Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 17, 2018

Forty Years Later

Today, I officially observe forty years in full-time ministry. I began this journey as a young man with a head full of hair, a heart steeped in passion, and a yearning to devote my only lifetime to pursue the purposes of God. For the past forty years I have been on an adventure far greater than I could have ever imagined.

When I answered the call to ministry, the popular terminology was to say that one had “surrendered” to ministry, as though one had lost some sort of battle with God. I never liked that metaphor. Instead, I freely yielded everything — and gladly so because I felt that serving the God who had shown me such kindness in Christ Jesus was the highest privilege I could possibly know.

Forty years later I have no regrets about my decision to follow and serve the God I love. I have tried to live my years with the awareness that God did not call me because I am good but rather because He is good. Every kindness He has shown me through the years testifies to His goodness.

Forty years later I can say with all confidence that God has never been unkind to me. Even though there were times when I did not understand His timing or why He had allowed me to experience setbacks, God has never been mean nor malicious to me. I continue to believe that He has a purpose for everything that touches my life and that He works all things for my good.

Forty years later I have a better understanding of God’s commitment to me in the worst of times. God’s call did not exempt me from life’s difficulties or the attacks of the enemy. I did not receive a divine “get out of jail free” card when He called me. I have experienced difficulties that made me wish I had received a hall pass to leave the room — but that’s not the way God works.

During one particularly tough season when I did not think I would survive, I went to a lonely place to seek God. I prayed and I wept. I sat in silence. I listened to a gentle breeze as it rustled the leaves of the trees in the woods. And then God’s reassuring voice came to me in a gentle and quiet whisper.

“I inhabit eternity,” He said. “I saw these dark days years ago when I called you to serve Me. Knowing you would go through this difficult season did not deter me from calling you. I still called you. I have been here — at this moment in time — waiting for you to get here.” At that moment, His peace flooded my heart and washed my anxieties away.

Forty years later His grace still amazes me. As a young man I almost lost my life in an automobile accident on my way home from college. As I lay bleeding by the side of the road, a highway patrolman and a nurse immediately came to my rescue. They had been in the vehicles behind me and had witnessed the terrible scene.

Years later when traveling home I decided to revisit the scene of the accident. When I pulled off onto the shoulder of the road at the exact spot where I had almost lost my life, I saw something unexpected — a sign announcing that the adjacent property was the future home of Abundant Grace Community Church. I wept because God had indeed shown me abundant grace at that very spot.

Forty years later I am grateful for the people I have met on my journey. From my earliest days in ministry, I have been blessed to meet and to know the finest of people. I have been the beneficiary of the love, encouragement, and kindness of so many with whom I have served. Today, my network of friends extends back forty years and to more than forty countries around the world.

Forty years later I am still in love with the wife of my youth. In the words of the writer of Proverbs, I found a good thing when I found Cheryl. She has been by my side for 38 of my 40 years in ministry. When Cheryl joined me on my journey in ministry, she too felt called to be a pastor’s wife and has blessed me with her love and support.

It’s not easy being the wife of a pastor, but Cheryl has made it easier for me to be a pastor. She is a bigger-picture person who understands that ministry is messy and does not always fit neatly into a nine to five schedule. Whether I leave home to lead a weekend initiative or to travel to some far-off place, she always sends me out with her blessing and the assurance of her full support.


On the occasion of my forty years in ministry, Cheryl and I received the most unexpected surprise from the wonderful church we serve, Kingsland Baptist. On the first Sunday in June, Pastor Ryan surprised us with the announcement that the Kingsland Community Center building, which houses three of our non-profit partners, will now bear our name. Neither of us could have ever imagined receiving such a beautiful honor when we began our journey together.

We have expressed our thanks to Pastor Ryan Rush and the church council and also want to thank the people of Kingsland. You are the most amazing and generous and thoughtful church family. Thank you for loving me and my family.

Forty years later, I am blessed beyond measure to call Kingsland home.


Responses

  1. Thank you for surrendering to God! You have blessed us immensely!

    • Thanks, Helen. So grateful for you and your family. Will miss you as you transition back to your home across the sea.

  2. Thank you Omar for forty years of yielding yourself to service of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
    Your writing today really made me think, what have I yielded to God! May God continue to use you and your wife to bless others for years to come.

    • Thank you, David. Trusting Him for many more years of service.

  3. Heartfelt Omar; wonderful read, beautiful service. Wishing you and Cheryl all the best. Your friend, Dacques

  4. Beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing so generously of your life – to promote and protect life.

  5. You have the kind of legacy missionaries like myself desire. I pray I can serve him in this capacity for 40 years like you. Very well written letter that touched my heart in many ways. I’m thankful for this season of knowing you and being on the battlefield advancing Gods Kingdom with you. You and your wife remind me of my marriage. A wife’s support is the only way guys like us can pull these forever changing work shifts. I thank God for you two. That plaque on the building is well deserved. Kingsland is an amazing church. May God continue to give you and your wife His favor. Love ya! Tre9

    • Thanks for your kind words, Tre. So thankful that God allowed our paths to cross and that He has led us to share a strategic partnership in the Gospel. Love and appreciate you and your heart for the passions and purposes of God.

  6. Thank you, Omar and Cheryl, for blessing our church and our family so tremendously as a result of being willing to follow His will for your lives. You have been a true gift in our family’s lives over the past years. You set an invaluable influence in so many lives! May God continue to bless you both with his unconditional love.

  7. Thank you & Cheryl for the way you expanded my mind & heart into international missions. Seeing your ministry for 14 years was indeed a blessing.

    • Thanks, Sue Ann. Grateful for your heart for the Lord.

  8. Omar, what a great milestone! Thanks for sharing from your heart about God’s ministry and how both of you have experienced it. You and Cheryl are a blessing to so many here in the US and beyond around the world. I’m so glad KBC made a public recognition that future generations will be able to see. I thank God for people like you who have made a commitment to take the gospel to the world.

    • Thank you, Selim. Grateful for your friendship and encouraging words.

  9. I am so thankful that I have had the privilege of meeting you and watching you from afar in your many mission endeavors. I’ll forever be grateful for the love, support, guidance and confidence you gave my daughter Kay while she served at Kingsland; everyone should be so fortunate.
    Thank you for showing all of us what a committed heart looks like.
    Sincerely, Pearl Hodges

    • Thanks for your kind words, Ms. Pearl. So grateful for Kay and all she did to help us advance our work among women in India. Glad that we also had an opportunity to meet. Thanks for your encouragement.

  10. How we love you and Cheryl! We love your heart, your soul, your passion, your example that inspires and leads us to a life yielded obedience. To God be the glory!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Pam. Grateful for your friendship.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Categories