Called to California

My name is Miles Thomas Pennell. I was born in San Diego, CA, moved to Montana when I was four years old, and then was thrust back into the California scene shortly before I turned 25. After graduating high school, I went to Montana Tech to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Then, I attended the University of Montana and earned my MBA.

In the midst of my educational pursuits, I was often fearful and frustrated with the job prospects awaiting me after graduation. I didn’t see anything that really got me excited and I longed to couple ministry with my work. So, when I graduate in May 2014, I didn’t know what to do. As I was already working in Missoula, MT, I continued at my job while I applied for others and asked God what in the world he wanted me to do with my life.

21 SO CALEarly that summer, my friend Sage Prigge notified me of a summer school in Pasadena, CA, called the 21 Project (www.21project.com). The school was a 21-day collaborative adventure where we would hear from many leaders in the Christian faith as well as spend time developing skills in areas like music or business. For years I had longed to go to a school dedicated to knowing the Lord more and learning from others. However, I felt that the financial burden and time dedication to this school would be too much to make it possible. I would have been right if God had not intervened!

Exactly a week before 21 Project was going to begin, I was at home with my parents for the 4th of July weekend. In a casual conversation the topic of the 21 Project was brought up. Upon hearing about it, my Mom asked if it was something I really wanted to attend. After hearing my response, she spoke to my Dad and they made financial arrangements for me to go. Unbelievable! Believing this was God’s will, I applied to the program, purchased my airline tickets, and showed up at work a week before I needed to leave, prepared to request 3 weeks off from a giant corporation, DIRECTV.

There is no reason I should have found any favor with DIRECTV, but God is bigger than corporate America. I talked to my boss and, even though I didn’t have anywhere near the accrued time off I needed to go to Pasadena, my boss was able to get me an approved leave of absence in less than 24 hours! In less than two days, my fate was decided.

Without going into much detail, 21 Project was life-changing. I found a new group of people whose hearts beat for the same things as mine. These people really believed that God was going to revive America and they really had hope and faith for the future. I was blessed spending three weeks renewing my mind, working on a business plan, and developing relationships that I now realize will be life-long.

Two weeks into the school, we had an evening of worship and speaking from YWAM’s founder, Loren Cunningham. In the time preceding worship, I felt gripped by Holy Spirit and began crying out to God to use me, give me a purpose, and send me wherever he wanted me to go. During that time of worship, I had a wild, but increasingly strong feeling that God wanted me to move out of Montana. After that moment, I sat down to a sermon from Loren that I will never forget. The theme of the message was to “listen and obey”. If we listen to God and then obey what he says, we will never be lead astray and will find all we can imagine in him. The message was so simple yet was exactly what I needed to hear. I determined that I would live the rest of my life with that mindset and that I would do whatever God wanted. I wasn’t sure if I had heard correctly, but I felt it was time to move.

Over the final week of the school, the feeling that I needed to leave Montana only grew. Whenever I imagined staying in the state, I was filled with anxiety; whenever I imagined moving, I was filled with hope and joy. So, the day I got back to Montana after the school, I began making preparations to leave. I didn’t really know where I would be going, but I had heard of a house in Huntington Beach that the Circuit Riders were going to try to open for about 3 months in the fall. As I stayed in contact with them and they were able to secure the house, I felt more and more that our futures were intertwined.

After five more weeks of work and then a week with my family, I packed my car, said goodbye to my roommates, friends, and family, and plunged headfirst into a new life. I never saw it coming, couldn’t have imagined it, and wouldn’t have believed it if someone told me it was true. Yet God in his wonderful mercy and love planned for me to move to Huntington Beach as a missionary. He knew that my heart for ministry was made for Circuit Riders in this season of my life and he knew that I would learn dependence on him through it. I feel like I am walking into the fullness of God’s plan for my life and I am convinced that I am in the center of his will. I can say with more assurance than ever before in my life that God is good. He is so good! Instead of fearing the future like I always used to, I’m excited for what the future holds because what I will find is the God of the universe waiting, eager to show me what’s next and ready to hold my hand through every season.

I’m excited for you too as God unfolds his plan for your life. Listening to him and obeying will take you to places you would never imagine and cause your heart to pound in your chest out of excitement and anticipation of what good thing he is bringing next. Our God is faithful and He is trustworthy. Serving him is the best thing you could choose in life. However serving him looks for you, listen and obey.

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