It’s been almost two years since it happened.  The leap of faith.  Stepping out into the unknown.  The call, like Abraham, to leave what I knew in order to go to a place I did not; however, it wasn’t across the ocean or across the country or even across the state.  My call was across my own city, literally, to the other side of the tracks.

I’d been the college and young adult pastor at a megachurch in Amarillo, Texas.  The church was growing.  Our ministry was growing.  I, however, had seemed to hit a plateau in my own journey.  I was dissatisfied.  Restless.  I wanted more and felt God wanted more from me.  So I prayed.  And waited.  I sought counsel.  And waited.  I fought with my wife (not kidding!).  And waited some more.  After a spiritual retreat that both my wife and I went on, we decide it was time.  Time to step out.  Into the unknown.  And trust God.

I knew God was calling us to the East side of Amarillo.  Literally, across the tracks from where we lived.  I stepped away from my ministry position at a church with no job in sight, during the economic crash two years ago.  We were anxious, but also trusted in God to provide.  The church and I set a date for me to leave.  July 31.

I applied for 2 jobs, both with our local school district (I found out about them because I was teaching a Bible class at a local high school).  I was turned down for the first job within days.  I applied for the second and didn’t hear back for quite some time.  I thought the door had closed.  Weeks later, I found out through a friend that the door might still be open, and several days after that visit, I got a call for an interview.  On the day of the interview, I found out 33 other people also got a call for the interview (yikes!).  A couple of days later, I got a call for a 2nd interview, and that same afternoon (after several long, agonizing hours), I was offered the job.  The job was coordinating a college access and readiness program at the only high school (guess where?) on the East side of town.

The last 2 years has been a slow process of building relationships, learning to live out my faith in a different way, continuing to listen to God and follow his direction, and connecting with people and the community.  Here are some things I’ve learned in the process…

1. God speaks ALL the time.  If I don’t hear Him, it’s more likely that I’m either not listening or second-guessing myself that I’m not hearing God correctly.

2.  Prayer works – but only when you actually PRAY.  Often, the times that I have prayed for specific things (within God’s will) God answers, often within days (sometimes within hours – once AS I was praying, God answered).  There are still unanswered prayers, but we continue to trust God for His timing in answering them.

3.  I love the people across the tracks.  Both my wife and I have gotten involved in the community and continue to do so . The people are warm and welcoming and have shown us mercy and hospitality beyond what I could have imagined.

4.  It’s HARD to change, but not impossible.  I had to change my way of thinking about church and the pastorate.  I had to change jobs and my view of ministry.  I have to be ok with a slower pace of doing and more okay with who I am BE-ing to the people we’re reaching out to.

5.  God wants to use US to be the incarnational presence of Jesus’ Body to our communities.  We’re not alone in our journey.  There are others.  There should be many more than there are (in my humble opinion).  I’ve learned that true Christianity isn’t supposed to be a series of organized religious meetings and events, but an organic expression of Christ through service, love, compassion, and sharing the Gospel in tangible ways.

We’re about to start a kid’s club at an apartment community in our target area.  This weekend we’re doing an Easter Egg Hunt and Party at the same complex.  We’ve helped a single mom fix a fence and recruited her 8th grade son to help out.  We even taught him how to use post-hole diggers (something every man should know how to use!).  We’re scheduled to help another single mom paint the trim on her house next month.  We’re involving people that we’ve helped in past projects into the future projects that we’re doing.  We talk about God’s love and the reason we’re doing what we’re doing.

Now that I’m on the “other side”, I wouldn’t go back.  I’m hooked, and I think my wife is too.  Despite the change and the unknown, the leap of faith was worth it.  It’s become an every-day adventure that has surprises around every corner.  Everything hasn’t been easy or simple, but God has proved His faithfulness, and we’re excited to see where God will lead us and what He will tell us…tomorrow.

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