Why We’re Leaving Camp

Thank you all so much for your kind comments, emails, facebook messages, etc. It’s been hard to share our news with everyone. We’re excited about what the future holds, but also know that we will miss camp and all the people very, very much.

A number of you have been asking about what’s next, and how it came to be, so I thought it might be good to share a bit of the process we went through in reaching our decision to leave camp. In the years that Ben and I have been in ministry, the topic most people seem to be struggling with is figuring out what God’s will is for their life. I’m sure most Christians have wished, at one point or another, that God would speak in a loud, obvious voice, and reveal “The Plan”.

But when is it ever that easy?

However, I have learned from our past experiences that there are many blessings to be found in the search for God’s will. Times of facing the unknown have led to growth and deeper trust in my Father who knows what is best. These times force me to rely on Him in the way I should be all the time.

Ben and I have had to make a number of tough choices over the years, which I’ve written about in my blog series “Chucking the Five-Year Plan”.

But this time, the decision seemed even harder than others we’ve had to make in the past.

Although Ben and I always wanted the chance to work at camp, and have loved being here, it has been hard in a lot of ways. There were a number of concerns we’ve had, in regards to how long we would stay at camp, including:

1) Anika’s schooling and being involved in various opportunities as she gets older

2) My health challenges and the need for very regular appointments with my beloved chiropractor, physio and massage therapists

3) Finances (we were spending a lot of our savings on getting to appointments in the city), and different choices for our future

4) The demanding schedule and symptoms of burn-out sneaking up on us, even though we love the ministry we do

One of these reasons alone would not have been enough to convince us to leave camp. But before Christmas, we spent many evenings sitting on our couch, talking and praying about what we should do.

During that time, Ben’s dad came along and said, “Want to work for me?” And Ben said, “Maybe I will.” To which Ben’s dad replied, Are you serious??

This is not the first time the idea has come up, but every other time, our answer has been no. We have absolutely loved being involved in full-time ministry. Ben knew that at some point in his life, he wanted to get involved in business in some way, but until now, the time never felt right.

Even though we were interested in the idea of Ben working with his dad, we still had no idea if that was what we were supposed to do. We didn’t know if it was the right time to leave, or what God wanted us to be doing once we were done at camp. We had no idea where we wanted to live.

All along, I had imagined that when it was time to leave camp, God would miraculous produce some kind of awesome, exciting new ministry opportunity that was obviously such a perfect fit, we’d have to be blind to miss it. That’s kind of how He’d done it in the past! I was expecting a repeat.

One evening, in the midst of our confusion, I was expressing my frustration with God to Ben. I went on and on about how I had imagined God would reveal Himself, and how I just longed for the perfect solution to come along – the right job, in the right place, the right fit for our family, and why was God not producing this for us? Right now? And suddenly, I realized that He already kind of had – it just wasn’t a job in ministry.

The opportunity to work with Ben’s dad provided answers to many questions we had. It fit very well, in many different ways. It just wasn’t what I had always expected we would do.

From that point on, I allowed myself to be more open to whatever God was going to reveal, even if it meant that we would, for the first time in almost 11 years, not be involved in full-time ministry.

Details started falling into place, and as Ben and I talked and prayed, we began to see more and more reasons why taking a break from ministry might be a very good thing for our family. Camp is a bubble. It’s a wonderful bubble, but it’s still a bubble. Along with many other positive things, living here has provided us with the opportunity to pull away from a lot of the pressures of our culture, giving us the space to figure out what we want for our life, our family, our faith, and it’s been good.

But it would be unhealthy to live in a bubble forever. We are trying to minister to real people who live in the real world…that we ourselves haven’t been a part of for five years.

I want to have neighbors, and I want to minister to people, not because I’m paid to do it, but because as a follower of Jesus, there is no other way to live.

So we sat there talking on our couch, realizing there was a door of opportunity open before us, but we still didn’t know if God wanted us to walk through it.

