Ok so this might sound like classic Sunday School material, but to be honest they teach some good stuff in Sunday School. Besides, I for one have learned that there’s something profoundly humbling yet powerful in going back to the basics and putting them into practice, especially true in the area of reading God’s word and responding prayerfully with faith. Here’s 3 ways that it’s played out on our church-planting adventure:
1. The Armour-Bearer – shortly before we moved to Trevethin I heard Andy Christofiedes preach a stirring sermon on the story of Jonathan and his young armour-bearer legging it up a mountain and between them wiping all out an entire garrison of Philistines. Awesome! I was just really inspired by the story and as I started to meditate on it, faith started to rise up inside me and I began to pray earnestly for an armour-bearer of my own. I was basically praying for a godly young bloke, who was full of mad faith and up for an epic adventure, to come up the hill with me and give satan and his schemes a right royal kicking in the Name of the LORD!
About 5 months later God answered my prayers. A young man I had been mentoring for several months had taken a year out to explore church-planting with his home church. However, due to unfortunate circumstances that plan failed to materialise and he ended up being released to come up to help us see the Hill City vision become reality. All I can say is that it was an immense year! Ben blessed, served, encouraged, challenged, shaped, prayed and battled alongside us in a way that is impossible to adequately convey here. However, as well all the practical support he offered, it’s fair to say his input into both the Hill City Vision Statement and Foundations Document was also massive. It’s amazing how having someone else to chew things over and bounce things around with creates so much more energy and clarity. Suffice to say, I couldn’t have picked a better mate to run up a hill and do battle with.
2. The Man Of Peace – Having never even set foot on the estate until I was 28 years old, there was absolutely no logical ‘first step’ for us onto the mission-field. It literally was uncharted territory. Therefore, prompted by Jesus’ teaching in Luke 10v4-8 I found myself praying for ‘a man of peace’ – someone who belonged to the estate, who would welcome us into the community and who would reassure others that “them Christians are alright!” Again, it was many months until the Lord answered that prayer, but when He did – He really delivered! He introduced us to Matt – a local legend who not only sorted us out with usage of a building and helped us get to grips with life on the estate, but who along with his family, has also become a really, really good friend too!
3. Twelve Rock-Bearers – When we first started doing simple church as a family on Sunday mornings, we started studying the book of Joshua (an absolute must-read for anyone with a passion for church-planting!) We received shed-loads of encouragement as we worked through the book, but perhaps the most striking way that God spoke to us was in chapter 4 when God commanded Joshua to select 12 men from the tribes of Israel and charge them to each select a rock from the middle of the Jordan, to carry them all the way across on their shoulders and to set them up on the other side as a reminder of God’s great power and gracious provision. At this point we were really seeking God about when the right time was to ‘cross over’ from being a house church to meeting publicly. Through these verses God caused to start praying for 12 rock-bearers – men and women whose spiritual shoulders were broad enough to carry the weight of ministry and responsibility that such a move would inevitably bring.
I reckon we must have been praying for these rock-bearers for the bets part of 10 months, often fuelled by frustration as much as faith. I have to confess that there were times that I started trying to cut corners by saying stuff like: “Well the lady in the Spar sells us the milk that we use in coffee at church – so maybe she’s one of the 12!” and other such ridiculous things. (OK maybe not quite that ridiculous, but you get the point!) God, however, in His divine wisdom simply started bringing the right people at the right to join with us, and by the time we moved into our building last September we couldn’t move for all the broad, rock-bearing shoulders that were now on board!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that God still speaks and leads us through the pages of scripture, but I for one have been both blown away and encouraged by just how much He does. I simply pray for the faith to listen, to believe and to respond appropriately.
About 4 months ago I was reading the account of David’s Mighty Men (2Samuel 23) and was inspired (like all blokes are) by ‘The Three’ in particular! Anyway, through this passage God has caused me to trust Him for 3 elders – mighty men of faith and courage – to step up to the plate and serve the church and the community alongside us. At the time of writing I am currently waiting for all 3 of them to show up.
But I wait and pray with faith…