November 1, 2019
Hi friends. As I mentioned in my previous blog post I have the incredible opportunity to go to the Netherlands on a missions trip for about 10 days next March. I’ll be travelling with a radical group of revivalists, with the goal of expanding the Kingdom of God everywhere we go. We’ll be supporting churches, praying over and through businesses, and helping local leaders that are trying to cultivate a Kingdom Culture similar to Bethel’s in their own spheres of influence. Past groups have had opportunities to teach (true) religion in schools, talk and pray with political leaders, and connect with high-profile cultural icons (e.g., musicians), and we’ll likely have openings to do some or all of these during our trip.
And through it all, we’ll be aiming to bring the love of Jesus to every single person we come in contact with.
Maybe you yearn for a missions trip but present circumstances don’t allow it. Maybe you have a heart for Netherlands. Maybe you have a heart to see the light of Jesus infiltrate the darkness of an atheistic country. Or maybe you simply feel to invest in me as I invest my energy and resources into this year and into this trip to the Netherlands.
Regardless, if any of this sparks some measure of excitement inside you, I’d love to invite you to partner with me in this trip.
First of all, in prayer, both for Netherlands and for me and the team as we go, that our trip would be incredibly impactful, and that the ripples from it would continue long after we’ve come back to North America.
Secondly, yes, finances would rock too.
I know everyone's circumstances are unique, and this is not intended to be a guilt trip of any sort, but I am deeply convinced there is no greater way to spend time, energy, or money than in building the Kingdom of God. It’s the reason I am here, in Redding California. It’s the reason I left friends, family, my house, and my job for nine months. It’s the reason I’ve spent a lot of savings on tuition, housing, and relocation.
I can’t guarantee a direct, monetary return. I really can’t guarantee a direct return at all. But I can guarantee that God is Faithful, and that this trip will impact eternity. Because, ultimately, that’s our mission: to expand the Kingdom of God in such a way that the eternal destiny of eternal beings changes from death to life.
So, if you are willing to partner with me financially and donate towards this trip, you can do so here.
I have a total of $2,150 funds to raise. Any and all donations are massively appreciated!
Thank ya’ll for reading!
Now then. Actual blog update time:
I trust and believe almost everything I hear around BSSM. Most things I hear ring true in my Spirit, match up with the Bible, and make as much logical sense as this Jesus stuff ever does (turns out that sometimes it’s not really a lot).
But there’s a phrase I’ve heard a few times now that I disagree with wholeheartedly. I’ve heard it from peers in first year, people I’ve met in second year, and yes, even from the stage out of the mouth of some leaders I respect a ton. It sounds innocuous enough; the kind of phrase a crowd of enthusiastic ministry school students would tend to clap and cheer for:
“This year is gonna be the best year of your life.”
Why, you ask, am I so averse to this line of thinking?
Well, to answer fully, one needs to step back in time some 8 years. I was 20 years old, and had already spent a year out of high school working because I wasn’t sure what sort of college direction I wanted to go in. And, truth be told, I was flat-out terrified to make any sort of meaningful decision about my future. I was paralyzed by fear, so I spent a long time just… Not moving in any direction. This blog post isn’t really about the details of that phase of my life, but suffice to say it wasn’t until about a year into my college schooling, as I was making yet another late night drive from Cornwall back to Ottawa, that I recognized, for the first time I can remember, that I had a genuine sense of excitement for my future, rather than that sense of fear that had become so familiar to me.
Ok, so step back to the more recent past, around the start of October, and I’m loving life at BSSM. Being here has brought an abundance of joy, peace, and a feeling of safety that I simply haven’t lived in before, though I may have dabbled in it on occasion. The Holy Spirit is digging up dirty things in my life that I didn’t even know I carried. My identity as a Son is being defined, reinforced, and then reinforced some more. I’m hearing more and more whispers of my destiny. It is honestly absolutely incredible. But, in the midst of it all, a fear starts to grow. A fear of the future. It’s reminiscent of that fear I lived in 8 years ago:
What am I supposed to do after this year? Where will I work? Am I supposed to come back to BSSM for a second year? A third? How do my new understandings of God and the Kingdom fit back into my hometown and home church? Or do they? What if I don’t fit back into where I came from? Where will I go?
It started off as background noise, but it just kept growing louder. I found myself letting these useless, downward-spiralling thoughts cycle around my head far too often. And, coupled with that, this recurring proclamation that this year is the best year of my life.
Then, one morning with Jesus, I started saying “no” to it. “No” to the endless attempts at figuring out a future that, as the great Yoda once so wisely said, is always in motion. And “no” to agreeing with the sentiment that this year at BSSM is the best year of my life.
