I haven’t written here in several weeks. And I write even today to let you know this is my last time. God has led my family and I to move to a new church in Denver. This Sunday, February 26th, is my last as the pastor of a church I love. Even though we are moving back to our roots in Colorado, we never want to lose what we gained here in Nebraska.
Before moving to Nebraska, I had only driven through the state once. I was a city boy, born in the sprawling suburbs of the Los Angeles area and raised in Colorado Springs. I didn’t listen to country music. I had never hunted. I had only set foot on a farm one time. I came in as a cultural outsider to the Midwest, to small towns, and to Nebraska. It was totally unexpected, and outside of where I felt comfortable. Yet it was totally worth it.
The people here are kind. Certainly, Gibbon Baptist Church welcomed us. They made us part of our family. But so did so many of the community. “Nebraska nice” may be derided by some, but to me, it is a rare jewel to be treasured. Neighbors here are neighborly. You wave at people you don’t even know! Someone in our church approached to me early on and asked if I was mad at him. What had I done? When driving past him I hadn’t waved! Whether it’s at Adam’s Corner Market or the Post Office, people are genuinely polite. You may think this kind of human decency is normal--because you’ve lived here forever--but it’s actually uncommon in our nation. I hope to never lose Nebraska neighborliness, no matter where God takes me.
The people here are humble. Though I love mountains of Colorado, there is something profoundly beautiful about a sunset that stretches as far as the eye can see. Or watching the sunrise over a corn field in the morning. The lakes, the rivers, the openness of Nebraska are special. I take umbrage now at the idiots who call this flyover country. There is great beauty here. There are hard-working business-people and farmers who provide for their families. There are women who love and cherish their families. This area feeds our country and the world. There is so much to be proud about, yet there is a powerful humility to Nebraskans. Now I don’t say this just because the Cornhuskers have had a “rough” patch (which is by far better than any patch Colorado schools have endured over the last twenty years). You are humble by choice. My wife Melissa has told me she never wants to lose the humility of Nebraska and take on the unfettered arrogance prevalent in city-life.
The people here are generous. Not everyone has a lot, but even those with little use it to help others. As a pastor I have worked to meet the physical needs of those in poverty. But then I’ve seen some of those same people volunteer their time or give away something they don’t need to someone down the street. Also, I had never seen benefits like yours. When someone has a major health issue, people rally to support them. Just a few months back, it seemed like everyone in the area showed up at our church to give their hard earned dollars to help Virgie Widdowson when her kidney had failed and she needed a transplant. I hope to never lose that sense of open-handed generosity.
But just as I had to be open to God calling me to a place I had never considered when coming to Nebraska, I had to be open to God calling me to a city in need of Jesus. I hope through my writing and my presence here I’ve added something to Central Nebraska--to the small towns of Gibbon, Shelton, and WoodRiver. But know this: I’ve gained even more.
Please add your bio info through your member profile page, or through your dashboard.