[If you didn't know, Laura and Patrick Nelsen welcomed little Jack into the world a little over a month ago! With Jack's birth came Laura's exit as New Life West Lakeview's office manager. God, as usual, was faithful and raised up a new office manager in her place. Meet Chad. Here's his story.]
I have worked a number of jobs throughout my life from being
the grunt man on construction sites to working overnights at Walgreens. And although I’ve literally been around the
church since day one, more on that later, I’ve never officially been on the payroll.
However, as of this spring, I am the newest member of the staff here at New
Life Community Church-West Lakeview and I couldn’t be happier. Before going further I should introduce
myself, my name is Chad Bacon and I am the newly appointed Office Manager. As an introduction I am writing this post to
explain that while this may not be my dream job it is fulfilling a dream of
mine to work in a church.
I was born and raised
in the Chicago-land area being known as the “son of a Preacher-man”, which meant
that the majority of my time spent away from home was in a church. This meant a childhood of discovering every
nook and cranny of our church where one of the first spots to look for someone
in a game of Hide and Seek was the baptistery.
It meant that family dinners were sometimes in the conference room of
our church or that my first criminal act took place behind our church and may
have involved a rock and a car…but these are all stories for a different time.
The point is that I have spent a lot of time around church
and this propelled a desire in my life and a direction from God that he wanted
me to pursue a calling of pastoral ministry.
I went to Moody Bible Institute for my undergrad and decided to double
down on education and went back for more learning at Moody Theological
Seminary. Throughout this time I was
blessed with a great Bible education alongside opportunities to volunteer in
different ministries in different churches.
Along this journey my wife Brooke and I found an amazing church in
Chicago four years ago called New Life Community Church, we’ve called this
‘home’ ever since.
This past December I was finishing my education in seminary
and along with finishing school comes the question, “What’s next?” I hate that question because it never seems
like I have an answer for it and in this case I didn’t. As I spent extended amounts of time in prayer
God kept telling me not to go anywhere but to stay put. So in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety, I
Weeks after God called me to stay put my friend, Laura
Nelsen, told me she is going to step down from being Office Manager of our
church in March and asked if I ever considered applying for it. I literally laughed in response to this
because it is a job that requires a lot of work, organization, and
decision-making which isn’t something I was trained for. As the weeks went by my friend Justin brought
it to my attention again, my response was still, “No way”. However,
when the next day my wife asked if I would ever see it as an option I said,
“It’s not for me” but this time my response came with uncertainty.
The beginning of the new year came and as a church we did
our 21 days of fasting and I just couldn’t
shake off the feeling that one thing I had to focus on during the fast would be
whether or not I should apply to be the Office Manager at church. So I prayed about it…and I mean prayed. I
asked God if this was what he wanted for me and vowed that if He revealed that
it was then I would be trust him and apply.
He once again directed me while assuring me that I couldn’t let the fear
of failing in a job that wasn’t tailor- fit for me, scare me. I simply needed to trust him. So I did; I submitted my application and next
thing I knew I was interviewing at the church.
I am so thankful that I opposed working this job from the
start because I saw God work in my life and am 100% confident that He led me
here. He guided me to an amazing job opportunity to work in a church doing
administrative work and learning how to be an organized self-reliant worker for
his Kingdom. So here I am typing this on
a computer in a church that I am blessed to work at.
From Saturday, 30-March through Friday, 5-April, Karin and I will be serving alongside a group of 95 high school students and adults from the Seattle area, plus an additional 11 high school students and adults from Ojai, California, on a home building missions trip to the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico. Teams will build 7 complete houses by the end of the week, to be turned over free of charge to local families. The houses are quite simple to be completed start to finish in one week. By the standards of middle class US families, the house is more akin to a very nice garden shack. The house has a 12 foot x 24 foot concrete slab, which the students mix by hand and form themselves. The house has painted, raised panel exterior walls with windows on 3 sides and a low pitched roof covered in rolled asphalt. A locking steel door completes the structure. Inside the house is divided into 2 rooms, but has only open studded walls, no plumbing, wired for electricity but access to electricity is rare. Families move from tarps, pallets and tires into a dry, locking, larger structure they own. Over the years, various churches from around the country have built and given away thousands of homes through an organization called DOXA (www.doxaserves.org) .
Karin and I are the cooks, feeding more than 100 people three times a day. We get up about an hour before everyone else to cook and serve a hot breakfast each morning, which means setting the alarm between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. As soon as breakfast is cleared, Karin begins baking approximately 200 cookie bars, fresh each day. While Karin is baking, I take inventory for the day’s shopping run to the local Tijuana Costco and Smart and Final. I also works with a few adult volunteers to begin packing lunch baskets for each building site – PBJ or turkey sandwiches, chips, juice boxes, apples and cookies.
When the cookie bars are finished, Karin and I take off to do the day’s shopping run. Teams which supply building materials to each site take along the packed lunches for each site, which we’ve tossed into a plastic laundry basket labeled by site.
Soon after Karin and I return from our shopping run, we set off on what’s known as Cookie Run. We deliver warm cookie bars to each site mid to late afternoon to keep energy going late in the day. If you ever want to be popular with teens, deliver warm cookies to them after a day of shoveling concrete.
As soon as we return from Cookie Run, we start that night’s dinner. Serving more than 100 people a hot cooked dinner takes a few hours to prepare. Menu items include Cornflake Chicken, Hamburgers/Brats on the grill, thick cut BBQ pork chops on the grill and other hearty, student-friendly foods. After we serve and clean up from dinner, evening program starts, with music, games, talks and testimonies. After evening program, everyone breaks down into site groups for more intimate conversations, sharing and prayer. Lights out is around 10 or 10:30 PM.
We head off to bed around 10:30 and start all over again by 6.
[Let's be in prayer for the Snooks and those they are serving alongside in Mexico. Pray that the Spirit of God moves in and through them - to transform lives for the glory of God! More updates to come in the days/weeks to come]