Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The End of One Season, and the Beginning of Another

As many of you know by now, today is my last day of service at Living Waters.

Conspiracy theorists, gossips, and twisted atheist bunker minions will try to make my departure from Living Waters something it is not. So, I write this blog post to set the record straight, in order to leave no doubt as to why I was laid-off and as to the state of my continued relationship with the Living Waters family.

The decision to end my time of service with Living Waters was strictly a financial one. The world-wide financial down-turn has greatly impacted churches and ministries around the world. God, by His grace and mercy, has sustained and continues to sustain Living Waters. But Living Waters has felt the growing financial pressure of a failing economy.

I am confident beyond words that my release from Living Waters was a "last resort" decision based entirely upon the financial health of the ministry.

I have and will continue to have the utmost love and respect for Ray, E.Z., and the rest of the Living Waters family. As I state in the below letter, they are my family. I love them all very much; and I know they love me.

Nothing I do in the future, regarding my evangelistic ministry, will ever be fueled with so much as a drop of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward Living Waters. Nor will it be fueled by any sense of competition with my Living Waters family. It stands to reason that whatever I do next will resemble what I have done with Living Waters the last several years; but only because I'm an evangelist--again, not because of any desire to compete with Living Waters.

I love Living Waters and everyone who serves with the ministry--a ministry that has greatly blessed me and my family, and has better equipped me to serve as one of Christ's gospel heralds.

What follows is an email I sent to the Living Waters staff the day after I learned I was to be laid-off. Once you have read the letter, I will share a few thoughts about the future. Here's the letter.
To My Living Waters Family:

In 2007, never in a million years did I think I would one-day be part of the Living Waters Family. I was one of those evangelists that dreamed of what it would be like to serve alongside Ray, E.Z., Mark, Scotty, and the entire staff at Living Waters.

I remember as if it were yesterday coming to Living Waters in 2005 to meet Ray. It was arranged by Lynn Copeland, who had just published my book, “Take Up The Shield.” What would later be my first office was, at the time, the renowned “Ping-Pong Room.” Ray and Scotty schooled me that day. It was one of the VERY few times in my life I didn’t mind losing. I was hanging-out with two of my evangelism heroes.

And then I got the call from E.Z., in November 2007, asking me to join the team to design and lead the Ambassadors’ Alliance. We all like to think we pray long and hard about big decisions; and sometimes we do. But, truth be known, it took very little time for me to accept and answer the call to come serve, with all of you, at Living Waters.

I have been so very blessed to work with each of you, to one extent or another, over the last 4 ½ years. It has been a joy. An honor. A privilege. A very rare gift. Thank you.

This would be a very long email (not that I’m opposed to such things  ) if I were to thank each of you individually. And, with all honesty, I cannot convey at this time how much I love and appreciate each of you. Each of you are family to me.

As to what’s next, well, I haven’t a clue. I know what I would like to do (full-time missions on the street), but I need to determine, to the extent I am able, what our Great God and King would have me do. I will keep you posted.

I do hope we will all stay in touch . . . You can also join me on this new chapter in my life by following me at my blog: www.crossencounters.us.

What is happening at Living Waters is no one’s fault; because what is happening is according to the sovereign plan of God—the God who never fails, never errs, never lies. The fact that all of us, at this moment, are enduring sacrifice and maybe some hardship in no way implicates God in turning His back on any of us, or on this wonderful ministry. While He is not working as maybe we’ve each planned, He most certainly is at work; bringing Himself glory through each of our lives and through this ministry.

Let us all remember that the work of God is far more important than any single worker or group of workers. The Lord of the Harvest and His work is infinitely more important than those of us in the field. I say this to remind us all that what the Lord has done for decades, what He is doing now, and what He will continue to do through Living Waters, is more important than any of us as individuals.

While I most certainly do not want to leave, I consider it a worthy sacrifice if my departure means Living Waters will be around longer and grow healthier as a result of my absence. The work of Living Waters is more important than I am. It must continue for the glory of God, the edification of His Church, and the salvation of the lost.

My last day is next Wednesday [today]. I will be out of the office tomorrow, as Mahria and I travel to San Jose for the NorCal Fire conference. I will be back in the office Monday. I will shepherd “On the Box” Monday through Wednesday. And then I leave for London, on Thursday [tomorrow].

I will miss each of you very much. I will never forget the many, many fond memories, laughs, and tears I’ve shared with you.

I won’t bother to ask for prayer, because I know you will be praying for me and my family.

The Lord’s very best for you all, my dear friends.
As I state in the letter, my immediate future consists of two weeks of open-air preaching, on the streets of London (UK). I cannot wait to go where I have never been to proclaim a gospel some have never heard. And I cannot wait to enjoy the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement I will undoubtedly receive from my teammates.

Come Monday, August 13, however, I do not yet know what the Lord has planned for me. My hope, my fondest wish, is that the Lord will allow me to preach His gospel on the streets of cities around the country and around the world until He determines to take me home. If not that, then I would ask Him to allow me to step back into a pulpit and to pastor one of His flocks--a church.

If I've learned anything during my 24 years of Christian life, it is this. I've learned never to say, "God wouldn't do that." I've also learned to never question God, as if to see Him as One who has made a mistake. He is perfectly omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is complete sovereign over everything, including my life and the life of my family.

He knew, from eternity past, this day would come. He is never taken by surprise. And He knows perfectly exactly what He is doing. Therefore, I can trust Him--really trust Him. And I do trust Him.

While my family and I have experienced significant seasons of change (law enforcement to church planter; church planter to missionary; missionary to Living Waters; Living Waters to ???), such seasons can be filled with uncertainty. And, from experience, one of the great traps during times of change is convincing one's self that what they want to do is also what the Lord wants them to do. I do not want to make that mistake. So, I am surrounding myself with men I trust who will give me godly counsel; and I am seeking the prayers of others--friends like you.

On my new blog, "Cross Encounters," you will find, at the top of the page, a link for "Speaking Requests." Here you will find my bio, videos, and few pictures; along with a "speaking request" form. As the Lord reveals how He would like me to serve Him next, I am looking forward to more opportunities to preach in pulpits, speak at conferences, and encourage and hit the streets with my faithful street evangelism brethren, through trips to their area.

Stay tuned. I will keep you posted as the Lord determines my steps.