Because it’s not.
I believe that partnering with this idea goes against God’s nature, and starts to kill hope. It leads you into feeling frantic to glean every nanosecond from this short 9 months because, after all, life won’t ever be this good again. And if, like me, you’re tend to be a little scared of what life post-school looks like, this idea can quickly start to steal the joy it’s intended to inspire.
“Life won’t ever be this good again and, what’s more, life after BSSM is probably gonna suck.”
If you boil it all the way down, that’s basically what this line of thinking can lead to. Seems like a kinda dismal, depressing outlook on life if you ask me.
But one thing I have come to believe about God is that He’s always leading us into better things in Him. From “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18), one good thing to another, with a hope that doesn’t disappoint.
I believe this is the way that the Christian life should always be lived: it keeps getting better. And then we die. And when that happens, life gets a whole ton better.
Look, I get it: the idea that this year at BSSM is the best year of my life is intended to encourage us students to enjoy this year to the full. I want to. I plan to. Because this year, in all likelihood, will be the best year of my life... So far. But only so far.
So let me appeal to any of my fellow BSSM students who happen to be reading:
Don’t believe it, not even for a second. Don’t believe that this is the best year of your life. It’s not even close. The God I believe in always has more in store. He’s always scheming up the next thing. And it’s always better.
God doesn’t have a plan for your next 40 years that involves you looking back in longing at BSSM 2019-2020. Sure, there will be down moments and hardships and hurts and frustration and offense. But despite all that, I believe that overall, life with Jesus just keeps getting better.
So replace the fear of the future with Faith in a God who always has good plans. Look with hope at the mystery of the unknown. Choose to have confidence in God’s character. Recognize that He’s brought you to an amazing place for an amazing season, and enjoy every moment you can… But I believe it’s just the start, merely the launching pad. For most of us, the future is hazy at best, but if we truly believe God and what He says, it’s also better than we can possibly imagine.
My best years are not behind me. They are not actively passing me by, compelling me to desperately grasp every second as they go by, wishing uselessly they’d last longer. I have confidence that God only has better things in store. BSSM is amazing, but I believe that I ain’t seen nothing yet.
And, for my dear readers who aren’t here with me at BSSM, if you find yourself looking longingly at some event in the past you deem to be the high point of your life, I encourage you to reconnect with the mastermind planner that is God. In Him, I don’t believe the best years are ever intended to be behind us. Whatever season you’re in, hold on. Lift your head up. Keep holding on.
Hold on to hope.
October 21, 2019
I wouldn’t say I came to Bethel warily. In fact, the more I chat with fellow students, the more aware I become of how easy the path really was for me, at least in some respects. It seems almost everyone had family or friends that had genuine concern over their choice to study at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, sending them links to sites or videos accusing them of having sketchy theology, or of being a straight-up cult. I’m grateful I didn’t have that. In all honesty, I had pretty high expectations for Bethel, and minimal doubts.
But there’s always a bit of wondering when coming into a new environment. What will the leaders really be like? Will the community accept me? Am I not going to be extreme enough for this environment? Does the church culture have an arrogant slant, looking down on other churches or movements? Is their theology actually as strange as some people think?
Well, I’m (more than) a month in, and I can say I feel nothing but a ton of relief around those questions.
Again and again and over again I see, hear, or experience things that set me at ease.
Leaders, by default, believe in and empower you. Within three minutes of meeting my main pastor for the first time, I was told to feel free to release any words I got for people. Mind = blown. They are brimming with grace and patience. They will talk about and explain Bethel’s theology, why they do what they do how they do it, but they also have no problem with students that disagree (as long, of course, they aren’t disruptive or trying to tear apart the school from the inside out).
Community is more vulnerable, authentic, and encouraging that I would’ve dared to hope. The people in my “Revival Group” (basically groups of 70-ish students that have an assigned pastor and assigned leaders) have shared incredibly vulnerable stuff, things that they likely have shared only with the closest friends before, if at all. Everyone is quick to encourage and build up, and the idea of being competitive or jealous honestly feels a bit foreign.
References to other churches, movements, and denominations are completely honouring, perhaps more than I’ve ever encountered before (though my home church does an absolutely fantastic job too). Basically, if you’re part of the 2.2 billion people that profess to be Christian, Bethel is on your side. The way Bethel puts it, every part of the global group of Christians has their own God-given emphasis. Bethel has theirs, and they are fully committed to it, but they totally support and encourage the emphasis that other groups feel God has given them.
All in all, if there is one word I would use to describe my first month here at Redding at BSSM, it would be SAFE.
