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Speaking Of God's Love
12th May 2022 • Engaging Truth • Evangelical Life Ministries
00:00:00 00:24:49

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Leslie Sullivan accepted the call to St. John Lutheran Church, Cypress, TX, to serve as Director of Christian Education in 2018. Her undertaking involves worship organization, music direction, and also serving as a volunteer coordinator for the LCMS Youth Gathering in Houston this July. Her personal desire “is to have all who work with her to know they are loved by God”. Pastor Dave Schultz hosts as we learn of Leslie's commitment to this message.

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The following program is sponsored by evangelical life ministries.

Welcome to engaging truth, the manifestation of God's word and the lives of people around us. Join us each week. As we explore the impact of his message of spiritual renewal from the lesson of forgiveness forged and the crucible of divorce, to the message of salvation learned by an executioner from a condemned killer to the gift of freedom found in the rescue of victims of human trafficking. This is God's truth in action.

Welcome to engaging truth. This is Dave, Schult your host for this particular program. We have a young lady on as a guest. Her name is Leslie. Um, she's never been with us before, but this is an opportunity for her to talk about her ministry, how God has called her to serve in so many different ways in her young life. So welcome, Leslie.

Thank you. It's good to be here.

You have been in ministry with us at St. John in Cypress. How many years? Uh,

Four years

Now. Four years. Yep. Tell me something about Leslie at the very beginning, uh, sometime as your youth and where this spirit of wanting to serve Jesus came into your life.

Um, well, I'd say it, it definitely started, uh, because of my parents. Um, and they, you know, faithful, churchgoers and faithful servers of the Lord. Um, my parents kind of showed us the way. Um, they took us to church every Sunday and then we stayed for meetings and we had this group of friends, uh, at church that, you know, became like the youth group. And then, uh, youth group was really that place that I just loved being and hanging out with friends and talking about Jesus and having fun and that kind of stuff. And so I always thought, gosh, wouldn't this be cool to be able to do this? And then, uh, the Lord actually called me away from it for a little bit and had me go a different direction. I was a, a theater major for a number of years and did that kind of stuff up right out of high school and college. And then he called me back.

When was your first calling in into ministry that you can say, yeah, I wanna do that.

Um, it was probably, I was age 25 that I for sure knew that this was where I was going. Um, and I was sitting in church and, um, and I just felt this spirit rush over me. Um, and I was in kind of a, a weird place career wise. I didn't, it wasn't the right fit for me, but I was making money and doing that kind of thing. And, um, and there was like a song or a scripture that the pastor read. And I couldn't tell you what it was, but I just knew that it was like, gosh, this is a wonderful place to be. I wanna figure out how to be at church more. I wanna figure out how to be with believers more with people who think the way I wanna think and grow the way I wanna grow. Um, and then it just started a great, um, relationship with, um, the deacon at that church that my parents were going to, um, in, in Ohio, which is where I'm from originally.

And, um, and just great conversations then with the senior pastor at that church, um, to say, Hey, have you ever thought about going into ministry? And I was like, you get paid to do this. And, um, and it was just this awesome moment. Um, and holy spirit moment to say, yep, yep. And I thought I was gonna do children's ministry for my entire career. Cause I loved doing VBS and I loved to the children's. Yeah. I thought I thought VBS and children's ministry was exactly what I was gonna do cuz that's what kind of brought me back into church, was volunteering and doing children's ministry at the church that my parents were going to and that I started to attend after I'd come back home after a few years of doing theater. And um, and then, uh, the pastor said to me one day, Hey, do you know what a DCE is?

