a page from our story · faith · family · life · ministry

a page from our story: senior management to full-time ministry (part one)

Recently, I was asked how we came to the east coast to church plant.

Short story: God called us.

Longer story: God called us, we resisted, God continued to call us, we finally listened and obeyed.

Full story:

My Love, who holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business (Western University), was in upper management for a large corporation. Said corporation saw a shift in the market and, to appease shareholders, downsizing payroll to boost their bottom line was imminent. In the end, thirty-four hundred (world-wide) in management were let go.

As my Love was the highest paid manager in his particular plant, he was ready with his desk cleaned out a week before the axe fell. As he sat in the office with the paperwork in front of him, his boss was almost in tears. My Love, on the other hand, rubbed his hands together with a happy, “Where’s the pen?” You see, the Lord was already at work in his heart and he was ready for change–he just didn’t know what it would look like.

With time on his hands and the pay checks still rolling in, my Love, along with our techie boy, made a trip to North Carolina to learn more about evangelism. While on this trip, he met up with some Christians from Prince Edward Island. By the end of the trip they were fast friends, and the had asked my Love to speak at their family camp. (For more on this story, read this post.)

We need to take a moment here to step back in time.

Several years before this point, my Love had taken our teens to a youth retreat. He hung out at the back with a dear friend, listening to the message for the group of young people. The message spoke to him in a powerful way. Though he doesn’t even remember what the sermon was, per se, he does remember the impact it had on him.

He realized at that moment that he wanted to be the Christian man that God wanted him to be. He wanted to stop chasing career. He wanted to do whatever God called him to do. Unfortunately, he also realized that because of mounds of debt of our own making, if God called him to Africa (doesn’t that always seem to be the go-to mission place?), he would not be able to go. Even if we sold everything we owned, there would not be enough to pay our debts–we had a negative net worth.

In that moment of epiphany, my Love promised God that, if He would take care of our debt problem, he would do anything or go anywhere for Him.

Well, over the next few years, the Lord provided a way out of our massive burden of debt in some pretty miraculous ways.

  • One: we sold our farm for a very good price. You may not think this is such a big deal, but it was for us on two levels. We loved that place and didn’t really want to leave. Just a year before, we had a real estate agent tell us we could not sell it for nearly the amount we needed to make a difference in our situation.
  • Two of our children have low vision due to achromatopsia, with our cb girl qualifying for legally blind status (our techie boy falls just below the threshold). Our accountant asked us why we were not submitting this information on our tax forms. He suggested we do so, and apply for retroactive recompense. What a surprise to us! We did, indeed, qualify for this payout–in the thousands!
  • Shortly after this next part of the story, we sold our house in town, which we’re sure the Lord provided for investment purposes (see here). With the equity, we were able to pay off any remaining debt–including vehicles–and still have a tidy sum left over.

Picking up where we left off.

After some time (my Love received a great severance package), and many job applications (he never had any trouble securing a job–in fact, quite the opposite–he was often chased for positions), he was reminded of his promise made at that youth event.

The first step of faith on this path to full-time ministry was a dual commendation to itinerant preaching (which he had already been doing occasionally for quite some time) and camp ministry as the maintenance director. We sold our home, as mentioned above, gave away or donated a good portion of our belongings (we had a quite a large home), put many things into storage and moved into the living quarters in the camp house. There was no salary associated with this position, only a place to live. With the severance package at an end, we lived on faith, donations and our savings. It was a year of discovery–sometimes positive and sometimes not-so-much–about ministry and balancing family while in ministry, about ourselves and about people in general.

In this first year my Love spoke at youth events, children’s camp, family retreats, and men’s retreats, as well as regular and special meetings at various churches in North America and abroad: Florida, Ireland, Ontario and, particularly, all over the east coast of Canada. It seemed that the Lord was directing him out of camp ministry into full-time preaching and given that the majority was in the eastern parts of Canada, we tendered our resignation at the camp and prepared to make a leap of faith and move to beautiful Prince Edward Island.

We put the rest of our belongings, save a suitcase each, into storage and hit the road for PEI to see what would develop. We were able to stay with friends while we looked for a place to live. Unfortunately, upon moving to PEI, his speaking engagements became fewer and there was little in the way of remuneration. Our savings were dwindling little by little. My Love secured a full-time job in a low-level management position. He was quite discouraged in regard to ministry. I’d like to add, that this situation was not wasted by God (as we can see in hindsight). There was a mutual need for compassion and encouragement for us and a couple of other families at this time. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

At this point, our cb girl was getting married, so we returned to Ontario for a few weeks. Being home with our older children, my Love’s discouragement with ministry was exacerbated. If he was going to go back to full-time secular employment, why would we live in another province when we could live close to our family? However, we traveled back to PEI and continued on. Shortly thereafter, we got the exciting news: we were going to be grandparents! Alongside this wonderful news, we faced a major blow on a personal level. Without getting into details, we felt betrayed by some fellow believers. We felt like there was no place for us in ministry, at ‘home’ or in PEI.

During this time, my Love was asked by a pastor in Nova Scotia if we would be willing to plant a church in a small seaside town. We had become friends with this pastor and his family through family camp in PEI (where my Love was asked to speak that first year) and in the following years of camp and visits to the east. Work had been going on in this small town for some time; they were ready to take the next step and they felt My Love was the man for the job. There was just one catch: they had no money to offer, though they were looking into some funding options.

Now we were all feeling discouraged like never before. We had been down that path and our nest egg was looking pretty shabby. We’d be lucky if we had enough left for a small down payment on a house at this point. We said “No” to church planting and made the decision to go back to Ontario and look into secular employment there.

Thus began our Jonah experience.

Join me next time as I continue this story (here). In the meantime, you can read more snippets of our story here, here, here, here and here.

Joining the fun at:
#LMMLinkup at Maryandering Creatively

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