I feel safe to be myself. More than that, I feel safe to change who that is, or, more accurately, to discover more fully who God made me to be. There is no expectation to live up to who I am or who I used to be, only encouragement to discover who I was originally intended to be. I feel safe to be vulnerable, safe to be in community. I feel safe to explore my identity and authority in God.
I feel safe to disagree, to think for myself, to consider what’s being taught and decide for myself. I feel safe to go at my own pace. There is no sense of pressure or urgency to get on board with what’s being taught. There’s an overwhelming sense of grace for each person’s individual story and journey.
I feel safe to move on from things in my past, not in a way that dishonours it, but simply to keep moving forward.
This might sound a little wacky, but I feel safe to test out new theology. I’ve decided that even I don’t immediately agree in my mind with some teaching of Bethel, as long as I don’t feel a Holy Spirit warning, it’s actually ok to just try it out and see what happens. If it turns out that it’s not Jesus, I trust that God will redirect me back to the right path. And, if it is Jesus, I don’t want any of my previous experience or teachings to hold me back from one shred of correct theology. One of my most frequent prayers in the first month was “Jesus, if this is You, I want it.”
I feel safe to risk in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I feel safe, oh-so-safe, to fail. To make mistakes, many of them. I feel safe to own up to those mistakes, learn from them, and carry on in my pursuit of Jesus and all that He has for me.
As Kris Vallotton put it, “if Bethel were a cult, we’d be the worst cult in the world, because we tell everyone to think for themselves and to leave once they’re done.”
Yep. I feel so very, incredibly, completely, SAFE.
But I suppose I should also tell about what I’m actually learning more than just what I’m feeling. The hard part is figuring out what specifically to talk about.
I could talk about how my assigned church service never ran shorter than three and a half hours (because, um, it’s UHMAZING). I could talk about how my “Revival Group” already feels like family in a way that I honestly wouldn’t have expected possible. I could talk about God redefining and reconstructing the concept of worship in my mind, using in part the experience of not making the student worship team. I could talk about nature adventures to Whiskeytown Lake, Clam Beach, Founders Tree Park (Redwoods! 😳), or Minder Park, my go-to running route where I’ve seen deer two or three times already. I could tell of several life-giving coffee chats with people, talking about hopes, dreams, fears, failures, hurts, and struggles. I could talk about a collection of sin issues and broken mindsets that have been revealed and resolved, things that I was entirely unaware of. I could talk about how Jesus has taken me back some 15 or so years to illuminate and heal moments and experiences that I had long since given up on understanding.
But I think there’s a better topic to sum up the focus of my first month in Redding.
I think it was when my sister-in-law, Brittany, asked me a few days before I left Cornwall in August that I finally worked out the best, most concise answer to the standard question of “what’s the one thing you want to get out of your year at Bethel?”
“I want to find my fit in the Kingdom of God,” was my response. I suppose to sum it up even further, I could’ve just said destiny. My goal in coming here was finding my destiny in God.
It still is. Kind of. Except… Well, I guess it’s not my main goal anymore.
Yes, I came here for my destiny, excited to find my fit in the Kingdom of God and discover what that looked like for me.
And I feel like God was just sitting back, chuckling to Himself, saying something along the lines of:
“Aww, that’s cute. You can think that if you want; whatever gets you to BSSM is fine with me, but my plans look a little different than yours…”
Turns out God’s way more interested in my identity than my destiny. He’s way more interested in my status as a son than in my productivity in the Kingdom.
Jesus says in Matthew 22:37 that the greatest commandment, the one we should focus on the most, is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” That’s actually our main “job” as human beings.
But at the same time, 1 John 4:19 says that “We love because He first loved us.” We’re actually not capable of properly loving God (or anyone else, for that matter) until we are loved.
I’m already loved fully and completely. Before doing anything, before impacting the nations, before witnessing to my neighbour, before worshipping, before reading my Bible, I am loved. I could literally lie on my couch for the next 13 years of my life eating potato chips, and God’s love for me wouldn’t dial down a millimetre.
My identity as a loved son of God is concrete, set in stone, unable to be shaken by anything or anyone.
I realize that none of this stuff sounds revolutionary for anyone who has lived in a church culture for long enough, so it’s hard for me to fully convey what I feel like I’ve learned, but it starts to change everything.
I guess parts of this start to dribble into my second month in Redding, but I’ve felt God challenge me in strange ways recently.
“Don’t read your Bible today; instead, just let me celebrate you.”
“Cut your devotion time in half, and watch how you are still my delight.”
It’s breaking my knee-jerk thoughts that I have to reach for His delight, that I have to do something to obtain that feeling of love.
Rather than trying to run around getting the whole world saved, my first priority needs to be pointing the cup up my life upward, letting it get so full of the love of God that I couldn’t help my overflow on the people around me. I’m still working on that. I don’t think I’ve received enough love yet.
