This morning I drove the winding mountain road to Whiteriver for the last time as the leader of Apache Youth Ministries. I've been down this road so many times without thought, but today was kind of surreal. As snow fell in slow motion, memories of students, friends, and co-laborers flooded my mind. Honestly, not all days in ministry feel important. But today just felt like the sunset at the end of a 17 year day. It's all gone by so fast. I remember the moment that God spoke to me through the eyes of a native child in some dusty Arizona town. In that moment He planted in me a passion that would take Darcy and I and our two boys far away from our family in Northern Indiana to seek, serve, and love the broken. I remember the moment that God envisioned in my mind a passion for a Christian youth center and I remember standing before the Tribal Council 12 years ago with that dream among strangers. So many people along the way have seen that dream, invested in that dream, and prayed for that dream. And that dream continues through the youth that we serve (and have served), our staff that serve (and have served), and all of you who have believed, prayed, and supported the vision that, in fact....through Jesus...Apache youth CAN and WILL rise from the rubble and be empowered to impact this world. 12 years ago I stood with a dream among strangers. Today I stood before the council on behalf of Apache Youth Ministries for the last time and because of Jesus, I stood with the history of God's faithfulness through AYM and alongside of some very special people that I now call family. Unanimously the Council supported the work of AYM. What an encouragement and testimony to God's goodness it was! I think it was put best by the vice-chairman that in 12 years he has "never heard one bad report coming from The Kennel". And if fact, almost all of the Council members had stories of how the youth center has positively impacted their families and the community! Our partnership and service to the White Mountain Apache Tribe is to remain well into the future. To all of you who have been on this journey at any point, thank you....thank you for believing...to God be the Glory. In the end, the blessings that I have personally received from the Apache community(and many of you) are much more than I could have ever hoped to have given.
January 1st I will hand over the organization that I founded. It was never mine to own anyhow, only steward. Seth Harkins is ready, I couldn't have asked for a better young man to continue the legacy. He's surrounded by some amazing people to help carry on the vision. And I am excited to accept a full time pastoral position with theCHURCH (a church that I helped plant in Pinetop, AZ). God is so faithful and I continue to be amazed that I get to be a part of His great work in this world and although the sun sets, with morning comes a new dawn...
Monday, April 7, 2014
Last Thursday night I sat in an auditorium full of 3500 leaders from across the US. We had just gotten back from dinner and were expecting to soon be led in worship by Phil Wickham, who currently sits atop the Christian AC chart with his first #1 single "This Is Amazing Grace". Instead, we got a friend of his reading a letter of regret informing us that he would not be with us. In the letter, he wrote that his "heart was full at the thought of lifting up a song of worship with you all, and having to bow out has been very frustrating to say the least." He explained, "While leading worship last weekend on a tour through New England, my vocal cords hit a wall. I felt a drastic change in my voice, and I knew something wasn't right. It was like a guitar with broken strings. I knew where the notes should be, but they just weren't there. We cancelled the following shows, and I had to wait several days until I could see a doctor and get some answers." Wickham wrote that his reaction to the news was unexpected. "I would have guessed fear, or frustration. Maybe even desperation. But it wasn't those things. I felt lost," he said in the letter. "I realized right then how closely I tied my own worth with my voice. My worth as a provider. My worth as a leader. My worth as a person. Though now it sounds a bit melodramatic, I sat silent alone in my hotel room that night wondering, 'What am I worth without a voice? Who am I without it?'
Wow, Phil Wickham felt lost. The man who wrote and sang the current #1 song on top of the Christian charts...lost and questioning his worth. So today I challenge myself these few questions:
What in my life am I attaching my own self worth to?
What is my worth as a provider?
What is my worth as a leader?
What is my worth as a person?
What am I worth without........?
In the end, and prayerfully in the meantime, it's all His...