Sunday September 30, 2012 will mark five years of ministry in Oakwood. It has been five long, rewarding and trying years. If you asked me would I do it again, I would immediately shout, “Yes!” And that is taking into consideration all of the moments of great blessings and moments when I felt as if, “What am I doing?” What began as a journey with a family of five and become more than I could have ever imagined.
This road has taken me in the direction of learning what faithfulness and longsuffering truly mean. I don’t use those words lightly because those are words that are tried by the fires of experience and embedded into my heart like the tattoos on my flesh. I have embraced that faithfulness requires God to break me of dependence on my self-reliant spirit. I have embraced that longsuffering, the ability to hold on, has revealed that God will indeed appear to accomplish great things for the sake of his name.
Faithfulness and longsuffering are two things that I hope you would consider as you start on your God ordained journey or the journey that he currently has you on. Let me tell you. Your first steps will be full of excitement. You will be zealous to change the world. You will be overjoyed by the blessings of all types of resources. You will have that extra energy in your step as you see things that have been clear in your mind become tangible and concrete before everyone.
In five years, God has blessed me to see Oakwood blessed with two churches being planted, two facilities, a playground, a strong staff, encouraging board members and community members increasing their involvement. I have been blessed to see young individuals become husbands and wives; mothers and fathers. I have had the privilege of seeing young men become men, seizing their moments to learn and grow in the Gospel. This underground movement of God in this community, in our city continues to amaze me. He amazes me because he takes very little and does huge things. For all that he does, I am thankful.
But to arrive at those places, it will require you and those around you to be stripped of some things. Like I mentioned earlier, I have had to be stripped of some things to arrive at this place in leading a ministry. God put me on my back through means of poor health and in my bed; I realized I had to give some things away. My name has been maligned as a “cult leader.” How I lead my home has been challenged, my integrity questioned and my motives questioned. I have been disappointed by the hollow words of some local churches and the “fair weather” passions of individuals. I have had to apologize for my arrogance at times and seek forgiveness when I have aggressively gone too far to see things accomplished.
In all of these instances God has used to bear faithfulness and longsuffering in my life. Just when I thought leading Soldiers in combat would be the most trying of times; I have found the sharpening work of God’s Spirit the most challenging and rewarding. I wouldn’t have concern for your soul if I didn’t tell you the very thing God has called you to accomplish will not come without difficulty. It has to come because it will be the hard moments you discover your utter impotence and the omnipotence of God. The man that I was five years ago would not have been able to lead the ministry I have today. The man that I am today is not able to lead the ministry five years from now. God in his power shapes you to become exactly what he wants in order to accomplish specifically what he has ordained.
My encouragement to all that read this post is that you remain faithful to the very thing God has called you to do. Look at the blessings and difficulties as stepping stones on the road of God’s kingdom. Look forward to the pruning by the Master Gardner who will bear more fruits of faithfulness and longsuffering in your life. Travel on that road with the assurance that Christ is leading you to his desired end and that end is far greater than what you imagined when you took that first step.