- Farewell: It’s Been a Wonderful 10 Yearsby Pastor Tim Gibson
If you haven’t heard, it was hard day for me on Sunday (1/2/2022) as I told Ebenezer that the Lord has led my family in a new direction. The Lord has opened a door for us to do ministry in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma at Journey Bible Church. I have been praying for a while that the Lord would make His will abundantly clear, and confirm our heart’s desire to move back home. For some time, we have desired to move near our aging parents to help them and fellowship with them in the last season of their life. This new location will enable us to be within about 5 hours of both sets of parents and our daughter Hannah who lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. It will also allow us to be about 1.5 hours from my twin brother and our daughter Callie who both live in Oklahoma City. Please know that our desire to move back is solely to be near family. Julie and I have said many times how we wish that Ebenezer was closer to our family in the south so we could retire at Ebenezer.
The Lord opened a door for us when my very good friend Andrew Moss decided to leave Journey Bible Church and become the lead pastor at a church in Colorado. As a young man Andrew lived with me in Shreveport and did ministry at the church where I was on staff. The Lord used Andrew in a great way to plant Journey Bible Church about 4 years ago. It began with about 35 people and has now grown to approximately 180 people. The church has 3 elders, 5 deacons and a youth pastor. One of the elders, Rick Shackelford, is a good friend of mine who also lived in Shreveport during my early years. So, when the church needed a new lead pastor, Rick naturally thought of me. Having many close connections, it seemed that the Lord was opening a door for us.
While I was attending my daughter Callie’s graduation back in August, I also filled in at Journey Bible Church and preached there one Sunday. At that point, I began meeting with Journey’s elders and discussing the possibility of making a move. As I investigated the church, I was excited that JBC was just like Ebenezer in their theology and their ministry practices. If you go on their website you can see their vision. They are committed to “Championing the Glory of God, Communicating the Son of God, and Cheering on the People of God.” While they are a small church, they are strong and ready to be used for the glory of God in their community and in the world beyond. They are very committed to missions. All of this excited me. Their elders and I had wonderful discussions over the next few months. They felt that the Lord was leading them and, in November, they called me to be the next lead pastor. I went and preached at Journey Bible Church again on December 12 and met with the congregation. The following week they unanimously voted to call me to be their next pastor.
I share all of these details with you because you are my family and I love you all so much. I want you to see how the Lord has directed my steps and guided our hearts. This has been a difficult decision. For the last 9.5 years you all have been our family. I can’t express how thankful Julie and I and our children are for the wonderful experience that we had here in Pennsylvania. Our hearts are full with so many wonderful memories, memories of God doing such a great work here at Ebenezer. Our experience here at Ebenezer and in Pennsylvania has truly been incredible. Thank you for welcoming us into your lives and homes as friends and family. The friendships and memories we made encouraged us and brought such joy to our lives. I hope and pray that I have been a good pastor to you all. No one is perfect and you all have been so gracious to overlook my flaws and lack of ability. But I hope you all truly know how much I love each and every one of you. I am truly going to miss you all. I am going to miss our incredible staff. I can’t express to you enough how wonderful our entire staff is. They are a united team who will continue to lead well. I am going to miss our pastors, Mike, Jeremy and Josh. They have proven to be faithful godly men who I know will lead well. I am going to greatly miss our elder and deacon boards. These men have been like brothers to me. They have led well over the last 9.5 years. I’m thankful for their godly example and their wisdom.
As I leave my only hope is that Ebenezer is the Lord’s church. And because I know this profound truth, I know that He is going to take care of you all. I know that the Lord is going to provide wonderful preaching through pastors Mike and Josh, the elders, and others as the search committee seeks out a new lead pastor. I know that the Lord will provide for you a wonderful shepherd who will be faithful to preach the Word week after week, and love you all with gentleness and kindness. I also truly believe that our elder board and deacon board are the best leaders anywhere. I want to encourage you to trust in their leadership. These men have proven to be faithful and wise. Pray for them as they seek the Lord’s will for the next chapter of Ebenezer’s ministry. I truly believe that Ebenezer is going to continue strong and have great success in the future. I hope and pray that you will continue to support this great ministry with your faithful attendance, prayer and service.
I will be preaching through the month of January. I will finish the book of Acts this coming Sunday. I will then preach 2-3 messages that will hopefully encourage you to continue faithfully in your walk with the Lord. I will cherish the next few weeks with you all. I do hope to be able to speak to most of you one-on-one and express my love for you.
Please pray for us. We have many things to get accomplished and covet your prayers. Please pray for the sale of our home. Please pray for all the logistics of packing and securing a moving company. Please pray for our relocation. Currently we have rented a house in Bixby, Oklahoma (near Broken Arrow) where we will live temporarily as we look for a new home. Please also pray for Hudson as he transitions. This has been difficult for him. Our goal is to leave Pennsylvania on February 1. I am going to start ministry at Journey Bible Church around the third week of February.
Please know that I will never forget your faith and your labors of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. My prayer for you is that you will continue walking with the Lord. I pray that your faith will remain strong and your work for Christ will increase as we see the return of our Savior drawing near. May the Lord bless you all. The last ten years at Ebenezer have truly been some of the best days of my life. I will always cherish them. And I will always love you all. Pastor Tim & Julie Gibson