Our Journey Starting a New Ministry During a Pandemic
From Crisis to Clarity
We have been dealing with a major world-wide crisis for over a year. 2020 was a year we would like to forget. We faced a pandemic that lasted much longer than 15 days to flatten the curve. We had to adjust to a new reality. We have seen unrest in our country over the racism issue. We had a very contentious election. The word ‘crisis’ rightly describes the year 2020.
All of us in ministry have had our share of crisis not only in the year 2020, but every year we can point to our own crisis experiences. We constantly see people in and around our ministry who are in crisis. We who are called to lead, love and care for others feel for those going through their own crisis.
Consider the diversity of definitions regarding this word crisis according to Merriam-Webster:
1a: the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever.
b: a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function.
c: an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life.
2: the decisive moment (as in a literary plot).
3a: an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending.
b: a situation that has reached a critical phase.
In the year 2018, my wife and I faced a year-long crisis in our own life. I had planted a church and joyfully served in the position of pastor for twenty-eight years. I loved the church and had seen it come to life, grow, build, expand and deal with all sorts of challenges over the years. We had our ups and downs. We certainly had to deal with a number of crisis situations over the years.
Early on in 2018, I sensed a restlessness within me. I had a feeling that something was not right both from within and without. I prayed, “Lord, if You have something else for me, I am ready.” “Lord, I am ready for a new challenge if that is what You want in my life.” I caution anyone who would pray this kind of prayer. God may answer in a way you would never expect.
In the Summer, I faced a circumstance that brought us to a place of crisis where I had to respond one way or another that would greatly impact me and our church family. I decided to take a Sabbatical and get away for a while. I had been in ministry for 36 years and had never taken any extended time away.
The Retreat Center we attended was called Alongside. I remember checking in on the first day thinking, “I wish we did not have to be here.” It was 19 days later when we checked out and I thought, “I wish we did not have to leave.” This was such a wonderful and safe place for us. This was exactly what we needed for what we were facing at that time. We needed an escape from the normal in order to find greater clarity for what was ahead. We needed a place where we could encounter truth with great love and support. We needed a place to get away for a time.
It was during the third week of our time at Alongside that I sensed God leading us to begin a ministry for pastors, missionaries and church leaders. Where does a leader go in their time of crisis when they need to get away? In our time of crisis, I did not know where to go. I have since discovered a number of wonderful ministries for pastors and leaders in our country.
We believed God called us to join this effort to reach out to those who need this ministry. We made the most difficult decision to leave our beloved church family and head to the State of Arkansas. The Lord opened the door for us to pastor a wonderful congregation in El Dorado. This loving church body has blessed us in our effort to begin Still Waters Renewal Ministry.
This ministry officially began in the Fall of 2020. We had some wonderful retreats at Moro Bay State Park. This is a beautiful park in Southern Arkansas. We have five really nice two-bedroom cabins with a fully furnished kitchen. It is a beautiful place to get away and find a very quiet and peaceful environment. In September of this year, we are also offering a retreat in Branson, Missouri.
If you need to get away and find a place for rest, renewal, fun and healing, we offer six days and five nights at no cost to you. Can you believe it? It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. However, our spaces are limited. We are a non-denominational ministry. You can sign up for one of our retreats by clicking here.