"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit..."
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Wade Kirk © All rights reserved.
I’d like to share with you my life journey into ministry. (SPOILER ALERT!) At the end, I’m going to ask you to consider partnering with me in ministry. Even if you don’t share my same passions and enthusiasm, I hope I can at least inspire you as you continue to read.
My story starts many years ago at Ohio Northern University. One evening in Robert’s Hall I was studying for my medicinal chemistry final exam (as fun as it sounds). I took a short break to pray to God to give me purpose beyond the pharmacy major that I had come to loathe. That night God spoke to me very clearly and I received a calling into full-time youth ministry. (For those who are wondering, I failed the exam.) Shortly after that time, for many reasons that I won’t go into, I made the decision to complete my pharmacy education and explore ministry opportunities on the side.
After my college graduation I co-founded a performance ministry called “Won in Him” with Martha Fickle. We trained teens to share the gospel through musical theater at summer camps and churches. It was through "Won in Him” that I was approached by Pastor Steve Osborne and offered the position of part-time Youth Pastor at Christian Endeavor UMC. God was holding up His end of the promise He’d made a couple of years prior. Throughout the years, I made peace working as a part-time youth pastor and became very comfortable living on the salary of a pharmacist. Although I’ve never liked being a pharmacist, I had resolved myself to believe that “I was where God wanted me” even though deep down I knew that wasn’t true. God’s calling was full-time and I was only giving him half-time. As the years progressed and I transitioned to being the youth pastor at Alive Vineyard, I’ve become more and more discontent practicing pharmacy. Even though It pays well and the hours do allow me to operate in some limited ministry, I have been absolutely miserable and felt trapped. I love the folks I work with and my customers are great. The reality - now clear - is that I’m walking outside the will of God.
About a year ago I arrived at the pharmacy early and I was grumbling to God about working that day. The evening before I had a conversation with a young man who's parents were struggling with addiction. I wanted to support him at a deeper level but I couldn't because I had to be at work all day at the pharmacy. As I complained to God, I was reminded that He had called me to participate in full time ministry and I choose to walk in a different direction. I clearly remember this encounter because as I continued to mutter, God told me that if I walked out the door in faith that I would find the contentment that I sought. That’s when it got real and I got scared. I was “released” from pharmacy but all my human insecurities began to rise up. How would I support myself? What about health insurance? House payments? Car payments? Once again, I resolved myself to MY selected fate and leaned into MYSELF. I was completely miserable but at least I had financial security.
After a few more months I decided to look for other jobs that weren’t pharmacy related. I applied for a few but all of them ended with closed doors. I started to begin investigating educational options to get an advanced theology or counseling degree. Those options, although appealing, were expensive and didn’t seem quite right. I certainly didn’t want to replace one bad situation with another. My next step was to meet with some folks for advice. I talked to Pastor Steve at Alive Vineyard, Chaplain Jeff Smith at LMH, and Pastor Kevin Blade at Buckeye Lake Community Church. All three are very Godly men and gave terrific advice that I’ve prayed through and contemplated at great lengths.
During this time, my desire to work with teens had been increasing dramatically. A series of events led me to begin a mentoring project with a student from Lakewood High School. I’m not sure how much of a difference that I’ve made in this kid’s life, but he’s certainly impacted mine. God was revealing His heart for young people to me in a new, amazing way! Another door opened through a random set of circumstances that led me to volunteer with Central Ohio Youth for Christ. In March, I completed the application, interviews, and gained clearance to volunteer in the detention center through a program called “Bridge Builders." The moment I entered the juvenile detention center my spirit literally jumped. God once again reaffirmed the call to youth ministry and was showing me the compassion He had for these broken kids.
On May 1 (less than 2 weeks from the original draft of this letter) my phone rang at 12:13 AM. This call that I was receiving was not from God. This call came from a parent of a kid who I had become extremely close to. The words he spoke pierced my heart like a dagger. “My boy is gone. William is dead.” My life changed in that moment. My ministry could no longer remain causal or part time - it needed to be intentional. I experienced every possibly emotion in the days that followed but I've landed on anger. I am angry at the false identity that Satan has placed on the lives of young people. I’m angry at the lies of worthlessness that young people are buying into. I’m furious at the glamorization of suicide that the clueless Hollywood crowd has projected into our youth culture. It’s time to be proactive. We know that true worth and identity come from our Creator and it’s time to instill that truth into our young people. I had already discussed with Pastor Steve about wanting to move into working full-time at Alive Vineyard but the urgency of that had increased. I realized that life is way too short to be miserable and that if God spoke a calling into my life, that I needed to obediently pursue it - even if it was 25 years later. Honestly, I’m petrified but trying to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
So here’s where you come in. I need help. I cannot accomplish God’s plan without some faithful people partnering with me. My plan is to accelerate into ministry by flip-flopping what I’m currently doing. I want to move forward into full-time ministry with youth and young adults by reducing my time in the pharmacy. By changing my status to part-time at the pharmacy, I will lose my insurance benefits and take a extremely drastic cut in salary. So I am now tasked to find people who are willing to support me in prayer and will partner financially with me in ministry. Some people will call me foolish for cutting my salary, but I know this is the right decision. God has given me complete peace to move forward. I need to raise between $1,000 and $1,500 monthly to cover the costs associated with ministry. If you know me well, you know that I hateasking people for ANYTHING. This is stepping totally out on faith and depending on God.
So what am I asking you to invest in? I know that when I support missionaries - that is my new self-proclaimed title: “domestic youth missionary” - I want to know their vision for ministry. Here’s mine:
I want to continue fully supporting the youth ministry at Alive Vineyard. I’m involved in the AV church youth but I want to be even more invested. I want to be able to meet and mentor on a more regular basis. I want them to have an adult that they know loves them and that they can trust to share their hurts, disappointments, and to celebrate their success. We have way too many kids who lack a consistent adult in their lives because of various circumstances (some unavoidable) and I want to fill that gap.
I have a huge burden for kids who are "at risk." I want to be able to invest more time reaching this population with the gosple of Jesus Christ and show them an alternative to drugs, gangs, and "street life." My heart breaks for kids looking for hope and love in the things of this world. We know the only true, significant hope is in a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope to invest more time and energy into the ministry of "Youth for Christ" as I develope this are a of my calling.
I want to find avenues to serve the youth community through mentoring relationships by partnering with various community and school organizations. By loving kids and parents well I think I can make a difference. I already have an established ongoing relationship with Lakewood drama that has led to ministry opportunities. I want to develop that relationship and find others. I want non-churched kids to experience Jesus in a tangible way.
What happens next?
I’m so glad you asked. I’ve set up this webpage that will keep you informed about the things that I'm doing. From here you’ll be able to follow my ministry and partner with me in ministry through prayer and, if the Lord leads, financially. Together we can make a difference! Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and prayerfully considering your response.
Humbly Because of The Cross!