Archdale ministry offers place of healing for pastors

Feb. 17, 2013 @ 01:00 AM

Six months ago, pastor Jonathan Lawson’s fire for ministry had flickered out. He and his wife, Heather, had left a church in Myrtle Beach, S.C. — had given up ministry altogether, in fact — two more victims of the burnout often associated with such a selfless, sacrificial occupation.
“We had given everything we had to give,” Lawson recalls, “but the pressure, the toll that ministry took on us, had become more than we could bear. I had to make a choice to step out of ministry and protect my family, or to watch my family pay the price.”
As a result, Lawson had no job — nor did Heather — and the young parents of two had no idea where they would go or what they would do next.
That’s when he learned about Healing Place Ministries, a local ministry for pastors and their spouses who need a time of refreshing or restoration, or whose ministry is in crisis.
Healing Place is the fulfilled dream of Darryl and Rhonda Love. Darryl, the senior pastor of Crossover Community Church in High Point, says he and his wife have long shared a burden for pastors and their spouses for the unique struggles they face.
The dream began to become a reality in 2011, when the couple purchased the spacious, two-story house on Archdale Road that they now call home. The century-old farmhouse, which once welcomed visitors as the Bouldin House Bed and Breakfast, now serves as a spiritual retreat. Two upstairs bedrooms have been dedicated solely for pastors and their spouses to spend a weekend or longer with the Loves.
“Our original vision of this house was to be a place to refresh and refuel, and then to send the pastors back into the church,” Darryl says. “It’s almost like a getaway for a few days, where they can do as little or as much as they want. They can spend time just hanging out, like a little honeymoon, or they can spend some serious time in fasting and prayer.”
While the couples are there, the Loves shower them with Southern hospitality, but they also provide them with professional Christian counseling, books and other resources. A member of Love’s church, who is a licensed massage therapist, even gives them massages to help them eliminate the stress in their lives.
Probably even more importantly, though, Darryl and Rhonda give the pastoral couples someone safe to talk to about their struggles.
“We’ve created this safe place where, however much they want to talk or how little, they can just open up with us, and they begin to feel some peace,” Darryl says. “They can’t be that vulnerable with their own church members, because they’re afraid they might lose their job. But with us, they’re more free to open up.”
According to Darryl, who has done a lot of research on the subject, pastors often have struggles that remain hidden precisely because they’re pastors and don’t feel they can share what’s going on with their parishioners.
“We feel like we have to be Superman,” he says.
According to research Darryl has read:
• Up to 80 percent of pastors battle depression.
• About half of all pastors say they would leave the ministry if they could.
• About 80 percent of pastors’ wives say they wish their husband had chosen a different profession.
“There’s a lot of unspoken expectation, a lot of unrealistic expectations, that come with being a pastor’s wife, and that can make you weary,” Rhonda says. “It’s just a very difficult place to be, and nobody wrote a handbook on how to be a pastor’s wife.”
While Darryl generally works with pastors who come to Healing Place, Rhonda ministers to their wives.
“I ask them, ‘Who’s ministering to you?’ ” she explains. “And about 99.9 percent of the time when I ask that question, I am met with a wife who’s reduced to tears, because no one is ministering to her. She generally doesn’t feel safe sharing with anyone, being vulnerable and letting church people into her world.”
So Rhonda tries to give them godly counsel and friendship, she says, because the women need someone they can turn to for support.
“I’ve been in that position before, because church leadership can be draining,” she says. “But I can honestly say that as a result of having other women minister to me, I don’t feel that way anymore. I have totally embraced ministry and the calling — I’m very passionate about it.”
That’s a goal of Healing Place Ministries — to give pastors and their wives a chance to renew their passion for ministry.
It worked for Jonathan Lawson, who not only decided to re-enter the ministry, but has actually joined Love’s staff at Crossover Community Church.
“There was absolute compassion from Darryl and Rhonda,” he says.
“...They gave us books to read and things to study, but it was the one-on-one time they gave us — they were so easy to share with. There was no judgment. They allowed us to be us, to open up freely, and then they were very supportive as we prayed through what our next step would be. I truly believe it saved our ministry and quite possibly our family.”

jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579

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Healing Place Ministries is a ministry for pastors and their spouses who need a time of refreshing or restoration.
The nonprofit is operated by Darryl and Rhonda Love. Darryl is the senior pastor of Crossover Community Church in High Point.
For more information about the ministry, call (336) 803-0207 or visit www.blessthepastor.com.