dear future church planter’s wife…love, cathi

I had been asked to write a letter to potential church planter’s wives to use in a project for the North American Mission Board. Their only guideline was to begin the letter saying: Dear future church planter’s wife, one of the struggles I have encountered as a church planter’s wife is [insert topic here].

I decided to share my response with you…here it goes:
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Dear future church planter’s wife,

One of the struggles I have encountered as a church planter’s wife is that there’s no graduating from the school of hard knocks.

I am a part of the growing community who broadcasts their life, thoughts and opinions on the www, i.e. I am a blogger. In an effort to compose a letter to you that encompasses what to expect as a church planter’s wife, what struggles to anticipate and how to best prepare for such a life, I decided to pull out the archives of our lives as church planters in the good ol’ US of A.

Seeing that you may get quite bored and/or overwhelmed by the entirety of it all, I will save you the grueling details and give you a few lessons I’ve learned from this said school of hard knocks via the blogging broadcasts.

So we begin here, on our journey to our first church plant in South Florida, where God chose to work in His divine silence…and I write:

class 101: How to hear the silence of the Lamb
Thursday, July 21, 2005

I want to be trustworthy of God’s silence…it sure seems like God’s zipping His holy lips.  I keep on applying the truths we all learned on the dating scene: “There are more fish in the sea”, “God will never give you second best”, “Just wait, it’s out there”. 

I want to be honorable with the quietness of a compassionate and loving Savior…just sitting on His lap, His huge, carpenter-like, warm arms wrapped around me, my head on His sheltering chest…listening to the silence…

class 102: How to trade an eye for Gucci Sunglasses??
Saturday, July 23, 2005

This whole trip to Florida, moving from the best ministry in the world, the best job in the world, the best friends in the world to a very unkind, hot place…well, let’s say…I wasn’t looking forward to it. However, God has proven Himself to be much more than faithful! When He chose to remove the closeness of those things, He replaced some of them with things that are so much better for us during this stage of our lives.

class 103: How to raise your hand if you’re sure
Thursday, September 15, 2005

It’s incredible to think about the journey God’s brought us through the past few months.  This time last year, we were completely content w/ living in Ohio.  We loved our jobs and were looking to buy a house.  God chose to pick us up and bring us down here to south Florida

I’m thankful for tough lessons and tough decisions.  They really create dependence.  It’s a good thing!

class 104: How to play the game Faithless Feud
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I have faith in the drivers next to me not to slam on their breaks.  I have faith in the waiter not to spit in my food.  I have faith in my job to send me my paycheck.  I have faith in my pastor to deliver a good message.  I have faith in the cashier to ring up my items correctly. 

Why is it so easy to have faith in people I don’t even know, yet it’s so difficult to have faith in a Father who loves me?

After working with the church in South Florida and helping to launch their first of three church plants, we were lead to move back to Ohio to help plant another ministry.

class 105: How to pack your bags in 10 days
Thursday, February 09, 2006

So, it’s now public knowledge…We’re moving to Ohio w/ in the next two weeks!!!!  No kidding!!!!  I never thought we’d only own our “first home” for only 5 months!!!  Good night! 

class 106: How to walk like an Egyptian
Monday, February 27, 2006

Goodbyes were terribly difficult.  Mark and I were trying to figure if Abram and Sarai felt the same way when leaving Ur…

We’re so excited to see how God is going to use us…this certainly has been a time of prayer for both of us…I do love when God takes away your personal power to bring you to the point of saying, “Man, that was ALL God!”  That’s when He gets the glory…

class 107: How to see the difference between an earthquake and a bounce house
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mark’s loving his job.  How could he not, it’s working for the best ministry ever, serving the living God, and marching in this movement to grab our generation and bring it closer to this pulsing relationship with a living Savior…how awesome is that?!?!

On top of the wonders of working w/ an awesome ministry, we’re meeting the greatest people!  These people have ministry gumption! 

class 108: How to use the escalator instead of the bungee cord or worse yet, the noose!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I’ve learned so much the past few weeks.  I’ve learned that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  There is a difference between solitude and isolation. 

class 109: How to meet new people without wearing a “hello my name is…” sticker on your forehead
Monday, July 24, 2006

We are both ever so busy w/ mentoring, discipling and meeting w/ the people of WEST and loving every minute of it! 

After training local leaders to take over our second plant, we left that ministry in capable hands. A week later, we learned that God wanted us to stay in the area and help another church launch the following spring…

Oh luv, my heart wants to encourage you in saying that there’s good news!!! God works in astonishing ways when life is full of insanity. This journey helps us learn the art of being content with unfulfilled desires. We can know that happiness, comfort and joy are much more beautiful when coupled with disappointment, trial and heartache. It is confirmed to be true that God is much more concerned about the development of our character and stronger intimacy with Him than giving us the easy way out of any given situation. In other words, as a result, our lives as church planters wives are in perpetual transition. Through this, we can learn to depend more on God’s resources, to deepen our intimacy with Him and each other and to find joy in this voyage of character transformation.

In these lessons, we have found that God’s blessings far outweigh our current situations. It’s as though the challenges of this moment are preparing us for the blessings and joys of the next moment. I pray that you too can find that this journey is nothing short of an adventure of risk, adrenaline and faith, Faith, FAITH!

Walking with you on this journey,

Cathi C. Stegall, wife of Pastor and Planter, Mark Stegall

Church Plants:

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