Every church has at least one family without a pastor. When pastors and their families need a pastor where do they go?

Testimonies

I am a pastor who has experienced first-hand brokenness and recovery. A major factor in the brokenness was a ‘forced exit’ from my job as a Senior Pastor. But God is good. At each juncture John Smith was there, encouraging, listening, praying, counseling, and helping me through each step one at a time.

When I first met John, I was exhausted, stressed, beaten up and broken down. I was at a crossroads and needed to make a decision as whether to continue or resign my position as pastor. Our conversations were a divine appointment.

God has used John Smith to bring into my life encouragement, acceptance, love, and wise counsel when I desperately needed it. He has a large heart for hurting pastors and the experience to back up what he says. I consider it a privilege to call John a colleague and a friend, and to recommend him to your service.

Sincerely,
Pastor Mical

When my friend E.F. told me about your ministry to pastors and how much he had benefited from it, I immediately saw it as a lifeline that could help me through the horrific wars of ministry.

I come from a family of twelve pastors and have been in ministry for over three decades. I have seen with my own eyes many hundreds of fallen soldiers of the Kingdom, skillful pastors, injured in the battles of ministry, discarded, with gigantic loss for the Church. Unfortunately there are very few ministries and shepherds like you that do care and are capable to offer support and guidance.

I greatly appreciate all the support you gave me in the days of thick darkness when I was alone fighting the demons, real ones as well as emotional ones. You had a way, certainly lead by the Spirit, to call me when I was down and wanting to give up.

No money or reward on earth will compensate you for your ministry to pastors. But I am confident that great will be your eternal reward for strengthening soldiers of the Kingdom. May God richly bless you.

With gratitude,
Pastor Silas

Rose and I just had the opportunity to be refreshed by a short vacation to sunny-but-cold southern California, following some of the most traumatic times in our lives and ministry. Yet, that respite pales by comparison to the care and refreshing that we received from you WHILE we went through some very dark experiences.

Shortly after we came to this parish eleven years ago, we found that the church had a history of schism {which we smilingly called an “inadvertent, church-planting strategy”} and had dismissed a very popular Senior Pastor whose gifts were crucial to the church’s growth. Our task was to get the church back on its feet, knowing that we might be the transitional leaders or “sacrificial lambs” in the process.

John. Had it not been for the Lord’s provision and for you and PastorCare, Rose and I would not have made it! Your timely phone calls, compassionate counsel, realistically faith-filled assessment of our situation and appropriate hand-holding contributed immeasurably to our spiritual, emotional, physical and spousal health. Not only did the Holy Spirit cause you to call at just the right times, He prompted you to reach out on those “occasional” instances – like just before church on Sunday or preceding what you knew might be a difficult day or meeting. As I reflect, I can confidently assert that our Sovereign Lord brought our paths together in miraculous moments and wonderful ways!

Rose and I will be forever grateful for your ministry to us, and we hope that the ministry of PastorCare continues to grow with your guidance.

Gratefully,
Rev. Bill

It was mid May and I was experiencing one of my loneliest seasons of ministry. What happened? Who would listen? Who would understand? Then the phone rang. On the other was a calm reassuring voice. It was John Smith, Director of PastorCare. He stated that I didn’t know him, but he had heard about my situation, another broken relationship between a pastor and his flock. His sincerity and godly spirit allowed me to trust him enough to set up a meeting. The following week we met for the first time. John Smith in person was even more compassionate than the individual I had spoken with on the phone. He assured me he simply wanted to listen and aid in my healing process if he could.

Our first meeting was probably 2.5hrs. It was long enough for my wife to ask, who is this John Smith? I simply said he was someone who had heard about our situation and understood everything we were going through. That one meeting has lead to a 2 plus year relationship of counsel and accountability.

What Have I received from PastorCare? The ministry through its compassion, patience and understanding brought comfort. I realized throughout our meetings that I wasn’t alone. Here were people who genuinely cared and could help with the pain and abandonment by simply listening and sharing their story.

Secondly, the ministry through prayer and self evaluation helped me identify my weakness and strength. Through coaching and deep soul searching I’ve gained more confidence in who God has created me to be. Think of all the ministers who serve churches not fully operating in the area of giftedness God has designed for them. Through the efforts and guidance of PastorCare, I’ve been liberated.

Thirdly, PastorCare reemphasized the importance of waiting on God. Through numerous conversations with John Smith I was encouraged and mandated to wait on God. I’ve learned through this process that every door that opens is not necessarily one you should walk through.

