Summer of sad
It was literally the loneliest summer of my life.
I was working 60-hour weeks. Toiling at mind-numbing jobs. Emotionally exhausted from customer service. And 15 hours a week bike commuting on Steeles Avenue in Toronto…which is like rollerblading on a highway.
It was rough. I was living off-campus. I was tired. I was barely breaking even. And while my roommates were nice, they were several years older and we had nothing in common.
I learned a lot that summer. I ended that summer financially in the positive. Paid off the last bit of tuition I still owed after OSAP and scholarships from first year.
I read Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God over and over again. I prayed as I stocked shelves and scraped donut glaze. I prayed for coworkers and they came to church. I had one day a week (Sunday) that I could reliably rest and attend church.
But it was hard and lonely, and I was sad.
A pack of bacon
So when my friend Jason asked if I wanted to head down to Tyndale and hang out? I said yes.
The event? A few people were cooking a pack of bacon.
I mean… that was exciting stuff on a student budget. (I remember I took a couple pieces home and made a pot of lentil bacon soup). But of course, it was far more exciting to have some relief from the interminable work and solitude of that summer.
And a friend of his was there too. His name was Jarod.
And while we’d met once or twice? We never really talked till that day.
His church had thought he was going to be a pastor, and when he attended Bible college he figured out fast… that’s not going to happen. Not his calling, not his gifts.
So he was working at Tyndale, paying off his bills. Living with five other guys in a 3-bedroom basement apartment. (Where he continued to live until we got married years later).
“I could do that”
Through that fall, we talked a bit more.
I was a resident advisor in the dorms and he worked on campus.
Our friend Jon took us to No Frills for groceries.
And I remember Jarod and Jon taking a bit about Jarod’s story. That while he wouldn’t be a pastor, he wouldn’t mind supporting one. He could be a pastor’s spouse.
“I could do that” he said.
This guy was intriguing, eh?
Not my bridal college
I really didn’t know what a “pastor’s husband” would look like.
I mean, I’d never known one. I’d heard about them. Like a supernova or an umbrella bird. I may have seen one or met one in passing.
But a real live one, up-close? Let alone a guy who wanted that for HIS life? And wasn’t yet a pastor’s husband?
Wouldn’t Bible college would be the absolute worst place to find someone like that?!? After all, the guys wanted to be pastors themselves.
(Shortly after the call to ministry became clear to me? A good friend of mine heading for pastoral ministry had actually asked me out. I told him I couldn’t date him… because I was called to be a pastor… and not only in the role of the spouse of a pastor.
I couldn’t give up that calling for a relationship.
Thankfully my buddy in that instance understood!… and with a great deal of maturity on his part we stayed friends. He’s also called me “big sister Mer” ever since. He married a really lovely woman a few years later,)
The rest of the ride
In the car that day with Jarod, I was glad to hear there was at least one guy who thought being a “pastor’s husband” would be OK! Not that it would be him or anything… but at least guys like that existed! So I laughed and said “hey Jarod, we need more guys like you out there!”
And we continued our trip for discount groceries at the big yellow box store.
Next January, Jarod would ask me out, and as they say.. the rest is history.
We’ve been married 12 years this April. And we’ve been so privileged to work with other pastor’s husbands who help us flesh out what his role is.
I’m REALLY glad he said “I could do that.”
Coffee in the bakery
A very long time ago, I was changing cities. And I wanted to talk to a few pastors who I looked up to before I left. Get their opinion. Glean their wisdom.
One conversation we had was about affiliation. No denomination is perfect, of course. They all have their warts. But I chose to be part of PAOC.
I said a phrase that day, and I’ve said it countless times since. “I’ve thrown in my lot with them, and with that I’m content.”
But it wasn’t always that way.
What path to pursue
At Tyndale I thought a lot about what path I’d take to ministry. What denomination I’d affiliate with. And I had a lot of conversations with friends and mentors about who they were with. What their beliefs were.
Sure, I grew up first in the Mennonite church. And when we switched into a PAOC church I had a lot of great experiences there. Especially with the Holy Spirit.
But I didn’t know many people. Being a German church, the language and culture didn’t lend itself too well to networking. I didn’t have relationships within the PAOC to start with.
Back to the start
I’d heard they ordained women, though I’d never seen it. I knew they were a solidly evangelical denomination: with high respect for the Bible and for missions.
And that they didn’t trace back this ordination to a movement that made them do so.
They didn’t revise their theology to fit what changed in culture.
They planted it firmly in the middle of Acts 2
That when the Holy Spirit came, he fulfilled God’s purpose and prophecy made many years before in Joel 2.
Both the sons and daughters would prophesy. Men and women would receive the Holy Spirit. And in the early day of the PAOC (and their American counterpart) about 100 years ago, we saw men and women speaking with authority and equality.
That passage also speaks about racial equality. We saw that too in the earliest days of PAOC. The equality and integration of the early Pentecostal camp meetings was also a hallmark of the movement.
All I knew when I headed to Tyndale… was that I might have at least one denominational home.
I thought I would be working at an English PAOC church.
Turns out I ended up working with the German Baptists and would keep doing that for a few years.
And in the process, I walked into some of the best mentorship – and friendship – I’ve ever had. I’m profoundly grateful for those years and to those people. And the incredible amount of time and care poured into my life.
But I knew I couldn’t work in the German Baptist church. Because as a denomination, they wouldn’t hire me, let alone ordain me.
Asking them blind
I emailed our current youth guy at the district. As I said, I didn’t have connections. No one knew who I was. I had no recommendations in my back pocket.
But this guy? I’d met him before, I think. He’d spoken at one of the German PAOC camps a few years back.
And I asked.. was this true? Could I potentially work here? I know they said they ordained women, but were women actually ever hired in the PAOC?
I knew I had limited experience, but I also knew that I’d never seen it, unless they were a kids director or music leader.
At the back of my mind it was less nuanced, of course. Was this a place I could work? Or was this lip service for something the denomination talked about but didn’t practice?
They replied – kindly. Honestly. Carefully but in the affirmative. Yes, they actually did that. No guarantees of being hired, of course, but this could be a place I pursued ministry.
Making the switch
So I came up with a plan. I would attend Master’s College for ONE course in the beginning of second year. And then I would consider transferring over during second semester.
If it was a good school.
If I could trust this.
If it was “as advertised.”
A few students I knew had transferred from Masters’ to Tyndale. I was going the other way. And I really wanted to check it out.
So I took that first History of Pentecostalism class. With Dr. Garry Milley.
And it was solid stuff.
- My professor had good credentials.
- We were asking good historical questions.
- The course was sufficiently challenging and academic.
- And it taught me more about ministry, ability and the Holy Spirit and how God builds his church.
The partner and the path
So I switched! I changed schools. The next semester I took the leap.
Unbelievably, I got to keep my job as a Resident Advisor at Tyndale, even while attending Masters!
The semester I started full-time at Masters, Jarod would ask me out.
And all of a sudden, God had opened two doors to walk through. A year ago I was unsure
Now I’d met the man who would become a partner for ministry.
And I had a path to being ordained in ministry.
17. Picking up the mic – 1 Timothy Part 2
18. Females and finances
19. Two hundred bad sermons
20. Evangelical, Pentecostal, Female, and Not Alone
21. Strong arms or feeble hands?
22. Strength to strength