I’m sure it was a surprise to most of our congregation as I announced on Sunday that Joe and Leslie Barbacci were headed back to the mission field on October 1st. Let me share my thoughts with you about this.
Joe has been a great help to me. He is the first paid associate pastor to help me here at Victory. Joe came on staff in July of 2003 at a time that I was in desperate need of help. Joe has taken so much of the administrative load off me! Joe has the heart of a servant and has done a admirable job of assiting me. He has never sought to promote himself, and has been satisfied to work behind the scenes to serve our congregation. Joe is a wonderful example of a servant leader, and I’m going to miss him a lot.
Some months ago thee came a knowing in me that Joe had a real heart call to missions, and ever so often I would ask him if he was fulfilled in his role as associate pastor with me. He graciously acknowledged that he loved what he did in serving our congregation, and I would tell him how much of a blessing he was to me. I told him that I wanted him to remain here as long as he wanted to be, but that if he had a heart tug to missions to feel free to pursue it!
God’s call on all of us is a heart thing. And the Lord usually takes us down a path of training and developing before He launches us out into His ultimate plan for our lives. He places us in positions to prove ourselves faithful, and eventually sends us where we belong.
It seems that Shalom Hospital near Flores, Guatemala is a culmination of years of faithful plodding by Joe and Leslie. I beleive that the Lord has used all of Joe’s past experiences as a training ground for what he will be doing there.
Joe is simply following his heart’s desire in going back to minister in Latin America. Psalms 37:4 tells us that when we put God first in our lives, He places desires within us that He wants us to fulfill. If you’re wondering what the Father has called you to do, just ask yourself what is your deepest heart’s desire. The Holy Spirit places in us a real heart-felt desire to do what the Father is calling us to do. And when you pursue that desire, it is not a struggle, it’s a delight.
I love what I do as pastor because it’s in my heart. If you want to be trully fulfilled as a believer, follow the deepest yearning of your heart. That will be the place of ultimate personal satisfaction, peace, and joy for you.
Though we as a church will miss Joe and Leslie greatly, I have the satisfaction of knowing that they are pursuing their heart dreams. And that they are pursuing the will of God for their lives. Having said that, transitions are a challenge for us all. Human nature resists change. But we must remain willing to obey God when He speaks. That’s what keep His blessing on our lives. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land!
Please believe God with us during these two months of transition for Joe and Leslie. And believe with me for God’s best in choosing a person to assume Joe’s duties here.
Our relationship with Joe and Leslie will continue, and we’ll go visit them in Guatemala, and they will come back to see us from time to time. Let’s beleive for the best that God has for Joe and Leslie, for Victory Fellowship, and for God’s choice in our associate pastor!