Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beginnings: The Story

I first met Darren Rouanzoin in November of 2007 at ROCKHARBOR Church when he was starting down the road to discover the possibilities of a church plant in the city of Long Beach. Our LifeGroup from ROCKHARBOR met in Long Beach, and Darren had heard of some the amazing things God was doing in and through our group. Right away, I knew he had a vision and passion for Long Beach. What exactly this journey would look like was still up in the air, but the commitment to seeing it through was clear. I attended some dinners Ronald Hallet had put together for the LifeGroup leaders in Long Beach to discuss vision for the future and the possibilities for growing a "church" community in the city.

The ideas and vision resonated with me, however, there was something missing in my heart to dedicate my time to Long Beach. Sure I lived there, worked there, hung out there, led LifeGroup there, but I still didn't feel a strong dedication to Long Beach. Crazy huh? Needless to say I was torn. Looking back now, it makes perfect sense, but back then I wondered why my heart wasn't feeling a commitment to Long Beach. God's timing and purpose is incredibly orchestrated beyond our comprehension.

Their vision soon turned into The Long Beach Project. I went to a few of their prayer night gatherings, but still didn't feel from God that it was the right time to commit.

Time passed, I married the love of my life Lydia Larson, and was feeling very comfortable...too comfortable. My comfort gave way to mediocrity and soon to a stagnant stand still in my walk with God. I prayed and prayed and prayed to what felt like a brick wall. It felt that not even an echo returned to me. I basically gave up and settled with this feeling. My wife felt it, my friends saw it, and sin in my life grew because of it. Through my wife, my LifeGroup and God moving through the messages at ROCKHARBOR, I began to find freedom and started tearing down the strongholds and barriers that were put up around me. I began to feel a longing for God to move in my life. It was soon after that I had a vision. A vision for a "place of peace" in a desperate area. A beautiful creation pointing to our Creator. A garden focused on relationships and a journey to love well through true community like I had seen in Vancouver. I still didn't know what this all meant or what my part in it would be.

Mike Erie spoke one night and asked people who felt God calling them to leave their seats at ROCKHARBOR and join The Long Beach Project to come to the front to receive prayer and a blessing to "be sent out." My heart began pounding and I felt the Spirit stir in me to stand up. I hadn't discussed it with my wife, I didn't think of the things I was going to have to give up, and I didn't make a list of the pro's and con's. I simply stood up to God's calling and received a prayer to be sent out. Into what? I did not know.

This vision of the garden became clear as soon as I accepted the calling to attend The Long Beach Project. It took a little convincing to my wife, but she knew God had a plan for us and followed my lead. After one service we both felt an instant connection. We began having conversations about God and our marriage that we never had before. God began moving in me and giving me a clearer picture of the reason He called us to Long Beach.

Taking from some of what I experienced in Vancouver, I wanted to find an empty lot, plant a garden, create a place where the neighbors could enjoy and be involved, build relationships through the garden, and have this place be a beacon of Light pointing to Jesus. I wanted to make a place exhibiting His creative and unique love for us.

I emailed Darren in March of 2009 about this vision and the ideas I had. He emailed me back, excited, and said that we had to meet up soon. We met for lunch and discussed the possibilities of this garden. He told me that this vision was incredible because he received another email just before mine. The first email was a prophetic vision from a girl who saw Isaiah 58:11-12 as a picture of the church.

"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

Through that email the idea of calling the church The Garden resonated with him. Then he received my email about wanting to start a community garden in Long Beach. God was so clear in his purpose for our paths to come together at this very moment. God doesn't work by coincidence but by faith. Amen!

With that, the vision of the community garden was put into motion and has become in integral part of The Garden church plant. We are so excited to see what He is going to do with it.


Post a Comment