It wasn’t long after New Years Day in 1979. After years of infertility, Benny and I had just celebrated 8-month-old Joshua’s first Christmas. What fun! When I started feeling sick I assumed it was a stomach bug.
But I discovered some news to share with Benny…I was pregnant! Pregnant? Again?My baby wasn’t even walking yet! How could this be??? I presumed that Joshua would be our only child. After the shock wore off and the nausea began to subside I became anxious. I found the courage to ask Mom, “How can I possibly love another baby as much as I love Joshua?” She assured me that God would make room in my heart for another baby.
The day Jaime was born I found out my mother was right.
The same month our second miracle baby came, another birth happened in our lives. Benny and a small team of mostly 20-somethings started Fairfax Community of Believers (later, Fairfax Covenant Church and now Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax). The twenty years we spent with this wonderful church were full of joy, memories, friendships, challenges, and lots of love. This was our “firstborn” church.
Fast forward to the summer of 2010. Benny came home from his normal weekly pastor’s meeting with some news. A new life may be on the way; he was being given the opportunity to plant a church in South Orlando. Church planting? Again? At our age? After the shock and sicky feeling of leaving dear friends at Metro Life Church — our home for the past 11 years — began to subside, I became anxious. Could God make room in my heart for another new church? In recent weeks the Lord has been assuring me that He would.
Yesterday morning I found out my Father was right.
Redeemer Church had our first Sunday morning meeting yesterday. Snapshots are filling my mind as I type: Walking up to the small building realizing history was being made. A small lobby slowly filling with smiling people. Hugs and greetings. Donuts and coffee. Sound equipment and toys being lugged in for set up. Guitars being tuned…”testing 1, 2, 3.” Snippets of comments: “I could hardly sleep last night!” “Wow, this room is really small.” “Can you believe we’re here?” “Are there any more donuts?”
I noticed Josh out of the corner of my eye. Wait. The little toddler who use to leave early with Daddy to “help” set up at the elementary school on Sunday mornings has become a father of three who has been working hard for weeks (along with many others) to make yesterday morning possible. This time his help wasn’t just for fun…it’s been sacrificial and tireless.
The excitement in the room was tangible. My Benny’s eyes were full of joy as I watched him mingle and thank people for coming. I pulled aside to watch him…just for a few moments. His hair is thinner and his laugh lines are deepening. But so much is the same as in 1979 — like the passion for church planting that captivated my heart and convinced me to follow him the first time around.
I thought I would cry a lot this morning. But only small tears formed once or twice. My heart was too full of a strange mixture of wonder and joy. I presumed the Fairfax church would be our only church planting adventure, yet there we were in a small room packed with instruments and excited people (mostly 20 and 30-somethings) and speakers on stands and cords on the floor covered with electrical tape…again.
The worship was well-led by musicians whose skill is only surpassed by their passion. Benny and I were by far the oldest people in the room. At one point I stopped to listen to them sing, then felt my 10-year-old granddaughter nuzzle up against me. Kayla’s hug warmed my heart. Our first church plant was with our 2 small children. This one will include all eleven of our grandchildren.
This post is longer than others will be. But if you’ve made it this far, we would so appreciate your prayers. This new, young church will only thrive with God’s help. By God’s grace, over 30 years later the Fairfax church remains strong and is continuing to reach Northern Virginia with the gospel. 30 years from now Benny and I will likely be worshiping at our Savior’s feet…or enjoying great-great grandchildren while approaching 90. Either way, we pray that Redeemer Church will still be preaching the gospel in Lake Nona, Florida.
Amazed at His faithfulness,
Benny and Sheree
P.S. Update on Monday: A friend told me tonight he was there and is a year older than Benny and me. Thanks, Marvin!