“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18
It was back in 1993 that I took my first real step into my career path. I was coming back home. I had been away for several years between college and seminary. But Royal Oak Missionary Church still felt like home, albeit with a new pastoral team. Amy and I ministered together (she did it without pay) there for three years before heading out on the path that would eventually lead us to the Bilala people in Chad, Africa.
When we arrived in N’Djamena, Chad in early February 1998 we knew we were “not in Kansas anymore.” The heat was brutal, the languages were overwhelming and the culture was very different. But in time, God brought us into contact with some incredible people that introduced us to life in Chad, they invited us into their homes, we ate meals with them, learned their language, and had the joy of sharing God’s Word in their language for the first time.
In 2012 we began a new stage of ministry at New Faith Chapel. We had accomplished much of what we had set out to do among the Bilala people and there were Bilala people and other missionaries that were stepping in and filling in the cracks so we felt released to once again do ministry in the United States. And so began the resume dispersal process that eventually led us to New Faith Chapel. A church that had gone through a lot in the prior five years or so and one that needed pastor that could help bring healing.
It wasn’t always easy…in truth, none of the places we ministered were without difficulties, but we grew to love the people of NFC and celebrated the good things and mourned the bad things. After five years of ministry in the good and bad, in life and death, in joy and sorrow… I once again began the resume dispersal process.
I sent resumes to churches all over the Midwest including: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. I used various job websites, but one day, on a whim, I Googled “church jobs michigan.” It was there, on the second page, I came across a week old notice of a job that looked like it had been written for me. They were looking for someone who spoke French, had knowledge of French-speaking Africa, who could communicate with churches and potential donors about the needs there, who was comfortable traveling back and forth to Africa and who lived in Michigan.
My heart skipped a beat (I think) as I read the job description. The organization was called E4 Project. The E’s were Educate, Engage, Equip and Empower. E4’s mission is to work alongside of African churches and their leaders to equip and empower them to solve the problems they face and thus extend God’s Kingdom as they heal their relationships with God, one another, and creation.
When Jesus ministered on Earth, he met people’s needs in every area. It was one of my frustrations in Chad that I was able to do so little for the people in their relationship with creation. Of course I did what I could, I brought tools and gave gifts of money and medicine, but it was never really substantive. I still remember a group of Bilala village leaders coming to me and asking if my organization could help build a hospital. And I had to sadly tell them no.
I thought of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats…
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:34-36
And I knew in my heart I wanted to do more…I wanted to show God’s love to the Bilala people in word and deed. Not just words, no matter how important they were.
So I think you can see how excited I was when E4 Project said they would love to have me join them in their mission of defending the poor and the needy. I have just begun my journey with them…I have much to learn…but I also believe that God has uniquely fitted me for this new stage of ministry in my life. In the coming weeks I will periodically share more and more of what E4 Project does and what I will be doing.