Here We Go…
First of all, I love you all. My hope is to do a monthly post with some stories, prayer needs, and ministry updates. This first one is kinda long because I’m touching on 3 things. First, a quick thousand foot view of what the ministry I’m involved with looks like. Second, a quick personal update. And lastly, some ministry stories and updates… Enjoy
WHAT WE DO
Although I unpack some of the heart behind what we do in ministry on this site, the day-to-day stuff is a little confusing. But really, what we’re trying to do is plant a multiplying Gospel in new places in KC by trying to find open veins of relationships (the Gospel has always traveled through networks of relationships). We have found, through God’s specific leading, that there are certain relational epicenters where tons of veins flow from, and one of those is county jail. It’s a place where tons of people are centrally located and it’s an incredibly unique place spiritually. Although there’s plenty of darkness, there’s also a ton of people there hitting rock bottom and asking different questions than they ever have before. This makes it a fertile mission field to make disciples as well as an awesome environment to train up new harvest workers (Luke 10:3).
We partner with a jail ministry named Gracious Promise. Under that banner I go into The Johnson County Jails a couple times a week. While there we look to find “Persons of Peace” (Luke 10) who are spiritually open and who would potentially be open to grabbing other guys to do a Discovery Bible Study. We follow up with facilitators, disciple inside leaders, and form mentoring relationships.
Another unique thing about Jail is that often people are there for a short amount of time and then go home. Connecting in jail, therefore, is actually strategic when it comes to reaching new networks in the city (which is the main vision behind what we’re trying to do). We try to connect with people as they get out by having them plug in immediately to a gathering we have on Saturday mornings (called ‘Share the Hope’) – it’s basically a church service meets a support group (so stinkin amazing). Then we try to either gather people together in Discovery Bible Studies, or start new ones with their friends/family. It’s very fluid… and fun :).
Basically we have 2 main types of ‘programs.’ First, Discovery Groups: simple, reproducible groups focused on discovering and obeying God’s Word. Second, our Gatherings (basically, a simple church group focused on community, prayer, and loving one another). Currently we have 4 gatherings of some kind, 2 on the outside and 2 in halfway houses.
And it’s ever-changing, completely messy, and somehow really fun. God is moving and we’re just trying to keep up.
HOW WE’RE FEELING…
- Feeling incredibly Content and Purposeful. It’s been a while since I can remember feeling so sure that I’m where God wants me to be, and used in such a way that is consistent with the gifts and calling he gave me. The past few months of getting fully fundraised (almost there!) and transitioned has been nuts, but we know we’re where God has called us.
- Feeling Humbled that you all would join me in this calling. It’s been so amazing meeting with people, chatting with old friends and ministry partners, and getting a team together. Truly, I see our financial and prayer partners as a team. And this team is definitely Varsity 🙂
- Feeling the Favor of God right now. We’re pumped for our new daughter due in just a few weeks. We believe God has called us to name her “Hannah”, which means Favored by God.
*Seeing Fruit from relationships made in Jail and seeing a couple new Discovery Groups started in the last couple of weeks
I meet a lot of people in jail. Sometimes I pour into people for a long time, other times I meet someone once before they come and join our Saturday group. It’s been fun seeing some initial fruit of those relationships…
One of those is a guy named Chris. When I first met him he was just discovering Jesus in one of the inside Discovery Groups going on. His wife just got pregnant, and we prayed together and sought Scripture together for him and his family. As he grew in his relationship with the Lord, God made a way for his charges to be dropped, and he was home… but he was a different person. Jail wasn’t just a holding cell for him, it was a divine timeout. God placed him there so Chris could encounter Jesus… and he did. Now, he is around, working full time, and loving on his brand new baby. But what’s so cool is to see how badly he wants his wife to meet Jesus too. When we started a new Discovery Group at Panera a couple weeks ago, he brought his whole family. When we passed out our Discovery Group bookmarks (we use the acronym ‘SOAP’ for our discovery groups), I heard him turn to his wife and say, “SOAP, this is how I first got to know Jesus.” Praise God. That’s how it works. Discovery Bible Studies are simple and reproducible, and just as Chris met the Lord in that way, now he can replicate it so his network of people can also discover Jesus. Awesome.
And man, as we talked about the passage when 2 friends lower a paralytic through the roof to get to Jesus, Chris had some cool things to say. When we asked the question, “What does this passage tell us about God/Jesus?” he began to preach it. In some pretty cool emotion he began to talk about how faithful Jesus was to him, and that he was blown away that Jesus was so near to him in his brokenness. In tears he proclaimed, “Jesus had my back… ain’t nobody ever had my back like Jesus does.” In a world that so easily uses and discards people, Chris met a Jesus who didn’t do that to him. And man, his gratefulness just overflows when he speaks.
- We’ve had some funky relational drama in our group. Pray for peace. Pray for reconciliation between people. When church gatherings are made up of emotionally healthy people, there’s drama…. so when church gatherings are made up of people who are emotionally unhealthy, the drama gets cray. Pray for God to shield us from really damaging conflict.
- I’ve seen in the last few weeks some of the most overt Spiritual attach and oppression I’ve ever seen (ask me about it next time you see me. Someday I’ll write about a demonic encounter we had recently, but I figured it wasn’t really first newsletter material 🙂 ) Pray for protection, but more than that pray for darkness to be revealed. We have Jesus, and he ain’t no passive God. We’re on offense here.
- Pray for new grounds in ministry. I’m always looking to empower new people to start new groups in new areas. The only way the Gospel will saturate this city is that we see more and more disciples empowered to make more and more disciples.
Thanks everyone! It’s been a trip, but it’s exciting to get up and running!
Cory and Suz