We've been a part of our church, Walnut Hill- Bethel, since we moved to Connecticut and rented an apartment in Danbury several years ago, back when I saw still pregnant with Norah. We have loved Walnut Hill from the beginning and felt sure it was where God wanted us to be. It was unlike the churches we went to before, but in a positive way, because for the first time in our lives, we were going to church with so many different types people from different backgrounds, which meant not everyone had the same story or believed exactly as we did about every single thing, which meant we had to sort through our experiences and convictions to find what was essential and make an effort to do what the Bible commands and "make every effort to maintain unity..."
That said, when we bought a house all the way out here in Waterbury, forty five minutes away from the church, we knew the Sunday commutes would be difficult on us, but we felt it was "worth it" to continue being a part of Walnut Hill. However, several months ago, Dwayne and I both started feeling an inexplicable desire that came "out of nowhere" to be able to reach out to our neighbors and go to church "where we live." Up until that point, we couldn't invite our neighbors to Walnut Hill because our invitation had to come with an apology and explanation that it was so far away. And, up until that point, the inability to invite our neighbors hadn't really "bothered" us, but now, it really did. So, naturally, we started visiting churches around here with our desire to serve our community in mind and on our hearts, but struggled inwardly, because we still felt sure we should also be a part of Walnut Hill... But, how could we do both? We couldn't understand what was going on inside of us.
Right around that time, we found out the church was planning to plant another Walnut Hill in Waterbury and all of a sudden, our heart's desires made perfect sense! We felt certain this was God's way of explaining to us what His Spirit was doing inside us and that He wanted us to be a part of this new church!
So, now the whole church in Bethel is raising funds to help with the expenses of this new church plant in Waterbury, even the kids. The Sunday School gave out these walnut tree-piggy banks last Sunday. Each kid was challenged to raise "fifty dollars in fifty days." Norah was excited to do this, so we committed to help her with it. Today, we had a yard sale and raised $104.70! Twice as much as our goal! When Norah explained to our neighbors what she was raising money for, many of our them gave donations on top of their purchases and all of them were positive about Norah's efforts. We are so thankful to God for how He has exceeded our expectations. But, He always does that, doesn't He?