Into the Unknown-Following God to a New Campus

Warren Ethridge

At the very beginning of the pandemic, my wife and I found ourselves working full time jobs from our home, but unlike at our offices, we were contending with a non-productive, 14-month-old coworker that just so happened to call us Mom and Dad! “T.V. time” quickly went out the window and we thanked those good people at Disney who decided Frozen 2 should be released straight to Disney+. We watched both Frozen I and II over 100 times the following months. From our daughter’s obsession, I developed an appreciation for Elsa’s song Into the Unknown

Her lyrics read like some of my own wrestlings with The Lord during different seasons of Him calling my family and I to a new adventure:

I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new

I’m afraid of what I’m risking If I follow you…

Into the unknown…

When our time came to follow the Lord into the unknown, we had hesitations. In the midst of those hesitations, He graciously helped us to recognize several key aspects that He had placed in our lives that made that calling even more recognizable. 

Others Need what God has Given You

One of the reasons my family knew we were being called to a new campus was because we had been well-equipped to make a difference. We had been honored to have a front row seat to what God had been doing at our former campus. I spent four years as a student and then four years on staff, and had seen ministry begin from the ground up! But as I looked out at different campuses around the world, I easily saw where God could use the “from-the-ground-up experience” at another campus. I looked into my proverbial toolbox and saw that God had given me helpful tools for other campuses! Don’t misunderstand me though. What I am NOT saying is that I knew all the answers! In fact, I was very aware of what I did not know and was nervous about it. Even more alarming were all the things I had no idea I didn’t know. I knew there were aspects of a new campus that I would have to learn on the fly, and as I looked at my toolbox, the question I had to ask was, “If God is calling me to this new campus, do I trust him to equip me with the things I don’t know?” I found great comfort when Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:12 that The Holy Spirit would teach them what to say when they found themselves without words. 

So, has God given you the tools to use at a new campus, and do you trust Him to teach you the things you don’t even know you need?

God Released us for Other Harvest Fields 

When we ask God to shape us in His image, we shouldn’t be surprised when the desires of our hearts change as well! I had served on staff at my former campus for four years before we transitioned to a new ministry at TCU’s campus in the fall of 2018. As a ministry, we would daily pray Luke 10:2, that the “…Lord of the Harvest [would] send out laborers into his harvest” and that we would specifically see some of those harvest workers come from our ministry and be sent out. As we prayed for those things, I always felt in my heart that my family would be one of those workers. At the same time, my personality clings to routine, and I never felt released from our ministry. As time went on, I was able to train up students and staff in everything I did! As I was praying over our campus one morning, I realized that God had released me from campus because I had trained up all my replacements! 

As we prayed Luke 10:2 daily, the seeds of longing for other harvest fields soon made themselves known. After my first year working on staff, my wife and I soon felt our eyes wandering to the horizon, asking what God was calling us to do next. Because of that longing, we found ourselves looking at (and even visiting) other harvest fields. Each time, the Lord gently closed doors that we peered into, but the desire was always there. God put several places on our hearts that, even though we weren’t called to go ourselves, have become target areas to send harvest workers from our ministry. Just because God did not call you physically to a ministry, does not mean that He asks you to forget about the needs of His people in those places. 

Ultimately, as we prayed, we felt God release us from where we had been serving and it aligned with the needs of a new campus, TCU, where we have been serving for the past three years. 

Saying “Yes” to the Best thing Means saying “No” to Good Things

One of the gifts of spending a longer amount of time in the same ministry is that you develop deep friendships. Whether they were coworkers or students, I have always considered myself “richer” in this regard than many others. But when God calls your family to move to the next adventure, what was once the greatest joy became something difficult to give up. Again, I found comfort in Jesus’s words to his disciples as he spoke in Matthew 7:11 concerning the Father’s ability to give good gifts! If God gives good gifts, and He is calling me to a new place, He’s asking me to say “yes” to something even better than what I have now! Saying “yes” to obedience to God (the best thing) means saying “no” to many other great things in our lives. Whether it was friends or ministry opportunities, when God invites you to join in what He is doing, all of those things cease to be the best thing. We moved away from friends and a loving church home, to move into the unknown the God asked us to. Can I let you in on a secret? Our Father continues to give good gifts, and He continues to give us everything we need to be successful in the next place. When God calls us into something, He doesn’t lack the resources to make sure we have what we need. 

As God calls you and I into the unknown, we can trust Him to provide what we need! Whether it’s a longing for a new harvest field, the tools needed to make an impact, or even the restoration of things we leave behind, God is faithful to be with his people, as we move into the unknowns of new campus work! 

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