Sometimes I think that God sees the world as a giant game of chess. As He moves us where we need to be, He’s got the big picture in mind. Meanwhile we may wonder what in the world He’s doing. I wondered that eight years ago when God brought us to Vancouver. In September of 2000 we found ourselves without a job, living in Seattle, and no plan of what we were going to do. As I lay in bed one night with Mark, I said, “If you could take a youth pastor job anywhere in the world, where would you go?” He quickly said, “Vancouver, Washington.” That was markedly odd at the time since we had only even been to Vancouver once in our lives and it was not a special place for us. I told Mark that was a nice dream, but the church he wanted to go to had recently hired a new youth pastor and so he’d have to go with his second choice. He didn’t have a second choice. The conversation ended for the night with God up in Heaven still moving His chess pieces while we slept.
It was a few weeks later that the very church he spoke of called us for an interview. They had a change of situation and when they asked around for hiring candidates, they were told one name…and one name only. Mark Newell. When they called that day for an interview, I said, “No need to interview, this is meant to be.”
We moved immediately and spent the next 5 1/2 years at Glad Tidings Church. That became some of the most influential times in ministry that we could ever imagine. I now see that time as the building block for everything we would later become. Checkmate.