Growing up in a Foursquare church meant having a huge world map on the wall with red yarn connecting pictures of missionaries to the countries where God had sent them. He had sent them to faraway lands with tribes and tents and languages I had never heard of. Missionaries were my heroes.
I thought I wanted to be a missionary, but then I realized that I don’t like bugs, heat or humidity. Silently I prayed, “God, please do not send me!” But God has sent me. God sends each of us. Some are called to faraway places, and some, like me, are called to local ministries. Sometimes being sent comes as a surprise.
I enjoy surprises, but I have learned that some surprises take time to process. Sometimes the surprise is where God is sending us. Sometimes a surprise comes our way because a door suddenly closes. Either way, I have been sent. When change came as a surprise, I had to process my emotions to line up with what I believe:
- I believe that God called me and that He is faithful (1 Thess. 5:24).
- I believe I wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the enemy of my soul (Eph. 6:12).
- I believe I am being sent by I AM WHO I AM (Exod. 3:14). My God, I AM, was, and is and will be. He knows my past, He knows my present, and He knows my future, even if I don’t.
So, when I am surprised with a ministry change, I say yes; I do not fight the messenger; and I trust I AM.
I was surprised when an opportunity came to serve at The Church On The Way (Van Nuys Foursquare Church) in Van Nuys, Calif. I had a plan, and that was not it. I wanted to teach at the college level. But I knew I was to say yes to the opportunity, so I agreed to accept the role for three years so that I could work on a curriculum project in children’s ministries.
After those three years, I again had a plan to leave. But God had another plan. Pastor Jack Hayford was getting ready to begin a 10-year transition, and I was asked to commit to serve those 10 years as the children’s pastor. That was 22 years ago.
In a few weeks I will celebrate having served at Church On The Way for 25 years. And I have loved serving here—through all the changes, all the blessings, all the hard times—all 25 wonderful years. I am so thankful I responded and said yes to the initial “sent” moment and to the moment when God said, “Stay.” But I still haven’t gotten to that curriculum project.
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