I thought I would give a little background into how we got here:
I have been an Assistant Pastor at Calvary Chapel Fayetteville, NC for 10 years, I love my job, it still blows me away that I can get paid to serve the Lord. I love serving with my Pastor and friend, Joey VanDeusen. I even love living here in North Carolina. I think I would have been content to continue being an Assistant Pastor for the rest of my life. Until the inevitable happened…
A few years ago Pastor Joey seriously hurt his back. He spent a few weeks in the hospital and had a few surgeries… he also had an extended period of recovery at home. He was out for a few months. I had covered for him in the past plenty of times but usually only for a week or two while he was away on a mission trip or out of town for the weekend. When it hit me that I would be “the pastor” for an indefinite amount of time while he was recovering I was overwhelmed. I love teaching, but I had never had to do all of it. What if someone needs to be counseled? What if a funeral needs to be performed? Who will do all the visitations? These were all things Pastor Joey did while I took care of all the administration and different programs. I cried out to the Lord to give me the ability to do whatever came up… and He did. I found that I really enjoyed ministering to people, much more than I did just crunching numbers, running schedules, buying supplies and the myriad of other random things that need to be done around the church. God was showing me that my time as an Assistant Pastor was going to come to an end, but I kept that to myself, like Mary I treasured these things up in my heart.
Last year Pastor Joey had to take a sabbatical for about 6 weeks due to health reasons and I had to be the Pastor again. This was a very difficult time in the ministry of Calvary Chapel Fayetteville. The Elders and I had to really seek the Lord in a way we never had to before. God is so faithful, He carried us thru some very intense warfare and He brought peace and unity in the midst of the storm.
God is so good.
It was also at this time that I finally voiced my desire to “eventually” be a senior pastor. The reaction amongst my brother elders was interesting. One said “Um… ok well I’ll pray God leads you in that.” Another of my brothers told me “No, you don’t have a pastor’s heart, you are an administrator.” That’s not exactly the reaction I expected. I was crushed. Did I miss something? God ministered to my heart a day later and reminded me that I don’t work for men but for Him and that I don’t need mans approval or permission to pursue His calling. That was freedom! It helped me to put down my fears and just serve him in the place he had me.
By September 2007 Pastor Joey was able to return to the ministry, our troubles were not quite over but he was healthy and we were glad he was back. It was such a strange year; we went from his health problem to serious financial problems. It was thru this that God decided to start moving. We had no problems paying all the church’s bills, but we did have trouble making payroll at the end of each month. We prayed, we fasted, and we even talked about getting part time jobs. We finally had Troy Werner from Calvary Chapel Lynchburg come down to give us some counsel. He said not to worry about the finances, this happens in every ministry from time to time. But there was one issue that needed to be fixed; we were overstaffed.
I found out later that Joey and the Elders started seeking the Lord for the solution to this dilemma. Then one day, in late Jan 2008 Pastor Joey called me into his office and told me that my last paycheck would be in August. He said that he and the elders thought that now was the time for me to step out and start seeking the Lord about my desire to start a church. In his words this was “a nudge out of the nest.”
Let me hit the rewind button now and go back about 8-9 months to a dream that I had about some dear friends of ours that moved down to Ft. Rucker, AL back in 2006. In the dream I was just hanging out with them, it was great! When I woke up I knew that the Lord wanted us to go down there and start a Calvary Chapel. I shared the dream with Denise and we decided we would pray about it, you know like “that would be nice to do someday.” It seemed inconceivable that the Lord wanted us to go NOW… We have two kids in High School and next year would be Nathan’s senior year. We have bills to finish paying off. In short it wasn’t a convenient time. I am learning that convenient isn’t in God’s vocabulary.
It was a bit of a shock when Joey told me I only had 7 paychecks left. But because of the dream, I knew almost immediately where I was supposed to go. The next question was, “Ok what am I supposed to do to feed my family?” Again God had prepared me ahead of time. I have wanted to start a coffee shop for years, but since I had a full time job I never acted on it. The next day as I was praying about what to do God reminded me of the coffee shop Again I shared this with Denise who said “Ok, are you sure you don’t want to just get a job?” After a little prayer on her part she was on board too. A day or so later Denise was checking out the Real Estate websites to recon the housing market in Enterprise and low and behold there was a Coffee Shop for sale just down the road from Ft. Rucker.
Now, when people ask me, “Are you sure this is the Lord?” my reply goes something like: “I told my wife that I would be out of work in 7 months and the plan God gave me involved, selling her house, leaving at the beginning of our son’s senior year, moving to a small town in Alabama and starting a new business which neither of us have any idea how to run;” to which she replied “Ok.” If you have ever wondered what Sarai was like just look at the picture of my wonderful wife. I dont know of a greater confirmation that God is guiding than when both husband and wife have a peace and are in agreement about everything God is calling us them to do . Praise the Lord.