In 2003, I felt the call from the Spirit of God to leave the local church after pastoring for over 25 years to be able to join the staff/faculty of Azusa Pacific University. Jon Wallace, the President of APU and Kevin Mannoia, Dean of the Theology School, offered me a position as the Executive Director of a Lilly Endowment Grant program. I accepted the position…to lead the program for four years, spend 1.7 million dollars and explore and design new paradigms of leadership development and spiritual formation in the lives of high school and college students. It has been quite a ride. After two years, it was very clear to me that the Youth Leadership Institute was not going to be sustained within the University environment. There are many reasons for that…let’s just say it was the right decision for APU. Today I’ll be meeting with the current Dean of the Theology school to wrap up the program. The grant money is just about gone…the program needs to be shut down. It is a melancholy time in my life…after a four and a half year journey, YLI has had the opportunity to involve over 600 students in a program that has birthed a new passion in each of them to pursue faithfulness to the call of the Kingdom of God. Sally Miller, my partner and Program Director, worked closely with me over the past years in bringing encouragement, enablement and challenge into the lives of each young person. We’ve had the likes of Mike DeVries, Mike Erre, Jim Burns, Scot McKnight, Nathan Barnes, Dave Moore, Rickard Bjerkander, Brian Martini, Steve Gerali, Kara Powell, Dean Mellerstig, Chris Yambar, and Sarah Sumner in our teaching team…we had students from all over the USA and Canada as well as from Germany, Japan, Korea, Romania and Argentina in our program. We’ve had close to 100 college aged young adults as staff members…we’ve had the creativity of Chaya Martini, Aaron Dugall, Ben Kroeker, Trace Bundy, Harp 46, Christine Clark, the Fanellis and a host of others who have helped us craft a new paradigm. It has been quite a journey. At the end of the year, YLI will cease to exist. Thanks to each of you who have prayed and encouraged Sally and me along the way. Thanks to my wife and best friend Vicky for her companionship and partnership all along the way. And thanks to the Lord and APU for this opportunity.
The YLI strategy is being absorbed into Re/New Ministries…our missional community and ministry headquartered in Eagle, Idaho. You can check it out HERE.
It is our hope to be able to continue on with TEAM conferences, T3 Wilderness Expeditions and the like through Re/New. Keep us in prayer…keep me in prayer as this next step in the journey unfolds. I’ll still be teaching as an Adjunct Professor in Biblical Studies @ APU…there are other things in the works as well. In the meantime, I thank God for these last four and a half years!
Here’s a prayer that meant a lot to me today as I prepare to face some "new waves" of life – it was posted by the intrepid Brother Maynard:
St. Brendan’s Prayer
Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?
Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without frame, without honour? Shall I through myself wholly food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?
Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?
Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean? O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?
O Christ, will You help on the wild waves?