Abbie and Addi have just finished a great track & field season. The amazing thing is their team won first overall in the State of Georgia! This is the first time in the history of their school that any sport has won State. I’m so proud of my girls for their hard work and persevering through a grueling season.
Mary has blossomed in leading kids in worship at Perimeter’s KidsQuest. Brent, Adrienne, Cheryl, and the Impact Arts staff have inspired and invested in Mary to bring out her singing potential. Not many can sing in front of others and worship God at the same time. Mary’s expressive and calm confidence is contagious.
Eva is ready to start packing! She is such the planner, that she has already mapped out the rest of her life and ours too (at least she would like to!).
Selling our home in Atlanta. The housing market in Miami is almost twice as expensive as Atlanta. Please pray that we will have a good return on our house, so we might have a good down payment on our future home in Miami.
Finding a new home. As I mentioned above, Sandi and I are looking for houses in two weeks. Since we are not 100% sure where we will plant a church, we will first rent. Our challenge is not only to find the right house that meets certain specs but also to find the right area to plant. The Crossbridge team has helped us narrow down to two potential areas of the city (Doral & West Kendall). Please pray that God would lead us not only to the right house but also to the right area of Miami where He wants us to begin a new work.
Raising the remaining 8% of our moving budget. We only have $32K left to raise! Several churches and individuals have expressed interest in joining us to Miami. Please pray that God would provide our remaining need and prompt many to begin giving before we move this summer.
We’re so thankful that you are following us to Miami!
Making big decisions is very stressful! Being uncertain about your future is especially tough if you are without a job or have an end date in your present job. We received some great advice that has helped us a ton on when to pull the trigger on important life decisions. Honestly, I don’t remember from whom I heard this principle, (a friend? a podcast? a book?) – if you are reading this now and you gave me this advice, please let me know so I can give you props and properly thank you.
Here’s the principle on making big life decisions:
God usually gives 60% clarity.
This “60% Rule” is an application of Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
God gets you over the 50% mark so that you are not constantly waffling back and forth between several options. However, He typically doesn’t give you too much clarity. Now, there are exceptions when the Holy Spirit gives exceptional clarity to someone with an exceptional calling (75% and above). For most of us, though, God gives about 60% clarity.
Why does God do this? Think about it. Greater clarity means greater control. God is in control of our future, and He wants us to trust Him with it all. If I’m honest I really I love control. Because we are made in the image of God, we are responsible for controlling many things as we trust Him for all things. My problem is that I frequently grip too tightly to my future plans with closed fists, demanding God to give me 100% clarity. That’s why Proverbs 3:5-6 hangs in our living room.
In His kindness, God only brings 60% into focus so that I would remain focused on Him. He is the Good Shepherd. He will open doors in His timing. “I may not know my way well,but well do I know my Guide” (Martin Luther). Sandi and I are quick movers and usually get ahead of God. I once shared this struggle to one of my mentors and he told me, “God is seldom early but is always on time” (Clint Wilcke). Only God holds our future, so we need to loosen our grip and hold our decisions with open hands.
I usually get anxious when I don’t know what details will result from my decision. I begin to play out hypothetical worst case scenarios. In those moments, I have to stop and ask myself, “Has God given me 60% clarity on which road to take?” If He has, then I can confidently trust Him with all the unforeseen details and repent of acting as God by trying to control all scenarios of my life. It’s so liberating to trust God!
Listen to this stirring quote by the German philosopher, Goethe, as he offers what happens when we step out in faith with 60% clarity:
“Until one is committed there is hesitancy. There is one elementary truth, and if you ignore this truth it will kill countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then God’s Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events come from the decision, a whole host of favorable incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” (adapted from Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, p. 126)
I’d love to hear from you! Is the 60% rule helpful to you? What big decisions are you making in life right now? I’d love to hear and pray for you.
As I left Peru in 2014, one of the last things I promised my good friend, Emilio, “I will be back for your wedding.” At the time, Emilio was not dating anyone. And I made my promise in faith, not knowing exactly how I would make it back to Peru. Months go by. Emilio meets Alejandra. They get engaged. We meet via skype. Then Emilio asked me the big question: “Are you coming to my wedding?”
I wanted to say yes with all my heart, however, our financial situation has had zero margin to save for plane tickets. So I had to break my promise to Emilio and declined. Then along came Patrick.
If you don’t know Patrick, he is quite the friend. While living in Peru in 2011, Patrick co-founded Nisolo, a social impact fashion label that has come alongside many Peruvians offering them friendship and honest work. Emilio and I have been with him from the beginning of Nisolo and watched it grow into a successful international business that today employees over 80 Peruvians. Patrick also has a huge heart for people. So when he caught wind that I could not afford to go to Emilio wedding in Peru, he emailed me with an idea. This is what he said,
“Emilio mentioned that you may not be able to come to his wedding… I know it would make his year if you could come, and Sally Ward (Patrick’s wife) and I, if it would help your ability to come, would love to pay for most or potentially all of your plane ticket.”
I wept after reading these words. I could not believe what I was reading. Truly this was an answer to my prayers. God enabled me to keep a promise to Emilio that I could not keep myself! Later, Patrick suggested a twist – “Let’s make it a surprise! Let’s not tell Emilio your coming.” Sounds fun to me. And that’s how we rolled.
So for the next few months, I had to find creative ways to not let Emilio know that I was coming. Thankfully, he didn’t get tipped off. On Thursday morning, October 13 this happened….
It was a dream come true only by the grace of God working through my friend Patrick! His wedding was so much fun, an actual foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
My trip to Emilio’s wedding afforded me my first trip back to Peru since our family left more than two years ago. It honestly felt like I had never left. Of course the adults were grayer (as I am) and the children were taller (as ours are); but other than that, everyone and everything felt the same. It fed my soul to reconnect with some of our closest friends in the world.