I’ve also been learning about what kinds of things come from being the son of a King. Ephesians 2:6, talking about Christians, says that God “… raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 3:1 says that we are “… raised with Christ.” John 20:21 & 23 say “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you,” and “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; and if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Matthew 28:18-19 says “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore…” The implication (as I read it) is that Jesus has passed on that authority to us.
What’s all this mean? I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I think it means that we, as Christians, actually have a lot more authority and power than we generally tend to walk in. If we are, right now, actively raised with Christ and seated in heavenly places, I think it’s safe to say we as Christians should really be walking around with more power and authority than those that aren’t (yet) believers. If we’re supposed to be Jesus’ representatives on the planet and He was given all authority and explicitly gave us the authority to forgive sins, I’d say we should walk with a little bit of confidence.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: none of this is for us. None of our authority or power is to puff us up with pride or give us grounds to look down anyone else. This is not, in any way, to condescend unbelievers or anyone else.
On the contrary, all of this stuff has only one purpose: to point people back to Jesus (or, to use a Christian-eze term, “make disciples”). Should Christians walk in miracles and signs and wonders? My answer is “Heck yes!,” but not so we can parade around talking about how great we are. We should walk in miracles and signs and wonders so that human beings can encounter the love of God through, as Jesus put it, His “Kingdom.”
So yeah… I guess those are some things I’ve been learning at BSSM. My identity as a son is enough, fully enough, and there isn’t a single thing I could do to change God’s constant flow of outrageous love that I will never full understand. What I do or don’t do or accomplish for the rest of my life has absolutely no impact on that. However, if I am really the son of the King of Kings, that actually means I’ve got some serious pull. And the more I use that pull, the more I can point people back to the King, and the larger the family of God gets.
That sounds like a pretty fun way to live a life.
Sidebar: March is gonna be epic
Ok, so this isn’t really part of my first month at BSSM, but I wanted to sneak it in here anyways.
Part of the year here at BSSM (which, funny story, I kinda forgot about before I got here) includes doing a missions trip. All the students apply for seven of them, ordered based on preference, and then the BSSM staff figures out who actually gets to go where. And I kinda feel like Jesus likes me a lot ‘cause I got my first choice:
[Cue dance music here]
Yeaaaaaaaaas indeed. I AM STOKED.
Ok, so why Netherlands? Two main reasons.
First, all four of my grandparents came from the Netherlands, so my entire heritage is from there. I still have some distant relatives there, but I’ve never been, not even anywhere in Europe. So it will be super awesome to visit the motherland, as it were, and connect with some of those roots.
But the second, far more important reason, is because the Netherlands needs Jesus. Most countries do, but the Netherlands is predominately an atheist country, making it ripe for some Jesus light to come break open the prevalent darkness. And getting to do with a group of healing-working, prophecy-spewing Jesus freaks from BSSM makes me more excited than watching the NHL playoffs live.
Yeah. I went there. It’s for real.
But going on this trip also involves something else:
(Did I mention I kinda forgot about this trip when I came here? Man, why couldn’t these things just be magically free…)
Ok, so for real, my intention is not to turn this blog into one of those heart-string pulling, guilt-inducing pleas for money. I know Jesus wants me here in Redding right now. I believe He wants me to go to Netherlands in March. I also know He’s not short on cash. I’m not worried about Him providing. He’s pretty good at that.
Really, this is an invitation.
An invitation to invest in me while I’m attending BSSM, investing in my ability to “build the Kingdom", and an invitation to invest in bringing the light of Jesus into the Netherlands. I cannot wait to take what I’ve learned all year at Bethel and unleash it in the country of my ancestors.
For those interested in details, I need a total of $2,150 for the trip, about $300 of which is due by November 1st.
Again, none of this is to make you guilted into financing me or my trip, but if you find yourself getting excited about it and want to be part of my journey here in California at BSSM, any contributions would be a massive blessing! I will be most appreciative of any and all donations, which can be made online here.
Please shoot an email to Kevin@KevinBrink.com if you have any questions at all.
Ya'll rock and I love you. Thanks for reading this far. You'll be hearing from me again in a couple weeks.
September 1, 2019
I pulled out of my parent’s driveway that day with a lump in my throat, a spring in my step, and hope in my heart.
I thought back over the past couple of weeks. To my last group gathering with the Cornwall crew, after which I took stock of where all of our group was or would be going.