Then at Christmas, we listened to an amazing message by Bruxy Cavey, in which he talked about the birth of Jesus.

He spoke about how it had been prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem many, many years before it actually happened. It had to happen that way. And yet when the time came, Mary and Joseph did not receive a miraculous sign, or an angel telling them to go to Bethlehem.

They went to Bethlehem because a census was being taken, and that was just where normal life brought them. The wise men followed a star, and the shepherds got a choir of angels, but all Mary and Joseph got was a census.

Sometimes, God’s will is accomplished just by living an ordinary life. By simply making logical choices.

I keep expecting things to be crazy, exciting and miraculous all the time, if God is truly in it.

But the truth is, a lot of the time, He’s in the ordinary stuff. And He makes the ordinary stuff crazy, exciting and miraculous, because He is truly in it.

I still can’t say, with absolute certainty, that I know how to determine God’s will. Ben and I have talked about how we turn it into this big, “One Right Decision” kind of a thing. But it’s life, and we’re not perfect, and God knows we’ll make mistakes. He gave us the ability to think logically about things, and He gave us the freedom to choose.

We hope that we’re making a very good choice. We feel as though God has guided us in this choice. We also feel that life in general has pointed us in this direction. We’ll take the open door, and we’ll keep trusting and looking to God for the crazy, exciting, and miraculous.

And it turns out that we will be doing this in Niverville. Who would have thought? Not me! Life is full of surprises.

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11 thoughts on “Why We’re Leaving Camp

  1. Laura & I went through almost exactly this when I resigned from being the worship arts pastor at church. It is NOT easy to leave formal ministry, and one reason is that as a human I tend to “rank” things by their apparent “value”. What could possibly rank “higher” on the list than formal ministry? And yet God encouraged me, after we moved on, by ordinary instances where He showed me that as Christians we remain as full-time ministers wherever we go and work. I didn’t think I’d be able to find a job that would come close to the work environment I was leaving at church, but God surprised me by providing a boss that viewed a greenhouse as his ministry and we have prayer meetings e
    Erysipelas morning! God’s plans are way more creative than my own.

    One thing that helped me immensely when making the decision was advice my head pastor gave: look for the fruit of the Spirit as you make decisions; though sometimes we can have fear of change and the unknown, when you look down the road at a choice, do you sense joy, peace, goodness, etc? These are from the Spirit.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kyle – I can relate to so much of what you wrote! I had a really hard time with the “ranking” thing. I never thought it would hurt my pride to leave full-time ministry! It’s been a good time of stripping away my silly ideas, and finding out what God’s way is. And you’re right. God is much more creative than me!

  2. Rejoicing with you! I thought Kyle expressed it so well.
    God requires our faithfulness, and that is my prayer for you in this new adventure. Blessings to you.

  3. I love your point about the fact that God gives us the ability to think logically and gives us the freedom to choose. It is so true and I think a lot of “good meaning” Christians forget that. I love your blog and I am excited for your family on your new beginnings.

  4. Know that your struggle about the timing of moving on from ministry is completely normal and most if not all of us who have been there faced the exact same questions, fears and doubts. But trust in God’s faithfulness and the many times He has revealed Himself at just the right moment, making those ordinary moments into the miraculous ones. He will shed the light (even if it’s just a flashlight) on the next steps down the path He has planned for you. Looking back, I can see how God used the experiences of camp to draw me closer to Him and to prepare me for ministry opportunities that have come along since then. He has such great things in store for your family in this next phase of life. I’ll keep praying for you as you begin the transition in your minds and hearts over the next few months. Leaving camp can leave you feeling a little bit like a missionary coming home from a foreign country and readjusting to life in Canada, guess that’s the bubble you were talking about. Take as many walks in the woods as you can…and be still and know that He is God.

    • Oh, Shelly, thank you so much for your comment. I loved hearing from you! What you wrote hit exactly the right spot! The last line, especially. It’s so good to hear that God’s used all of it to prepare you. You will always be part of “camp” to me!

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