This post was written by Joe Thompson and originally posted here.
In July of 2010, Rachel and I had never met. There was no Daniel Tiger, no Harlan Elizabeth, there was no “us.” I was in a dark place of depression after being rejected multiple times by the NFL for reasons I could not understand. Rachel was finished with the University of Memphis and with the city, too. And in the way only God does, He began to order our steps to intensify our faith. Through conversations with people, He produced a healthy tension that inevitably led to the need to make a decision.
My elder brother, BJ, lovingly identified that I lacked godly leadership, was aimlessly wandering and had withdrawn from community. I, in that moment, said spiritual growth and connection to God and his people were more important than the comforts of home, a stable job and independence. Rachel had been choosing to find life in athletics, friendships and anything that was not God, and was ready to call it quits. But God offered a remedy through Fellowship Memphis, Downline Ministries, and through several people, including a Fellowship Memphis community group where I met my beautiful bride.
Life repeatedly begs this question: Do I choose what makes me comfortable or in boldness take a risk to venture into God’s unknown will for me? Because we chose God over our flesh it led to the riches of community, the deep intimacy of being truly known, the challenge of being discipled, the reward of discipling others, and most importantly, the magnanimous love that God intends for ALL of His children to experience. Over the past 5 years, God groomed us to build into people and to be examples of what to do and sometimes what not to do.
We now face a decision once again, but this time as a family unit with much we desire to cling to. However, because we choose to treasure Jesus Christ and the mission he calls us to above the gift of life, we are moving to Tempe, Arizona where I will be the Arizona State University Football Chaplain through FCA. And, as I reflect on all that God has done in my life, my wife and I couldn’t be more confident of where we are headed. This is the job I both prayed for and didn’t know to pray for. It is my heartbeat to share the Gospel, invest in men to be godly men who lead others to do the same and to relate and connect with others- all through the platform of football. This team is a part of the Pac-12 conference and has over 100 players and staff. We’ll be on a campus of 90,000 students. Though primarily I’ll be the ASU Football chaplain, I’ll also be responsible for the many AZ athletes from 6th to 12th grade—reminiscent of my work with Memphis Athletic Ministries—so I’ll be able to utilize much of what I’ve learned thanks to Memphis!
God says “I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” He says this in Matthew 28:20 after he commissioned the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. So as we depart on our mission we covet your prayers for we are missionaries going to a foreign land. We need your support both emotionally and financially. We pray you see that we are not leaving this body and going to another; instead we are spreading the Word so that we can add to our body to the glory of God the Father. We may be gone physically but we are always together in Christ Jesus our Lord. We love you!
If you would like to know more information about Joe and Rachel’s story, or if you would like to support them in any way, you can reach them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.