If you are in ministry, you know what it means to hear a clear calling from God. In order to fully understand why I quit the business world and came on board at the GSAE, you need to hear my story.
In 2011 I was feeling called by the Lord to do something different in my career, though I wasn’t at all sure what I wanted to do. One afternoon I was on the phone with a friend, and I was sharing with her that I was sensing a restlessness, a call to a different job without knowing any details.
Her reply: “You know that children’s ministry organization that I sit on the board for? The CEO is getting ready to retire, and if you’d be interested I think you might make a good fit.”
Shortly after that, we visited the ministry and the CEO. While that position was not what God had in mind for me, He had stirred my heart to consider a ministry position.
Jay and Katrina
The following year (2012) we had a 7-year employee, Jay, who left us in February to become a pilot for a missionary hospital in Zambia. Jay had attended the Moody Aviation School here in Spokane for 7 years with the life goal of missions flying.
Leaving Spokane with his wife and two little girls, Jay moved to Zambia in March. Around June 2, I received a phone call from Jay’s mom letting me know that Jay and Katrina Erickson were killed in a tragic plane crash over a Zambian river.
Shortly before his death, Jay wrote a blog called “Pondering Death” where Jay wrote about the death of a Christian compared to the vast level of tragedy “for the passing of an unbeliever.” When I spoke with Jay’s mom and sister after the funeral, Jay’s sister told me “When we went through all of their belongings, they had nothing left of value. They sold everything they had to get to Zambia. Talk about counting the cost and counting it worthy.”
Jay and Katrina were the 8th and 9th Ericksons in his family to die while serving as missionaries in Africa. Not only did Jay count the financial cost, he was well aware it could cost him his life.
Here again, God was changing my heart to consider the question “what am I doing for the Lord?” That fall, my wife Debbie and I agreed God was calling us to list our home for sale and to downsize so we did that in February 2013.
Later that Spring we had an employee at the office that tripped down four short stairs to our parking lot and landed on the back of her head fracturing her skull in two places. The staff called me out of a meeting and I prayed for Verna for 20 minutes while the paramedics worked to stabilize her.
I prayed that God would save this dear woman’s soul as well as her physical body. Verna was in ICU for a week and passed away almost 1 year to the day that Jay died – June 5, 2013. God was making his point very clear that my life was to be used by Him for something more meaningful than issuing title insurance.
I don’t know if Verna was a believer in Jesus before she passed away. I hope she was. Regardless, I could easily see the contrast Jay was talking about. That fall, the Greater Spokane Association of Evangelicals opened the position of Executive Director and I quickly submitted my resume’.
Once I was appointed the director in May of 2014, I really thought I would be able to stay on top of the real estate news every single day and it could even become a side business for me. However, I realized there are incredible ministry opportunities to serve folks that truly need help right here in our community. As I look around at the world, it strikes me that the world needs more of Jesus and less of the news.
In Jay’s blog he quotes CS Lewis:
“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
God could not be more abundantly clear that this was the call He had for me. What is God calling you to do?
(If you’d like to read further about Jay, his blog post Pondering Death is a short read and his bigger story can be found at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/jay-and-katrina-didnt-waste-their-lives)