Ireland. New Brunswick. Australia. Portland. Though not part of that friend group, I also had family in South Africa and Malawi at the time. And then there was me, preparing to load up my little car with all (or at least most) of the stuff I needed to jump start a temporary life in California. It just seems crazy how geographically diverse my friends and family have become. Maybe this is part of the “going into the nations” that Jesus talked about?
I thought back to creativity sessions with my little sister while she was in Cornwall, which have quickly become one of my favourite things to do while we’re together. I thought about her genius repeating of a super appropriate Winnie the Pooh quote in response to my musings about my imminent departure:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Thanks for the endless well of wisdom, little sister!
I thought back to my last meetup with two of my closest friends, Josh & Josh, filled with the requisite youtube videos, church talk, future plans, and prayer. As always, I left with a well-fed soul, feeling like a ship that just caught the perfect gust of wind, sent gently but firmly with a beautifully aligned trajectory. Friends like these will make you stand up taller and straighter, and fill you with confidence.
I thought to my last time with a small group of young worship leaders, and prayed again that what I started would grow far beyond my wildest dreams.
I thought back to the last campfire at my house, the light sources limited to a torch, dying embers, and the occasional flash of distant lightning as I strummed my friend’s ukulele and let my voice fill the night air with words of hope and heaven.
I thought back to the countless, seemingly endless goodbyes. Some of them surprisingly easy, and some of them equally surprisingly difficult. I thought about how there isn’t any perfect way to say goodbye, and about the people I didn’t get to see before I left. I thought about how I had learned that frantically trying to check off all the boxes wasn’t the best way to enjoy my dwindling time at home, and instead to let the stress roll off and simply enjoy every moment as best I could, even if I didn’t get coffee with every one of my friends or do all of the Canadian things.
I thought about my last service at my home church, the one I had attended since it started some 16 years ago. Certainly I had visited other churches in that time, but, my goodness, it was going to be a strange thing for me to attend another church on a weekly basis.
I thought about some of my last moments packing, running around my house collecting last-minute things, and thought about how God had been preparing too. He hadn’t been idle. He had already gone before me, thoughtfully planned out every aspect of my learning and growing during this time at Bethel’s school, and even on my road trip to California. As excited as I was to arrive, God was probably even more so, more excited to start revealing all the things He’d been preparing for so long than I was to see them.
I thought with excitement and anticipation about the road ahead, the days of driving through the beauty of Canada and spending time with my dad. I thought about the rockies that I would be driving through later in the week, their towering peaks filling anyone around with an undeniable sense of awe.
Jump forward almost two weeks, and I was driving again, only things were a little bit different.
I had finally changed the time zone in my car, along with my watch and phone. The digital speedometer in my car was now reading in miles, as was my phone’s GPS, and my passport was stamped. British Columbia, Washington State, and the city of Portland were somewhere off in the distance of my rear view mirror, and I had just seen the sign.
On the right, the sign read 122, now a measurement of miles instead of kilometers. On the left, in all caps, a simple word that managed to make me feel all sorts of jittery butterflies: “REDDING.”
I breathed in deeply and definitely didn’t start tearing up or anything.
God is so good and so Faithful and so gracious and so kind. To bring me safely across much of the continent to a beautiful city to fill me up with all sorts of Spiritual goodness over the next nine months… It’s hard to contain the thankfulness. I suppose maybe that’s the point.
“Bridges & Hearts.” “The Cool Kids.” Harvest Christian Fellowship. My house, my job, my cat, my friends and family. So many things left behind, if only for a time, and really a rather short time in the big scheme of things. Somehow, in that moment at least, it didn’t seem so hard.
I kept driving through the night, feeling like I was swimming in the goodness of God.
Since then, I’ve attended a Bethel church service, attended three different sessions of school worship team auditions, met with my “Revival Group” (a group of 70-ish students intended to build community outside of the massive 1200-person main sessions), and planned out my first adventure to the nature surrounding Redding.
I know that Bethel isn’t perfect. Redding isn’t perfect. The school isn’t perfect. But I will say that I feel an immense sense of peace and joy, and it seems like every day holds some brand new revelation of how good God is, every time in corporate worship deeper than I feel I’ve gone in years.
Maybe this won’t last the whole nine months, but for now, I’m gonna enjoy the moment.
So yeah. I guess I'd say Bethel is pretty darn neat. More updates to follow 😊
July 14, 2019
What’s that, you say? You say it’s bad form to publish the first of a two-part blog post and then go silent for three months?
Yep. You’re probably right. Sorry about that. Turns out life gets busy when you’re trying to move to a different country.
Anyways, I promise to dig into more of the meat of the reasons I’m leaving Canada in this blog post. I suppose if you just read my last post, you’d probably think leaving would be the last thing I would want to do.
So. Why am I paying a bunch of money to leave my hometown, my house, my friends and family, my job, and my church for 10 months?
