Just a few weeks ago, we received a phone call that we in no way expected. We were informed of a couple of positions opening and really didn't know exactly what they entailed but they captivated our interest. We were asked if we would be interested in submitting our resumes, etc. We both sensed a definite desire to see if this was a door God was opening for us. This desire has sent the past few weeks of our life in a whirlwind ... a good thing!
Jim did a couple of phone interviews. And from all involved, we felt we should continue to explore the possibilities and see if this was a God-thing. We then scheduled a trip to the Chicago, IL area. Interestingly, the week we were to leave, we had a water problem in our kitchen which flowed into our dining room and living room. In fact, the day we were leaving for Chicago our insurance company sent over a clean up company and I (Cheri) came home to pack the car while half of the kitchen/dining room/living room floor was being pulled up and all the bottom kitchen cabinets being removed and kitchen stuff packed up. Mind you, my (Cheri's) mother was staying with us at this time (visiting from SC) and has dementia. All our plans for her and the weekend had to be changed! It was a crazy afternoon. We got it figured out, got packed in the car and off we went ... much later than planned
What a weekend! We met with people from the church all day on Friday ... ALL DAY! ... the directors of the youth/children's ministry, we had a tour of the facility, we had an interview/meeting with the leadership team (staff), we had a meeting with children's/youth leaders, and we had supper with the senior pastors. It was such an awesome and exhausting day ! We discovered more what they were looking for and felt like God had come down and created this position just for us. Everything we wanted, hoped for, and dreamed for was being laid out before us. I think we wanted to pinch ourselves to see if we woke up!
The position is multi-faceted and we will both be working at the church ... a dream come true! On Saturday, Jim spent the day with the senior pastor. If Jim and I had sat down together and listed what our hearts' desires are we would have had what was offered to us. By the evening on Saturday, we had accepted the position. The plan was then announced to the church that Sunday morning.
Although we leave behind people we hold dear and jobs we have grown in, we know that this is a God-thing ... a door He (and only He) opened ... a position He created for us ... and the position He has been preparing us for. About 9 years ago, as we left youth ministry kicking and screaming, God opened a door for Jim to pursue his Master's and then his Doctorate degrees at Ashland Theological Seminary. If it had been up to us, we would have stayed youth/children's pastor for our entire lives. But God spoke to Jim during his kicking and screaming and told him that if we would submit to what He was doing, we would not just reach 100's or 1000's of young people but He would use us to reach 10,000's and 100,000's. This was bigger than we could ever see happening but we trusted God and submitted to His work to prepare us.
Jim completed his studies and graduated with his doctorate in June 2007. We have been back in Sylvania, Ohio for 4 years doing our best to be faithful with where God placed us and waiting for what God had planned. We really believe this is it!
We accepted the position of Pastor's of Family Ministries at Christian Life Center (CLC) in Tinley Park, IL (suburb of Chicago). The cool thing about this is that it is not a youth or children's pastor position at a church. Right now CLC has 4 locations ... Tinley Park, IL; Shorewood, IL, South Bend, IN and the Philippines. (They are about to open a brand new campus also in the Chicago area.) The vision is to continue to add sites for a total of 12 locations. We will be overseeing the family ministries for all locations ... mentoring and training youth pastors and leaders and children's pastors and leaders and leading all aspects of family ministries. We can see God's word to us about reaching 10,000's and 100,000's of young people being fulfilled as we mentor and train others to reach young people and they, in turn, do the same ... as we pass the passion for young people that God has put in our hearts on to others who will pass it on! We will be working out of the Tinley Park location as that is the "mother" church, for lack of a better word ... and will travel to the other locations. Missions will also be involved in what we do as CLC is heavily involved in missions ... another one of our hearts desires! Additionally, Jim will be able to continue teaching in adjunct roles from time to time in several colleges, universities, and seminaries (of course, modestly!)
We will begin our relocation the middle of August. We are so excited about what God in doing in our lives and yet very humbled at the trust He is putting in us.
I (Cheri) will be leaving my position as Office/Billing Supervisor for Fallen Timbers Family Physicians. It has been a great 4 years and I have grown in many ways and know that this was part of my preparation for our next adventure. Jim will be leaving his position as Administrator of Fountain City Christian School (FCCS), where he has put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears and prayers; and as pastor of New Life Assembly of God in Napoleon. Both places will be held dear in our hearts. Jim will stay a part of Fountain City Christian School as a board member.
Keep us in your prayers. We need to sell our home (after the kitchen is completed ... a whole brand new kitchen and new flooring for the kitchen, dining room and living room) ... find a home and orientate ourselves to the Chicago area and our new church and responsibilities. We also will be leaving Crystal and her family here in Maumee. Crystal will stay on as a high school teacher and missions director for FCCS ... she is a phenomenal teacher! We will be leaving Jamie and his family in Bryan. Jamie is doing an awesome job with worship at New Life in Bryan and we are very proud of him. We have another dream in our heart about all that ... we'll just have to wait and see what God says about it! We know this transition will be hard in some respects but we also know that God is working all things together for the best of everyone involved. We will be blessed to be close to Amber and her family ... actually staying with them for the transition period ... and working along side them as they are a part of the same ministry.
Our emails will stay the same and our cell phones for now. If you are coming to the Chicago area or passing thru we would love to see you and have you visit our new church home ... get a bite to eat and fellowship! Please stay in touch ... and remember God is always faithful and He gives us the desires of our hearts we just have to stay faithful and obedient and patient!
Imagine! Dream! Believe!
I love what our new senior pastor, Pastor Jerry, says ... "It'll be fun!"
And we plan to enjoy the ride!
Jim & Cheri Garrett