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Over the past year, our church has been talking about pursuing the call and passions that Jesus has laid on your heart with reckless abandon. I’m not sure that our pastor realized what a great job he was doing until we decided to take time away from our church to go to Africa and serve at The Living Hope Community Centre.

For me, that meant taking a leave of absence from my post as the director of high school ministries. For my wife, that meant leaving her role as an associate pastor. It was a sacrifice for both of us, but we knew we were pursuing our heart’s desire to serve “the last and least of these.”

From the first day that we announced our plans to leave till three months later when we departed, I was humbled by the experience. Our community showed us an amazing amount of love, support, and encouragement. They knew us well enough to know our hearts, so they were able to celebrate with us as we pursued this journey. They didn’t try to hold on to us; instead they sent us out prayerfully.

For starters, the church allowed me to take the time off for those three months and still return to my position. Then they hired an amazing Interim-Director to make sure that the work God was doing in our student ministry would continue. But we were mostly humbled by what the church members said and in how they loved us. We never doubted that we were doing the right thing because they were so supportive. It was as if God was affirming us through them.

My hope is that you are serving in a community like ours. It’s by no means a perfect one, but it was one that humbled me to my core with their love. And if you’re not in that type of community, make one. Create a culture in your ministry that encourages your students and adult leaders to pursue the calls that God has on their hearts.

Also, for you personally, stick around a church long enough and share your heart openly so that the community can really know you. When they do, they will celebrate with you as you pursue Jesus and His call on your life.

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