There’s a few reasons, but I think to give context to the rest of this blog post, I should start off by directly stating the context by which all of the other reasons start to make sense:
I believe in this Jesus stuff. I actually believe there’s a real, honest-to-goodness God that created all of humanity. I believe in a real heaven and a real hell. And I believe that God puts people on earth for a reason. I think the only reason I’m still sucking air is that God hasn’t run out of use for me down here; otherwise He might as well just take me now.
I also believe that one’s life is most fulfilling when it is lived most aligned to God’s plan.
None of any of this makes sense without that. I would be rather insane to do what I’m doing without that belief.
Anyways, with that out of the way, let’s get into some specifics:
I’m leaving Canada to get equipped.
I don’t know what my life looks like after I’m done at Bethel. I’ve described it a few times now as an all-consuming black hole of mystery; you can throw whatever ideas you want at it, but you’re still no closer to actually knowing anything. Maybe I move to a different country and start working at a church full time. Or maybe I move right back to my hometown, resume work at my current job as a software developer, and continue helping around at my church in a similar capacity to what I do now.
But regardless of what my 9-5 job is, I believe that life after Bethel involves “more” in the realm of “Kingdom-building,” to use a Christian-eze expression which I would condense down to meaning simply more of Jesus and what He does in the lives of the people around me, from handing out purpose and meaning to leading people into healing and freedom; life to the full, you might say.
As involved as I may be right now in “building the Kingdom” through my local church, I believe God has way more for me to do; more discipling, more pouring into people, more seeing people healed and set free, more city-level transformation, more of simply seeing human beings encounter the eternity-altering love of Jesus. I don’t believe there’s a better use of one’s life than using it to help lead people who are far from God even just a few steps closer.
But all of that “more” also requires “more” from me.
More capacity to love and lead people. More of an attentive ear to what Jesus is saying in every moment of every day. More obedience, especially when it’s hard or uncomfortable. More skill in the gifts and talents God has already given me that I know I need to hone more. More understanding in theology and doctrine and more grounding in my Faith. More confidence in who God has created me to be, and more understanding of who that even is.
Like one would go to college before starting a career, I want to get trained and taught so I am ready (or at least, as ready as one can be) for whatever God has for me next. I want to have my tool belt well-stocked. I want to be prepared for anything.
That’s reason number one. Reason number two is this:
I’m moving to California for clarity.
Like I said, I don’t know what my life looks like after Bethel, or two years after that, or five years after that. And I’m not saying that I’ll absolutely come back from Redding with a crystal-clear game plan for the rest of my life, but I do think it’s sometimes very hard to hear God’s voice for the bigger picture type stuff when you’re down in the daily grind.
So one of my hopes for this adventure is that it gives space for Jesus to talk in ways that I may not be letting him in my current, comfortable environment. For Him to bring some measure of clarity into my future.
Psalm 119:105 was one of the first Bible verses I memorized as a kid growing up:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path
I like this verse because it assumes the reader realizes that the path is dark. No apologies for that; it’s just the nature of the path we walk. But God’s word illuminates it, and helps us understand where the next step is. That’s what I hope I’ll gain from my time at Bethel.
And I think sometimes you only get just enough light for one step at a time. I believe going to Bethel’s school is my next step, and I’m grateful for that measure of light. That’s the only step I can see right now, but I believe that as I take it, the light will shift a little farther down the path, and I’ll be able to see what comes next at the right time.
And who knows? I’m certainly not banking on it, but maybe my time at Bethel will allow God the space He needs to cast a full-on floodlight on His large-scale vision for the rest of my life.
I’m not sure what I’m going to be paid for during the next 30 years, but I know what I want to be known for, and it’s not developing software.
Ok, so that’s reason number two: space to hear God’s voice for what comes next. Let’s move on to number three:
I am going to Bethel’s school for discomfort. That might seem a bit strange so let me explain:
I own a house in Cornwall. I work at a job that is amazing (or at least I do for the next three days). I attend a church that I love, and serve in capacities that give me true joy alongside people that I genuinely love and respect.
And as great as all this is, I realize that if I’m not careful, I could settle in and do the exact same things for the next twenty years, and I believe that would come up short of what God has planned for me.
So I want to stay unsettled, and I think a very practical (if not drastic) way to do that is by completely blowing up my environment, so to speak, and seeing where the pieces fall.
Maybe it’ll lead to discovering brand new endeavours that end up becoming core components of who I am in the years ahead. Maybe it will make me even more confident in the things I was already involved in as they end up falling right back into my lap without me putting any effort into it. Maybe it will reveal limitations I was unwittingly living under because of the people and environment that surround me. Maybe it will lead to discovering that some responsibilities I thought I loved don’t give me as much life as I had believed when the expectation to fulfill them is removed.
