Since January this year I've had my regular schedule of working my three jobs: part-time youth pastor, part-time YMCAer, and part-time sweat shop worker at a sign shop, my bread and butter. If it weren't for my jobs, I would not be living here in Newberg or being involved in the ministry at my church that sometimes feels like it's growing. I would not have seen the small, yet significant transformations among the people in my congregation who went and experienced San Francisco and realize there's a world outside of certain sheltered areas of Oregon. I would not know the good people who have become family to me, and I would not trade the last two and a half years for anything.
Yet... in a community such as Sherwood, where people seem to have "everything together" in the 19th best place to live in the States, a desire for change as Ghandi would say is not exactly on the forefront of this community's mind. I have the advantage of working at the Teen Center here, and I get to see the vulnerable states of the apples which have fallen off their trees. The word "potential" doesn't even describe how much people in this community are capable of.
Yes, I have been frustrated many times doing the work of vocational ministry here. Combining my experiences of mega-church Crossroads and pint-size Willowbrook have given me such a broad amount of perspectives within the Church itself. The work is never done. Constantly I have to remind myself of the many servants of God who were faithful to their work yet never saw result until they were long gone. Abraham never saw his people outnumber the stars, Moses never saw the Promise Land, David never saw the Temple, Elijah thought he was alone, Stephen never saw the Early Church grow, and Isaiah thought God's people were nuts! There have been times I felt like the work I've done has been a waste of time!! I feel like I should be taking advantage of my singleness, go globetrotting, find the places in need of God's love and grace, searching for those who are lost! Why am I rotting here when I see my close friends become God's hand on His outstretched arms across the world like in Thailand, Uganda, Japan, China, Holland, Romania, Mexico, San Francisco, Namibia, Madagascar, Louisiana, and Malawi?!
Yet... I remember that it's not my work doing anything here. Not in my 23 years of existence has my "work" with either Crossroads, Willowbrook, or even Northside in my random visits there, had anything to do with those churches' vitality and ministry! I have NOTHING to do with Willowbrook's existence. No one can claim that. This church would still be where God wants it to be whether I was introduced to Pastor Dean or not.
For those of you out there working in some type of ministry, locally or internationally, I take to heart that each of you has struck a chord in my life that resinates as a reminder that you are where you are because God wants you there. I know that somewhere within my arrogance and pride that God has wanted me here since I was born, and I will remain here until further notice. God constantly reminded Isaiah to keep going... to keep pressing God's message to His people, no matter how they respond. I pray that I may be reminded of that constantly.