The last two ladies I want to write about for Pastor's Wife Appreciation Month (I do realize that was last month, but I appreciate these ladies all year long, so I am writing about them, even though it is no longer March!) haven't had the official title of “pastor's wife” for very long, but they are ladies I have been learning from and praising God for for many years, and it is a privilege to share all God has taught me through them. Sticking with the previous posts, I will write about them in the order in which I met them.
Kyle and Courtney McGinn were one of the very first families to join Covenant once we moved to Pearland. They found us through the Acts 29 website, and after just a couple interactions, they decided to lock arms with us to help us plant Covenant. We were early in core group phase then, which means we were doing nothing that looked or felt like “typical church” - no Sunday service, no Bible study, no Sunday school. We were meeting in a living room one night a week, eating a meal and talking and praying about what it looks like to be the church. And the McGinn's were in.
Following my usual pattern, I was shocked (yes, I know, one would think that by this point in the story that I would expect Jesus to build his church, just like he said he would... and yet, my astonishment continues every. single. time.). I just remember questioning why in the world would anyone, McGinn's included, want to join Covenant- we had nothing to offer. And I quickly realized that they didn't join because of what we could offer them- they joined because they wanted to offer back to God all that he had graciously given them by participating in building up his church.
And, as it turns out, we had been praying for Kyle and Courtney for a long time, long before we ever met them or knew their names. One of the earliest church planting conversations I had with Joy and Maggie in Louisville centered around children's ministry and the who/how/where/when of caring for the children of Covenant. All three of us acknowledged that this was a task that often fell to the pastors's wives, and while all three of us figured we “could” do it, none of us felt gifted or equipped to take on that role. So we prayed. And prayed and prayed and prayed, asking God to provide someone with a love for children and who was gifted in lesson planning, scheduling, organizing and those myriad of skills needed in children's ministry.
Looking back, I can see now that most of those prayers were selfish and fearful- “Lord, I can't do this, please send someone else”- and I have no idea why, but God graciously answered them anyway by sending Kyle and Courtney and a few others, who have faithfully and selflessly served in Covenant Kids for years, creating and honing processes, schedules, lesson plans and activities, making it a place that is safe and fun, a place where children can come to learn about God and his word in a way they can understand.
After core group phase, we multiplied out into different community groups, and as our groups have multiplied again and again, transitioning from community groups to missional communities, most of my interaction with Courtney has been from afar, as our circles of life and ministry don't overlap all that often. And yet, that has not stopped the Lord for teaching me a great deal through Courtney and the way she lives her life.
Courtney loves people with great compassion. Compassion is making room in your heart for other people and their burdens. With compassion, there is a movement toward the person in need, a desire to be with, to show them that they are not alone. Courtney does this so well. She hurts when others hurt, and she bears the burdens of others, in the way that she prays, in the way that she serves and in the way that she gives of herself, often at great cost, to care for the needs of others.
Courtney loves Jesus with simplicity. Love God. Love others. These instructions Jesus gave to his followers aren't really all that complicated. And Courtney doesn't try to complicate them, even with some of the “big, hard, scary” stuff that comes with following Jesus. I will never forget the time, very early on in the life of Covenant, when we were made aware of an opportunity to sponsor medically-fragile Haitian orphans who needed to come to the US for medical care after the Haiti earthquake. Kyle and Courtney responded with a “yes” to the need almost immediately, explaining that their reasons for not doing it were based mostly on fear of the unknown and that those weren't good enough reasons to stop them. Governmental red tape prevented the orphans from ever actually coming to the US, but that didn't make their simple obedience any less amazing to me. That's not to say their obedience was easy. I am sure it was immensely difficult to overcome fear and say “yes” to a big unknown. But it was simple. And instructive to me, who often tries to complicate obedience by (endlessly) playing “twenty questions.”
Friend, you are an answer to so many prayers I have prayed. I thank God for the way he has gifted you and for you using those gifts to bless so many, inside and outside our church family, for all you have given to build up those around you. I have learned so much from you just by watching the way you love your husband and children and care for your family, friends, neighbors and the women in your circles. Your prayers, encouragement and example have been used by the Lord to strengthen my faith and challenge me to follow Jesus more simply. It has been a joy to watch you grow in counseling, in leadership and in doing things that are hard and uncomfortable for the sake of Christ. And I pray the Lord will continue to strengthen you, to help you enjoy Jesus more and to give you peace and rest, reminding you of your identity as a beloved child in whom he is well pleased.