I started serving in the church as a new Christian in my late teens and through that experience I began to sense a nudging from God to attend Bible College. After a year and half of wrestling with God, I launched out on a journey that would see Him confirm His calling in my life; a calling to pastoral ministry. Over the years it is this calling that has sustained me, when I might otherwise have bailed out. As Draper observes: The sacrificial life of ministry is simply too demanding and too stressful to endure with the certainty of a calling directly from the Lord. You simply cannot maintain your commitment to serve without this assurance.
I have known God's blessing, I have experienced His grace and been strengthened by His Spirit all along my journey. He has gifted me to serve and has given more of His grace when my gifting and abilities and my own strength has not been enough. 'God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called.' In this I often go back to a verse of Scripture that has been a foundation for my life and ministry: I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) That others would say they have been blessed by my ministry is simply a testimony to the grace of God and His faithfulness to those He calls.
I have not made this journey alone; Janice has been by my side now for almost 38 years; we began ministry together -- no one celebrated my graduation from Bible College more than she did (maybe because I would now be able to get a job!) -- and she continues to be my ministry partner; a source of encouragement and blessing. God knew that I could not do this without her.
And He has allowed me to serve and to lead in His church -- a privilege and responsibility I take very seriously. I still believe to the core of my being that the church is the hope of the world and the only hope for the church is to remain faithful to His Word and for her people to be life-long worshippers of God. This is my deep desire for Valley; which is why I continue to call you to stay faithful, to give and serve -- don't quit, don't bail out, don't give up, until you are finished -- until we cross the finish line and enter into the presence of our Lord and hear Him say, 'well done, good and faithful servant'.