In August of 2006 I received a phone call from a fast talking Yankee who claimed he was in Kansas and interested in Laura, Beckham and I moving out there to minister alongside him and another Yankee. After I hung up, I asked Laura where Kansas was. She thought it was right above Tennessee. Seemed right to me.
We never wanted to leave Texas, but we visited Redeemer and quite frankly it was love at first sight. We kept hearing the phrase, “covenant community.” And while we were pondering what this meant, they were showing us in the way the people loved each other and went out of their way to serve each other. I’ve seen community on paper listed in theory many times, but seeing it in person was an altogether different experience. On October 2nd, 2006, we arrived in this strange place excited to minister to the families and youth of Redeemer.
Over the past 6 1/2 years we’ve watched so many awkward junior high students grow into wonderful young men and women. We’ve walked alongside families assisting discipleship in whatever way we could. We’ve prayed for and with our brothers and sisters in Christ on this common journey of sanctification. We’ve experienced life with this local congregation of amazing people. Kansas became home.
Somewhere along the way, we realized that many of our students were leaving for college and not finding a local church body to be a part of. We’ve heard their stories and with so many students headed out to Kansas State University, we began praying for God to build up a church that would nurture them and give them a place to serve and grow to love the Church, both local and universal.
We’ve witness the Austins and Pattersons come out of RUF ministry and get involved in the local church and this gave us a vision for what could be for Harriet, Sam, Chris, Aaron, Morgan, Jonathan, Mich, Andria, Chris, Mark, Robbie, Katie, Sarah, Seth, David, Josh, Matt, Ben, Rudy and so many more who are now or could be spending their college years in Manhattan, Kansas.
So some time ago Laura and I began praying about this. We began to feel God’s call on our lives to be the means He used for what we had been praying for so many years. We learned more about this medium-sized city, 2 hours west from KC, in the middle of Kansas and started to love it. We talked about it with the Shanahans and Dunnings. Prayers continued, and in May of 2012, Laura and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to be assessed for Church Planting with our denomination. It was a great time of encouragement and things continued to slowly progress.
I’ll spare you all the details, and jump forward to today.
We believe God is calling our family to Manhattan, Kansas to plant a church and help begin an RUF campus ministry. We are excited about being a part of God’s mission of redemption in this college town and love seeing God’s grace, through the Gospel, transforming individuals and families. We are excited to see the body of Christ, His Church, engage a community that is growing quickly every year.
Bottom line is we want to pour out our life in Manhattan for something that matters, for something eternal, to share the gospel and build a Church that will be about the Kingdom of God, that will be a benefit to Manhattan and a place to further nurture college students who will grow as they learn to serve others and function as a part of the Church body.
It’s not easy to walk away from a place like Redeemer. Redeemer is a family to us. Our kids have grown up here and have so many who love them, they get to attend a fantastic Christian School, there is security in knowing a pay check is coming every two weeks, there is opportunity for real ministry, it’s just a great place.
But like I said, we want the risk because we see the goal is worthy.
So there it is. July 31st, 2013 will be our last day at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
It makes me want to cry just writing that sentence. Now I am crying because we’ve been loved and loved Redeemer and yet we couldn’t be more excited about this gospel adventure. We have one life to live, one bucket of water to pour out on the land and we believe this is a worthwhile purpose to pour our lives into.
We are so thankful and excited that God is not sending us alone to do this work, but that others will be joining us for this project.
Travis & Amy Shanahan have been dreaming with us, and in many regards well before us. We thank God constantly for their fellowship and partnership in this. They have been the greatest friends we could ask for and can’t wait to minister along side them in a new city. Apart from the efforts of Travis and the grace of God this Church Plant would not be in motion. I’m so thankful for his efforts…and love he and Amy even more knowing this whole paragraph embarrasses them both.
That is more than we deserve and yet God is sending Jon & Tricia Dunning with us as well. Jon and I have worked together to establish two youth summer camps for the Presbytery over the years and have bonded as we dream about what God might do on the campus of K-State. Jon will be the RUF Campus Pastor. He is one of the most caring pastors I’ve ever met. He asks real questions and listens intently to students and others before pointing them ever back to the Gospel.
Beyond that, we’ve poured into the lives of so many students who are already there or headed there soon. We look forward to seeing them on a regular basis and introducing them to the permanent residents of Manhattan, who we hope will soon also be their covenant community.
This is such a strange time: to be broken-hearted leaving Redeemer, and at the same time so excited about, God willing, planting a church in the last place I ever imagined God would call us. (Kansas is right above Tennessee, remember?)
Please pray for us all.
Pray that our passion for Jesus Christ will continue to grow.
Pray for unity among the current group and the future gathering.
Pray for God to provide what is needed financially so that our efforts can be more focused on the work of the Gospel.
Pray for our children to make new friends, to grow more in love with God from this experience.
Pray for the Gospel to be spread like seed across the city and for God to grow His Church.
Please read about this venture, The Manhattan Project on the website at ManhattanPCA.com. Fill out the newsletter form so we can keep you up to date.
We couldn’t possibly name everyone and every way we have been blessed at Redeemer, but we have been and we are very aware and thankful for that.
Brian & Laura