Acts 11 describes how that God was moving in a mighty way in Antioch. The church grew quickly. Good news was noise abroad. It was clear to the disciples in Jerusalem that God’s hand was with with them. Because of this God sent an encourage to them. Barnabas went to Antioch and infact he even went to get Paul to help. Read the description of this moment in the following verses:
“And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
A few years ago I began to pray for Conway Arkansas. Several people I knew were there. During that time a friend of mine was the director of a college ministry at UCA. Eventually from those connections, Pauline Baptist sponsored Joey Cook to go to Conway two years ago. We were able to get support, the house on South Street, and some interested people gathered. Just two years later the church has experienced great growth. This month they had over 500 at a regular weekend service. The church is reaching young adults and young families. The church is reaching unreached people with the gospel. God is using the church to help people who were far from God find Christ centered community. They are a doctrinally sound non-traditional church. This Spring they have 56 college students serving as interns in their ministry. They opened up a ministry house on CBC campus this Spring. This is especially thrilling to me because I spent 10 years as a college pastor in Jonesboro. The church also has 350 adults meeting in home bible studies as missional communities called city groups. It is truly exciting to see what God is doing.
At the same time, Julie and I have ended a fruitful season of pastoring in Monticello. We have found ourselves in a time of transition. A few of weeks ago I had lunch with Joey. He, as you can imagine, has many demands on him as the pastor. It was during that conversation that we considered what it would look like for us to come to Conway and join their team. Joey asked me to pray about this possibility. Since that time Julie and I have prayed about our role in this great ministry. We have considered our experiences and gifting and our season of life and we have sought God’s will.
The church is financially a young congregation. Many members are new converts. Over time the church will mature in their giving, but as for now the possibility of Julie and I coming and being a financial burden to them is not our desire. The church in Conway is growing into a strong church spiritually and financially and we believe that we can be a part of that growth.
Over the last three months I have had several very dear people text me, call me, and email me. Over and over I have heard people say, let us know how we can help. One friend told me, “Chad, all you have to do is say the word and our family is prepared to support you”. I have been blown away at such support.