The homeless population in Salt Lake City has multiplied over the past few years. While up north on an airport drop-off errand, I stopped for lunch at Carl’s Jr and a man approached me asking for some money I've refused to give money in the past for worry it'd feed substance abuse- and kept walking. I did want to help this man, who seemed sincere and desperate. I said I wouldn't give him money, but I'd buy him lunch if he wanted.
Alan and I had lunch together and he told me about his troubles- losing his place to sleep several days ago, injuring his hand painfully so that he couldn't work, and shoes that'd fallen apart replaced by $2 thrift store dress shoes. He'd worked in video and media most of his life, but something went sideways, and he had nowhere to go- his family had all passed away. I looked for resources on my phone and ended up connecting him with a volunteer from a local organization that can help him find housing, food, and treatment for his hand. I had a deadline to be back in Ephraim, so I prayed with him and left him with money for another meal.
Sarah and I are leaving Utah. Today's opportunity to minister to Alan is an example of the kind of ministry we will do in the future, as all believers are called to. As we explain in our annual update, we've found out that vocational ministry isn't our forever future. We all, however, are called to full-time ministry: to be compassionately responsive when approached at a cheap fast food joint, to be a genuine friend that your community knows they can really and truly open up to when life hurts, to bring up children of character, and to keep watchful and open eyes for the opportunities God gives to believers to be his agents in a broken, hurting world.
In a few months, Sarah and I will rejoin you as full-time ministers of the Gospel. We'll no longer be doing so as our vocation, so here in Ephraim, the small groups, bagels, burned-out light bulbs, and icy driveways will be tended by others the Lord has called here for that work. Many of you have already received our annual newsletter in the mail and might have read our longer explanation for our decision. It's also available to read here as well (PDF).
Serving in Utah has been a privilege. We’ve seen many great things happen and consider ourselves blessed to have been a part of them. While we were not anticipating our time here to be only a few years, we see the good things that have come out of those years, and believe that our impact leaves the people of Utah better than when we arrived. We want to thank all of you who have supported us and made our work possible. We appreciate your faith, your investment, and your kindness.