Called out of comfort
Called out of comfort
In June, my wife Alex and I welcomed our second son, Amos, into the world. Having another child is such a gift and for many reasons, a…
In June, my wife Alex and I welcomed our second son, Amos, into the world. Having another child is such a gift and for many reasons, a miracle that our family doesn’t take for granted. When he was three weeks old and I was on paternity leave from the church, we were in full nesting mode. For months leading up to the birth, we prepared everything. The house was in order, the rooms ready for the new baby and the slow season of welcoming in this new life. Alex had prepared frozen meals so we wouldn’t need to worry about cooking, and we were set up for a summer of rest and simplicity.
One day, I heard a familiar voice on a drive. I heard the Lord say to me, “Move and sell your home.” What? This was not something I had anticipated. We had bought our first home 18 months earlier and were set to anchor ourselves for a long time in the local community. There were good schools for the kids and friendly neighbours. It had safe, manicured streets and parks and largely enclosed backyards. It wasn’t the part of the city we had lived in for the six years prior while planting our church, but it was the area you move into to raise kids.
When God said to move back to our old neighbourhood and sell our home, I was honestly hoping that it wouldn’t resonate with Alex. I brought it to her, and after some thought, she said “I think it’s the Lord. Let’s do it.” So, with a three-week-old, a three-year-old and Alex recovering from a Caesarean Section, we began the process of finding a house to rent, and selling our home to move back into our old neighbourhood; to be obedient to the invitation from the Lord.
This was not an easy transition for many reasons. The process of finding a rental home to fit our family’s needs in an impacted city, changing our three-year-old’s preschool, showing our home with two little ones and little sleep and packing up everything we owned was incredibly stressful. But we experienced so much grace and peace from the Lord through the process. We found peace and favour in the difficult obedience, in the sacrifice of dreams and plans. However, I didn’t fully understand the why until our home sold and we moved.
So much of what I believe in as a pastor of a local church is an incarnational, missional ministry. I feel strongly that you must live and immerse yourself in a community to reach that community. Although we lived just a few miles away, that distance had a significant impact on how we were leading our church and city.
The house we moved from was in a suburban neighbourhood, with a lot of privacy. Neighbours were much more distant. We couldn’t walk to coffee shops, restaurants or grocery stores. We spent a lot of our time inside our home and in our car. The way the suburban neighbourhood was designed didn’t allow for encounters with strangers in our community, with the homeless, with the broken and lost people in our city who were longing for Jesus. Since we have moved, we are experiencing a whole new level of incarnational ministry.
Every day we can share our faith with our community and bless those who need money, food or just some coffee and a conversation. Our three-year-old son carries coins and dollars from his piggy-bank to pass out to friends without homes on our morning walk. We started a house church and it’s flooded with new relationships and people opening their lives to a different way of living. A new way marked by intimacy, vulnerability, compassion, power and sharing resources to ensure there are no needs among us. Every day we are welcoming friends, neighbours and strangers into our home and life in a way we weren’t before. Every day we are intentionally in contact with the broken and hurting in our city, rather than hiding behind our closed doors and high garden fences.
The church is not meant to get cosy and comfortable or settle down. The church is called to be a revolution that invites others into the way of Jesus. We need to rearrange our lives and lifestyles around Jesus of Nazareth. He comes to teach us how to live, and if we learn from him, if we obey him, he will take us on an adventure.
I was attached to a home, a financial investment and security, to a lifestyle known as the ‘American Dream’. Now, as we have changed locations, sacrificed our plans at the altar of God, uprooted ourselves and our comforts to engage this city in a new way, I wouldn’t have it any other way. What we’ve gained is immeasurable. The Kingdom has come and is coming. I want to align my life, my family, my money, my gifts, talents, resources, schedule, time, hobbies and future around this Kingdom reality breaking in! No matter what the cost.
Darren Rouanzoin leads the Garden Church in Long Beach, California. He is leading the Bible Teaching in the Arena at United 18, Week 1, 28 July — 3 August 2018.