I praise God for PastorCare and their willingness to walk with those who have been wounded in ministry. Most would think it’s only for pastors, but my testimony is that my entire family received healing from the ministry. Without the Spirit’s leading and the aid of PastorCare I would be another wounded pastor set out to pasture. But through their compassion, resources and efforts I now pastor a new church start up in Western Michigan. Praise God!!! Weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. More than ever I can say, in His time He does make all things beautiful, in His time. PastorCare is truly a ministry that lives up to its name.

From the Heart,
Pastor George

We had been at the church for over twenty years. Throughout those years, our people had loved my wife and me in very real and tangible ways. Pastoring an inner city church had its share of pain and hardships, but through it all the church loved their pastor. Only a year earlier they had taken a huge step by following my leadership and calling an additional staff member. Our hopes were high and our dreams seemed to mirror God’s.
When the spirit of the church body began to shift, I couldn’t understand what was happening. We experienced more and more conflict. Issues that had never bothered anyone started to divide us. People began to take sides. Our leadership team was not healthy either. Differences of philosophy and methods started to divide us too. Was this spiritual warfare? I started to daydream about working at something else. I didn’t sleep well. I felt trapped. I was doubting my own judgment. I really needed some help.
That was when our Pastor of Christian Education and Administration suggested I call John Smith with PastorCare. I kept putting it off for reasons I don’t even know myself. My associate contacted John, who in turn called me. We set up a meeting at his office in Grand Rapids and my wife and I went to see him in January, 2007. I’m so very glad we did. He actually understood me. He knew I felt trapped. I was carrying way too much alone. He would say, “Give credit to the check in your spirit.” But he also had a way of correcting some of my assumptions without making me feel stupid. I needed someone like that.

John became a sounding board, a counselor and a mentor. The Church and I had many difficult decisions to make. I cannot put into words how helpful it was to be able to resource John’s wisdom and humble insight. He would say, “You don’t have to be accusatorial, but ask a lot of questions — the sooner the better. Don’t wait for the magic moment all the time.”

We are in the fourth month after our first meeting and a great many things have changed at our church. The darkest clouds are gone. We are healing. The Church is healing. Having enlisted John as an accountability partner as we walked through our own valley of the shadow of death, contributed greatly to our being able to look back over the process and feel confident that we handled things honorably. I am truly grateful to God for the help we received from John and the ministry of PastorCare.

Pastor Carlos

Where does a Pastor turn when they find themselves in crises? Pastors and their families are often put on pedestals and congregations can easily forget that pastors are part of the human race just like everyone else. Pastors and their families have stresses and strains, worries and doubts, and even times of deep crises and pain in their lives. I experienced just such pain and crises in January of 2006 when I was forced to resign after six years of faithful service to the church I pastored.

I had pastored a total of 17 years and now I found myself in a place I had never been before. Deeply wounded I was in crises emotionally, spiritually, vocationally, and financially. Had it not been for the loving and gracious care of John Smith and PastorCare Ministry, I’m not sure I, my wife, and 3 children would be on the path to healing and recovery we are on today. John was there, in the midst of my crises, offering a listening ear and words of comfort and assurance. John spent countless hours with me during this most difficult time and his gracious and loving spirit embraced me and my family in ways that I find hard to express in words.

John Smith and the PastorCare Ministry has also provided opportunities for me and my wife to connect with other clergy couples who have experienced various levels of woundedness in their lives and ministries. This has helped us to see that we are not alone in our struggle. And through PastorCare and John Smith, I have even developed a new friendship with a former pastor who himself has gone through deep woundedness and come out on the other side of it victorious and healthy. My new friend is helping (mentoring) me in my efforts to do the same in a new direction and vocation I am taking with my life.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Ron

We often think we’ll experience God in green traffic lights and blue skies. But Scripture indicates God’s presence is experienced through suffering. After 17 years of successful pastoring, my husband and I stepped out from under “blue skies” as God took us to the Seattle area. Four years into this ministry, the board chairman’s son asked to be married in the church. Since neither he nor his fiancée were believers and had been living together, the board declined, but my husband became the fall guy. Over the next painful three years, all I could do as the pastor’s wife was stand silently by Keith’s side.

After trying everything we knew to show love in the growing tension, we resigned, and God led us to a church near San Francisco. When Keith fell out of favor with a few members largely because church wasn’t as exciting as it used to be, we decided to resign, unwilling to put ourselves through another long struggle. Again, there was nothing I could do.

