God continues to amaze me with how He continues to send “workers for the harvest” to Burlington. One of the most amazing stories is how He has sent a “home-town boy” back to Burlington. Almost a year ago Robin Sutphen contacted me via this blog, and a little over a week ago he and his family moved into their apartment on North Champlain St. in Burlington as he takes on the role of general manager at the Boloco restaurant on Church St. Here’s some of their story from Robin:
My name is Robin Sutphen. I’m married to Nissa (5 years) & we have a daughter, Eleanora (who’s @ 15 months old). We just became the latest installment of people who are moving across state lines to join up with The Pounds Family and their work in VT! This is our story…
I grew up in Burlington, VT until I was a teenager. My family attended the Universalist Unitarian Church on Church St. I never heard about the gospel growing up in Vermont but instead was exposed to many different ideas about spirituality and relativism. Through a series of different events I ended up moving South to Sarasota, FL, and this is where God got a hold of my heart. I came to faith in 2001 and a few years later began to feel a stirring towards pastoral ministry, particularly church planting. During this season, I finished college, worked some jobs, and started my theological training in Orlando. I met my amazing wife, Nissa, in 2006, and we were married in January 2007 in Orlando, FL. We moved to Louisville, KY, right after our honeymoon. During my time in Louisville, I finished my seminary education at Southern Seminary while my wife got her masters in education and we both graduated in 2009.
During my time at Southern Seminary I continued to wrestle through my desire to plant a church as I attempted to determine if that was what God was calling me to do. Nissa and I felt no particular call towards a specific place and as we prayed the Lord directed us to enter a season of assessment for pastoral ministry. This led us to Minneapolis, MN, and to a wonderful church- Sovereign Grace Church, where the Lord did much sanctifying and growth in both of our lives. We were there for 3 years, and during our last year, we began to feel God continuing to confirm his call to church plant, and he also began to give us a heart for a particular place: Burlington, Vermont. Burlington had always been something that we had thought about, but the Lord had never confirmed until then. Throughout last fall the Lord continued to grow a burning desire in both of our hearts to return to my hometown. The fact that I grew up there intermingled with the huge need for the gospel began to create a deep burden for these people.
As we started doing a little research to see what was going on in Burlington, we stumbled upon the work that Kevin was doing and were excited. Kevin and I talked a couple times by phone but it wasn’t until we met in person that the Lord really opened my heart to what they were doing. God had given me a vision to see happen in Burlington what Kevin was already doing. It became very apparent to both Nissa and I that the Lord was asking us to be apart of that work that He was already doing. As God continually confirmed this call to us, we stepped out in faith and put our house in the market in late February. He answered by selling it in 6 days! (Another confirmation!!!) Needless to say, we were not quite prepared for this, and it has been a whirlwind, but we are so excited for all God has done and will continue to do! Soli Deo Gloria!
You can read more about this wonderful family at http://thesutphens.blogspot.com/.