As a church planter, I spent several of our first years planting very jealous, but perhaps not about what one might think. I think most would assume that pastors would be jealous about attendance or perhaps money or buildings or something, but not me. I was jealous of other churches’ staffs. There I was, with a home office or sitting at Bella Vita Coffee (God rest her soul 🙂 ) all by myself trying to do the job of 4-10 people. Granted, I live for stuff like this, but there were plenty of days when it was really hardwork and it would have been nice to have a couple other people around to help. As I looked at other churches and pastors, they had people. You know “peope”. They would say things like, “no problem, I’ll have one of my people take care of this” and things like that. I had no people; heck, I didn’t even have a copy machine to talk to. In thinking back, it wasn’t so much that my lack of partners in crime caused me to be lonely, afterall, Krissy was very much around and always engaged in the ministry with me (and let’s be honest, she can do the work of 5 others), but I really wanted a team. I wanted to strategize, plan, promote, engage, attack, foster, and one just can’t imagine how difficult that is to do over a decaf latte all by yourself. I mean, I know, I’ve tried it.
Now, 5 years later, I have a team, but not just a team, but a SUPER TEAM! It’s like the Justice League, but for Jesus. To be honest, it’s hard to recall sometimes how they all got here, in fact, for many of them it seems like they’ve been here the whole time. But somewhere along the way, God started bringing some amazing people along side of us.
I first met John Eicher Jr. while enjoying a Sunday lunch at Houlihans with my wife and parents. I love talking with servers and John equally loved talking with his tables. Sometime after the appetizer, I discovered that John was a bible college graduate and had just returned from a 2 year mission in Hondorus. Next thing I knew, we were at the driving range at Bobicks, and later traveling to Kenya together to minister in the urban slums. From day one, John just fit. He still does. He is a man of wisdom, humility, and tremendous giftings.
Many might not know this, but I first met Jaime Hilton, who oversees our worship ministry, at a job interview. Krissy and I, for a short season, owned a Sylvan Learning Center in Niles, MI, and Jaime applied for a marketing position there. It’s better to hear her side of the story, but essentially, she came in for an interview, we talked about the church most of the time, and I didn’t give her the job at Sylvan, which I really felt horrible about. And which is why I was mortified when she showed up one Sunday AM at Oasis. (This was back when we were meeting at the bar.) I was so embarrassed. I thought, “man, this girl is persistent….didn’t I tell you that you didn’t get the job.” After that her first Sunday at Oasis, I didn’t see her for awhile (which I couldn’t blame her, I wouldn’t want to go to the church of someone who didn’t give me a job either), but later ran into her several times at Bella Vita Coffee (I was there trying to strategize all by myself). We would always exchange small talk, and inevitably, just like her interview, I would always talk to her about Oasis. That was years ago. Now she is overseeing our worship ministry and is writing some of my favorite worship songs.
Ryan Knox was one of my youth group students at Oasis Wauseon. He was one of those freakish kids that knew God’s call on his life at a really young age. His freshman year of high school, he came to Krissy and I and told us that he intended to join us in Granger and help with the church plant. I was like, “oh, that’s nice” in much the same way you pat an 8 yr old boy on the back after he tells you “when I grow up I want to be an astronaut.” I just didn’t know he really meant it. Now Ryan, and his lovely wife Brittany, oversee our youth ministy and Ryan also oversees much of our building maintenance and construction.
Lindsey “Sey” Blackford and I first met several years ago through a mutual friend. After a series of events, Lindsey wandered into Oasis (she was serving on a church staff that had essentially dissolved). She quickly assimilated into the people and culture of Oasis and with her came her amazingly large family. (Lindsey has 6 other siblings) Since then, Lindsey has proven herself to be an invaluable part of the team. She spends much of her time behind the scenes, but Lindsey is responsible for much of the administration of our staff, major church events, and she also is part of our children’s ministry leadership team. Beyond that, her family is dynamite…they’ve really made their mark here at Oasis, especially on our worship team (Thanks Chris and Michael). (Mark and Sandy, you both are champions and have raised a great family.)
Justin Prawat, who landed here just shortly after Lindsey arrived, continues to impress me. I got into a pinch awhile back and needed someone to lead worship. Lindsey suggested this guy she knew, named Justin, aka Superbomb. Little did I know, that at that time, Justin had never lead worship by himself on a Sunday before – anywhere. But he must have done a decent job that first Sunday, because now he is on the stage almost every week. Beyond that, Justin’s day job is to be my assistant, at which he really excels. Justin puts up with my crazy schedule and always seems to find something funny to say while doing it. He has become a good friend.
Though she technically works for OasNet, it probably would only be right to also mention, Becky Gritton. Becky and I have been friends since youth and was one of the first people to come alongside Krissy and I when planting the church. She has a tremendous heart for missions and coordinates relationship with many of our international pastors. Becky, Krissy and I are both thankful to have you here at Oasis and in our lives.
Last but not least, my wife, Krissy. I already mentioned that she is essentially a work force on her own, but she is so much more than that. Other than Christ, I’ve confident that I wouldn’t have made it this far without her. She has spent countless hours listening to me ramble, complain, dream, and always seems to find some way of challenging me and encouraging me in the process. She stood by me when no one else would and continues to be my number one cheerleader and friend. (I love you babe.)
So that’s my team and ironically, I don’t have lattees all that often any more. Thankfully, now, God has surrounded me with a group of sincere, hardworking, creative, and wonderful people to help carry the vision and see it through to completion. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for all of you. My sincerest thanks.