As many of you already know, I have received a new job in the United States of America. I have accepted a call as Pastor of Community outreach at Northwest Covenant Church in Mount Prospect, IL. Over the last few weeks I have been reflecting on our time here. I wanted to share a few of my reflections with you as we transition from here into a new season in life and ministry.
The first thing that comes to my mind is thankfulness. I write this letter today as a Pastor who is immensely thankful. I thank God for this amazing church community. I thank God for the ways I have seen his presence and love in my life and in this community. I thank God for the diversity of language, culture, and voice. I thank God for the wonderful students I have been able to care for. Our family has been blessed in so many ways by our amazing church family. I affirm and declare that God is good. I have seen God’s provision in our life and the life of the church. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a wise women within our church. Even in a difficult circumstance she was going through she reminded me of these words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ”Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances…” At this very moment, I hold on tightly to these words. I can’t help but give God praise, to rejoice greatly, count my blessings, and tell God how thankful I am for these last three years.
I have heard it said that joy and grief are like train tracks. They lay side by side one another and the train of life moves forward towards the horizon riding on both of them. This is a picture of our lives. We are so thankful and filled with great joy and at the same time our hearts are heavy with grief. Joy and grief go hand in hand in life. I know we are sad because we love this community so much and have received so much love from this community. We feel as if we have created a second family away from our own family in the USA. We have experienced so much over the last three years. The relationships, the memories, the laughter and tears, the funerals, the graduations, the camp adventures, the prayers, the bible studies, the worship services… We have felt so much love and support from you all. It’s hard to say goodbye to the people you love.
A Confident Hope
Weeping may last for the night but joy comes with the morning. Even in a sad time of transition I am holding strongly onto the Joy of Jesus. I have been specifically reflecting on the theme of joy in Philippians when Paul remembers his time with the church of Philippi:
”I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (1 Philippians 1:3)
What a Joy it has been to be able to partner with you in this Gospel ministry from March 2018 up until today! I thank God when I think of you, and I will thank God every time I remember you. What great joy it is to know that this Gospel ministry will continue here at Immanuel Church long after I am gone. Just like Paul states, I too am confident that God has begun a good work here, is currently at work, and will continue His work in your lives and through the life of the Immanuel Church community. It is a great joy to know that God will carry on His good work until the day it is completed! The name of our church is Immanuel; this name means ”God is with you all”. I know this to be true. In my heart and in my mind and I declare this truth: ”Yes, God is with us”. God has been with us, is with us now, and will be with us even until the end of the age. This is a confident hope that gives me great joy today. Circumstances and locations may change, but God remains the same. I will now close this letter and say farewell to you with a blessing:
May the Lord Bless you and Keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you his peace. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.