Three years ago, life as we knew it changed. But we had no idea how it would change us in the process. We went into this next journey open-eyed, hearts full of optimism, and dreams as wide as the Virginia sky.
With a vision far bigger than ourselves, we saw God’s kingdom breaking in on the earth as we knew it. And we were eager to have a part in seeing this kingdom realized in the hearts and lives of ordinary people in our city.
We had a small team comprised of some of the best people you’d find anyway. All of them had hearts of gold and sacrificial spirits to match. It was a deep honor to be in the company of such an amazing group of people.
With this group, we studied, planned, dreamed, and prayed and prayed and prayed. In varying degrees and in many different ways, we all set aside certain dreams, plans, hopes, and comforts. Our very souls were united to a common cause—a church for the unreached in our community. Jesus had our full attention.
Amid times of questions, uncertainty, and exhaustion, God birthed his church from the ashes of lives consumed with his glory and the new bulbs of life and hope that sprang from his life in us.
Much effort, many tears, and multitudes of prayers watered and nurtured the sprouts of this fragile plant. Others joined the effort and shared the load—in much the same way that the elders helped Moses in days so long ago.
Like a family, we have deeply loved each other. We have cried together. We have shared stories. Laughed over jokes that probably weren’t even all that funny. We have created things from next to nothing. We have eaten more meals together than we’ve probably ever eaten with any other group of people (besides our immediate families). We’ve had communion together. We’ve prayed together. We’ve done preview services together. Done outreach events as a family. Served meals together. Celebrated together. Shared sorrows with each other. Together. All of this we have done—together.
And as we come to the conclusion of our three years together, it feels as if the Fellowship from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is coming to a close. Only God knows where each one of us will go in the coming months and years. We carry within us the same deep awareness that we have been on a sacred journey—together. We look into one another’s eyes and there is the shared realization that we “get” this whole process in a way that someone looking on never could. We have been through the trenches, crossed rivers, survived deserts, and gone over mountains–together.
We have been changed. Jesus has changed every last one of us. This process has broken us in some ways and mended us in other areas. We have seen God in ways we probably never would have if we hadn’t gone down this path. He has become more real, more solid, more trustworthy, more precious. We have depended on Him to show up and do his thing—time and time again.
We were simply his jars of clay, carrying a great Treasure. It feels like an ending. But it’s also just another beginning.
It has been a privilege, an honor, and an adventure to help plant Hope Church. God is incredibly faithful and incredibly good.
To the Advance Team “fellowship”—I love you all. I could never forget you, even if I tried. Our lives are forever entwined, and we can’t help but look at each other and see the same memories reflected back to us in each one of our faces. Thank you for loving Jesus most and loving each other so well. I look forward to sitting on Heaven’s front porch with Jesus and you all someday—looking at a Hope Church photo album, and remembering all the places we went with God over the course of just three years. No matter where life may take us in the future, a piece of my heart will always belong with all of you.