At my induction service to the office of pastoral-elder at Cromhall Chapel on March 21, 2015, there was a special place in the service where the chapel shared why they believed God had called us and visa versa. Rebekah shared the following from our perspective and I share it because many have asked and also so folks will know why we came and be inspired by God’s hand at work within our calling:
It is amazing to recount the Lord’s faithfulness as we reflect back upon the last 11 months as we have transitioned from serving the Lord in Canada to now serving Him in the UK.
In late April to early June 2014 we began to step down from our responsibilities in Canada. Chris from serving 3.5 years at the Norwich Baptist Church and 6.5 years as the regimental chaplain of a Canadian army reserve regiment; and myself as curator of our district museum. After a family vacation we packed our life into 6 suitcases and flew from Toronto to Manchester on August 1.
We were graciously welcomed by our brothers and sisters in Christ at Kensington Baptist Church who helped us find our feet in the UK in countless ways. I was able to find work straight away and Chris began studying for his doctorate, however, one critical link was missing. Chris needed to find work for his call to study to be sustainable, especially after our house in Canada had still not (and still has not) sold. More than this, though, Chris desired to pastor while he studied so the two would inform one another, and he would fulfil the age old, two fold church office calling the Lord had placed on his heart to serve as a pastor-scholar.
In the autumn, being out of active ministry for several months, Chris’ passion to serve began to well up inside him in agonizing pain. To quote the prophet Jeremiah:
There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (Jer 20:9)
The day after this burning had reached its climax in Chris’ heart, quite out of the blue, but providentially, Chris was approached by Cromhall Chapel who was without a pastor. In preparing to come to the UK Chris had been accepted within the FIEC Pastor’s Network. As part of this his name had been put into a pastoral introductions profile for churches looking for pastors, however, we had been under the impression (via email confirmation) that this profile had ended several months before. Apparently God had other plans.
Chris and I both grew up in rural Ontario on the farm, we have always served in this context, and have a burden to serve, lead and equip the rural church, which is often abandoned/ forgotten. Here in Cromhall the Lord led us to a place where we could exercise our gifts, and join the Lord in what He is doing with a small, but incredible group of people. Together we discerned that Chris was the man to come alongside this flock in a time such as this. We look forward to relocating to the village this spring so that we can truly and incarnationally heed Peter’s words, to shepherd the flock that is amongst you (1 Pet 5:2). More than anything else we covet your prayers for the Chapel and village, that the Lord would add to and mightily bless our Gospel work through the outpouring of His Spirit in this place.