From Point A To Point B
Buckle up, because I have big news. The Harvest Community Church is getting ready to move! Here’s the scoop: when The Harvest was started, the founding vision was to help meet the practical needs of people in a high poverty community, while personally connecting them with the God Who created them, and loves them. Over the past twelve years, we’ve had the privilege of carrying out that vision through ministries such as a neighborhood food bank, a free health clinic, after school programs, job training services, family counseling, short-term missions trips, youth programs, children’s ministry, Vacation Bible School, weekly bible studies, and Sunday morning worship services - all in a high-poverty, underserved community in west Tulsa.
However, in 2018, our city received a federal grant to remove the low income housing in the neighborhood where our church has been meeting, and replace it with middle-to-upper income housing. The result is that, over the past two years, the neighborhood that we have loved and served since 2008 has been slowly emptied, and the buildings torn down. As a result of these changes, our church made the decision to relocate to another high-poverty community in Tulsa so that we can continue our mission of serving folks who live on the margins of our world, and who are so often neglected and overlooked because of their poverty.
As a church, we’ve spent the past two years praying for God’s direction, and earlier this summer, we sensed Him leading us towards a new community in Tulsa. We became aware of a church building which was for sale, and has been vacant for several months. It’s located in a community with high poverty, and very few resources. Although the building is over 50 years old, it’s in relatively good condition, and will be a great fit for the ministry we feel God calling us to do. We will be able to continue our food bank, youth programs, family services, and worship services, while also reaching out to a new community in great need.
As I’ve been pondering and praying over this move, I’ve been reminded of the fact that one of the realities of being a follower of Christ is that it requires us to move. I guess that really shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us though, because if we’re going to call ourselves “followers”, that implies we’re going to be moving, because we can't really stay still and follow at the same time.
I know this isn't a new idea for many of us, because we're regularly taught that our walk with Christ is a “journey”. So, in a broad sense, we’re used to thinking of our spiritual lives as involving movement. But more often than not, we consider it only in terms of internal movement or growth. So we think of our “moving” as going from our old, sinful selves, to becoming more like Christ. It’s a spiritual journey of transformation, as we become more patient, or gentle, or kind, or loving, as we allow the Holy Spirit to develop His Fruit in us.
But while this kind of movement is obviously very important, the other reality is that a life of following Christ often includes physical movement as well. And I think that's because sometimes God has to change our physical surroundings in order to get us to change internally. Probably the best example we see of this is when God moved the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. When the Israelites left Egypt, they did so without knowing exactly where God was leading, or how He was going to get them there - they simply left, committed to serving God.
Then, as God moved them, He made Himself known to them in new ways. With each move, the Israelites were required to trust God more and more for His provision, not only to lead them to the next spot, but also to provide for them along the way. The result was that they changed their understanding of God and how He wanted them to live. So the “external" move created the “internal” change God desired.
It's a pattern that shows up throughout the Bible - from Abraham, to Joseph, to the Apostles. The Christian life is made up of movement because it’s often how God opens us up to what He wants to do in our lives. I know I’ve seen that in my own walk with God, and I’ve seen it in the life of our church. God moved us so that we would be more open to being the kind of church He wants us to be. And I’m confident that will happen in our new location, as God uses our new setting to open us up to new people, and new situations and new opportunities to trust Him. As believers, the key for each of us as is to stay open to what God might be doing in our lives, and to trust Him to provide all that we need as we follow Him.
The good news is that God has promised to do just that. The Apostle Paul drives this point home in Philippians 4:19, where he writes, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” God calls us to move and follow Him, but that comes with the promise that He will provide all that we need as we step out in faith.
I know that for some of you this might not seem like a particularly relevant topic today because you don't sense God calling you to leave your home, or job, and physically move somewhere else. But the truth is, God is always calling us to “move” for Him - whether it's as simple as moving across a room to talk to someone, or moving off the couch to volunteer at a local ministry. God wants us up and moving so that He can be at work through us, and in us. So today, let's commit to following God - no matter where He calls us, or what He calls us to do. And as we move, let's allow Him to provide all that we need so that the world around us will see that we still have an active God, who is faithful to fulfill His promises to those who follow Him.