My road to ministry was many things, but straight and sure it was not!
My Dad was a pastor, and for many years my family and those in our congregation thought it would be wonderful if I would follow in his footsteps and enter the Ministry. As a child, I entertained the idea that perhaps this was where God was calling me, but as a typical, slightly rebellious teenager, the fact that this was where the adults in my life wanted me to go made me want to do something else. I started university in Computer Science. It was the field many of my friends were interested in, and it was also where the big money was. After my first semester I realized that, although I still enjoyed computers and the challenge of solving complicated problems, I wasn’t cut out to sit at a computer screen all day. I craved more meaningful interaction with people. It was at that time that I began to wonder if perhaps the Ministry was where God was calling me to serve. After some long talks with my girlfriend, and days of struggling with and praying about this, I decided to move in that direction – despite the fact that I knew it would make my family happy!
I decided in my second semester to transfer to Arts Program and start taking classes that would fulfill my prerequisites for Seminary. When I finished my BA I took a year off as my new bride was finishing up her nursing program in Yorkton, Sask. During that year we helped out with the youth and were involved in the life of the church. I enjoyed this time, and it seemed to confirm that the Ministry was the thing for me.
The following fall I enrolled at CLS in Edmonton. While the courses were challenging, and the workload heavy, I enjoyed the classes and the fellowship with the professors and my fellow students. Over time I began to see and hear things that gradually convinced me that God was, indeed, calling me to a life of service to His people. I’ll never forget the first time I preached in my Field Work congregation: I went down to the car extra early that frigid January morning so I would arrive with time to review my sermon notes before the service, only to find the window of my car smashed and several items stolen! After reporting the crime and driving out to Fort Saskatchewan, with no driver’s side window, I arrived just in time to robe up. I walk out of the office and into the pulpit. That day I learned the importance of both planning ahead and rolling with the punches.
On my vicarage year, in the Lower Mainland, I was encouraged by so many people. The congregation was large, and there were many opportunities for God to stretch me personally and spiritually. At the same time words and gesture of encouragement from dear people of God were such a blessing to us. One answer to prayer came in the form of a loving couple in the church. Housing was, as it is now, expensive in the Lower Mainland. The housing allowance didn’t cover the rent for an apartment in the community. We weren’t sure how we would make ends meet, but we knew this was where God was calling us for the next year. Halfway through the year a lovely couple from church had their basement suite open up, and they gave us a tremendous cut in rent. In fact, by the time we finished our year the extra we had paid in rent for the first half of the year was made up for in the rent we saved in the second half. There were so many more blessings that came with living in their basement that were appreciated even more!
This is just one example of how God blessed us so richly through the people of the congregation and taught us another lesson in His faithfulness.
My final year at Seminary quickly passed, and then came placement. I looked forward to learning where I would be serving with excitement and more than some small degree of nervousness. We had such a fantastic experience on Vicarage, how could any congregation be as wonderful?
Once I arrived at my congregation my fears were dispelled, and I fell in love! The people were open, loving, supportive, and forgiving. As I ministered in their midst, they became like an extended family to me and to my family. I served there for just over 11 years before I was called to my present congregation. I have to admit I was again apprehensive because, although I felt this was where God was calling me to serve, how could they measure up to the two experiences I had already had? Again I was surprised by God’s people! My new congregation proved to be just as much a family of brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and grandparents as any group of people could be, united and sharing the love of Christ. I’ve been blessed to be able to serve in their midst for just over 12 years.
After 23 years in the parish I couldn’t see myself doing anything else – I love being able to spend my time sharing God’s Word of comfort with His people. It is a tremendous privilege to work with the family of God full-time; it gives me a real feeling of satisfaction and an assurance that I am just where God wants me. Sure, there are struggles and frustration, but sharing the joys and trials of life creates bonds that will last beyond this lifetime to the time when we will gather around our Father’s throne in heaven.