After sharing our BIG news with everyone that we know, I have had many questions about how all of this came about and so I wanted to also share with anyone else who may want to know!
First of all, of coure this isnt something that happened over night. TRUST ME :)
About 6 months ago, the idea of church planting started coming up on a regular basis."Church planting" was something we were familiar with because we had friends from seminary who had planted in the last few years, but it was never something we saw our family doing. Oh boy wasn't God laughing at me when I thought to myself, "Who on earth would want to do that? It sounds scary to me!" So anyways, as different people in different circumstances started bringing it to JR's attention that they saw him as a church planter we just began to pray, "God, we dont know why this is coming up or what it means so please make it clear to us."
By January, the call for church planting was becoming very clear to us but we still couldnt see what exactly God was doing. Little did we know He had a LOT planned behind the scenes. On January 13th, we received a phone call from a good friend's husband who was a church planter in Oak Ridge, TN. He said that he was asked to pray about a pastor that would come and take over a church plant in the Knoxville area and he continually came back to JR's name. Now all along, he had NO idea what we had been praying for the past several months and just simply said if its even a possibility then you should call and talk to the men who were over the church planting network that he was a part of.
JR and I were shocked at the call, thanked him for ruining our weekend, and immediately started to pray. Because Jacob, our pastor, had been one of the ones who had saw the church planting call in JR, we immediately told him about the call and asked him to pray for us. You see we never had planned to leave Bethesda and were very confused as to why this opportunity was even before us.
As we prayed, it continually became clear that we did need to meet with the church planting network. And I personally took it as we would go and learn how they were being successful at their church plants and we would bring it back to Bethesda. JR met with the network the first weekend in February and spent many hours with them. When he came back to update me on what went on he knew that God has placed these men in his life for a reason. Of course we had no idea why or what they even thought of us. It was very apparent that we had zero experience in church planting and but our vision for what God had called our family to do alligned with theirs completely.
We attended 2 services that Sunday; one of their first church plants and also the one that we had received the call about. Our eyes were opened to a whole new world of "church" and we couldnt stop smiling. It was simply amazing to see many different people of all different backgrounds joining together to worship Jesus! Their love was truly contagious and we soaked up every minute of it.
We returned after that weekend with a lot of questions remaining and yet the most important one answered: Yes, we were supposed to church plant. We continued to pray, talk to other friends who were church planters themselves and with our staff at Bethesda. We got a phone call a few weeks later saying that the position we had went to speak to them about was no longer available. Door shut. Ok, now what God??
As our eyes had been opened to a whole new world of church planting it became evident that we would need training. One of the friends JR spoke with had told him that his greatest asset going into planting the church he was a part of was an internship that he had received at his local church in NC. "Ok, so should we go and enter into their intership program", we asked. No actually, believe it or not just a few hours later, we received another phone call from this same network in TN that had told us they didnt have a position for us. "Although the position we spoke about before isnt going to work out, we see the potential in you and would like to offer you an internship." DO WHAT?!?!
No we would have never imagined completing a college degree, then a master's degree only to return to an internship. No we didnt want to leave our church. No it wasnt going to be easy. BUT we knew we had to go! We continued to pray earnestly over the next few days and then called to tell them yes.
We began to learn the details of what this would look like: that they would pay us $10,000 and provide insurance, they would also look for us a missions house that would be rent free, and they would invest in us over the next 18 months so that we would be equipped to be sent out to church plant.
And even more questions were left unanswered. Where exactly would we live? Where would JR find a part time job so we could provide for our family. How would we come up with the remaining 20K that it would take to meet our family budget?
All of these questions remain left unanswered even now and yes it is scary to me. We are walking in faith and it isnt easy. We do know, however, that His grace is sufficient. And where He leads us, He will sustain us. This is never ever a situation I ever thought our family would be in, but there has never been a time in my life that I have been more sure of anything than this and so therefore we will continue to say YES to God and see what He has instore for us!