Leaving for the Middle East

by | April 2, 2015 | #tbt, Executive Pastor


After I got saved in 2005, I had the incredible privilege of being in a biblical discipleship relationship with Pastor Joe Champion. Because of my work schedule I was able to spend ample amounts of time with him doing many “life” things, including having the great opportunity to travel with him on ministry trips. I am eternally grateful for the time and energy that Pastor Joe dedicated to me. The Holy Spirit worked mightily through that godly man and so much of my spiritual formation occurred during that time.

One of the greatest trips that I ever took with Pastor Joe and his wife Lori was to Hillsong Conference in 2006 (not to mention four or five more trips to Hillsong after that). Throughout those times, I had the great honor to develop friendships with Pastors Joel A’bell and Grant Thomson at Hillsong Church. They have continued to be great friends to me and my family.

I loved my time at Celebration Church and only the Lord knows all that he truly worked in my sanctification at that faithful church in Georgetown, Texas. And when God called me out of that ministry position and out of the U.S., it wasn’t easy, but we were sure of his leading us to the Middle East.

As the Lord would have it, Pastor Joel A’bell and Pastor Joe Champion graciously and powerfully prayed for me at my last Wednesday night service before taking off to begin working for Sorouh in the Middle East. The Lord was so kind to me and my family and saw fit to answer many of their very specific requests including: (1) me finding favor and having influence with the sheikhs/royal family and (2) the desert being a place of peace and great healing for my family.

Last week, I posted a very important blog called “How To Leave Well.” To paraphrase point number ten, “don’t expect a parade when you leave.” And in 2008, I didn’t. Even Pastor Joe said (as you’ll hear in the video) that he did not plan to initiate that prayer time. But God works in amazing ways through the hearts of believers and the Holy Spirit is faithful to lead his people to do the Father’s will. Honestly, that night was very difficult for Marci and me and that prayer from the lips of those righteous men was effective and had great power (James 5:16)! Then, our effective and powerful Lord (Psalm 147:5) empowered Marci and me to turn away from fear and have faith in what Jesus was doing by sending us halfway around the world.

Pastors, when you are sending a brother or sister out from your church staff who is leaving well, don’t forget that the most important thing you can do to encourage them is pray for them.

To this day, I continue to pray for Celebration Church and Hillsong Church. I love these churches and I love their pastors.