In early August last year, I e-mailed Adam Poole, the Calvary Chapel Corvallis pastor in charge of Cornerstone School of Ministry. I asked him if they were still accepting applications. I had done the same thing a year earlier, but was sufficiently vague about it that I'm not sure he knew my exact intentions. This time I followed it up with a phone call to him. I remember it was outside the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Newport News that I called him and I walked around the parking lot and told him what was on my heart: To head to Oregon for a year of Biblical training. He seemed pretty stoked about it -- we are friends and brothers in Christ, our wives our friends and sisters in Christ and Adam and Grace have four little boys and our families are friends -- and we agreed to pray about it. At that point I had about three weeks to make a decision. It all sounded so crazy, though. The logistics of traveling across the country, the financial aspect, the job situation, wondering where we would live...all those things that normal and sane people think about. I was telling Adam I was just having a hard time seeing how it would work out, that it seemed like it would take a miracle. "There's the parting of the Red Sea, the loaves and fishes and getting the Sabos to Oregon," I told him.
At the time I was reading daily in the book of Jeremiah and one morning I came across a verse that really spoke to me. It was Jeremiah 6:16: "Thus says the Lord: `Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is. And walk in it: Then you will find rest for your souls.' " What spoke to me about that section of Scripture was the `old paths,' which I equated to when we had lived in Corvallis and attended Calvary Chapel there. It's a wonderful church and the Lord's hand is truly on Pastor Rob Verdeyen and the people there. It was a morsel for me to chew on. Then a few days later I was reading in Jeremiah 15:19-21: "Therefore thus says the Lord: `If you return, then I will bring you back; You shall stand before Me; If you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; And they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you,' says the LORD. I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.' "
That section spoke volumes to me. Although in the context of the Scripture it was written by the "weeping prophet" Jeremiah during a dark time in Judah (the southern kingdom that fell to Babylon in 586 B.C., when Jeremiah was writing), it was an encouragement to go to the school, that the Lord would be with us on our trip and that He would bring us back. We would encounter travails but the Lord would deliver us. After I read that, I went to Julie and told her what was on my heart and what the Lord had shown me in His word. Her reaction surprised me.