Like many Christians, I lived nominally for many years, never sharing my faith for fear of offending someone. I rarely opened my Bible and prayed only when I needed something. God felt distant, far away, and uninterested in the everyday happenings of my life.
Things began to change back in 2012. My wife and I were living near Pittsburgh and had a friend in Atlanta who was getting married. We decided to make a week out of the trip rather than just a weekend. My in-laws were speaking at a College of Prayer event so we attended that. During one of the sessions, there was a call for repentance and I felt I needed to repent for something that had happened to me when I was 14 and repent for the lies I had believed since then. It was amazing; I encountered the presence of the Spirit in a way I had never before. I felt free! A half a life of living in shame was gone!
In the fall we moved to Atlanta so my wife could take a job as the children’s ministry director at a church. The next spring we attended the same College of Prayer event and something amazing happened again. There was a call for people who felt called into ministry, maybe for the first time to come forward and to be prayed for. My feet started moving before my head knew what was happening but as my mind caught up I knew I was in the right spot. I didn’t know what ministry for me would look like but at that point, it didn’t matter.
I spent the next three and a half years trying to figure out where I fit into ministry and even trying to figure out what ministry even was. Eventually, I began to realize that God had given me a heart to pastor but I didn’t know what that meant. I entered the licensing and ordination process with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I applied for a job at a local church and didn’t get it…then another, and another. I didn’t get it, isn’t this what I was called to? Why was my path running into dead ends if God had told me I was a pastor? I began to pester my wife with questions about church.
“Why does outreach mean we are asking people to come into a church?” “If being in church is so important, why are we so worried that people come to our church and not just happy they are going to a church?” “If we believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for everyone, why aren’t we teaching people to use them and giving place for them?” “Why does the Bible talk so much about widows, orphans, poor, and foreigners so much but we don’t seem to talk about them in church?” And on and on and on…
What I didn’t realize was that God was relieving to me that His place for me wasn’t in a traditional role as a pastor but something different. Enter Pete. One day Pete Brokopp showed up at our church. He had been scouting a town called Clarkston for a new Envision site. I was part of a group invited to have dinner with him and he shared his vision with us. As you may have guessed his vision was the answers to most of my questions. Not only that but there was a position that looked like it was made just for me. I get to use my business degree as a way to help our church planting goals. I get to mentor and to help raise up leaders and to pass on what has been given to me. What seemed like a dead end has become a new chapter in my life. Please keep praying there is much work to be done!
Brian and his wife Anna serve in the metro Atlanta area, home to people from more than 761 different people groups. They work with refugees and urban poor with Envision Atlanta. Brian has helped Envision Atlanta start two businesses, a window cleaning company, and a mobile thrift store. One of the goals of each business is to provide job training and livable wages to its workers. Brian and Anna are required to raise their own support to pay their salary. You can give here. Search for Brian and Anna Baldwin where it says, “type name of worker or project”. Envision is part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and your gifts are all tax deductible. Every gift is valuable for advancing the work being done. You can also sign up for Brian and Anna’s newsletter here (outside link FYI).