Our plan to start a church in Baltimore had disintegrated as quickly as it had appeared. Its collapse was particularly distressing because it had seemed orchestrated by God and dropped in our laps after five years of essentially wandering in the desert.
The plan to start a church had begun with a text message from a friend. The message asked if my husband “might possibly be open” to starting a church together in Baltimore.
Perhaps the “might possibly” or being asked in a text message should have tipped us off to the final outcome. But Baltimore was the only place we could imagine living in the U.S. and the door to serving abroad (which we’d discussed since dating) had just closed.
A personal invitation to help start a cross-cultural church in inner city Baltimore seemed like a gift from God. The fact that everything had come together without any effort on our part made it seem that much more divinely orchestrated.
Even so, we didn’t jump in blindly. We asked plenty of questions over a three month period filled with Skype conversations. Our friend informed us he didn’t want to make any decisions without our involvement – not about location, structure, membership, anything.
We eventually became so convinced this was God’s leading that even when funding was withdrawn, we believed everything would work out. When we told our friend we still planned to move to Baltimore, he was shocked.
A few weeks later, he emailed to tell us he had procured a salary for himself from another church. He suddenly had 35 people ready to start the new church in a particular location.
“But what are you going to do?” he asked. “And what are you planning for your trip to Baltimore? What do you hope to accomplish during your visit?”
Trip? Visit? Our house was half packed. We’d sold most of our furniture on Craigslist. And we were being asked what the purpose of our visit was.
During a three hour follow-up conversation, our friend tried to convince us he wasn’t moving forward without us. Yet he had never mentioned us to the church now providing funding.
We understood he had probably panicked when the original funding was withdrawn. But we felt betrayed and unable to move forward with what now seemed like a very unwise plan.
After the news sank in, my husband and I regrouped at that same thick, wooden table surrounded by cardboard boxes.
We were open to where God would lead from here, but we needed a direction to point in. At a mentor’s recommendation, we wrote a list of what we want in life.
We then let that list inform our upcoming decisions. Unless God steered us otherwise, we would move toward these desires one day being fulfilled.
Given that our house was mostly packed up, Baltimore friends had offered us a place to live, and we ultimately wanted to live near family back on the East Coast, we decided to move forward with relocating to Baltimore.