And I said, I have no idea what you're talking about. And then he explained to me what a DCE was, which is a director of Christian education. And um, I said, oh, okay. Um, I wanna do that. I wanna do that. And so then he just, uh, helped me to figure that out. And my sister had, uh, my sister also is a DCE and so she was going to school at Concordia St. Paul and I went and visited her on the weekend just to see if I really wanted to go back to college or not. Or if I would just kind of be a volunteer, figure that out. And when I visited her that weekend at Concordia St. Paul, um, I ended up applying for the program, getting accepted and getting like all my scholarship and funding in place. And I started, that was October. I went to visit her and that January I started at Concordia and it was like, uh, the Lord just opened the holy spirit, opened every single door to show me that this was the path that he wanted me to take. It was really was

Music also a part of that early part of your life? Yep.

Yep. I've always loved singing loved. That's why I loved theater and music and, and all those kinds of things, but, um, singing's always been a huge part and music's always been a huge part of my heart. Um, and that's, um, and it it's always been a part of my ministry, um, from doing children's ministry and youth ministry to now doing worship ministry, um, at St. John, um, it's just always been a huge, um, it's a part of what I love about worship is that praise moment or how worship and music can lead you to different moments, um, of praise or prayer or contemplation or, um, and every emotion that, that, that comes with those things that the Lord puts into you. So,

So for you, not only the contemporary service is still real, but the, the traditional still is okay too.

Isn't oh, I love it. I love both. I know that sounds, I know I have, uh, many people who go, how do you like both? I'm like, cuz there's great parts to both. There's there's beauty in our traditions and in the hymns that have, have been sung for years and years and years. And, and I could keep going. Um, and there's beauty in the liturgy as it's sung and spoken. Um, and I just love the, what that brings to worship. It's a, um, and I love that also in our contemporary services, how some of these new modern songs and contemporary songs, um, do the same as a HYN does, which is to lead and guide you through either scripture or a liturgy moment. Um, and to, and to get you to that moment of, of glorifying Lord and praising the Lord in a really beautiful way,

Who was the most influential person in your life to help you in this direction or in your Christian walk?

My mom hands down. She is, um, I call her prayer warrior. Um, she is that person who has so many gifts and so many talents for, uh, picking out that scripture or that word or that phrase that will help you through anything. She's one of those I'm, I'm not one of those who can go, oh, well John four four says, but she's like, oh yeah, John, one one says this and she just knows it. And she can, you know, because she just digs into scripture and digs into prayer so beautifully. Um, and that inspires me to, to get better at that. Um, but she's that person who and supports me no matter what and has shown me what a true, um, journey of faith means.

So as a kid, you really had a great experience then with a mom mm-hmm that loved the Lord and lived it and showed it herself.

Yep. And my dad too, both of them, they, they, they showed us what it meant to walk a journey and walk a path. And, and, um, as they got older, they didn't, it didn't stop and it didn't end. They showed how it, they grew and changed in their faith walk constantly. Um, my dad, I remember when he retired from, uh, working, you know, 45 years, he finally went to a weekday Bible class, an alpha class, and he was so on fire cuz he was learning so much more and had this great camaraderie with people and fellowship and, and makes me think of like the Wednesday morning Bible classes that we have, whether it's the, your class or the women's class, that camaraderie and that fellowship that helps you to wanna grow in your faith, um, was beautiful. And it's exactly what my parents showed me, um, my whole life. So yeah.

What was it that, um, the critical thing that brought you to make a decision to leave your home state of Ohio and come to Texas? Yeah.

Well, I've been a few different places, uh, for you since. Yeah. So I was in Minnesota for, uh, for, I went to Concordia St. Paul and then I served in, uh, Minnesota for five years after I was, uh, a student at Concordia St. Paul and then I was in Florida for almost 10 years. Um, and then the Lord called,

So you, you were called from Florida here then? Yeah.

Yep. Yep. So my last church was in Florida, uh, and then my husband and I moved here to Texas four years ago. Um, and, uh, and that was just timing. The Lord was showing us both that there was maybe something different coming for us. Um, after we got married and just a whole bunch of life changes after we got married. Um, and then this, this for me, this call to Texas came and it was a, a big change from doing youth ministry and children's ministry to now doing, uh, more worship and events and, and uh, celebrate director, um, with,

So you came here knowing that you'd be doing worshiped in.