I certainly don’t know what it looks like, but maybe it will be not playing drums on the worship team (though, full disclosure, I am absolutely auditioning for that). Maybe it’s trying something I’ve always been interested in but never had the time, space, or opportunity to pursue fully. Maybe it looks like discovering a love for something I’ve never imagined myself doing because someone who sees me in a way no one else has before encourages me towards it.
Sure, none of that will be particularly comfortable at the time, but I whole-heartedly believe the benefits of discovering more completely who God made me to be far outweigh any costs of temporary discomfort. The risk of staying comfortable is, for me, far too great.
Well. I guess that kinda sums it up.
I am leaving Canada to invest in my ability to build the Kingdom. I am leaving Canada as a next step, not exactly knowing what comes after it but trusting it will become clear at the right time. And I am leaving Canada as part of my continual efforts to avoid becoming settled.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I am outrageously excited for this upcoming Jesus adventure of epic proportions. 😊
I am excited to meet new friends who will sharpen me in new ways. I’m excited to interact with new leaders who, I hope, will challenge and push me in fresh and unexpected directions. I’m excited for the fresh slate that a new schedule and a new routine bring. I’m excited about learning more of the logic and rationale behind the Faith that I was born into; I certainly don’t want to ever be at risk of being a mindless Christian.
And, let’s be real, I’m super excited to pack up my Mini Cooper until it’s bursting at the seams and road trip across the continent.
I suppose the simple appeal of a new adventure is one more reason why I'm leaving Canada.
April 19, 2019
Yes, my dear friends and family; in case the news has yet to reach you, I will be leaving my hometown of Cornwall as well as my home and native land of Canada this upcoming August, and moving to Redding, California for about 9 months to go to Bethel Church’s “School of Supernatural Ministry.”
Yep. I know it’s a little crazy.
So I figured I’d throw up a blog post explaining some of the thoughts and reasons behind this crazy adventure I’m embarking on. But first, I thought I’d start with some things that are not reasons I’m doing this. So, let’s get started:
I’m not leaving because I hate Cornwall.
I hear a lot of people talk badly about Cornwall. I recognize it’s not the Garden of Eden or the epicentre of all things bright and beautiful in the world (I’d argue Redding is probably pretty close to that 😉), but I actually really like Cornwall. Honestly. Maybe it’s because I was born here and am, by nature, a loyal person, but I also think that people tend to always think the grass is greener on the other side, rather than focusing on watering their side of the fence. Life after Bethel is very much a mysterious black box to me, but my current plan is to move right back to Cornwall and throw myself into whatever role I have of continuing to see the city transformed. I am not leaving because I hate Cornwall.
I’m not leaving because I hate Canada or have gotten tired of it’s winters.
I’m guessing most people reading this know this about me, but the fact that I will miss out a Canadian winter because of this move is 100% a sacrifice, not a perk. I absolutely love Canada, and everything it is. I love snowboarding down a long, meandering slope, or playing ice hockey with neighbour kids at the local rink. I love sipping on a hot cup of something delicious while watching the snow gently fall outside. I love that feeling you get when the snow first starts to fall and you know you can finally listen to Christmas music without feeling weird about it. I love bundling up and tromping around some snow-covered winter wonderland with a group of friends, and then following it up by piling inside, starting a fire in a wood stove, mixing up some hot chocolate, and sitting down to a long afternoon of board games. I am not leaving because I’ve grown tired of Canada or its winters.
I’m not moving because of relational issues.
To start with, let me state plainly that this past year has been the most challenging of my life. Period. Full stop. The primary reason for this is because of some really hard relational circumstances. I have never felt more hurt, frustrated, or downright confused when it comes to relationships than this past year.
But that’s still not the reason I’m leaving. There’s no one I’m running away from, no situation I’m trying to hide from. And it’s not because all of these issues have been totally resolved and wrapped up. They are definitely better than they have been, but not to the extent where I could confidently say that everything will be smooth sailing from here. I will admit that I tend to shy away from conflict, but I absolutely do not believe running from these things is going to solve anything. If anything, I would be more inclined to try to force some sort of resolution of these situations before I leave, but I also don’t think that’s the best approach.
All that to say, I am trusting God with these relationships. I don’t know what they are supposed to look like by the time I leave in August, and I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like when I come back, or three years after that. But I’m not running away from them. I am simply placing them in God’s hands, and trusting that He will take care of what it’s supposed to look like before, during, and after my time in Redding. I’m not moving because of relational issues.
I’m not leaving because I’m frustrated with my church.
