Stepping Out

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I’ve taken somMan jumpe leaps through the years. We all have. Some of them will absolutely and irrevocably change your life. For me, the best jump I ever made was when I asked for Linda’s hand in marriage. By far, it’s been the best relational decision I’ve ever made, and I have never had any regrets about that one.

Some leaps are thrust upon us.  We still have a choice to make; we must decide if we’ll take the leap, but the choice becomes unavoidable.  Something has taken place, and now choices must be made, and often they seem far bigger than our ability to know how to handle.  Having children can be like that. The fear and wonder and joy and concern and hope all get rolled up together as we try to anticipate what the future will bring.

Catastrophe and bad news can also bring life altering change.  Physical illness can bring about sudden leaps.  Having gone through a few major surgeries, beating cancer, and now confronting diabetes, often my thoughts have slipped into, “I just want things to get back to normal.” Normal, however, can be hard to define. One thing I’ve learned through the years is that there is no going back…there is only going forward.

For my family and I, we have come to that place of decision. 2016 has been a very difficult year for us.  My aunt died in May and my uncle soon followed in July.  At the very end of July, we very tragically lost my wife’s parents, brother, and her next younger sister. In October, my mom passed away as well.  Sigh.  There has been a lot of heartache.  It has been a lot to bear.

My wife has two surviving sisters (who have their own beautiful families). Emotionally, all these years, they have remained emotionally very close. When Linda and I married, she broke away from the greater St. Louis area to support me and follow wherever God would place us.  Along the way, we have lived in Oklahoma, Michigan, and for the past 17 years in Ohio. The priority has been the directives associated with God’s call on my life and the ministry that He has had for us.  We have never wavered from that.

It seems now that God is orchestrating another season of transition for us. As we look to Him to bring healing into our lives, it has become undeniable that the Lord is turning our hearts for the next season to the St. Louis area.  My wife needs the on-going support of her sisters, and they need hers.  The needs of the family have become difficult to address while we live 8-9 hours away. Both my love for Linda and my responsibility before God to care for her require that I prioritize her well-being and restoration.  So…after much prayer and conversation with our ministry leadership, we have come to the conclusion that it is time to relocate.

This decision has been hard. The relationships we have here in Ohio are deep and heartfelt. We have given our lives to the work of the ministry here and it has not been easy to come to the realization that it is time to take another step. Yet, the ministry has never belonged to me. The Lord is in charge, and the people we have come to know and love are in His hands. I am only a caretaker, and the Master Shepherd is the one who holds the sheep and keeps them safe.

Today, Sunday, December 18th, (and by the time this is read) I will have presented my resignation before our church.  We met with our church board earlier in the week and they have graciously communicated their love and support.  Linda will be making the transition first. She has found new employment and will begin on Jan 3. We are looking to rent our own home there as soon as possible and almost have that locked down. Our teenage son will join her at the semester break in mid-January. My hope and intention then would be to remain in Cambridge for the remaining weeks as we endeavor to pack up the house, prepare it for sale, move our belongings, find a new school for our son, and so much more. It would also allow me some final sermons to help the church transition forward. My last day in the pulpit will be January 29th, just three weeks shy of 17 years of service.

As we make this transition, I believe that God is holding us all.  His heart for our church is still on point, and the future He has for them is still as bright as ever.  I believe that.  And I believe the same is true for the Campbell family. I don’t see it all clearly yet, I can’t pretend to know what the future will bring, but I see Jesus clearly.  Although I don’t understand all that is happening, it is apparent what we must now do…and I so trust the Lord.

I am grateful for the time and opportunities we have had here in Ohio. It has been the adventure of a lifetime. And many new adventures await.  Thank you, HCF (and all our Cambridge friends and “family”) for your gracious love and support.

We love you all.

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