By Jamie Shafer
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a season for everything. Life is a series of beginnings and endings. Sometimes our new beginnings require something else to end—even something we hold dear.
For Beau Vanderbur, former pastor of Sycamore Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his wife, Sheila, the journey of the past few years has been a series of opening and closing doors and continuing proof that God is faithful.
“Be still and know that he is God—that has been the ongoing lesson,” said Beau.
After several years of declining church attendance in the small congregation, Sycamore Christian officially closed its doors on December 25, 2016. “It was a bittersweet service,” shared Beau. “Our youngest daughter was baptized. There were tears of joy and sadness. I love those people and the leadership there.”
When the church began to struggle financially several years ago, Beau sought additional employment with a national retailer, knowing a part-time job could relieve some of the strain on the church and, at the same time, benefit his family of five. He has stayed with the store and, not long ago, was promoted to a managerial position.
Closing One Season
Beau points to Genesis, noting that even though Joseph was in unusual circumstances, he remained faithful to God. He says he is learning to “be faithful in the predicament” as well.
Although, sadly, it is commonplace to hear of churches closing their doors in America, it is much different when it impacts your own church family. Beau said, “For the last 12 years, there were just so many churches around, so many choices. We tried everything we could to reach our neighbors, but nothing took off.” The church’s building was purchased by another local congregation, and it began a new season of its own.
Beau has fond memories of the church leaders who were so supportive to him and the ministry over the years. They were always generous with words and notes of encouragement. “I have a fantastic relationship with our elders. They were in my corner since day one.”
He admits he has wrestled with what it means to be following God’s will while not working in vocational ministry. “It’s not easy, but the key factor for me is to just be a disciple of Jesus and be faithful.”
Beginning a New Season
Beau’s current role in the marketplace has provided new perspective on what it means to live a life of faith. “I’m just remaining faithful to God and working on being the best example for him—having a good attitude, working hard, being a great listener . . . just simply being a Christian.”
“It has forced me to get out of that massive comfort zone in ministry,” said Beau. “Being out in the marketplace and brushing up with people and their lives has given me a greater awareness of how broken people really are. People are hurting. You see that when people come into the church, but you really see it when you are surrounded by others whose worldviews are different than yours. I’m developing relationships, and people are sharing their lives and their brokenness.” He was thrilled that new friendships at the store allowed him to have the opportunity to officiate a coworker’s wedding last year.
“You can go to the church office and it’s comfortable there. But when people get to know you on a daily basis, they really share their lives.”
During this time of new opportunities, Beau said he has enjoyed being able to spend more focused time in prayer, reading the Bible, and connecting with his family. God also continues to bring men into his life from the marketplace and ministry who are helping him grow as a leader.
He has been pondering Romans 8 as well. “Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’ As long as we are walking with him, as his people, he is going to lead us where we need to be. He wants us to follow him, listen to him, and wait on him. I have to trust, and my family has to trust, that he’s got us right where he wants us.”
Beau continued, “God is teaching me that what we do for a living or for a vocation isn’t what truly defines us. Who we are is defined by him through Jesus Christ. Our identity is wrapped up in him and not in what we do.”
Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.
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