Called to Serveby Guest Blogger
When Stan Church retired at the end of 2016, he did not know what came next. He knew he did not want to be idle, that he wanted to be around others, and he wanted to pray. However, in spite of Stan’s prayers, God had not yet given him any direction. Stan stepped out in faith and obedience, trusting God would lead him in His own time. Sure enough, God had big plans for Stan, though the process has not always been easy.
Through conversations with leaders at ECC, Stan learned about International House, a local ministry serving the refugee population here in Fort Wayne. Not only was Stan able to use his gifts at IHouse, as the International House is commonly known, but they are located only three miles down the road from his house.
Stan began helping IHouse with some of their technology needs, and he started volunteering with their English tutoring program. Perhaps most importantly, Stan joined their weekly prayer group.
One of Stan’s prayers when he retired was that he would form relationships with others who did not know Jesus. Having worked for a Christian company, he did not have those relationships and it was something he sought. As God tends to do with such prayers, He answered abundantly, largely through Stan’s work with International House.
IHouse is a ministry that seeks to show the love of Jesus in practical ways to the local refugee and immigrant population. There are more than 10,000 Burmese living in Fort Wayne, most of them Muslim. As Stan spent time at IHouse, he learned about the Burmese and their religion, but more significantly, he got to know them as people and not just statistics. “It’s different when you love on people instead of just handing them a check,” Stan says, adding that when the media is our only exposure to people who are different than us, it tends to build up fear. But Stan knows them as people who are in many ways just like us. People he longs to see find true freedom in Jesus Christ.
Translation: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." -John 10:10b
Continuing to find ways to serve, Stan recently participated in ECC’s high school mission trip to Fort Wayne as an adult chaperon. With his familiarity with local service and his heart for the Lord, he was a natural fit. Stan loved watching the teens grow through the new experiences, and he especially enjoyed hearing their testimonies, hearing the story of how God works in people’s hearts. Stan is now training to mentor young men in high school men through ECC’s youth ministry.
Today Stan’s schedule is almost as busy as if he had never left his full time job. Stan could never have predicted how God would lead his steps, but there is no doubt he has found a passion for the work God has given him to do. That work continues to grow and change, with Stan recently joining the board at IHouse. He remains willing to follow the Lord’s leading, whatever that looks like next.
“Prayer started it,” Stan says. “Getting involved a little more here and there just to be around people. That’s what feeds me: being with people, trying to be a minister.”
Written by Melanie Zeeb, Photos by Marilyn Miller
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