Thanks for reading our update… I wrote this on our flight home from Bethel previously.
Usually I start writing an update of our Bethel travels on our flight home as we ascend above the vast tundra.
I’m doing that again this time, but this time my thoughts are more excited than usual in a way.
Here’s what I mean...
There is something about this phase of our lives that is terrifying but also super exciting. We are literally on the precipice of a new ministry endeavor... church planting. So much prayer and discussion went into this and we are now here. While it will be a hard time leaving my role at Soldotna Bible Chapel so swiftly, we trust the wisdom of the leadership and ultimately God in this process. It will indeed be difficult getting accustomed to this transition from so many dear people we love. Yet, we are looking forward in steadfast faith and confidence that God is going before us as He has through the last seven months of seeking His will. What lies ahead for us is the slow and arduous work of beginning efforts for the new church plant. More on this in a minute.
Regarding the Bethel trip we are just completing, God continued showing up in amazing ways during our two-week stent there. I taught the course “Introduction to Biblical Counseling” the first week and then “Pastoral Counseling” the second week. This semester is filled with two tracks of study overlapping each other... one the basic Christian Leadership program track and the second the more advanced Pastoral program track. Thus, my courses covered both tracks, and it was awesome to see the students in each of these endeavors. While the numbers are still small, I am thankful for the seven or so we have. There are four in the basic track (one in particular is a new pastoral candidate) and then three in the more advanced track. All these students are seeking more equipping to take God’s Word back to Bethel and their villages (pastorally and through lay leadership). There is one dear sister in Christ who is committed to finishing both tracks and taking her training back to the women of her village through Bible studies and other smaller groupings of women and youth-related functions.
Additionally, it was truly my privilege to officiate a wedding for friends in Bethel. This couple we’ve known since we lived in Bethel and it’s been cool to stay in contact through our travels each year. Last spring they attended our marriage conference there too and afterward said God led them to get married! The wedding went amazing and they were so appreciative. We were a gussik (outsider) family among a sea of Yupik faces for this celebration and it was truly sweet! My friend even invited me back out this winter to go hunting for some meat (which we need as our supply is getting low). Our God is so good! Never give up on His work in people. What a tremendous privilege it was to watch His grace at work in our friends’ union to each other and their ongoing growth in Jesus!
Oh and that marriage conference outreach we did last spring... we began plans for the next one this winter as well with even more people involved!
Lastly regarding Bethel, we fellowshipped with so many other dear friends during our two weeks there. No matter how discouraging things may look, God has His people in place and He is building His church and it is beautifully sweet!
Well, our plane is now descending over the snow capped mountains into Anchorage (at least when I was writing this). We are stoked to watch our God move in Bethel and we are stoked to watch our God unfolding His plan for us in Soldotna. The months ahead will fill up with transitioning from my current pastoral position, some fundraising, some side jobs for income possibly, more discipleship and involvement at Freedom House, meeting with the forming core of the church plant, traveling back and forth to Anchorage to get to know the Acts247 church there before we officially plant one in Soldotna, some further equipping for Laura and I regarding the plant, and just regular life. There are many dark areas in every community, including the Soldotna region. We are excited to be the hands and feet of Jesus pursuing the unseen of our community and making them seen through Jesus’ love. We pray God will continue spreading His fame through this disciple-making work on the Kenai Peninsula that extends out to the villages as well!
We’re returning to the road system with grateful hearts and praying we ascribe glory to our great God as we follow His leadership!