Saying Goodbye To Shepherd Community Center
Goodbyes are not fun.
They never are.
Saying goodbye is a recognition that things have - ended. What has been will no longer be. Saying goodbye to good things is hard because you are leaving behind something beautiful, joy-filled, or meaningful.
At the same time, it is sometimes a blessing to have hard goodbyes because it means that what you are leaving behind is worthwhile.
And on August 31st I say goodbye to family as I end my time serving at Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Shepherd is more than just a ministry, not-for-profit, or church to me. It truly is family to me. The men and women I serve alongside and the neighbors I journey with have become a part of my extended family.
And it has been that way for 22 years. When my family moved to Indianapolis in 1995 (I was four years old), none of us could have anticipated living and serving here for over two decades.
Shepherd is where:
- I became a follower of Jesus Christ.
- I received my call to ministry.
- I have preached most of my sermons.
- I received my call to missions.
- I met my wife.
- I met my best-friends.
- I learned how to teach children (and learn how much I hate being a disciplinarian).
- I met my mentee.
- I met most of my mentors.
- I have developed friendships in over 200 churches and businesses across central Indiana.
- I learned how to share the story of how God is at work.
- I have seen "statistics" realize they are God's loved children and become disciples of Jesus.
And yet, the most beautiful chapters in our life are not without brokenness right?
Shepherd is also where:
- I lost friends to the worst mass killing in Indianapolis' history.
- I have seen first-hand the ravaging effects of alcohol and drug abuse.
- I have lost friends to suicide.
- I have helped relocate victims of domestic abuse.
- I have cried with friends over the damaging decisions made by people we love very much.
At Shepherd, I have seen the best - and worst - of humanity. And over the last two decades I have seen God at work in the midst of all of those situations. In the deep sorrow and great celebrations, God has developed me into the man of God that I am today. And you (yes you, reading this right now) very likely played a part in me being the person that I am today.
And for that I say thank you.
Shepherd Community Center - and Indianapolis in general - has been home to the most formative years, experiences, and relationships in my life. I am forever grateful for the blessing of growing up on the near Eastside of "Naptown."
Words fail to describe the impact that the staff, volunteers, neighbors, donors, and friends of Shepherd Community Center have had on my life. But my life will never be the same because of all of you who I have met because of Shepherd.
As my family moves to Senegal (West Africa) this December, I am so excited about what God is calling us to and the work of the Church that we are joining throughout West Africa. And all of you go with me. You have impacted Reetu, Zane, and I for eternity, and we take that with us.
Let me say that again: We are taking you with us. (Whether you want to or not haha.) You go with us as we go to join the work of God already happening in West Africa.
I am so excited for the future.
And yet, today, saying goodbye is hard.
I'll end with this prayer, which I have been praying for myself and for the family of Shepherd as well: