The Mission Start that Almost Wasn’t

I have a confession to make. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a missionary, or be part of a church plant. I mean I just couldn’t see it. I wasn’t exactly raised in the church – mission work was for nuns, or something like that. I never would have pictured this and yet, here we are. This Easter will mark our third Easter Service as an active Mission Plant in Northern Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Ablaze Church began with a group of seven individuals busy at work, planning, praying, hoping, and answering God’s call. Then our numbers grew to eight then ten and then twelve.

To be honest, we didn’t start out wanting to be missionaries. The Christian Worship Band, Zion’s Fire does community outreach events, using contemporary Christian music to reach people with the Gospel of Christ.

(Zion’s Fire: Jeff O’Hara, Jason Hulings, Chis Taylor, Tina Funkhauser and Travis Patterson)

In late 2005 they began a Sunday evening Praise service at our home church, hoping to reach out to the local community and our youth. Several of us worked along side with the band, and with pastor – who over saw the whole thing – developing devotionals, messages, and worship. While the liturgy style was open, the doctrine remained absolute and our service reflected the confessional nature of our home church and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod as a whole.

LCMS began a new program called the Ablaze Movement and challenged congregations and districts to prayfully consider planting 2,000 new churches. What a task!

Pastor approached our feable little worship team in the summer of 2006 and asked us to prayfully consider being a part of this endeavor. We were already doing a live worship opportunity for the community. God had already paved a way for the team to gain experience and knowledge, and while we felt comfortable leading worship – a Mission Start? That was huge.

Everyone promised that they would pray. We came together in prayer and in research. Pastor found a grant program (The ARC Program) that could possibly help fund this, and they found a location in Northern Broken Arrow. Our home congregation The Lutheran Church of Our Savior, voted to plant a new LCMS Mission Start in Northern Broken Arrow, in December of 2006. We now knew, this was God’s direction for all of us, and we were excited.

Five different men throughout the Tulsa area took the church planters test (a requirement for the ARC program) – Only two men scored high enough to be recommended as church planters; Pastor Dreier, and another gentleman across town.

From a single seed – two church plants began. District started a plant called Lord of Life with Jonathan using the ARC program and Our Savior started a plant with our little team. One seed – and look what it did. What an incredible gift of God.

Finding out we did not qualify for ARC support was disappointing, but we did not let it make us quit. The ARC program would be used across town, and that was a great blessing for them.

Our team turned it over to God. If this was His will, we reasoned, He could provide the funding. And provide he did. Dozen’s of people stepped forward with several thousand dollars in donations, for equipment, gear, and rent. God’s provisions overflowed.

We opened with a community egg hunt. The weather outside was bitter cold, and we didn’t know what to expect. But we prepared, the eggs were stuffed and placed, the inflatable was inflated, the messages prepared, the prizes accounted for, volunteers in place and we waited and waited some more.

At 9:45 am – with no one arriving yet – we walked into the parking lot with Pastor, and prayed. By 10:15 – this is what we saw.

The line just grew, and grew.

Over 500 hundred arrived, in spite of the bitter cold and threats of snow, for our first annual Community Egg Hunt.

About 100 of them came back that evening for our Easter Service. Three families who were present that day, stayed with us and helped plant God’s new church.

This Easter will mark the beginning of our third year walking with God in our back yard. What an awesome journey it has been.

While we celebrate God’s truths this year, I’ll be taking a look back at some of the wonder of being part of His plan. Stay tuned for more pictures, and more updates about our little mission start – and the heart of God.

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