“What are you doing now that you’re finished with the World Race?”
“What’s in Atlanta?”
“What will you be doing there?”
On July 26, 2016, I returned to my hometown, Oshkosh, WI, after spending 11 months in 11 different countries (i.e., the World Race). I cannot put words to what it felt like pulling into my driveway for the first time and finally seeing my family since September 2015. The English language, or my use of it, does not do justice to my experience on the Race. It was intense, incredible, challenging, life-giving, and God-filled. But these words may leave you with more questions than answers.
How do I describe what it felt like to laugh with a 4-year old in a Cambodian orphanage and have him run into your lap as you sit on the floor worshipping God? How do I put into words how much fun it was to have a food fight with our host family in Zimbabwe on our last night with them? How do I describe what it felt like playing soccer with kids in Thailand who were rescued from their families because they were at high risk of being sold into sex-trafficking?
I’m still trying to face the reality that the Race is finished. And while I am not on a mission trip anymore with 46 amazing brothers and sisters, the friendships have remained and World Race moments have simply turned into World Race memories.
How do you move forward after such an indescribable experience? You continue doing ministry with members from your squad, of course. For years I have always felt a yearning in my spirit to move to Atlanta, GA. This was confirmed when I learned that a few girls from my squad were joining a ministry called the 320 Network that is based in Atlanta. My plan originally was to move down, get a job, and focus on work and planting roots for a while, but I knew God was calling me higher to intentionally do work for His Kingdom. After much prayer and spending some time in Atlanta, I knew in my heart I, too, should join the 320 Network.
What is the 320 Network? It’s a ministry that plants churches. It was founded by my World Race squad coaches, Jeff and Mary Ellen. But it’s not the kind where you physically construct a building on a piece of land. Their church planting involves house churches, or apartment churches. Church planters, a team of 4-8 people, live in an apartment complex and get to know their neighbors and others in the complex and invite them to church on Sunday. The church is hosted by the planters in their very own apartment. Coffee, worship, a church message, community, all of it is done sitting in a living room.
I will be living with three girls from my squad who I was on a team with for a month. Together, we will make up part of a team that will be opening a new church in a new apartment complex. Our church/apartment will be called the Haven.
Definition: a place of safety or refuge; a place where you are protected from danger, trouble, etc.
While planting a new church, we will host events every month to make connections and friendships in the apartment complex in addition to striking up conversations daily with the people we come across. When we aren’t out meeting people and preparing for Sunday and events, we have team meetings. Along with that, we will be discipling others and be discipled ourselves by veteran church planters.
When I am not working on ministry responsibilities, I will be working full-time counseling teenage girls with eating disorders and working part-time at LA Fitness.
I am so excited to see what God is going to do over this next year with the church, the people we are going to meet, and the community that is going to form. As my team and I begin this new season, we would greatly appreciate prayer in the following areas:
- That from day one at our apartment, my team and I would be intentional every day about meeting new people and being open to following where the Spirit leads
- That we would love like Jesus and be a light to our community
- That the hearts of the individuals we are going to meet would be open to coming to church to learn more and open to hearing more about Christ
- That the Haven would be a place of comfort, peace, safety, and love
- That God would do miracles this next year with the church, with the people who come, and with the whole apartment complex we live in
Thank you in advance for joining us in these prayers!
If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me! I would love to chat.
If you would like to support me financially, that is an option as well. I am going to try my hardest to balance my two jobs and devoting plenty of time and energy to this ministry, and even a small monthly amount would be a tremendous help. Funds would be delegated toward supporting living expenses and the ministry, so that I would be able to delegate more time to the ministry and the people we are trying to reach. One time donations are also accepted.