For the longest time, I felt disconnected with people at church. While I hungered and thirsted for God, it seemed like others didn’t; people were comfortable and complacent. So, I began questioning whether I could grow at Pathway Community Church (PCC). Is there something wrong with the church? Or with me? I talked this over with a friend, and I decided I need to take action. I was tired of not growing spiritually – so that meant either leave PCC and find a new church or stay and be a catalyst for change.
December, 2011, I attended a missions conference where Francis Chan shared that revival begins with humility. That first night, I could not sleep. I realized that I was prideful to think that people at church weren’t hungry for God. I confessed my sin, repented of my judgmental attitude, and sought His forgiveness.
The next day, Francis Chan challenged us to surrender and obey God; then, on the third day, to be a catalyst of change. He shared the story about Jonathan and the armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14. Though the odds were not in King Saul’s favor, Jonathan trusted that God would help them. While King Saul and his men were hiding, Jonathan and the armor bearer came out of their hiding place and killed 20 men. Then God took care of the rest: He shook the earth and the enemies trembled in fear. Victory!
At the end of the night, Francis Chan called those who wanted to be “Jonathans” to come forward. I told God, “No. I don’t want to stay at my church. It’s so hard. I want to be a part of another that’s growing so I don’t have to exert so much time and energy.” God tugged at my heart, “Be a Jonathan.” Out of obedience, I walked up to the front and knelt to commit myself to God.
When I got there, God so moved me that I started weeping; I wept so desperately that I gasped for air. I could feel the physical presence of the Holy Spirit on me as a heavy burden on my back; my whole body began to shake, and it tingled with mini electric shocks. I never experienced God in this way before, but God was so very clearly speaking to me. He wanted me to stay at my church. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)” A sister laid her hands on me while I was weeping and shaking. She waited for me to finish crying before praying with me. As she prayed, God reminded me that He has walked with me and will continue to be with me as I become a Jonathan for my church. I am not alone.
After coming back to PCC from the missions conference, God confirmed my decision to stick with my church. I heard my pastor describe the vision for the church, I agreed with where the leadership saw Pathway heading, and I felt like we were on the same page. I was excited to see change, and I wanted to help my church grow. Compared to where I was previously, God completely turned my attitude around.
One month later, I saw the missions lead position advertised in the church bulletin (the same one I had previously declined), and I wondered if this was where God wanted me to serve. I had no experience leading missions, nor did I feel qualified, but I asked some brothers and sisters to pray for God’s leading. I only wanted to be obedient. During that time, my quiet times and church messages all pointed toward taking a step of faith. I even encouraged a young sister in Christ to take a step of faith. It was as if I were telling myself to have faith! But I didn’t know if I had enough faith to be the missions leader, and I lacked experience. Then God asked, “Are you willing?” and a few weeks later, I stepped out as a Jonathan by becoming the missions leader at PCC.
It would have been great if that’s all it took to make change happen. But, months passed, and I didn’t do much. Even though I had a passion for missions and many hopes for my church, I felt alone, and I struggled a lot. Finally, 6 months later in August 2012, I decided I really needed help. An experienced friend gave me two simple steps to follow: first, form a committee, and second, formulate a vision statement. So, I made an announcement at church, personally invited people, and started praying. We now have a missions committee of three people, and we are currently working on our vision statement!
I am amazed at how God has changed my heart attitude from selfish to obedient. I look forward to how God will shape the church and grow me as a leader. God is bigger than we can ever imagine or hope, and He able to work when we are willing. I hope you will consider how God is calling you, and I hope you are willing. God wants your whole heart so that He can do something amazing.
Photo by Nathan Chang