Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Another Testimony of God's Sovereignty

Yesterday, I announced some tremendous news to my Facebook fam & friends. I figured I should share it here too for those who may not follow me on FB. May you marvel at God through this testimony of His sovereignty.

It has been hard times financially for my family for some years now. I work part-time, making scraps. My wife's photography business helps greatly, but not enough by itself. If I went full-time with work it would hinder her business and we still wouldn't make anywhere near enough to survive. But by God's grace through family and friends and sometimes His unbelievable provision, we've been surviving.

In addition, after ending Radical Life Church (our church plant) in February and submitting over a 100 resumes for ministry positions all across the country, only to experience rejection from every single one (a small few after I made it past the 1st or 2nd phase), this season has been emotionally tough as well. Most of my rejections were because I do not have a seminary degree, which is not a biblical requirement or qualification and yet that was what disqualified me from those positions. I found myself stuck, I'm too theologically conservative for most black churches, possibly too black/cultural for theologically conservative evangelical churches, not reformed enough for reformed churches, and not “seminarian” enough for the majority of them all. I cried many nights questioning if ministry was worth it or if something was wrong with me. I pursued speaking engagements and putting together a Bible conference for additional avenues of my personal ministry. I experienced rejection in those things too. The Lord provided a door with Biola University for co-sponsoring the Bible Conference and Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. confirmed as the featured speaker. Yet I couldn't get a single local pastor I contacted to be a speaker, except for one pastor who did accept the request 2 weeks ago. Pastors told me no or gave me no answer when I requested to highlight their church as a local biblically sound church that upholds God's truth, except for 2 churches. The constant rejection was embittering my soul. Then the Holy Spirit corrected me on my vanity (i.e. stop thinking that it was all about me), and challenged me through 1John to walk in love and truth in this season of being turned down left and right. And so I repented and followed the Holy Spirit.

I was getting ready to toss in my ministry employment pursuit towel as the school year for my kids is rapidly approaching. Once my eldest son started high-school that was the cut-off for ministry employment. There would be no moving anywhere until he graduated. My family is priority, and my children's stability is priority. I would've pursued a non-ministry career, desperately hoping that God would open a door for that soon because we were living on fumes and by the end of August/September may have been forced to move because we couldn't afford rent, and ministry would have taken a back seat until who knows when.

This is where we were until this past weekend. For those who know me well, you know I am a “sovereignnite”--God's sovereignty means everything to me, it's where I find my security and freedom. God has been doing what He always does, working behind the scenes.

A church I applied for passed me through their first 2 phases and brought my family and I to Bakersfield for the weekend. My family and I have not experienced such authentic fellowship, intimacy, and an initial connection to a group of believers (strangers) since P4CM (a former church, circa 2009). No one knew who we were or why we were there. And yet you would have thought we were members who just came back from vacation the way the church loved and embraced us. The more time we spent with the leaders, the more we uncovered how much alike we are and instant friendships were birthed. On Sunday evening they told me their decision to bring me on as their small group pastor. And right then, in that moment, everything I had experienced since this time last year (church plant almost ending then, school almost ending then, almost losing our home then, etc) to this summer (church plant ending, barely making rent, being turned down by every church I applied for, canceling of the bible conference, etc), all came to my mind and I sensed the Father whispering to me, “See son, I never left you hanging. My plan was for something perfect for you and your family.” God has been sovereignly orchestrating this whole thing. Every other church's “no” led me to this church's “yes”. Every pastor who said they wouldn't be able to speak at the conference was because God knew He had a job for me and I wouldn't be able to through the conference like I prayed and desired if we were living in Bakersfield. God even granted the job right before my son started high school. Furthermore, to hear how many other candidates applied for the same position (more than 50, might have been closer to 100) and how at one point they took my name off the board too, and then for it to end in me being hired is all a testimony to God's sovereign plan.

My announcement is that I am the new Small Groups Pastor of Hingepoint Church in Bakersfield, CA, and my family and I will be moving there come the first week of August. If you have ever prayed for us during our tough season, THANK YOU SO MUCH! For those family, friends, and church family who supported us and stood beside us through our tough season, THANK YOU SO MUCH! You all get to rejoice with me and my family in God answering our prayers greater than we could've thought or imagined.

If you look up our new church family online, know that they far exceed whatever you will see or read. And if you know me well enough, you know I take God's Word, the Gospel, the Great Commission, the Great Commandment, discipleship, and authenticity very seriously. They exude this on steroids, lol. They are as a church what I had envisioned for RLC (our church plant). And only a sovereign and loving God can put a random family in LA with a particular vision and philosophy with a random church in Bakersfield with a particular vision and philosophy and they fit perfectly like a puzzle piece.

Thanks again for your prayers and support. We are excited for this new season. Time to go make some disciples in Bakersfield!

‪#‎OnlyGod‬ ‪#‎marvelingatGod‬ ‪#‎Ps23‬ ‪#‎theLordismyShepherd‬