|Border was like this, only it was at night. A mile long.|
It seems like yesterday. At the end of some mission work last August, I spent all night in the freezing weather crossing the Zimbabwe/South Africa border (from 8 PM to 4 AM). Beitbridge is the worst border crossing in Africa (I think, and I’ve crossed a few). It was a sea of people over a mile long.
FINALLY got to Joburg, flight cancelled. Spent the night.
FINALLY got to London, flight cancelled. Spent the night.
FINALLY got home. Got laid off from a position doing what I loved (preaching and missions) for over six years, for financial reasons – the church had a multi-million dollar debt payment coming due that it could not pay. The banks told the church it had to drastically cut staff costs if it hoped to refinance the debt. I was part of that lay off.
|E-Trade Baby: “Let me show
you my shocked face.”
Shocking. Amazing. Horrible. But not horrible.
“Not horrible” because I felt an odd peace, and an odd freedom. Like God was doing something and it was all gonna be OK. Weird for a pastor to feel that way right? (being facetious)
I’ve said “if you want to experience God in a way you never have before, do something you’ve never done before.” Involuntarily, that week of events was just that.
So I began a job search.
Two Years Before (this is like the movies-starting the story in the middle)
God has never given me a vision, or spoken audibly to me. Ever. I’ve asked! I’ve fasted! I’ve prayed! I’ve eaten spicy food late at night! But God has not chosen to speak to me that way. Two years ago deep in the Zimbabwe bush, a man prayed over me. And after he prayed, he said “as I was praying, I saw that you are not going to be where you are forever. And the way I saw it, it was a good thing, not a bad thing” (thanks for the “good thing” end-I was sweating bullets for a few seconds! Sheesh!). But this was not part of my plan.
June of 2012
|Kruger in South Africa|
An Afrikaner (Dutch descent African) missionary emails me after hearing I’m laid off and later we talk. He says “David, when we were together in Kruger National Park in ZA last June, I awoke at 3 am. When I did, I saw a vision that I believe was from God. I saw your elders (who he’d never met) deciding that you were no longer going to be at your church, and that you were going to plant a church.” His wife said “God has seen your faithfulness and is going give you greater responsibility.” They saw this two months before it happened.
Back to Late August 2012 McFly (all this time travel makes my head spin!)
From there I began to pray. Went away to fast and pray twice, once for five days, once for three days. I was desperate to hear from Him. And He began to speak to me through others who encouraged me to start a church.
At the same time, there were some extreme barriers to me launching a church. But God kept talking. Through a sermon here, a comment there, and prod from this person or that person (some who I never would have thought would say “launch a church”).
A Defining Moment
You’re thinking “A guy in Africa gets a message from God that you’ll be laid off over TWO MONTHS before it happens and you don’t call that a defining moment?!?” Good point.
But remember, I wanted to make sure I was following God. I’m 50, have a senior in high school – I can’t mess this up. I had one job offer a day after being laid off doing something I would love. Thought I might have another job offer soon, and not everyone would be happy if launched a new church. And the clock is ticking. I’ve got to have something by January 1. The clock is TICKING. Or go broke. The CLOCK IS TICKING (hate the clock)!
|X marks the spot God called me 20 years ago AND in November.|
So one Sunday Cindy, the girls and I went back to Houston’s First Baptist Church, where God called me into ministry 20 years ago. Where God spoke to me many times.
And as we sat and listened, I was desperate to hear from God. And He spoke.
The message was on Acts 4:1-12, and the pastor said one thing after another that spoke to Cindy and me. He said “Courage is listening to the voice of God and not the voice of man. Our ears have to be tuned, not to the power of earth but the power of heaven.” That should have sealed the deal, but if it didn’t, as he prayed at the end of the message, he said “its not about an ambiguous God and man’s blessing, it’s about the name of Christ.” How true those words would be for me in coming months, as God brought more and more clarity to my situation.
“Was that you’re defining moment?” Partly. But not completely.
As I was sitting there at First Houston, desperate to hear from God (as desperate to hear from Him as I think I’ve ever been), I was struck by the fact that, all across this big auditorium were other people just like me…also desperate to hear from God. And God was talking – through the pastor and Scripture and the songs that morning. And then I thought, every Sunday in west Katy and Fulshear, are people equally desperate to hear from God. My first call from Him (in this very church years ago, sitting in about the same spot) has been to preach His Word.
And I realized then, that God put a great burden on my heart, to pastor a church for people who desperately need to hear from God. A place they can come to in their hour of need, hear His voice in unapologetic preaching, His Word and music, so they could experience God the way I experienced Him that morning at First Houston.
THAT was my defining moment.
We began worshiping with a small group of folks that God called together. He began drawing together one resource after another making sure we had more than we needed to start a church. And today, we look forward to this Sunday, when we have our Grand Opening of Fort Bend Fellowship, a church made up of people who’s sole/soul desire is to Know Christ and Make Him Known. All are welcome.
And all of this, is only because God is great, and God is good. And Christ is King.