Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God's Leading to Pastoral Ministry

Before Ben and I were married he shared with me his desire to be a pastor. He had already graduated from Word of Life Bible Institute and Liberty University. He had a degree in Bible and taught at a Christian school. He was very involved in his local church and had worked several summers at Camp Barakel as a counselor. Right after we met he went on a missions trip to Mongolia. One of the things that first attracted me to him was his heart for ministry. Shortly after we married he began to pursue a masters degree in order to prepare himself for ministry. However, we quickly discovered that teaching full time, working a part time job on the side and being heavily involved in our local church made it next to impossible to work on a degree through correspondence courses.
There was a time when we thought he was going to be hired on staff at a church here in Michigan. When God closed that door we began to seriously consider further education. We strongly felt God calling Ben to pastoral ministry and many times over that calling was confirmed to us by our local church and other men in the ministry. I remember a conversation Ben and I had one night as we discussed the idea of selling our house, quitting our jobs, losing our health insurance and stepping out in faith to move to another state where we knew no one to go to a seminary we couldn't afford. Ben said, "The next four years are going to pass either way. In four years do we want to be where we are now, or do we want to have a seminary degree that can prepare me for ministry?" We chose the latter. And I'm so glad we did.
We moved to Kentucky in August of 2006 and Ben started classes just a couple days later.
He worked hard and despite the fact that he worked a full time job, had a wife and became a father to two children during that time, he finished in four years (It is a 90+ credit hour program)! I'm a proud wife. And I had the privilege of learning right along with him as I took classes in the Seminary Wives Institute and plugged into Bible studies at our church (one specifically designed for ministry wives).
Ben graduated in May 2010 and to my disappointment we didn't have a job waiting for us when he walked across the stage to get his diploma. I knew it was unlikely that he would find a church right away. Many of our friends who have finished seminary have waited a good 2-3 years for full time positions. But I hoped our situation would be different. Seven months after he graduated we learned I was pregnant and our world seemed to turn upside down. We had to move. We had to get different health insurance. We had to get different jobs. And we had to move back to Michigan, regardless of the fact that I did not want to. It was clear it was God's will. So I struggled through those weeks in December and January. I really struggled. I took the counsel of Katherine Magnuson, a wonderful godly woman at my church in Kentucky, and made a theme for 2011. My theme was "Grace to Trust Him More." I posted about my theme here. God has been faithful in teaching me to trust Him as I continue to grow in this area. I often question rather than trust.
We moved back to Michigan at the very end of January of this year. Ben continued to send out his resume and contact churches. When doors didn't open as fast or as wide as I thought they should, I secretly began to question God. I wondered if we had misunderstood His calling. I tried to wait on the Lord but found it difficult. Ben, on the other hand, never questioned. He was always confident that God had a plan and that he was called to pastoral ministry. I'm thankful to be married to a man of such strong faith!
Before we even moved back to Michigan Ben sent his resume to Springview Community Church. We never heard back from them but we still prayed for this church for many months. Earlier this summer Ben was asked to fill the pulpit at Immanuel Bible Church, the church we are members of. Springview Community Church learned that Ben was going to be preaching this particular Sunday so they sent half a dozen people to hear him. We never knew this was going on. I taught Children's church that day while Ben preached and neither one of us had any clue that there were people there from Springview. A short time later Ben got a call from one of the members of the search committee asking if he would be interested in doing an initial phone interview. This was the first contact we had with this church and it was months after Ben first sent his resume. How neat to see that the Lord was working during all those months of silence! After a few interviews Ben and I had dinner with the leadership team and their wives where we spent three hours discussing ministry and answering questions. Evelyn was 11 days old at this meeting. When it was over Ben and I got in the car and the whole way home talked about how much we loved the people. We felt an immediate connection! Not long after Ben was asked to come preach at the church. He preached two Sundays in a row. One Sunday they had a potluck dinner following the service which was a great opportunity for us to meet with many of the people from the church. We absolutely fell in love with the people of this congregation. There is a real sense of community among the body and it is so clear that they truly care for one another and minister to one another.
On Sunday, August 28 the church voted and extended the call of senior pastor to Ben. He gladly accepted the call. We are so thankful! The church is excited about having a new pastor and we are so excited to be joining this church. I honestly cannot imagine a better ministry for us. It just seems like a perfect fit. God does things like that. He knows what we need. He knew we needed to be in Michigan and he arranged our life in such a way to get us back here. He knew we needed these last 15 months between seminary life and full time ministry. None of these are coincidences. Rather, this is the hand of a sovereign God. It is such a delight to go back and read through the things I posted over the last few years and see how God has brought us here. In the midst of all of this God is still giving me the grace to trust Him more.


TwoMuths said...

So happy for your whole family, Kelly! We love to look back and see God's faithfulness to us in each step, too. He is so gracious to allow us these small glimpses into His plan. Best wishes as you guys transition into a new ministry.

Our Family said...

What!?! How exciting Kelly! So happy for you all!

Kelly Glupker said...

Thank you!