I have to admit, it was odd: going to Peru felt like leaving home and going home all at the same time. As I left my family, I was greeted by family. I was home but not yet home. What a great picture of living in the middle of Christ’s kingdom already but not yet here on earth!
It was very sad to leave my family behind, but I was glad to hear that Sandi and the girls vicariously lived through my experience. We all feel a greater sense of closure, remembering all of our wonderful friends and experiences our many years in Peru. As I boarded the plane back home, I had this sense that all that God had taught us, all the memories and experiences He gave us, we are now carrying those with us to Miami.
Peru is chapter 5 of our story. Our transition and training in Atlanta is chapter 6. So I guess that makes Miami Chapter 7. Here we come!
Which lead me to one final thought….
Our first introduction to Miami was through Emilio and his brother, Jose. We met Emilio and Jose in Peru back in 2009 after they were deported from Miami (that is a whole other fascinating God story that we don’t have space for here). As we became friends, we heard many of their stories growing up in Miami and on “the Key” (Key Biscayne).
Our friendship awoken within Sandi and me a fascination for Miami. In private, Sandi and I would say things to each other like, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to live and do ministry in Miami? I can see our family doing life with people like Emilio and Jose.” It is safe to say that if we had not become friends with Emilio and Jose, we probably would have never considered Miami as a place to plant a church. God works in mysterious and crazy ways!
Next week Sandi & I will travel to Miami for a one-week assessment to see if we are a good fit to plant in South Florida. If you remember from our last update, we were suppose to go in early March, but they moved the assessment to April. We are very thankful for Sandi’s parents driving all the way from Louisiana to take care of our girls in ATL.
The need for gospel centered, missional churches in Miami is huge. The challenge is also immense. I’ve been told by many that South FL is a graveyard of failed church plants. That’s why we are interested in partnering with Redeemer City-To-City as well as with Perimeter Church in ATL to form a solid support network. Next week is all about whether or not our family is up for the challenge to plant in the rocky soil of Miami.
This month I (Allen) turn 40. Reaching midlife has made me reflective. I can honestly say that in the next few weeks, Sandi and I will be making one of the biggest decisions of our adult lives. Just this week, I read an article by David Brooks in the NY Times on Middle-Aged turning points. Brooks quotes the theologian Karl Barth about reaching midlife:
“The sowing is behind, now it is time to reap. The run has been taken, now it is time to leap. Preparation has been made; now it is time for the venture of the work itself.”
We truly feel that our entire life up to this point has been preparing our family for something like Miami. From all the short-term mission trips I took as a child, to living in Guatemala post-college, to raising bi-lingual daughters in a Peruvian urban city for nearly a decade – we are ready to make the leap.
So please pray for us!There are 3 requests that I’m asking God:
For clarity about the Redeemer City-To-City partnership in Miami. Are we a good fit?
For confirmation in our hearts. Is God opening or closing the door for us in Miami?
For conviction. Is God calling us to Miami in a way that if we don’t go, we will be disobedient to his will?
We covet your prayers next week as we go through assessment.And we so appreciate your friendship and interest in our family as we make this life decision!
It’s no secret that the social topography of America is rapidly changing. According to the Census Bureau, the United States will be a majority-minority nation by 2044. That means that Hispanics, African-Americans, & Asians will out number White Americans. And all to often, the church lags behind the cultural trend. Our denomination (PCA) is a prime example; we are 80% white with only 14% Korean pastors, 1.2% African-American pastors, and very few Hispanic pastors.
In Atlanta we have a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve. Perimeter has created a great laboratory to learn how to do multicultural ministry. For one, I’m part of a church planting cohort that represents every major ethnic group in America. Sam (left above) is a 2nd Gen. American Korean worship leader, Dereko is an African-American fire fighter, and Jorge is a Columbian pastor. I am so honored to develop friendships with these great guys so that I can learn from their stories, perspectives, and struggles. My stereotypes will only be broken down by forming meaningful relationships with people different than me.
Perimeter Church is also leveraging it’s resources to learn more about multicultural ministry. Recently, my boss, Bob Cargo, invited key Hispanic leaders from all across the country & abroad to discuss key issues. Leaders came from Miami, Boston, Chicago, San Diego, Tijuana Mexico, Cuba, Atlanta and Birmingham. It was very enlightening as I heard about the complexity of doing Hispanic ministry among first and second generation families.
Finally, where we live helps us envision what’s to come. Our county (Gwinnett) has just recently become a majority-minority county. Over 50 languages are spoken here – one of the most diverse counties in the country. Where we are, America will become in several decades. We are truly living in the future! My hope is that God will use our cohort and context to helps us better grasp how to do ministry in a multicultural world.
Pray that God would guide our family to the right place to plant a church. We are learning to trust God as we wait for Him to lead us. For those who know us, this does not come naturally for us! In the next few months, we will be exploring some potential places to plant.
Pray for Sandi as she recovers from shingles. People of her age & good health normally don’t get shingles, but her doctor said the inevitable stress of all our transition and uncertainty has probably lowered Sandi’s immune system. We are thankful she is on the upswing and has the support from an amazing discipleship group at Perimeter who daily reminds her to rest in God’s truth.
Pray for “Rob“. I met Rob at one of our daughter’s volleyball games. After he found out that I was a pastor, he opened up and shared that he and his wife had recently separated. He believed that God had sent me to him. After sharing the gospel with him over lunch later that month, he became a born again Christian and wants to join the church. Please pray that Rob would be able to reconcile with his wife. He says she is not a believer, so please pray for her as well.