When I was 5, my parents pulled my sister and I aside to let us know about an upcoming move. We lived in Louisville, KY and my Father had accepted a position as the director of all music programs for a small, independent Baptist collage in Wisconsin. We rented out our house, the movers packed the truck and we headed off to pursue my parent’s dream of fusing ministry with their talents to disciple young people on a pastoral Christian campus.
The school was a “live in” collage with men’s and women’s dorms, duplex housing for all the teaching staff families, a lake, a chapel, class rooms, rec hall and a cafeteria all set back in a birch forest 20 minute’s drive from the nearest small town. My friends were all the staff kids. My years on the campus were full of exploring the forests and sand dunes, catching toads, swimming in the lake, riding my bike every where, building forts and trying to figure out girls.
It was a weird, wonderful place to have part of my childhood. During the school’s missionary conference I made the declaration that I would be a missionary whether God called me or not. I made my incremental commitments to Christ at the summer camp put on by the school’s students. I learned about religious control and politics which brought our time at this school to an end.
My Mom and Dad always had people over to our house. There was always some student joining us for dinner. They would throw parties for the kids. Dad formed a touring choir that would travel 2 months out of the year to promote the school and my folks especially poured into these students. They discipled and supported them, they loved them and created community. They made space even in their “off the clock” time to listen and encourage students. Some of them are missionaries and pastors and still correspond with my Dad.
Horrible accusations came from a jealous staff. We left the school. The dream over, my parent’s hearts broken, we moved back to Kentucky. Back into our old house. Dad taught music in public schools and university and Mom got secretarial work. I was 10.
Dad tells me that long before that, my parents dream was to buy a big house and run a ministry to help street people. But church people discouraged it. Then they sought to minister to young people and that was killed by the “teachers of the law.”
And here I am in Modesto, California. Another day, in another way, I seek to help and encourage street people and young people. My sons are 5 and 10. What will they say when they are 35 reflecting on the time we lived inside a church and Mom and Dad worked with this crazy group called YWAM, chasing a crazy dream? Will they remember that we were faithful? Will they remember our dreams? What will they have to fight through and for? How will this time shape their future?
My Dad was my best man in our wedding. His toast was simple. Glass raised in the very building I now live in he said, quoting a favorite song, “May all who come behind us find us faithful.” Amen.