For the past 18 years my husband, Craig, has been a pastor. The last 7 years He has been the Lead Pastor at LifePointe Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. Yesterday, he informed our congregation that his last day will be August 14th. Many have asked the question, “What’s Next?” The answer to that question is a bit of a journey.
I will tell you the journey began 21 years ago, when Craig and I met at at the Dallas Theological Seminary library. Soon after we began dating we realized we shared the same life verse, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 . We married and began our ministry together in Newport, WA. Throughout the years, our shared desire has been to take the gospel to as many people as we can reach. We both, along with our children, feel burdened by the fact that some have never heard.
The last year has been one of seeking direction from the Holy Spirit. My illness, along with other circumstances, gave us the stimulus to reevaluate our calling. To be honest, we felt adrift and a bit lost for much of the year. There were many dark moments. When, Craig went to Nepal in April, it was as if my eyes were opened to what God was calling us to. I watched and listened as my husband came alive. I saw the passion in his eyes as he spoke of those who had never heard the gospel message, and the joy it brought him to share it with them for the first time. I heard him speak of the need for training for the indigenous leaders. His desire to see gospel centered churches planted in the regions of Nepal he visited and throughout the world. It filled my heart with joy to see him use his gift of evangelism. If you know my Craig, you know he can talk to anyone. He never is at a loss for words and is skilled at directing the conversation to the message of Jesus Christ. He has an unusual gift in that way. In the years I have known him, I do not think a week has gone by when he has not shared his faith. He is also a lover of adventure. He has the ability to get to remote places using both his athletic skill and fearlessness. Which is a bit terrifying for me at times. Yet, I see it as a gift from God.
Before my illness, I held on tightly. I am a nester by nature. I want all my people in the nest. I want to protect them and mitigate any danger. Yet, I realized through being sick, that I cannot control everything. I need to trust God. I need to let go. I need to allow my husband and my children to use their gifts. Comfort is not what this life is about. Holding on to one’s life is frivolous. Life is about throwing caution to the wind, not living by societal norms or trying to fit neatly into the box of what is expected. Rather, using the uniques skills God gave each person to further His kingdom even if that looks a bit unconventional.
So, here is the plan! Our home base will continue to be Fort Collins, Colorado. We will be raising ministry support partners and will no longer be on staff at a church. This part is a step of faith, and to be honest a bit scary, but God will provide. Craig will be traveling throughout the world approximately half the year. He will go for about 3 -4 weeks to a location to evangelize, train indigenous church leaders, and plant churches. Then, he will be home for 3 or 4 weeks, before setting out again. He will be working with Nexus International, Acts 29, and Crossway Chapel. The ministry will be based on the evangelism, leadership training, and church planting strategies of the Apostle Paul, as he fulfilled Jesus’ Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) through church planting and leader multiplication by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the gospel.
The Ministry Ethos and Strategy will Be:
Wherever God calls… we will go!
Where people have not heard the good news of Jesus…
We will share! (evangelism)
Where pastors and leaders need to be established and equipped…
We will disciple! (leadership training)
Where gospel-centered churches do not exist…
We will plant! (church planting)
You may wonder where I fit into this puzzle and how could I possible support and be excited about an idea that takes my husband away from his family for so much time and puts his life in danger for sharing the gospel in many of the darkest parts of the world. I will say this, the pastorate is a very busy job with very little family time. In fact, we rarely see Craig between Sunday and Thursday, as it is. Yet, I know this is different. My answer is we all know the cost, but we want as many people to hear about the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ as possible. As a family, we know the risk but feel this is the Holy Spirit’s calling for us. When Craig is home, he will take the kids to school and be involved in every aspect of their lives, when He is gone we will be bonded by a shared mission and occasional FaceTime conversations. At times, he will take one of the children with him. Hannah is with him now in Leipzig. We want them all to have a realistic world view and a true picture of the darkness and need for salvation. At some point we may all relocate internationally. If my health stabilizes and the kids grow up, we desire to travel and work together. This is a fluid ministry and subject to the Holy Spirit’s direction at any time.
We would appreciate your prayers at this time of transition in our lives. We are all unbelievably excited about what God is going to do. We have never felt more sure of His calling at any other point in our ministry. The timing is perfect and He brought everything together at this moment. The triplets are excited to tell everyone they meet that their dad is the “Adventure Pastor”. Hannah is excited to be a part of the ministry, as her heart is for those in need. I am excited to support Craig, so he can use the gifts God gave him. It brings joy to my heart. Craig has poured his life and energy into preparing for this ministry. God willing he will be headed to Scotland, Nepal, and Bhutan at the beginning of the year. The past 18 years have prepared us for this and we look forward to seeing what God does!