With Brian’s graduation from SBTS fast approaching (May 14th, but we’re not counting down or anything), many people are asking us, “So, what’s the plan after Louisville?” So I thought I’d share here, because we’re excited–and we want you to know and be excited with us!
About a year and a half ago, Brian and I had been talking more about our “next steps” after seminary, and I remember us feeling a bit discouraged–not sensing any sort of direction from the Lord. Our “plan” all along had been to move internationally, but despite our best efforts to move forward with that, we felt God shutting various doors for various reasons. One Sunday around that same time, we were sitting in church, when a couple was introduced to the congregation–Jeremiah and Lauren Taylor. They announced that they would be moving to Miami within the next few months to begin a new church planting work there. Our interest was peaked! It’s no secret that we love our native state of Florida, so that was a perk for us. While we didn’t know the couple personally, they seemed pretty cool. And they were heading to Miami (obviously, a bustling metropolis–which is where we knew were called) to do inner city work (also a high level of interest for us) and plant a church (also something we saw ourselves doing). It was almost like pieces of this once really confusing puzzle all coming together!
Little did the Taylor’s know, we (Brian and Ashley) began talking together and praying together about joining them to help with the task. We also spoke with several church leaders about this new stirring in our hearts, and seemed to receive a pretty resounding, “Yes, I can see you doing this work with this particular couple!” It was really encouraging for us. We began emailing with Jeremiah and Lauren to learn more about them and their new life in Miami, planting Redemption Church Miami.
Fast forward several months and we had planned a trip to Miami to see, firsthand, the church that was being planted. This was really quite a “vision trip”, as we called it, and we prayed that God would give us peace and affirmation while we were there that said, “Yea, keep moving forward with this.” And we LOVED our time there! It was wonderful to spend some time with the Taylor’s and get to know them more as a couple, and it was equally as great to see the seeds they were sowing in the neighborhood of Little Haiti. While we did make sure to get some touristy things checked off our list, we can truthfully say some of the best parts of our days in Miami were spent in Little Haiti, spending time with the residents and worshiping together in the Taylor’s home.
Our eyes were opened to the need. Little Haiti is a mostly Haitian neighborhood, marked by poverty and crime. It can be a scary place for an outsider. But our eyes were opened as we met people from all over the community who were kind and welcoming and genuinely happy to meet us. With virtually no evangelical presence within this community, we truly saw the importance of bringing the gospel of Christ to them!
So what now? Well, that was back in early January. Since that time, we have searched our hearts and continued to pray about this opportunity, and find no reason NOT to continue moving forward. In fact, despite a lot of unknowns, we are super pumped about it! We know that type of peace can only come from the Father.
Our plan (and I say that very loosely) is to move to Miami in August or September after the birth of our second son. All of this will be pending when/if Brian is able to get a job transfer with his current employer (shout out to Starbucks!). We plan to both continue working once we transition down there, and, in addition, help with the ministry side of things as much as possible. Redemption Church Miami (RCM) is currently averaging about 15-20 people on any given Sunday, where a meal is shared, songs sung, and sermon preached. The group is meeting in the Taylor’s home for now, but we are all in prayer about finding an alternate meeting space soon (ie. community center, school, etc) to allow for more growth.
Because the cost of living is considerably higher in Miami, we plan to raise support to supplement our total household income for the first year (maybe two) as we make the transition. You might receive a letter from us in the near future regarding this, and we just ask that you prayerfully consider if you can play a part in this mission. A question we’ve been receiving frequently is, “Is Brian going to be the associate pastor?” And we honestly have no answer to that! It is not an expectation that we have placed on the Taylor’s or RCM as a whole, but obviously we aren’t opposed to that if it’s something God presents further down the line. As for now, we are going as servants, and we are excited to do so.
So that’s kind of where we are at now! Pray for us, please! We anticipate this next step, but of course we are nervous about transitioning our family to such a new place, especially with many unknown factors still in play (jobs, housing, timing…). These next few months will be a sweet time, I’m sure of it, as we continue to trust God for fitting all of these “pieces” together. We look forward to sharing with you all how He is working out all of these things on our behalf!
-Brian, Ashley, Levi, and babyMat
P.S. Check out my newly created Etsy shop to help meet our fundraising goal! All proceeds will go to our Miami related expenses. https://www.etsy.com/shop/FillUsUpSendUsOut?ref=hdr_shop_menu