As my wife and I made the decision to stay another two years and serve in Atlanta, we found ourselves in a sticky situation with the Decatur church plant happening. We live approximately .9 miles from downtown Decatur and approximately 4.3 miles from the Old Fourth Ward campus. The East Atlanta missional community that we were a part of was slowly shifting to Grant Park. People were buying homes in that area and moving out of the latter. We had been at our current home for 4 years. Although we were renting it, some of our fondest memories in Atlanta were there. In a time of infertility the Lord had graciously granted us our wildest dreams; not one but two daughters. We saw small groups become missional communities, three months of sharing the gospel with the door-to-door Mormons, various conversations with neighbors, seeing a friend leave the faith [still praying], and watching friends grow in the faith, among other things.
It was a difficult decision but we knew that we wanted to be more intentional with our missional community and as close as we could be to the main campus. The only problem was that rent would double while our income wouldn’t. We began to pray that the Lord would provide after each promising Craig’s List ad resulted in a dead end. Four months later, one of those dead Craig’s List ads called us back and told us it was back on the market. Did I mention this place was perfect? Things moved quickly and before we knew it, we found out we were moving, packed, moved, rented our old house, found a roommate [thus reducing rent to a more manageable rate] within 6 days. Did I mention we didn’t rent a U-haul? 40 or so trips later, we regretted it.
As we moved into our new community, I became increasingly aware of all the garage doors and how difficult it would be to meet our neighbors. Three weeks later, we still hadn’t met anyone. Finally, one day our neighbor came out on his balcony and met my wife. They chatted, our girls said “hi” and we didn’t hear from him again. A few days later, he emerged and I was able to meet him. We small talked, his wife came out. They were smart; real smart. World travelers. She is an economist and he does something with corporations to help them work more effectively. I told him I was a pastor and we also were wedding photographers as well.
“We should have you over for dessert some time,” he quipped.
“We would love that,” I responded.
[Side note; worst place to leave a conversation. Nothing is set in stone, meaning it will never happen. Especially if garage doors are involved.]
“How does tomorrow night at 7:30 look for you?” I asked.
We came back inside and laughed. Ironic that I had been studying Acts 17 all week? Ironic that I had read sermons, articles, and commentary about sharing the gospel with intellectuals. No. We prayed for them and secured a babysitter for the following evening.
We prayed again the next day and then again before we went. We had a great time. We talked about everything: North Korea, religion, mysticism, the Czech Republic, communism, capitalism, consumer debt, community, and a lot of other things.
We weaved pieces of our faith throughout the conversation. I was surprised at how how easy it was and how comfortable we were. We saw the Lord answer prayer and it was amazing. Where is the relationship going? I don't know. All I can do is keep praying for them. It was so incredible to see how the Lord had been preparing my heart all week for this one situation. It stirred our faith and confirmed just how much God had sovereignly set up the details.
Don't overlook the details and how our sovereign King will use them. Continue to pray to be a part of what he is doing around you and don't be too busy to make time for any adventures he may throw your way.
Before we went to our neighbors', our prayer sounded like this;
“God, you are sovereign. It’s not by accident that you have set this up. Give us grace and courage to be bold and consistent. Please empower us with your Holy Spirit. We rely solely on you. We are not looking for results. We pray that you would draw _____ & ______ to yourself and show them their need for you. We can’t do this and we need your help. Help us to be who ____ & _______ need us to be in order to see you. We are honored that you would bring us along side your work and ask that we would be faithful. “