Announcing Transitions

imageFive months ago, with fear and trembling, I began the infamous process of job transition. Today, I can finally go public with the results.

I will be giving most of my time to a new role at The Upstream Collective as director of content strategy. I will also have the privilege of serving at Refuge Louisville as the director of training and operations.

This means I will no longer be serving as pastor of international missions at Sojourn Midtown. In fact, my family and I will be joining Sojourn Jtown, where we hope to help grow international missions in a non-staff role.

Inevitably comes the question, “Why?” Why so many changes? Did something go wrong?

Not at all. There is actually one more momentous transition that kind of explains it: the arrival of our second daughter. Five months ago my wife and I realized that making room for her in our family meant making room for her in our budget. Thus, we prayerfully began the transition process.

It quickly swept us into conversations with people around the country. There were numerous amazing opportunities with amazing churches. Nevertheless, in light of dynamics such as having a newborn, buying a house one year ago, wanting to be near my family after my mother’s passing last year, our deep affection for our city and our church, and an honest assessment of our current limitations, we discerned the Holy Spirit’s leadership to stay in Louisville.

When I realized there was opportunity to increase my service with The Upstream Collective, it felt like a no-brainer. I love Jesus’ church and his mission, and that’s the heartbeat of Upstream. I really believe God has and will continue to use this small organization to make big waves, helping churches send locally and globally. Plus, I couldn’t pass up the chance to work alongside one of the unsung heroes of modern missiology, Larry McCrary.

When my wife and I first considered the idea of also devoting time to Refuge Louisville, it seemed too good to be true. Upstream helps to satisfy a desire to influence through writing. However, there remains in us a deep longing to be involved in the lives of internationals, especially since God has not currently opened the doors for us to serve overseas. When we bought a house in south Louisville, it was strategic. We wanted to be in the midst of our city’s largest concentration of internationals and refugees. Refuge is less than a mile from our home. Serving there is an opportunity to utilize the calling and experiences God has given to help mobilize churches in embracing refugees. And I get to learn from John Barnett, who has so much more experience than me.

Obviously, leaving Sojourn Midtown has been heart-wrenching. For the past five years we have devoted ourselves to this body of believers, and they have devoted themselves to us. In college I remember dreaming about the opportunity simply to be a part of this church. Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee the opportunities to not only join Sojourn, but also to serve on staff and become a pastor there.

I can’t even begin to recount the personal growth we have experienced during our time at Midtown. The leadership and teaching of Daniel Montgomery, plus the experience of authentic community, have been the primary gloves through which God has shaped our family.

No doubt, my most meaningful relationship at Sojourn Midtown has been with Nathan Garth. He helped me transition from Africa to Louisville, get involved in a community group, and come on staff at Sojourn. He shared his ministry with me, pushing me to constantly grow, to become a pastor, to begin writing for Upstream, and to move on for the sake of my family’s needs. He has relentlessly encouraged and fought for me, probably more than I know. And he has modeled for me a life devoted to God’s mission regardless of the severe pains along the way. I am so grateful for this leader and friend.

Honestly, this transition is a miracle. There is absolutely no way I could ever have overcome my crippling #FOMO on my own. In case you’re not familiar with it, FOMO is an acronym for the “fear of missing out”. It’s a disease of many, and primarily those of my generation. There’s a lot of hype about Sojourn Midtown, and much of it is legit. With the arrival and leadership of Jamaal Williams, the elusive vision of a multicultural church is becoming reality. It felt like the worst time in the world to leave.

However, I am no less excited about joining the family at Sojourn Jtown. Being led by men like Lisle Drury and Josh Wilson thrills us. With this move we say to hell with #FOMO. We want to practice what we’ve preached to so many Sojourners who have responded to God’s call to go. We want to be part of God continuing to use Sojourn Jtown to change the world.

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