Yeah. Yep, yep. That was with the, and

So it brought a, a new depth of enthusiasm and enjoy

Your, yeah, it was a total change from what I'd been doing, you know, the first, uh, what 13, 14 years of ministry, 15 years of ministry, um, was all youth and family based, um, which I love and children. I love all that. Um, still, still love doing that part, but, um, when the opportunity came up to kind of take some of the experience I'd had in theater with putting teams together and production kind of concepts, um, and not the church as a production, but there's a lot of organization in that that happens. And I love that kind of stuff. That's, that's a gift the Lord's given to me. Um, and just how music and, and liturgy and scripture and stories and video and all of the technical things can come together to make a really powerful worship experience was just so intriguing to me. Like I just knew that the Lord was calling me to this new experience, um, here at St. John and just in a new, uh, direction for me as a DCE, it was just a really neat experience to start going through. And I've loved the last four years. It's it's, it's taught me so much about, uh, how worship works differently for every single person. And I just love experiencing that with so many different people

Every week. Oh yeah. It's uh, yeah. Um, for every, for every single person that's all together different, you know, there's no comparison. What, how has your workload increased since you've been here? Or did you know all this before you

Got here? Oh gosh, no, I didn't. I knew a bunch cuz at my last church we had had vacancy and I'd helped plan worship and, and, and really kind of grown more into loving planning worship and, and how each component, you know, is woven together and things like that. Um, but uh, coming here and then, um, that the pandemic, um, and a bunch of technical things and learning how to, how all the technical side of audio and video and all those things work, um, has been just a huge learning curve, uh, for me, but also had a really wonderful team around to grow and learn together, um, in how to do all those things and make worship come alive, whether people are in person at St. John or watching our live stream. Um, and the pandemic has taught us a lot about that. Um, and also kind of propelled us into that so that we can share, uh, the light of the Lord with many, many more people. And

That's, well, the pandemic has taught us in media. Yeah. Uh, all together we are functioning all together different than three years ago. Yep. Um, and just wonderful that we have a, an engineer like Glen to, to help us to do the things that we do. And so effortlessly. I mean, it's just, it makes it look easy when, when we know that it's not. So

Yep. That's what a great team can do for you. Like we were talking about before we, we started the interview, our holy weekend, Easter weekend went so wonderfully because we have such a wonderful team of volunteers who have taken the time to learn all these different jobs to make, uh, make it just a wonderful weekend where no one knows that there was any technical glitches or this or that. And that the Lord is just praised in all that we do. And that's what I love.

Well, it was a marvelous week. Yeah. It was just so many services were different this year. Yeah. And I've been ministry for a long time and I've, I've not seen a week in my ministry that was so open to invitation and oh good. And, and to a change of heart of people, I, I can imagine the people who had not been to church in years coming and seeing part of this and hearing part of this over the week, I just pray that, um, yeah, many more people will come to grasp the message of Christ.

That's our hope. That's our hope is that we are completely invitational and, um, and welcoming to those. Um, and, and that we are Christ's light in any moment that they come to church.

Let me pause for just a minute, give our organization, uh, a little boost. I'm glad you've tuned into engaging truth programming this evening. Let me for just a moment, tell you about Elm evangelical life ministries. It's, it's a group of volunteers in the Houston area who not only plan each of these broadcasts, but also produce them. Each broadcast is centered on God's holy word, in particular, the saving grace of Jesus Christ. You can help us with our programming. First of all, by prayer, just being willing to think about this organization and say, Lord Jesus, give them strength to persevere and to do the work of disseminating your wonderful word, not only to this country, but to the world. Secondly, you can support what we do with your giving. Go to the website of E LM, houston.org, press the donate button and many opportunities, uh, are there to help you learn how to give.

