Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Confessions of a day-dreaming introvert

Born October 27th, 1963, Troy, NY.
Born of the Spirit, Winter of 1984, US Navy, North Atlantic Ocean, Somewhere near Oslo, Norway, aboard USS Charleston LKA 113
Graduated Tamarac High School 1981
Schenectady Co. Comm. College 1989, Associates in Culinary Arts
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary 2005, Assoc. of Divinity

The first half of my adult life was spent pursuing a professional cooking career. In 1992 I surrendered that pursuit for a higher calling. I have since spent the past sixteen years pursuing that call. God has wired me for inner-city ministry and has gifted me as a visionary (aka big dreamer). He has given me a burden for people in the urban/inner-city neighborhoods who are struggling through life; be it addiction, poverty, lack of education and/or opportunities, misfortune, etc. these are the people God has equipped and empowered me to reach out to with His grace and mercy.

I have a partiular burden for children who, through no choice of their own, live in these same neighborhoods, born into situations and circumstaces that are beyond their control; born to single mothers, with no dad in the picture or, at best, minimal contact with their male parent. Children are among the most helpless of citizens. They have few rights. If someone employed by the government deems it to be in the best interest of a child to be taken from their home and placed in foster care with strangers, the child has very little say in the matter. Granted, many cases are warranted. That is not the basis of my argument here; just simply that children have little or no say in the midst of a crappy situation that they did not inflict or invite upon themselves. Some have said, "You can't build a church with children because they don't tithe." Yet Jesus said, "Let the children come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God"

I would consider myself to be a city missionary, as opposed to an inner-city pastor. I never really fit into the mold of traditional pastor. I have had a bad taste for "Church as usual" for many years and believe that many "churches" are just going through the motions of religion and tradition and maintaining as opposed to going out to where lost people are; in the pubs and cafes, in the schools and local fraternal clubs, in our neighborhoods and athletic leagues, etc.
God has been transforming me by the renewing of my mind. He is teaching me how to think like a missionary because that is what our day and time on this planet calls for.

God bless the vocational and bi-vocational pastors who are tending their sheep. I have been mentored by a few of them who are indeed among the godliest of men I have ever met. I have deep respect and admiration for the men who have sacrificed much to shepherd the flock God has placed under their care. Some shepherds are called to tend to the sheep in the sheepfold, while others are called to go out and search for the lost sheep, who are harassed and helpless, weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd...to lead them to the One True Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. I guess that is what we would call a missionary.

So, here I am in my own divinely assigned portion of the Great Commission, laboring in this field of harvest known as Troy, NY, planting a church among poor and marginalized people. Having never pastored a church, in the traditional sense, and having planted no churches previous to this present great commission endeavor, my family and I stepped out in faith and obeyed, and came to the place God showed us. We are two years into this great adventure called church planting, and I wouldn't trade it for all the riches this world has to offer. I have found myself in the middle of what God, in His sovereignty, created me for and has been preparing me for my whole life.