A little over 4 years ago God began to stir something in my heart that was somewhat unexplainable. I was in Miami Florida visiting some friends who had planted a church down there. During this time my friends and other core people of this church plant began to bounce ideas off of me and were seeking guidance for a situation that was far from my expertise. But through these conversations God began to develop something within my heart for the church-planting world. I remember sitting in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale tore up about what I felt could be a calling to go and start a church. Where? I had no clue. Why me? I was lost there also, but God was very clear when it came to church planting. I was going to do this. During this moment as I was about to begin boarding the plane I received a call from Kevin Campbell who I had been doing college and youth ministry with during this time back in Georgia. I remember his words like it was yesterday, “How do you feel after your visit?” Not knowing what he was asking but hoping my inkling was right, I asked him “what do you mean?” And he said, “about church planting.” I knew from that point on Kevin and I would begin this journey of a lifetime. We began meeting and planning our next steps to move to a very heavily populated city of unchurched people, which has now become Elevate Church in San Diego California. During our time here in Southern California we have experienced the emotional roller coaster called “Church Planting.” But it has been such an unbelievable experience throughout the last couple years we have been here.
I say all of this and prepare you with the precise background on how we got here to say this. My wife (Kelly) and I will be leaving San Diego and Elevate Church at the end of this month. Those are probably the hardest words I have typed so far in my 28 years of existence. It is beyond words why Kelly and I would give up by far besides our marriage the greatest opportunity of our lives. But at the end of the day about 6 months ago God began preparing in me a departure from the very thing he called me to. We have invested in more than we can number, we have seen so many come to Christ because of this movement. We have watched many enter the waters of baptism and begin a walk in new life. We have seen two locations that were never built to be worship facilities erupt in worship. We have had some great times and have endured some hard times, but one thing is for sure we have always followed what God had led and He has been faithful every step of the way. We have to trust even if we don’t understand that God has a plan in us leaving, not just for us but also for Elevate Church.
When I think about this situation and try to dissect it more than I should, I am reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac. Way before God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, the bible says in Genesis 15:6 “He credited him as righteousness” because of his faith. God would never have asked Abraham to prove his faith if he didn’t establish his faith in the first place. And I believe just like Abraham God began establishing my faith at the age of 18 when I first felt called into the ministry for a day like today. We will never get a grip on God and the plans he has in store for us and I don’t think that we are meant to. For example if I would have know that I would be returning home only close to two years after moving out here, I may have never made it. I would like to think I would have still came, but that is just something I am not totally sure of. But I came and it has made me a better man and husband to my wife, a better pastor to Gods calling and a more open heart to what God has next.
For those who are wondering Kevin and I are closer than ever and it is hard to think about doing ministry with anyone other than him. I don’t have another job lined up or a better opportunity! It is seriously and merely a leap of faith and something God has called. I will be returning to school when we arrive back into Atlanta where I will pursue and finish my degree. Something I do know is that school is a huge part of us coming back but where God leads from there is going to be an exciting and incredible adventure. I hope and pray where ever we end up we will be able to be apart of a movement like Elevate Church where we will exist solely on seeing people far from God become passionate followers of Him. And hopefully we will always surround ourselves with the unchurched, the broken, the sick, and the poor where Kelly and I will be a light of Jesus that helps change the world one person at a time.
We love everyone who has believed in us and has been apart of this journey with us. Thank you Kevin Campbell and Elevate Church for your gracious loving support, and impact on the foundation of our marriage and our lives. We will continue carrying out the vision in which God has laid on this church here and to the outer most parts of the world!
Think big Live Loud