The First Shall Be Last

How do you know a season has ended? Speaking of nature we know one season ends when the surroundings change. Sure, the experts gave us specific dates that are supposed to mark the end of one season and the beginning of another. We all know, though, the gradual effects caused by the year-long orbit of the earth around the sun pay little mind to the numbers on our calendars.

June first was our last Sunday as head pastors of Iglesia Cristo Nación. This important mark on the calendar serves its purpose, yet the change of our service to the congregation continues to follow nature’s gradual pattern. The shift began some months ago. We alerted the leaders of the need to move from a personality based operation to an organism pulsating with the power of relationship. We needed to move out of the spot light. Heck, the spotlight needed to be turned off. We told them at the end of last year that we would no longer be the pastors of the church and we would help them with the transition.

Much prayer and many meetings later five faithful congregants were identified as the ones to carry the congregation through this new phase of transition heading towards the installation of a new pastor. Two weeks before our last Sunday as head pastors we presented this group to the congregation. The spirit was sweet and amicable. There was an embrace of acceptance felt in the church that day.

These five will preach, teach, lead, care for, and guide the congregation together. Each one has been a member of the church for over three years. Each one has served faithfully in some capacity for quite some time. Above all, each one has demonstrated through word and action a deep love for God and for His bride, the church. We are at peace with the group consisting of: an older man who used to be a pastor, an elderly woman who also used to be a pastor and is helping with a church plant, a young woman called to missionary work, a young man who sings with the worship leaders, and the man who leads the youth. I like that the group has men and women, single and married, young and old. Such diversity represents the heart of an inclusive God. The hand of God, and call to service, is evident in each of their lives. I am happy, grateful, and deeply touched by their willingness to step up and care for the body of Christ Nation Church.

Congregation of Iglesia Cristo Nación photo by Raimy Washington
Some of the congregation of Iglesia Cristo Nación photo by Raimy Washington

DaRonn shared in his final message to the church an analogy to help people see what was happening. He told them he would no longer be a player on the team, but that he would now be a coach to the leaders, specifically these five. One of the first decisions this group made was to invite him to share at the church’s 8th Anniversary service this coming week. He accepted the invitation to share this coming Sunday. At first I wanted him to turn down the invitation. I see now this is a part of the gradual process of change and I am at peace with him sharing for the anniversary.

We sat in a different place this past Sunday. The front row was our place for these many years. Now that we are stepping out of the focal point I wanted the people to see a physical manifestation of our hearts. We remain part of the congregation. A few people shared with me their sadness at not seeing me in that front row. I told them I am still here, I still love them, and that they need to look to Jesus as their focal point. We will likely try out a number of different places in the seats in these coming weeks. It surprises me how even where we sit holds such weight.

I feel really good about this change of seasons. The sweet spirit at the church so far confirms the goodness in this transition. Please pray for this group of people. Please pray for the Washington family. Change always comes with its own discomforts, lament for what was, and uncertainty about what will be.

The change at church is not the only transition taking place. I feel as though we have been a constant state of major transition for years now. There are times I feel weary from the process. At other times I am energized by the hope of the new things to come. Through it all I am so very grateful for those people around us who extend their unconditional love in tangible and sincere ways. I am glad to be allowed to be imperfect yet accepted. This helps me to see the love of our Heavenly Father poured out in our lives.  I hope that each one of us knows the incomprehensible grace and mercy of God. Peace to you.

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8 thoughts on “The First Shall Be Last

  1. I enjoyed you very heartfelt and transparent message. God has wonderful things in store for you all. I’ll be excited to see what he brings about.

  2. Ang – So proud of you and DaRonn and ALL the work you are doing in Bolivia!! I find it very intriguing that this season is taking place in your 8th year anniversary of the church. Eight is MY number and became so as God showed me that in Hebrew it means – new beginnings, new creation, new life. He has used it to reveal new seasons and transitions in my life throughout the 10 years. He has even helped me to release things when I’ve learned there’s a hidden eight somewhere to help me let go and know I have His blessing. There’s a lot of really neat things that have also happened on the 8th day in the Bible!! Much MUCH love!!

    1. My Libby Lou. :-) You always know how to make me smile. Thank you for your undying friendship and kindness. I remember you mentioning before about the significance of the number 8. Very interesting.

  3. Ustedes son un ejemplo; gracias por demostrar que también se sirve al Señor aliviando la necesidad de los más necesitados. Dios los guarde y bendiga.
    Hasta siempre,
    Paúl y Elizabeth Meruvia Garrón

  4. Angie, this is such a wonderful, hopeful transition. To pass off leadership to national leaders, that’s what missionaries dream of. But. I can feel how hard and bittersweet this is for you. Identity changing, almost. Just sending you love today in this great, difficult transition. <3 Elizabeth

    1. Indeed, Elizabeth. I know that you understand the intricacies involved in a shift like this. Bittersweet is one of the exact words that we have used as we have been attempting to process all this. Thank you for the love. It is greatly appreciated.

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