I remember the day last year when I realised that the ongoing pandemic restrictions would end up scrapping every one of our carefully crafted plans for outreach events in our community, where we have been working for the last three years towards starting a new church.
That’s obviously not a good feeling, but I have to say that it also wasn’t devastating. It was just another (admittedly extreme) example of a dynamic we have lived with ever since we moved here: Things hardly ever go to plan.
Together around the Word
When we arrived, we knew of only one other Christian family in the town. We made plans, got involved in the community, knocked on doors, and never knew what would come of any of it. By God’s grace, a group of believers has come together for a local Bible study, including Christians we found in the town, Christians who moved to the town, and Christians who weren’t Christians when they first started coming.
Together, we’ve planned outreaches. We planned a Christmas Carol service, which we then had to change because the Catholic Church decided at the last minute to do the same thing on the same weekend. There was no way a small group like ours could compete. Instead, we made our event into a “Christmas Café,” with an international flavour, including food, stories, and songs from around the world, and the unchanging message of Christmas.
It wasn’t our original plan, but it hit a nerve, and the room was full of local faces, including a few from a refugee centre where we wanted to build a connection.
We’ve seen God work, and one of the reasons we knew it had to be him was because it didn’t happen the way we planned it.
Our plans to build on this connection then didn’t seem to work out, and yet, God made it happen – when the pandemic hit we were able to start providing some lockdown supplies.
One of the residents asked for a Bible, then more requests came in. Now we’ve given away more than twenty Bibles there, a women has become a Christian, and we’ve started a remote Bible study. We hadn’t planned for that.
God’s plans are better
Looking back, most of the best things that have happened here have happened outside of our original plans. We are still making plans, of course, but we’re holding them loosely. One reason for that is that things can change fast and we’re not in control. One summer we lost five key members from our little group because they all had to move away for work or education.
The other reason we’re holding our plans loosely, though, is that God’s plans are better. We’ve already seen that proven time and time again. I can’t tell you what will happen here long term, or how. All I know is we’ve seen God work, and one of the reasons we knew it had to be him was because it didn’t happen the way we planned it.
Seth and Jessica Lewis serve in church planting in Ireland