The day we resigned we received a call from a church in Iowa, leading to a unanimous recommendation to candidate. We believed, as did the congregation, that God had been preparing us for this church during our difficult years.

Everything went well for a year or so, until the day when a staff member wrote us a lengthy letter, criticizing my husband. Unknown to us, this man had been criticizing us to other staff for months. The deacons called a meeting and reasoned it was easier to replace us than the three other pastors. Again, we resigned because it would have split the church to stay.

We were deeply wounded, feeling betrayed by people we loved. I never lost trust in God’s care, but I lost trust in God’s people. Our lives, plans, finances and future had been devastated.

We returned to Michigan and rented a small apartment, thinking another church would call soon, but nothing developed. We heard that some churches weren’t calling because of our record, but none of them bothered to speak to us. God was humbling us, especially me. I worried about what other people were thinking.

We were also “living by faith” in ways we’d never experienced, working temporary, part-time jobs. I kept reminding myself we’d soon be called to another church and receive a “regular” check.

After a year, we visited friends in Seattle and interviewed with the director at Action International Ministries. The positions of MemberCare and writing seemed a good fit, but I had one huge concern. We needed to raise our support, and I didn’t want any part of that.

Action’s director soon called for our decision. God showed me I Peter 1:13: Therefore, prepare your minds for action. Even though this verse was out of context, we believed God was speaking to us through it. We also were beginning to believe that “faith living” had been our preparation. We signed on.

God had closed the door to the senior pastorate but opened doors to world-wide missions in a larger ministry than we could have imagined. Keith now serves as a part-time Pastor of Missions in one of our supporting churches. God removed my fear of living on missionary support, and He’s always provided. He taught me to focus on being more concerned about what He thinks and less about what people think.

Near the end of this journey, God arranged for us to meet John Smith, who became part of our story. He encouraged me to share the truth that while experiencing pain is never easy, experiencing God in the midst of pain is priceless. God can be trusted to use our suffering to draw us closer to Himself.

In Christ’s love,
Marilyn

John Smith was there for me in my darkest hour. The stress of ministry just kept building month after month and it was wearing me down. I was tired all the time and wasn’t sleeping well. I was having migraine headaches often. The burden and stress of ministry was weighing upon me so much that, like Elijah, I just wanted the Lord to take my life and relieve me of that heavy burden. Then I started having, what I later learned to be, panic attacks. It felt like I was having a heart attack. I was not worrying about anything or doing physical exercise to bring it on. The attacks would come out of nowhere for no reason. When that started happening, I knew I was in trouble and needed help.

I had many questions. What is happening to me? Why is it happening? What do I need to do to get better? And what do I need to do to prevent this from happening again?

Someone had mentioned the PastorCare ministry to me about a month earlier, so I called John Smith. He returned my call and met with me promptly. He spent three hours with me. Much of the time involved listening to my story. He listened with so much compassion; I could tell he cared. I needed someone to listen and care. Then, he began to answer my questions and recommended resources to get more answers.

He recommended that I take a three month sabbatical from ministry to heal. Since I knew this idea would be foreign to our church board, I asked for John’s help in working through the process. He spent much time working with our board and then our church. He also spent time with my family listening and counseling them in their struggles through this time. John has quickly grown to be a special friend.

I am so thankful for John’s ministry in my life; words cannot adequately express it. I think of other pastors who go through similar things, but have no one to turn to. I cannot imagine what that would be like. It honestly pains me to even think about that.

The stresses of ministry were still there when I went back, but with the help of the counseling I received over the summer and the Lord’s strength, I was able to face them in a much healthier way. A year later I was led to resign from the church and have been involved in a new ministry serving the Lord to advance the gospel and His kingdom.

I am so thankful to be able to have the strength and health to continue to serve the Lord. Without help, my story would have turned out tragically different. Thank you so much for being available with the help I needed in my darkest hour. Your ministry helps strengthen and support God’s servants so that the church is built up and the gospel of our Savior is spread to the glory of God.

With much gratitude,
Pastor Jim

George Herbert led a tortured life. Subject to fits of depression and an overwhelming sense of worthlessness, Herbert struggled daily with a sense of calling. He longed, on the one hand, for the approval of His God, and on the other hand, a sense of approval from those he worked with. It may come as no surprise that this anguish and melancholy was the lot of one of the greatest pastors who ever lived. That’s not to say that every pastor has this as his/her lot, but the chances are good that if one pastors, one will have trouble—sometimes truckloads of it. That has been my experience.

