See below how God is shifting my vocational calling yet one more time...
Dear FOCUS Family,
With a full and heavy heart, I am announcing that my time as the Executive Director of FOCUS Ministries is coming to an end. For the last few months, my family and I have been praying about God's will for our future. After ten years of dedicated marketplace ministry, I have decided to follow my calling back into local church service as the GROW Adults Pastor of Shoreline Church in Knoxville..
FOCUS Ministries has played a significant part in my story for the last five years, and I know it will continue to have a place in my story for years to come. This work has shaped me, inspired me, and humbled me all at the same time. Serving at FOCUS has been some of the most demanding and most rewarding work I have ever done. There is no way to fully express the impact the FOCUS Family has had on my life. I will be forever grateful.
As many of you know, the Stutz family landscape was reshaped in 2021 as we adopted two precious girls into our family. It is amazing to see the hand of God move in our family, from my work at FOCUS, to my work in the local church, to the call to shepherd young children at home yet again. I am excited for all that God has in store for our family. We covet your prayers as we embark on this new chapter.
I started working at FOCUS five years ago after volunteer teaching at the Knox County Detention Center for nearly a year and a half. I had no idea I would have the privilege of leading the whole organization, carrying on decades of prison and reentry ministry legacy. Yes, there have been tough seasons over the years, but the rewards have been far more rich. To God be the glory.
I am so pleased that FOCUS is a vibrant, debt-free agency poised for program expansion and long-term success. The staff of FOCUS is the best team, in heart and talent, a nonprofit could ask for in Knoxville. The servant's heart of FOCUS volunteers both behind and beyond the walls is nothing short of miraculous. I have been honored to witness a board of directors so committed to deep kingdom work. God has done great work in and through FOCUS, and what a powerful journey it has been. I am truly excited about the journey that lies ahead.
In 2022 alone, FOCUS will expand inside efforts to new facilities, double the reentry program's capacity, embark on one of the region's most strategic residential aftercare recovery programs. What truly makes FOCUS so unique is the comprehensive care and supportive pathway provided to the current and formerly incarcerated.
I invite you to pray for and support FOCUS Ministries during this transition. Your prayers, support, and service are invaluable. I will be slowly transitioning to my new role throughout March. Gratefully, I will remain a volunteer at Knox County and an advisor as needed. My final moments on the job will be to celebrate the victories of God at the FOCUS Annual Spring Banquet on March 31 at 6 pm at the Bridgwater Place. If ever a time to come and see what God is doing, that time is now. I am excited as the FOCUS Board of Directors will announce staffing decisions in the weeks ahead.
Forever FOCUS Family,
I can't believe the news we received today. December 15th will be the day we are adopting Gabby and Anna! They will officially become a Stutz and be part of our forever family. In many ways, it feels like a long time coming, and in other ways, it has taken years. The truth of the matter is that I would have never expected our home to change so much in nine months.
It is always amazing to see how God does his work. Psalm 68:6 states that "God sets the lonely in families." Ephesians 1:5 states, "He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will." God is in the business of building, restoring, and renewing families. Even more so, God is building and restoring His family-- adopting wayward children and pouring out His riches and inheritance on them. We covet your prayer as we continue to lead these young ladies to the Lord and with Lord's help. There is one more adoption to come.
I can't tell you how exciting and nervous this moment is for us. God has been so good and stretched our hearts so much. I could never find enough words to describe the joy.
P.S. - You're invited! If you would like to be in the courtroom to celebrate with us. The adoption will take place at 9:30 am, December 15th, at the Juvenile/Family Court Building.
Last week I had the opportunity to teach at the mid-week chapel service at Union University in Jackson, TN. Speaking was quite an honor since I am an alumnus of this great school. Union is also where I met Michelle, and we started our family. Our children, Kaitlyn and Elijah, have also become Union Bulldogs. Kaitlyn even walked at graduation twice, once in 1998 and once in 2019 (smirk now). Elijah will graduate in May of 2022.
This post is not a commercial for Union University and its spot-on educational and formational values. Instead, this is a testimony to the call of God. Twenty-five years ago, I sat in a chapel service and surrendered to the call of ministry. Since that special day, the call of God has taken me to many places. But ultimately, it has led me to know Jesus all the more.
Listen as I summarize this incredible journey of faith in the video below. Eli's introduction and my message begin at minute 15:12.
Life has been so fast of late. I have not chosen to post all too often. The year has been one of pandemic plus more on the home front. All writing has somewhat paused. I long to write, both in short and long-form. There is so much stirring in my heart to compose. More than anything, I want the priority and timing to be right. Until then, posts will be random.
"Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course."
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