Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Starting A New Chapter

 In two weeks, I am embarking on a new journey. A new chapter in my life is being turned. As I begin to share with you what I will be doing and the impact that it is going to have on our family, I know that many of you will shake your head and numerous of you will not understand and a handful of you will be tempted and may even say, "that is the craziest thing that I have heard".

Before I share with you the next step, let me assure you that this decision was not made lightly. I am fully aware of the ramification. But, I have also weighed the options, have asked questions, listened to the critics and paid attention to all the voices that have asked, "is this a wise choice". My response to that is that I have prayed and listened to the inner voice, the whisper and I believe the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I fully believe that God has provided this amazing opportunity and has answered my prayer and without a shadow of a doubt; this is the step that I need to take. Now, I will be honest, I am not 100% why this is the place that God has opened and this may not have been the ministry or location that I would have put number one when this journey began almost 7 months ago. But, I do know that God knows a little more than me.

I shared the following quote on my Facebook wall last week and want to share it again. I then want to share with you the prayer that I have prayed multiple times a day for the last six months and then share where I am headed:

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
We are mapping out a course and it is going to take a huge amount of courage to do and we are hoping and praying that our friends and families will surround us with the love and the encouragement that we need to make this transition.

The Prayer
God, I am putting this job search into your hands. I am not going to limit where I send my resume due to location, ministry description or where I am wanting to land. I also am putting this into your hands by asking you to rain down the no's - no matter how many - till the right yes comes. I pray that there is one offer and not multiple; so this is your will and not my will.
There you go, that was the backdrop. Some may say that is a crazy prayer. Some may say that it is just a coincidence that you received all no's and one yes. Or some will point to the "job market" and say that is how it is working now-a-days. But, in my heart, I fully believe that God has answered my prayer. Numerous times though through this journey, I came out of the interview and thought, this is going to be the yes and was very excited because of the position or the location; but the no's kept coming till this yes rang true.

Resumes Facts

400 resumes sent (250 to churches / 150 to businesses)
Applied for children, youth, family, mission, outreach, senior, campus, and church camp positions
Resumes went out to 4 continents
Resumes went out to 37 different states
In person interviews in 10 different states
35 church resumes in Indiana WITH 13 close enough we would not have to move
75 churches did not even respond with a receipt of resume
Received 100 NO's from churches (God did rain them down)

The Yes 

I have accepted a joint ministry position. Lutheran Campus Pastor and Youth and Family Coordinator.

Both the church and the campus ministry is in the same town.

The Church: St. Stephen Lutheran (ELCA)
The University: Southwest Minnesota State University (Lutheran Campus Pastor)

While some of the responsibilities and expectations of this position will be specific to the campus or the church, it truly is a shared position with a solid foundation of partnership between the two ministries.

The church and the university is located in Marshall, Minnesota. Below is a picture of the small town (downtown) and below the photo is a little information on the town.

Marshall is a city in Lyon County, Minnesota in the United States. The population was 13,680 at the 2010 census. Marshall is a regional center in southwest Minnesota, and the county seat of Lyon County. Marshall is the headquarters for Schwan Food Company and home of the mustangs: Southwest Minnesota State University.

Below is an aerial view of the prairies and Southwest Minnesota State University

The campus is laid out beautifully and the buildings are very open and inviting. A little about SMSU:

Southwest Minnesota State University is a public, four-year university that is part of the Minnesota State College and University System. The school has a full-time enrollment of approximately 3,700 students and employs 148 faculty members.It is divided into two major colleges, the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, and the College of Business, Education, and Professional Studies. SMSU is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Southwest Minnesota State University provides undergraduate education in the liberal arts and professional studies for the following areas: Accounting, Agribusiness Management, Anthropology, Art, Biology, Business Administration, Chemistry, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Culinology, Economics, Education, English, Environmental Science, Foreign Languages, Global Studies, History, Hotel and Restaurant Administration, Humanities, Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Justice Administration, Marketing, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Rural and Regional Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Speech Communication, Theatre Arts, Wellness and Human Performance, and Women's Studies. The university also supports a Center for Rural and Regional Studies, and offers masters degrees in Business Management, Education, and Special Education. The most popular majors are Business Administration and Education.
The Transition

It all begins in the middle of September. September 16th is my first Sunday.

What About ....

There are a lot of these that can be listed. What I will put here and you can contact me about the specifics is that for at least the next nine months, Stacey and the kids will remain here. Thus, the kids can finish up their transitional years in school (8th and 4th) and Bee can remain at Riley for her chemotherapy treatment.

I currently do not have a plan of action for me and housing. I am going to play that by ear. Financially, I cannot afford two places.

God's Prompting, Ministry, and Family Interest

In the end, we feel this is where God is prompting us. We are looking at this as a very long term partnership with the church and the university. Thus, a small time apart is small (many families do it). The ministry is a great fit for my gifts, talents and passion. In all honesty, I am not sure that I could write up a better combination and ministry description that is in front of me. From a family interest, this is going to also provide the much needed health insurance (group) that my family so desperately needs. We are working on arrangements where we will get to see each other a few days each month.

Can't Wait

It is going to be tough being "separated" from the family.
It is a little unnerving, not knowing were I will lay my head down when I get there.

But, I cannot wait to begin the journey with the church and the university; it is a golden opportunity and I am blessed that they have asked me to serve in this position. Even though the last seven months have been draining and hearing all the no's was tough; I know that God answered my prayers.

The Church Building

Building on Campus 

Go Mustangs


Crystal said...

Anyone who is a true friend, and truly loves you and the family will continue to love and support you. They don't have to agree, or like it, or even understand, only continue to love, respect and support you all.
This is my promise to you my friend. I promise to continue to pray for you and the family daily. I promise to love you all unconditionally and support you. I promise to listen to you're fears, and concerns, to rejoice in your success and be happy for you.
So to you and the family I say, Good Luck! I know you will rock this new job. You are an amazing person and they are lucky to have you. I know it will be a struggle for you all, but the whole family is strong and amazing and this will only make your family stronger. Much love and luck to you my friend.

Kimmy said...

I am so extremely excited for you and your family!! We have had times in our lives where from the outside, our decision seemed a little crazy, but we followed God and He brought us incredible blessings!! I know He will do the same for you!! God bless you as you transition. We will be praying for you!

Dean Smith said...

If there's anything you need during the transition, please let me know. I am so thankful for this opportunity for you and your family. I think you'll like that area. (I did my internship in Tyler, Minnesota.)

Lots of prayers of thankfulness, for strength, and with enthusiasm for this new chapter.

Blessings, Jeff!

Bryan Jaster said...

Wow Jeff! Sounds like a true adventure, risk and new thing indeed. Very exciting. I hope your journey in the days ahead is filled with hope in the midst of the uncertainties of transition and thanksgiving for this long, meandering process! May you be open to the ways Jesus calls you to follow.

peace, bryan

Kent said...

Jeff, Remember it does not matter what anyone else thinks this is where God has led you, and when God calls we need to follow. Will be praying for you and your new ministry and your family. Remember pack warm it gets pretty cold up there.

Shannon said...

I am so happy for you! Now it's my turn for a "yes", lol!!!!