When we moved to Tucson, AZ we were absolutely sure it was God who was bringing us here, but we had no idea what was to come. Moving to Tucson has cost us more than we ever imagined. It tore at our marriage and family as we encountered strong spiritual warfare, we have had to move three times since moving here, it has cost us financially, and is about to cost us more. We had big dreams of what God could use us for, and of what we could do for Him. Here we are two and half years later, and everything we dreamed seems to be shattered. It seems we have gone through all of this hardship for no reason. It almost begs for the question to be asked, why did we move here? What was the point of it all? The dream that had become Element Community Church after today will have died.
When we moved to Tucson I got so busy for God that I forgot what God wants most, an intimate relationship with me. I stopped seeking Him, and started doing. It was not a decision I made, or anything that happened in a day, week, or even a month, but as the group Casting Crowns say in one of their songs it was a “slow fade”. All of sudden without realizing it I was trying to do everything on my own and failing big time! I think what amazes me most is how much God used me despite of myself getting in the way. I came to the point where I could no longer hear God speaking because I never spent any time with him, and I was miserable.
This past summer God began to grab my attention. It started when I was able to go to FL. for a few days to a conference and Rick Warren spoke. God used him in a mighty way in my life, and I waited around to say thank you, he hugged me and whispered in my ear, “Don’t give up”. I knew God had used this man to speak to me as I needed what he said in that moment. Finally, after so much silence, I had heard God speak. I did not realize at the time that God had not stopped speaking, I had just stopped listening. During the summer we saw some great things happen as God led us to step out in faith. We adopted a refugee family of 7 from Iraq and have helped them adjust to America, and have been able to be a witness of the love of Christ to them. We adopted a church plant “The Foundry” and supported them with both man power, and financially. We joined with over 1,800 churches worldwide in a series called “One Prayer”. And finally we did a series through the book of Habakkuk. That series touched my wife and I very personally as God gave us a very clear picture of why we had gone through everything we had up to that point. God first had to do a great work in us before He could do anything through us. He had to bring us to a new place of intimacy, security, and trust that we did not even knew existed.
As the summer moved on God started to move me back to an idea I had let die. Granger Community Church did a series on sex, an upfront biblical perspective, on dating, marriage, and sexual relationships. It had been a dream of mine to bring this to Tucson, and it got shut down at every corner. Then one day I prayed and said, “God if you don’t want this to happen then I am ok with that. I give it to you”. The next day everything from the space we were trying to rent, to the finances to advertise were falling into place. We advertised big, put together a top grade website, and rented a huge space at a local high school. The media grabbed a hold of it, and it even got national coverage. I knew this was going to be the beginning of us as a church, from here we take off. God had another idea. What I thought was the beginning of something great, for God was the beginning of the end.
By October after much wrestling with God I knew I had to go to our parent church. I told God after the holidays, He kept saying now. I decided God knew best and went to pastor Travis, the pastor of our parent church, and told him the news. That same week we found out that our parent church was in bad financial shape. The big question for us was what to do with the people who had become the Element Community Church. We could merge them with our parent church, but the truth is that idea seems a little crazy. A similar church plant was defiantly the way we should go, but God had other ideas. Central Baptist a very traditional church, and Element Church, a very non-traditional church are going to combine. After much struggling with God I know without a shadow of a doubt that God wants me to help lead in this merger. So next Sunday these two churches will become one. Like I said, to me it seems crazy, but I am so sure God is in this that I have perfect peace. Here we are on the brink of the end and I have a perfect peace that passes all understanding. I am excited about us ending, because I know God is orchestrating our future. In fact, I have no doubt that God orchestrated the closure of ECC, and although I don’t understand it, I am ok with that! A huge part of all of this has been God speaking to me through a book called “Wild Goose Chase”, which I highly recommend, and a small group Bible study we are doing called “Experiencing God”, which if your open will change your life forever. I am again finding out what it is like to walk and talk with God.
So here we are, the end, yet the beginning. I do not know what the future holds. I do not know that we are not joining with Central just to help ease their death, but I do know that right now in the midst of this storm I am in the center of God’s will, and that is a wonderful place to be. I know that God is going to provide for my family even with the pay cut I will have to take to be a part of this merger, and more than anything I am again learning the sovereignty of God and that He is in control of all things.