My Dear Friends, April 2021
In this month’s newsletter I’m simply repeating our announcement from last Sunday, 28 March, for those who might not have heard.
The day has come to tell you that Tonia and I and our family are preparing to leave EBC and take up another task in another corner of God’s harvest field. We plan to leave June-ish or July-ish. At this point we are praying a lot, following a few leads, yet don’t know where we’ll end up. We suppose that it will be a place that’s small and struggling. We’re open to any ministry: working in a church, prison chaplaincy, hospital chaplaincy.
We’ve been contemplating the move for a while; for at least a couple of years a sense of restlessness has been growing. Before Covid hit I had started to look around the country, especially out west, for open positions. Not wishing to leave in a middle of a crisis, we pressed pause on our search last March. Now with the end of Corona in sight, thank God, we feel at liberty to press forward with the search.
For a few months some of you have known of our plans, and counseled and prayed- thanks.
I don’t like the fact that we’re telling you this news on Palm Sunday. But this is the last day of indiscriminate livestreaming, and I wanted to be able to let all the brothers hear the news firsthand, and not through the grapevine. Also, this week we sent out a letter to our far-away friends advising us of our plans, and we didn’t want the news to leak to you, again for you to not hear it firsthand.
Why are we leaving? Generally speaking, I believe that I’ve taken this ministry as far I can, and it’d be good for the church for someone with fresh eyes, fresh vision, fresh energy to come in.
And a fresh voice speaking the same word of God. A pastor I greatly admire one time told me about his experience of leaving his first church, how he knew that it was time. He said that a number of the congregation had grown a little weary of listening to him. They were ready for a new voice speaking the old Word. God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform and his church to build.
We set out for Boston as church planters. As it turned out we didn’t plant a church, but we happened upon EBC which was in need of resuscitation. For several reasons, it makes sense that church planters and resuscitators eventually move on from those churches they’ve midwifed or – by God’s power – helped to revive.
It will be good for the church to have the re-founder out of the way, to go through the paces of securing your next pastor, to be stretched in looking to God for unity and insight to provide and lead.
It would slight you with falseness if into this announcement I didn’t admit the fact that this year of Covid, as so for many churches, has been straining on some of the relationships within this church. It’s the first time that I can recall in pastoring that I knew we’d have to make decisions that would displease a certain number of people. Those decisions have come at the end of a lot of discussion and time and prayer. So far, I’m generally confident that we’ve done what we should. After we move away and time and distance separate me from those decisions, maybe I’ll realize that we could have decided better. God will be our judge.
Anyway, I bring up Covid to assure you that our decision to move is not premised on anything that has happened in these past 12 months. What covid has done for me is to confirm that this is Christ’s church, there are good and solid people here, and it’s time for us to go.
At EBC the Landry family has known much love and generosity and enthusiasm and support. In these past 16 years God has stamped his blessing on us, and you were the indentation. We are immeasurably, eternally grateful to God for the privilege of serving among you.
I count it the highest privilege possible to have spoken God’s word to you… and you were such an easy audience. Visiting speakers have several times remarked how attentive to the Word this congregation is. Hallelujah, this is God’s grace, and He let me be a part of it.
I’ll remind you that you were the first people that I served among as a senior pastor. I cut my pastoral and theological teeth here. I made a lot of mistakes, tried things that didn’t work, over-emphasized, wasted time, etc etc. But you’ve been a patient and gracious body of Christ, and I’ve never lost the sense that this church prays for their pastor, loves their pastor and his family. THANK YOU.
In the early fall of 2004, Ben was 4, Kai was 2, Paul was 1 – and we sold our house on 10537 Irving Ct in Westminster CO, stopped taking a paycheck for a year, and started on deputation. We used the money that we made on the house sale to fund our fundraising travels, pay for food, hotel, our rental in CO.
We traveled all over the west – Arizona, New Mexico, up and down California, all over Colorado.
In January of 2005 Paul had a major surgery – .5 of his lung was lopped out – and as soon as he recovered, we were back on the road.
Brothers and sisters, in 14 months we had raised enough money to move a growing family into one of the most expensive areas of the U.S. God blessed us. God was working toward, it was His will, that this church that gathers on Chapel Street be re-established.
And God provided through His people. I often like to recall: this church is the accomplishment of God working through the global body of Christ. Global? Yes. The Bibel Baptiste Gemeinde of Hamburg Germany supported this work.
