Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Major Transition

     Time passes so quickly! In April, when we announced our intentions to help with the church planting effort in Nagoya, the elders put forward a transition plan that would gradually move me out of the pastoral position at Grace Fellowship over a series of 3 stages. The first phase of that plan ends on August 29th, when I will preach my last "regular" sermon at the church Gina and I helped plant 10 years ago.

     I have to admit that I feel very conflicted about this transition. On the one hand, I'm as certain as I've ever been that God is calling our family to serve in Japan. He's given us a great deal of confidence about the decision, and our gaze has already shifted in that direction.  The idea of being free to focus more of our energy on preparations for Japan is exciting.  On the other hand, the people at Grace Fellowship are our friends. We love them a lot, and I take deep satisfaction in sharing the Word of God with them week in and week out. Maybe this is similar to the competing desires Paul expressed in Philippians 1:21-24 (though Paul was referring to his own death):

"...For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the 
flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose 
I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. 
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account."

     Of course, I'm not alone.  The rest of our dear friends at Grace Fellowship are wrestling with the same sense of tension.  Most of the families in the church have expressed their wholehearted agreement with this move.  They understand the deep need for the Gospel in Japan, and they're honored to be able to send their own pastor to help.  At the same time, it's not hard to see the grief in their eyes.  Change is hard, and goodbyes are some of the most difficult changes of all.  Please pray for us, friends.  Pray for our family and for the congregation of Grace Fellowship during the month of August.  Ask God to strengthen our faith and to allow the changes ahead to cause us to loosen our grip on this world and look to the promised land where there won't be any more hard goodbyes.

Peace.

jeremy

*** If you'd like to see a timeline that illustrates our transition plan from ministry at Grace Fellowship to ministry in Nagoya, please click HERE.

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