Leaving Asian Access

  I’m in a season of significant changes right now. My hope is to journal about some of them as I process through them.One of the largest changes is that today is my last day as a full-time employee of Asian Access. (The photos were taken during my “good-bye” party yesterday.)A little over 3 1/2 years ago, I applied for the Staff Accountant position at Asian Access. I had been unemployed for nine months, having decided to leave my career of professional ministry. At the time, I was getting desperate. Nine months of unemployment had completely dissolved our savings and was beginning to amass a sizable debt. God had been incredibly present and faithful during that time. But things were tough.My friend Jeff, who works at Asian Access, had told me about a Staff Account position that was open. I was reluctant to apply for a couple of reasons. First, I had just come through a very difficult and painful season at the last church I served at. I was very cynical of Christian organizations and didn’t want to step into another unhealthy situation. And second, after working in full-time professional ministry for 14 years, I wanted to try working in the “secular marketplace.” So I put off applying for a while. Fortunately, Jeff was persistent and circumstances got more difficult, so I applied. And surprisingly, they hired me — an ex-pastor with no professional finance experience or education.God knew what he was doing.Asian Access is the healthiest organization I have ever experienced. It is a Christian organization that really embodies Christ. My co-workers are awesome. Everyone cares for one another. The entire time I’ve worked there, no one has been grumpy, cross, harsh, or just plain jerky. Sure there have been times of stress, but everyone embodies such a Christlike presence.And I needed it more than I knew.I didn’t realize at the time how wounded and hurt I was. I needed a job in which all that was expected of me was my eight hours of work and no more. I could go home and be with my family, friends and life without carrying my job with me.I needed to be part of a healthy Christian organization. There has been so much joy, love, prayer and laughter at Asian Access. As a mission agency, we have staff spread out all over the U.S. and Asia. It is amazing that with such diversity, everyone genuinely likes each other and looks forward to being with each other. It’s the closest I’ve ever seen an organization actually live like a healthy family.I needed new co-workers and friends who would affirm God’s work in me. Over the years, my friends at Asian Access have both affirmed and created opportunities for me to share my pastoral experience and my theological exploration. Even though I worked in the finance department, they made room for me to screen applicants, teach, lead worship and influence through conversations, writing and blogging.I needed Asian Access and my friends whom I worked with daily. Through them God has brought about such deep healing in me. I feel so healthy again. I feel ready to move to the next phase of my journey.A couple of months ago, my friend Jeff took his family and followed Jesus to Japan to be Asian Access missionaries. While we were excited about his new calling, it was a deep blow to all of us in the office. Things haven’t been the same. I remember walking into his empty office the day after he left and being flooded and overwhelmed with immense loss. It was then that I began to perceive that deep changes were coming.Little did I know that the next change would be me.Today is my last day as a full-time employee of Asian Access. On Monday I start a new job, one which potentially could be the new career path that Debbie and I have been praying about since leaving full-time ministry. As you can imagine, I am very excited.But the excitement is mingled with sadness and some fear. I am leaving my friends, people who took a chance on me, trusted me, affirmed me, and loved me and my family back to health. I am leaving the safety of a healthy organization filled with authentic caring Christlike people. But I also know that their prayers and care are with me.Asian Access still needed someone to help do my job while they discern how God will fill my position. I offered to keep working part-time in the evenings and weekends through the end of the year. Our family could use the extra income and Asian Access could use the extra help. So they agreed.But while I’ll still be fulfilling my normal job responsibilities, I will be doing so after-hours and alone. I will no longer be part of the daily conversations, the laughter, the coffee breaks, the prayer times. And right now the prospect of that creates an ache in me that I didn’t anticipate.As I look toward my future, I am very excited. I am looking forward to my new job and my new friends. And I know God is already “over there” waiting for me as much as he is “right here.”There is so much potential in what awaits me. “Excited” can’t even communicate what I’m feeling. My new job is only one of several significant changes taking place. And in all of it, I feel free and liberated and more capable of following Jesus into new territory than I have felt in years. (And that hints at some of the other changes that are taking place in my life as well. But for that, you’ll have to wait.) 😉

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