Last week, I finally shared with the social media world something that has been driving me privately for the last 8 years of my life: my call to plant a church. The response was heartwarming, as people poured in well-wishes, showed support by liking our Facebook page, and some even, thankfully, immediately followed their hearts to show us support financially. It has been humbling and exciting, but I want to share with you something that I didn’t necessarily expect to happen.
First, I’ll talk about what I did expect to happen, and that’s simple…I was happy! I mean, I was happy-like-I-would-be-singing-with-Pharrell-and-dancing-in-my-own-24-hour-music-video happy. After all this time, and everything that has happened in my life since I accepted this call, I could finally let people know that this vision is becoming a reality! But, that’s not all. Since everything is public now, I also began to feel how enormous an undertaking is ahead of me. God led me to pick up my entire life and move somewhere where I did not know ANYONE, and He has chosen me to build a work from the ground up. Anyone who has ever started something major from scratch understands that burden, and knowing that I’m doing this on God’s authority doesn’t mitigate the fact that Ernest Almond has A LOT of work to do!
What I wasn’t quite expecting as a result of going public though, was this overwhelming sense of heart-wrenching clarity that hit me Saturday afternoon. It began with me having a conversation with my wife about our call as Christians to share our faith, and it resulted in me leading us in a prayer renouncing myself, any ambition for popularity or fame, any desire to do this for the “name” of the church, or any other selfish reason. All I want to do is lead people to Jesus and then teach them how to live a life that leads other people to Jesus. All I want is for hurting people to be healed and the incomplete to be whole.
This is so much bigger than me or my church’s name; God wants people to be saved, and we are His hands and feet on earth. I shed tears as I prayed for God to lead me to the lost and lead them to me. I openly wept as I plead with God to help us face and overcome our doubts, for His glory and for the sake of the people we will reach. I didn’t expect that going public with the church would so quickly lead me to a point like this, but I’m glad that it has. I am a stranger in this land that I have come to serve; but it’s not me that I have come to introduce to people…it is Christ.