“They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”

2 Corinthians 8:2 NLT

As the founder of New Direction Christian Church, I am so proud of our church’s journey as we approach our 16-year anniversary this September. It has been an amazing journey so far!  We have seen 28,000 souls come to Christ, a launch of Power Center Academy Charter School, and Eden Square development. There have been countless acts of generosity through the years by this church; feeding the homeless, job fairs, youth ministry, building affordable homes, disaster relief, missions, raising money for St. Jude, etc.

We’ve had some great years and and we’ve had some years that have put us through some tests! Our church consists of a majority of people who come from the  working poor and middle class. They are a faithful remnant of people who may not have much, but they overflow in generosity. Just this past week they gave close to $4,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston. Even though we are being tested as a church financially we are still willing to help those in need.

It reminds me of the church in Macedonia. They were a poor church, but in their poverty they were willing to give and that made them rich.

The universal church has taken a bad wrap for taking money and not helping. People are critical of the church and want to know where the church is during crisis. That hasn’t been the case at the church I serve. I’ve seen countless people helped by a church that needed help themselves. There are churches all over this world that are doing more with less!

  1. They are being tested by many troubles. When the recession hit around 2008 we saw our community hit hard. People lost jobs, homes, and money. People left the city and the church. People were hurting. the church may be exempt from paying taxes but it isn’t exempt from testing. Testing is necessary to strengthen the church. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way (James 1:2).
  2. They are filled with abundant joy. If it had not been for the shaking we would not have been ready for the making. God has to allow his church to go through tests to be filled with joy. The early church grew after persecution. Our church grew from swelling in the early years and now it’s growing healthy through persecution and tests! When God puts his church through tests and allows persecution he is in essence shaking his church so the Holy Spirit can keep making the church. So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings (Hebrews 12:25)? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
  3. Tests lead to overflow! The church in Macedonia was poor, was tested but their testing led to them overflowing in rich generosity. When we give out of our poverty God’s promise to us is that he will supply all our needs according to his riches in Glory. You never run out of resources when you understand that God is the source!

I’m glad that the church has had to go through tests because we would have never known that God was a problem solver if we never had a problem. Too much success gives us the false impression that we grew the church. Struggle was necessary. If there’s no struggle there’s no progress.

We’ve been through the tests. Now, let’s get ready for God to bless the rest! #Overflow #SomethingGreaterComing

Dear God,

I thank you for New Direction Christian Church, Disciples of Christ!

You allowed me to plant a church in the heart of a community that other people gave up on filled with people that other people walked away from. You’ve used a group of abandoned young people and working poor to rebuild a community and inspire a city. I thank you that you didn’t let us die and you’re not finished with us. Greater is coming because we made it through the worst. Thank you for a generous people who have given out of their poverty to make our community better. God, pour back into every person who ever gave a dollar to the work of our church. In year 16 drive us further than this young church has ever gone. We are grateful for the tests now we are ready to pass to the next level!

In Jesus’ Name,