To our brothers and sisters in Lexington (and wherever else these words might travel!), may our Master Jesus’ grace and peace be yours in ever increasing measure! We have found Him to be so good, providing for us everything we need at just the right time. We hope you will find encouragement in this brief update.
As many of you know, we took Gavin’s challenge in early 2014 very seriously, and we prayed for the Lord to show us specific things He wanted us to do in that year for His Kingdom. He answered us very clearly! In response to His clear leading, we engaged with the local churches in our community in an attempt to partner with them in spreading the Kingdom here in Pendleton county, KY. There are 49 churches here that proclaim the name of Christ, and we reached out to each one. We personally know pastors at three of these local congregations, and we reached out to those men in a more direct fashion. We also reached out directly to the community as a whole to try to engage the interested and willing in a conversation about what it means to be the Church in this time and place.
As you may remember from previous updates (2013, 2014), we had almost no response! We connected with one local man who wanted to check up on what we were doing and then grind a few sociopolitical axes with us — and that was it! The traditional church community was absolutely silent, even the men who we know personally. This was not completely unexpected, as we had been counseled by a pastor friend from a different community to expect little response. Of course, some of the fault for this lack of response must be borne by us, as we are not world-class communicators and probably did not do all that could be done. Nonetheless, we know that our Message is world-class, and His grandeur shines through our humblest, feeblest efforts.
I suppose many lessons could be drawn from this experience, and I am sure the Spirit will lead us into the Truth in increasing measure, as we have need of it. For now, I know that we were faithful to do what the Lord had commanded. And in 2015 we felt a great release to strike out on our own and begin creating communities where Jesus might be lifted up and His life might be central. We had had the idea for a little while of starting some sort of community computer gaming club at the local library, with a focus on kids and their families, and this is the first thing we started, in January. We had a record turnout for our first meeting, and involvement in the club has been strong since then. This month we will be setting aside time to spend with the moms and dads while the kids play, so we can begin building relationships with these families and let the great Light that enlivens us shine out on them.
Through this all, all of 2014 and these first few weeks of 2015, we have been cultivating our connection with the Lord, strengthening our connection to the Vine, and finding His Life so rich and fulfilling. We have been learning to rest in Him and find our all in Him and live out from His strength and not our own, and we have been practicing this sort of life and finding it every bit as abundant as we have always heard it was supposed to be. And this has been wonderful! Our Lord is truly all and in all, and all we are and have is in Him and because of Him. And it is out of the overflow of this deep, wide, wonderful, excessive expanse of Love and Life that we deeply desire to share with everyone we meet the depth and wonder and riches of His great peace and joy.
And, from this place of resting in Him, an interesting thing occurred. We were faithful in doing what He asked — and in not doing the hundred other things we felt maybe we ought to be doing, and instead just resting in Him — and then His Spirit moved in the way only He can and mercy after mercy was poured out on us. In the period of about 10 days, the following occurred:
● We got connected with an old high school friend of Jeff’s brother, who is hungry for the Lord but not sure where to turn next. He is not connected with any local Body in his area, and he is not far from us, so we will be meeting with him and encouraging him to start looking for disciples in his area. His girlfriend does not yet follow Jesus, and we’re looking forward to seeing how He wants us to introduce the two of them.
● Jeff’s brother was looking for Christian community in Hong Kong, where he was about to move. He traveled from Hong Kong to Colorado to attend a men’s conference and met two men at the conference who lead Christian ministries in Hong Kong. How is that even possible? Only God.
● A pastor friend of ours was contacted by a family who have grown children in Falmouth who are looking to reconnect with “church” after being away from it for a number of years. They had a bad experience just recently with a legalistic religious group, and so have been twice-burned by institutional church. He directed them to us as “people with creative ways of communicating the Gospel message”. We were able to connect with them and are waiting for an opportunity this spring to meet with them and start introducing them to the abundant life of following Christ and being and belonging to His Body.
● A brother and sister in South Carolina have been wrestling with isolation and a real dearth of any like-minded community. They have been planted in a rural part of the state and have left family and friends to do so. In an Internet search one day, this brother found a comment on a blog post that Jeff had made and was able to get connected with us through that. We’ve had a few encouraging phone calls with one another, and are looking forward to a face-to-face visit with them later this spring.
● Jeff’s work recently moved him to the night shift. At first this seemed a hardship, but it has turned out to be an incredible blessing, as we are able to spend the days together as a family, and Jeff and Darah are able to conduct the boys’ schooling with more of a team approach than before.
● As the overnight emergency responder for a local plumbing company, Jeff has the opportunity to interact with folks in their time of crisis and be a point of peace in the midst of the chaos. One recent morning at 4:30 am, Jeff was able to respond to our sister Emily Coates’s plumbing emergency! We knew she was moving to our area but sort of lost track of each other. Now, through God’s goodness, we’re connected and looking forward to getting together and seeing how we can be an ongoing source of encouragement for one another as we seek to expand the Kingdom in northern Kentucky.
● One of Jeff’s cousins, who we have not spoken to in many years, recently called us out of the blue saying she had been encouraged to call us for “some good advice”. It turns out she has been wrestling with cocaine addiction for 20 years and is trying to turn her life around. We’ve been able to share with her the great secret we have for battling addictions of all kinds — Christ in us! We’re working to help her get into a rehab program and get connected with Christ-centered recovery groups in her area. God is unbelievably good!
● Through her job at the local library, Darah is able to meet and interact with many different people from our community. She recently met a couple other local homeschooling moms, and we’re excited to see those relationships deepen and grow.
Wow! And all of this came about 100% through the operation of the Spirit and the effort of the Lord. We did nothing to draw any of these folks to us or initiate these connections. And we have entered into each of them with a sense of holy awe, realizing that we are not sufficient in ourselves to meet any need or help any hurt, and rather fully confident in the provision of our great God! We are simply the servants who have the joyous responsibility of telling these folks about the Master and how, for everyone who will come to Him and lay down their shattered tatters of a life, He has made available in exchange His never-ending cornucopic one.
And this is just the beginning. There is so much more in store for us all, just around the corner. As our brother Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Look to Him and live! Look to Him and find abundant, undying life — the only life worth living. We hope you are encouraged by what we see Him doing here in Pendleton county. We look forward to hearing reports from all over of what He is doing in, around, and through you.
Further up and further in!
Jeff and Darah Herron