I read an article the other day about world changers and the 5 things they “should” do before they are 35. You can read it here.
I know it may be subjective, but as I was reading it I mentally checked off each one for my husband because he has these down and I think he has since he was 25. I hope you can hear the sincerity in my words absent of any pridefulness because I just want everyone to know how proud I am of him. Ryan inspires me. He dreams big and isn’t afraid of taking a risk for a cause that he believes in. He also knows his worth. He knows what he’s capable of and the skills God gave him. (I don’t know if you know this or not, but my husband is a genius… I’m serious. IQ crazy crap off the charts.) But it’s not just that, it’s that he knows how his skills and talents can help others and how it can help the Kingdom – and he goes and does just that. I’ve seen him say no, without hesitation to very lucrative jobs when we were scrambling to make ends meet because he knew he was exactly where God wanted him to be. Character. Integrity. Humility. Love. Sacrifice. A man who constantly wants to be in God’s will. He desparately seeks after Him.
The element of his character that amazes me the most is that he listens to God’s direction like no one I’ve ever known before. He’s sensitive to the spirit in a naturally obedient way. The second he senses he is supposed to do something, he begins an intricate dance of wrestling and questioning. It’s actually a beautiful thing to witness.
I watched it happen about 6 years ago when God was calling him into “the ministry” when he saw there was a need in our church for his skill set and I’ve been witnessing it for over a year as he has been feeling called away from it and back to the beloved company he worked with for almost 10 years before working at The Crossing. It wasn’t any one thing. He just knew it was time. It was a heart wrenching decision, but it was one that he made very vulnerably and with his whole heart. When the nudges became more frequent, it was the same as it was when God was saying “go” but now it was “go back.”
Change is hard. Change is difficult.
Change is also necessary for life. It means there is growth.
It means that something deeper is happening beneath the surface.
And I could tell. This past year I couldn’t put my finger on what it was at first and maybe neither could Ryan, but I knew something wasn’t right. When God is moving and you’re wrestling, you just know something is up. He waited, was patient, and waited some more. Ryan is very intentional about how he does things and I knew he would make his decision when the time was right. But the timing was a little… crazy. He came home one day when we were knee deep in my medical insurance problems and solemnly told me how God had been working on him more and the time was right. It was gut wrenching to me because I love his heart, so I knew it was the right thing for him, but I also love our church and when you love serving and being “in” ministry it’s equally hard when it’s your own church… I mean these people aren’t co-workers, they truly are like family to us.
Due to the timing of it all, I was also worried everyone would think he was changing jobs because of a knee jerk reaction to our current situation, but that is my own baggage. I don’t need to worry about what people think because it is ultimately between God, Ryan, and our family and He knows his heart. Ryan has always been clear – especially to The Crossing that he worked for Jesus, not The Crossing and that hasn’t changed with his title. As our pastor said when Ryan told him of his decision, “You can do great things for the Kingdom no matter what seat you’re sitting in.” Truth.
Our hearts haven’t changed and Ryan is helping out in different capacities at church in a volunteer role as he did before he was staff. Even in his current job back as a Technology and Marketing Director, his heart hasn’t fully left The Crossing (it never will.) He is working on creating a program that will help churches simplify website design and maintenance as well as many other ideas that are geared to help streamline technology for churches so that staff and volunteers can spend their time where it is more important. He is also excited about getting a non-profit started in the near future based on the idea he had while he was in Africa about reclaiming technology and the Internet for God. Obviously, called: Reclaim.
It is, however bittersweet and I sit here heavy hearted. It has been two weeks since he left and I’m still processing the decision. I will miss hearing the “insider” unbelievable “God stories” that he had when he would come home in tears telling me about a staff meeting that ended up being a time of worship and praying over each other or the time a man visiting from another country, hugged Ryan and personally thanked him with tears in his eyes for creating the Roku Crossing channel so that underground churches could hear the Gospel (I mean, seriously?!) God is so amazing. Or the time we met a man in the baptism line who was there because he found The Crossing online, had conversations with pastors, and became a believer. He wanted to be baptized with our community, so he came from North Carolina to be there, and was baptized. Or the fact that our pastor wanted to make sure that The Crossing channel was not to be a replacement for the local church and so he made sure that our church helps resource anyone who calls or emails asking about where they can find a local church in their area.
We will forever be undone by God’s radical grace for allowing us to get here somehow. God has used The Crossing in our own lives to change and shape us in ways we don’t even fully comprehend yet. We love this place that all started with “a few people in a living room,” those amazing world changers who had a dream and a desire for a church in St. Louis that would do church differently. A place for the broken. A place for the seeker. A place for the weary. No church is perfect, but this one gets the most important things right. Love God. Love others. Seek justice. I’m thankful for the time Ryan worked with such amazing people who know how to love and forgive well and I’m thankful we both got to experience being mentored and loved by some of the most beautiful hearts I’ve ever known.
I wonder what some would think of God using a former meth head, atheist to help so many people hear the Gospel saving truth? But that’s the heart of Jesus, isn’t it? Making beautiful things out of dust… I think it’s very fitting that a church that began as a place for the unchurched, doubters would have Ryan’s fingerprints all over it. Full circle. Grace, unwrapped on full display.
I felt the need to write all of this out because that’s how I process. But I also needed to write out my gratitude to Ryan for serving our family so well by being faithful in all things. You were obedient even when you were told it was insane that you were leaving the job and income you had to work for a church and when everything we were doing was completely counter cultural, you saw the bigger picture – you saw His picture. We both knew that in the end, it “was gonna be worth it.” He did amazing things through the ideas that you formed and He isn’t finished yet. When you’ve been somewhere, you leave it better than it was before and you build up, encourage and strengthen the people around you. That is my ultimate definition of a world changer. God is doing so much in you and through you and I’m blessed to be your wife. This chapter of our lives was precious to me and I know neither one of us will ever be the same. Let the stories continue… onto more world changing!