GodStory | God's Sovereignty During A Pandemic
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
As Christians we are called to walk by faith, not by sight as God weaves remarkable events together that are for His glory. He is infinitely more capable and knowledgeable than any of us will ever be and He faithfully provides for those whom He has called. This is the very thing we had the privilege of experiencing firsthand with North Parkersburg Baptist Church in the search of their Executive Pastor.
This search began like any other for the team, with a visit from our Executive Search Consultant, Jennifer Winge, to North Parkersburg Baptist Church in West Virginia. Jennifer had previously connected with the church for a Worship Pastor search and formed a strong relationship with the staff, so both sides felt very comfortable starting this process again for a new position. North Parkersburg Baptist Church is a warm and loving community of believers that strive to experience a divine life changing experience through Jesus Christ and are committed to a Christ-centered worship experience designed to bring learning, healing, and encouragement to all who attend.
In October of 2019, the church decided to restructure its leadership team and hire an Executive Pastor to accompany their current Senior Pastor, Mike Towner. They contacted Vanderbloemen about their desire to start this process and the team started narrowing down high-quality candidates in order to have a presentation prepared for March of 2020. No one could have predicted what would happen next, a pandemic that completely changed the world and altered the search to an entirely virtual experience for both parties.
Every aspect of the search had to be altered in order to continue effectively vetting candidates and collaborating while working online and quarantining from various locations around the country. It’s only by the grace, wisdom, and guidance of Christ that many of these virtual transitions happened seamlessly. Meetings and interviews were conducted through zoom, similar to how the church and Vanderbloemen were adjusted to handling business entirely online. It was around this time that Jennifer tasked Pastor Mike Towner with recording a video to discuss the position and the qualifications they were seeking from candidates. This video was posted and shared to increase awareness about the opening. The Lord had a plan to use this effort to stir the heart of a man named John Wright, who resided with his family in Federal Way, Washington.
After watching the candidate video, John felt a significant tug from the Holy Spirit to research and pray more about the opportunity. John was inspired by his favorite verse, Luke 9:23, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me,” so he connected with Mike and Jennifer to possibly become the new Executive Pastor of North Parkersburg Baptist Church. God was leading and directing every stage of this search and he made it incredibly clear to John and the Church that he was being called to move from Washington state to West Virginia to step into the position. John Wright navigated this process with the support of his wife, Marcia, through consistent prayer and faith that the Lord would provide. He had a great impression of North Parkersburg Baptist Church and truly resonated with the ministries they offer, such as North Place Maternity House and Friendship Kitchen. Without stepping foot in the church or meeting a single church member, but by faith and the leading of Christ, John was offered the job during an extremely tumultuous time period last year.
Fortunately, John accepted the Executive Pastor position sight unseen and even purchased a home for his family without touring it first, in preparation for their big move. John and the church trusted God with the whole search process because His sovereignty always prevails, even during worldwide chaos and uncertainty. John’s leap of faith was in response to God’s guidance and he has honored the Lord and complimented the church since the beginning of his employment.
Nearly a year since the search closed, John has flourished in the position and Vanderbloemen is so excited and honored to have assisted in this great partnership and share the good news through this God Story. God’s hand was evident in this beautifully orchestrated ministry moment and His blessings have continued to pour out for John Wright, Mike Towner, and North Parkersburg Baptist Church.