“My job is very much pastoral: shepherding guys basically the same age as me, and calling them to Holiness. I have been spurred on lately by Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The burden God has placed on my heart is to call everyone around me to righteousness. There is no time to waste in life pursuing meaningless activities, so I want to be seeking God’s heart daily, and calling others into that with me. I don’t have a clear idea for long-term pastoral ministry right now, but I know that God has called me to this ministry and this neighborhood for the time being. The local church I came from is supporting me financially, and I am currently being mentored by one of the pastors. As a ministry we have a good relationship with the churches in our neighborhood, and I have started attending one of them regularly.”       – Joshua Stowie, student of CLI

Pastoral Love And Care From One Who Knows Pain, Brokenness, And Loss

My name is Joshua Stowie. I was born in 1994 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to my parents Gary (a fellow CLI student) and Kathy. I am the second youngest of 5 (three boys and two girls). I was raised in a Christian home by loving and God-fearing parents. As a family we attended church every Sunday, and I was a part of the middle school youth group. In the spring of 2008 we lost our house and moved into a rental home farther out of the city. At the same time we left our church of fourteen years and started looking for somewhere else to attend, all while transitioning from middle school to high school. It was during that summer between that I was introduced to the church where I have been attending for six years (I took out the now), and where I committed my life to the Lord.

My older sister and I became involved with the youth group there and was plugged in with small groups. Over the course of that year we built a great relationship bond and spurred each other on. That fall I committed my life to Christ on a retreat with the youth group. In June 2009 we went on a missions trip to Newark, New Jersey, which is where my passion for missions and love for Jesus birthed. Later that summer my sister and I decided to get baptized together by our youth pastor, Derek Taatjes. That marked the beginning of 5 very crazy, emotional, and transient years leading me to where I am today.

January 2010, 5 months after my baptism, I got a call early in the morning from my sister’s friend telling me that she couldn’t find Kristin (my sister). I woke my parents up, and we started calling around. Later that morning the County Sheriff came to our house to tell us that Kristin died in a snowmobile accident early that morning. That began the hardest week of my entire life. I look back on the week and know that the love and comfort of Jesus is the only reason I made it through the week, and the reason I can look back and still bless God for the time I had with her. After her death I went into a time of finding my identity in girls: the ones that would give me attention, and the ones that I could manipulate. This went on until the following summer when I went on a mission trip with the ministry for which I now work. From that trip on it has been a journey of learning to respect women and stepping up as a man of God.

The spring of 2011 brought about another tragedy in my life, and in our church. I woke up to my friend breaking into my house to tell me that our youth pastor passed away in a house fire early that morning. I knew him well, so it weighed on me a lot when I realized that both people I was in the tub with when I got baptized had now gone to be with our Father. Derek’s wife asked me to speak at his funeral, which was terrifying, and one of my first times speaking in front of more than a thousand people. I realized that day that I have had a unique experience with losing people close to me, and I have a message to share. It is these two events that have prompted me to pursue ministry; realizing that there isn’t time to waste in this life: Jesus is coming soon.

Throughout my high school years I was connected with the Bridge Street House of Prayer in Grand Rapids, and after I did one year of College, not feeling a direct calling, they asked me to come staff the mission school they were starting. I am now working there full-time, raising my own pastoral support over the past two years. My job is youth discipleship, and maintenance for our facilities. Our mission school is a discipleship training school; it is eight months long. The first phase is teaching and living in our community, the second phase is global outreach to either Guatemala or India, and the third phase is back in our community: being prepared to be sent out to live a life of mission.

I am going to be in pastoral ministry in some form for my entire life, and pastoral ministry training from CLI would provide me with the teaching that I need to be effective in it. Pray for me as I follow the Lord’s calling for my life. I don’t yet know if I am going to be in this same pastoral ministry next year, or if God is calling me to return to school full-time. In this time be praying also that God would provide me with the financial support to keep doing what I am doing, and not need to worry as much about whether or not the money will come in each week. God is good, and He has set my path before me.

CLI’s Pastoral Training Program

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