I heard the call to go to Texas, made a list of pros and cons, got wise counsel and many confirmations. Did I hear God correctly, or was I making all this up in my mind? It was time to talk to my Pastor. (Start this series at part 1 by clicking here.)
Hope Chapel’s “Second-in-Command” told me that he thought I would be the last person to leave and plant a church. Now it was time to get the “Commander’s” opinion.
Zac Nazarian has been the Senior Pastor of Hope Chapel for over thirty years. He never expected to be a pastor; he wanted to get rich through Amway distribution. But through a series of unfortunate events, like his wife leaving him unexpectedly and taking everything they owned, then disappearing, he ended up in the back seat of Hope Chapel crying his eyes out. He got saved through this crisis.
He so loved the Bible that he read the book of Romans over and over. Then he went to get his Master’s in Divinity—just so he could understand the Bible more! To finish his Master’s Degree he interned at Hope Chapel for a year. At the end of his internship, the founding pastor of our church, Ralph Moore, got the call to start churches in Hawaii (someone has to do it). His goal was to reach 10% of the population with the Gospel, and then to build a bridge to Japan. But he had to find a replacement before he left.
Intern Zac planned on getting his degree then re-entering the business world but God had other plans: Ralph Moore chose Zac to replace him despite the fact that Zac was only three years in the Lord!
God has a funny way of changing people’s plans.
Hope Chapel is a church planting organization. Through this Mother church, hundreds have been planted around the world. God uses ordinary people to do his work.
And now, here I was, sitting in pastor Zac’s office.
He had faith enough in God to hire me, an ordinary, unschooled man who loved Jesus, fifteen years ago. He’s mentored me, taught me biblical orthodoxy, how to be a godly husband and father, was patient with me as I made mistake after mistake and encouraged my zeal when I discovered Biblical evangelism through The Way of the Master. He has been the most influential man in my life. What he said mattered and would be the start (or finish) of this “call from God.”
After sharing with him my entire testimony, everything you’ve read up to this point, he said, “Steve, I always thought you would be the first to go.”
When I shared my fears that it may not work and that I had a back up plan, Zac shook his head vigorously, essentially saying that there is no back up plan; this will work. “And don’t even think about it.”
He said this because I needed to focus on this project one step at a time, not worry about the future. “So, we will need to send you up there to spy out the land.”
That evening, in my office, I was preparing a message for the Singles group I lead. The passage was from Genesis 12: 1-4—
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him;
Hmmm…Does this count as one additional confirmation?
Nine days later, I was on a plane to Austin with my wife Karen.