I moved to West Michigan more than 12 years ago, full of promise and hope. We helped plant a church that flourishes to this day. God used me and my family in a wonderful way to bless the lives of many, but the toll it took on me and that same family was heavy. Growing churches include growing demands, and they often require more administrative savvy and organizational leadership than many pastors are able to give. That was the case for me. As I struggled to find an answer to the growing questions that surrounded my work as Senior Pastor, I found no comfort or solace in the Elders or others in positions of volunteer leadership. God himself seemed far away, failing not only to do me good, but he seemed strangely ambivalent to the harm I was suffering at the hands of people who said they loved me, but seemed to be functioning on the basis of hurt, reprisal and expediency.

After a drawn out, 2 year process of prayer and passive-aggressive behavior, blessing and blaming, I decided that I had had enough. It was time to move on. Several months after leaving, I came to grips with the fact that with the apparent absence of God to provide comfort, I had turned to prescription pain killers as the way to numb the pain. I was an addict. In the span of just a few months, my world had come apart. All the things I valued—my work, my family, my values, my reputation—all of them were, at least from my perspective, gone.

Coming to terms with my addiction and finding my place in the recovery community, I began to put back the pieces of my life. Oddly enough, the one source of strength for my recovery that was strangely absent was the church. The Church was there, but not the church. And God was there, but he was still maddeningly unmanageable, and he continued to resist my futile attempts at replacing Him as the sovereign center of the universe. For the past two and a half years, I have been walking the walk of faith, taking baby steps back to the heart of God. My recovery is chemical and spiritual, emotional and relational. I don’t imagine that I will ever finish that walk, but I do know that without the love and support of brothers and sisters, brothers like John Smith, I could never hope to make even minimal movement forward. I find myself now, as I did before I left organized ministry, drawing inspiration and hope from the poetry of George Herbert.

Who could have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greeness? It was gone
    Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root when they have blown
. . . . . . . . . . . . /
After so many deaths I live and write;
    I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: Oh my only light
    It cannot be
    That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.

I was raised by a Christian mom in the midst of a divorced home. John Smith has been, and will remain, one of the most influential people in my life and in my journey towards wholeness. We have spent hours and hours together dealing with the hurts and baggage of my past. Today I am filled with gratitude and awe to see the place where God has brought me to through the compassion and healing that comes from Christians like John Smith whom God uses to bring His wholeness and joy back into our lives. I am in full time Christian service and am blessed with a beautiful wife and children. My life has a joy and a purpose to it that never would have been reached without the help of John and others who cared for me and came alongside during my time of need.

I can look back over my formative years and see all the seeds of destruction that the Enemy planted in my life. I now stand in awe as I see how God has changed what the Enemy meant for harm and has turned it for good. My ministry is greatly enhanced by the personal struggles that I have been able to come through, but I am very aware that I had no chance of coming to this place of wholeness on my own. God has used spirit-filled, professionally trained people to walk me through my difficult times and to bring me to a place of strength. John Smith is one of the main people that God used to do that in my life.

I fully endorse John and PastorCare in the ministry of healing that they have been called to. PastorCare is truly a tool in God’s hand being used to strengthen Christian workers.

Pastor Ralph

It is my pleasure to write this on behalf of the PastorCare ministry. Over the past few months this ministry has been truly a lifeline for my wife and me. We are very grateful for the team of men and women that God is putting together to minister to those in ministry.

John W. Smith is a seasoned pastor, full of wisdom, empathy and compassion. Not one to hesitate or wait for a plea for help, John immediately began to develop a relationship with me upon our meeting nearly two years earlier. He sought me out, prayed for my wife and me and the ministry that we had been called by God to do in West Michigan.

When I began to struggle with the church where I was a pastor, I knew exactly who to turn to for help. In fact, the very evening I was asked to resign, my wife and I were at the Smith’s home. In John’s home that evening we were loved, cared for, encouraged and wisely advised as to what to do now. We left knowing that we were not alone and that we had someone to advocate on our behalf, for which we were and continue to be very grateful.

I cannot speak highly enough of John and Sue Smith. They journeyed with me through every very difficult step in leaving the church where I had pastored for four years. John still consistently calls on me every couple of weeks to be an encouragement, prayer support, listening ear, and sounding board as I seek God’s direction for my life.

I do not know how I would have made it through the past few extremely difficult months had it not been for this team of God-sent individuals that know what it is like to be torn apart in ministry. I highly recommend the PastorCare ministry to you as it is a much needed, highly effective and responsible ministry reaching out to those who have been giving and are now in need of receiving. I am very grateful.

Sincerely,
Pastor Michael