I always enjoy telling the story of how the Lord brought Verdae Presbyterian Church into existence, and for the longest time I began that story with my own sense of calling to this church plant in early 2015. Don’t get me wrong! I knew that God had been at work in raising this church up long before He called me to be its church planter. But I assumed that, as can sometimes be the case, those stories were ones that I might never hear about on this side of Heaven. Boy was I wrong!
About a year into my role as “Explorer”, I mentioned to a group of people that we had decided Verdae was the area we felt God calling us to start this new church (more on this story in the coming weeks). And as I shared this vision, I was told that what I was communicating was actually an answer to prayer – specifically an answer to a collection of prayers offered up during a prayer drive in 2012.
At that time, Rev. Alan Avera was serving as the Director of Outreach North America for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. His role focused on church planting and church revitalization for our denomination, and one of his efforts that year was to invite local pastors to join together in praying for new ARP churches to be raised up. One of the groups he organized was a collection of ARP pastors in the Upstate of South Carolina. This group met a few times to pray and eventually decided to meet one morning at a Denny’s in Spartanburg and begin driving through the Upstate.
It was during this prayer drive that a group of ARP pastors rode down Verdae Boulevard and noted all of the growth in the area. Before long they were driving through this new development praying that the Lord might use our denomination to plant a brand new church in the area, and that He might use that church to reach all of the surrounding communities in that segment of Greenville.
Hearing the story of this prayer drive that first time brought me tremendous encouragement. It confirmed to me that the decisions we had made in deciding on the Verdae area were not crazy. It humbled me to think that my entire time in seminary – which began in 2012 – had been leading to this. And it immediately gave me pause to consider just how much God had done to bring this church plant about.
And I still think about this prayer drive regularly. I think about it whenever we encounter anything that seems like a road block – and there have been a few. In fact, I will write about one of them next week! But I also think about this prayer drive each time we have a new person express interest in being a part of Verdae Pres. That is because I know that God has done just as much in that person’s life to bring them to this church as He did in my life to bring me to this church.
And I also think about it because it brings me excitement. Excitement in knowing that we are still just at the beginning!
”The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16b