Who are you?
I (Jeff) currently live and work in Bellingham as a designer.
After landing in Bellingham, I did a search on Google for house churches and got connected with a local man named Mitch.
It’s funny how things work out! Mitch and I now work together and are involved in a homeless shelter downtown―leading worship, praying, and facilitating a discussion over a Bible passage. We work to build continuing relationships, to counsel and serve our friends and neighbors, and we look for opportunities to introduce people to Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
There are currently 7 leaders, along with 10 other affiliated church leaders who are committed to a similar vision.
What do you want to see?
The Northwest of the US is a beautiful corner of the country, right next to both the ocean and majestic snow-capped mountains. It is also, however, grey and rainy most of the year, which reflects well the spiritual climate of the area. There is a lot of homelessness and drug use, and only about 15 to 20% of the people here consider themselves to be Christian. (This is one of the lowest rates in the US.)
We want to see the spiritual climate be transformed and people to have renewed expectations for what it means to be a Christian. Church is not just about attending a service or learning to be a better person, it is about being a family. Just this morning a guy in my discipleship group, a new believer from Iran, messaged me: “Thank you so much guys for this awesome group. When I moved here, I lost a lot of friends. But you are showing me, here we are sisters and brothers in Christ.”
This is what we want to see: People experience the love of Christ and be welcomed into a supportive family: a family that is on mission together
How did you get this Idea?
I came to Germany to serve god and for two years I was part of the Hope Church network in Berlin. But I found myself depressed by a lack of direction in ministry. During one of my worst weeks, I happened upon a coin partially buried in some gravel in my neighborhood. Inscribed on the coin were the words, “God has a Plan.” Unfortunately, no details of the plan were on the back, but I managed to hold on to this promise. After months of praying, I felt the need to move back to the US. Every time I prayed about it, that very same day I seemed to get an email or message about new opportunities in the US or closed ones in Germany.
What challenges do you expect?
Making meaningful connections and relationships in the Northwest of the US can be difficult. People here in this culture are not as open and available, and it´s a struggle to find opportunities to meet new people and to have a meaningful conversation. People here, especially those with a Christian background, tend to have strong expectations for what a church should be and how it should function. Any deviation from these expectations is often met with caution or disinterest. This can be a very challenging and frustrating hurdle to overcome.
What are you going to do?
We host monthly outreaches to a local college, as well as to the streets of downtown Bellingham (mostly to the homeless). This is a short time of going up to people and starting a conversation, asking if they would like prayer, seeking to share the gospel or at least connect again. We also plan to engage our neighbors this summer by knocking on doors and hosting BBQs. I pray for my neighborhood and city daily, asking God for openings and opportunities to share the gospel.