On January 1, 2017 Verdae Presbyterian Church became an official church plant! We didn’t have any members yet. We didn’t have a worship service yet. We didn’t even have an opportunity to do ministry anywhere yet. But we were officially a church plant and we could now begin moving towards all those things!
I knew that it would take some time to get worship services going, and I knew that it would take some time before interested people began to become members. But right away I knew that we could begin some type of ministry to the Verdae community – I just didn’t know what. There were a few thoughts I had in my mind throughout January as I looked into different possibilities. And then the Lord began to clearly open up the perfect spot for us.
It started when I had coffee with a close friend of mine, Player Holland, at Starbucks on January 25th . He asked about the church plant and I filled him in on a number of things. And then I mentioned that we needed to have some type of ministry to the community, but I wasn’t exactly sure what. He thought about it for a minute, and then he said that he always loved visiting retirement communities and asked if there was one in Verdae. I said there was – the Cascades – and that I had actually been thinking about approaching them to see if there was anything we could do. After about 15 minutes of us talking about a ministry to a retirement community – littered with stories from visits he had done in the past – he had me convinced that this was the exact place we needed to pursue!
The next challenge was actually getting a foot in the door with them. I decided to pray about it for a little bit and then to go in and see if there was any way for us to help out at the Cascades. I actually had scheduled myself to go over there on Monday, February 13th.
Well, the night before that we had our regularly scheduled “Core Value Meetings”, and Bill and Shelby Sullivan showed up for the first time. The Sullivan’s were new residents at the Cascades, and at the end of our meeting they said that the Cascades was looking for a church to come in and lead a worship service the third Sunday of each month. They asked if we might be interested, and of course we were. The Lord had been preparing us for this!
The next day, when I had planned to simply walk in over there, I actually received an e-mail from Jermaine Fluker of the Cascades inquiring if we would be able to help them lead this worship service every month. Wow! So instead of me reaching out to them, they actually reached out to us. And I had no doubt that this was the leading of the Lord.
I sat down with Jermaine that week and we got scheduled to begin leading worship the third Sunday of April – which just happened to be Easter Sunday. Oh the wisdom of our God! So in one swift movement from the Lord we had a place to do ministry, a worship service to conduct every month, and a way for interested people to begin plugging into a specific ministry of our church – the seeds of membership. It was truly a special thing to witness.
I must admit, however, that today is a difficult day to write this blog. That is because this past Monday, October 9th, Player Holland passed away at age 30. This is the place where his story intersected with our story – and for some time I had planned for this blog to come out this week. The reason is not because of his passing, only because this is the next major event in our story. And I thought it was neat that this blog would be coming out today because this week has a third Sunday which means that we will be leading worship at the Cascades in three days. I had no idea that it would also be coming out just days after Player’s death.
As I reflect on this part of our story I am thankful. Thankful for the Lord’s leading. Thankful to Bill and Shelby for their integral role in getting us established at the Cascades. Thankful for Jermaine and the Cascades for trusting us, as a new church, to lead worship for them. And thankful for Player whose enthusiasm for this type of ministry was the catalyst for our engagement with them.
We would not be where we are today as a church plant without this opportunity at the Cascades. And I would not have been as prepared for that opportunity without Player’s suggestion back in January. Sure, the Lord could have used another way to prepare me for this ministry. But He didn’t. He determined in His great wisdom to use Player as the catalyst behind our establishment in this work. And I will be eternally grateful for the Lord’s work in Player’s life who will always be a close friend of Verdae Presbyterian Church.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9