Friday, March 17, 2006

Tom is (pt3) .. a youth pastor

The calling of God is totally amazing: scary yet confident, assured yet fragile, exciting yet tedious, unstoppable yet attacked, all-consuming yet imperceptible, complete yet unboxable. If you take issue with paradox, then you probably want to steer clear of Jesus – his testimony of himself is just the beginning – fully God and fully man.

I heard one preacher bring alive the calling of God as “the fire within is greater than the fire without”. If you’re a Christian and you’re doing all that Jesus has called you to, you know exactly what that feels like!

God has called Liz and I to this city at this time for his purposes. Of that we are certain, and the reasons are too numerous for this post. The stories actually go back even before we knew each other (25 years+), and before we’d ever set foot in this awe-inspiring city – Vancouver, British Columbia. Our love affair with Vancouver is now into its 10th year, and the journey has not been a simple one, but totally God-led.

So here we are, working with youth (10-18 year olds) in Vancouver. This is not a career move, or a money spinner, or a business. This is not a temporary assignment, an internship or a project. This is not a hobby, or a pastime, or a vacation. This is life in all its fullness (John10:10). This is life in totality, both in intensity and timeline. Missionaries to Vancouver from 4,500 miles away? Absolutely. Does Vancouver need missionaries? Absolutely. Does Vancouver need a huge crowd of passionate youth changing the world around them and seeing God’s kingdom come and his will being done? Absolutely.

barman to bar manager to office boy to marketing specialist to church-worker to IT helpdesk to email specialist to . . . the rest of my life.

There I was in August 2004 earning a good salary in one of the world’s greatest banks downtown Vancouver, helping out as as a volunteer youth leader in our small church youth group. One of a team of 4 looking after the Canadian email infrastructure, I used to stare out of the window like Mr Thomas Anderson going “there is more to life than this”.
(OK so I’m no messiah, but I’m really good friends with one ;o)

Currently “more to life” looks like this: Youth Pastor at Point Grey Community Church and Utown church. What an incredible opportunity, and not one to be taken lightly. I love to work with a great bunch of youth and youth leaders attached to PGCC, and also with 10+ other churches in the area. I’m not particularly thrilled about the history of “the westside” of Vancouver: it’s not nearly full enough of God’s plans. So between us all we are aiming to make some history that looks a ton more “God-inspired”. I also love to work with families, schools, community centres, other youth-focussed groups. Dreams are big, reality can be frustratingly slow, but if I can see a bunch of genuine Canadian History Makers released into the fullness of who they are, I’ve done my job. It’s happening!

If you look at what we’re doing through most worldviews we are totally nuts (although there are others equally nuts and pioneering in the heart of Vancouver I’d like to point out. here, here, here, here, here and here just for starters!). If you take a little time to read the story of God, and recognise that the story continues to be written through eternity, there is simply one worldview that actually works out. As a friend says so poetically: “in the story of God, I am a pencil”. My desire is to be sharp, bold, and always available when needed :o)
Tom is (pt4) .. English

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