There is a plan

In September 1997, I was 21 years old, just starting my senior year at UConn. Having recently completed my second summer as the Youth Director at South United Methodist Church in Manchester, I was pretty sure that God was calling me into full-time youth ministry. I was not sure what that meant, but I knew three things: I loved the kids at South UMC, and hoped God would keep me in the Manchester area. I wanted to disciple kids, not just do fun and games with them. And I had a heart for the Hartford region, wanting to minister in some way to more than just the kids of one church.

That year, I was also on staff with Musicon Ministries, a parachurch organization made up of kids from around Connecticut that would come together over the summer to learn a Christian musical and take it on tour throughout the year. In that year’s musical, I was playing the part of a youth pastor, and the Musicon kids were all a part of my youth group. The story of the musical was that I had taken the group on a retreat, and was trying to teach them the book of Ephesians.

And so, that September, Musicon and I ended up on Sunday morning at Academy School in Glastonbury, by the invitation of Tracy Wu, bringing our musical to a church called NewLife Christian Fellowship. It was a wonderful time of ministry, and after we were done, the pastor, Peter Dewberry, told the Musicon director, Jon Colegrove, that the church was looking for a youth pastor, and if he should come across anyone who might be interested, to let him know. Jon told Peter that I might be interested, and we set up a date to talk the following week. At that meeting, Peter told me that they were looking for someone to disciple their teens, and also that they were looking for someone who would see NewLife as their base to do ministry to not just their church teens but to teens from around the region. And, of course, Glastonbury was just south of Manchester. It seemed clear to me that not only had God opened a door for me to serve in youth ministry, but that God had also met all the desires of my heart.

I began serving part-time as the youth pastor of NewLife in January of 1998, driving to Glastonbury every Wednesday and Sunday while I finished up at UConn. In June, after graduating, I came on staff full-time, and served for 4 ½ years before leaving for seminary in 2002.

This past Sunday, I began preaching through the book of Ephesians, at the same church that called me as their youth pastor 19 years ago. In chapter 1, Paul declares that our lives are no accident, but that God chose us and works everything out in life in conformity to His will. His purpose, Paul writes, is that we might live for the praise of His glory. I confess that as I reflected on this passage this morning, and looked back on my journey here, I was overwhelmed with tears. God has been so good to me, and just as Paul wrote, there is a burning in my heart to bring my Father honor and glory through this life He has given to me. I can never repay Him for the salvation He has given to me and for the undeserved love and grace He pours out on me every day. I only hope that I might somehow have the strength and courage and discipline to live my life every day for the praise of His glory. Please pray for me that this would be so. Jesus is worthy of all honor and glory. Amen.

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