FAQ: What Will Be the Impact When You Leave Allendale?

TT_14-06-26 2011 Minivan_packed

As we are coming to the end of our season in Allendale, it encourages us to hear that we will be missed in this community. Not a week goes by that we don’t hear, “We are going to miss you!” or “Are you sure that God wants you to leave?”

It’s nice to feel loved.

But this question (“What will be the impact of you leaving?”) also burdens us. Because when people ask that, they usually mean:

  • Who is going to come in and continue your work?
  • Did you finish what you wanted to accomplish?
  • What’s going to happen with all the things you’ve started?

While we don’t think we’ve done anything too amazing by living in Allendale, we are glad that we’ve been able to do some positive things here. We have not come up with any novel ideas. We just saw needs and opportunities, and jumped in.

What We’ve Done

In fact, we can categorize what we’ve added to this community, and only one of these things is hands-on:

  1. Our personal service (hands-on ministry, usually with children)
  2. Provide a burst of energy and encouragement to others in this community, many of whom have been laboring far longer than we have.
  3. Connect others, and get out of the way.

This last point has been the most rewarding for us. While Grace Church blazed a trail well before we got here, we’ve also been able to help them develop more and deeper connections. And we’ve invited and hosted other churches to get involved (always through a focus on relationships).

We knew of a church two counties away that wanted to help resource a BackPack Buddy feeding program, but needed local manpower. So when we heard of a local church who could provide the manpower but needed resources, we connected them.

We knew of someone who wanted to launch a community effort to improve literacy, we connected them with an outside school district that was already doing it.

As much as we wanted to have a positive impact in Allendale, we never wanted ministry opportunities to center around us and become dependent on us. We were not in this for ourselves, but to glorify God and to bless others. Honestly, we’d prefer it if no one really noticed when we left, and positive programs and relationships kept plugging along.

When we’ve been able to connect others and then get out of the way, it makes it that much easier for us to leave and not leave a gaping hole.

A Gap

Of course, we know that there will be a gap when we leave. Some things we’ve started may have to be scaled back, or may not get done at all. That’s just the reality of leaving an opportunity like this.

But we have also seen others (Allendale residents) step up. Some of this increased movement has been happening for years, but we’ve noticed a drastic increase over the past few months, as we’ve moved towards our transition date.

For all the ways that people in Allendale have encouraged us, one of my favorites is when we hear, “Your work has inspired me and others to do more.”

Wow. That’s the burst of encouragement we hope to provide. We want to move things forward, beyond where they are now. Then, after creating that gap, we want to see others fill that. And we can help equip and empower them to do that.

“I want to empower others without them feeling like I’m their power.” Pastor Sean Dogan (Long Branch Baptist Church)

God’s Gracious Hand

As much as we are honored and praised by others, we are also humbled. Last month, I read through the book of Ezra (chapters 7 and 8). Ezra was given great trust and respect from his pagan king. At least three times in those two chapters Ezra remarks, “God’s gracious hand was on me.” And you hear the same idea from Nehemiah and a Psalmist.

That is what we feel like in Allendale. For all that we have been able to do, we see it as God having His gracious hand on us. We never could have guessed the amazing adventure of what He allowed us to be a part of.

Thank you for your praises and encouragements. But don’t let the distract you from the One who is greater and Who has done greater things.

How You Can Pray

As we close out our time, please pray with us:

  • Allendale community members to have the wisdom and strength to continue to pour into this community for the common good.
  • That we would first and foremost continue to pursue God ahead of our own desires.
  • For our transition of leaving Allendale and moving to where He directs us next.
  • That people can look at our lives and say, “God’s gracious hand was on them.”

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