Also you can send your support if you would like to do it personally to E LM P O box 5, 5 68, Cypress Texas 7 7 400. Let me repeat that. E L M P O box 5 68, Cypress, Texas 77, 400. Every gift is receded. Every gift is truly received and appreciated because it gives us the opportunity to share the message of God's love in Jesus Christ. Leslie, get a harder question for you. What does dynamic ministry look like to you after having been here and seeing the kinds of changes you came from and the changes that are here? What, what does dynamic ministry look like if there was an excitement in your life to produce it?

Oh, wow. That's a great question. But a tough one. Um, I think for me, dynamic ministry is, um, being with the body of believers where they're at. So finding those places, finding those things, um, that will help connect even more people to the body of Christ and to the light that is Christ. Um, and for me, that's figuring out, uh, our community saying, uh, here in Cyprus, what can we do, um, to reach out to them, uh, you know, whether that's a, a big event, a vacation Bible school, um, meals for this, you know, like what, what are we doing as a church? Um, and how can I in the worship ministry area help people to shine their light in this community. Um, and to also find that light, I want people to know how love they are by God. And, and I get to do that through worship, which is a beautiful expression of lots of different things. Right. Um, and so my goal in anything that I get to be a part of is that they would know Christ's love and that they would then go share that and be light in the community. Um, and so for me, dynamic ministry is finding lots of different ways for people to shine.

When you think of that woman, let's say, because this is, um, mother's day month. When you think of that woman who probably, as you learned an awful lot from her mother was a, was a Christian Young lady, and there's a disappointment in the church she's gone to and she walks away. How do you administer to her?

Um, I think there's a, a realness to being disappointed, um, in different organizations and churches, there is just a realness to that. Um, for me, it's having that honest conversation about what was that hurt, what happened and then praying through it and saying, how do we, how do we help you find a way back, not necessarily to church or this church, but to, to the Lord, how do we help you find that way back? Um, and how, how do we help you find that way through that hurt? Cause there is a way might be a long path. might be a long journey, but there's a way to get through that hurt that that's been caused. Um, and, and first of all, the way is to look toward the Lord, cuz he's going to guide and direct that for you. Um, and then the next thing is, how can I help you with that? How can I show you what the church, what the Lord means to me that can hopefully inspire you to see that journey, um, in a beautiful way,

Because the journey that you're talking about could be bumpy.

Oh yeah, very I've been there. Uh,

It could be filled with Hills and valleys. Yeah. Uh, that, you know, not of, and I, I heard an author some time ago say, you know, we like to live on the peaks of the Hills cuz we can see more from there, but it's in the valleys that we grow because that's where the rich soil is. Yeah. And sometimes as a helper for that woman, we talked about, you've got to let them see that the difficulties that they walk through might be a growing yeah. A growing issue for them as well.

Correct. Completely the, um, some of the hardest moments obviously are the valleys and the deepest, darkest valleys. Right. Um, but the, and the mountaintops, aren't always that great either. sometimes for me, the journey, um, is about all of those moments coming together and you finally can look and go, that's what it was for or that's how I could help someone or that's what the Lord was showing me all this time. Um, and, and that doesn't come in a month or a day, uh, sometimes it's years and years of figuring that out. Um, I know for me, it's been a long time. I, I pushed away from wanting to do church work for a few years. Um, and he just kind of slowly took some time to pull me back to him. Um, and he continually, uh, stretches me and helps me to grow. Um, and he puts the right people around me to help me do that.

Cuz I, it, I can't do it alone and I don't wanna do it alone. He gives me wonderful women to do that with, he gives me wonderful men to do that with, um, family to do that with friends, to do that with fellow workers in the kingdom to, uh, lean on and share stories with, um, when, when there is not a lot of hope sometimes in, in the, in the heaviness of some of that. Um, but he shows me that hope constantly, um, through people and experiences, um, and that I can get through the Hills. And the valleys

Is the teen world today, a difficult world for young people to walk through, uh, more so than it was for you. I mean, it's always been difficult, but how about what the teens are experiencing?

