It's a long goodbye.
Because it's been a few years in process.
Because I'm 1800 miles away.
I was a part of a church in the Central Texas area for 11 1/2 years. While there, I buried my mother, father and 3 grandparents; I saw my two oldest children graduate high school; my oldest met his wife while in high school during those years. I deepened my relationship with my brother, sister and one of my uncles. To speak of my spiritual growth, the breakthroughs, the honor to meet some of the greatest men and women, would take too much time. I made some lifelong friends. I laughed. I cried. I hurt. I bought a home. I matured into fatherhood and leadership.
In the next few weeks, that church will no longer exist as it has for the last 20+ years. The reasons are not relevant to write about.
THANK YOU to Charles & Marquita for taking a risk on this couple from Florida, who arrogantly said that he would not be your next "church plant boy." Your willingness to look past my stupidity and offer me an opportunity to be a part of your team was a life changing moment. I didn't see it then. I couldn't see it. My ignorance blinded me. But day after day, meeting after meeting, my eyes slowly opened. You have loved me, challenged me, corrected me, taught me and more than anything, believed in me, when I gave you many reasons to the contrary. Whatever success I am having in leading the wonderful Gateway family in Connecticut, is directly connected to the training and equipping you gave me. Was it perfect? Ofcourse not. No family is. I hope that our success in Connecticut inspires you to keep investing into the lives of other men, women and local churches. While I have not planted a church, essentially I'm doing what was in the DNA of your church, to expand the culture of the Kingdom and strengthen the local church.
THANK YOU to Lawrence and Danielle Babin. Your love, leadership, support, bravery, courage and endurance inspired me. What you have role modeled to me about covenantal love, endurance, brave communication, joy, passion and friendship is top rate. I've learned to love people better because you have invested into our lives. You have wept with us. You have built with us. You have sacrificed for us. You are some of the clearest examples of Jesus that I have known. I hope we will keep running this race together until we are old men and women, celebrating the accomplishments of our natural children, grandchildren and spiritual children.
THANK YOU to the many pastors that I had the privilege of serving alongside. Your friendship and acceptance of us onto your team, provided a wonderful environment for me to grow and learn.
THANK YOU to Bonnie, Frances, Renee and Heather; the four admins who helped me along. We have had some great times together, creating and building a ministry that served our student culture and helped young men and women discover their identity. Remember the retreats? Remember the boxing ring in the middle of the church? Can you say, Camp Tejas? Remember the t-shirts? Remember all the times I had a last minute idea? Remember prophetic presbyteries? I owe you so much for your friendship and partnership.
THANK YOU to the youth leaders, who sweat and bled with me. We had a great run. I hope you have taken some time to celebrate your investment into the many students, who are now engaged in the Kingdom and serving our King.
THANK YOU to the students, teenage community and the friends at the church. I can't remember all the names, but I am grateful for each of you and how you helped me learn to love, live and lead like Jesus.
THANK YOU to the many support staff, with whom I had the honor of serving.
Mostly, THANK YOU Jesus for being eternally good and expressing that goodness in my life and my family, during those 11 1/2 years. The overwhelming pride I feel for the indescribable moments I had with my mother and father before their deaths, the humbling and awesome pleasure to preach at some of my grandparent's funerals, to seeing my kids graduate, the birth of Luke, etc... is overwhelming. I simply don't know what to say except THANK YOU!
Thank you Church of the Hills!
Believing for a greater future,