Time flies! One year ago today me and my wife and 3 boys headed west from Fairfax Virginia with our sights set on San Francisco to relocate and start a church from scratch…crazy, right? We had no home lined up, and we daily faced nagging doubts that we would even be able to afford a home, let alone be chosen amongst throngs of aggressive house-hunters. That was just the beginning of a long list of unknowns: how do we bring our boys up in a city environment; how do we start a church, anyway; and will their be a place to park our car? Regardless, we knew strongly that God was calling us to step out in faith and trust Him despite our fears and the doubts being reflected in 3 out of 5 conversations, readily reinforcing everything I’ve mentioned above.
The next month from June 29th, 2015 went from high to low as we got closer to our final destination. Despite seeing wonderful sights along our journey there was a sick feeling in my gut and the question that replayed in my head; “What in the crap am I doing?” Despite this we couldn’t turn back because of a flickering hope that God was going to show up and He was going to do something through us because of our small faith.
When we arrived in the Bay Area we were received by friends that we had only met once or twice before. A fellow church planter in San Jose looked after our kids while we embarked on the task of house-hunting! We were delighted to end our first day with a solid prospect! We just had to wait out the next week for the owner to return from a business trip.
Our first Sunday we went to a church in Tracy, CA and afterward were invited to lunch by the youth pastor, John MacTaggart (whom we’d met once before). He asked if we needed anything. After a month of camping, laundry seemed like the most obvious need, so we all headed back to his house. We had no intention of staying at their house longer than the afternoon but with our lack of an immediate destination in mind, our new friends invited us to stay for the night—which turned into an entire week :-)
With the start of school looming, and our “solid housing prospect” vanishing before our eyes we migrated closer to the city to work on getting Finn enrolled in school. Pastor Bernard Emerson invited us to stay at his home in Oakland. He finally told me to shut up after thanking him every night for a week for allowing us to stay with him and his family! It was during this 3-week period that God enabled us to enroll Finn in school and spend each day in the city while we continued to search for a home. Finally, in the amazing way that only God works, we were approved to rent a beautiful home in Potrero Hill—-just one mile from Mission Bay!
God grew me in my trust of Him to provide for our every need (Matthew 6) especially financially when I tried to start my piano teaching biz with a bang and only got one student out of a whole lotta effort. I spent 4 weeks praying and weeping, asking God to provide for us, and God told me to trust in Him and Him alone and not in anything else—like my likeable personality :)
I learned that we can’t guarantee our next breath or heartbeat and that our very existence depends solely on Him, whether big or small…so I simply trusted. In another effort 4 weeks later to gain students now knowing I had nothing to bring to the table I made another effort to gain students and within an hour had all my available slots filled, 10 in all, and a waiting list should a space become available. God showed up in a big way, but it was in His timing and in a way that I could never take the credit for myself.
We are not rich but when you put God first and trust Him He shows up. We’re tithing more than ever before, saving more than ever before, we have paid off a student loan since living in San Francisco with the last one in sight, and were blessed to be able to take our kids to Disneyland last week. I can’t explain things in any other way than simply “God!” When people (and sometimes myself) said it’d be impossible God showed up and said, “Not Impossible for Me.” God owns the cattle on a thousands hills and the hills in San Francisco are not exempt!
Holly and I are just a couple of kids who said yes to God no matter what and God has never left our side. We have no amazing talent or abilities, just a desire to follow Jesus here in this beautiful city among these beautiful people we call friends and tell them what Jesus has done for us.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)
Thanks to Pastor Stokes, his staff, and Expectation Church, Eric & Asher Schultz & family, Anna Cantor & the rest of our Mission Bay Church family, Paul Root, John Markum and the rest of my Converge Pacwest peeps, my Grafted crew here in SF, and everyone else who continues to support our church startup practically, prayerfully and financially…Thanks!