If you had asked me a year ago where I’d be I wouldn’t have seen this coming: a major move and career shift.
It all started …
Well, when Brian and I said yes to Jesus years ago, to do whatever He said, no matter what. And we meant it.
It also started in Brian’s heart years ago when he learned about planting churches during his master’s study back at Wheaton. And then as we drove cross-country, wondering where they needed Covenant Churches.
Then about a year ago, I started feeling this sense that we were about to move and I was being called to something else.
A year ago, I was working as a part-time adult ministries staff at our church. We had gone through 3 staff departures (and would have one more to come). I was able to fill in here and there, having more opportunities to lead, make decisions, meet weekly with our lead pastor and be a part of our church. I had a sense that all of these things would not just be preparing me for Lakeview ministry, but something else. Eventually I had a sense that we would be moving from Duluth, but didn’t share that with many.
This will be one of many blogs (where have you been blog? I’ve missed you!) to come. But here is the quick story about just what in the world the Askers are up to now.
In April last year, Brian and I went to our conference annual gathering. I received my ministry license and Brian renewed his. We were meeting the Church Planting coach, Mike Brown, since he was going to come preach at Lakeview in a month. I wanted to touch base about his visit. Brian had other ideas.
“Hi, I’m wondering if you ever look for people to coach your church planters?” These are not far from Brian’s first words to Mike. I laughed. Mike said something like “And who are you?”
It got better and eventually Mike said, “I have a guy for you to meet. His name is Brad and he lives in Mankato.”
Well as we walked to find Brad, I said to Brian “We are NOT moving to Mankato.”
Oh when we say these things, does Jesus just laugh? Shake His head? Does He say, “oh you think so my dear? Just you wait…”
Well, I don’t know if the sky fell when I said it, but looking back, I do know that when I said it, something shifted in the world and as we have been swept up in this adventure called church planting.
Mike and his lovely wife Julie had lunch with us after preaching on Mother’s Day. They told us their stories of planting churches with kids, with a foster child, in South Dakota and how their family thrived. They told us what church planting coaches look for “We want people with a passion for evangelism, people who can gather a group of people and be good in front of a crowd.”
I looked at Brian and I said, “well, I think that’s me.” We drove home that day (no kids: thanks Finstroms!) and I said to Brian “we are supposed to do this.”
Brad, bless him, was about to go on Sabbatical, but he spent time on the phone with us, drove hours up North (he was in shorts, we were in fleece), ate bad bar food and told us his dreams for 2 hours.
We took the kids to Mankato for a weekend in early June. They hated the idea of moving (of course! we love Duluth! we love our friends!), but by the end of the weekend, we started to think maybe we were supposed to do this.
The green space, the paved trail system, the Y (Thank You Jesus there is a good Y there! No Y might have been a deal breaker!), the campus (MSU-M is the second largest university in the state), the people and finally, Crossview Covenant.
Crossview is 129 years old (our denomination is only 6 years older!). They have an extensive ministry in the city, but have a church in North Mankato. They have a dream to reach the rest of the city with new church plants. God uses new church plants more than any other way in the USA to reach those who don’t know Jesus. We get to start a movement, we pray, to reach not only Mankato, but the nearby rural areas, country folks and other cities surrounding Mankato.
It looks like my hometown of Dawson, MN. I grew up around the rivers, silos and corn fields. The snowy drifts, the blizzards, the hotter summers and the rolling hills look familiar!
So as we went through assessment (that’s another story for another day), Church Planting Class and our interview, we had to keep the news to ourselves. Our mentors and some friends knew of course, but mostly we kept it to ourselves. That was the hardest part! I love to tell people good news and it just about killed me to keep this secret.
We were able to figure out a timeline, tell our church family and Crossview had time to do the same.
So here’s the deal folks: we move Feb 14. There are so much good good stories about how God is providing for our needs (like having our friends buy our house, medical bills and 2.5 year insurance headaches coming to a close 12/31/18 so we could sell our home) but for now, I am home looking at piles of boxes.
We are so sad to leave Duluth! The kids are going through varying degrees of grief. But we are trusting that there is something else waiting for us which has been prepared for us.
So ready or not Mankato, here we come!