He was born in the summer of his 27th year, coming home to a place he’d never been before . . . (John Denver, Rocky Mountain High)
In July of 1989, at the ripe old age of 27, we duplicated part of John Denver’s experience as my wife and I made the pilgrimage to Monte Vista, Colorado to begin our first full-time ministry as the “pulpit minister” and wife for a church family. We stayed in Monte Vista for six years – years that included some great accomplishments and some crushing defeats. It was a formational experience for us, and one that we have never forgotten. This past week we were invited to return to the San Luis Valley, this time to the neighboring city of Alamosa, to begin work with another congregation of the Lord’s people. While it will not be a perfect “homecoming” as such, for us it means the answer to many prayers, and maybe, just maybe, the reality of many dreams.
Leaving one ministry to begin another is full of bitter-sweet emotions. Leaving our current ministry in Belen, NM, will be difficult for many reasons. This congregation has stood beside us during one of life’s most difficult situations – the diagnosis and treatment of my wife’s cancer. They have proved themselves servants in many, many ways. Beyond our work with the congregation here, I was able to assist my sister during a difficult time in our lives as well. My wife said it first, but I firmly believe it as well, God put us here in this place and at this time for a reason. We can see some aspects of why he might have moved us to Belen, and I am sure that as time progresses we will be able to see other reasons as well. Our prayer is that our service will come to be seen as just as valuable to others as their service has been to us. We thank this congregation more deeply than they will ever know.
On the sweet side – even though I am a proud New Mexico native, and my wife is a fierce Texas native, we discovered a mutual home in Colorado – a place that we can call our “together” home. Our ministry in Monte Vista proved to be the longest place of residence that my wife had experienced to that point in her life. We learned the value of a church “family” in Monte Vista, an experience that has shaped us to this very day. We pray that our return will be just as valuable to our new church family as it was almost three decades ago.
We will return to a different city in a much different time. While we are familiar with the general surroundings, there is much to learn about our new home and congregation. It will be a challenge – of that there can be no mistake. But we are excited about the possibilities and we earnestly pray that we are entering this venture with our eyes wide open.
While the congregation we are moving to work with is slightly larger than our current congregation, it appears that I will have to become somewhat of a “vocational minister” at least for a short time in order to provide for some permanent housing as well as get rid of a pesky school loan. I am more than happy to do so – it will help me get to know the community much more quickly. Please pray that I can find a position quickly, one that is especially suited for an old geezer with a bum leg.
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(I interrupt this announcement for a crass commercial break)
Related to this move I would like to make a public appeal. Many of those who follow this blog (or just read it occasionally) are members of churches of Christ, and perhaps you are looking for opportunities for mission support. Because of a number of unfortunate events in our lives (my wife’s cancer, and my indescribably brilliant prowess at the ice skating rink which resulted in a broken leg, three weeks in the hospital, and weeks of physical therapy), we cannot afford to make this move without some financial assistance. We are not seeking long term support – but we do need some immediate help in the expenses related to moving: rental deposits, moving truck, deposits to set up utilities, registering vehicles – the list becomes ponderous. If you, or your congregation, or any group that you might be a part of, would like to assist us in this move, please comment here to this blog and let me know how I can contact you. I will provide as much information as I can regarding our needs. If you cannot help financially, you can pray for our move, for the congregation in Alamosa, and our spiritual family here in Belen who will be looking for a family to take our place.
[To a number of very special followers of this blog – you either supported us financially during our crises, or you continue to do so even now. Know that we are deeply appreciative of your support, and your gifts are presented as sweet sacrifices to our Father in heaven. You know who you are, and we know who you are and our Father knows who you are and what you are doing. Please understand this appeal does not minimize your contributions – and if you so desire, I can provide you with a detailed list of what we can anticipate needing over the next few months.]
(I now return to my regularly scheduled blog)
We originally thought we would be making this transition over two years ago, and had that occurred we would have been moving to Colorado during both our 27th and 54th years – sort of a poetic parentheses to our lives. God had another time-line in mind, and we trust in his timing, not ours. We will be coming home for a second time – to a place we have known before but full of new things and people and challenges and blessings to experience. We ask for your prayers, both for us and for our new ministry.
Rocky Mountain High, Colorado!