Farewell Dear Friends
I was moved by pastor David’s article last week and at the same time, encouraged. There were a few things that stood out and I want to share them with you, as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
First, I was reminded how fast time has flown by. It didn’t seem too long ago when we were all at the Rodriguez’s home hosting the teenagers from France along with the youth from our church. At the same time, I noticed how David, Michael and I have grown so much. We’ve grown in our love for and desire to serve God, we’ve grown in our love for each other, and together I feel we have grown spiritually. We all have truly learned to love all of you and enjoy our time with you. Often times, we take things like this for granted or we get caught up in the busy(ness) of ministry that they get overshadowed by the difficulties that we have to endure. I encourage you to do the same and choose joy during difficult times and always look for ways to encourage one another.
Shepherding, like Christian living is difficult and there will be trials, but unless we take them on as a challenge instead of a burden, we easily get weighed down and sometimes can get negative attitudes. While considering these trials as joy (as James points out) is not my first reaction, I have been able to get there by going through them together with Michael and David. They have been able to help me maintain the proper perspective, and often times we even find ourselves chuckling as we work through these difficult situations.
David, Michael, and I have completely different backgrounds and leadership styles, but we work well together because none of us try to force our priorities or agendas on each other. It works because as we all yield to the Holy Spirit, we become more like-minded, and He helps us determine the course or direction to take. It also works because we have a flock that is also like-minded and focused on pleasing God and seeking to do His will. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate and talk about that fact.
As I saw the moving trailer with all the Rodriguez’s belongings get packed and finally sealed and locked up, the reality of them leaving finally struck me. I’ve spent the last day thinking about how things will be different and also how much I will miss Michael as an elder here. A third of the three amigos will be gone and I definitely will miss Michael’s one liners, his chuckles and most of all his friendship. I’m getting teary-eyed even as I write this. David and I talked about how much we will miss Michael.
At the same time, I am excited to see how God will use them in their new setting and home. I wonder how many more lives they will touch as they did with ours here. While I don’t want to see them go, it would be selfish to want them to stay here, especially knowing that God causes all things for good to those who love Him, and I want nothing but the best for Michael and his family.
Michael, Leslie and Paige will always be a part of Westhill Church and more importantly part of the body of Christ. While it will be difficult for David and I to continue leading Westhill Church without Michael, neither of us are anxious about it. We both realize that this is God’s church and He will sustain it as He always has, regardless of who or how many are leading. Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s will and plan for our church family. We will continue to pray for all of you as well and trust that God will raise up other leaders to join and eventually replace us. Don’t worry, neither of us have plans to go anywhere soon, but we also know that God doesn’t “need” us and we don’t know what He has in store for us. David and I will continue to seek out additional elder(s) and ask for your prayers in that endeavor as well. As pastor David mentioned before, if there is anyone that you feel is qualified or has great potential to become an elder, please send us a message informing us along with the reasons for your recommendations.
In closing, I just want to share one of the many memories that I will cherish about the Rodriguez family. Many of you may not know this, but Michael and Leslie use to host a traditional Seder meal in their home and invite upwards of 30 people. Rona and I were privileged to have been invited one year. Through that one event, I have learned so much more about the Jewish culture and the significance of that meal and how it ties to what Christ accomplished on the cross for us. I also quickly learned how much Michael and Leslie loved people and how they were so gracious to others. It was very hard work to host these, but it was indeed a labor of love, both for God and others. May God continue to bless you tremendously as you are drawn closer to Him and as He takes you through the next chapter of your lives!