Last post was Part I of an interview with Curtis Zeigler. (How a man who works for Costco hears God’s voice: Curtis Zeigler Part I) He’s a friend of mine who I feel is someone who loves Jesus especially well and follows him closely. I thought his example might be helpful to any of us hoping to do the same. Today’s post is Part II of the interview.
Is that how God called you to Portland?
It was similar, yes. I was working in our little office at the Bible college. Five or six of us had desks in that little office. But I was alone. For whatever reason everyone else was out. I was working on my computer and out of nowhere I felt like God almost started downloading information to me. It kind of turned into this prayer. I was asking Him questions about different things. I wasn’t really praying about leaving the school or anything like that. At that point I was still thinking I would continue on there, although I knew it wasn’t my long term plan. He started speaking to me about decisions that had to be made about the school that were heavy on my heart. And another thing about a relationship with a girl I had had previously and through a long strange series of events we had started to communicate again and we were thinking about getting back together. So I had questions about that and whether or not that was a good idea. Yeah, God just started showing me stuff along those lines, and in the middle of that He started saying He wanted me to leave the school in a certain time frame, I think it was a year, year and one half, after that point, and that I was going to be moving. He didn’t tell me where at that point, He just said I was going to go start a church somewhere. The only thing I got out of it was that it wasn’t going to be in Hawaii, it was going to be somewhere else.
So as I was praying and asking questions, it was kind of like a conversation. I don’t know how many people have experiences like that. Obviously in scripture, Abraham in particular, when it comes to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and situations like that, he has these conversations with God. It’s interesting that you brought Abraham up, because I think Abraham is one of the people I’ve identified with the most. I connect with his stories in a deeper way than I do with other characters in the Bible. So yeah, it was clear I was going to be leaving, and the other decisions I needed to make were a lot more clear.
What about the where? When did you know God wanted Portland to be your destination?
That was a little less clear. I prayed about it after that initial encounter with God when he told me I would be leaving to plant a church. As I prayed a lot of times Portland would pop into my head but I had never been there. I didn’t know anything about it other than I had heard it’s a very unchurched area. As I kept praying about it and praying about it I ended up speaking to one of my good friends in Hawaii about it. We wound up deciding, why don’t we just go check out Portland since that’s what’s popping up, let’s go over there. So we flew over here during winter break. And one of the Bible college students, she set me up with a car to borrow from some friends of hers in Portland, and a house to stay in. We went to a bunch of different churches and explored the city to try to get a feel if this is where God wanted us.
There was a bunch of confirmation during that trip. A lot of the church planting books, blogs, and sermons have discussion about how pastors can be territorial and how difficult it can be to plant a church because so many other churches are competing for church members. We went to four different church services. At every single one of them we wound up sitting next to an elder or the pastor’s best friend or somebody like that who we’d share our story with, then that person would insist on introducing us to the pastor. And every meeting was very encouraging and welcoming and inviting. They were saying, yeah, I wouldn’t doubt that God is calling you to Portland because we need more laborers, harvesters, workers, and churches. It was really cool. And there were some connections I was unaware of. The pastor of one of the churches up here, I had actually discipled his brother back in Southern California at the mega church I went to. I found out because the day we were there the pastor — I never met him, never seen him — got up on stage and started talking about his younger brother who I knew and discipled for awhile. Some random day, some random church service, and all of a sudden . . . I ended up talking with the pastor after that service and let him know how I knew his brother. So things like that were confirmation.
And that paired with the fact that I was here with a friend who was contemplating coming with me to Portland to do the church plant thing, and he felt that confirmation as well. So there were two of us. Like I said, it wasn’t like God spoke and said, “Portland.” It was more experientially discerned.
So ultimately you wound up moving here to Portland, and the church plant is still a work in progress.
Oh yeah. It’s hard. In some sense I feel I’ve failed over and over and over again. Part of the vision is working a job as well as doing the church plant. So I’ve never done the church plant full time. As I was called to Portland to plant a church I also sensed that God was wanting me to work at Costco for whatever reason. There’s definitely been some fruit out of that but it’s also made ministry a lot harder. The reason I think God has called me to do this bi-vocational thing is in order to understand where people are at in their spiritual lives when they have to balance a job and family and kids.
Which brings us to something you said earlier. You said obeying God’s call for you to come to Portland “ended up being a huge blessing as you walked in obedience.” Tell me about that.
Yeah, so, I’ve gotten married and had a daughter and right now we have a son on the way, with Kaleigh — the girl who helped set me up with the car when we first came to Portland. But back then I didn’t know those blessings were going to happen.
And those haven’t been the only blessings. I met a bunch of great people, made a bunch of great friends and did ministry with them. And I experienced God with them in a different way than I had with my other Christian friends.
To be continued . . .