Rachael and I are blessed to have two families that we love dearly and equally: our Whitton Avenue Bible Church family here in Phoenix and our blood family in Virginia and Georgia. I want to share some news about our blood family that will have an impact on our church family.
Last September my mother, who is 65, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As many of you know, the short-term memory is the first to go, and we have talked openly with Mama about how this is affecting her daily life. It has reached a point where she feels she only has a few years left before her short-term memory is gone.
This has raised a serious question for Rachael and me. Does God want us to be part of my mother’s immediate care network? What made this question so difficult was our deep love for you. I know of no more loving church family than Whitton Avenue Bible Church, and there is nothing about this congregation that would make me want to leave.
With this dilemma in front of us, we took it to our Father in prayer and asked that if he wanted us to be present for this season in Mama’s life that he would open a door for us to move either to the Atlanta area where my parents currently live or to the D.C. area where my brother and sister live (and where my parents could move). When we put out feelers, we came into contact with a church in the D.C. area that seemed like it could be a good fit. Throughout the time we communicated with them, our simple prayer was that God would do what is best for Whitton Avenue, best for their church, and best for our family.
On Thursday, June 9th, just four days after I left for vacation, I received the phone call that the church had decided on their final candidate, and they want me to come candidate to be their next pastor. So next week I will fly there, join Rachael and the children, and see if this is indeed how God is leading. If it is, we will move there in mid to late-August so that our children can be settled in time for school.
I have dreaded this moment of telling you, my beloved brothers and sisters, about this news. We have shared so many spiritually and emotionally profound moments–fighting for marriages, burying loved ones, confessing sin, casting vision, baptizing new believers, dedicating babies, sending out missionaries, looking to Christ. This is the real stuff of life with God in this world, and we have shared it together. There is a part of our hearts that will always be here with you.
As we enter into this season of transition at Whitton Avenue Bible Church, I believe God has great things prepared for this church family. You have humble, godly elders in Matt Larson and Stevo Vuletic. You have wise, seasoned support in those who have served as elders in the recent past–Steve Kinkel, Mike Rehm, and Peter Kinkel. You have godly deacons who meet every other week to strategize how to serve you best. You have a prayer team praying for you on Wednesday nights–Gabe, Zander, Philip, and others. This is a church full of godly, mature brothers and sisters, and though this season will be tearful and demanding, I believe this can launch Whitton Avenue into her best years yet.
On Thursday night the elders and former elders met to discuss what lies ahead, and as we spent time in prayer, God brought Isaiah 6 to my mind. It was during a season of transition for Judah–“in the year that King Uzziah died”–that Isaiah saw the Lord God in his full glory. And in the presence of God, Isaiah confessed his sins, experienced the cleansing of God’s sacrificial provision, and heard God’s call to mission. This is my prayer for our church family. Would this season of transition be a time when you see the Lord sitting on his throne, high and lifted up, and with that unwavering vision of God, may he bring Whitton Avenue Bible Church into a season of revival as we confess our sin, experience Christ’s forgiveness, and heed his call to go and make disciples of all nations.
I love you all,