Welcome to my new blog! My name is Joel Barker. You can read all about my story on my about page, but I’ll give you a shorter version here in my first post.
I’m a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have served in the Church as a youth pastor, worship pastor, teacher, outreach leader, and new church planter. I’ve written many messages, songs, plans, and papers in each of those roles. But it was sports writing that gave me an outlet for many thousands of people to read what I had to say. From 2008-2012 and then again from 2017-2019, I could be found on any number of sidelines or press boxes all over the southeast. And man, was it fun.
In 2013, I began to feel what I can only say is a calling from God to add more of His purpose to my writing. So I launched a ministry blog. While that venture was on-again, off-again for many years, I could not shake the desire to write with better consistency. After all, when He has given you something to say, you just have to say it. When I got back into sports writing after moving my family 115 miles away from the only community I’d ever known to plant a church, I figured God was going to use my voice and writing abilities to create momentum to start a new church. Well, that whole new church thing hasn’t happened yet.
And then came 2020.
2020: What a year
If you’ve been living on some remote island with zero connectivity to rest of the world for the past few months, you might be the luckiest person on the planet. However, if, like the other 99.8-percent of us, you haven’t found that remote island of respite, you probably know that this year hasn’t exactly gone to plan for pretty much any of us.
From the death of Kobe Bryant and the Coronavirus pandemic, to lock downs, economic downturns, and racial strife, to a bitterly fought Presidential election, 2020 has been quite possibly the most trying year of many of our lives.
In the midst of this extremely trying year, the stress of trying to start a ministry while raising four boys and holding down a full-time job working from home made life a bit difficult to handle. I began losing hope.
And why not? Of course, I’m a preacher and I’m supposed to have all the answers, but I kept struggling with the fact that as soon as I had the answer, the question would change. The news media said something one minute and something completely contradictory the next. National leadership was (and still is) unsure how to handle a virus that has claimed multiple hundreds of thousands of lives in our country alone.
As I began leaning into my relationship with Christ to cope with all that has happened in this seemingly never-ending season, I felt a burden for the epidemic of hopelessness and fear that has gripped our nation.
Coronavirus has a twin
I’m convinced that the Novel Coronavirus has a twin. The virus itself is awful. And I have zero qualification to combat it on an epidemiological basis. I even had to google epidemiological to spell it correctly. But Covid-19 definitely has a nasty twin. Boy, have I gone around the ring with that thing a time or two. I’ve preached about it. I’ve yelled at it. I’ve dealt with it on a personal basis. And quite honestly, I hate every single thing about it.
What is Coronavirus’s twin? Fear, which is also known as Anxiety.
Fear doesn’t wash off your hands with antibacterial gel or soap. Not even a mask cannot defend against it. This ugly twin doesn’t attack the body, it attacks the mind and spirit. And if not properly dealt with it can have an effect on the body as well.
So I started Accelerate Hope. A blog to accelerate hope to those facing fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and frustration.
I am absolutely not a professional counselor. I have no PhD. Too much reading and writing.
And no, I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Too many germs.
Here’s what I want to offer on this site:
- Encouragement for every day life
- A new perspective on the scriptures
- Wrestling with difficult spiritual questions
- Maybe even a how-to or three
If any of that sounds good to you, please check back often.
After all, we’re all in this together.