This past weekend was a big one for me and mine, not just because of the incredibleness of getting to start over fresh in my marriage after 10 years, but because of a second huge announcement that most of you likely didn’t see.
After nearly 20 years of serving the Hamilton area, our church is starting a new campus in Orlando, Florida this summer.
And we’re going.
I know. We were surprised, too.
I’m sure you have a zillion questions, and I’m going to do my best to answer them, but I need to ask you for two things.
- Please read the entire post before you comment/DM/email/text/call so we’re on the same page, and I don’t have to repeat myself too much.
- Understand that this is an extremely complex situation with a lot of moving parts and question marks. I won’t explain it all perfectly the first time.
Why are you going?
The short answer is because we were called.
Yeah, that made me groan and roll my eyes, too. But it’s the truth. Cliches are cliches for a reason.
Our pastors invited us to join the launch team in the plan’s nascent stages in a turn of events that could only have been divinely arranged. (If you want to hear the full story, just ask! It’s too long for this post.) When we heard what they were planning, our spirits leaped for joy, although we didn’t have any clue why. We sat on our answer for three days but knew full well we were going. We just knew.
But why you?
You have no idea how often we ask ourselves that on a daily basis, especially as the days count down to go-time. We’re not pastors, elders, or ministry leaders; we’re a couple of laypeople who haven’t even been saved very long.
Practically speaking, Lino and I have unique skillsets that are surprisingly useful in planting a church. Lino’s become an expert in community outreach through his work with Ruck 2 Remember, and he’s an Excel wizard with experience in all stages of business operations after a decade in call center management. For my part, it’s become abundantly clear that God wants to do something with my writing, and I’ve learned to channel my perfectionism into organizational skills, which are crucial for any startup.
We’re also discovering ever deeper wellsprings of hope, love, and trust as we continue to say “yes” to the call despite the increasing obstacles and attacks that kind of commitment invites. It’s really shown us what we’re made of. So, even if on the day we drive the truck across the border God says to go back and stay in Hamilton, I say it’s been worth it.
Also, the fact that I’m American helps.
It’s weird, right? I mean, missionaries get called to Haiti or Sudan or China–places where things are realrealbad and folks need hope. You don’t get called to Disneyworld.
And yet, there’s a need.
Our pastors have been vacationing in the area for nearly 10 years and have become increasingly aware of a ferocious desire for God’s love among folks who claim to already know Jesus. They’re hungry and thirsty for divine love, for a new way of living in this world, for relationship over religion.
We’re going to Orlando to stir up the wonder, glory, and joy of God in the hearts of those who have forgotten it–or never knew it in the first place–in the midst of a land overflowing with buildings but starving for church as it’s meant to be: a community that loves like family.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what we do best.
When are you leaving?
Um, well, we aren’t sure. We’ve known we were going since January, but the truth is we don’t have a solid moving date yet. As it stands, we’re aiming at August 1. Which means we’ve got about a month to get all our ducks (alligators?) in a row. But we truly have no idea. Could be Christmas. I’ll get back to you.
Will you be back?
You’ll see us again! As visitors.
We’re treating this as a permanent move. We decided from the start that if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it all the way. No lukewarm, half-in bet-hedging. We’re taking the stuff we can’t bear to part with and making the Sunshine State our new home.
So, what now?
There are still so many things unsettled–including jobs, housing, schools, and immigration statuses–so it’s all constantly in motion even at this late hour. But since it isn’t a secret anymore, I’m able to share the journey with you as it unfolds. You’ll be hearing a lot more about our antics soon.
For now, we’re stepping into July with fear and trembling but also hope and certainty that whatever may pass is good. Don’t get me wrong: this is scary as hell and I’ve cried rivers. But every step we’ve taken forward has been accompanied by peace in the midst of chaos, provision in the grip of lack, and reassurance in the face of doubt. And that tells me we’re on the right track.