The photo is the gravestone of my father and mother, Charlie and Lavert Elkins. Their gravestone is located in the Conrad Memorial Cemetery in Kalispell, Montana. I have visited my parent’s grave site each time I traveled back to Kalispell in the last 30 years. My life-assignments in the intervening years have taken me far away from the Flathead Valley, but I always found a way to return to that special place to pray and reevaluate my life.

When Jan and I moved to Kalispell in 1981 to plant and pioneer a new church, we were alone. It was just Jan and me, two little kids and a cat. Soon my parents followed us to Montana as did my brother and his family. My parents lived out their remaining days in Montana. My brother and his wife and some of his children still reside there.

When you step out to pioneer something new people will follow in the wake of your journey. None of us ever know, both the pioneers and those who follow, the future history our pioneering decision will create. My parents never saw themselves living out their final days in Montana. My brother never imagined himself working for the City of Kalispell as a Building Inspector and eventually retiring from that position. 

If you are a pioneer, God will bring others behind you who will discover their own path. Their journey will make them pioneers. We are all pioneers in some way. Each time we take a step of faith we become a pioneer traveling into the unknown. This is the way of God’s Kingdom. Every good and wonderful thing in this life comes because we were willing to step forward and follow the pioneering Spirit of God.


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