This series is about what happened in my life after stepping out to the call to become a pastor. Part 1 is A Decision and A Book. Part 2 is A Discovery and Downfall Begins. Part 3 is The Valley of Death. Part 4 is Recovering and Remembering That Book. Part 5 is Romania. Part 6 is Many Cultures and Beginning to Teach.
In May of 2002, my Saturday morning ESL Conversation Group began at my church. It was something no one had tried before at my church let alone in most churches in my city at the time. Jesus was calling me to pioneer something at my church. Many of the people had seen me when I was sick and had watched my struggles as I tried to get life started again. There were those who doubted my idea, but I knew Jesus wanted me to do it.
The first morning of group, I stood outside so people could see me. A friend from the church who was on the missions committee was there to join in. The group was supposed to start at 10am. At 9:55 she began to try to encourage me with comments like, “the important thing is you were willing.” She had already started to think it would not happen. 10am no one there yet. 10:15 no one there yet. She was about ready to leave at 10:20 when the first car pulled in. By 10:30 we had 12 people there for the group.
Then I felt Jesus leading me to start a Sunday morning group, so I emailed asking about a room. Asking for a room on a Sunday morning in a church is kind of like showing up at a popular restaurant on a Saturday night with no reservation. I was told there were no rooms available. So I emailed people who prayed for me which included the husband and wife who headed up the missions committee. Yes, it was manipulative a bit, but I knew if the wife got an idea she would be relentless. A few days later I had a phone call letting me know I had a room.
People in my church were skeptical. Again they remembered me and how I was not too many years before when I was sick and when I was recovering. But I knew something or I should say someone- Jesus. If Jesus wants something done, he will make it happen.
A classic example for me was a married couple. The husband was American and the wife from South Korea. They met with the Senior Pastor in his office. He asked them how they came to the church and the husband told him, “My wife comes to the Sunday morning conversation group here.”
The next Sunday the pastor sought me out, shook my hand, and said, “Matt that class is awesome.”
The ministry part of my calling mushroomed after that. We had people from numerous different countries come. But it went beyond my church building.
Jesus led me to befriend pastors and leaders of churches for various cultures. He connected me with a Ukrainian church, a Vietnamese church. Hispanic churches, and a Karen People from Burma church. I became their confidant, cultural mentor, and advisor.
Jesus led me from the the starting point of people at my church being skeptical to my ministry growing to the point that conflict arose between myself and a few people about me not leaving. All along in my mind the purpose behind everything I was doing was to go back to Romania.
One Sunday morning one of the assistant pastors and I had an argument about it between worship services. He was convinced God wanted me to stay with what I was doing. I was convinced I should return to Romania full-time.
What decision was reached? More on that next post.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.