Looking at the Next Step

Sunday after the sermon I announced that Sherry and I are returning to Zimbabwe, February, 2023. It marks a big step for us. I have been invited (or invited myself, whichever you prefer) to come and teach New Testament at Central African Christian College. I was there several times last year while in the country and developed some great relationships. So for four months we will find ourselves mostly in Harare, the capital, teaching and sharing with the students. I say mostly because we are planning, praying, and hoping to get down to Chiredzi (over 5 hours away) a number of times to visit friends and churches of Hippo Valley Christian Mission. It was there that we worked last time and would love to follow up on that work. We also are planning on visiting the Fortesques, our church supports them monthly.

This was by no means a quick and hurried decision. This trip has been on our hearts since before we left the last time. However, it is a bigger dream than that. Back in 1989, I resigned my pastorate in Kimberly, ID. to go to Lincoln Christian Seminary. The goal as I left was to become a Bible college professor. When I arrived there, I discovered that most seminary students wanted to be either teachers or counselors. That would mean more wishers than jobs. I was privileged to assist in the undergrad Greek program. I, frankly, didn’t find it as rewarding as I expected. It was mostly the subject. The counseling majors complained regularly about having to take Greek. “We are counselors, we don’t need it.” On top of that, I missed the opportunity to share with a congregation and set my sights once again on preaching and pastoring.

Once I graduated, I came to Shelton. Early that first year, Puget Sound Christian College started a degree completion program and I was invited to teach. I found that rewarding and I learned much from the process. Soon the program closed and I became busy here at Shelton. Still, Haiti offered me opportunity to do some pastor training and Zimbabwe as well.

That I have passed the age of 70, and finding a new opportunity, I return to that dream of so long ago. There are still questions related to this step. Some of them are personal, things that Sherry and I have to figure out for ourselves. Others are professional. Do I retire and ride into the sunset, or just take another sabbatical and plan on returning here? Do we return and find a new church home or new roles at SCC? To be honest, I don’t know the answers to any of those.

The church has some steps as well. After almost 30 years, is it time for a new voice, fresh leadership? Who are we and where do we want to go from here? We have work to do to answer those questions and others. To that end we are assembling a transition team to work on those steps and steps we haven’t discovered yet. With much prayer and guidance from God’s Holy Spirit the path for this journey will become clear. We ask God’s blessing as we ponder what is next.