My call to pastor Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) is certainly a testimony to God’s providence. Back in 2000, I had visited the church at least once as my memory serves. Before we were married, my wife attended Trinity OPC. When I would travel to visit her, I would also visit Trinity. At that time I didn’t know that the Lord would one day call me to pastor this flock in Marin County. But when I was about to graduate from WSC, I found that Trinity had an open pulpit and decided to pursue it. Since my wife’s family still lives in the area, we thought that would be an added blessing. These initial “connections” with the church were certainly part of God’s providence in calling me to Trinity.
I became increasingly interested in the call after learning more about the church’s situation and challenges. At the time, the church had been without a pastor for a year. Membership had steadily declined over the years. Financially, the church was limited in what they could offer a pastor for the area. The saints were discouraged and wondering if God would have them close the church. An elder even left the church during this time. The situation seemed bleak.
Additionally, several people advised me of the difficulties of ministry in Marin. It is one of the most unchurched areas in the country. It is a very affluent area, full of people who have “made it” in life through what they would consider their own efforts. The area is very politically charged and socially progressive with most people strongly supportive of homosexuality and alternative lifestyles, feminism, abortion, extreme environmentalism, etc. I was told that many of the churches that do exist in Marin are focused largely on political activism and the social gospel.
All of this seemed to me to be like a “No Fear” T-shirt. Everything seemed stacked up against the survival of this Reformed church. But when I heard that Trinity was only one of two NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council) churches in the whole county, I decided that this was the place I wanted to serve, even though many people had turned down opportunities to serve here. If the church was willing to call me, I was eager for the sake of the kingdom to take it up. I did not want to see Christ’s church “retreat” from this mission front. Besides, I had been interested in church planting, and this call had many similar aspects. If God would provide the means to renew this ministry in Marin, then for the sake of the kingdom, I was willing.
The Lord did provide in so many ways. Having family in the area made it easier for us to take such a call. The church’s financial situation was augmented by presbytery support and church reserves to provide for us financially. Additionally, I could maintain my side consulting business, which would provide additional income for us. I had been praying for what to do with my business upon receiving a call, and I am thankful that I am able to utilize it for supporting the ministry, while only requiring a few hours weekly of my time. And this side business provides a part-time job for my wife as well! Everyone at Trinity saw God’s providential hand bring everything together to make this call happen.
The Lord continues to provide for our work here. For example, our church has a budget that we need to maintain as a stipulation for our presbytery support. Every month our received offerings were just under budget. Not only that, but a couple of special needs arose. The day after we reviewed our financial situation to determine that we didn’t have the money for the special purchases, an anonymous check came in from someone outside our church. The check was enough to make the special purchases as well as solve our budget shortfall for the year. Certainly we had been praying for God to provide, and he did. He continues to affirm that he has us here in Marin for a reason.
I thank the Lord for all the ways in which he has prepared me for this work in Novato, especially through my time at WSC. When I first chose to go to WSC, I must admit that part of it was for convenience: I was already in the San Diego area and there was a Reformed seminary right there, so why look elsewhere? But now, having gone through the program and seeing the balance of academic rigor with genuine pastoral care and conviction, I’m confident that I couldn’t have a found a better place for training. That, coupled with a great internship in La Jolla under Pastor James Lee, was such a blessing.
Thinking back to all the things I learned at WSC, one verse seems to come to mind frequently: Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Several professors quoted that often. This verse reminds me to be content with God’s providence. We don’t always know what God is doing in any given circumstance or why certain things happen, but we trust that he is in control because Scripture tells us so! As I continue to look back and reflect on what God is doing, especially in bringing me to Novato, I see God’s hand in it all.