- Ron Gladden
JANUARY 2014 NEWS
George Eliot nailed it when she said, “One can begin so many things with a new person — even begin to be a better man.”
We at Epikos-Redding are becoming better. Better leaders, better Jesus followers, better friends with people who need the Lord. And we are excited beyond words to watch God’s calling on our lives turn into God’s miracles in so many others’ lives!
We started this new year with a bang. We anxiously awaited January 4, preparing the best we could and determined to give God all the glory. We launched two new services: Mars Hill University (MHU) at 10:30 a.m., led primarily by our senior pastor, Dennis Pumford, and Epikos Reveal (ER) at 4:00 p.m., led primarily by the newest members of our team. What happened? How did they go? Young people left MHU wanting more, and Epikos Reveal had people in tears asking for a Bible. Follow me down the road a bit and take a look through my eyes …
As I prepared for this “grand opening”, I was running around frantically with a million things on my plate.
But as the doors opened for Epikos Reveal, I saw faces that made all the effort worth it and put everything else in perspective.
STORY ONE: Stephanie and Gary! My husband Seth and I met Stephanie and Gary in the park near our house. We have a three-year-old with lots of energy, and they have a three-year-old with at least as much energy. One thing led to another, and we struck up a friendship. Seth became good friends with Gary, and we were able to comfort them when Gary’s dad suddenly passed away. They had never attended church, but we invited them to Epikos Reveal. They came! My heart felt so excited! They sat near the door, payed attention to every word, and when the worship team exited the stage, Gary “high-fived” the worship team — and they promised to be back.
STORY TWO: Athena! What an amazing woman. She was as unchurched as a person could be, yet her desire for Jesus was deep and contagious. She started attending Epikos-Redding a few months ago and started asking how she could learn the entire story of God. Athena volunteered to run our refreshment stand at Epikos Reveal and always asks if she can do more. I have been wanting to invite a mutual friend, Theresa, to church but it never worked out. Theresa had told me several times that she would NEVER go to church. Last week, Athena brought Theresa to church to help her set things up. My mouth all but hit the floor in amazement. And after meeting the staff and some others, Theresa announced that she wants Epikos to be her church!
I don’t have time for Stories Three through Ten — all of which happened on Grand Opening day — but suffice it to say that the first-time guests nearly outnumbered the regulars. A lot of miracles are just getting started.
I heard a story about a guy who wanted to be a missionary, so he left his life of comfort to pursue it. He went through many difficult times just trying to get to the mission field. Before he could accomplish much, he died of sickness. Some people said that all of his effort was wasted, that his dream never happened, that it was all in vain. But when they found his Bible, they read what he had written inside: No reserves, no retreats, and no regrets!
This was a long and hard journey for our family to move to Redding, California, from Virginia. There are days when we miss our family and our old friends. Then God ambushes us with blessings and experiences like Stephanie, Gary, Athena, and Theresa, and our lives feel full of purpose, and we have no regrets!
That is how Seth and I will live our lives for the sake of Christ. We have decided to do our best to radically reveal the love of Jesus to the city of Redding. We hope that you will pray for us!
P.S. Thank you for doing whatever you can to help Mission Catalyst start the next church that will change people’s lives forever!
Seth and Jackie Williams serve on the Pivotal Design team at Epikos Church in Redding. Follow them on Facebook (“Epikos Redding”) and at epikosredding.com.