“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I love Jeremiah 29:11 Wow! God has plans for me– Sue Hargrave-Benson of the United States, just little old me! I feel God calling me to be an officiant minister.
We are so fortunate in the USA to have religious freedom. However, having so much (material wealth and social opportunity) actually makes it hard for us to rely on God. I was born and have lived my whole life in the USA. God is very present here. But most Americans do not see or hear or acknowledge Him! I know this because until I was 35 years old, that was me…
Jesus called me to Himself when I was a dancer living in NYC. On the outside, I was doing great (by worldly standards): an Ivy League Ph.D., a great university teaching career, and a handsome boyfriend. But inside I was a mess: multiple addictions plus terrible loneliness, guilt and despair. God reached down and told me He could run my life better than I could. So I turned it all over to Him! Good choice!
Within a year I was cleaned up, married, and teaching in a lovely Northern California college town. Some parts of the last three decades have been tough: broken marriage, being a single mom, demanding job, persecution from some colleagues… But He’s used it all for good (Romans 8:28). I’m blessed with a godly son, a wonderful second husband, and a terrific church. God is so faithful to complete what He starts! And He’s still working on me every day.
My ministry dream is to be Jesus’ hands and feet in my community. Besides being a deacon, I’ve sung in traditional or gospel choir and worship teams for years. I’ve also led several ministries: Christian aerobics, eating disorder 12 Step, and a Christian dance company. Now — officiant minister/lay pastor?! I hear the call.
Recently my son asked me to be the officiant minister at his upcoming wedding so that he could have a Christian marriage. I’m doing the coursework through CLI because I want real minister training, not just a certificate. But I sense that God has something more in mind. My husband and my pastor are encouraging me to train to be a lay minister. Doing weddings and end-of-life celebrations would be such a joy. We live in a retirement community where there is plenty of ministry to be done! On my dog-walk this morning, I ministered to a retired Marine who was questioning God’s purpose in his life. And my sweet husband is currently next door, ministering to a sweet widow with dementia.
This Getting Started: Christian Leaders Connection class has already given me some great ministry tools: encouragement to reach out more, a fuller Christian vocabulary, stronger devotion and prayer habits for me (& my dear husband), a renewed connection with my pastor (and fellow deacons), and ways to broach Christ with our unchurched neighbors. Add to that my son’s request to officiate his wedding, and you have quite a few of the Seven Connections!
Being able to study online at CLI is a huge blessing. Enrollment in pertinent online college level Christian coursework is a literal Godsend! I would appreciate your prayers for me as I seek God’s will and favor in pursuit of this lay minister/officiant minister calling. And thank you for all you do to spread the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ!
Learn more about Ecuministry Ordination at Christian Leaders Alliance.