At the age of 26, would you have turned down a regular paycheque and benefits with promises of raises and promotions? Would you have gone out and planted a church on your own from scratch?!
A leap of Faith took place and a couple decades later… That’s what this blog post is about.
In 1992 Dave heard God tell him to plant a church, since it wasn’t going to happen with the denomination he was in at that moment, he left the Ottawa valley and moved back in with his parents in Kitchener, Ontario. In 1993 he started meeting with 5 other people in his parent’s living room. Soon they moved into a bar in one of our local Universities, then they moved into the rec room of a local community centre. That’s where I met him, back in the summer of ’95. 🙂
He made $1,200 that first year but was able to more than double it to $2,500 the second year.
In 1996 with about 15 families, we moved into our first location where we didn’t have to set up and tear down chairs and equipment each and every Sunday. It was on the second floor, sandwiched between a second-hand bookstore and marijuana-filled practice rooms reserved for sketchy musicians. We fixed up the place as best we could but in the 100+yr old building where heat wasn’t always reliable… we only lasted a couple of years before we found our next location to meet in.
Our first joint/married income tax return was his third year solo-pastoring this church… his net income was around $14,000.
In 1998 just prior to me giving birth to our first child, we moved the church a few streets over, still on the second floor (the more stairs you have to climb, the cheaper the rent) but this time above a sports store. No more pot-filled Wednesday night prayer meetings. We met in that old purple and gold Jamaican nightclub for 6 years.
Three children and 10 years solo-pastoring later, he finally cracked the $30,000 mark.
It was also around this time when God started speaking to Dave about thinking big… Isaiah 54:2, “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” That Scripture became a beacon to him. He meditated on it day and night.
In 2004 we purchased our first building! That was a miracle all on its own… an old ambulance headquarters close to the downtown core, coming in at around 6,000 sq ft. We had a lot of renovations to do but if you read this testimony… you’ll know God’s hand was on it from the beginning!
During this whole remodeling process, I was expecting our 4th child. While I was in labour, Dave had to leave me early to go back to the church to finish installing insulation for an inspection the next morning. To say the least, Dave came down with walking pneumonia from all the hours he was putting in getting this place together. All the stress and weight on his shoulders that had to do with inspections, permits and getting the money to do everything took its toll.
Once the grand re-opening took place, our doctor ordered Dave to rest. We took off in my parent’s RV for a month, exploring the West Coast and driving across the US with a 5 week old, 3 yr old, 5 1/2 yr old, a 7 yr old and Dave’s dad. That was an adventure!
My husband is a dreamer and he knew God wasn’t done with the thinking big part…
We sold that building in 2010 to a Spanish-speaking congregation (part of the same denomination Dave left in 1992) and in 2011 we purchased a 17,000 sq ft commercial property. We rent out nearly half of the building to other businesses, allowing us to focus on ministry related projects rather than mortgage payments! We’ve become known among our friends in ministry as the little church that could.
We’re almost finished the remodeling project on this property. We’ve taken the empty warehouse portion of the building and turned it into our new meeting space. I’ve watched the grey hairs grow in on Dave’s head. It’s been a hard process but we’re nearly the end. During all of this he was part of the construction crew, project manager, property manager, accountant and book-keeper to name just a few. A lot of weight has rested on his shoulders. Again. Dealing with the city regarding zoning and taxes and a couple Revenue Canada audits later… A lot of sleepless nights. Again. More tears than ever and thoughts battled if it would ever get done.
Over the years, we’ve married and buried our friends (and both of Dave’s parents who were founding members), we’ve dedicated babies and grand-babies, we’ve cried and laughed, rejoiced and mourned with them. He is still the solo-pastor. We’ve had our highs and lows with this congregation. We’ve had people leave our church angry and we’ve seen people start their own ministries, go on mission’s trips around the world and bring increase into the Kingdom of God. We’ve been screamed at, sworn at, threatened, robbed, and blessed beyond measure. We’ve taken teenagers into our home and we’ve helped wives leave their abusive spouses. We’ve sent people to the four corners of this globe on humanitarian aide and mission’s trips. We’ve helped people learn to budget, gain life skills, get a higher education, increase their job skills and buy their first homes. We’ve helped start businesses, loaned out money, bailed out of jail, delivered divorce papers, dropped off people at rehab, babysat children, and sat in hospital rooms night after night. We’ve gone on hundreds of camping, canoeing, and road trips with people. We’ve even taken some on vacation with us. 🙂 There are a lot of memories to go through!
Well… we’re celebrating our Church’s 20th Anniversary this weekend and soon there will be another re-opening and maybe even a possible name change. It’s been quiet the journey.
I feel there’s a new book about to be written… so here’s to new beginnings!!
It all wouldn’t have been possible if one man named Dave had not listened when God asked him to step out in faith and start something others said couldn’t be done… He’s made a lot of sacrifices; time, talent and treasure – blood, sweat and tears so that New Song Church and World Outreach could be born and thrive. Happy 20th Babe!
I wrote this article 3 years ago, I need to add to it… our 99.9% finished commercial building where we now rent out nearly 3/4’s of it and our tenants are paying 100% of our mortgage and our renovations, which may have taken 5 years, were completed completely debt-free. My dad taught my husband how to do that! See those renovations here. How many churches can say that?! Happy 23rd birthday NSC!