Pastor Lonnie & Nancy Skiles
Our Journey in Ministry
Both Nancy and I grew up with an example of serving the Lord. I distinctly remember my father telling me that the Lord gives us 8-10 hours each day in which we earn our bread, and just as one tithes from one’s earnings, so ought we to tithe our time. We also saw in our parents that ministry was more than what one did on a particular day but was living 24/7 for the Lord.
Early in our marriage we found opportunities to serve the Lord as youth leaders, camp counselors, ministry mentors, etc. It was out of this lifestyle that our new Senior Pastor, David Seifert encouraged Nancy and I to begin an Awana Ministry in the fall of 1977 to support adult small group ministries.
The Lord wonderfully blessed our ministry efforts. Within a short time our ministry to children grew from a handful of children and leaders to over 250 children and 50 adult leaders every week!
In the spring of 1980, Pastor Siefert recommended to our Elder Board that I be hired as Big Valley Grace’s (BVG) first Children’s Pastor. In all truthfulness, I was perplexed at the opportunity.
Full time ministry was not something I had ever considered or aspired to. Full-time ministry was for those who had a seminary education and had experienced a definite “call” from the Lord. I had neither, yet I felt that the Lord was opening a door of opportunity in which He was beckoning me to follow Him by faith. Similar to the story of Moses I felt least able and least qualified to say yes, but confident that the Lord in His grace would provide if this was truly His calling.
For twenty-four years it was our privilege to serve the Lord at BVG in many different capacities to joyfully experience the Lord’s blessing and fruitfulness even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Ten years ago (2004) we stepped away from full-time ministry and entered secular employment. A new Senior Pastor had been selected at BVG and it was prudent to allow him to select and build his own team.
At different times I had thought it would be beneficial for those in full-time ministry to step aside for a season and enter the secular workplace. In doing so the minister would experience again what many of his parishioners experience each day. While full-time ministry has its own challenges, it is very different from what the average member experiences.
These last few years have been wonderful. One of the first questions that was asked of me when I left BVG and was interviewed at Aqua Pool & Spa was whether I was ready to leave ministry. The question perplexed me. I replied that coming to Aqua was not leaving ministry, only changing its location. Ministry was not limited to a vocational choice. It was always a part of what the Lord desired as a follower of Him.
As a result I have served as a spiritual counselor, had the joy in seeing several of my companions come to Christ, conducted the first baptismal service at Aqua Pool & Spa, and led two early morning Bible studies!
Return to Full-Time Ministry
In January 2010, Nancy and I have both sensed that the Lord was calling us back into full-time ministry. We felt that the Lord had built something into our lives that was meant to be shared through teaching and discipleship.
While there is great honor and reward in secular work, and though ministry opportunities are not limited by vocation, we believed that the Lord had set us apart for full-time purposes. We did not believe that the Lord would have us spend the remainder of our fruitful years designing and developing backyards. We believed that we had been created as His workmanship for something more.
Over the course of our thirty-seven years of marriage we have seen the Lord wonderfully orchestrate our life and sovereignly work out His plan for our lives.
In December 2010, Nancy and I answered the call to come and serve at Susquehanna Grace. Our confidence is in a great big God who can do anything and is one who will greatly reward those who earnestly follow Him. It has been exciting for us to develop new friendships and to see others grow in their relationship with the Lord. Susquehanna Grace is becoming a beautiful place of encouragement and grace!