Mathematically speaking, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That isn’t to say it’s the best route, just the shortest. When it came to the possibility of church planting it was clear from the beginning God was more concerned with the best route, not the shortest. And for that I am truly grateful.
Some might think that it would be relatively simple to plant a church; move to an area, print out some fliers, start a Bible study. However, in our experience thus far I am reminded that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor 3:19). In 2013 Pastor Chris Johnson of Grace Chapel Lancaster first ran the idea of church planting by me. It wasn’t an idea I took to immediately but after prayer and some confirmation from Pastor Phil Vickery of Calvary Chapel Oxford Anna and I began to pray about church planting in our future. As you might expect we assumed that meant church planting in England. So we visited a number of locations, from Bournemouth, to Birmingham, to London itself and we prayed if this is where God would have us plant a church. Yet in every location we came away with the same answer, “you could do.” Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: there is an unbelievable need for Bible-teaching churches in the UK. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few. But in everywhere we visited we never felt a sense of peace about our future there. God, clearly, had a different plan for my family.
After a year or so of visiting different locations in and around England with no clear sense of direction, we began to pray about Church planting outside the UK. One day Anna asked me what we might do if we could not obtain permanent residency. My answer was that I would still church plant, probably not in Southern California, but rather somewhere like Boston. Somewhere with a lot of need for evangelism and a lot fewer Bible-teaching churches. You see, I visited Boston once and it was the one place in America that felt the most like our home in England. What a “coincidence,” huh? Little did I know this would be the first seed planted in what would become our future.
In March 2014 we visited Lancaster and I met with Pastor Danny Gardner who asked the same question Anna had, to which I gave the same answer. Danny seemed surprised and mentioned another “coincidence.” He and Pastor Chris had visited Boston recently as a target area for church planting. During their trip Chris said to Danny, “you know who could plant a church here, Alan Berthiaume.” I, of course, thought Danny was pulling my chain but I checked with Pastor Chris and wouldn’t you know it, this actually happened. Thus began a couple of months worth of Google searches, phone calls, and a whole lot of prayer. By September 2014 we were prepared to take our first visit as a family to the city of Boston to see if The Lord would open a door. And, He did.
To see what transpired, read “How We Got Here Part 2“.
Until next time…