I recently read (and Listened too on Audiobooks) “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon. This book, published in 1896, is a sentimental yet pleasing read. Though not enthralled by some of the characters in the book, it was for me an optimistic perspective of what might happen if Christians humbly asked, what would Jesus do. It is a bit crushing to discover that, at the time of its publishing, the author was robbed royalties due to improper registration of the copyright. Perhaps, however, we all benefited because the book became one of the best selling books of all time as a result (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books). I can still remember the wristband around my arm with the large block letters, WWJD stamped across it. I didn’t know them but Charles Sheldon was traversing time and speaking directly to me. Of course he is not the first one to ask such a question but this is not a post about the history of imitatio dei. No, I want to share of myself a parallel of the miraculous examples given in this book. I was a man of great worries. Rachel can attest to this and offer several examples of proof I am sure. Though blessed with a sense of spiritual things from the beginning of my life and regardless of my spiritual gift of “Faith”, I wrestled my problems away from God and with hands clenched refused to let them go. Until the day God said to me, “No More Worries”. Unlike the people in Raymond I didn’t answer a call to the backroom in the church. However, the call to relinquish my worries and faithfully walk as Jesus did was as clear as a man dying with Jesus on his lips. Miraculously, the call was evidenced by a complete lack of worry in my heart, though I had every cause to be afraid. It was as if God had preemptively cast out my worries and then challenged me to retain the blessing through fervent commitment and prayer and repentance. I must emphasize, it was not my accomplishment, but Gods. Perhaps, it was as Paul said, “the intercession of the Spirit through wordless groans.” I know in my heart that it was the Spirit.
The faith journey began anew with the greatest step in ministry I have ever taken, the decision to follow God into Church Planting. On three previous occasions God planted seeds in the hearts of both Rachel and me. Why was this such a leap of faith? Because it required trusting God with our finances, residence, safety, and a whole lot more.
Consistent with how God has spoken to me at other times, this journey required a transformation of my identity. Was I prepared to give up being a paid church Preacher? Seeking preaching positions would certainly be safer. In that I at least had experience. A minister in his early thirties with seven years of full-time ministry experience is certainly desirable. None of that experience nor most of my formal education, however, prepared me for the evangelistic effort that is church planting. Nonetheless, God said, no more worries. So I bathed myself in faith and moved to New England where I knew God was sending us. (Rachel can share with you her own journey in this desire to plant churches. It is a remarkable one and I would not dare steal her story here.) We had no job and no home. Fortunately, Mom and Dad opened their home to us while we transitioned into what God had planned for us. I admit the cultural stigma associated with moving in with Mom and Dad lingered in my mind. Not for prideful reasons, though perhaps some, but rather I didn’t want to burden them unfairly. Regardless, the offer was made and we excepted. Mom and Dad have blessed me more than a few times with gifts of love and generosity. This time however, grew to feel like something more. It wasn’t a simple pure affection for us but also a support of God’s call to reach unbelievers. I didn’t realize at first but their hearts and kind words made it apparent.
With a desire for some brevity I will leave out a few things here and tell you one of the greatest gifts of our move to New England. The Dutile family and the seed team. Never have I come to be accepted and loved by such a group of people so quickly than the seed team. I am eternally grateful for them. We first met Shaun and Marci over Skype and were excited by their tender desire to know us and discern the work of the Spirit in bringing us to them. Later we visited the team (at that point just two families) and were again embraced by the team. The drive home however was different, worry crept in. Was this really what we should do? Are these people going to accept us? What if we don’t match? But God said, Do Not Worry! In a moment of sheer desire not to be overwhelmed by worry I cried out to God for an hour after we got home. “Lord we desperately need your guidance! Show us NOW what you have in store for us!” I spoke these words not with the heart of a doubting man but with the eagerness for the Lord as Gideon had done. The next morning the phone rang. “Let’s meet this week Chais” said Shaun. “How about Tuesday”, I said. Can we do Monday, he replied.” God wasn’t waiting, he was answering prayers!
All along this journey Kairos, a church planting organization that helps planters establish churches of Christ, was in communication with Rachel and myself. They are our continued compass in the planting business. We were continually uplifted by Stan, Scott, and Bruce with every step we have taken. On their word Rachel and I signed up to learn how to raise support. Right now we anticipate traveling to New York for the class. Already the material for the course has been invaluable. It is NOT a guide to fundraising. It is a Christ centered approach to engaging Christians in ministry. Few tools I have discovered are as practical and useful as “The God Ask” by Steve Shadrach and Scott Morton. What we are learning from this course is challenging our faith into growth. As a direct result of how God has spoke, “No More Worries”, and the spiritual guidance of “In His Steps” and “The God Ask” Rachel and I prepare for another faith move.
After some time past it became apparent that the Lord was bringing all of us, that is the seed team, together. Shaun and Marci formally invited us to work with them. God had blessed us again!!! It was not long after that I began to feel the call to move again. This time, with less money, less safety and no regular job except sharing the Gospel! With Rachel in agreement, we began looking for a place to live in Laconia, NH. Right NOW, this very weekend, Rachel and I found a place we desire to live. In faith and with no worries we are marching forward. God has not called us to a place of safety, but he has sent us to a bounty of people with whom we can share the word of God. What Would Jesus Do? This I believe we have tried to live. We are disciples whose mission is from the Lord. I believe He says to us, “Go to them, the marginal, the helpless and the hapless. Heal the sick, raise the dead, and give as you have been given.