. And guess what?! He has faithfully answered prayers in some amazing ways!This email contains two versions of our plans: the short version and the long version. I'll tell the short version first. Then, if you are the kind of person who loves to hear all the details, keep reading for the long version. If you have the time, we would love for you to read the long version, as we think it is a pretty cool story.Short version: We have accepted a call to plant a church in Kerrville, TX! What? Never heard of Kerrville before? Kerrville is a beautiful town of about 25,000 which sits on the banks of the Guadalupe River about an hour west ofSan Antonio, TX. The New York Times did a brief piece on it in their travel section not long ago, which you can readhere. I learned of the church planting opportunity in Kerrville in a most fortuitous way on January 1. By mid-February, Kit and I were in Texas to interview with a church planting network based in Dallas and to meet with other church leaders in and around Kerrville. About two weeks ago, I formally accepted the call. We plan to move in the summer, once the school year is over here in Massachusetts. While this move means a very big change for our family, we feel sure of God's call. Kit and I feel completely united in all of this, and we are so very thankful for that.Okay, if you're up for the long version, keep reading.You might wonder: how does one go from serving in a place like Cambridge, MA to Kerrville, TX? It's very simple, really: God is calling us from here to there. Toward the end of 2011, the Lord was gracious to get us to a more desperate place in prayer. What I mean by that is we had become tangled up in "thinking through the options" and "trying to find the best fit," and had subtly moved away from a kind of desperate dependence upon the Lord to give us clarity by showing us the way we ought to go. In mid-December, my prayer was simply this: "Lord, make this decision easy. I know that ministry isn't easy, but I want you to make the way we ought to go very clear, so clear that we will never doubt that we have manipulated this calling based on what we want."Shortly after praying that, I went to Fredericksburg, TX for a family wedding, which was held on Dec. 31, 2011. The wedding was followed by a New Year's Eve reception in downtown San Antonio, where I stayed overnight. Waking up the next morning (New Year's Day) a little earlier than I expected, I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel and thought that I'd do a search on my phone to see if there were any PCA churches nearby. The search pulled up Redeemer San Antonio, which was less than 4 miles away. So, I made my way to the worship service.Afterward, I went over to meet the pastor (a man named Tom Gibbs), we exchanged pleasantries, and found out that we had a few mutual friends. He asked me where I was serving and what I was up to. I told him where I am currently serving, and also mentioned that I'm thinking through what might be next, and leaning toward church planting, having been approved as a church planter by the PCA Church Planting Assessment Center in November. He replied by saying, "Look, I don't really even know you...but I serve as the Chairman of the Missions Committee in the South Texas Presbytery, and we're looking for a church planter for Kerrville, TX. Do you know where Kerrville is?" My mother, who was standing next to me, had to be sent away as visions of close proximity to her grandchildren overtook her.Now, Kerrville might not mean much to you, but Kerrville is a place that I have been around nearly my whole life. Prior to any of this, my parents had put plans in motion to move there this year. My first cousin in the publisher ofthe Kerrville Daily Times. Our oldest family friends live there, and my son Clay and I stayed on their ranch there when we came through last year. I lived for 4 years as a kid in the neighboring town of Boerne, TX.I decided that I ought to walk through the door that God was opening and begin the conversations. To make a long story short, my conversation with that pastor, and then subsequent conversations with Bill Thomas (Director of theSouthwest Church Planting Network), and Allen Taha (pastor of Trinity Pres in Boerne, TX) were all very encouraging and affirming. In February, Kit and I (along with the kids, who my parents looked after - thanks Mom and Dad!) went to Texas to see it for ourselves and meet all the people involved with this project. Ministry is fundamentally rooted in people and place, and we came away loving both the people and the place! With continuing prayer that the Lord would give Kit and me clarity and unity in this decision, we came back to Massachusetts with the mutual conviction that this is where the Lord is calling us to serve next. Our feeling was that we were at a place where we would have to give an account as to why we wouldn't do this, as the Lord had led us so clearly.We continue to be amazed at God's goodness in leading us so clearly. He has been faithful to assure us as we doubt, attend to our desperate prayer, and remind us that indeed He is a Father to His children. That said, these are bittersweet times for us. They are sweet as we are very excited to enter in to what the Lord has in front of us, as we begin to work out that calling. The support and assurance we have going forward has been deeply confirming and a delight in experiencing God's care for us.
At the same time, there is also sadness as we are leaving our dear Cambridge family. Kit and I came here as newly married, early twenty-somethings. In our time here we have had four children, attended seminary, served professionally in some wonderful institutions, taken our first pastorate, and made friends that are indistinguishable from family in closeness. He has showered blessing on us in our sojourn all these 16 years in New England. The privilege of working for this church, loving her people, and enjoying this beautiful and fascinating place have marked our lives indelibly.Although in some ways it's hard to think of leaving, it is precisely that experience here that gives us such confidence going forward. Sixteen years ago, staying in New England and serving here would have been laughable to me. And yet, God saw fit to call us, giving something much greater than we ever would have planned or imagined for ourselves. Psalm 75:1 has loomed large lately: "We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds." We are recounting his wondrous deeds, even as we walk into a future with lots of unknowns. But what is "unknown" to us is known to God! He continues to show us that the only thing we really need to know is that God is flawlessly faithful, and that having been called by Him, we can anticipate seeing that faithfulness in our lives in ways we have yet to imagine.We are grateful for how we have been led so far, and look forward to what the Lord will do in the coming days. The work is still ahead, and we would love for you to still pray as say goodbye to Boston and hello to Kerrville. We look forward to being in touch as things progress to let you know how it is going!