A Word from Tullian’s Pastor
I first met Tullian back in 2012 at the first LIBERATE Conference he hosted in Fort Lauderdale. Each year we would bring a large group from our small church over from the southwest coast of Florida to the southeast coast of Florida to take in the Good News that was so effectively delivered there. Although he and I didn’t get to know each other well in those days, we did have a handful of brief and enjoyable conversations over the years. In 2015, when LIBERATE ended and he was no longer in pastoral ministry due to his moral failure, I was deeply grieved about all that happened and prayed for all who were involved. On a few occasions, I messaged Tullian to tell him that I was praying for him and hoped that the Gospel he preached was now bringing him help and comfort.
In early 2017, we began communicating more frequently and became more than acquaintances. We became friends. We had lots of conversations about life and how he was, what he was doing and who was caring for him. We talked at length about the past, the present, and the future. He was living in a rural part of Texas with his wife Stacie and going through a difficult, but fruitful, season of “rehab” under the supervision of a few seasoned saints.
In one of those conversations, Tullian expressed a desire to one day move back to Florida primarily so he could be closer to his children. Although his oldest son Gabe had been living with him in Texas, he wanted to be closer to his other two children as well: Nate (20) and Genna (16). He also expressed a deep desire to have a home church where he and Stacie could attend and worship—a church that is committed to the Gospel message he desperately needs and dearly loves. Both of those sincerely expressed desires heartened me, and I assured him that if he and Stacie did move to the Fort Myers area, they would be welcomed into our fellowship with open arms.
After two separate exploratory visits to the area (one in late spring and the other in mid-summer), they decided to begin the process of relocating here from Texas. Over Labor Day weekend (sandwiched in between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma), Tullian and Stacie—along with Gabe, his wife Jamie, and their two-year-old son Mason—moved to Southwest Florida and we are thrilled that they are here.
I am a solo pastor of a small Lutheran church. Ever since arriving here just over 20 years ago we have been welcoming sinners, serving the Gospel to those that God brings our way, and functioning as a recovery place for those who have bottomed out. That’s what we at Living Faith Church are committed to being for the Tchividjians and anyone else who walks through our doors.
I can’t speak with authority about the man Tullian used to be. But I can speak with confidence about the man Tullian is now. And this I know beyond a shadow of a doubt: the work of God in his life is real. And I am furthermore confident that God has a useful place in His Kingdom for all of us, including Tullian.
I know there are many who will view our welcoming Tullian and his family, with joy. I am also aware that there may be others who will view it with disdain (which is very sad to me). But when it’s all said and done, my greatest comfort comes from Another who received sinners like me and ate with them and who promises to make all things new.