Journey 247 : experience transformation

Out of Africa – Part 3

Redeeming Forgotten Seed

Every word from the Lord, every promise, every God-given dream or desire is an eternal seed.  And every God-seed has the life of God within it.  When released in the earth, under the right conditions, and in the proper season the seed will bring forth life; it will grow; it will bear fruit; it will reproduce; it will multiply.  This is the lesson of the third day (see Genesis 1:11-13).

Naturally speaking, all seeds require a period of dormancy before they can bring forth life.  Sometimes this process is referred to as “ripening” where the seed must be exposed to certain conditions such as heat, cold, light, darkness, drying, or even pass through the digestive tract of an animal or bird.  Without the right conditions being met, some seeds can remain dormant for years, decades, or even centuries.

Judean Date Palm 2005

Baby Methuselah

In the mid 1960s, seeds from the long extinct Judean Date Palm were discovered during an archaeological excavation at King Herod’s palace on Mount Masada, near the Dead Sea.  Upon their discovery, the dormant seeds were nearly 2,000 years old!  Recently, a team of Israeli botanists were able to help one of the seeds germinate.  The seedling which is now just over eight years old, was lovingly named Methuselah after the longest living man recorded in the Bible.  Click here to view a recent video update on the thriving young Methuselah.

More than 17 years ago, after serving as a home missionary at an urban church plant in Detroit, I returned to Grand Rapids where Sara and I were married.  During this season, the Lord began to stir my heart with the desire to plant a church in Grand Rapids.  I rode the city bus (pre-“Rapid” era) downtown twice a week, prayer-walking up and down Monroe Center, building relationships, and sharing the love of Christ.  At times friends would join us for Bible study, outreach, or an open air worship event that we held in the amphitheatre.  In 1998, the director of home missions for the denomination that we were affiliated with asked us to appear before the district church planting and development board to present our church planting vision.

At the time, the God-seed was not yet ripe.  A series of life, family, business, and ministry transitions brought Sara and I to the place where the church planting vision was left dormant.  We continued to pursue our passion for Africa over the past several years and  along the way, we have helped to plant many churches.  However, it seemed like each time I became deeply involved with rural evangelism and church planting, my vision would begin to turn back to the local church.  I have an ache in my heart to build a home church, an apostolic resource center, a family of passionate Jesus followers who are being equipped and sent out to be the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, business owners, employees, neighbors, ministers, and missionaries the world so desperately needs.  I thought that we might build this ministry base in Africa, until recently…

During our trip to the USA last fall, I had the opportunity to minister at churches across country, one of which was Downtown Christian Church (DCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  DCC  is a church plant that was launched in 2012 by our long-time friends, Kevan and Jamie Grinwis.  Kevan & I have ministered in South Africa and Zambia in addition to ministering together with our wives in a variety of church and marketplace settings.  The Grinwis’ also have a heart for Africa, specifically Kenya, and have served together on short-term missions trips in several countries.

While we were still praying about the possibility of Samuel attending West Michigan Aviation Academy (Out of Africa – Part 2), I had a phone conversation with Kevan about our bend in the road (Out of Africa – Part 1).  Casually, he mentioned that if we did come back to Grand Rapids, we should consider helping them build DCC.  We laughed and I dismissed the idea until a few days later when I received a follow-up email.  At this point I knew that Kevan was serious, so we began to pray and seek counsel.  In a few short weeks, the Lord began to breathe life on forgotten seed in the most remarkable ways.  The Holy Spirit brought to memory prayers that were offered and the words that were spoken over the city more than 15 years ago.  On May 7th, the elder board of DCC officially offered us a pastoral position in the new church.  As we prepare to head back to Grand Rapids, we will be shifting our primary focus from rural Africa missions to urban home missions.  God is redeeming the time we spent on the streets and restoring a dream I thought to be long since dead.

What about you?  Do you have a God-given dream or desire that has been forgotten?  What promise has been laying dormant in your life?  Take heart, every God-seed has the life of God within it.  He is not slack concerning  His promises; they are all YES and AMEN in Christ Jesus.  He is watching over His Word to perform it.  He is redeeming forgotten seed!

In passionate pursuit,


2 Responses

  1. Rhonda Chapman says:

    Very excited that you and your family are moving back to Grand Rapids. I love what God has done and continues to do in/through your family. Our God is Great! Jesus is eager to receive His bride…we live in most exciting days!
    I am especially thrilled to hear your heart for the downtown area!! I just wanted to share that I have been meeting with 15-20 others at the LIFE INTERNATIONAL site on Ransom. We meet to worship and to pray for the city on the first and third Saturday evenings of each month. We are believing God for this city!! Please come join us some time. Heather and Justin Braun are heading it up. They are 35 ish…5 children…and a heart for the city too. You will love them…maybe you already know them.

    Blessings! See you soon!!! Oh…please visit my classroom next year and share about Africa and JESUS!

  2. Chad Hoffman says:

    Let’s set a date to come and visit your classroom; Sara and I had a blast ministering to the kids last time.

    We will definitely be joining you guys on the second and third Saturdays! The Brauns are long-time friends of ours. Back when they started dating, they were going to a home group at our house. We’ve had some great times in the Presence of the Lord together! :)

    Something crazy is about to break loose in GR. The river is rising. It’s going to flood the city, and flow to the nations.

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