Its been a little over two months since we made the move to D.C., and this morning I wanted to spend some time (in between saving my toilet paper roles from being completely unrolled and keeping my son from licking the toilet…why did the bathroom become such a cool place for my 10 month old to explore 😉 ) reflecting on our journey. So here I am, writing it out, because I find this to be the best place for me to think and process.
My church planting journey began over 10 years ago…crazy to think it’s been that long! It was the summer after my sophomore year in high school when I went on my first mission’s trip with my youth group. We were headed to Seattle Washington to help new church plants in the city.
On one memorable evening of the trip, my dad asked me a question that I was unprepared for. He said, “Amber, if God called our family to move to Seattle to plant a church, would you be willing to go?” My response was a simple but honest, “No!” He responded, “Well then, you are not completely surrendered to God.”
So there I was in Seattle, WA, broken, because I treasured comfort over God. It was then that I recognized my sin and I surrendered my plans to Him. I told God that wherever He called I would go.
Not only did I leave Seattle with a surrendered heart, but I also left with a desire to be a part of starting new churches. I didn’t know what it was going to look like, but I knew that God wasn’t done with me and this thing called church planting…and so my journey began.
During college, I found myself with an amazing opportunity to spend my summers traveling the nation helping engage students in church planting, just as I had done. This experience was INCREDIBLE! I heard church planters stories, watched students serve cities, and experienced new bodies of believers meeting in all different places. My passion and desire to be a part of church planting only grew.
Fast forward a couple years later where I found myself in graduate school at Southeastern Seminary. It was only a few days in to my first week of school when I met my stud of a husband, Jon. He was funny, easy to talk to, chivalrous, and loved Jesus. He also served on staff at an awesome church plant and had a passion to be a part of starting new churches. He wooed me by having me watch a beard growing contest and asking me out on a date as I was half way in my car (I call him J smooth 😉 ). We quickly fell in love and were married a year later. We knew God was calling us to church plant, but we had no idea where. We desired to go to a place that didn’t have a church on every corner and had little to no gospel witness. We thought that meant going out west or up north. We tried to connect with church planting strategist in those areas, but nothing came to fruition. The only person we did get a hold of was the church planting strategist for D.C.
I grew up an hour south of D.C. and where I come from you only go to D.C. for two reasons, for a field trip, or a commute to work. I never thought of D.C. as an option for us. To be honest, I had no desire to even consider D.C. as a place to plant a church, but there we were taking a trip to pray over and visit different areas around D.C. (around because we considered ourselves “suburb people” and we wanted to keep it that way). We prayed, we visited, and nothing.
But, that Sunday we visited a brand new church plant in the Southeast part of D.C. While there, the pastor and other members of the church kept talking about Southwest D.C. and how that area needed a church. Jon and I had no idea what Southwest D.C. was, but after the service the pastor drove us around that part of town and shared with us the immense need for a gospel centered church there, because there wasn’t one. Jon and I left that day with an immense burden for that little quadrant.
It has now been 2 years since that day. 2 years of praying, waiting, and watching God move and work in only ways He can.
We are finally here! I’ve fallen in love with this community of Southwest Waterfront more than I thought possible. The girl who two years ago had no desire to plant in D.C., much less live in a city, has once again found her heart transformed by Jesus.
Seriously, I don’t think I ever want to live in a suburb again 😉
Church planting has certainly proven to be challenging, lonely, and at some points discouraging, but those things are so insignificant to the excitement of watching God work. I know that we are only at the beginning of this church planting journey, but I am thankful that God has allowed us to be a part of His work in Southwest D.C. We have already watched God do so much, and I can’t wait to stand back in amazement as He continues to move and work here.
*If you would like to keep updated on our journey send me your e-mail and I will add you to our monthly update e-mail. Amber@mercyhilldc.com