No church is perfect. If you go to church, I guarantee it’s not perfect because, spoiler alert, you aren’t perfect. My church isn’t perfect either. There are things about it I wish were different or better, and even some non-core beliefs that I still have a hard time getting totally on board with.
But all of those things are small and pretty insignificant when compared to how much I absolutely love my church and what it’s doing. I believe in Harvest Christian Fellowship perhaps more than I ever have before. It actually feels a bit frustrating that I can’t responsibly get much more involved than I am, seeing as I will be leaving relatively soon. I love the people, and the direction we’re going.
On a related note, I’d like to believe I have always valued the opportunity to play drums as part of worship for the church, but having the context of leaving in a few months makes me treasure the opportunities I have to lead my friends in worship that much more. Smashing animal skins and metal disks as we build into a crescendoing chorus of worship and being able to look out a group of family and friends all connecting with Jesus, is something I hope I will never take for granted.
I plan on auditioning for the worship team for Bethel’s school, and I really hope I get in. It would be an incredible privilege and opportunity to help lead worship for hundreds of my fellow students in an atmosphere I am sure will be charged with excitement and passion. I think it's safe to say there will be more people in a larger auditorium that will be, on average, more engaged with the worship when compared to my home church. If I do end up getting to drum for worship during school, it would be incredibly exciting.
But it won't be the same. Nothing could possibly replace knowing the people you are helping to lead in worship. And I know the people in my church.
He used to be an atheist. They are still trying to figure out if they believe in this Jesus stuff. She lost her dad. They’ve known me and my family since before I could talk. They had a miscarriage. He’s been trying to find a job. They are holding their miracle baby. I teach him drums every week.
That might end up being the thing I miss the most when I'm gone. Again, drumming in larger contexts always brings with it a measure of extra excitement, but I know it won’t be able to replace looking at faces that I know the stories behind while I help lead them in worship. I’m not going to Bethel because I’m looking for a more grandiose worship drumming experience.
And, of course, my church is far from just a place I get to help lead worship at. It is moving. It's expanding. People in my hometown of Cornwall are encountering Jesus like never before in my church.
People who were staunch atheists a couple of years ago are helping greet people at the door. Broken and insecure people are finding community and real relationships in small groups. Lives are being changed and transformed. And I truly believe it's just the beginning.
Like I said, I think I may believe in my church more now than I ever have, which makes it that much harder to think about leaving. I am not leaving because I’m frustrated with my church.
I’m not going because I dislike my job.
Ok, so I don’t really like commuting from Cornwall to Ottawa every workday, but that is, by far, the worst part of my job. I enjoy the kind of work I do, I enjoy my coworkers, and the company certainly provides more benefits than I could reasonably expect at most other places. I’m aware of that. Nav Canada is a pretty awesome place to work.
They are even cool enough to give me a sabbatical for this crazy schooling in California, so I might just keep on working at Nav Canada when I’m done my year of schooling. Or I might find a different software development job in Cornwall. Or maybe God will call me to an entirely different type of job in Cornwall. Or maybe God will call me to somewhere else entirely. Like I said, I actually have no idea what comes after Bethel, but I’m not leaving because I’m try to escape my job.
And, no, I’m not going to find a wife.
Ok, so I want to get married. Duh. Most people do. And if you’ve been around the Christian world long enough you have probably heard some jokes about “Bible College” being more like “Bridal College.” It kinda makes sense, really. Logically speaking, most people attending a Bible school are going to be absolutely sold-out for Jesus, and almost certainly looking for a spouse with the same passion. I know I am. So it actually makes a lot of sense that people would find their eventual spouses in a Bible College-like setting.
All that to say, there is a better overall probability of me finding a wife hanging out at Bethel’s school for 9 months than staying in Cornwall. That’s just statistics for you, just straight math. And, obviously, it would be an amazing bonus if that was part of the result. It would be way worth the cost of tuition and living expenses and not working full time for 9 months if it ended with me meeting my eventual wife. But I (mostly) trust God’s timing with this area, and I know that God isn’t limited by any sort of setting. Maybe He will use Bethel’s school as a context for me meeting my wife, but He could also make it happen at my home church this weekend if He wanted.
So finding a wife isn’t the reason I’m going to California. Put another way, I would still be going if Bethel’s school separated the genders, such that there wasn’t any interaction between guys and girls and thus no chance of me finding a wife there. I am not going to Bethel’s school to find a wife.
So why am I going?
Well, that's a reasonable question, but it looks like I've already used up the acceptable word count for one of my blog posts, so I think I'll leave you hanging and make this a two-parter. I promise next time I'll give you the list of things that are reasons I'm going!