I will never forget my first encounters with Todd Paben. He was a squirrelly teenager with Jimmy Neutron styled hair who was dating a girl who attended my youth ministry at Peace Community Church. I’ll never forget how God grasped his heart one particular evening during a series on relationships. I won’t forget the countless hours poured into discipling a young man who ravenously devoured the Word and longed for even more time in discipleship.
I won’t forget our conversations regarding politics, friendship, and God’s call. I remember talking about changing his major and starting Trinity Christian College - as a public school kid. I vividly remember seeing his eyes beam with excitement the first time Amanda Geels walked into Mokena Elementary School with other Trinity Christian College friends to check out Missio Dei Church. We had conversations about what God might be up to in his life which led to changing his major from biology to theology.
On February 1, 2011 Todd began a paid internship with Missio Dei Church - PCA during a critical time in the church’s life - we had just released the full time worship director. Todd quickly learned how to play guitar, coordinate the music teams, do a sundry of other administrative tasks.
Laura and I also had the privilege of walking with Todd and Manda Paben through their dating life and into their married life. We’ve heard their hopes, pains and struggles and watched them grow into a maturing couple who loves the Lord.
Unbeknownst to me, God chose to take this relationship with a teenage boy and transformed it into both a ministry partner and a lifelong friend.
Then on one September evening in 2015, Todd and Manda sat down at our dinner table and shared that they sensed that God was leading them to be on the search for an occupation would allow Todd and Manda to meet some their family goals. Admittedly, my heart sunk. Who could ever replace such a personally invaluable Kingdom asset like Todd? Ministry is often quiet and lonely - Todd definitely broke the silence and brought life to my tenure with MDC. What is God up to?
I wasn't the only one wondering what God was up to - Todd and Amanda had their own questions. Their extended search process was filled with seasons of questions, fear, and silence all the while maturing them into more sensitive, faithful followers of Christ.
Last month, Todd shared with the Elders (Jake Mudde and Nathan Phillips) that he has accepted a full-time position at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center to be their Guest Services Coordinator! This position will begin on Monday, January 15. What a journey this has been! Even though the Todd and Manda are not leaving MDC, it does mean his formal paid responsibilities towards the church will be changing. He will no longer be the “go to person” for all things Missio Dei, but working contractually as the Director Worship until we find his replacement.
The Session firmly believes that God has the right person already lined up for Missio Dei Church. God providentially provided us with the perfect squirrelly teenager who grew up to be that perfect fit for a particular season. He will do it again!
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