A new Journey Begins
Fifteen years ago if you would have asked Michelle and I if we would be starting a church in Hawaii, we would have just walked away. Neither of us were responding well to the call to ministry that the Lord was extending to us before we were married. Fourteen years ago when we submitted to the call, church planting and missions were the last things I wanted from God. Praise the Father that He knows our lives better than we do. On March 20, 2011 Michelle and I put our yes on the table. We could no longer live without following God on a journey that is going to be incredible.
About 18 months ago, the Lord put a stirring in my heart to lead a church. I thought we would lead an established church, but the Lord patiently taught and led me though some hard times of growth. In September of 2010, Michelle said "I don't see you leading a work that is already existing, I see you starting something". I blew off that comment because I did not believe I was qualified. A few weeks later, two close friends shared with me that they would consider helping us with a church plant and that they believed God was leading me to this. I told them to be quiet and not to talk to me about it. As I brought the conversation up to Michelle, she again affirmed what she believed God was doing in my life. So we began to pray and seek the Lord in this. We thought it might be in Lebanon Ohio (where we are currently serving), but the Lord invited someone else into the work. I thought it might be downtown Cincinnati, but the Lord shut down this desire. We prayed toward Hawaii while I was on a trip there with a great team of believers and the Lord affirmed. The fear that I felt was tremendous and almost kept me from following through with my yes. However, the Lord's peace and joy won my heart. On April 7th, I resigned my position and we have begun our journey with the Lord. The Lord has already answered so many prayers and continues to affirm this decision through His people. So here we go!
Why Grace Community Church? Because I believe it describes the desire that the Lord Jesus has placed in my heart for Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Grace - What we have been given! It drives us to see that we can do nothing without Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. We are going to make a ton of mistakes, but we know God's grace is big enough to correct those and lead us. We also recognize that without grace (the Cross) we would not have been invited on this journey, but would be forever condemned in our sin. Without Jesus and the faith that He has given us, my eternal destiny would be hell (Romans 3:10, 23-25, 5:6-10, 6:23).
Community - What we believe that Lord wants us to be, which is a Community of Christ exalting believers that are bound by His spirit and one in our direction. We believe our community should grow from its members and that each member be able to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the talents that the God has equipped us with. When we gather, with one heart, we should proclaim the greatness of God. When we are not near each other, we should pray for and contact each other to care for each other's souls and well being. We are to be one in Christ Jesus and are to dedicate our lives to the Word of God, Fellowship, the Gospel and Prayer (Act 2:41-44).
Church - I have grown to see the true meaning of this word. It is the body of Jesus, in its many parts, put together by Him (Romans 12:4-5) for Him (Colossians 1:16-17). The church is here to proclaim the majesty of Jesus Christ. We exist to represent Jesus to those who are near Him and those who are far from Him (Acts 1:8). We exist to show people that God is magnificent and that He is in-love with them. We exist to be agents of reconciliation within marriages, families, the hurting, the dying and the lost (Micah 6:7-8). We exist to see God show Himself off (Isaiah 26:8) and that our representation of Jesus would be reproduced and sent across the world in that all people are drawn to Jesus as we lift Him up (John 12:32).
We are truly excited about this Journey of Grace Community. We believe God will grow our faith exponentially. Please join us as a prayer partner, a financial supporter or a fellow team member (maybe all three). We hope that you will see the Lord's work through us and be encouraged to join Him also. Here is a prayer list to begin on!
Monthly Funding - About $8100 a month (Hawaii is expensive and we need to be wise on how we use this money)
Initial Start up - About $35000. Much of this will be out of our pocket since we are selling our cars and house. Hopefully this will come quickly and allow us to prep the work from here in Lebanon Ohio and get to Hawaii soon.
Other Team Members - We believe that God is calling other people to be part of this work in Hawaii. Please pray that we will connect with people God is inviting to this work and that we will have the same vision and passion.
For relationships in Kaneohe - Pray that our team can build relationships with those that do not follow Jesus. We desire many to follow Christ and enjoy Him forever.
For our family - One of the greatest challenges to missions is family. We want to show our children God and for our extended family to love God more through this. Michelle and I also want to lead our family well and not forsake the calling to parenthood that God has given us.
To be debt free - Michelle and I are close to being debt free. We need this bondage removed to allow our family to live on little and give much. We also believe that our church is to live this way and not put itself in a place of bondage by borrowing money for the work of God.
For Christ to be Exalted - What He has called us tos. He is worth any sacrifice, struggle, praise and prayer. I hope that we can transmit His glory to others.
Finally, God has lead me to this thought - "It is hard to see our need for Him when we put ourselves in places that our strength and understanding can be used. It seems that when we go on journeys that we cannot rely on self, God shows Himself to be worth it all. We need God right now!" Simply, when we are put in a place where we need God, we start looking for Him and He shows up and shows off. We always want to see our need for Him and not lean on our own understanding!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Lead Pastor Shawn Peoples (man that sounds awesome, thank you Jesus!)