The Journey of a Church Plant

I wish that I could say that I have always jumped right in with complete faith and no fear to whatever the Lord called me to do. Or that I joyfully followed my husband without any hesitation or doubt. But somehow God in His gentle and patient way has brought me through an unforgettable journey to where I am now.
In 2004 my husband, Stephen, and I embarked on what we thought was our lifetime ministry to Malawi, Africa. We sold everything we had and went with the IMB to Malawi (the third poorest country in the world). God had other plans and after two years we came back to the US due to my health. Of course at the time it was hard to understand why He took us there for only two years, but now it is so clear. He used those very difficult years to prepare us for church planting in Spokane, Washington. God had to strip away any self reliance and dependance on people to prepare us for this journey…
In the spring of 2011, Stephen began talking about planting a church in the North West United States. Stephen is passionate when it comes to anything about ministry, so when he shares an idea or conviction with me it’s usually with 100% enthusiasm. I on the other hand am more cautious, and was a bit skeptical about moving our 3 children from Arkansas to a land far away. Having lived in the Bible belt, it’s hard not to notice a church on every corner. Knowing how easy it is to find multiple churches and denominations here made it difficult to ignore the statistics of the North West, only 4% of the population are evangelical christians. God slowly and gently started to give me an excitement for reaching a dark and lost area of the country.
However, I continued to envision the two of us, all alone and starting a church from scratch. Needless to say the thought terrified me. I’ll never forget one Thursday morning, Stephen asked for prayer about approaching a couple from our home church, Brad and Beth Guest, about coming with us to plant a church. Little did we know that God was already working on their hearts about being involved in church planting. Apparently that very morning, Beth had asked Brad about their calling to ministry. She felt conviction that they were not actively pursuing ministry. Stephen showed up to their home a few hours later and laid out his vision for a church plant. They responded enthusiastically and assured Stephen that they would earnestly pray about the possibility. When Stephen came home and told me about their reaction, I had this overwhelming peace about leaving. It was like God was saying to me, “Not only will I be with you, you will also have friends beside you”.
So many times in my life I have been afraid of surrendering completely to His will as though I had pictured Him hammering me over the head and “forcing” me to serve Him. When the truth is, He dealt with me gently and gave me so much joy and peace. What a Great God we serve!! This story does not end with only one family joining our church plant. As of right now, we have about 18 people committed to leave their homes and families to come and join us in Spokane. Never in our wildest dreams would we have pictured so many people catching on to this vision. I am still blown away by the fact that most of the team members approached us about joining the Pinnacle Church team. This helps to confirm even more that God is totally behind this journey. I cannot wait to see what else He has in store for us. My prayer is that I will not forget about His faithfulness and completely trust Him even though I cannot see the future.

Karis Ward

This week’s devotion series reposts from My Journey of Faith Magazine.