Being a ministry family can be a strange, strange thing. You are for all intents and purposes just an ordinary family who attend church and serve the people of God. But you are also the family of one of the leaders among the people and that often means higher expectations of behaviour, faith and works for all of you.
The whole “fishbowl” effect is largely unavoidable but the way the people of God in the church you serve act and react towards you makes an enormous difference.
It is with great joy that I can say that the way you have cared for us and loved us and prayed for us has been wonderful.
Life in the Fortescue house has not been all plain sailing for the last 10 years. Some of you will know all the stories and some will know a few, but like every family we have had a fair share of grief, sickness and trouble. I can say with great thankfulness that we have been loved through it all and allowed to just be a human family who follow Jesus.
When Michelle was rushed home from Fiji having suffered a stroke in 2016 we were overwhelmed with love, kindness and care. We were very aware that people were praying for her and us. We had meals and care packages delivered to our house. We had people offer to help with Megan, Brianna and Brodie who were all still at school. The staff team jumped in to take over responsibilities and to ensure that I had plenty of time to spend at the hospital and taking Michelle to appointments over the following months. The wardens were generous with their provision of extra time off. All of that was wonderfully generous and kind.
When Nicky’s mum and my Dad died at the end of last year, again the wonderfully generous and kind actions of many were gratefully appreciated. The staff and wardens were once again generous in their work to ensure we had plenty of time to recover and grieve. One of other things I noticed then was the way you rallied around our whole family. I was aware of people not just caring for Nicky and I but for all four of our children, for whom the death of grandparents was a terribly difficult time.
Campbelltown is a place we have grown to call home. Campbelltown is a place where we have grown significantly as a family both relationally and spiritually. Campbelltown is a place that we will forever remember for difficult times during which we were loved. And for that we give great thanks. Being in a great church where our family is loved and encouraged has ensured that we feel at home and now feel sad to be leaving. Nicky and I particularly give thanks to all those who have encouraged us and our children to stand firm with Jesus and to never give up.
Please don’t stop encouraging and caring for your ministry leaders. Please don’t stop encouraging them to stand firm on Christ. Please don’t stop caring for them and all those who will come after us.
For you know, that your labours in the Lord are never in vain.