Even a couple of folks who as far as I know aren’t in the body of Christ gave to this ministry . . . I chalked up their gifts to “the spoil of the Egyptians.”
This week I hauled out our Boston deputation notebook: In here I have our monthly balance statements; the maps of the places to which we traveled; the monthly letters to the supporters of this work.
I looked over the list of supporters: a few I barely knew, a couple I didn’t know at all. Some of the supporters have died, and this church became part of what they brought to their demanding Master – Ross and Betty Olson, Amie Mock, Bud Bierman.
A couple of the married folks have divorced. I won’t read their names… but perhaps we’ll let them stand for the truth that these were ordinary redeemed sinners who gave to this ministry.
A lady in CA sent in $15/month. Another lady in Illinois gave $10/month. Another woman gave $600 month.
You’ll recognize the names of some of our first supporters: Diane Landry, James & Laurie Landry, Wade Allen, Ronald Kunselman, Brett Felter, Dan Williams.
Most of the churches that regularly supported us were in the west: Garnet Mesa Baptist – Delta, CO, Beth Eden Baptist – Wheat Ridge, CO, Coast Bible Church – San Juan Capistrano, CA; Littleton Baptist Church, CO; Grace Baptist Church, Farmington, NM; Flatirons Baptist – Boulder, CO.
The omnipresent Spirit of God moved the world-wide people of God to band together and give toward this ministry.
And not just give. People have long prayed for this ministry. On 8 October 2005 I sent out a letter to supporters of this ministry. In that letter I said:
We have several prayer requests right now:
- A place to meet in Boston (We are investigating an exciting possibility right now)
- A song leader (unpaid)
- A piano player (unpaid)
- A business manager (unapid)
- The remaining 25 of our support – soon! Perhaps by November?
- A place to live in Boston
- Direction for the schooling of our boys
- All kinds of safety on next deputation trip – I leave for the south and Ohio next week, sansfamily.
I mention that excerpt from the update letter to observe that God has been answering prayer for and of this church for years. This is His Church.
And, of course, what was true at the beginning continued as the ministry was re-established. God kept answering prayer and providing for this body. I have on my computer a couple of large notebooks worth of weekly prayer requests that this church has offered up. He just keeps meeting needs.
And after we arrived, God continued to use the larger body of Christ to builds this church – we were given folks and teams to travel from Virginia, New Mexico, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Arizona, SC – to build and outreach. This was all unpaid labor…in fact, many of these teams paid for the supplies too.
Through meeting needs, through the participation of the greater body of Christ, through answered prayer, through granting that the word of God continue to be preached from this place, through raising up servants and leaders – God has over and over manifested His Presence and expressed that His blessing is on and His commitment is toward this ministry. God is with you and for you in Jesus Christ.
There is still much to do here. But there’s been a little progress. And now I’m not referring just to what’s happened among EBC. We have observed many, many churches planted in Boston during the time since we arrived. Churches with good pastors and congregations eager to get to work. God has been at work in this city. I’m part of a local fellowship of pastors and I can tell you there are quality men that are working hard all over this city.
These are the kinds of things that departing pastors are supposed to say, but. I happen to believe this: With God’s grace and your humbly following Him, I believe the best days of this church are in front. The next pastor is going to arrive to a people who are solid, battle-tried, love the Word, and eager to work for the Lord – I won’t be surprised to hear of great progress and battles won. God bless you.
And now a brief personal word: We are excited about our future. I’m ready for a new challenge. Again, I don’t know where we’ll end up, but I have hopes that it will be someplace a little hard, where the odds are against us, where we’ll have to see God’s right hand move for us. I’ve never understood myself too well, but maybe, maybe, I’m more of a rough-hewn ministry starter than a long-term pastor.
Recently my son, Kai, sent me this prayer attributed to the sea captain and explorer, Francis Drake. It conveys something that’s in my heart:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.
We have one more Good Friday and Easter together, when we remember the important One who doesn’t come and go, but stays: Jesus Christ, Crucified Lord, the Resurrected Second Adam, the Captain of our salvation. Let’s live it up and celebrate.
In the weeks to come, the leaders will be discussing and organizing for the future. Please pray. I pledge to continue pastoring all the way through our departure.
Of course, we ask for your prayers, even daily prayers, as we take this passage. God bless you, dear friends.