I’m Andy Bradshaw; I live with my wife, Keri, and our six kids in Littleton, the in which town I grew up. My parents were divorced when I was two, but my Mom remarried when I was five. The man she married was a Christian, and a serious one. Because of this, I grew up in a Christian home. I spent my childhood through high school doing pretty much all the right things and headed off to a Christian College. I thought I had the most boring faith story ever. The next two years at a Christian College were not good from a spiritual perspective. Nearly everyone there identified as a Christian, so it was easy to engage in all sorts of behavior and justify it. My behavior went downhill; my grades went downhill. After my sophomore year, I transferred to UMass Lowell and life changed a lot. I lost soccer, orchestra, college friends, living away from home, and some pride. I reengaged and began serving at my home church, Immanuel. I reconnected with my youth pastor and youth leaders and began working with the youth group. I also met my wife, Keri, and we began dating. God began to teach me that my head knowledge from growing up in the church had not permeated my heart. I hadn’t made the faith I grew up with my own, and I needed to understand what it meant to be a Christ follower. I wasn’t loving God totally or completely; I was choosing aspects of Scripture and God’s character to apply while ignoring ones I didn’t like.
I found that my personality made it easier for me to live out my faith in the non-Christian environment of UMass Lowell than it was in the Christian College environment. God used my failures to work things for my good, again. In a couple years, Keri and I got married; a couple of years later we started a family, having Micah, Caleb, and Anna. My relationship with God continued to grow, but at that point, I thought I had my faith story, a couple rough years figuring things out after high school, at least it wasn’t as boring. I figured I would work, go to church, raise a family, pursue the American dream, etc… typical… boring…
About 10 years ago, God starting shaking things up. And, I can say, it has been anything but boring. Keri and I participated in a small group that challenged us to think about what it means to be a Christian; is the American dream potentially unbiblical, an idol; what can we learn about the character of God in the Old Testament… do we have a Biblical view of God, and does it change the way we live; look at the teachings of Jesus in depth… did he really mean them, do we really believe them; look at the commands given to those of us that identify as followers of Christ… are we living that way, do we look any different than the non-Christians around us?
Around this same time, we began the process of international adoption, and God called me to go on my first mission trip to Haiti in June 2008. In June 2010, after my 4th trip to Haiti, we went to Ethiopia to bring Mubeshire home to join our family. Meanwhile, we had started the process for another adoption, this time from Haiti. We visited Stephanie often, and she was able to come here in November 2011. In the fall of 2012, I enrolled in seminary to study cross-cultural missions, and in August 2015, Bona came to our family completing our 3rd adoption.
In tandem with these things, I took on more of a leadership role at church. First, I served on the pastoral search team; a real learning experience for me interacting closely with many spiritually mature men and women learning teamwork, how to discuss and disagree in a God-honoring fashion, and many other things. Just before the end of the search team, I joined the Immanuel elder board; another opportunity to learn and grown from/with godly men. In December 2014, I began to serve as chair of the church plant ministry team, again having the opportunity to serve alongside talented and dedicated followers of Christ. It was not an easy decision to leave the church I had been at since age 7 to start something new, but like all the other things God was doing in my life, the call seemed clear.
In October 2015 Cornerstone launched; I had never led worship, I had never preached, and I had never led a church leadership team. I was (and am) operating from a place of weakness and vulnerability. I still have a lot to learn, but surrendering to God and doing things you cannot do in your own strength allows for personal growth and God to get the glory. Whether working in Haiti, taking seminary classes, parenting six kids, leading worship, preaching, or other things, I can tell you that the process of God molding and shaping you to be more like Christ is not boring. A verse God has been using lately is this; 2 Cor. 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Advent Reading Week 1: Hope Candle –… Pingback
[…] here. Please feel free to use these Advent readings in your church. Our worship team leader Andy Bradshaw put together this Christmas Advent 2016 reading using a variety of resources, taking bits and […]
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