In January 2020, we launched a two-year pastoral leadership residency program. The goal and prayer of the program was that God would use Journey to raise up future church leaders and that young leaders would come from all over the country with the heart to learn and study ministry to gain hands-on experience and practical leadership coaching.
We had a vision of what the program would look like. However, I was not prepared for God to bless us with the caliber of residents He has sent our way. We are humbled, grateful, and proud of the quality of residents God has blessed us with.
I am grateful to have a front-row seat to see how God is using our residents.
Over the past month, our two female residents, Katie Karp and Brooke Renfroe, began to love and minister to a first-time visitor who showed up in our high school ministry named Mia. Mia made it clear from the outset that she was an atheist. The residents weren’t discouraged the least to love on their new spiritually homeless friend. Together, they prayed and looked for opportunities to share the love of God with her.
After several weeks of pursuing Mia with God’s love and kindness, God seemed to answer our resident’s prayers more than they imagined. This past weekend at our 9:30 service in Apopka, Mia gave her life to Christ and got baptized. Mia went on to say, “after she put her trust in Jesus, she felt like she could really breathe for the first time in her life.”
As if that wasn’t good enough, she got baptized with her older sister, Peyton. As Peyton was getting baptized, she said something that stood out to me. She shared that she’s be wanting to get right with God for a while but didn’t think she was good enough to do so. What an honest and yet heartbreaking thought that too many of us have thought or currently think. Through tears of joy and gratitude, both Mia and Peyton got baptized as sisters and now as sisters in Christ.
Let me pause there. If you share the thought that you desire to get right with God but believe you aren’t good enough to do so just yet, let me be clear. You don’t clean up before you come to God; you come to God just as you are PERIOD! God knows all about you and still welcomes you. That’s why we call it amazing grace. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. If you’d like to take a next step toward God but feel inadequate, I encourage you to reach out to us; we’d love to help you take your next steps toward God. Maybe, your next step is to follow these young ladies and get baptized. On February 28th we are having Baptism Sunday. This will be a special day of baptisms. If you are interested in getting baptized on Baptism Sunday, you can get more details and register by following this link: https://journeychristian.com/baptism/.
Back to the baptisms this past weekend. To top it all off, it was our two residents, Brooke and Katie, that got to baptize those two sisters. As I watched in amazement as this beautiful story unfolded before me, I watched as our other two residents stood and cheered their fellow residents as they baptized those two girls. Their excitement led the way to a standing ovation from the whole congregation. What a beautiful picture of the church; to see people giving their lives to Christ, young leaders that are in training shepherding them, and the church cheering them on every step of the way. That’s one of many reasons why I love Journey.
God has used our residents and is currently using our residents to impact our community. But what’s even more exciting is that they are learning how to do ministry for a lifetime. What we are seeing is just a glimpse of what God is going to do in and through them, and we get to both equip them and send them. What an honor.
We currently have four residents and are on track to add two more residents in June. We actually have more residents trying to get into the program than we have available host homes to house them. If you have the gift of hospitality and a spare bedroom, would you prayerfully consider being a host home for a future resident? All of our residents are solid believers with a calling to work in ministry. If you are interested or would like more information, please feel free to reach out to Sarah Stephens firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am absolutely loving the Journey,
Associate Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church