What brings change? How do we become different people? Some say it’s the people we care about and the challenges we face that change us. I think that’s part of it. As followers of Jesus, we are also shaped by the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Some of our most life-changing moments happen when there is a confluence of these elements. Influential people, wisdom from past experiences and our faith guide us through personal challenges and we emerge transformed.
I experienced deep change when I was a pastor in my previous church. After eight years as Associate Pastor, the Human Resources Committee suggested I take a three-month Sabbatical. I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that. On the one hand, it could’ve been a good thing and they may have wanted to invest in me – “Pastor, please go and be refreshed.” On the other hand, it could’ve been a bad thing; they may have wanted to send a different message – “Pastor, please just go away.” I chose to believe the former.
I had three young kids at the time. Going away and leaving my wife alone for several months didn’t seem like a very good idea. My wife agreed. So I broke the Sabbatical up into several shorter segments throughout the year. During that time, one of the best things I did was to take a class called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.” Most of my friends warned me that it would wreck my life; meaning I would never be the same. They were right. “Perspectives” opened my eyes and heart to the radical idea God is moving in the ordinary and the miraculous to reclaim, heal and restore every nation, tribe and tongue that was lost when sin wrecked our world. The course showed this to be the central theme of Scripture; a narrative thread of human history and hidden truth embedded within every culture. God has come to rescue all of us and His name is Jesus!
In the end, the course lived up to its reputation. I was deeply changed. I finished with the deep conviction God was calling me to mobilize people to be part of this great global revival project. And to make sure I was paying attention, God gave me a sign I couldn’t miss. Having taken the class in Pasadena, CA, I returned to my Washington home and sat down at my desk to read my mail. There, on the top of the pile, was a letter from the Pastor Search Committee chair at BelPres. The committee wanted me to apply for their Mission Pastor position. That was seventeen years ago.
What has brought change in your life? What can you do to bring change now? How can you know and connect with God’s call for your life? “Perspectives” has been one of those transformational experiences for me. For that reason, I recommend it to those seeking change. It is a big time commitment (15 weeks) and there is a lot to read. It’s a challenge and challenge is nothing more than a catalyst for growth and an opportunity to be made different.
Perspectives is coming to BelPres September 5- December 19 .