One important question that I’ve been asked is why I — with a passion for the unreached and unengaged peoples of the Earth — serve as a pastor in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the most churched cities in America. It’s a great question and one that often perplexes me. Here are three conclusions that I have come to in my own personal wrestling with this question.
1. God Called Me
First and foremost, I am a pastor in Birmingham because I believe this is where God has specifically called and ordained me to pastor. Years ago, my wife, Heather, and I said that if there are nearly two billion people in the world who have little to no access to the gospel — and most of them live overseas — then the only way we can stay here instead of moving there is if we’re convinced we can do more to affect them from living here than living there. And whenever that is not the case, we want to take a one-way ticket overseas.
We have given God a “blank check” with our lives. Wherever he wants us to go, we will go. And I trust that he has used and will use that blank check according to his wisdom. Five years ago, I was living in New Orleans, teaching seminary, and traveling around the world. I had no desire to pastor a church in Birmingham. But in God’s sovereign wisdom and by his boundless grace, he led me here. And I trust— I pray! — that he is using me here for the sake of the unreached and unengaged.