Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Most Recent Support Letter

Dear friends and family, Jan 14th 2010

We now live in Birmingham, our hometown. Our last six weeks have been full of joyful rides on curvy mountain roads ascending and descending through valleys dotted with homes bedecked with Christmas lights. We have spent many nights and afternoons with family and friends. Some friends are new and some have been around for a while and are rejoicing in our return. We look at each other at least once a week and say, “We live here now.” It is surreal and often feels like a dream.

It is funny how dreams can morph into something bigger than yourself. They can take you out of your Universe and plant you elsewhere. Imagine dreaming about getting a new Chrysler and then waking up to find a Lexus in your driveway. Has the dream come true? Yes…and no.

Before I “let the cat out of the bag”, let’s get Biblical. The dreams of the Israelites were not delusional or even illusional. They were born out of the promises of God for deliverance and redemption. Jewish heads were put on pillows with visions of a Roman butt kicking. But then they stepped out on the porch and saw Jesus. Awesome. Actually they did not see his awesomeness. They saw only the disappointments of their small dreams. Jesus promised an awakening and they preferred to be asleep.

When I moved to Birmingham I harbored a dream of planting a church from scratch. There were some people interested and I was getting encouragement from friends, family and other church-planters. Two days after moving into town, I was sitting with Johnny Grimes, who planted Branch Life in Birmingham just over a year ago. There we sat in Momma Goldberg’s in Homewood on 18th St. and Johnny proposed marriage - the marriage of Branch Life Church with my vision for Homewood.

Surprised on one level, I was not startled. Before this conversation, everything else felt like a distraction from the dream. This felt like, from the first moment, an enlargement of the dream. It still feels that way many weeks later.

Little did I know, Johnny had been challenged by someone else to consider this course months earlier. He had been interviewing me for some time by stealth. And I gotta tell ya, it is refreshing to be interviewed without knowing it.

So what will I be doing? I will be doing pretty much everything I would be doing anyway; preaching, small group ministry, looking for a location to meet and leadership development. The grand thing about it all is how I will not be doing it alone. You know, Paul and Silas, Laurel and Hardy. Bono and the Edge.

One of the things I was worried about was, “Will I be able to bring anything to the table?” “Yes”, I was told and told not very gently, “You are now the old guy.” While I am certainly not the oldest guy involved at Branch Life, I will bring some years to the leadership.

I love being part of Branch Life Church. On Sundays, there are about 70 people joined together. They are black and white, single and married, young and “old.” On the first Sunday of 2010, in the first baptismal service of the one-year-old church plant, 5 adults were baptized. That’s incredible.

Upon leaving student ministry with a bitter taste in my mouth, I learned something I would not trade all the darkness for. I learned what everyone acknowledges but no one really puts any stock in. I learned that the spread of the gospel is vastly bigger then I am. Therefore I must want the gospel to spread even if I don’t get to be a part of it. Once you get to that glorious country of self-forgetfulness in ministry it is not much of a journey from planting a church to joining a church-plant.

To be honest, I am a little scared of church planting by myself and well, ministry in general. Addicted to applause and pats on the back, I am a prime candidate for Church-Planter Idol. In our current evangelical culture full of rock-star preachers, it will be good for me to preach less than a couple dozen times a year.

I am sure there will be more than a few of you who will think this looks like a demotion of some kind. “For goodness sake, you have gone from dreaming of being a lead planter to joining an already existing church-plant.” It is a demotion. And that is why I call this the enlargement of a dream.

“What do we need?” Thank you for asking. First, we need prayer. We need prayer for…

1. Our emotional health. Pray the gospel would daily help us keep things in perspective.

2. Pray we find an affordable house in the Homewood area of town. This is no easy task. Apart from the supernatural work of God…well, pray for us.

3. My car died. I am mourning the loss. Praise God we have a car to use for the time being The church whose house we are living in has loaned us a nice one. Pray also we would find one soon.

4. Finally, ask God to draw people into Branch Life Church (branchlifechurch.com) for our good, their joy and the glory of God.

Also, we are in need of financial support. Branch Life is able to pay me $20K for 2010. But I must raise the other half of my salary and funds for the ministry expenses of the church. Please prayerfully consider either giving a one time donation or giving monthly. Thank you so much to those who have already given. It is much appreciated.

Grace,

Matt Redmond (for Bethany, Emma, Knox and Dylan)

2 comments:

Matt Gregg said...

Brother,
I am so thankful that you and your family are apart of My family's lives. I know that times are hard but I see that God has flooded you with grace, love, and a smart wife! Thank you so much for your love and grace on us and the church!

Always praying for you,
Matt

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