‘Winds Of Change’
Get in the Boat
I have been in ‘full time’ ministry for the past nine years. Over the course of that time I have tried to encourage God’s people to ‘go all in’ for Jesus; to be willing to risk it all for His glory.
That’s why it caught me a bit off guard when I felt the Lord speaking this phrase to my heart; “Get in the Boat”.
Back in November (2010) God put on our hearts the analogy of a sail boat, when it came to the ministry of Mercy House. April Schrader, the ministry shepherd there, had often shared a picture the Lord gave her of being ‘in the boat’ with the women that came to the home. God had made it clear to her that her primary role in these women’s lives was to ‘be the peace in their storm.’ When people are in the midst of a storm it’s easy to get caught up in it with them. What God was asking April to do was to encourage the ladies to recognize that God was in control of the storm and that He loved and cared for them. She has spent the last two years encouraging these women’s hearts with the truth that they can be confident in God’s power and love. After much prayer, on the evening of May 22nd, I ‘got in the boat’. I moved into Mercy House to help April ‘be the peace’ in the home.
The next morning we opened a letter which told us the lease we had for Mercy House would not be renewed and we needed to vacate the property by August 31st. The storm seemed fierce. That evening we met as a staff team to pray. We had faced storms surrounding this ministry before and had seen God work miracles in calming them and bringing us to the other side. As we prayed it began to rain and later that evening God put a double rainbow in the sky. We knew God had been and would continue to be faithful.
For the next two weeks we wept and cried out to God for help. We felt like the disciples in the boat wondering if the ship would be overtaken by the storm and wondering where Jesus was. We were on our faces before the Lord asking Him to search our hearts and see if there was any hurtful way in us. We continued to call out to Jesus hoping that He would ‘wake up, rebuke the storm and bring calm’.
Walking On Water
The landlords of the home extended the lease until November 30th so Patti, Kelsey and I could leave for the summer with less anxiety. We began our summer ministry heading to Massachusetts for a surprise birthday party for Kelsey’s father.
We were blessed to attend Good News Bible Chapel that Sunday and during their communion service the youth pastor got up and shared. God spoke right through him to bring assurance to my heart and mind. He shared that often when the storms of life hit, we cry out to God to rebuke the storm and bring the calm but sometimes there is something more He wants us to experience through the storm. He had us turn to the story of Jesus telling Peter to ‘Come’ out on the waves in the midst of the storm. I knew that was what God was calling us to as well. God was the one who planned this storm and He was the one calling us to believe Him for something miraculous.
At the time, I believed the miracle we were to believe God for was the ministry of Mercy House continuing. On July 18th God made it clear that on November 30th He would be closing the doors at Mercy House. We had done all we were called to do and needed to trust that this was God’s answer. After eight weeks in a storm of uncertainty God had brought calm to all the questions regarding the future of Mercy House. The picture God gave us was a sail boat in the middle of a calm, quiet, still sea, with land ahead but no wind.
Prepare to ‘Catch The Wind’
Over the next month, we traveled to four more camps and did our best to ‘be present’ where we were, trying not to focus on the questions in our heart regarding the future. While at the last camp in Thunder Bay, Ontario we were blessed by the similar heart for discipleship that the directors there have.
We had talked with them in years past about the vision God gave us six years ago to begin a year long discipleship program in Bradford. God used the example of carrots, oddly enough, to stir up our hearts. Bradford produces 80% of Canada’s carrots; they ‘grow them up and send them out’. This was the heart God gave us, with the same idea being applied to training up leaders with shepherd hearts.
During our week in Thunder Bay, God began to speak clearly that the next step when we got home would be to begin the discipleship program. We had time together with the directors to pray and ask the Lord to continue to give clarity to the vision and to provide the perfect location.
We arrived home late Friday evening and attended a Hillsong United concert in Toronto and the Spirit of God lit us up and confirmed to each of our hearts individually that He had big plans in store. The next morning we all attended the same local church in Barrie to support a friend. During the service the guest speaker taught on the importance of prayer and used a quote by John Ortberg that was all about the analogy of a sail boat. The last line spoke straight to our hearts,
“…Our task is to do whatever enables us to catch the wind.”
That evening Patti, Kelsey, Jodi, Josh and April all felt called to begin the CrossWalk discipleship program together. We discussed some of the necessary features the right property would need and prayed. We didn’t know where the location would be but we knew we needed to hoist the sails to be prepared when God sent the Wind.
Two years ago, after we shared our hearts and cast the vision to a friend of ours, she committed to helping us with $200,000. For two years we have been waiting on the Lord and seeking His direction. We have pursued a few different options and although God did not connect us with the right location He definitely connected us with the right hearts. Josh and April sold their home and moved into Mercy House two years ago to provide leadership there and at the Hub youth centre. God has unified our hearts and grown in us a passion for discipleship.
Currently we are working with a Christian realtor in town and asking our supporters to pray that God will direct us to the location He already has chosen.
The theme at two of the camps this summer was ‘Shipwrecked’. During the first week of camp God had me give a concluding message on the Saturday using a prop that had been on the stage the entire week, it was a captain’s wheel. As the words came out of my mouth the message went deeper in my heart. I asked the campers whose wheel it was and emphasized that if it was the captain’s wheel; the captain was the one that should be steering the ship. As I stepped off the stage and went to hand the prop back to the owner she looked at me and said, “I think I’m supposed to give that to you. I want you to keep it.” For the rest of our drive across country that captain’s wheel sat in the back window of the van reminding me to let God have control.
If I was in control, Mercy House would never close, but I’m not. We can see how through God closing this door that He has stirred our hearts to walk with Him through the next. We know God is calling us to begin CrossWalk, what we do not know is where or when. We have looked at potential properties that have seemed perfect over the years and God has thought otherwise. We are not in control and are confident in God’s promise to get us to the other side, wherever and whenever that is.
Trimming The Sails
We are trying to resist ‘pulling out the paddles’ in an effort to control our future. We feel like a team of first time sailors, completely dependant on our captain’s every word of instruction. I met with a friend at the beginning of September who is a long time supporter and mighty man of prayer. He said two things that stood out to me; “You must pray!” and “You need to Trim the Sails”.
At the time we had our hearts and ‘sails’ set on one specific property and were focusing our prayers toward it. He encouraged me not to become so focused on one direction that we miss the wind if it comes from a different direction.
I looked up the definition of Sail Trimming and this is what I read;
‘Trimming sails is a large topic. Simply put, however, a sail should be pulled in until it fills with wind, but no further than the point where the front edge of the sail (the luff) is exactly in line with the wind. Let it out until it starts to flap, and then pull it in until it stops.’
Within a few weeks, based on the appearance of the property we were aiming for, the vision was enlarged. We began to prepare for something so much more than what God had originally put on our hearts. We needed to ‘trim our sails’ they had begun to flap a bit and it was time to pull them in and get back to the original vision.
Balancing The Boat
There are several of you who are in the boat together with us through your prayers and support. It is so important, especially in a small boat that you not only Trim the sails but also the balance of the boat. A good captain will;
‘adjust the moveable ballast (the crew) forwards or backwards to achieve an ‘even keel’. On an upwind course in a small boat, the crew typically sit forward to reduce drag. When ‘running’, it is more efficient for the crew to sit to the rear of the boat. The position of the crew matters less as the size (and weight) of the boat increases.’
We are a small boat and are asking that you as our crew would get low and position yourselves, together with us, at the foot of the ‘mast’ (conveniently shaped like a cross). This is the best place to be when we do not know from where or when God is going to send the wind. When God sends the wind we will let you know. These are some sweet verses God has spoken to our hearts through;
“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29,30