Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Call to Vancouver B.C.

Last Thursday evening, Tanya and I announced to our congregation, Grace Chapel, a call we recently accepted to Grace Vancouver Church in BC Canada. This was a decision that took place after a six-month process of prayer, deliberation, wrestling with God, many tears, extensive interviews over the phone and through two trips we made to BC. Our elder board has walked with us through this entire process since mid-November.

Grace Vancouver Church was a church we were invited to help start, once we had finished seminary in 1998. We declined back in 1998 because we felt a strong sense of call to Lincoln and for me to work as a church-planting apprentice at Zion Church. Back in November of this last year, I received a call after so many years from the founding pastor of Grace Vancouver Church, John Smed, who had recruited us to Vancouver in 1998. John said that he had resigned as their founding pastor about 1.5 years ago and that GVC was still looking for his replacement.

GVC is the same age as Grace Chapel (started in 2000), but hasn’t grown nearly as much; there are about 100 people at the church who faithfully serve Christ in a region that is very much post-Christian and tends to be challenging ground to sow. Vancouver is a huge mission field boasting of an international community of nearly 50% minorities (25% of which comprise immigrant groups), with the Chinese being the most prominent minority group. This church itself is comprised of a high concentration of Asians, with many mixed-race couples like Tanya and myself.

On paper, the move doesn’t make a lot of sense as Vancouver BC is the most expensive place in North America to live (more expensive than New York City), and to realize this small church can provide the equivalent of about 80% of my current salary at Grace Chapel. But because the need as well as our call is so compelling at this point in our journey, I am returning to church-planting status with Mission to North America (the church-planting arm of the PCA), and hitting the trail raising funds again (like I did from 1998-2000 in order to start Grace Chapel). We will plan to move somewhere in the middle of August and be up to BC for the start of school for the kids after Labor Day. My last official day as Grace Chapel’s lead pastor will be July 1st.

These last 15 years have been a remarkable journey in Lincoln; we are very sad to leave. Still, we leave Grace Chapel in a great place with a strong, united and courageous elder board, a man in Ben Loos who is the right person at the right time to lead Grace Chapel for many years into the future, and a bonded, united and faithful membership. Grace Chapel is truly a remarkable place; we are very proud of our association with its membership these last 12+ years. Also, we are asking for people to pray for the transition, especially for our children as they are rooted, stable and loved in all areas of life (school, neighborhood, church, friendship networks throughout Lincoln), and we are uprooting them from all of it.

I will be posting a bit more about Vancouver once we get a little more traction and direction with our move as well as our fundraising efforts. Thanks for all your prayers and support.


Tara said...

Wow...I'm not even there anymore and I'm still sad! Best wishes on your move. My dad lives in Vancouver (actually Surrey, but close enough) should meet him sometime.

Satire And Theology said...

Mike it was good to hear you and Tanya in Vancouver and briefly meet.

God bless, and will chat later.


Holly said...

Mike, Congratulations and best wishes on your move to BC!

Chad Hall said...

Mike, Stefanie and I are excited for you and your family. Praying for a smooth transition and for God to continue to work through you in Vancouver.

aaron wk said...

Mike, I'll be praying for you guys and hope to see you before August when I return.

Jason said...

Hsu! Mandy and I are so excited about this decision/opportunity for you and your family. We are gonna miss you like crazy when we visit Grace, but this is huge! We are praying for a smooth transition. Love, the Schafers