When Jesus burst onto the scene, he did so with a dramatic announcement. "The Kingdom of God is at hand!" Did you get that? Did you catch that? He said it was "at hand!" Not somewhere over the rainbow or just over the other hill on the other side of eternity. He said...Right Here! Right Now!
It's so close you can almost touch it!
It breaks into your life, each and every day!
The Kingdom shows up and screws up our status quo!
The Kingdom is the space in which God gets His way in the world! It's a space where peace reigns, where justice if offered to the weak and vulnerable, where addictions are shattered, where marriages are healed, where the unlovely are embraced. It's the space where God's grace is doled out without limit! It's the space where messy broken sinners can have their lives turned upside-down and inside-out...and become, well, NEW!
And it's at hand...isn't that crazy!
I am just silly enough to believe this. In fact, it is the driving announcement of my existence! When the Kingdom erupted in my life, I heard a voice calling me out of the "gunk" of messy living! At age 25, I was made a new man! And not only did the voice call me out of something...it called me into something else. For the last 13 years of my life, I've been attempting to follow faithfully that voice into that Kingdom life, that life on mission here and now. To make a difference in the world...here and now...for Jesus!
On June 15th, I heard that voice calling me to Pekin, Illinois! For the Starks, the next chapter in Kingdom Living meant leaving a community we'd come to love, saying good-bye to friends that have loved us well, and taking a leap of faith to follow this calling to BridgeWay Community Church! The same voice that had called us out of the "gunk", the same voice that called me into Kingdom Service, was the same voice that said, "Join the fine people at BridgeWay, listen, learn, lead, love, and live out MY mission in this new context!" And we said, "Yes!"
We are humbled by the invitation to join this growing, thriving expression of God's church! We feel that God has been wiring us for an opportunity such as this! The mission, the passion for reproduction, the leadership development, the willingness to get hands dirty and messy...these were only a few components that pricked our hearts when the call came. Now we have the opportunity to join Jesus in what he's doing in Pekin, Morton, Tremont, Mackinaw, Bloomington Normal, Peoria, East Peoria, and all other surrounding areas.
We are eager to get "boots on ground" and begin our ministry there at BW. I can't thank the BW congregation enough for their vote of confidence. Throughout the coming days, I will be blogging so that perhaps the BW crew can get to know us a bit better before we arrive in a few weeks.
Please feel free to contact us on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I look forward to hearing from you and meeting you soon.