Breaking Blog Silence: A Lament

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : September 8, 2005

I have officially hit the low spot of church planterdom. 

A few days ago, I found out two good friends are leaving Missio Dei. 

The next day, Magali and Akary (a young woman and her child who have been living with my wife and I for quite some time) secretly moved to California to live with a very abusive man.  It was a surprise, but unsurprising at the same time. They are very important to my wife and I, and it feels like the year or so we’ve been laboring to help them with some very real issues has gone to waste.

And now strike three…The last time I posted here, I was taking a time away from blogging to focus on actualizing the ideas that I believe God has been nurturing within me, rather than spending alot of time writing about them.  Recently, Missio Dei (my church) has been gearing up for some new adventures.  It has been a hope-filled time.  This Sunday, we’re scheduled to begin having our Central Gatherings at Augsburg College–a local college on the West Bank (the area that God has called us to serve). 

Well, today I got this email:

Dear Pastor Mark Van Steenwyk: 

Our understanding was that your Sunday events scheduled at Augsburg College in the East Commons were "meetings".  It appears to be a worship service and according to our college policies we need approval for a worship service from the Board of Regents. 

Because we do not have approval of the Board we cannot host your events on Sunday evenings.  The college will refund in full your payment of $975.00.

We are sorry for the confusion and because of the late notice you are scheduled in the East Commons for Sunday, September 11, 2005 at no charge. 

Again, we are sorry for the confusion.

Craig Maus

To which I replied:

Mr. Maus,

This is incredibly inconvenient for us.  We are a small Baptist General Conference Church with limited resources.  We’ve paid hundreds of dollars for local advertising, have been getting the word out for a month now, and now you tell us, less than one week before our first scheduled meeting, that things cannot go through as we both agreed?

We never misled you in any way.  These upcoming meetings have been set in stone for us and for you to pull out of our agreement would devastate us. If we don’t have any music, can we still use your space for our meetings?  In other words, is there any way you’d recognize us as using the space for meetings rather than a worship service?

Mark Van Steenwyk

This is a huge blow to the gut.  I know the Lord Gives and Takes Away, but I had three very intense experiences of losing something very dear to me in the past several days.  I am at the end of my rope.  I don’t know what God is doing.  I don’t know what all of this means for Missio Dei or for me.  But I am tired and I need God to reveal himself to me in a very clear way or I don’t know what will happen.  Please pray.

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9 Responses to “Breaking Blog Silence: A Lament”

  1. graham on September 8th, 2005 1:14 pm

    Ah, man - that sucks!

    I was looking at the flyer/advert this morning and thinking that it all looked and sounded pretty cool.

    Here’s praying that some kind of resolution can be found.

  2. pat k on September 8th, 2005 3:48 pm

    Wow, Mark. I heard about this from Joel’s e-mail, and I came here to get more details.

    I’m really sorry, and I’m praying for you.

  3. todd h on September 8th, 2005 4:29 pm

    Mark, I’m so sorry, that’s awful. We will be praying.

  4. Gary M. on September 8th, 2005 6:52 pm

    God never asks for more than He gives. The strength that you are gaining from these “blows” is what you need to fill the place He has prepared for you.

  5. Charlie Wear on September 8th, 2005 9:46 pm

    Okay Mark, you are asking the right question, God, what are you doing? Now, instead of crawling under a vine, perhaps you should take the time to listen to his whisper in the wind…have your “meeting” in the East Commons? That will satisfy your brochure printing obligations and then get a friend or two and begin to walk the streets of your “target” area and watch to see where the people are hanging out…Look for the place where you can interact with the ones God has called you to serve…think in terms of alternative ways of interacting, rather than a “meeting”…See if God will whisper to you in the wind…
    Blessings on your adventure with God,

  6. petew on September 9th, 2005 12:04 am

    I’ve totally been there, bro. Two thoughts - First, keeping putting it before the Lord and hang in there. As a pastor, you need to model what “trusting God” looks like…the unfortunate part is that real trust is forged out of having everything stripped away from you. Second, don’t get so caught up in the disappointments - especially the loss of people - that you overlook the people that you do have. Keep up the good fight!

  7. Van S on September 9th, 2005 1:58 am

    Thanks all for the encouragement.


    Thanks…I wrote this post this morning, when I was feeling the pain of the events described. Now, at the end of the day, I feel a sense of peace. I’ve realized that “Augsburg” was a compromise. I feel like what we have set out to do is a real God Thing. It is beyond us. And in order to make the journey easier, I think we went for the easy grab–the short cut: meeting at a local college, with a local newspaper promotion, to get local West Bank people to come to us instead of the slow process of going to them. It is funny that I need to be reminded of the call to be incarnational, since I’ve pontificated about it on this blog recently.

    It has been a hard year. I realize that a large number of people that have been involved at Missio Dei don’t have a passion for incarnational ministry on the West Bank. Some are involved for reasons that have nothing to do with the West Bank and could take it or leave it. But it is where God has sent us. I believe that with all of my heart. The process of getting people engaged in incarnational ministry has been very slow–and so I think we sought to help that along by taking a shortcut. I think God has something else in mind. And I’m begining to realize what it is. This Sunday, as Missio Dei meets to pray, I hope that we are all able to see God’s vision for Missio Dei and begin to obediently live it out. And I have great hope that we will.

  8. alexander on September 9th, 2005 7:36 am

    Hi Van. Hang in there you’re doing great. by now you sound as if you’ve got a little objectivity back. looks like this may well turn out to be a door of opportunity rather than a disaster. the fact that you feel so deeply about these things shows your heart. thats where God looks. alexander - UK.

  9. Jeff on September 9th, 2005 6:34 pm

    Take heart. Maybe God foreordained all of this just so Charlie Wear would comment on your blog. Frankly, Augsburg pales in comparison. No matter what happens, you are now a Man amongst mere children.

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