The year 2000 saw me begin my working life as I finished my music degree in Lancaster and took up a trainee pastoral role in a middle sized small town south Devon church. Two years of fulfilling and exciting ministry followed. Those years were, without a doubt, the time I have been most aware of God using me and at work in me. The church congregation were incredibly supportive of this very young and earnest young man and the pastor was especially generous in giving me opportunities and experience. I also got to learn to windsurf and started running long distance along the gorgeous Devon coast. After only two years, though, the call came to serve at a church in London. It was a real struggle to answer it but day after day there seemed to be countless little signs that God was asking me to move on. I began to feel increasingly discontented until I finally made the decision.
The church in London was much smaller and the ministry much less exciting. There was a wonderful community there though and once again I was incredibly blessed by the way the church family made a space for me and accepted me. But I struggled. It seemed so much harder to make a difference in the inner-city context. Windsurfing was out, and before long I gave up running as the concrete was wearing my knees out. I started to ride a motorbike, which was fun, and met a beautiful Kiwi girl who seemed to have a thing for biker pastors, which was nice . . . ;-) So we got married.
About this time two other things were happening. 1, I was beginning to increasingly appreciate the benefits of study for ministry - up to that point I hadn't really seen the need. 2, I was beginning to feel increasingly passionless about what I was doing - I realised I couldn't continue in ministry much longer unless that passion came back. So my new wife and I decided that our next move would be to NZ, so that she could be near her mum when we started our family and I could go to Bible college to study and hopefully rediscover my passion for ministry. So that is what we did.
After a few twists and turns I ended up studying at Carey Baptist College in Auckland where I have been for nearly four years, mixing part time and full time study with work and raising a family. This year, 2010, I will finish my Masters in Theology (I really will, honest guv!) and will need to once more discern to what and to where God is calling me next. Through all the major turning points of the last decade I have been strongly aware of God's guidance and provision for each step of the journey. Looking back I can see his hand even more clearly than I did then. In the times when I doubt and struggle with my faith that experience of guidance and provision is one of the things that inevitably stops me giving up.
It is worth saying that that guidance has never happened in the timing and way that I would have chosen. But it has always happened. 2010 is another major turning point for me and I have no idea where it will lead. But I am looking forward to finding out.
I know not what the future holds, but I know in whose hands it is held.I'll keep you posted, :-)