Thanks to those who have asked how things are going with our new church. The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity; heart-searching; laughs; tears; prayers; and joy. We’ve spent time together as a team eating, playing and brainstorming. But mostly we’ve been amazed at God’s miraculous provision for this adventure.
Here are some highlights:
Send off at Metro on January 1: A bittersweet day for our team. As we gather in the front for prayer, facing the people I have grown to love so dearly, I am fighting back a torrent of tears. Yet, I realize how kind the Lord has been to call so many to join us, including all of our children and grandchildren. (I prayed…but worked hard to guard my expectations.) All of us are grateful that Danny Jones felt well enough to exhort and pray for us. Are the tears ones of joy or sadness? I find out from others later that, like me, it’s both. My heart is full of gratitude to God for 11 years at Metro Life Church. But God is calling us to move on. We have no place to meet yet and there is much uncertainty. But we know Who is in control and Who has nudged our hearts to leave.
Wednesday, January 3rd: Just in the knick of time we get the call…we have a place to meet this Sunday!
Our First Sunday Meeting on January 8: 72 people, including children, gather to eat (of course!), lug sound and children’s ministry equipment, and set up in a small room at the Wycliffe Activities Center. The enthusiasm in the room is tangible and we all feel a sense of wonder at God’s providence. Just 6 months ago Redeemer Church wasn’t even a thought. As we stand and sing, “Oh Happy Day” I know we are a part of something historic. Benny starts a series called “Urgent” from the Book of Mark. We end our morning crying out for God’s help…then Benny invites everyone to McDonald’s. Yep. 70 people all in one McDonald’s.
January 11th a Community Group begins: Wednesday the 11th is our first Community Group. Benny is taking twelve people through a 12-week “practice run” of building a small-group culture of care, confession and accountability in our new church. Right away, there is a depth of humility and openness that inspires me! Benny is using “You Can Change” by Tim Chester, along with various CCEF counseling articles, as the springboard for opening our lives to one another. As he walks out the door I hear one of the guys say, “I wish it wasn’t a week before we meet again!” I agree. Such sweet, biblical fellowship is already happening. In April, the church will be divided into three or four groups as our Community Group ministry is officially launched.
Later that week: We learn that the larger facilities we hoped for at Wycliffe are not available on Sunday mornings. Lord, what is Your plan? We’ve exhausted the options we know to explore. Help!
January 15 at our second meeting: Since our official opening Sunday isn’t until April 8 (Easter) we are excited to welcome two visiting families. One couple has been praying for several years for Metro to start something in the Lake Nona area! Kyle and the guys do a great job again leading us in worship. Benny’s messages (which you can find at http://www.lakenonachurch.com if you’re interested) are challenging us to embrace the call to live and share the gospel with fresh faith. Mr Frank and Mrs Liz have already captured the hearts of the children, who love “fishing” for men. Rumor has it that Ralph, an old friend from children’s ministry days up in Virginia, shows up, too! We left that morning wondering where we would meet next week…
January 16: We are contacted by a martial arts company Alex (a young man who is heroically helping Benny administratively) talked with some weeks ago. They are willing for us to meet in their facilities after all! God’s provision is once again in the knick of time. So…how to turn a martial arts business — with lots of mats and exercise equipment — into a meeting place with a stage, band, chairs and children’s ministry rooms? And do this in 6 days? 🙂 God will be faithful and people will work hard again. So humbling.
Other than watching my husband’s eyes sparkle with youthful joy, the thing I’ve been most affected by over the past few weeks is watching God move the hearts of people to sacrifice for this new church. He miraculously provided for us through the generosity of dear friends, for whom we are forever grateful. Then He led a group of people (mostly 20 and 30 somethings, but a few close to our age…smile) to not just participate, but to do so with joy, creativity and energy. The ownership, service and sacrifice we’re witnessing is nothing short of a move of the Holy Spirit. Within a few short weeks they created a website; found two locations; put together a children’s ministry; brainstormed about a list of practical needs to send to other churches in case they have extra stuff we can use; gathered all the equipment and personnel needed to provide sound, worship, toys, food, greeters, guest cards, signs, chairs, clean up; and did it all with joyful excellence.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23).