I believe it's a completely different world and I don't mean that there's still not Hills and valleys and struggles and some of the things are similar. Um, but I think that our, um, our culture is very different. Um, our technology is very different. The um, the ability to find things out and get information in, you know, one second is so different than when I was a teenager. I didn't know, half the stuff going on around me because I didn't, I didn't have a phone, I didn't have the internet, I didn't have Facebook. I didn't have whatever else, you know, all the other apps and things like that, that they have nowadays, um, for that instant either gratification or that instant let down, you know, like both sides and everything in between. So I feel like for our society and I don't, I don't, I think it's for teens and adults right now, there's that, that need to have the information so fast so quickly.

Um, and, and not disseminate what's actual truth. And what's actually, um, from the Lord too, we just jump to conclusions really, really fast without any kind of prayer or thoughtfulness into it. I'm guilty of it myself. I, it's not that I haven't read something online and thought, Ooh, you know, um, but I, I continually try to work through what are the things the Lord's showing me by showing me this today. Um, and I think that we don't give our youth, our teens, uh, the ability to filter those things. Um, as well as we should, I feel like we need to encourage and equip them to filter the things they read, see, do a lot better. And that comes from strong, uh, Christian families in my opinion, that they can help to guide that and, and, and influence not just their children, but the children that the Lord puts in front of them.

Is there a part of your ministry, uh, that from the time you began and as a DCE, um, not more exciting, but just where you can focus more than you do, let's say on the rest is, is one more focusable for you than the others. Cause I know you, you love to sing. Yeah. You love to direct. Yeah.

Yeah. Um, honestly, the thing that I love about being a DC is that I have a lot of different hats. I love getting to be kind of involved in a lot of different parts. And so, um, music's always gonna be a top thing for me just cuz I love the way that it, it can, uh, stir different emotions and thoughts and prayers and feelings and just all those things. Um, but I, what I love about being a DC and I think a lot of my friends would say the same is, uh, there's always about maybe 10 to 20 different hats up in the air on any given day. And I actually like that, it kind of keeps me excited and, and rejuvenated and going. Um, sometimes it confuses me um, but it definitely keeps me going forward cuz I wanna figure out how to do all those things better and to bring glory to the Lord better, um, and to, um, encourage others in their journey, um, and do better at all those things that he puts, um, before me. So I like all those things.

We have such a short time left and you won't believe this, but this is how quickly this goes. Yeah. Um, as you look around the corner to see the future and Leslie serving, what does that look like?

Um, I'm just excited to figure that out. I'm excited to see if he continues to keep me in this direction with worship and events and um, tech and um, uh, the technical arts and music. Um, I'm excited if that's where he keeps me going or if he maybe someday pulls me back to youth ministry and family ministry. Yeah. I love, uh, I'm blessed that I get to kind of have options to do a bunch of different things, to see where the Lord's gonna lead me, um, and lead my husband on our journey of, of life together. But as uh, as for me, I'm just excited to see what happens. He's got this great plan and I get to be a part of it so I don't

Know. I will provide for you all that, that you need according to the richness of my grace and that's amen. Amen. I said, I wanna say thank you for being willing to spend this 24 minutes. Oh God's and talking about what Leslie has been called to do and what God has called you to do and the burdens and the joys of your own life. And I just say, uh, you've been a blessing to be able to be on the air. Um, I just wanna thank you. And the listening audience who are for being willing to, um, hear the message of a DCE from the very foundation of her life influenced by a mom and a dad who loved the Lord. Jesus, thank you to be coming back with us again on engaging truth. Goodnight.

Thank you for listening to this broadcast of engaging truth. Be sure to join us each week at this time to help support our ministry, contact evangelical life ministries, post office box 5 6 8, Cypress Texas 7 7 4 1 0. Or visit our website@elmhouston.org or find us on Facebook at evangelical life ministries. Thank you.