From Comfortable to Church Planter

So, last year, about this time when the fall leaves turn to bright red, I realized that I had grown comfortable.  How can a mom of three kids who goes to some of the toughest places on the planet be comfortable?  Well, I was there.  God began stirring in my heart that a new season was coming.  He reminded me of a map of church plants coming in North America I had seen at our Every Nation North America Conference in July, 2011.

My family at a Reds game this summer, all wearing sports team shirts: Steve and Zach in Reds (baseball) gear, Katie Rose is a U of Cincinnati bearcat, and Ruth and I are Bengals (football) fans. Missing teams: Xavier and Cincy State!

Then He reminded me that He would be with us.
Then the dream happened.  It was December 29th, 2am.  I awoke in a cold sweat, having just awoken from a dream of seeing a “For Sale” sign in my front lawn.  I struggled awake, shocked by the realization that somehow I didn’t think God would be calling us to move across the city.  My mind flashed back to that map again.  That was when I woke Steve up.
“Honey, I just had a very clear dream and I think God might be calling us to move to Cincinnati to plant that church.”  Steve fought off the last bits of sleep, mumbling something to the effect of, “let’s talk about it in the morning,” then rolled over and went back to sleep.  Me, not so much.  I thought and prayed and tossed and turned.
The map from the Every Nation conference had what seemed to me like a bulls-eye on Cincinnati.  I don’t even remember the other four or six or ten cities that were probably on the map of cities targeted in the next 5-7 years for church plants.  I knew in that instant we were supposed to be involved, but the timing?  Awake in the middle of the night on December 29th, it seemed like God’s timing was a lot quicker than mine.  As usual.
Fast forward to May.  We fasted, prayed and talked with our leaders at Every Nation and at our home church Bethel World Outreach Church in Brentwood, TN.  They were ecstatic beyond our imagination.  We got so much confirmation on this that there was no doubt.  But, we knew just as firmly from our time of seeking God for the work He would do, that we were supposed to serve under another couple: an African-American couple to be exact.  We were in a holding mode until God raised up that couple.  Little did we know that the couple had been praying about Cincinnati for almost two years.
About two weeks into May, Steve got a call from an old friend: Brian Taylor.  Ps. Brian and his wife, Chavonne, had been sent out in 2005 from our church with Ps. Tim Johnson to plant the Orlando World Outreach Church, where he had served as Associate Pastor, Campus Minister, Youth Leader and anything else that was needed!  Ps. Brian and Steve had been in the same bible study back in the late ’90’s and we have had a great relationship with this couple.  It seemed that God was putting together a diverse team to reach Cincinnati!
Since that time, Steve and Ps. Brian have been up to Cincinnati three times, including once as families, and we are starting to assemble a church plant team!  We have made connections with some amazing leaders in the city, including several respected pastors, an architect leading a revitalization of an old neighborhood that had fallen into severe disrepair, dominated by gangs and drugs, and the family of a baseball legend in the city.  In so many ways, we are simply stepping into what God is already doing.  He has prepared the way for us and from here, it looks like a grand adventure.  God has been on the move!

Steve and Ps. Brian on the field at the Cincinnati Reds game when hometown baseball great Barry Larkin’s # was retired.

We told the kids about our plans in August and the news was well-received.  There have been some bouts of tears since then as they tell their friends – and some for me as well as the realization of the people we will be leaving behind sets in.  Nashville has become home for both of us – and has been the only home our kids have known.  We were indeed comfortable, but we are excited to be picking up our lives to move five hours north.  While our destination is a lot more certain than Abraham’s was when he left his home, as a mom, I can definitely relate to what Sarah must have been thinking at the time!

Genesis 12: 1-5

The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and all peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.”  So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Thankfully, we don’t have to travel by camel, donkey or caravan.  Our move will be much more comfortable of a journey!  But leaving Nashville is indeed bittersweet: we leave behind close friendships and many memories.  I have lived in Nashville now longer than any other place, making this city feel very much like home.  But, we are in faith that God is doing a supernatural work in our hearts, to cause Cincinnati to feel more like home during this process!

If you want to hear more about the church plant, check out this video:

Question for Thought: Are you comfortable where you are now?  Could God be calling you to step out of your comfort and into an adventure?

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