Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dear Marble Falls family,

For the past year, Tori, Trae, Mandy and I have immensely enjoyed the blessing of being with you. In such a short time, we have grown to love and appreciate so many of you for your faith, dedication and commitment to Jesus Christ. Our love for the elders and their wives, for Allan and Carrie-Ann and their family, for Jimmy and Elizabeth and Jim and Helen, and for sweet Ms. Ann is without question. The past year has provided opportunities for deeper faith, hope and love for our family and we hope and trust for you as well.

However, because of what we deem to be an answer to long-time prayer, I have submitted my resignation to the elders, effective August 1.

Five years ago, I was first invited to speak at the Tahoe Family Encampment in Northern California. From that initial experience into ministry and the churches of California sprang various opportunities to speak along the West Coast. In our subsequent journeys into California, Mandy and I have been touched deeply by the overwhelming need for ministry in our nation's most populous state. The need there is great and California, truly, is a mission field within the United States.

I've never forgotten the words of one particular brother who'd moved to California from Ghana, West Africa. He lamented, "I do not understand why American churches continue to send money and missionaries to Ghana when every church I know of in Ghana is stronger than any church I know of in California."

Insights like his, coupled with our own personal experiences, formed in our hearts a burning desire to one day enter the mission field that is California.

That day has arrived, courtesy of an open door that we did not pursue but one that pursued us.

We have been invited by the Woodward Park Church of Christ in Fresno, California to come and serve as their Preaching Minister. The Woodward Park church is the largest Church of Christ in the state of California. Its resources and manpower provide an ideal place in answer to our long-term prayers to broaden the scope and reach of my ministry in a state where quality ministry is needed. Additionally, I have been invited by Paul Methvin, Director of the Tahoe Family Encampment, to serve on the Encampment planning staff, enlarging further the impact of my ministry significantly. It is to those needs and in answer to five years of prayer that we now must go.

Please understand that this relocation of our ministry in no way reflects any dissatisfaction with our elders at Marble Falls or any discontent in our relationship with you. When we moved to Marble Falls, we bought a home, brought two of our dearest friends in Jimmy and Elizabeth here to serve in Youth Ministry, and envisioned staying until God opened a door to California. This decision is the most difficult of our lives, not because we question the leading of God in our lives, but because we have to walk away from a work unfinished and from friendships we cherish.

Because I am certain that this opportunity is the will of God for my family and my ministry, I am equally certain that God has tremendous things in store for the advancement of His kingdom in Marble Falls. The best days in the history of the Marble Falls church lie ahead and God will provide for you the right man and family to lead you to higher levels of faith, hope and love.

Thank you for loving us. For accepting us. For supporting us. But now I ask you to pray for us as we prepare to embark on a journey of faith. Trust me when I say that wherever our journeys of faith lead us in the future, the Marble Falls church family will forever hold a treasured place in our hearts.

With His Love,

Jim, Mandy, Trae and Tori Gardner