Reed Family Update:
I’ve certainly posted sparingly the past few months but I believe it’s time to share where God has taken my family and I over the past year.
My wife and I just celebrated our 12th anniversary—and that is a wonderful thing. We celebrated with a sick little girl who threw up all day! Moriah is now 4 years old and Gabriel is now a very tall eight. Moriah is growing and talking and sharing her thoughts more and more. Gabriel has experimented this last semester at a local Christian school after a couple of years of homeschooling. They are both a joy to our lives and I am so thankful that God has made us a family.
In the previous post, I described this past year as “difficult”. There have been many changes and challenges that started happening early in January. Things culminated with me stepping down as pastor of University Baptist Church in July. It’s the first time my wife and I have not been in some official ministry capacity since the fall of 1996.
It was a step of faith and, I believe, obedience. I did so without having a new ministry position to go to. I described it as similar to the first time jumping off the high dive into a swimming pool. As a result, I am searching for a new place to serve as pastor; we are still trying to sell our house and find local work during what can be a long search process.
Along with continuing to teach at Spoon River College, God almost immediately provided me with a local temp job and I went to work assembling tractor accessories with a company that supplies John Deere. In that experience, I was around more “lost” people than I have been in years. It was a good reminder to me of the life of those who have little to no interest in church life. Everyone puts on the “good” behavior around the pastor—especially when it’s only a brief visit—their language changes, what they let their kids get away with changes, what they drink or smoke changes. Well, I wasn’t a pastor (though I shared that I had been one fairly quickly), I was around them for hours every day, and no one wanted to make me comfortable or felt the need to be “good” around me. The barriers were down.
In many ways it was refreshing. We at church like to put on the mask—everything’s fine… etc. There were no masks. And yet ministry and witness was still possible. I received the nickname “Secret Preacher Man” sung to the tune of “Secret Agent Man”. It wasn’t particularly meant to be a nice name, but it came because I didn’t check my faith at the door and join in with everything they were doing and talking about and planning.
In response to this I’ve been pondering the idea of requiring myself and any staff member of a church I pastor to spend at least one month a year part-timing at local job—not a cushy one either—to increase exposure to those who are distant from Christ and don’t believe they are missing anything.
As I said, ministry and witness was possible. People often brought questions and issues to me on the Bible and other topics. I was greatly blessed by God crossing my path with an unlikely new believer; a 31 year old with a history of alcohol, martial arts and avoidance of God. Now we talk regularly and I’m able to talk though some of his more unusual questions. This has proven to be a blessing.
In November, I had a greater sense of urgency and deliberateness of talking to people. I couldn’t explain why—but then I found out—on December 23rd, I was laid off from the factory work due to lack of work/orders. Fortunately, I at least made two invitations to church that very week—hopefully something will pan out there, but it may be hard to find out.
As much as this job has been a blessing, it’s been a dramatic drop in family income. I am trusting that God will provide something soon. All along we have been blessed by friends and family that are helping us along the way.
Besides the loss of jobs, my wife Vicky just lost her grandmother on the 16th of December. She was 90 years old and a believer in Christ. It was a hard loss but she was able to be there when she passed, singing songs of faith to her.
While she and our kids were in Mt. Home, AR, there was a powerful ice storm that came through Macomb. Branches were torn down all over town and some people were without power for days in bitter cold. I lost power at our house for about 15 hours. Even the fish had to evacuate to a warmer place.
I didn’t want Vicky and the kids coming home to bad and uncertain weather so they went to Murray, KY with her parents for Christmas. My getting laid off had a blessing with it. I was able to leave Macomb and go to Murray a day earlier. I got to be with my wife and kids after a week and a half of being by myself. Our dog Manna may have preferred the 1-1 time but I certainly missed everyone!
The past year in one word is Difficult, but I would say the word for this coming year is Expectant.
I believe and expect that many great things are going to happen this year for our family. They are current prayer requests, that I believe we will see God answering soon.
1. A Local Job—still needed and I’m searching—hopefully one will come quickly. In the meantime, I’m enjoying being home more, spending more time with the kids and my wife, and getting some projects done around the house.
2. Our House Sold—we haven’t had as many lookers as I was expecting, but from what I understand, Western Illinois University will be hiring a number of new faculty in the spring—pray we can continue to make payments in the meantime
3. A New Ministry Opportunity—we are searching for church positions and we are praying and considering church planting here in IL and elsewhere.